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Delve through frost-choked arctic ruins one layer at a time in competitive board game Ice

It ain’t easy being freezy.

Excavate secrets trapped below a frozen waste and lead an archaeological team racing to discover a lost civilisation in competitive worker placement title Ice, now on Kickstarter.

Upcoming board game Ice transports one to five players to a bitterly cold tundra where research factions compete in a race to set up a base camp and start digging through the glacial mass below their feet. The board is a clever arrangement of overlapping hexagonal tiles comprising five layers of ice that teams must dig through. Whatever lies below remains hidden until a player chooses to dig, potentially unearthing either treasure or catastrophe.

The game begins with each player choosing between the five guilds that have invested personnel and resources to the glacier: the Navigators, Incandescents, Cryoarchitects, Enlightened and Alchemists all bring unique abilities with them that help their own digging efforts or harry the other camps. Additionally, each will excel in a certain mechanic, whether that be scouting the wastes with ease thanks to massive landships or more effectively drilling into the ice with advanced machinery.

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Before breaking out the ice picks, players must first erect a camp they feel gives them plenty of room to explore. While camps can be moved, there are restrictions for how close someone can be to a competing team. Space is precious - being forced to relocate after opponents have already established themselves is a costly manoeuvre. Base camps allow archaeologists to survey the landscape, and each expedition leader can explore deeper into the snowy climes with the team in tow.

Excavating a tile reveals the trio of adjoined tiles in the layer beneath, providing hints about what might lie just below the next chunk of ice. The more crew a player brings, the less AP - Ice’s form of energy allotted per turn - is used in the digging. This creates the choice to spread out archaeologists to increase a player’s chances of finding a worthy site or invest early but risk investing early AP in what could be nothing but a frigid, empty hole.

The top layer of tiles, called the ice sheet, becomes a resource once excavated. Players can choose to flip a face-down ice sheet tile in their possession during their turn and reap the benefit, giving those who spend time clearing the top layer a possible leg up on the competition. Artefacts uncovered while digging will also aid the faction that collects them and unlock powerful abilities for coordinating archaeological teams.

The game ends once one player manages to dig through all five layers and uncover one of the edifice tiles at the bottom, but they aren’t necessarily the immediate winner. Throughout the game, players earn PP by collecting artefacts and fulfilling request cards with unspent action points. These and other actions contribute to a final score and signal who has claimed victory over this particular digging season, but bitter winters will soon erase all progress and provide a clean slate for the next expedition.

The unique edifice tile uncovered at the end of the session will unlock a variant that groups can use during their next dig, changing the flow of the game in interesting and unusual ways - along with gradually revealing the truth to whatever slumbers below all of that ice.

Ice is the first board game from French studio This Way! It was designed by brother duo Hugo Freyermuth and Samson F. Perret and features artwork by Léonard Dupond. The Kickstarter campaign will run through May 31st, having already met and nearly doubled its initial ask of €45,000 (£39,000). Backers can secure a physical copy for €66 (£57), which is currently expected to start shipping in April 2022.

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