You know, I must be crazy, but I've always wanted to go to the Arctic
Ocean, between mainland Canada and the polar ice cap. I've read
Farley Mowat's Ordeal by Ice and loved it, and have
longed to see the midsummer sun roll around the horizon without
sinking below it. I've longed to see if I can do better than Lord
Franklin. Maybe someday I'll go. But in the meantime, I'll play
Icebergs, 1980 from TSR, is a Tom Wham game. It is
Tom's second best game, in my opinion, right after Awful Green Things, and his
best multiplayer game. There are those who claim Kings &
Things is better, but I disagree. Icebergs has
a delightful simplicity about it that Kings & Things
The only real problem with the game isn't the designer's fault:
it's a microgame. Moving stacks of cardboard chits in tiny hexes
on a tiny map is tough for someone as clumsy as I am. I'm making
a miniatures version, with inch-long icebreaking tankers and 3D
icebergs in large hexes - I'm hoping it'll be much easier to play.
I'll update this file when I finish, and let you know how it turns
The game simulates oil tankers racing from Newfoundland across the
Arctic Ocean to Alaska, then back again with full tanks of oil. While
there is no direct combat in the game, there are a lot of ice floes
and icebergs, and you get to move them in the way of your opponents'
ships. I've had my ship surrounded by so many ice floes that I
couldn't move - a very uncomfortable feeling!
The game isn't complex. The board starts with 20 ice floes and six
icebergs scattered around the map, and one ship per player on the
eastern edge of the board, representing coming from Newfoundland.
(The game is for two to six players, but works better with three or
more.) Each player has a ship record with a full fuel tank and an
empty cargo hold. There are 16 other ice floes, set aside, in case
you need them later.
Each turn, you roll a single die, and can move your ship and/or floes
and bergs that many spaces. If you roll a "5", for example, you could
move two ice floes one space each, out of your way, then move your
ship three spaces. It costs three movement points to move an iceberg,
one to move an ice floe or your ship. However, if your ship moves
into or out of a space with ice or another ship, it costs one extra
movement point for each floe or ship, and three extra for each berg.
Thus, a ship in a space with three ice floes and one iceberg can't
move it all - it would take one movement point to move, plus six for
the ice, and you can't roll that high.
There are two ways to get out of such a situation, however. It doesn't
cost any extra to move ice out of such a space, so you could spend
your next turn moving ice away from your ship. Also, if you ever roll
a "1" on the die, you have a choice: you can either drift your ship
one space, regardless of ice, or you can add an ice floe to the board,
anywhere you want (even in an opponent's space). You also get to roll
again when you roll a "1".
Every time you move, drop your fuel by one. This is whether you spend
one movement point or six on movement: drop your fuel by one. The
only exception is drifting, which is fuel-free. It's the only way to
move if you run out of fuel, BTW.
Once in Alaska, you spend a turn loading your cargo and refilling
your fuel, then head back. The first to make it back to Newfoundland,
with some cargo intact, is the winner. It's possible to lose cargo
or fuel en route, by the way - encounters with icebergs can scrape
your ship up something fierce. Best to avoid them - but if your
opponent rolls a "6", you might find an iceberg suddenly in your
space when you weren't even next to it the turn before . . .
A very well designed game - my congratulations to Tom Wham. I wish a
publisher would put it out in a decent size, though. Making my own
large game will allow me to play it easily, but it won't get the
recognition it deserves. A great family game - recommended.
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