On Nov 25, 2006, at 11:43 PM, Timothy Hunt wrote:
Well, I played my first game of Icehouse the other day, and well, I thought "meh". However, we were all novices, so it could be that we had no idea really what we were doing. we read the rules here: http://www.wunderland.com/icehouse/IcehouseRules.html and that gives some strategy tips, but I think we were all missing something.
My best advice would be to, if possible, play against people who have played it with the wider Icehouse community, such as the people who go to Origins or other conventions. I played it once, just against some friends from reading the rules, and thought "meh". Then I played it against someone who had played against the Looneys and everyone who competes in the Icehouse tournaments, and it made a lot more sense to me.
Can anyone direct me to some basic strategy tips? (Or, better yet, if there's anyone that plays Icehouse regularly and is in the St Louis, MO area...)
Well, the key is in the diplomacy and negotiations. If everyone just plays on their own, attacking other players and defending their own pieces, then you usually just play all of your pieces and wait for the game to end. It's not easy to take prisoners if people are playing carefully and not doing any sort of diplomacy, and prisoners are key to many of the strategies.
So what you do is notice that more of your pieces are iced than you would like. This is no good; with pieces iced, you're going to have a hard time winning. So, you find another player with some pieces iced. Now you can negotiate a prisoner exchange. What that means is that both of you over-ice each others pieces. Now that you each have over- iced pieces, you can take prisoners and restructure the attacks against you. Be careful not to waste the piece they used to over-ice you; that would be Uncool, as I discovered in one of my first games; instead, use it to attack a different opponent's piece, so it can still provide points to your ally. Now that you have people restructuring attacks, the situation opens up to new attacks, or other players messing with your restructuring, and the game gets a lot more interesting.
The strategies I just described, and more, are described in detail on http://www.wunderland.com/icehouse/IcehouseStrategies.html . The thing about playing against people who know what they're doing is you get to see the strategies in action, figure out when they're appropriate, and get a better sense of what's Cool and Uncool. But if you want to play on your own (that is, with other people who are new), I'd say the prisoner exchange and restructuring strategies are some of the best to help you get a feel for the dynamic, diplomatic nature of the game. Make sure you play with 4 or 5 players; fewer and the diplomacy doesn't really work, and more means that it just gets too big and crazy.
Also, Icehouse itself isn't really a game for everyone. If you haven't played other Icehouse games before, maybe try one of the others listed here: http://icehousegames.org/wiki/?title=Choosing_games