If there is one genre that I can’t get enough of it’s card drafting games. But if there is a second genre that I am addicted to, it’d have to be dexterity games. I love them. I think it’s because they always feel so unique when you compare them to each other. That and they are usually the genre of games that seems to inspire the most talked about moments. That one amazing shot will always create a lasting memory.
Today, we are going to be taking a look at Ice Cool, a new dexterity game from publisher Brain Games. In Ice Cool, you will be flicking your penguin around a school-house trying to collect some tasty fish, or if you are the hall monitor, catch those disobedient penguins. Skill and technique are the name of the game here. But is it fun? Let’s find out.
Ice Cool is a dexterity game for 2-4 players that takes about 20 minutes to play. Ice Cool plays best with 3-4 players.
In Ice Cool, one player acts as the hall monitor while the other players take on the role of the students. As a student player, you are trying to collect your three fish from around the schoolhouse. The hall monitor, in turn, is trying to catch all of the students and collect their ID cards. As players achieve their goals during the game, they’ll draw victory point cards. At the end of the game, the player with the most VPs wins.
The components in Ice Cool are nothing short of fantastic. The biggest draw of the game has to be Brain Game’s “box in a box” system. The game board is made up of 5 boxes that link together to form the penguin school-house. The great thing about these is that the boxes nest when not in use, so the whole game fits into one normal sized game box.
The artwork on the game boxes is also expertly done. The school-house has a lot of nice, thematic touches to really help to bring the theme home. The ID cards are also dual sided, with a male or female avatar on each side. The VP cards come in denominations of 1, 2 or 3 and depict increasingly larger plates of fish.
Finally, the penguins themselves have a really nice weight to them and almost a “weeble” feel. They are bottom weighted so when you flick them, they move pretty smoothly and will wobble to a stop.
How to Play:
Gameplay in Ice Cool is very easy to learn. One player starts as the catcher, while the rest of the players are the runners.
On a players turn, they can flick their penguin one time. If the runner goes through one of the three doors that contains their fish token, they can collect it and take a VP card.
On a catcher turn, they must flick their penguin and try to collide with one of the runners. If they do so, they collect that runner’s ID card.
As a bonus, a player can reveal 2 “1 point” victory point cards on their turn to immediately take a second turn.
The round ends when either a runner has collected all their fish, or the catcher has collected all the other player’s ID cards. At that point, each players draws a VP card for each ID card they currently have in their possession.
To start a new round, a new player becomes catcher and everyone takes their IDs back. The game ends once each player has had a chance to be the catcher and the player with the most points wins.
Ice Cool is a ridiculous amount of fun. Truly, it’s a blast. We’ve had so much fun flicking these penguins around the table that I don’t think I’ve ever only played one game in a row. After a game is finished, we almost ALWAYS play again.
One of the things that makes Ice Cool so much fun is the ability to do trick shots. Just take a look at this video and you can see what an expert can do.
Once you get good enough at Ice Cool, there are basically three ways you can flick your penguin. A straight on flick will send it in a straight line across the board. If you flick them just right on the side of the penguin, it will curve around and you will go through a few doors with one shot. And if you hit them on the top hard enough, you can actually get it to jump over walls.
We had one game where the catcher actually jumped two walls and caught me on the other side of the board. To be honest, I wasn’t even mad, that was an amazing shot. It’s moments like this which make Ice Cool so much fun. Ice Cool is going to be one of those games where there will be cheers or cries of anguish as people make particularly difficult or impressive shots.
Of course, on the other side of the coin, Ice Cool is definitely a game of skill. If a player is really good at flicking these penguins, they are going to have a nice advantage in the game. There is really no safety net or a way for players that are bad at flicking to hide.
Games in Ice Cool will go by quickly and I liked how everyone has a chance to be the catcher. I’m actually not sure which role I enjoy more, but I like how during the game your goals will change as you move from runner to catcher, this can help keep the game fresh.
If there is one thing I’d change about Ice Cool is that I wish there was a way to have different layouts. Right now, as far as I can tell, there is only one way to setup the game board. I think it could really help the replay value to have different setups for the school-house. This is doubly true as players start getting really good at flicking the penguins. Perhaps Brain Games will give us new boxes in an expansion.
Ice Cool is a stupid amount of fun. Not since Coconuts has there been a dexterity game that blew our expectations out of the water. We played this game a ton of times at Gen Con 2016 and the amount of cheering and laughter that erupted while playing this game was unreal. We always seemed to be drawing a crowd of onlookers as people walked by.
I honestly don’t have much to complain about with Ice Cool. It’s fun, unique, and turns move by quickly. If you have even a passing interest in dexterity games then Ice Cool needs to be on your radar. It’s easily my favorite dexterity game to have come out in a long time and it’s going to be living in my collection for many years to come. I hope Brain Games plans on releasing some expansions, because I’d love some more layouts to shoot through. Maybe I’ll even get good at those trick shots some day.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of Ice Cool, you can get it for about $40.
Final Score: 4.5 Stars – A fantastic dexterity game that’s both unique and an absolute blast to play.
• Only one layout for the school-house