Goal #1: Fun
When I first started working on Ice Lake, my idea was to design a board game that would be equally fun for 2, 3, or 4 people. This sounds like a simple thing, but there aren't many games that satisfy this goal.
Most are either fun for two people or fun for 4 or more people. While we often have two people available for a game, it is even more common for us to have 3 or 4 people.
So that was my first requirement - the game had to be fun for 2, 3, or 4 people.
I was also interested in designing something that adults and kids could play on a level playing field. To me, the ideal family game is something that's fun for everyone in the family, without forcing the adults to "play down" to the kids' level.
One way to do this is to make things random - but that's not for me. I'm a lousy dice-roller, and much prefer games that reward clear thinking over blind chance.
Finally, I wanted something that was new - something that hadn't been done before. The experience of Ice Lake is different from other games.
Players don't just move their pieces across the board, they use pens and actually write on the gameboard. Each player has a different color, so as the game progresses, the board becomes more and more interesting.
So, where did Ice Lake come from? I've heard some players say that it reminds them of RoboRally, and others that it reminds them of Light Cycles of Tron. While I've played (and enjoyed) both of these games, the play mechanic for Ice Lake was actually inspired by historical miniatures - specifically a game called CLS (Column, Line, Square).
That's where I got the idea of planning your moves in advance and then revealing them simultaneously. That was the key element that made the game work. Everything else (allowing players to make variable length plans, drawing on the game board, circling your opponents, etc.) followed from that.
Ice Lake is more than I'd hoped for. It's not only a lot of fun to play, it's even fun to watch. And it has a nice tempo, with almost every game building to an exciting finish. The rules are very simple to both understand and remember, and the game is a lot of fun to play. What's been particularly exciting is to discover that the game is fun for both adults and kids!
I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!