Monday, January 03, 2005

Review: Igloo Pop

Igloo Pop is a frantic, tactile game that's fun for all ages. It supports 2-6 players and a game lasts around ten or fifteen minutes.

Inside the box you'll find a deck of special cards, some wooden talers, a sheet of stickers, a dozen plastic igloos (which you must assemble) and a bag of 90 little glass beads. Parents be cautioned. This game requires careful assembly by an adult. Assembly involves very carefully counting small beads into an igloo shell, snapping the igloo together to seal the beads inside, and affixing a numbered sticker to the bottom of the igloo that tells you how many beads are inside. Once the igloos are assembled, they are nearly impossible to pull apart again so be careful to get the count right the first time because you won't get a second chance if you mess up.

The components are all first rate with bright colors that will appeal to kids of all ages. The igloos are attractive and fun to pick up and shake, which is a good thing because you'll be doing a lot of that in this game.

The game works like this. The igloos are scrambled and placed in the middle of the table. Then nine cards are arranged in a circle around the igloos. The cards all have from one to four (consecutive) numbers on them. The numbers on the cards correspond to the numbers on the bottom of the igloos and range from two to thirteen.

The youngest player counts "one, two, three, go!" and everyone begins grabbing and shaking igloos in order to divine how many beads are in each one. If you think you know how many beads are in your igloo, you slip one of your talers (colored wooden disks) into a slot in front of the igloo and place the igloo on a card that has a matching number. No fair peeking at the number stickers on the bottom!

Once players are done placing igloos, they check each card to see who guessed correctly. If you guess correctly, you are rewarded with your taler, the card under your igloo, and the talers of any incorrect guesses on that card. If you guess incorrectly, you lose your taler, either to the player who guessed correctly, or to the box if no one correctly matched an igloo to that card. If more than one player guessed correctly (because there was more than one number on the card) then whoever matched the highest number wins the card and the talers from the incorrect guessers; the other correct guessers just get their talers back.

Rinse and repeat until you've been all the way through the deck or until someone is out of talers. Then count all the cards and talers in front of you to determine your score. It's that simple.

This game rewards players who have a good memory for sounds and weights and this is definitely one of those games where you're likely to get better at it the more you play. It also rewards good strategy. Sometimes you're better off not risking a guess at all. Sometimes you'll feel comfortable risking a guess on a single number card. Sometimes you're better off playing it safe and only risking a guess on cards with a range of three or four numbers on them.

Igloo Pop is a fast and fun game that works for players of all ages. Because the game relies on dexterity, sound, and tactile memory, as opposed to raw smarts and strategy, kids have just as good of a chance to win this game as adults.

Give Igloo Pop a try, particularly if you have kids. I think you'll be glad you did.


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