Sometimes, a game is a so well thought out and charming that it becomes really easy to get into. Ice Cool is a clever game firmly aimed at families, but is pretty guaranteed to delight anyone who is fond of whimsy.
The premise for the game is delightfully silly. You are a baby penguin at penguin school. (And yes, that makes the name of the game a pun.) Lunchtime is coming and the teachers are all going to have a fishy feast. However, being a hungry little bird, you’ve snuck out of lessons to nab yourself as many delicious fish as possible. All you need to do is avoid the hall monitor.
The actual game consists of a small number of cards; some colour coded hall passes (one for each penguin), wooden fish pegs, boxes and specially balanced wobbly penguin counters. The boxes form the board; Ice Cool is marketed as a Box In A Box game and they all pack away into one box. You assemble the board using the wooden pegs, some of which are specific colours. Some boxes have ‘doors’, which are really square holes in the side of the box. The counters are cute looking with curved bases. To earn a ‘fish’, you have to flick the little rascal through the ‘doors’.
It’s much trickier than you might think; anyone who grew up playing Subbuteo may understand the strategy here, but most of us simpler have to flick and prey. Birds that get trapped in corners can be dragged back into specially denoted areas, and this clever rule means that though big handed types have an advantage in power, those with smaller hands have finesse. To make things trickier, players take turns to be hall monitor; whack your penguin into another and you get to take their hall pass. Once either everyone has been caught or someone has nabbed all the fish, players draw ‘fish cards’ for the number of fish counters or hall passes they’ve earned. The game continues until everyone has gotten a chance to be hall monitor.
ICE COOL / DESIGNER: BRIAN GOMEZ / ARTIST: REINIS PETERSONS / PUBLISHERS: BRAIN GAMES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW