Our preview post below was published on April 29.
I C E is a 1-5 players action points and worker placement game in which you are leading an archeological expedition. Your goal is to unearth powerful artifacts from the ruins of an ancient civilization buried beneath the ice. It will launch on Kickstarter on May 4.
The board of I C E consists of five layers of hex tiles. The bottom layer is made of edifice tiles (the ruins of the ancient civilization), the next three are made of artifact tiles (they can be empty or reveal an artifact), and the surface layer is made of ice sheet tiles. Before the game, each player must pick a guild that grants them asymmetric abilities.
The game is played in 8 days or less, if the alternative end condition is triggered. Each day, an event card is revealed. Event cards are ordered and each game will follow the same sequence of events. On the first day, a camp is placed on the board, and archeologist meeples pop up on specific locations. Each player has 5 Action Points (AP) to spend during the day. They take turns spending these with a maximum of 3 during each of their turns, until they spend all their points or decide to pass.
The actions you can take are the following: you can put a new camp on the board, “call” an archeologist or your expedition leader into a camp, move your leader to an adjacent tile (bringing up to 3 archeologist meeples in your wake), or excavate the tile on which your leader is standing. Excavate is the only action that costs more than one AP, but you can reduce its cost by as many archeologists as you have on that tile. When you excavate a tile, you remove it from the board and then distribute your leader and the archeologists evenly on the tiles beneath.
If the tile is an ice sheet surface tile, you keep it secretly in your hand: on its reverse there are special powers you can use. If it’s an artifact tile from the deeper levels, you put it on your own guild board. Artifacts come in five types and are either active or inactive. If you have on your board either one activated artifact of any kind, or two inactivated ones of the same kind, you can use the corresponding ability. Finally, if the tile is one of the edifice tiles of the bottom layer, the game will stop at the end of that day.
At the end of a day, you can send up to 3 artifacts to the City, either in order to score them at the end of the game or to fulfill a request card that will grant you additional scoring possibilities. When the game ends (after eight days or at the end of the day an edifice tile has been excavated), you will score the artifacts you sent to the City. Additional decree cards, public scoring conditions that are randomly chosen at the beginning of the game, and the request cards you have gathered, may grant you additional points.
In the solo mode, the rules are slightly different in that you play two “rounds” of 7 Action Points per day. The goal is to fulfill three objectives before the eight days have elapsed: send at least 19 artifact tiles to the City to score them at the end of the game, fulfill at least 12 requests, and excavate an edifice tile. You then tally up your score as in the normal game, trying to achieve the highest tier.