“If we can just get past the hall monitor…….”
Over the past couple of years, dexterity games have become quite popular, with many titles coming into the marketplace. Building off of some concepts of games like Crokinole, a new flicking game is out that puts a play on cutting class in school, trying to avoid the hall monitor and get into some mischief.
Enter………Ice Cool from designer Brian Gomez, published by Brain Games Publishing. Ice Cool is a dexterity game for 2-4 players, ages 6+, and it plays in about a half an hour.
QUICK GAME SUMMARY
In Ice Cool, the game is played over multiple rounds. In each round, one player takes on the role of the Catcher (hall monitor) with the other players taking on the role of Runners. The Runners goal is to skate around the school, through certain hallways to gather up fish and collect points. The Catcher’s goal is to catch the runners and take their IDs to score points. A round will end when either any Runner has collected all 3 fish tokens of their color or The Catcher has caught all Runners. Then start a new round and repeat. The game ends when each player has been the Catcher once.
OVERVIEW OF GAME PLAY
I am not going to go over all of the rules in-depth, but if you want to read the rules, click the link –> GAME RULES
The first thing that has to be done is to assemble the game board, which is made up of smaller boxes that all fit together to form the play area. All of the boxes are numbered
and each of the doorways is color coded to match up.
When everything is finished the board looks like this:
Each player chooses a color and takes their player pieces.
One player takes on the role of the Catcher and places their penguin in the kitchen. All of the penguins are plastic with the pieces weighted at the bottom where when the piece is at rest is stands up straight. All of the Runners will place their fish tokens over the doorways that are marked with a fish icon.
A bit about the Runners…
In turn order, starting with the Runners, each one will start in the classroom and flick their penguins around trying to get through hallways to collect fish and score points.
Players need to move completely through a door with a fish token to be able to collect it.
This is accomplished by flicking the penguin in a way that it will move through the doorways to score.
There are a number of different techniques that can be used to flick the penguins around. The video below produced by Brain Games shows some great moves that can happen in the game.
If a penguin is flicked out of the game play area, just place it back where it started, however the turn is over. Penguins can be flicked over doorways, but in order to collect fish the penguin must go THROUGH the door. When a penguin goes through a door with a fish token of its color on it, the token is taken and a fish is collected. A card is drawn from the fish card deck that awards points. Each fish can be worth 1 to 3 points. The fish cards are placed face down in front of the player, partially covering their color reminder.
Eventually, the Runner will be caught by the Catcher. If this happens, the Catcher takes that Runner’s ID. The Runner can still collect fish to score points.
A bit about the Catcher…
The Catcher’s goal is to catch the Runners and take their IDs. For a Catcher to take an ID, all it has to do is touch the Runner. The Catcher is always last in turn order.
In the pictures you see red lines on the boards. These are used as boundaries to place a penguin on if it is too close to a wall to flick or gets stuck in the middle of a doorway. The rulebook explains how to deal with those situations. Also, if your penguin is moved when it is not your turn, either through a doorway or into the Catcher, you resolve those effects. That means it is possible to gain a fish card or lose your ID when it is not your turn. If a player, including the Catcher wishes, they can gain an extra turn by revealing two cards that have a value of 1 on them. There are ice skate icons on the bottom of the cards. Revealing the two cards at the end of the turn gives that player ice skates and allows for an extra turn. Multiple extra turns can be taken in a row if there are enough cards to be used.
A round will end when either a Runner collects all three of their fish tokens OR the Catcher catches all the Runners. At the end of the round, starting with the Catcher, each player draws 1 card for each ID card they have. So a maximum of 4 fish cards can be gained by any player at the end of each round. Reset the board for another round just like the start of the game, with a different player taking on the role of the Catcher. The game will end after each player has taken on the role of the Catcher once. There are rule variations for a 2-player game where each player has to be the Catcher twice. The player with the most points is the winner.
- Simple Rules
- Convenient box in a box storage
- Quick Play time
- Wide audience range
- Boxes may shift some during play despite being clipped
- No variable board setup
- Uneven skill levels can result in blowout scores
Ice Cool is my first experience with Brain Games since they are rather new to the US market. I have to say that Ice Cool is fun game. It is no wonder that the game has won awards, most notably 2016 UK Games Expo Best Children’s Game, and 2016 Game of the Year Award from Creative Child Magazine. Now to me Ice Cool is not just a kid’s game. Adults can enjoy this as well. I like the theme of the game, with a fun play on cutting class to go get some food. I like that the rules are simple and players will be up and running in just a few moments. There is even a nice tutorial in the rules that shows flicking techniques and has the players do a practice lap around the board.
The game play itself is rather simple. Flick your penguin to do what you need to do… either collect a fish token or catch a Runner, depending on what your role is. The design of the penguins, with their shape, offers some cool moves, like making them curve, and also making them jump walls. Now me, personally, I am like a bull in a china shop when it comes to flicking games, with bad aim, and no finesse when it comes to the flick. However, I was able to make my penguin jump a wall. I think this is the strongest point of the game. All the while, when flicking the penguin around, players are developing fine motor skills. So Ice Cool can be used in Occupational Therapy sessions besides being played as an activity. The points collected are purely based on the luck of the draw, but I do like the “catch-up” mechanic where players may reveal two “1” value cards to get an extra turn. This can help at least give a jump on getting another scoring opportunity. The game plays quickly, in under 30 minutes making this game great for schools for rainy-day recess as well as a lunch game at work. And one thing I really like is the way the game stores, with each box being slightly smaller than the next and they stack inside each other.
I did have a minor issue with the boxes staying perfectly aligned during game play. The boxes are held in place with 1 wooden clip and I had instances of the boxes shifting. It is not a major issue, but it does have an effect on the size of the door opening.
In the picture above, the two boxes are supposed to be offset, but notice the dots in the doorway, as they have shifted during play. I do like that the game boxes stack inside themselves for storage, but I do wish there was alternate board setups to change things around. Again, not a big issue, but after while, seasoned players will have a strong feel for the board layout and that will work to their advantage over players with less experience.
Ice Cool is a quick, fun game that can be enjoyed by a lot of different types of people. With a 30 minute or less play time, younger players will stay engaged the whole time without losing interest. The game is great for developing fine motor skills when it comes to flicking techniques. With uses for school and also Occupational Therapy, Ice Cool branches out beyond the gaming table. If you are looking for a dexterity game that involves flicking, Ice Cool is one you will want to check out.
For more information on Ice Cool, click HERE
*Disclaimer* This copy of Ice Cool was provided by the publisher for the purpose of review.