When comparing Ice Cool vs Karuba, the Slant community recommends Karuba for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for families?” Karuba is ranked 2nd while Ice Cool is ranked 5th. The most important reason people chose Karuba is:
Karuba is a very simple game that has only a few mechanics. All players have individual gameboards and tiles that are set up in the same way, the players decide where to place the adventurers and the temples. One player has their tiles shuffled in a deck, this player is the expedition leader. Each turn the expedition leader will choose a tile and call out the number on it, the players then find this tile and decide what to do with it. You can either place it anywhere on your map or discard it to move one of your adventurers. The game ends when either all tiles are played, or a player has reached all four temples. The goal of the game is to gather the most points, be it by reaching temples or gathering gems on the way. The temples give more points to players that reach them first.
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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.
Pro Easy to learn
Karuba is a very simple game that has only a few mechanics. All players have individual gameboards and tiles that are set up in the same way, the players decide where to place the adventurers and the temples. One player has their tiles shuffled in a deck, this player is the expedition leader.
Each turn the expedition leader will choose a tile and call out the number on it, the players then find this tile and decide what to do with it. You can either place it anywhere on your map or discard it to move one of your adventurers.
The game ends when either all tiles are played, or a player has reached all four temples. The goal of the game is to gather the most points, be it by reaching temples or gathering gems on the way. The temples give more points to players that reach them first.
Pro Aesthetically pleasing
The game looks great and the components are detailed and add a lot to the theme. The gameboard is a stylized map of the jungle with portraits of the four adventurers on the left. The tiles form a clear and understandable path through the jungle when placed, and the numbers are easy to read. The meeples are designed to look like temples and adventurers, they are colored and easy to distinguish and spot on the gameboard. The treasure tokens are detailed, colorful, and come in many sizes to represent more points. The little crystals and gold pieces are very shiny and come in different shapes.
Pro Well-made components
The components in Karuba are durable and should hold up to regular wear and tear very well. The gameboards are big and don’t feel flimsy, the cardboard tiles are thick, sturdy, and have a pleasant weight to them, the little crystal and gold nuggets are made of plastic, the temple treasures are made of cardboard, and the temple and adventurer tokens are nice wooden meeples.
Karuba can be played by pretty much anyone and in many settings. The game is great for families with players of many ages due to its simplicity and still good for a group consisting of experienced gamers because of the decent amount of strategic depth.
Pro Meaningful strategic decisions
Karuba can be quite strategically deep because it offers some interesting choices to players. Everyone’s trying to solve the same puzzle and use the same tiles, but the way you do it is going to be different. Is it better to place the tile or to discard it for movement? Which adventurer do you move? Adventurers can’t pass through each other, so it’s important to plan ahead.
There are many ways to gather points – reaching temples and gathering gems. If you reach the temple faster, then you’ll receive more points, but often gathering gems can also be very profitable, so it’s important to keep an eye on what your opponents are doing and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Since all turns in the game happen simultaneously, there’s never a dull moment. A player calls out the number of the tile, the players decide what to do with it (place it or discard it for movement), and the game progresses in this fashion until it ends.
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.
Con One player is at a disadvantage
The player that takes on the role of the expedition leader must have their tiles shuffled in a deck. Each turn this player will draw a tile and call out the number so every player plays the same tile. This means that the expedition leader, unlike other players, doesn’t get to see what the remaining tiles look like and whether it’s possible to, for example, finish the path they have started or reach the temple in time.
Con Not a lot of player interaction
Karuba is basically a solitaire experience. You’re trying to solve the same puzzle in a different way. The only player interaction comes in the form of drawing tiles that determine which tile all players must use and watching other players’ progress in reaching the temples.
Con Takes a while to set up
Karuba has a lot of components that take a while to sort through and set up. On top of shuffling the deck, placing the gameboard and the treasure tiles, before every game you need to arrange 36 tiles in an ascending order, which be quite annoying.