When comparing Heroscape vs Ice Cool, the Slant community recommends Heroscape for most people. In the question“What are the best board games?” Heroscape is ranked 18th while Ice Cool is ranked 35th. The most important reason people chose Heroscape is:
The game includes all kinds of well-designed figures, a various terrain tiles, and a bunch of different terrain accessories that make up the big 3D landscape. The characters are a blend of fantasy, sci-fi, history, mythology and all kinds of other genres. Terrain tiles can range from grass to swamp, to lava, to snow and other types. What’s more, they can be stacked on top of one another to create hills.
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Pro Good design
The game includes all kinds of well-designed figures, a various terrain tiles, and a bunch of different terrain accessories that make up the big 3D landscape.
The characters are a blend of fantasy, sci-fi, history, mythology and all kinds of other genres. Terrain tiles can range from grass to swamp, to lava, to snow and other types. What’s more, they can be stacked on top of one another to create hills.
Pro Play time decided by the players
The play time highly depends on the scenario chosen and the size of the playing surface, but since the game encourages customization, players are free to choose a scenario that's easy and quick to play through and construct a smaller battlefield to accommodate it, for example, "last team standing " on a small surface.
Pro Can be built to fit any group
Heroscape can make both a decent 1v1 or 2v2 tournament and a massive party attraction. Although the game is best balanced to be a game for 2-4 players, if you have more sets you can create a map that can potentially scale up to any group.
Moreover, all ages are welcome, so it can be a great family game as well.
Pro Simple rules
This is one of the games that fits the description of “Easy to learn, hard to master” quite well.
The basic gist is quite simple - in their turn the player chooses an army card, moves the pictured figures and attacks with the figures. Movement is done based on the “Move number” on the card and attacking is done by rolling the attack dice based on the “Attack number” on the card. Players alternate turns until the game is over. The win condition is chosen by the players
There are a few more detailed mechanics, but they are very easy to understand, because they link to the physical aspect of the game. For example, an enemy is in line of sight if the figure is "able to see it" from its position - if there's a huge dragon figure behind a mountain and its head is poking out, then the soldier further back on the hill has line of sight. Another example - if a figure physically can't fit somewhere, then it can't move to that tile - a dinosaur figurine won't fit under a small bridge over a river, so it can't go there.
The basics of the game are not hard at all, the rules are simple enough even for children, it’s suited for ages 8+.
Pro Great customization possibilities
The game offers a lot of customizability both in terms of playing surface and the game itself.
Since the playing surface is fully customizable, you can either create it from instructions (found in the game guide or online) or arrange the construction pieces however you want. Because of this every game can be different in some way – you can, for example, relocate a hill, place a river and do much more.
Though the game offers a scenario booklet with some basic scenarios, that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and make up your own objectives, manipulate some of the rules or add house rules.
Pro Well-made materials
The game materials have a relatively high production quality.
There’s no need to worry about game components not being able to sustain normal wear and tear or an accidental drop here or there - the hexagonal pieces and the painted character figurines are made out of durable plastic. The character figures are also quite flexible - bending swords, legs and hands of figures doesn't leave a lasting problem.
The paint job of the pieces is also well done and paint won't wear off even when rigorously scraped.
Pro Active community
Despite the printing of the game being discontinued in 2010, there’s still a very active community at https://www.heroscapers.com/ that are keeping the game alive. There are forums for custom units, local gaming events, online Heroscape games and more.
Since sets and accessories tend to cost a lot of money, some dedicated fans even banded together to create https://www.allthingsheroscape.com/, offering a selection of, as the name suggests, all things related to Heroscape – figures, terrain sets, expansions, etc.
Pro Can be visually impressive
Some fans of the game have even gone out of their way to design huge and beautiful battlefields, spanning many tables. A lot of great creations can be found on the internet - some examples.
Pro Fun to set up
The setting up of the game is another game itself and it makes for a good family / friend activity. It could be compared to LEGO construction – you attach the hexagonal pieces together to create whatever playing surface you want or just follow an instruction.
The pieces smoothly link together and don’t accidentally come apart, so there's no need to worry about a small accident ruining your hard work.
Since the playfield is quite big, everyone can join in creating the landscape. Some people could even get more excited to play while seeing the battlefield grow and imagining how fun the nearing game could be.
Pro Often leads to memorable moments
The game can lead to some awesome moments because of the little penguins. Depending on where you hit the penguin, it will move differently. For example, if you flick the head of it, it will make the penguin jump. This can lead to some crazy trick-shots where someone manages to jump over walls. You can also flick them on the side, which will make the penguin spin. By doing this you could spin through multiple rooms and gather a lot of points or catch several penguins on the same turn.
Pro Easy to set up
The gameboard of Ice Cool is big, but it’s quite simple to set up. The playing surface consists of five boxes that all fit in the game’s box. You connect them in the correct places, all of which are marked with colored dots on the edges of the boxes. After that you take the little beige colored fish tokens and place them in the marked spots to keep the gameboard in place, and you’re good to go.
Pro Easy to learn
Ice Cool is very straightforward, it all revolves around flicking little penguin pawns. Doorways will have fish pegs attached to them, when you flick a penguin through it, then you’ll receive the fish and get to draw a fish card that gives you victory points. Each round one player will be the hall monitor who will try to catch other penguins and gather their student ID’s by hitting them instead of gathering fish.
The round ends either when the hall monitor has gathered all ID’s or when someone has gathered all three fish tokens. The game ends when everyone has been the hall monitor. The player with the most points on their fish cards wins.
Pro Beautiful design
Aesthetically Ice Cool looks very impressive. The playing surface is a 3D school consisting of five different rooms that feature many little details all over the walls – maps, fish, basketball hoops, etc. Everything has a blue, cold-looking color scheme, which kind of mimics an igloo.
The cards also have some great artwork on them. The ID’s are two-sided for boys and girls. Each colored penguin has a different look and style. The fish cards depict, you guessed it, fish. The bigger the point value, the bigger the meal.
Pro High quality components
The components of Ice Cool are very interesting and well-made. The game’s playing surface is made of five 3D boxes that all fit in the game’s box. The player tokens are four penguins made of hard plastic that are weighted in the base so that they keep wobbling when hit. Throughout the game players gather fish tokens, which are nice and small wooden pieces similar to pegs. There are also some cards in the game – ID cards and fish cards, which are all made of durable cardstock.
Con Takes up a lot of room
The landscapes tend to get quite big and, unfortunately, there is no convenient way to store the tiles and character figures unless you spend some extra cash on boxes or other forms of storage.
Con Long set up and take down times
Depending on the scenario, the setup might take as long as the scenario itself. A basic setup could take anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes. This is because of how big the playing surface can be and how many pieces and accessories it consists of.
The sets, expansions and accessories tend to cost a lot of money mostly due to the game being out of print since 2010.
Con Out of print
The game has been out of print since 2010.
Con Inconsistent theme
The terrain is customizable enough to create a running theme, but units are more difficult. Some people might enjoy the idea of heroes from all kinds of genres clashing in one big game, others might be thrown off by historical characters like samurai and cowboys battling alongside werewolves, robots or vampires.
Con Has a learning curve
Ice Cool is quite skill-based and requires practice on flicking the penguin pawns to get them to go where you want to. The rulebook has some tips, but the techniques can only be learned by playing the game. A new player won’t do well against a player who has already played a bit.
Con Luck-based scoring
Catching penguins and gathering fish to get victory points in Ice Cool requires skill, but the values on the fish cards you get range from 1 to 3, which means that even if you’re good at the game, you can lose because of pure chance. Someone could potentially score the same amount out of one card as you with three cards.
Con Only one layout
The gameboard can only be arranged in one way, so the game can get quite repetitive in this aspect.