It’s true. We got lost. My companions still blindly follow compass needle, which was frozen in one position. But I know, that the arrow will not be our salvation. This time, we will have to rely solely on our sense of direction, trying not to freeze out here.
Similar situation awaits us in board game Ice Cult created by Joe Wetherell. Illustration were put together by Victor Boden. Their whole joint work was published by Zoch Verlag and we got it still hot from the ice (whaat?). It has a stamp marking spring of 2016.
Everything needed to play can be found within a square box, which is clearly dominated by picture with the four dice and colorful arrows on them. Expressing cold is coming out of the box and even yellow glow of the sun on the horizon does not help. Inside, noting its surprisingly frozen, so we quickly remove cardboard sheets. Most of their contents will be used to create small square base and also has four icy trails with five spaces to walk on.
But above all, players have in the box also four large dice. They are transparent, so all sides are always visible, showing symbols and their distribution. Each comes with little different choice, but together they offer arrows in four colors, purple dot and line representing one fourth of a circle. Players will be offered twenty pieces of large plastic figurines, that look like traffic cones. Only colors differentiate them to four groups by five pieces.
Preparation begins by connecting four spikes and placing base in their middle. Its space is filled with four dice. They must be placed in a way, that their upper sides is forming a circle. From its corners are coming out four beams, whose color indicates increasing temperature with color ranging from blue to orange as they move away from the center box. Players then choose their pieces and distributes them around the board. Their position is not important for now.
Game then has a clear course. Players take turns and active one takes pair of adjacent dice based on his choice. He rotates them as a group along the sides by ninety degrees. Now, complete set of four symbols showing on upper sides of the dice will determine actions. Players now will be using them, but he can choose their order and also influence, what is happening on the board by selection of specific pawns (any color).
Each arrow is pointing towards one of four paths. They represent some movement. When doing move action, player can choose, whether he deploys new pawn on the board or moves one of already active characters. It can happen only in color of the arrow. Figures use their conical shape and are not skipped over. Instead, they are stacked. And so, when player chooses to move a piece, which is somewhere in the middle of the pyramid, he carries with it also all pawns lying on top of it.
And while each colored arrow is indicating specific movement on the board, purple dot acts as a joker. Player can determine, which arrow he wants to copy over and perform it twice. The last dice side (with a portion of the circle) allows player to rotate any dice in the horizontal direction. By doing this, he changes its whole symbol distribution, accessing sides that were previously unavailable for future turns.
Players are rotating dice and hopping with figures without trying to conceal their intention to move color outward from the center up to the edge. There is no danger of hypothermia over there. Whoever succeeds in moving with all his figures out is winner of the game. Exception may happen in situation, when one of the parties manages to create a pyramid of all five pieces of their color. That means an instant victory.
Ice Cult offers tactics with four ice dice. Those are not rolled, but players have the option to turn them only in pairs. Their amount also clearly defines the axis of rotation, where maximum is always set to ninety degrees.
Rotating dice provides sufficient tactical control as there are always four options to choose from. Players must make selection very carefully between benefits for them and helping others. Mostly because upper side arrows will show more colors and this means, that even enemy pawns will be moved. All arrows have to be followed and executed every turn.
But it is still only first part of choices, because even enemy arrow color can have value for you. By playing it right, players can move not only that one cone, but also their pawns sitting on top. This is reason, why stacking is an important tactical element. Another great possibilities to influence the game is to determine sequence of four actions in turn. This gives players a truly great control.
Tactic is moreover outcome of players having choice over order of actions and their distribution among the pawns. Game fairly quickly goes forward and goal is simple. The situation is even more tense towards the end, but Ice Cult is still battle for roughly thirty minutes, which is ideal number for such abstract game.
Game always contains all pieces, no matter how many players are in it. They either have their real owner or can act as a neutral sets, but may be used by players very well for their own benefit. Because nothing changes the experience based on players, it is ultimately an advantage being in a duel, which is more dynamic. But the game works with all counts of rivals, although in larger numbers, control is little lost.
To all those positive impressions, we also add excellent processing. Here is a crucial element for decisions thanks to transparent dice. Players always see all the icons and can plan well, what will be seen after totation. Dice are large and easy to handle, even if it is always necessary to rotate a pair. Figurines and cardboard parts are fixed and everything holds together well.
Ice Cult is an abstract tactical game, that we like. Idea of the possibilities offered by to the players are interesting and imaginative. The game definitely stands on its own and is quite unique, making it another quick and still thoughful game you could enjoy. Ice Cult is just good and fun.
Ice Cult is game, you will remember thanks to large dice. It's not any kind of rolling hexagons, but pretty large transparent cubes, that serve only as a choice of actions. Players thus will only rotate them always in adjacent pairs, and thus affect movement of their pieces. They run forward and not only alone, but can also ride on the shoulders of others. This further complicates role of players, when selecting the sequence of actions. Game is fast paced and interesting from beginning to end. We are simply happy to recommend Ice Cult to all lovers of abstract and tactical racing without and laps, cars or even checkquered flag.