Author: Bruno Cathala &
Bruno Faidutti

Publisher: Goldsieber 2004

Awards: none



It has been a long time since I last have seen a game which takes life in the Artic for its background story, and the games I can remember awaken some fond memories: on the one hand I still remember the old classic Alaska by RAVENSBURGER, a game about transporting research containers over a melting area of ice, which I played a lot back at the beginning of the 1980's. On the other hand, another very good game was Nanuuk by Günter Cornett which was centered about an Inuit's (the native people of the arctic)hunting life.

Now GOLDSIEBER has once again dared to enter the regions of eternal ice by bringing their new "big" game Iglu Iglu onto the market, and I was eager to see whether the game would do well in a comparison with the older titles quoted above...

Iglu Iglu is a game for two to four players which move their Inuit on a shrinking area of ice in order to hunt some animals. The game will be won by the clan of inuit who has succeeded in collecting most victory points by capturing animals and by occupying the largest areas of ice.

At the beginning, a 8x8 squares playing area is set up by placing randomly dealt ice-markers face down on the gameboard. Only the four center-spaces are left free, displaying the water beneath the ice. At these spaces four fish-markers will be placed, the first visible animals in the game. To finish the set-up, each of the players now distributes his Inuit around the outer edge of the gameboard.

During his turn, a player now always has to perform two phases. The first phase will be the "melting-phase" where a player has to turn over an unoccupied ice-marker which must be adjacent to an already revealed water-space. He first looks secretly at the backside of the marker, finding out whether it is an event which must be directly played or whether it is an action which he may keep secret in order to play it later in the game.

If the player has found an event, he will reveal the marker to all players and act on the event as displayed on the marker. The possible events are either the appearance of an Icebear or some fish (requiring the player to place a corresponding animal-marker there), a strong current allowing the player to move some of the ice-markers still on the board or a large iceberg which cannot melt and remains on the board (together with a polar-fox marker which is placed there).

On the other hand, the player may also find an action marker which he may keep and play in a later turn. These markers allow the following special actions: the melting of an extra ice-marker, additional action points for a player's inuit, movement of some animals or a harpoon for hunting animals.

Once the player is through with his "melting-phase", he enters the "movement phase" and he may now spend up to three action points for performing some actions with his inuit (or even more, if the player has a special action marker he wishes to play).

The inuit may be moved on the surface of the ice, one space for each action point. However, the inuit may also decide to cross a body of water, and this may be done by spending three action points. However, movement related actions are not the only thing an iniut can do. For three action points an inuit may also build one of the two iglus which are available to each player, provided that the inuit is alone on the space where he wants to build the iglu. Finally, an inuit may also decide to hunt. To hunt fish, the inuit must stand on an ice-marker which is adjacent to a fish marker and have enough action points to "pay" the number of points which is required for capturing that particular fish-marker (the number is printed on the marker). Likewise, a fox is captured following the same procedure, with the only exception that the fox only stays on land and that the inuit must be on the same space as the fox to capture it.

However, the icebear is dealt with in a quite different way. Also the Icebear-markers have a number printed on them, an inuit cannot defeat it following the procedure outlined above. If an inuit lands on the same space with an icebear, he will be automatically defeated and must retreat to the outer edge of the gameboard unless he has a harpoon-marker which he could play. If the player has such a marker, he may use it and defeat the icebear. The only other option to avoid an icebear is if an icebear enters a space with an inuit which also contains an iglu of the inuit's colour. The inuit then can retreat into the iglu, providing him with safety from the icebear.

The game ends once a player cannot melt any ice-marker during the first phase of his turn because all markers are revealed or occupied. Then the players will calculate their victory points as follows: first, the players add up the numbers printed on the animal tokens they have collected, and then they will also get additional victory points for having most can members and iglus on the largest areas of ice...

The game actually offers a good combination between tactics and luck, since a player's chance to win only in part depends on which ice-markers he reveals. Much more important is a good overview of one's inuit and iglus on the gameboard, since the results of hunting and also clever positioning of the figures likewise count in the final evaluation.

With its varying gameboard and the different events which can take place, Iglu Iglu in a way features elements of both Alaska and Nanuuk, but it has combined these elements into a very interesting mix. The rules are easy to learn but quite entertaining, and together with a fitting artwork the game certainly has reached a very high standard.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany