EXPLORERS OF ICY LANDS,
The Council of Elders closed about ten days ago and the euphoria that followed the festivities set the City on fire…
⭇ What a surprise to see all these groups spontaneously form around a game… Cooperating in a playful and almost childlike way! I can feel that a new dynamic is at work and that the secure setting of the City has a reassuring effect in the heart of winter, multiplying the opportunities to come.
Jif (Icewalkers ⭇)
Last weekend our team came together in person (for the first time since Essen Spiel in October), for the Cannes Festival International des Jeux! Best of all, we had two prototypes of our game ICE for attendees to look at and play, and we are proud to report the response was phenomenal! 😎
Back in Essen, we only had one prototype, and we tried to get as many people playing the demo as possible then. However, this backfired on us a bit, as the demos were too short — and for speed/easy-learning purposes, we didn’t allow for players to use their unique Guild abilities, and barely touched Artifact abilities. This was a mistake, and happily Cannes was a much different story! Because we had an extra table, and Hugo was able to teach in his native French (with Anton offering the teach in English at the other table), players were able to have a taste of nearly every possible action that they could do in the game — and that made a huge difference! Players were constantly wanting to see what they could do next, trying to optimize their moves, while being super curious about the lowest tiles (the Edifices). Oh… and everyone wanted to play with a Smilodon. 😜
The asymmetric Guild abilities are definitely a key part that makes the game fun, which makes the perfect segue to talk more about them. For the last several months, we’ve had to endure one of the most tedious parts about making games: Waiting. It’s something we were warned about, and (thought) we took into consideration — but the reality is the waiting is taking longer than expected. Whether it’s waiting for the providers to get back to us, or waiting for distributors to reply about potential retail deals, there are a lot of moments where we simply can’t advance as fast as we’d like. However we are not wasting this time, but rather taking advantage of it, as we continue to find ways to make the game even better! It’s been a nice side-effect that’s helped ease some of the frustration.
We’ve been continuing to refine the Guild abilities — making them even more thematic to the game, more fun to play, and also tweaking them for balance. Most abilities have changed/improved since the Kickstarter launch, and we’re quite happy with where they are at now. However, there is one guild that we clearly want to change: the Navigators. ⛵️
Like the other Guilds, the Navigators went through changes — but after further playtesting (the Festival helped a lot, because we were able to get another 50+ games played), we think this Guild can be improved in the following ways:
The current Navigator ability allows them to pay 1 EP (Explorer Point) to move any Archaeologist on the board one space, either towards your Leader or away from an opponent’s. (Remember: they normally can’t move by themselves, and can only follow Expedition Leaders on a normal move action). While it’s a cool ability, it didn’t have the “wow” factor of some other Guilds, and felt a little less powerful. So we would like to replace its ability with this one:
Once per turn when making a Call/Build Camp or playing a Snow tile, ALL Archaeologists with your Leader move with your Expedition Leader (thematically thanks to their magnificent ice sailboat). This makes their gameplay more opportunistic and interesting (remember: Archaeologists help you to excavate tiles quicker).
What do you Explorers think? Does it speak to you? Feel free to give us feedback!
We are currently playtesting this new option and will adjust it if necessary to ensure that the balance of the guilds is respected.
One other thing we need to make backers aware of (it’s not so much a change, but a clarification of something we wrongly termed): the RP (Renown Point) tokens. The Artefact pledge will still feature beautiful METAL versions of these tokens (unique and with a top design), but at the time of the Kickstarter campaign, we mistakenly called them “coins.” (Blame us being French! 🙈) They are not coins, because there is no actual currency in the game! Instead, you get “fame” (Renown) for your achievements, which are the equivalent of victory points. We wanted something that made players feel more prestigious, and to show they are gaining actual acclaim towards their respective Guilds.
You’ll be able to use these metal tokens as victory point counters in other games, if you so wish — but we wanted to make backers aware they won’t look like traditional coins. By our next update, we should have a nice 3D rendering of exactly how these metal tokens will look. Then in coming months, we’ll have some samples from Panda manufacturing to show you. Wonder and prestige to come!
During this waiting time, we also continue to make advances on our next game set in the ICE universe, which we will crowdfund after backers get their copies of ICE. We can’t wait to tease you more about this game in the coming months. Advancing ICE will always remain our #1 priority, however, so we will only ever work on other projects when there’s nothing else we can do for the current project.
Finally, some of you are asking to see some more progress of the game, and we realized we have not shown how the unique shapes for the Leaders or the screen printing of the meeples (stretch goals we reached for the deluxe Artefact edition) will look. Here are the the factory outlines (Please note that this 2D file does not do these justice — the final physical examples will look amazing).
A big thank you for the committed explorers who read this news until the end! 🙏
We’ll see you next month, until then play well and don’t hesitate to check our Insta account for the news Anton has in store for you!
Reward for the most courageous readers, a small visual of the Board (with printing lines)