It was our very first gameplay shortly after opening the box. My four-year-old daughter was bouncing off the walls with excitement for her first turn to be the spellcaster. Once she had the wand in her hand, that exuberance made the shapes she was trying to draw in the air bounce all over the place. We couldn’t tell head from tails as she laughed and kept trying to reproduce the spells with the wand. We all ended up laughing together without guessing a single spell she cast.
My three young kids and I had spent hours putting together three sets into an elaborate set-up across the kitchen floor. After several stray knees and elbows destroyed our progress, we built in some fail safe breakpoints. Finally, we neared the final segment when dad knocked over two entire sections. Ugh! After some massive rebuilding, we finally pulled it all off and cheered as the two cars jumped through the flaming hoop and knocked over the brick wall.
We had been working our tails off planning, collaborating, and communicating the entire game. We were leveraging our special abilities well, had a good stock of equipment cards, and were moving along nicely. Luck seemed to be on our side as several near misses turned out okay. Suddenly, as we could practically taste sweet victory, a bad combination of the wind shifting the wrong direction and blowing several times knocked one of our players off with no rope left. We lost. Did we think about taking back those last couple of plays? Yes…yes we did. Did we do it? No. =-) Why is this the best moment? Because it was exciting and memorable.
Our adorable daughter who is way into drawing right now took this game so seriously! I could not keep myself from laughing when she’d put on the vision-distorting glasses, chew her tongue, and cock her head from side to side as she tried to draw the picture. When the time was up, she’d take the glasses off, look down at her drawing with curiosity tinged with disgust, then smile, proud of what she had accomplished. Proud parent moment right there. =-)
We were nearing the end of the game, and my young daughter had collected the four apples she needed for her last trophy. She was frantically lugging them back to the castle portal to return them for the victory while her big brother raced to collect enough pies for his last trophy. She finally made it first with a loud, “Woohoo!” double fist pump followed by a not-so-sportsmanlike, “Hahahaha!” pointing her finger right at her brother. Mom and dad couldn’t help but chuckle while trying to teach good sportsmanship. =-)
The first time playing with my tiny toddler made for one of those melt-your-heart parenting moments. We chose a level 1 build, and her tiny little fingers carefully placed each block in its spot as Dad fumbled around trying to get it right. Her big brother and sister cheered her on and chanted “Blow it up! Blow it up!” when she was done. She squealed with delight when she hit the dynamite and sent my blocks crashing to the table. It may seem small, but big wins for kids are even bigger wins for parents!
The first time playing Hydro Strike caused our entire family to laugh so hard we could barely breath. For a solid hour, we each took turns challenging each other with breaks only to catch our breath. The greatest moment was watching the pure shock (then laughter!) on our toddler’s face after getting sprayed the first time. Maybe she didn’t quite connect what would happen to her after watching her siblings play? Who knows, but it made for a hilarious gaming moment. =-)
Preface: you’ll want to read the original Ice Cool review as a precursor to this review.
As fun as the original Ice Cool game is, we’ll never go back to playing it without combining with Ice Cool 2. The following expansion features really ramp up the gameplay, excitement, and replay value and are too fun to pass up.
Massive Playing Space
I was immediately impressed with how big of a playing space there is with the original Ice Cool. The space doubles in size with Ice Cool 2! Every board has new, incredibly detailed artwork which is so fun to comb over. The combo rulebook comes with awesome layout options like Kindergarten Court, After-school Special, and my favorite, Iceberg Alley which has a sliding box!
Up to 8 Players
Combining the two games scales perfectly. It is delightful chaos having 8 penguins sliding across the map with two catchers chasing them down. You’ll need to be disciplined and keep track of whose turn it is with so many players (I recommend a simple age-based turn order as this doesn’t change based on where a player sits).
The ginormous layout of the combo game allows for an incredibly fun race mode. Removing catchers from the game, players team up to get two penguins through each of their respective doors to collect their fish. The first team to collect all fish and get both penguins to the finish line first wins! This mode is played like an entirely different game with the same core mechanics. It’s a faster-paced gameplay and is just as fun (if not more!) as the original mode!
In addition to the original benefit of collecting two #1 cards (getting to take an extra turn), Ice Cool 2 introduces task cards and the ability to move a fish to a different door (hugely valuable) if you get two #2 cards! The tasks include successfully jumping over a wall (I still don’t have this down!), flicking a penguin through two doors on one flick (difficult but doable), and ricocheting off a wall and through a door (also hard but doable).
Scoring & Wrap-up
Overall, as an expansion, I give Ice Cool 2 a solid 8 out of 10 (“Very good – enjoy playing and would suggest it” on BGG’s scale) for the following reasons:
Seamless expansion from 4 to 8 players
Awesome race mode
Intricate and engaging artwork
Immense and varying game layouts
If you’re playing with 7 or all 8 players, it can sometimes take a bit for younger kids to wait in between turns. I recommend keeping games with young kids down to 4-6 players.
If you like the original Ice Cool, you will love Ice Cool 2. If you’ve never played Ice Cool, I’d recommend getting both games in one fell swoop.
Disclaimer: I received this game for free in exchange for my review, but believe me, I post authentic reviews every time and will be brazenly blunt if needs be.