ICECOOL2 is the sequel to a 2016 family friendly, penguin flicking, dexterity board game, which has been just released by publisher Brain Games. Designed by Brian Gomez, whom also designed the original, this title once again sees 2 – 4 players take to the halls of a frozen high school. Games take around 20 minutes to play, with only a minute of explanation before the fun can begin. However, cuteness aside, do we need a second penguin flicking title? Let’s find out!
The game plays in the same way ICECOOL does, with the five rooms adjacently setup, forming a square school. At first glance nothing has changed, and this isn’t far from the truth. Different colours of penguins and fish now feature, the school has somewhat different artwork and the map has been reversed. Component wise the biggest changes are the card powers and the fish are no longer wooden, being made from plastic that matches the penguins.
Slightly changing how 1 point cards work are tasks, though a pair of 1s can still be used in the original way for an additional turn. There are three potential tasks indicated by icons on the 1 point cards. These include: jumping over a wall into adjacent room, passing through two doors with one flick or bouncing off a wall and through a door. If you have a card with one of these symbols on, at the start of your turn, you can announce the task you are trying. Pull it off and you reveal the card, making it unavailable to use again, and claim a point card for the success.
In addition to this players can now reveal two 2 point cards to move a fish token of any colour to a different door, with the only limitation that is cannot be a door to the room that colour penguin is in. Both of these add fun new mechanics into the game, perfect for spice things up for veteran players, though you can still play with the original rules if you so wish. For more details of how the basic game plays check out our review of the first game, though stick around because this title has a combination trick up its sleeve.
By combining the two games more penguins and colours are available, enabling higher player counts than using the two games separately. While with 5 players the rules stay the same, Brain Games has made an effort to balance the game for 6 – 8 players. While the additional rules don’t change the goal or the basic rules the dynamic is slightly shifted as two chasers now take to the halls. This, along with enlarged maps, are much needed to keep both roles on an even field with more players.
ICECOOL2 may be a mirror image of the original but that doesn’t mean fans of the original should be instantly put off this release, or vice versa. In reality ICECOOL2 should be considered more as an expansion of the original, bringing in a new game mode and allowing for map customisation. There are 5 layouts included in the joint box rulebook, and all of these new map designs feature icons to help setup for the new mode or the standard gameplay. Plus, there is nothing stopping players making their own!
Team racing is the the new sport to reach the icy high school. Whether players pair up or decide to control two colours of penguin each, the mode handles between 2 and 8 players with the same ruleset. With a starting box and a finish box there are still plenty of fish to collect along the way. Each team of two coloured penguins has 6 fish to collect, in the standard sliding through doors way, before getting both penguins in the finish box. While each penguin has three fish of its own colour it doesn’t matter which penguin on the team collects it.
On a turn either team peguin can be flicked by alternating team members. For example, player A from the team of two players controlling the purple and yellow penguins flicks the yellow penguin on their turn – with play moving onto the next team. When it is that teams turn again player B from the team must go but could flick either the purple or yellow penguin.
Combining the two games together is an incredible experience but they do require a decent amount of space. This isn’t just table space, which the games can comfortably take up, also the space around the table. If moving around one game box setup with 4 players was an issue of bumping into each other while trying to get the right angles, doubling the number of players around the table is not going to be an improvement. The combination of size and people gives an almost convention game feeling and like those games ICECOOL2 can hold the attention of both gamers and onlookers.
It is hard to get past thinking of ICECOOL2 as an expansion. Combining the two games together is clearly the main drive behind owning both editions and it creates a tremendous gaming experience, elevating the standard game without making it redundant. It would have been nice for the sequel to have been a bit more different, rather than just a mirrored map, as it could have allowed for more unique tracks. If you don’t own the original then this presents the same fun gameplay it produced, still a great purchase. However, if you own ICECOOL this is an opportunity to supersize the experience, just check it’ll fit on your table!
[Editor’s Note: ICECOOL2 was provided to us by Brain Games at Essen Spiel 2018 for the review. The first two in-play images in the review feature components only from ICECOOL2, with the third showing it combined with the original game.]