ICECOOL and ICECOOL2: The Penguin Flicking Family Board Game
We don’t have many dexterity board games in our house. I’m talking about games like Jenga, where physically interacting with the pieces is part of the game in some way. And, honestly, I think that’s kind of surprising considering how much our kids like to move and wiggle and get involved while they’re playing.
And, as a teacher, the importance of kinesthetic learning is certainly not foreign to me. Many kids actually learn better when they’re moving, and I think it’s very fair to say that most kids are more engaged when they don’t have to sit still.
When I think about it, that’s probably why both of our kids love all the different card games we have that involve being quick and slapping things. They typically aren’t my cup of tea, but our kids are crazy about anything that involves slapping. And, to be fair, I vividly remember enjoying my fair share of slapping card games when I was in elementary school too.
So I think it’s high time that we rectify the tragic lack of dexterity games in our household. But the good news is, the one dexterity game that we do have is phenomenal. So if our kids are in the mood to knock some pieces around the board for family game night, we know it’s time to get out ICECOOL.
Disclosure: A copy of ICECOOL for a future giveaway as well as a copy of ICECOOL2 were provided to us by the publisher Brain Games - with no expectation of a recommendation or a featured article. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
Shortly before last Christmas, my wife and kids surprised me after work with a copy of ICECOOL. I remember it because, seasonally speaking, it’s a great time of year to play this game. It was a big hit at our family Christmas party. In fact, for best dramatic effect, the whole family should probably play this game wearing earmuffs, scarves, and gloves. But they better be those gloves where your fingers can poke out, because you’re going to need those fingers for flicking.
The game features penguins who are slipping and sliding around a school covered in ice while they search for fish. As a side note, I have to say, I really always enjoy the backstory of the games in the ICECOOL universe (which also includes the awesome Pyramid of Pengqueen - where the penguins find a cursed pyramid under their school).
In ICECOOL, there are several delinquent penguin students who are sneaking out of class to steal some fish from the cafeteria. But they have to watch out for the hall monitor while they’re out. As an added bonus, the rulebook even has a couple of short comic strips that add some great character to the story. And you can’t underestimate how something like that helps endear a game to your kids.
I mention all this about the story not only because I’m a big theme guy, but because it’s always fun to imagine the kinds of things you should be saying to your kids while you’re role playing these penguins. When it’s my turn to be the hall monitor I really enjoy being incredulous that these penguins are sneaking around the school. I like to spout out many lines like, “where’s your hall pass!” and “get back to class this instant you hooligans!”. To which my son will shout back, “You’ll never catch us you slow hall monitor!”.
How to Play ICECOOL
ICECOOL is a game designed by Brian Gomez for 2-4 players with a recommended age of 6+. Generally speaking, I think this is a pretty accurate age recommendation. Younger kids could definitely play together and would love messing around with this game - and our son could certainly play before he was 6. But at 6 years old he’s a formidable opponent even for us.
In the game you are physically flicking your penguins around the board, and in and out of different rooms of the school. That’s why this is considered a dexterity game. You actually have to stand up, walk around the board, and physically flick your penguins where you want them to go (or, more accurately, where you hope they will go).
As far as what you’re trying to accomplish, the game has asymmetrical goals. Everyone gets to have one turn as the hall monitor. If you’re the hall monitor, your job is to simply catch as many penguins as possible. Just by bumping into them, you’ve caught them. And, if you’re a student, you’re trying to collect all of your fish.
The penguin pieces have a heavy round bottom and are designed to slide around very smoothly. But their wobbly nature make them difficult to control. It’s kind of surprising just how much skill it takes to master controlling your penguin. In fact, the game lends itself well to a skill-based competition, and you can even find official ICECOOL tournaments if you’d like to really test your mettle.
Very basically, you get to draw cards with points on them for each fish you collect, and for each penguin you catch when you are the hall monitor. After everyone gets one turn as the hall monitor, you count up the points to see who wins.
What’s New With ICECOOL2?
ICECOOL2 is played exactly like ICECOOL. And if you’re going to buy just one of them, I recommend getting ICECOOL2. That’s because it does add just a few tiny new details. The point cards you collect while you’re playing have a couple of new features that can spice up the game a little.
In both versions of the game, you can use two 1-point cards to get an extra flick on your turn. In ICECOOL2 you can also use two 2-point cards to move a fish to a different room. Another new feature is the task cards - which are basically challenge shots. “I bet I can flick my penguin off a wall and through that door!” Make the shot and you can draw an extra card.
Another benefit to choosing ICECOOL2 involves a special shout out to the great work of illustrator Reinis Petersons. The sequel adds an art room to the school - and it includes some truly spectacular penguin renditions of famous paintings like The Scream and Girl With a Pearl Earring. It’s amazing - and it is some attention to detail that deserves major applause.
Combine ICECOOL and ICECOOL2 for Mega ICECOOL
ICECOOL2 is obviously not designed to merely improve upon and replace ICECOOL. The primary purpose of the sequel is actually to be combined with the original to form what I like to call “Mega ICECOOL”.
The rooms of both games are designed to all be put together to make one giant game board. And, best of all, there are several alternative layouts to experiment with. This is the top benefit of the sequel for us by a long shot. Not only is a bigger school more fun to flick our penguins around in, but the variability is a huge selling point for the kids.
Changing things up is admittedly a lot of fun. Our son would be happy to change the way the school looks after every single round we play. And it’s like a whole new game when you shift the rooms around. Especially when you use the special layouts with sliding rooms - rooms that you can actually slide around before you hit your shot.
The other obvious benefit is - since the penguins in ICECOOL2 are all new colors - owning both games turns your setup of Mega ICECOOL into an awesome party game that now accommodates up to 8 players. You can play by the normal rules, or try out a few different variations described in the rulebook.
As much as we already loved ICECOOL, adding the sequel has clearly taken it to another level. The new layouts of the school are a big hit for us, and have added some serious longevity to the game. To continue last year’s tradition - I can’t wait to bring it to Thanksgiving or Christmas again this year. Last year’s 4-player game was already a great time. So I really look forward to getting the grandparents and great grandparents playing with twice the school and twice the penguins.
Has your family played ICECOOL before? Have you built Mega ICECOOL before? What’s your favorite dexterity game? Let us know in the comments!