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Polar Panic

Designed by Martin Nedergaard Andersen, Polar Panic from Cheatwell Games is a light children's card game that's a cute variant of Snap. It's played with a deck of 50 cards showing 1-3 cartoon fish, five eskimo cards and one polar bear card. The cards are all circular, which adds to the game's novelty value and appeal.

All the cards have an ice hole on their reverse, and to play the game you need to spread them all out with the reverse side up. The cards aren't supposed to overlap, so you'll need quite a big table. The 2-6 players then take turns flipping a card. As soon as a match appears for fish on any of the revealed cards, players have to touch the cards that match. If they are correct, they win the cards. Because some cards have as many as three fish on them, it's possible that multiple matches can come up at the same time. And because players have to touch cards that match it's equally possible - even likely - that two or more players may touch different of the matching cards simultaneously. No problem: if that happens players just take the cards they touched.

Of course there's a penalty for wrongly claiming a match: you forfeit two cards from those you've already collected.

Polar Panic switches up a gear when any of the eskimo cards appear. The player who reveals an eskimo adds that card to their collection and all the face-up cards are flipped back over to their reverse sides. Polar Panic then becomes more of a Pelmanism memory game, with players trying to recall the position of cards with fish that match those that are newly revealed. When the polar bear card is revealed, it's game over and the winner is the player who has collected the most cards.

Tho' Polar Panic is a simple enough game, it's a popular choice for children. Younger children in particular enjoy the rush of excitement in spotting and claiming matches. The rules include a suggested variant to play if the polar bear is revealed too soon (carry on till all the cards have been revealed but deduct five cards from the total of the player who drew the polar bear 'because polar bears love fish and ours will have eaten as many as it can'. From our plays at Board's Eye View, we'd suggest another 'educational' variant where players score the fish they collect rather than the cards... Play this way and you incentive players not merely to claim matches but to prioritise claims of cards with two or three fishes rather than singletons. In any event, kids can have a lot of fun with this snap-happy deck of circular cards.

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