I was first introduced to an earlier release of this game at WellyCon 2011. From the first game I was hooked. Since then it has been re-released in two variants, one from Fantasy Flight Games in a ‘mini’ travel type variant and another by Mafair Games who make the deluxe variant with larger tiles and painted Penguins.
I purchased the Fantasy Flight variant which plays the same and has cute coloured plastic penguins. Both current variants play the same. Their is also a Russian variant made which seems to have been made without a licence with some different rules. The original release features wooden penguins.
The Fantasy Flight variant comes in a box approximately 150x150mm and 35mm deep. This is small, you can take this easily almost anywhere. Inside you will find a number of sheets of punched card with ice flow and fish images plus 16 penguins of 4 types in 4 colours. The hexagon ice flow tiles with fish on come in three variations, 1 fish, 2 fish and 3 fish. A useful and complete page of instructions with examples completes the contents.
This is perhaps the slowest part of the game, and I have to say with the smaller tiles in the Fantasy Flight version it is sort of painful in a way as you layout the tiles in adjacent rows alternating 7-8-7-8… to form a rough square. You need to align the hexes roughly and leave a small gap to enable you to pick up the hexes as you collect them. It is fiddly and we often joke it takes longer to setup than play (it doesn’t really).
Aim of the Game
The goal is simple, move your penguins around to capture the most fish. Easy sounding, yet this comes with a twist. When you move you may only collect the hex tile you started your move on. This gives the game a great strategy edge over many simple games as you need to think about how you move your penguins to secure or deny other players any fish. The winner is the player with the most fish.
Playing the Game
Having laid out the hex tiles, each player takes turns placing a penguin of their colour. The number of penguins each player has varies on the number of players, 2 if 4 players, 3 if 3 players, and 4 if 2 players. Penguins are placed on a hex tile with only 1 fish. Each player takes turns placing a penguin until all are placed.
The starting player placed the first penguin. Each player takes a turn moving one of their penguins. Movement is simple, you move penguins in a straight line in one of the six possible directions presented by the hexes, moving as many hexes in distance as the player likes. Movement may not be through another penguin or over a gap in the ice flow or off the edge of the ‘board’. After the move is complete the player picks up and collects the hex tile that the penguin started the move from. Then the next player has a turn repeating the process.
The game continues until no penguins can move, players collecting any hex tiles that their penguin stands on. Some hex tiles may get cut off are are not scored by any player.
Each player counts the number of fish on all their hex tiles, the winner has the most fish.
This game is suitable for young and old, the strategy level is very high, yet it can be played very simply by all ages from 5 or 6 upwards. So here are a couple of quick tips.
* Try and secure the 3-fish hex tiles before others.
* Use your penguins to cut off other players on to smaller ice flows with fewer points or restrict their movement (this is where it gets competitive).
* Your penguins can work as a team to block movement options of other players.
* Be careful not to get cut off on small ice flows sections with few fish.
I really recommend this game as a great filler or short game for families and competitive strategy gamers. It is simple to teach new players, fast in playing (we don’t allow long analysis of moves), and has a high replay-ability. In the mini variant by Fantasy Flight Games it is also very affordable, no excuses for not getting this game.
You can score a copy at Mighty Ape at the Pixel Park store:
Game type: Family / Party filler / Strategy
Mechanism / Skill: Abstract strategy with modular board, area denial/capture
Number of Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 10-15 minutes
Ease of Play: 5 / 5
Ease of Setup: 3 / 5
Ease of Learning: 5 / 5
Fun Factor: 4 / 5
Replay-ability: 4 / 5