Adventures in Boardgame Creation


Adventures in Boardgame Creation

We at This Way are so super excited for the changes coming in ICE: The Second Edition, that we wanted to explain some of the differences from the First Edition, and the reasons why we did them, in full detail.

Feel free to skip ahead (to A NEW BOARD BOTTOM) if you already know the history of the production of the first edition of ICE. But for those that don’t know what happened, we’ll reiterate the history briefly here:

Basically, the first edition of ICE proved to be a very ambitious project — perhaps too much so. We thought it would be cool to have a game that featured five levels of overlapping tiles. While it definitely had a “never-been-done-before” uniqueness to it, the five layers proved way too difficult to actually produce. The initial manufacturing quote we got pre-kickstarter launch was reasonable, but then material costs skyrocketed afterwards (the pandemic didn’t help), and the actual production of the board proved to be way more difficult than we, or Panda Game Manufacturing, realized. 

We had to deliver our promise to backers and deliver the game, but it meant sacrificing profits and a loooong delay for delivery (which also didn’t help with out bottom line). In addition, due to its now unsustainable cost, we wouldn’t be able to continue publishing ICE in the same way ever again. Some changes would need to be made for the 2nd Edition Edition. 

While we knew the game could easily do without the 5th and final Edifice layer of tiles (which is actually unnecessary and could be replaced with an even better card system), removing just one layer of tiles was not going to be enough. At least one more layer would need to go in order to make production affordable again. 

At first this idea scared us, until we actually tried it with one less Artifact layer (two instead of three). Because the missing layer meant playing the game in the exact same way would result in fewer Artifacts being excavated (which would have an impact on the end-game scoring Request cards), some rule tweaks and extra action additions needed to be added in order to keep the game going longer, and have more tiles be excavated per player (the average number of tiles that are dug up now matches a 1st Edition game).

Through our playetesting, we were surprised and delighted to discover that the game we already loved (and Dice Tower gave a “Seal of Excellence”) got… even better somehow!!

The gameplay is more smooth, dynamic, and more fun. Now, instead of flipping over a single tile that triggers the endgame, players will now reveal a significant portion of the boards bottom (the exact size varies depending on player count). This new endgame trigger is now way more exciting and thematic, as the feeling of truly discovering something and building towards that discovery, becomes more tangible. 


So as a result of the improved gameplay, which requires more of the bottom of the board to be revealed over the course of the game, we decided to take full advantage of that opportunity, and asked our extraordinary artist Léonard Dupond to create a brand new illustration. 

Work In Progress (not final)

In the first edition, the board bottom was just black, because there was chance of players never actually seeing it. 

But now, with the 2nd Edition, the game has become even more thematic, more beautiful, and with an even greater table presence than before!

(And yes, 1st Edition backers — this newly illustrated floor, and all the new stuff mentioned below, will be included in the “Conversion Kit” we’ve mentioned in a previous article, so you will have the opportunity to play the 2nd Edition experience as well if you so wish). 

The board will remain magnetic (in 4 parts) in the Collector version, and will change to a 2-part folding board with puzzling system in the Retail version.


But that’s not all!

In the first edition of ICE, the first layer of Snow tiles had a random distribution of the abilities on the back of them. Every Snow tile has a power that can be played, for free, during your turn — but because of the randomness, it was difficult to predict what you might get, and therefore hard to plan your game. Now, each type of Snow tile (Clear, Tunnel, Nunatak, Rift) is guaranteed to have just 1 of 3 different abilities on the back (instead of the possibility of 12 before). This makes it much easier to predict what type of ability you might get, and will make a more impactful difference when you have a choice of which Snow tile to excavate next. 

The new distribution of Snow Tiles

Snow Tiles also now cost only 2EP to excavate (instead of 3EP, which is still the cost for Artifacts). This makes it quicker to dig through the initial layer, and incentivizes digging more of the surface for these powerful cards. You’ll notice some Snow Tile abilities have also changed. (And one previous ability will now show up in our upcoming expansion, but more on that in a future update).


Since we were already changing the board and tiles, doing this 2nd Edition allows us to make a bunch of other changes to tiles, cards, and gameplay that fixes some balance issues. We’ve also added some new actions to help in places where some players struggled with. 

For example, we’ve added a new action: Study an Artifact. It costs 1 EP and you take a study token (this works like an anima 1 Artifact)

Another important point: players now have 1 personal camp at their disposal.

Finally, Request cards are now drawn from a river of cards at the end of the day. Players may pay 1 RP to take a Request card (they may not take more than one card).

We have a lot more reveals to announce in the coming months leading up to the campaign, so stay tuned!