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On the hunt for fish and polar foxes the Inuit crosses vast expanses of ice. Not only is there danger from polar bears, the ice is also malicious. Even a firm surface will melt quickly. And soon the ice floes float like small islands on the game board. You have to be circumspect and lucky to find the most productive hunting grounds and simultaneously occupy enough floes for your family!
I guess this is the perfect game for those who are concerned about the polar icecaps melting: because, in Iglu Iglu, you're melting a polar ice cap!
Each player is a tribe of Inuit, represented by meeples (Inu-eeples? Eskimeeples?). The board is covered with ice tiles and, each turn, you melt a tile, and then have three action points for your Inuit to use. Your goal is to hunt and fish for the various animals that are revealed during the ice melts, with each type being worth a certain amount of victory points. Some of the tiles flipped have an immediate result, and others you keep to yourself, and use at the opportune time. There can be periods of "famine" in this game; so what then? If no animals or fish are in sight, simply use the action points to spread out your Inuit to strategic points where they can leap into action when the animals do appear. Also, action points can be used to build igloos... highly useful, when opposing players send marauding polar bears after you! As well, an ice tile with an igloo on it can never be melted, and this is useful for scoring ice islands.
Yes, ice islands: not all of the ice will be melted by the end of the game, and players will score points based on their presence on the surviving ice islands. The lead player on each island will get one point for each tile....unless he or she is alone, in which case the value of the island is the number of ice tiles SQUARED!
There's a great deal of luck involved with the melting of the ice tiles, and it is very difficult to make a long term strategy. However, the beauty of the game (apart from the beauty of the well-themed bits and board) is in the tactics of the game, not the strategy. Each turn, rather than looking into the future, you're very much focussed on the present: "OK, here I am on this ice floe; given the PRESENT situation, and the tiles I have in reserve, how can I best benefit myself RIGHT NOW?" I suppose that's thematically accurate: in a subsistence economy, you're concerned about where the NEXT meal is coming from; you don't have time to worry about next week's meal....you may be eaten by a polar bear by then! So solve today's crisis, and let tomorrow look after itself. This is very different from Carcassonne (to which Iglu Iglu has a passing resemblance). In fact, I find that tactical though it is, considerably more thought is required in Iglu Iglu than in Carcassonne, and (apart from the first few turns) the best move is not readily apparent.
Is it cutthroat? Very... and not at all! It all depends on who's playing it and how you want to play it. Thus, this extremely well-themed tactical game suits both the gaming hawks and doves (or is that polar bears and harp seals?).