Updated: Jul 10
Brain Games had a big hit on their hands with Ice Cool, their multi award winning dexterity game designed by Brian Gomez. In that game, players flicked wobble-bottomed penguins around a cleverly designed box-within-a-box playing area.
The publishers know a good thing when they see one. A sequel, Ice Cool 2, is due to appear later this year as both a standalone game and expansion that links up with the original. Brain Games have also seized the opportunity to extend the penguin theme to a reskin of an older Ravensburger game, Curse of the Mummy. Pyramid of Pengqueen is the same game, designed by Marcel-André Casasola Merkle and first published in 2008, except that the artwork has been amended to tie in with the Ice Cool 'universe'. That means the players are penguin explorers being chased by the Mummy of Pengqueen in an ice pyramid. Don't overthink it.
The adventurers (1–4) sit on the opposite side of the table to the player controlling the Mummy. Their avatars are tiny magnetic tokens that attach to the two-sided board that divides the adventurers from their pursuer. The Mummy of the Pengqueen moves a much larger token on her side of the board, and her magnet drags along a smaller token on the same side as the penguin explorers. This means the penguins always know the position of the Mummy but the Mummy has to work out where on the board the penguins are.
Players always want to avoid the reach of the Mummy while they try to land on treasure icons that correspond to the treasure cards they have drawn. The player who completes his collection of treasures wins; the Mummy wins if they catch the explorers a set number of times.
On a player's turn, they roll the white dice. They have to set aside any Mummy icons they roll but they can reroll any of the other dice. This, of course, introduces a push your luck mechanic: the more you reroll dice, the likelier you are to roll more Mummy icons. A player has to select a die to act on it: a number lets them move that number of squares; an arrow allows them to move all the way to the end of a corridor until they hit an obstacle. The choices of die available reduce as dice are locked when a Mummy symbol is rolled. At the start of a player's turn they can unlock the Mummy dice but the cost is that the Mummy player gets a free move of a square for each of the previously locked dice. Otherwise, the Mummy only moves after all the penguin explorers have moved, rolling the black die and adding to it the number of white dice showing the Mummy icon to determine the number of squares moved.
This is an enjoyable race and asymmetric chase game which can be played by adults and children on largely equal terms. The magnetic board adds hugely to the game's appeal, although the magnetic pieces are so small that there's an ever present danger they won't always be present. That caveat aside, and without struggling to make too much sense of the new theme, this is a game worth checking out. It could be a very good gateway game for introducing players to the hidden movement and detection mechanic as represented in more complex games.