When comparing Ice Cool vs Charterstone, the Slant community recommends Charterstone for most people. In the question“What are the best board games for families?” Charterstone is ranked 4th while Ice Cool is ranked 5th. The most important reason people chose Charterstone is:
Mechanically Charterstone is extremely simple, which makes it greatly accessible to people of all ages. The advanced rules are introduced to the players as the game progresses, but the basics are straightforward. On your turn you can place a worker on a tile or retrieve all your workers. You can go to any tile on any charter, each building has a different resource cost to use and a different purpose. There are five initial spots called the “Commons” that you can go to in order to gain money, score objective cards, construct buildings, or open crates. Opening crates lets players draw cards from the “Index” which adds new rules to the game.
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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.
Mechanically Charterstone is extremely simple, which makes it greatly accessible to people of all ages. The advanced rules are introduced to the players as the game progresses, but the basics are straightforward. On your turn you can place a worker on a tile or retrieve all your workers.
You can go to any tile on any charter, each building has a different resource cost to use and a different purpose. There are five initial spots called the “Commons” that you can go to in order to gain money, score objective cards, construct buildings, or open crates. Opening crates lets players draw cards from the “Index” which adds new rules to the game.
Pro Drop-in / drop-out system
Thanks to the Automa system that lets an NPC character take over one of the player spots, you can fill in for a player that, for example, couldn’t make it to a gaming session or doesn’t want to continue the campaign.
Pro Replayable after finishing the campaign
Charterstone is a legacy game, but you can keep playing it as a regular worker placement game after you’re done with the campaign on the map you’ve created over the 12-game campaign.
Moreover, if you want to play through the campaign again and experience what you missed in your initial playthrough, you can buy the official recharge pack for about $30 to get back all the components you used and use the other side of the double-sided gameboard that has the same map.
Pro Huge variability
Every game of Charterstone will be completely different due to card draw, personas, and strategies. Many campaigns end with situations where half of the deck is still undiscovered.
Pro Adjustable to player count
Charterstone is a balanced game when played with any number of players thanks to special rules that vary depending on the player count. Furthermore, the Automa system lets you introduce NPC players to the game that can fill in other players’ spots if you want to add more action to, say, a 2-player game.
Pro Amazing components
The parts that make up Charterstone are both aesthetically pleasing and well-made.
When first opening the box, you are already greeted by an organized view of the components– everything’s stored in labeled white boxes. When looking at the components themselves, there is no mistaking what they represent or what they’re supposed to be – a pumpkin looks like a pumpkin, etc.
The quality is top-notch, and the components should hold up to plenty of plays. The white boxes that store most of the components are made of thick cardboard, the player tokens and the resource tokens are wooden, the cards are made of thick cardstock, and the coins are metal, which feel exceptionally nice and valuable due to the heftiness.
Pro Satisfying progression
The game reveals itself as you progress, be it storylines, rules, buildings, etc. It feels nice to see your village grow and bits of the story unfold over the ~12 hours of gameplay. You get attached to characters, socialize with others, and create your own stories in the process, which creates another adventure on top.
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 Potential information overload at the start
If the players choose to open a lot of crates in their first games, then they might suffer from information overload because of the number of new rules thrown in the game. Some users have reported that the rules are sometimes easy to misinterpret, so this can add to the frustration.
Con Quite long
There are 12 games in the campaign, so you must dedicate approximately 12 hours to finish the whole thing because a single game takes an hour or so. This might also be too long if you’re playing with kids because they could get bored or distracted.
Con Aesthetic won’t suit everyone
Though the art of Charterstone is quite detailed and colorful, it’s also very cartoony and the characters are happy-looking bobble heads, so while the aesthetic might be great for children and families, it might seem childish to others.
Con A bit pricey
Charterstone retails for around $45 depending on the site, which can be expensive for some. If you add in the recharge pack for new campaigns, then that’s an extra $30, but after your second campaign there’s no more room on the gameboard, so you’ll have to buy a new one for that if you want to start over yet again.
Con Requires a dedicated group
Charterstone suffers from a popular legacy board game issue - it might be difficult to gather the same people for a session to try and finish the 12-game campaign. Though the Automa system lets NPC’s fill in for other players, if it’s used in the middle of the campaign, then it renders the score tallying at the end of the campaign pointless.