Review – ICECOOL2

ICECOOL (released in 2016) is a dexterity game of flicking penguins around their frozen school (which I presume is a high school, to maximize the worldplay of the name of the game). ICECOOL2 is the same game as ICECOOL, but for two things. First, the game box/play area is a mirror image of ICECOOL, which lets the two games be combined for one giant play area. Second, there are special tasks on the 1-point cards that can be used to gain more fish cards, instead of using the cards as ice skates.

The play area in ICECOOL2 consists of a “box in a box” (in a box in a box), as the bottom of the box is part of the play area, and the rest of the play area consists of several slightly smaller containers. These boxes are all taken out and clipped together in a prearranged manner, so that the doorways line up and the penguins can move freely about the school.

ICECOOL2 is played over a number of rounds equal the number of players. Each player gets one round being the ‘chaser’ (a hall monitor), while all of the other players are ‘runners’ (penguins out when they aren’t supposed to be). The runners are trying to travel through particular doors to collect their fish/clips (which is accomplished by sliding through specific doors). The chaser is trying to hit the runners. A round ends when either a runner has collected all three fish-clips, or the chaser has tagged every other player (collecting that penguin’s student ID). Scoring comes from the fish-clips (one fish card per clip) or from holding student IDs (so players get a fish card if they kept their own ID, and the chaser can get cards for up to 4 IDs). Cards are worth between 1 and 3 points (the 1 point cards have special uses to make up for the lousy points). Most points wins, of course.

The rules are as straightforward as they seem because, as with many dexterity games, a lot of the play comes in the dexterity. The penguins can be ‘pushed’ (for a steadier ride) or flicked for more force (or in an attempt to put spin on the penguin). It’s also possible to click down on the penguins to make them jump up over the walls (luckily, this is easier than it might seem, because even I can do it a fair amount of the time, and dexterity games are not my strong suit).

ICECOOL2 is fun with inexperienced players (including kids), which means lots of messed up shots and longer rounds. It’s also fun with experienced players, with matches getting pretty intensely competitive. You do have to watch out mixing those two groups, however, or else you have inexperienced players flicking penguins into the nearest wall while the experienced players are spinning through multiple doors, ending the rounds quickly before the inexperienced players really get the chance to do anything.

If you have neither ICECOOL or ICECOOL2, I’d go for the sequel for the little bit of extra special effects on the 1-value cards, but mostly because a lot more people already have the original, which increases the chances you’ll be able to combine for a giant game. Everyone in my family got a kick out of ICECOOL2 – once the game was over my kids insisted on leaving the game set up so they could practice shots.

If you already have ICECOOL, you already know what you’ll be getting with ICECOOL2 – I think it’s mostly a question of whether you want to double your play area (while I like the extra use for the 1-fish card, I wouldn’t upgrade just for that).

Promotional consideration was provided in the form of a review copy.

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