Friday, 22 September 2017

Igloo Pop

Plays: 3Px1, 4Px1.

The Game

Igloo Pop is a listening game. That's certainly not something you hear often.

The most important and also unusual game component is these plastic igloos. There are twelve of them, and they contain 2 to 13 beads. The number of beads is written at the bottom of each igloo. In this game you need to shake the igloos and listen to the sounds they make in order to guess the numbers of beads in them.

Every player starts the game with some player markers (the green and orange discs in the photo above). During a round you use your markers to claim igloos and to make guesses. If you guess right, you claim a card (which is worth points). If you guess wrong, you lose your marker. The game ends when one player loses all his markers, or when the card deck is exhausted.

Before the start of a round, 9 cards are laid out like this. Each card has one to three numbers. You want to find igloos of the corresponding numbers and place them onto the right cards to claim those cards. Usually it is easier to find the right igloo for cards with three numbers, however these cards are only worth 1pt. Cards with only one number are worth 3pts, but of course the risk is also higher. All the igloos are shuffled, and you can't see the numbers beneath them. Once the round starts, everything happens in real-time. Anyone can pick any of the igloos up and shake it. If you are confident you know what the number is, you may claim it by attaching your marker and then placing it on one of the cards having that number. If you are not confident, or if you think there is no card with that number, you can return the igloo to the pool and move on to another. The round ends when all igloos are claimed, or when no one wants the remaining igloos. You then proceed to do scoring.

When a round ends, the game should look like this. Igloos which have been claimed using player markers are placed on cards. Sometimes a card has no igloo. Sometimes it has one, and sometimes more than one. Scoring is basically turning over all the igloos to see whether they have been placed on the right cards. If the numbers match, the card is claimed by the player. If the numbers don't match, the player loses his marker. If two or more igloos on the same card are correct, the higher number wins.

If all cards are exhausted, the game ends. If a player runs out of markers, the game ends too. Otherwise, draw back up to 9 cards on the table and go again.

The Play

This is a noisy game. Don't play it at a library. The librarian will throw you out. It's not easy to tell the number by listening. At least it wasn't for me. Some of the lower numbers are easier. The higher ones are certainly not. Sometimes you need to shake one, and then another, so that you can compare and decide which has more beads. Since it is not easy to tell the number by listening, quite often the game is about risk management. If you are not so sure, you probably want to go for the cards with three numbers. Even so, sometimes you will still guess wrong. Risk management also includes taking into account how many points everyone has scored, and how many markers everyone has remaining. If someone is down to very few markers, and you are far behind, you probably need to take bigger risks. Otherwise you'll never catch up before the game ends. If you happen to be far ahead, you may want to consider deliberately guessing wrong in order to lose all your markers and force the game to end. These are some of the little tactics in the game.

The Thoughts

Igloo Pop is a children's game and also a party game. It's noisy, nutty fun - not to be taken too seriously. It works for younger children, even if they may not fully appreciate the risk management aspect. "Risk management" is the adult in me talking. It's a real-time game, so excitement and urgency are part of the package. The unique mechanism makes this an eye-catching game (or ear-catching?). Unfortunately it is out-of-print now and won't be easy to find.

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