Upcoming Ice Cool Tournament with support from Atalia

 

With the kind support of the distributor Atalia we will be hosting an Ice Cool tournament on 19 April 2017 at Outpost Gamecenter in Brussels. The winner of the tournament will receive a game box for free ! Head over to our Meetup Group page to register for the tournament (free participation).

 

What is Ice Cool all about ?

The game is published by Brain Games and the author is Brian Gomez and illustrator is Reinis Pētersons. The game has a 7.0 rating on BGG, but after playing this game a couple of times I can tell you this grade goes up easily to an 8 or 9 points.

Ice Cool is a flicking dexterity game for two to four players, although the more people that play the better it is. The game plays out in about 30 minutes, but it’s the kind of game you can dip in and out of and play for as long as you like. It’s fun with adults and kids and revamp the concept of pitching or flicking !

Game Components !

Let’s start with the gamebox who is neatly designed to unfold into the playfield you will use during the game.

These penguins are real rascals: if your flick is good enough, they can slide not only straight, they can make curves and even jump over the walls.

The artwork throughout the game is absolutely gorgeous. The classrooms are beautifully realized and really add to the experience, while the penguins themselves are delightfully dumpy and cute.

The cards are of good quality but I would still advise to sleeve them if you play with kids. The ID cards are especially well designed.

The rulebook is beautifully done and covers all eventualities and in several languages.

How do you play ?

Ice Cool is a flicking game in which each round one of the players takes the role of the Hall Monitor (also called “the Catcher”) – his aim will be to catch each other penguin and get points for that. The others (also known as “Runners”) will try to run through several doors, thus gaining fish (that give them points) on their way.

When either the Hall Monitor has caught each other penguin once or any of the others has gone through all 3 doors that have fish on them, the round is over. Each player will take the role of the Hall Monitor once and at the end of the game the winner will be the one with the most points on their fish cards.

The action is fun and frenetic, and the sliding penguin theme makes sense as well as being cute: the floors of the rooms are even made to look like ice rinks.

A short 2 minutes video is better than words:

If you want another look at this, have a look at the Watch it Played great Youtube video on how this all works.

It doesn’t take long for those good at dexterity games to start to get a hang of the various flicking techniques, but you’ll find even the best players having terrible turns. With a special attention to details from the artwork to component design. I highly recommend the game to any groups that love a clever little dexterity game! I hope to see you on April 19th for our tournament. RSVP now for free on our Meetup group.

 

Discovery of Urbion

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Having very much enjoyed Onirim (second edition) and Sylvion previously I was pleased to try out Urbion the other evening. Unfortunately this trip into the dream world wasn’t as rewarding as my others….

In Urbion you are trying to achieve balance in each of the cities. These four (of twelve total) cards in the middle must have equilibrium (the sum of the cards on either side of it must combine to make zero) in order for it to be claimed and scored. There may not be more than 3 cards on either side of a city. You must score all twelve to win, if you exhaust the deck then it’s a defeat.

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Half of the cards are dark and have negative values (-1 to -3) and half are light with positive values (+1 to +4). Like the other Oniverse games there are also a number of “oh shit” cards which are +/-5 and when drawn must be placed onto the side of a city that has the biggest imbalance. You could also not play these cards but you will have to either lose all cards of a currently balanced city or the top 4 cards of the deck, and if you draw anymore nightmare cards you will still have to resolve them the same! All cards also have icons on that must be matched to the relevant city card be placed.
The gameplay is probably the least fiddly of the 3 that was played so far, there wasn’t a need to keep referring to the rules for what certain cards did, or what the options were for nightmare cards. You simply draw a card and then place a card, or discard one to claim balanced cities (may also shed some cards on cities that sum to zero, a fresh city card is then placed out), or discard one to swap any two cards on the light or dark sides.

Even with it being straightforward I didn’t get on with it at all. The icons seemed to get lost in the artwork, which I found to be much less appealing than the bright colours of Sylvion and the simple and clear style of Onirim.
The game works well and is challenging (I lost 3 straight times) but it just wasn’t really as much fun for me as Onirim (which is a fantastic 10-15 minute solo game) or as intersting as Sylvion (an intruiging tower defence solo game with clever gameplay options).

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Overall it strikes me as a game that could really do with a Second Edition, a few more cards to make some variation to the standard gameplay (there is a mini expansion included, which I didn’t play) and the artwork, whilst not needing changing wholesale, could do with being made brighter (I have used a filter on the photo to enhance the colours) and the icons more distinct so that it “pops”

Gamer fatigue and the growth of the hobby

Formal Ferret Games

In a recent episode of Breaking Into Board Games, we discussed our predictions about 2017. One of my predictions was that we would start seeing a cap on attendance at larger conventions. I wanted to continue on that subject with a wider lens, looking at a possible scenario we may be facing in the coming years.

The board game industry is growing at an explosive rate (revenue from hobby board games grew 56% from 2014 to 2015; I’d expect similar numbers when the numbers come in for 2016), and I’ve heard a few pundits indicate that there’s no end in sight. As an independent board game designer/publisher, I certainly hope that’s the case.

But I always try to plan for contingencies, and part of that is planning for the possibility that this explosive growth slows, stops, or even reverses.

To be honest, I would expect the hobby to continue…

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