Pyramid Games Forum Posts

Recorded Homeworlds Games

Hello! Has anyone seen any recorded Homeworlds games anywhere? Preferably written records of games? Thanks!


Games are archived at but it looks like there's currently a bug in the server.


Cool! Thanks. I had no idea that they saved them.

You should watch Homeworlds Theater, if you haven't already.

The Emperor and Dr. Cool play games and talk about stuff.  A great watch, to be sure.

I really wish they would do a Binary Homeworlds tutorial video.

A tutorial video, like this one, perhaps?

I asked about the same thing, and I heard from a little birdie :: coughtwittercough :: that a Youtube tutorial series is possibly in the works. 

Probably the best place to find them is on superdupergames itself.

There's also this exhibition game:

Arcade Variant for Aquarius Rising

So, I really want to play Aquarius Rising, but I have mix of the old style of pointy pyramids and the new rounded Arcade style pyramids, which are different heights.

Does anyone have a good idea for using just the nine pyramids of an Arcade set to play Aquarius Rising?

Or should I give in and just buy two more Rainbow sets? Or just be patient and wait until the Rainbow sets become rounded? 


Found a combined color variant over on BGG, and it worked great.


Red + Orange

Yellow + Clear

Green + KS Green

Blue + Cyan

Black + Purple

After doing some more math, I realized that having sixty pyramids is kind of important. It's divisible by 2,3,4 and five.

(New Game) Buyer's Market

Presenting Buyer's Market, a game of bidding and pyramidal building construction designed specifically for the Pyramid Arcade, for two to four players.

It's been years since I've released new game rules, and I'm happy to have something designed especially for the Pyramid Arcade. This one uses the relationship of the Zark City cards to the new color die, and is playable with the pyramids in the box (with the requirement of a booster stash for a fourth player). Thanks to the gamers (JM, K, A, and M) who have helped over the six months this one has been under wraps.

We've playtested this with groups of two, three, or four players, but I have a feeling that it could scale up to five, so feel free to give that a try.


End of Game Example: The Black opaque player scores 25: With three complete levels, he could have had four but held back for the double regality bonus.

White scores 18: White scores a diversity bonus and complete four levels but suffers for having several pyramids that they cannot place.

The Green opaque scores 28 points: With a cohesiveness bonus, four levels, and a diversity bonus, this player is the victor.

Note the unused pyramids in the foreground and the unspent ones in the background.

Icehousegames Wiki Link

Armadas - A long overdue updated second edition

Well, I have finally gotten around to finalizing the updates to the rules for Armada. (See the attached files. Now calling it Armadas. Plural.) I am wondering if anyone here might be willing to help upload these to update the BGG and IcehouseGames wiki sites, etc?


Corrected a typo or two in the files.

Cool, I think the symmetrical sides should certainly address the imbalance of the original asymmetrical setup!

To upload the files to BGG, use the Upload link here:

If you don't have a BGG account, I can upload the files there for you; let me know if you want me to.

You (or I) can also add "Armadas" as an alternate title, or even replace the original title, via the Edit button on the game's main page.

Thanks for the link. I have now uploaded the files to bgg. (I assume that they don't show up immediately.)

I have been concerned about replacing the original game entries since it has been in the public for such a long time. This is part of the reason for the (minor) name change. Also to distinguish it from the many other games referred to as Armada. :)

I did also add Armadas as an alternate name. I would probably like it to have its own page and possibly link it as "reimplemented by" or some such, and make a note in the description. I don't know what all that would entail though.

As for the wiki, I am not so good with all of the fiddly formatting required for those pages.

Thanks again.

I love the updated rules. I have always been a fan of the original, and I think it's one of the coolest and most elegant game designs yet. This updated version really streamlines and enhances everything and rectifies the balance issues. Good work!

Pyramid Tournament in NYC?

I'm thinking about doing a tournament or several of Pyramid Arcade games. I have enough Pyramids and boards and things to support about 24 players in a tournament of Pikemen, and Pikemen is relatively fast, easy to teach, and the tactics and strategy are not to easy, but not to hard. So I was thinking of starting with that.

Martian Chess is another possibility.

A class/practice session on Homeworlds leading up to a tournament is also a possibility.

Any other ideas?

If we get a community started, we could even do a multi game tournament, with a different game in each round. (Powerhouse, Pikemen, Homeworlds, anyone?)

I also have a post over at BGG

BBG Pikemen tournament thread


With many luck based games (I am thinking WW5 more than Powerhouse) you have to do a 2-out-of-3 or similar to prevent luck having too much of a factor. Games like IceDice, Looney Ludo, and that sort may need 4/7 matches. Martian Chess, Pikemen, Volcano, and possibly Lunar Invaders are great. Lunar and Homeworlds require some sort of teaching session. Zark City, Petal Battle, and Powerhouse are good if you want to have mostly strategy but partial luck. If you do a mix, 2/3 might be good just so that a rule interpretation error is easier to recover from.

Washing Martian Coasters?

Hey all!

I got a promo Martian Coaster way back when they were the holiday gift, and never ended up using it for anything (didn't have pyramids)... I finally got it out when I picked up some KS Green pyramids, though I currently only have that color and no other players.

Anyhoo, I thought to myself, "Self? It's a coaster, right? Why not use it as advertised?" and started doing so... only to notice dark stain rings from my glass shortly after, as seen in the attached picture. Is this common with Martian Coasters? Or with Cosmic Coasters? This is a very "papery" item and I don't think it can be washed without ruining it... or can it? I know they're still available and I can buy another, but I'm rather mad at myself that I decided to try out the "coaster" functionality without more caution first and that I'd have to buy another if this one is ruined. I do plan to pick up Pyramid Arcade, and I know the Loony Ludo boards aren't coasters, but that's one way to replace the game piece at least...

TL;DR: Any way to wash Martian Coasters without ruining them?


I don't know, but FWIW it seems barely noticeable to me in the photo! Also, the photo isn't showing an actual coaster board side that would be used in play, but just a "title page" so to speak. So if it was me, I don't think I'd worry about it. :)

I have a ring on the other side as well that seems to have lightened up after drying... I know it's not bad, but it's still an imperfection with something I got as a gift that's a part of my gaming collection, you know? It matters to me. Besides, if they can be washed, I was thinking of getting a set of them and the Cosmic Coasters to use mainly as coasters for the front room when people visit. (Maybe it'll encourage them to play!) In the end though, if they get stained so easily, I'd rather have more durable coasters...

So yeah, my original question still stands: can they be washed or cleaned somehow without being ruined?

New Game: Swice

A quick and easy game. The picture was too large to post here, so please look at my profile page.

Players: 2

Equipment: 2 Stashes, of two different colors, one for each player.

Set-up: take your stash and mix the pyramids up to pick them out randomly and place them in 3 rows of 5 pieces each, facing your opponent's, with a queen-sized gap between the sides.

Movement: during your turn, you must switch one of your pieces with one of your opponent's. A piece placed on your opponent's field cannot be moved again by anyone. Your turn then ends and goes to the next player.

Goal:  capture your opponent's pieces by making queen-drone-pawn line-ups in that order, in your own field. When that happens pick up the three pieces and put them to the side for scoring later. If more than one line-up occurs in your  field, pick the one you like best, pip-wise.

Swice: if a switch creates a line-up in both fields, you can collect both of them.

End and Scoring: the game ends when it's no longer possible to make any more line-ups by one or both players. Pips on opponent's pieces captured are counted and higher score wins. In case of a draw, you can accept the result or play again.

Sincere thank you to the community!

Short version: I had to wait a while before picking up a copy of Pyramid Arcade. I was looking through the (absolutely wonderful looking) rule book online in anticipation and saw that my game, Timelock, was included in the "22 More Games" section.

I had to pause, then go back and re-read it to make sure I wasn't mistaken. I couldn't believe that people still like that game that I thought maybe a dozen or two people would ever play nearly a decade ago.

In short: THANK YOU to the folks that wanted Timelock to be included in the Pyramid Arcade book. It means a lot to even be listed in the same section as some of the games that got me hooked on pyramid games in the first place! To have my game mentioned in Andy's "magnum opus is kind of surreal.

I decided to take the time to design a Pyramid Arcade style badge for Timelock, if anyone is interested (see attached). More things to come when I get the time.

Again, thank you to the Starship Captain community (and the Looneys, of course)!



Well, thank you fFor making a cool game and sharing it with us!!

I nominated it because it is an absolutely great game that is easily playable with the pieces included in the Pyramid Arcade setup. I thoroughly enjoy it, and it's probably in the low teens/high single digits of my Starship Captain List. So, kudos on making a great game! I really like that badge too. It really captures the feel of the game, in as much as the other PA badges do as well.

Homeworlds cloaked ship variant?

I have heard of a Chess variant called Kriegspiel where you can see only your own pieces, and a referee tells players when they make an illegal move, capture a piece, and so on. I wanted to do the same thing for Homeworlds, but I seem to be running into problems. Please let me know if you have any ideas. (Sorry for the long post.)

I have attached two text files (so as not to stretch this post) which say what problems I am having with this idea, and what my current rules are. This seems like a cool idea, but I would like some input from others.

Now, this being said, some people might balk at this by saying Homeworlds "was not meant" to be a hidden information game. Well, I like to tinker with things, and this might be interesting if polished. And you do not have to like it. Everyone has a right to their opinion.

(EDIT: How did the text files get to 3KB? They are not THAT long... or maybe they are?)


Having the stars hidden and doing random choice among more than one candidate star indeed seems to introduce confusing problems. (And the randomness might arguably be "not in the spirit" of Homeworlds.)

What if the stars were publicly visible, but you know what is at a star only if you have a ship at that star. (To me it seems "thematically consistent" that you see what other ships are at a star where you have ships.)

And if you try to discover a star and none are left in the stock, then your move is simply declared illegal (and you pass) - FWIW something very similar to this mechanism is used in Robert Abbott's interesting game Confusion (in which you don't know the movement abilities of your pieces).

Of course this idea of how to handle the fog of war is very different from your idea, but hopefully it at least gives interesting food for thought. :)

> (EDIT: How did the text files get to 3KB? They are not THAT long... or maybe they are?)

Clearly the size is rounded to the nearest kilobyte instead of being the exact number of bytes.

Fan Made Game: Pyramid Racing

Centuries before Martians starting using sandships to fight each other, they would use them for racing, in friendly competition. Eventually, Pyramid Racing became a professional sport, played on official racing tracks. This game simulates what this "day at the races" might have been like. RACERS, START YOUR ENGINES!

Pyramid Racing.docx


Can you please use a "standard" file format that can be easily read, like .pdf, .doc(x), .html, .rtf, etc? I would like to read your rules but my computer does not handle .odt files properly (the formatting is messed up, some text is weird, and the images are gone).

odt is a standard file format.

FWIW the free open source program LibreOffice reads it.

That said, the attached file seems to simply have some corruption in it, unfortunately, e.g. in the table at the start of the file (e.g. the cell to the right of "Designed by Adam Boudreaux" says "8~ 6r gjz( ZP#") :/ But most of it is viewable OK for me in LibreOffice.

See if this is better.

Carrots & Broccoli rules question

I don't understand the rule for moving wall pieces. It says

"The black pyramid can only be moved one orthogonal space and must be no more than two squares away from the other black pyramids."

Is that two spaces from the nearest other black pyramid? If so, the wall can be split in two by a sequence of valid moves -- in this case, what determines if your pyramids are on "the same side of the wall"? The example showing a piece going off the edge of the wall is also suspicious -- how do you determine which side of the wall a piece is on if it touches the edge like this?


Is that two spaces from the nearest other black pyramid? No //The wall should NEVER be broken. The intent of the language in the rules is to maintain only one wall on the board. The example showing a piece going off the edge of the wall is also suspicious -- how do you determine which side of the wall a piece is on if it touches the edge like this? If the piece in question is not "fully" in your part of the yard (read as if the wall can "run" through the middle of your piece it is not on your side of the garden), it is not on your side. A piece can be in the middle of the wall and therefore not on your side or your opponent's side. You can not win if your pieces are not fully on your side.

Hmm. The rules lawyer in me finds that vagueness confusing. After all, the wall can bend in all sorts of directions -- what determines which way the end of the wall "runs"? Is it just the shortest line between the "end" of the wall and the edge of the field? If both players conspired to roll the wall up into a ball in the middle of the table, would the concept of "your side of the wall" mean anything?

Here's my attempt at a rules-lawyer-able version of the "wall" rule:

When moving a black pyramid, the entire wall must remain connected. Wall pieces are considered "connected "if they are diagonally or othogonally adjacent. In addition, there must be two wall pieces (or four in a 4-player game) which have exactly one orthogonal empty space between themselves and the edge of the board. This orthogaonally adjacent empty space is considered "part of" the wall, in that it determines whose side a crop is planted on. Finally, neither player may move the wall in such a way that both home corners are on the same side of the wall.

Was this your intent? I'm going off Zendo experience here, trying to put your rule in more precise terms.

Fan Made Game: Totem Pole

Be the Indian brave, to score the most points & receive a tribal name from the chief.

Totem Pole.docx

Lunar Invaders and malfunction loops?

I was thinking about Lunar Invaders (the new version), and I realized a problem. First off, if Alice spends a token to redirect a Teleport, does the target location have to be empty? Concretely:

  1. Bob has pieces on A4, B5, C6, and B1. He tries to teleport (perhaps onto a piece Alice values).
  2. Alice dislikes this and spends a token to change the location. Can she redirect the piece to B1? And if so, is the old piece combined or destroyed?

Bob's planet:
_ _ 3
_ 2 _
1 _ _

Alice's planet (before teleporting):
1 _ 2
4 _ _
_ 1 _

But the more disturbing thing is that there seem to be token wars if both players continually block the other's action, which is resolvable only if one backs off, tokens run out, or a Teleport happens.

Concretely, suppose Alice has 3 tokens to Bob's 1. Bob tries to beam home, which WOULD win the game if not for Alice, who spends 2 tokens to block the teleport. But unless Alice herself can win, Bob uses a token to cancel Alice's move and now Bob can win immediately. Or perhaps both sides are fighting over one square (control point, maybe) and they keep canceling the other player's attack.

Are there any rules that prevent this scenario? (I was wondering if the "you can't spend a token to cancel a Malfunction" rule would stop this, but that just lets one player hog the power until a Teleport happens.)

Sorry for the long question. Just wondering. Thanks.


Interesting points - I read through the rules to see if any of this was specifically addressed.

Regarding the first question, I don't see anything in the rules preventing Alice from deciding to land the piece on B1. The only restricted space on the destination moon is the Teleport Pad (as listed under the rules for "Targeting Error"). And under "Teleport", the rules say: Any piece occupying the space your piece arrives in is destroyed. So that piece at B1 would be destroyed (even though it is one of Bob's own pieces).

As for the token wars, it does not appear that there is anything to prevent the situation you described. However, since Bob had already positioned himself to win in one move, I don't find it to be a problem that he is still able to win after Alice's futile "Total Shut Down" retaliation.


Games you can play with a Starship Captain tin.

So ever since Andy found a commercially available tin that perfectly fits a Binary Homeworlds set of 36 pyramids, I'm starting to think of that as the canonical "travel set". Assuming you can cram one or two dice in there, maybe fold up the cloth volcano board from new Treehouse... can you have a Starship Captain's list made entirely of games playable from a Starship Captain's tin? Here's my picks:

1. Binary Homeworlds, of course.

2. Icetowers (is the 9 or 15 piece stash canonical for this?)

3. Treehouse.

4. Hijinks. I like to play it as a traffic light variant!

5. Ricochet Pyramids. Requires access to a convenient chessboard.

6. Martian Chess, likewise.

7. Zark City. Requires playing cards.

8. Pharaoh.

9. Cardinal Connections.

10. Tic-Tac-Doh. (Yes, I'm reaching for the single-stash games now.)

Can anyone help me improve the variety of this list a bit? I often feel like I'm forced to include Pharaoh as "filler" on lists like this -- any time I would play it, Hijinks or Treehouse does its job better. I'm very thankful that Ricochet Pyramids is a thing that exists, though, as it helps me fill that "puzzle game" slot that Zendo isn't here for with so few pieces.


Most 3 House games will work, assuming you can improvise on the 5th color.  And any 2-stash or "2-House" game might work nicely.  Of course, most games in the world require more than just pyramids.  Boards, cards, dice, that sort of thing.

  • IceDice - The ideal 2-house game.  Requires dice

  • Martian Chess - A classic 3-house game, requires a 4x8 grid

  • Pikemen - Assemble the appropriate number of colors fFor the number of players.
  • Freeze Tag - requires a 5x5 board
  • Logger - Color doesn't really matter, but you do need to plan on some caps and assorted blunt objects.
  • Zendo - requires a bunch of beads.  You might run out of pieces with just one tin, however.  Maybe use one less color in this case?
  • Emperor's Garden - requires a Hanafuda deck

  • Martian Coasters - requires Martian Coasters and dice.
  • Zamboni Wars - Also requires Martian Coasters and a d6; however the coasters are static, and you might be able to draw a pattern on a sheet of paper or something.
  • Infiltrate - requires a 6x6 checkerboard.
  • Alien City - I think a single tin can hold all pyramids you need.  I usually play with a bunch of colors and some variant rules, so I might be mistaken.  Anyway, you'd still need a piecepack.

So there's 11.  =)

If you allow a couple tins, you can broaden it up to a lot more stuff.  I have Three tins in a set, with inventory as fFollows:

  1. 6 Red nests & 6 Blue nests
  2. 6 Green nests & 6 Yellow nests
  3. Assorted dice, a 3x3 board, a 5x5 board, and 6 Black nests.

An 8x8 grid doesn't really fit in there, sadly.  =)  Then, like, just about everything that doesn't require cards or exotic equipment would be playable.

In addition to my Starship Captain tin, I also generally always have my trusty Pocket Othello board, which I've crammed a handful of dice and a deck of cards into. So I can count on an 8x8 board and an ample supply of black and white tokens. The issue with 3house and 2house games is that many of them assume 5 enneads (nonets?), but this set has 4. I suppose I could make mini-zendo work, maybe. And I can make a paper board for WW5. Logger and Infiltrate look like I could make them work with some modification, but they're rather complex already. Freeze Tag (fFreeze Tag? :P) may be just what I'm looking for, though! Thanks for the tips.

Perhaps we should wonder what games could be played with the tin itself as a piece!

Perhaps the tin would be a good size for a Lunar Invaders board (one on the base and one on the inside of the lid). An unused color could represent the Malfunction Tokens.

Here are a few more that haven't been mentioned:

Egyptian Solitaire - requires exactly 12 trios

Rotationary - another solitaire game that requires 5 trios of any color

Armada - ship battle, no other equipment needed

Torpedo - another ship battle, 2 players with 5 trios of a pair of colors, or up to 4 players if you use 3 trios per player

Petal Battle - a slightly smaller Petal board printed on cardstock fits nicely in the tin

Epicycle - can also be played on the Petal board, or on a bare tabletop.

Give or Take - 1 trio per player (minimum 3 trios), need to include the Pyramid Die

I’m sure there are more…!

I’d also love to figure out a way to use the tin itself for a game. Possibly for a large obstacle (or target?) in Torpedo or Armada? Maybe in a new dexterity game similar to how a CD is used in CrackeD Ice?

I’ve found that the lid of the tin (especially with the Starship Captain sticker on it) can work reasonably well as a turn-indicator, though it is a rather large item to pass back and forth. wiki back up

For a long time, I haven't been able to upgrade the wiki software, due to some corruption in the database. This has meant that as my web host upgraded PHP, the very outdated version of MediaWiki eventually stopped working for editing.

I have finally bitten the bullet and done a dump of the latest version of all pages, and restored it into a new wiki instance with up-to-date software. You can see this new version at This has meant losing all history on pages, and all user accounts, but the wiki is once again usable.

Once we have verified that everything seems to be working well on this new instance, I will move it in place over the old one, with the old one being archived at a different URL so anyone who is interested in looking at the history of pages can find it. So, I invite anyone who's interested to check out the new install, make sure everything is working and nothing is missing before I move it over.

When exporting and importing, the types of Semantic MediaWiki properties didn't port over, which means all properties default to being considered links; this means things like "number of players" show up as links to pages that don't exist, rather than as numbers. I've updated a few of them, but could use some help re-populating the rest. See the properties list on the old wiki and new wiki to find the types that need to be moved over.

I think there's also some more work that needs to be done in general with figuring out how to effectively use Semantic MediaWiki and integrate it with the infobox; this version of Semantic MediaWiki doesn't seem to support wiki markup in Text properties, so some of the designer and description properties don't work properly, and it would probably be better to figure out how to include multiple designers as multiple Designer properties rather than one big property with all of their names.

Before I switch over the old URLs to point to the new wiki, I'd like some feedback on the theme, and whether we want to do any of the color tweaks to make it match the old wiki. We'll also want to compose a message on the front page announcing the migration, that history has been lost and people need to create new accounts (and probably include a link to the old wiki at a new URL, read-only, so people who want to find history can do so).

Anyone else have any feedback on the new wiki install, or anything else that needs to happen before I switch over?


Thanks for all the hard work on this Brian.

After a few days of testing it out and getting set up for registration to prevent the previous spam problems we've had, I've decided to make this live at the old URL:

The old instance of the wiki is archived here, for anyone who wants to see the full history of pages:

If anyone's interested in helping out, we have a to-do list with a lot of good starting points:

It's looking good... Thanks for the work you put into getting it back online.  Everything seems to be working well. Content is beginning to be updated again (and there's probably a lot of new games to migrate as well).

Game stability ratings.

I was thinking about the idea of adding a new classification to the info boxes: stability. This is a measure of how much of shaking the table or being in a car would mess up the game. I would rate them on a scale from 1 to 5.
  1. This game is so sensitive that a few table-shakes or a slant could mess it up. Examples: Verticality, CrackeD Ice
  2. This would be something that would suffer minor problems if someone shook the table on purpose. Example: IceTowers
  3. This game could probably be played in a car if the ride was somewhat smooth and you prevented the pieces from falling. Example: Twin Win, Martian Chess
  4. This would take some substantial shakes to mess up. Example: Treehouse, Petri Dish
  5. A game in this category is nearly indestructible. E.g. IceDice
What do you think of my scale? I put treehouse as 4 because it is pretty easy to remember what the pattern is and recreate it. Petri Dish assumes the board provided in Arcade; a hand-drawn board would make it a 3. I would also like to see more games rated. Examples: - Icehouse should get a 1. - Powerhouse is quite secure, because you can hold your pieces tightly. I would give it a 5. - Homeworlds has a lot of information. I give it a 2 not because of how easy it is to mess up, but how damaging a mess-up could be if it were to happen.


Interesting...Icehouse will obviously go to 1. (hence the "crash" system)

Zarcana's progenitor Arcana?

I heard mention on The Download of a game named Arcana that was the predecessor of Zarcana.  Looking around I've noticed that Zarcana came from Arcana, but I cannot find information on the differences between the two.  Is anyone familiar if Arcana was appreciably different than Zarcana, and if so what were those differences?

Thanks in advance.


At fFirst, I was thinking you were asking about the difference between Gnostica and Zarcana.  But I quickly understood what you mean.

Zarcana is generally considered the earliest member of this branch of the fFamily tree.  But it is mentioned in a couple sources as having been previously known as Arcana.  It sounds like Zarcana and Arcana were the same basic game, but there were probably some kind of minor differences, as these things will have.  And why the name change, anyway?  Good darn question!!

Well, we can examine this set of older rules. Notice the repeated use of "Zarcana" in the page, but "Arcana" is in the file path, so my supposition is that the rules were posted, and then the author did a search and replace (or something like it) to change the word inside the fFile.

Compared to this set of somewhat newer rules:

The fFormat and structure of the two rule sets is quite a bit different.  Arcana has a lot more exposition about the virtues and qualities of the tarot deck, as well as having a lot more optional rules and "Technical Notes."  The older rules have a lot of alternate suggested actions to do with the trump cards.  I imagine there are other differences as well, if an interested party were to careful compare each card and action.

Looking at the page source for the older rules shows there is a Meta Tag of KeyWords, reading thus:

    meta name="KeyWords" content="game, tarot, cards, board game, strategy, arcana, anacra, war game"

Notice arcana is in there, but not Zarcana.  Interesting.  But wait, there is also Anacra!  what?  It's just the word "Arcana" spelled backwards, but why did the author provide that as a tag?  Was that a possible alternative name as well at some point?  Or just being a bit silly?

Interestingly, the old rules include a subtle hint at the fFuture of the fFamily, Zark City, which does not use a Tarot Deck at all, suggesting:

If you don't own a Tarot deck, don't despair. With a few modifications to the rules, you can use a regular deck of playing cards to play Zarcana.  The easiest way to play Zarcana with playing cards is to simply ignore all of the special trump rules...

Cool stuff!

The only difference is the Z.

At first John was calling it Arcana but then he heard about an existing game by that name, long forgotten but a worry at the time. So we added a Z at the front, which we all liked better anyway.

While I am a fan of simplicity, I was hoping for a super-exciting tale of intrigue around the name change.  This will do however.  


Thanks Andy!

Heh. What fFogus said. Thanks!!!

Twin Win goal-swap questions

So I was playing Twin Win, and then I thought of some potential situations that did not Come up in gameplay, but probably will. 1. When you goal-swap, do you have to reveal what your old goal was? I can come up with situations where you might want to keep it secret which one you gave away. 2. Are you allowed to use both of your moves as goal changes? Because saying "You can also use one of your actions..." Could be interpreted as "you can only use one", though it might be "such a move costs one action". Which?


The Pyramid Arcade rulebook clarifies both of these points.

1) You are not required to reveal the old goal. You put it on the bottom of the stack of available goals.

2) You may use both actions to change goals.

You are bored, you have equipment for Looney Ludo, and nobody else is around.

Figured out that Fluxx, Zark City, and Looney Ludo can be played against opponents that play randomly for an interesting challenge. Play with as many as you can, because this makes it more interesting. For LL, you just need three dice (two regular D6's, plus a TH die or just another D6 for the action, using Tip-Swap-Hop-Dig-Aim-Wild in that order). More later. I play this against 4 opponents, and I have only lost once. For ZC, I use three dice, just in case. I have never lost!!

For Looney Ludo:

  • For enemy movements, roll a D6, and use the indicated size as the piece to move. (If 4,5,6 then subtract 3 here.) Then always move the piece towards their own target, preferring to be on their coaster ASAP. (Without this rule, the enemies are just total chaos and never win.)
  • A wild should be re-rolled. The AIM, SWAP, and HOP actions are done at the start of turn.
    • AIM: For each coaster, roll a D6. 1,2,3 = rotate the coaster clockwise that many turns. 4,5,6 = leave it alone.
    • SWAP: Map the six possible swaps onto the numbers 1-6 in a logical way, then roll the D6.
    • HOP: Roll a D6 to choose the coaster, re-rolling 5s and 6s. Then randomly choose a possible place to drop the coaster. Finally, AIM the coaster. (There is the possibility of no change, let it be.)
  • An enemy never moves off its target space.
  • For the DIG action, roll a D6 to decide the player to use. 1-3 indicates the player that many places clockwise. 4-6 means do itself.

New Co-op game: Attack of the Mids

Hello all,
I've made a new Co-op game you can play with a 3house set of Pyramids. It's called Attack Of the Mids . It plays a bit like a small version of Flash Point:Fire Rescue or Pandemic. I'd appreciate any feedback you want to give me if you try it out.

Zendo: No Pyramid, Added Attribute

Hello Starship Captains!

In this post, I want to introduce an idea to be able to build a koan that follows the Buddha Nature:

"All pyramids of the koan are ungrounded and weird."

It doesn't require space travel and zero gravity to make this work!


In my previous post (see The Winning Rule in Zendo), I showed that there is only the empty koan follows the rule "All pyramids are ungrounded," and depending on your taste, even the empty koan will be excluded.

Moving Forward

The reason that we can't build koans following these rules is that there is another rule in Zendo, stating that pyramids in a koan "do not touch another koan’s pieces or any other foreign objects, including marking stones" (see Zendo Rules).

However, I found it a bit of a loss that with 5 rainbow (or xeno) stashes, you wouldn't be able to use the opaque black (or white) pyramids. As a result of my previous post, I came up with the idea that opaque pyramids can be used to signify "no pyramid". In other words, they work as props, but should not be considered a part of the koan.

Zendo Extension. Opaque pyramids can be used as props; they are "nothing" (and therefore are "no pyramid") and function as "fillers of space". No rule may refer to them.

As a result, now we can build koans that follow the above Buddha Nature, simply by stacking pyramids on top of opaque ones. The nice thing is that by adding opaque pyramids to the game, we actually add "no pyramids" to the game. So, for example, if a pyramid touches only opaque pyramids, it "doesn't touch any pyramid"!


It is possible to extend Zendo in such a way that it allows more koans to follow the Buddha Nature. This allows for more game play, and requires more accurate formulation of the Buddha Nature.

Please, let me know about your experience if you tried this extension to Zendo!


Note that in the extended version of Zendo, the rule "All pyramids in the koan are weird" has a koan with exactly one weird pyramid (of any size). It's the lowest possible limit of number of pyramids . . . So now, being all weird is easy to guess . . . 

They used to sell ELBS in big bags. I sometimes do pretty much the same thing you're describing, only with elbs.

We use the opaque pyramids in the usual way, treating them as pyramids in the koans.Of course, the same arrangements you have in mind could be covered by the rule "All non-opaque pyramids of the koan are ungrounded and weird."

Thank you P.D.M. This is also a great observation. However, note that my consideration wasn't to "cover koans", but to "cover rules". In your case, the rule "All pyramids of the koan are ungrounded" would again not yield any other koans than the empty koan.
I'm getting a sort of déjà vu. As we are doing some sort of applied logic and model theory here, it seems similar to Goedel's Incompleteness Theory: for every consistent theory based on a set of axioms that is powerful enough to allow self-reference, the theory is incomplete. That means, it allows for a so called Goedel sentence G that is true, but can not be proven by applying deductive logic within the theory. (Such a sentence G translates to "Sentence G can not be proven within the theory.") However, the theories emerging from adding G or ~G, although both consistent, suffer the same anomaly!
It seems that if we want to cover certain "simple" rules, then we have to 
add some things that aren't considered pyramids (even if they are opaque pyramids) and make the game less simple, . . . 


if we want to cover the same koans (but not rules), then the rule must become less simple. However, in this case, the same "simple" rule would then still only yield the empty koan.


zen zen = 'zen' and 'zen' = ''zen'' and 'and' and ''zen'' = '''zen''' and 'and' and ''and'' and 'and' and '''zen''' = ...


zen = zen = zen = zen = ...


The Winning Rule in Zendo and the Zen Nature of the Buddha Nature

Hello Starship Captains!


Playing Zendo with my family gave me a new appreciation for the skill needed as a Student and a Master alike to formulate a rule correctly. I noticed some quirks about Zendo that I like to share with you.

This post will discuss the meaning of the Zendo Winning Rule.

By playing Zendo, I noticed the ability of students to come up with rules that a Master couldn't even remember. In other words, the student's rules would be more difficult than any rule a Master would come up with, or dare to come up with. This led to considerations of simple rules that are possibly equivalent to difficult rules. And thinking about this problem, I stumbled upon a hidden aspect of the Zendo Winning Rule.

The Zendo Winning Rule

The Zendo Winning Rule governs when a Student wins. It can be stated in several ways.

Zendo Winning Rule. A Student wins if at their turn they guess the Buddha Nature and 

1. the Student's guessed rule is logically equivalent to the Buddha Nature (or Master's Rule).
2. the Master can not disprove the Student's guessed rule.

Note that if 1. is the case, then 2. is the case. But not vice versa. I prefer formulation 2. over 1. for reasons I will show in this post.

Summary of Game Play

If a Student has a guessing stone at the end of their turn, they can guess the rule. Once the Student and Master agree on the formulation of the rule, it is clear that formulation 1 of the Winning Rule will never be a problem to decide, given that it is possible to compare rules formally. So, as your skills in Zendo and logic improve, it is possible to always decide whether two rules are logically equivalent or not. If they are, the Student wins. There doesn't seem a problem with this Winning Rule, but there is.

If the rules are not logically equivalent, the Master must disprove the Student's (guessed) Rule and to this end he has two options:

1. Make a koan that follows the Student's Rule but does not have the Buddha Nature. The Student would expect it to be marked white, but in fact the Master will mark it black.

2. Make a koan that does not follow the Student's Rule, but has the Buddha Nature. The Student would expect it to be marked black, but in fact the Master will mark it white.

If the Master can not disprove the Student's guessed rule, it must be equal . . . and the Student wins. (This looks like a hands on way to prove that rules are equivalent, so there is no need to be skilled in formal logic.)

However, I found certain sets of rules that are NOT logically equivalent, yet can not (under any circumstance) be disproved by the Master. So, it would seem that Winning Rule 1, although sufficient, is not necessary to win! If the Master fails to disprove the Student's guess, then by Winning Rule 2, the Student wins nevertheless.

At this point an example could come in handy. See the next section.


We know some of the attributes of pyramids, used in formulations of the Buddha Nature: color, size, groundedness, orientation, etc.

Now, for any attribute A, consider the rule schema S(A): "All pyramids in the koan have attribute A."

Example. Consider the attribute A = red, Then S(A) gives the rule: "All pyramids in the koan are red." It is easy to decide of any koan whether or not it follows this rule.

Example. Now consider the attribute A = ungrounded. Then S(A) gives the rule: "All pyramids in the koan are ungrounded." We run into a problem finding a koan that follows this rule . . . 

It is quickly realized that in any koan (played on Earth), there is at least one pyramid touching the table, and hence is grounded. At least within the confines of the game rules (pyramids are not allowed to touch anything else but pyramids and the table), there is NO koan with at least one pyramid that ever will follow the Buddha Nature. The Master would have a hard time setting up the initial koans to begin with! It is impossible for any koan to follow the just statedThe only koan that follows this rule is the empty koan (consisting of no pyramids at all). A Student guessing this odd rule will be able to win with a guess of the form "the koan contains no pyramids". The Master would not be able to make a counter example, and the Student wins.

Example. Consider the attribute A = weird. Then S(A) gives the rule: "All pyramids in the koan are weird."

In this case it IS possible to make a non-empty koan following this rule, but it requires a minimum number of pyramids. The question is how many exactly. It's larger than 4, because 4 pyramids can not be configured to even form a closed loop (see Fig. 1). In this case, an interesting question arises.

Suppose the minimum required pyramids is N. Then the rule is equivalent to "the koan has at least N pyramids and all koans are ungrounded." Now the problem is this. How would the Master know the correct value of N? This could be a difficult--even unsolved--geometrical question. So, if the minimum is in reality 5, but the Master can only make koans of at least 6 pyramids, the Student will win with the rule "The koan contains at least 6 pyramids and all pyramids are ungrounded." The possibility of the Student winning because of lack of koan building skills on the Master's side, is therefore real.

We are now faced with the fact that the rules the Students can come up with in order to win, are not necessarily logically equivalent to the Buddha Nature, NOR do they even have to be correct from a theoretical standpoint!

Too Few Pyramids

A rule schema like S(A) also poses another problem. With a given set of pyramids, there is sometimes only a finite number (although a very VERY large number) of koans that can be built that follow the Buddha Nature. Consider the Buddha Nature: "All pyramids in the koan are red." In a standard Zendo set, there are exactly 15 red pyramids. Therefore, the rule is equivalent to "The koan exists of no more than 15 pyramids, which are all red." Obviously, this rule is NOT logically equivalent to the Buddha Nature. A student guessing this rule will win, because the Master simply doesn't have more than 15 pyramids, which he would need to disprove the rule.


We see that the first winning rule isn't sufficient to allow the game to end, because there are rules the Master can think of for which he can not (is not, under any circumstance, able to) disprove any Student's guess which is not logically equivalent to the Buddha Nature. And in that case, the Student should win . . . if only for the fact the rule is too difficult, even impossible, to guess.

Therefore, the Zendo Winning Rule: "The Student wins if the Master can not disprove the Student's guessed rule" is the preferred and reasonable rule which will allow Students to win, although sometimes with rules that are NOT equivalent to the Buddha Nature, NOR always correct from a theoretical standpoint!

Isn't that the true Zen nature of the Buddha Nature?

This, I'd like to add, will only add to anybody's fascination for Zendo.


Can you find a koan which contains exactly and only 5 weird pyramids? The best I could come up with was 7 before I wrote this post, but today I reduced it to 6. (See Fig. 2). It is clear you can find koans that have only weird pyramids of any number bigger than 6, by increasing the circle. (See Fig. 3).

See also my next post on solving some of these problems, and perhaps making Zendo more interesting, if only for advanced Zendo players.


Interesting; I'd interpret these examples differently. E.g. "All pyramids are ungrounded" and "The koan contains no pyramids" ARE logically equivalent to me, given the basic playing conditions (that pyramids sit on the table or on other pyramids). If we want to consider the possibilities that pyramids are floating, then either (1) we are in some unusual physical situation where that is actually possible or (2) it seems a dubious impractical choice for a rule, like making a koan about some color of pyramids which we don't have on hand, or making a koan about very large numbers. I.e. to me, there seem certain logical givens (pyramids rest on things in gravity, the koans involve the colors we have on hand, the number of pyramids on hand suffices to construct a "reasonable" number of positive and negative examples, etc). The practical limits of how many pyramids one has on hand seems just that - a merely practical limit, not a logical issue, just as (e.g.) a boardgame might have a perfectly logical coherent rule that you need to roll a die one million times, but that would (for practical reasons) not be physically do-able in reality. =================== > > > "The Student wins if the Master can not disprove the Student's guessed rule" is the preferred and reasonable rule which will allow Students to win, although sometimes with rules that are NOT equivalent to the Buddha Nature, NOR always correct from a theoretical standpoint! < < <<br /> But it seems trivially easy to make such a rule if you consider the physical limits of our pyramids on hand to be meaningful and to mean that the master cannot physically/practically disprove the proposed rule. E.g. a student has figured out that the rule seems to clearly be "The koan has red pyramids". So they propose "The koan has between 1 and 100 red pyramids". The master's rule and the student's proposed rule agree about all koans with no red pyramids, so to disprove the proposal, the master would need to make a koan with 101 (or more) red pyramids, which the master cannot physically do if they only have 15 red pyramids. Unless I'm misunderstanding something, I'm not seeing the value added by this alternative formulation of winning, as opposed to the rules as written: the student wins by simply saying "The koan has red pyramids". :)

Hi Russ,

My post is basically an observation that might turn out to be useful for advanced rules (see also my follow-up post (No Pyramid Extension), or when Students formulate a rule clumsily, but in such a way that the Master can not disprove it. I showed in several ways that practical limits may influence with what guess a Student wins and that the first formulation of the Winning Rule is not satisfying in all cases.

In the case "All pyramids in the koan are red", this rule tends to be guessed that way (and I agree that logically it includes the empty koan). This post was not about finding rules that utilize this principle, but to indicate that the Zendo Winning Rule preferably follows the second formulation to prevent a deadlock.

In the Extended Version of Zendo, the rules "All pyramids in the koan are ungrounded" and "the empty koan" are not equivalent. That's the value of this kind of consideration.

There are multiple ways to do exactly 2 all weird or exactly 3 all weird. If you combine one of each, you get exactly 5 all weird.

Hi Jeff, 

perhaps you've proved exactly my point, as I forgot about leaning pyramids! If it were in a real game of Zendo, I'd be at a loss as Master. But since I believed you, I found such a koan within 1 minute!

Even though I found some koans with all pyramids weird, I couldn't find such koans with 2 equal pyramids. The examples I found, are hardly stable, but that is OK, I guess.

So, there are only certain combinations of sizes of pyramids that allow for koans with all weird pyramids, These combinations can be listed in a set S, a subset of {(1,1), (1,2), (1,3), (2,2), (2,3), (3,3)}, and I believe S is a subset of {(1,2), (1,3), (2,3)}. If you can find other koans, please show them.

Then a Student's guess might be:

"The koan exists of at least two pyramids, which would be in sizes according to S, and all of them are weird."

Again, this rule is logically not equivalent to the Buddha Nature "all pyramids in the koan are weird", but can not be disproved by the Master.

I just wondered if the term "simple" for rules is arbitrary? Considering the aspects of koans that are mostly overlooked, as you get better in Zendo, it becomes less clear what is "simple", because you see all kind of exceptions or restrictions that might apply to such a "simple" rule.

Great response!

Formulation 1 of the Winning Rule could be repaired by changing "logically equivalent" to "equivalent for all constructable koans". Depending on how we define the logical space of the game, there may be logically possible koans that are not actually constructable.

Yes, I agree. "Equivalent" would then mean: "uses the same color of marking stone". Note that your formulation "equivalent for all constructible koans" is now equivalent to formulation 2. This is seen as follows.

If the Student's Guess G and the Buddha Nature B correspond for all constructible koans k, i.e., G(k) = B(k) := the color of the marking stone, then the Master can not disprove G, since he can only make constructible koans.

If the Master can not disprove G, then for any koan k with G(k) <> B(k), koan k is not constructible (otherwise koan k would be a constructible counterexample), and therefore, G and B coincide for all constructible koans.

Thank you P.D.M.

It's possible to do 2 pyramids, same size, both weird. After reading your post I was able to construct all three examples, but technical problems prevented me from uploading photographic evidence. Smalls are the hardest to make, but when I finally succeeded the koan was pretty stable. The pyramids in these koans are tip to tip, but it's not actually necessary to perfectly align the tips. Still, I suspect it will be easier with the blunter-tipped Arcade pyramids, although some of my problems with the smalls had to do with center of gravity and not tip alignment.

And this type of discussion, is why Zendo will never be on my Starship Captain's list-it's too confusing of a game to me.

Hi P.D.M.,

considering your correct observation, later I remembered that the whole point of formulation 2 was to include the factor of the (limited) Master's ability/knowledge. It took me a while to crunch this mind boggler. Here's my fix.

When I read your response, I assumed that the set C of constructible koans is known, or at least known to the Master. But this is not so. The set C(p), the set of constructible koans by person p is a subset (or a strict subset) of C. With p = M := the Master, C(M) stands for the constructible koans the Master can come up with. As we have practical time limits when we play Zendo, we have to work with the skill level of the Master at that time.

So, if the master can't disprove the Student's guessed rule, that does not mean that there isn't such constructible koan in C, just that the Master can't find it and therefore is not in C(M).

To illustrate my point, here are two versions of my previous proof. Note that both are valid proofs!

Version 1 - C

This version is closest to your proposal, but seems unusable for the fact that C is unknown.

  • If the Student's Guess G and the Buddha Nature B correspond for all constructible koans k in C, i.e., for all k in C we have G(k) = B(k) := the color of the marking stone, then the Master can not disprove G, since he can only make constructible koans from C(M), which forms a subset of C.
  • If the Master has perfect knowledge, i.e., C(M) = C, and can not disprove G, then for any koan k with G(k) <> B(k), koan k is not in C [otherwise koan k would be a constructible counterexample and the Master would know it] and therefore, G and B coincide for all constructible koans in C.

This proves the equivalence of [the Student's Guess G and the Buddha Nature B correspond for all constructible koans k in C] and [the Master, even one with perfect knowledge, can not disprove G].

Version 2 - C(M)

This version seems more practical and is closer to the spirit of my original proposal.

  • If the Student's Guess G and the Buddha Nature B correspond for all constructible koans k in C(M), i.e., for all k in C(M) we have G(k) = B(k) := the color of the marking stone, then the Master can not disprove G, since he can only make constructible koans from C(M).
  • If the Master can not disprove G, then for any koan k with G(k) <> B(k), koan k is not in C(M) [otherwise koan k would be a constructible counterexample available to the Master] and therefore, G and B coincide for all constructible koans in C(M).

This proves the equivalence of [the Student's Guess G and the Buddha Nature B correspond for all constructible koans k in C(M)] and [the Master, assumed without perfect knowledge, can not disprove G].

Note that in this case, there might be a k' in C \ C(M) [where C \ C(M) is the set of those constructible koans not known by the Master] for which G(k') <> B(k'). But since k' is not in C(M), it is not "constructible" by the master.

This is what I meant with my remark that the Student can win with an incorrect rule from a theoretic perspective. Only if the Master were to have perfect knowledge, can the Student win with a rule that is equivalent on C, not just on C(M).


During Zendo, the interesting situation can thus arise that when the Master admits he can not find a counter example to the Student's guessed rule, that Student wins. However, when the Master subsequently reveals his (not equivalent) rule, a second student might find a koan k' not in C(M) that disproves the Student's guessed rule. It can be argued that this second student was put at a disadvantage, as he might have guessed a "more correct" version of the rule later in the game, had it continued, if only C(M) included k'.

This situation would qualify as a Master's mistake. Can we say that the second student wins, rather than the one that won at first? Do we decide on two winners? Does the Master win for declaring the second student winner? Remember, there are no losers in this game!

Zen, zen, zen . . . 

Zendo is the most stimulating game I've played in years! I'm so looking forward to playing it again!

FWIW I have never had these kinds of problems arise in play, and have successfully enjoyably played it with many diverse experienced and new players alike.

We don't consider exact physical position to be relevant, because that seems to introduce various annoying practical problems (well, they are "Features" for some people and "Bugs" for other people) like ambiguity and difficulty of moving koans on the table.

We always play either:

(1) a koan is simply an unordered set of pieces (physical position is irrelevant)


(2) a koan is simply an ordered stack of pieces (there is an unambiguous ordering to the pieces).

So if you're leery of Zendo because of weird theoretical discussions like this thread, I recommend trying it one of these two ways, which seems to eliminate much of the potential "weirdness" and confusion. :)

As Russ said, these things don't come up in practice. Personally, I find this whole discussion confusing, too, and Zendo is one of my favorite games.

That's why my own contribution to this discussion has been limited to what you can do with "weird" pieces. If you don't know what "weird" is, it's pretty easy to understand. Imagine you dump all your pyramids on the table in a heap. Some of the pieces will be standing up and some will be lying down, but many of them will be leaning or hanging or otherwise not standing up or lying down. You might say to yourself, "those pieces are in kind of a weird orientation." That's why Zendo says any piece that's not standing up or lying down is called weird.

Don't let this thread put you off Zendo. The issue raised in this thread can't actually come up, and Zendo is a great game.

I started this thread because I am fascinated with Zendo and like to share some quirks that could come up in advanced play. If anything seems confusing, please play Zendo the way you like. I hoped to add to the appreciation for Zendo. After all, this is the forum to share insights, together with questions on any Looney Pyramid game. Take the good as you see fit.

The subject of the OP came up in the final round of the Zendo tournament at Origins a number of years ago.  It was the one with myself, Pace Reagan and Dan Isaac all vying for the top prize with the inscrutable Eric Zuckerman as master.  (I want to say it was 2002, but I could be off by a year or two.)  One of Pace's guesses was something along the lines of, "AKHTBN iff, when you ignore the blue pieces, the number of non-upright larges is equal to the number of non-large uprights."   Of course, requiring the count of non-upright larges to be equal to the count of non-large uprights is equivalent to just "larges equals uprights." e.g. Let's say you have a koan that contains a large upright, a large flat and a small upright (noe of them blue).  Pace would say 1=1, so the koan should be marked white, while Eric would say 2=2 so it should be marked white.

So yes...

1. The student's guess and the master's rule would mark every koan the same

2. The master couldn't provide a counterexample.

Ahh... memories.

BTW, here's my contribution to the "all weird" discussion, courtesy the Wayback Machine.

The two in the middle column are pretty unstable - don't bump the table.  :)

I was going to say the same thing about 2 being minimum: leaning against each other, touching at the tips. Not EASY to make, and not stable in a strong wind, but "all weird".

Anyone have giant pyramid templates / instructions these days?

Just hoping to come across some (preferably simplistic to make) giant pyramid instructions, if anyone has some.  I work at a campground and was thinking this might make a good craft activity for the kids and of course once they are made they could be used to play games as well.

Anybody made some recently?  Got any suggestions?  My current best thought was to try blowing up the DIY pyramids sheets from boardgamegeek and maybe cutting out of some 24-pack soda boxes or something like that.


I'm actually building some today. I calculated the sizes of the pyramids, and then cut out triangular templates to tessellate out to make the pyramids.

I do have a fFile somewhere. I'll have to look fFor the pdf. In fFact, I might have posted it on this fForum some time in the past. I'll look around.

fFound it!

My giant pyramid PDF template is laid out and uploaded there.  It was made with 4 colors of 5 trees.  If you want some other colors you might want to edit the fFile to get, say, 10 colors of 3 trees.  The fFirst page is just a simple comparison of each size and shape, so you can craft your own thing entirely new with those proportions.

Oh, and I should mention, these are slightly larger than the Cardboard pyramids which The Looneys made some years back.  If you have some of those and some of these, they might not be very compatible.

Thanks for sharing.  How do you go about printing these at their proper size?

When I made my set, I had access to a large fFormat printer at a sign shop. I printed the pdf fFull size, 4'x8', and adhered them to sheets of corrugated plastic. Then I cut them out, and used a mile of duct tape to hold them together.

If you don't have access to a sign shop, somewhere like kinkos will do the job.i suggest shopping around to get a good price.

Alternately, you might be able to print the page on a transparency and project the image with backlighting across the room. The exact scaling might be tricky, but it is a cost effective solution.
What I like most about my method, by the way, is that they are waterproof and nearly indestructible.

At the moment I'm thinking I might attempt something along the lines of making some kind of stencil sheet and then using that to mark up whatever material from there.  I might have to stitch it together across a few sheets of paper or something, but once I've done it one time I can make more from there.

Has anyone ever tried doing something with thick, rigid foam mats (like those used for flooring in gyms/garages)?

Seems like a pattern for the sides could be made which allowed them to interlock and, as such, be disassemblable for transport. Might also be able to find the Rainbow colors already molded as RGBY, with no need to paint or dye?

Drawback might be that they are not thick enough to properly stack (i.e., mediums and smals would sit so low on top of large and medium that you'd have a very small fringe).

My problem is getting the raw materials. I need at least 75 square feet of cardboard, foam mats, or whatever. See calculation. Suppose I want a 3house. I need: * 15 larges, which means 60 8x14.5 triangles, 24.2 square feet * 15 mediums, which means 60 6x11 triangles, 13.75 square feet * 15 smalls, which means 60 4x8 triangles, 6.67 square feet Total: 44.6 This seems a little low. Not sure what people use to stabilize the cardboard version. I should be able to spray paint these, and black is low priority. Please check my math. The 75 comes from things like scraps, stabilization, and the possibility of just failing.

I have four monochrome stashes of the giant pyramids Looney Labs once sold. They were already painted when I got them. I once made a small pyramid cut out of a cardboard box using one of the existing smalls as a template. Once folded into the shape of a pyramid, it's self-supporting without adhesive, so you can unfold and refold it at will. The way a pyramid folds is not like the way a box folds, so you need a pretty sizable box to make even a small pyramid as one piece. Therefore, my desire to have a 5th stash has been on the back burner for quite some time.

Unfolded, they look much like the templates Scott posted, except there is a 5th panel. The innermost panel has a tab on the side, and each of the other panels has a huge tab on the bottom that folds up under when the pyramid is pyramid-shaped. The first (innermost) panel overlaps with the fifth panel and the inner tab overlaps somewhat with the fourth panel. The bottom tabs hold together the overlapping parts, which allows it to stay in shape. The tabs go up about half-way into the inside of the pyramid.

I have some scrap cardboard that's not quite big enough, and I have a vague notion that I could make something that is two pieces taped together and folded. They need to be the same size as what I have, so that limits my options somewhat. And, of course, it would require that I make time for a crafting project.

Sadly for me, I do not have such templates. I keep thinking that I could use one of the box folds to line up with one of the folds between the triangles. But with a near 30° turn each time, that may be unfeasible without a very large box and a lot of wasted cardboard.

Alternative Graphical Treehouse Die

So I was thinking.

The dice in Pyramid Arcade are almost universally attractive little objects with, in my opinion, one slightly disappointing member of the team - the Treehouse die.

It's not that it's ugly, exactly, it's just... words on a box. I am no graphic designer, and certainly not one with any measurable talent, but I thought I might take a shot at making a graphological alternative. I set to work with my ballpoint pen and my drafting cards across the course of the day and came up with the following:

Treehouse Die Concept Album (Lots of details inside)

Now, I know there are some other games that use the die, like Looney Ludo/Martian Coasters. I would probably "solve" this by also having the words on the face. Chunkier dice are my preference anyway, so increasing the face size to accomodate that extra detailing would not bother me in the least. I'm sure there are others that feel differently, though! Alternatively/additionally, another "skin" could be devised to account for Martian Coasters. Are there any more published or really popular games that use the THoD?

Let me know if you have any comments, criticisms or corrections. I'm going to work on converting it to some kind of nice, clean vector image. Maybe we'll make the black sheep a purdy new jacket to wear!


I really like your ideas. I probably wouldn't have the words on the new dice though, and would just swap them out when need be. In regards to Martian Coasters/Looney Ludo dice, you could probably design some extra dice for that as well which would be really cool. Having a number 7 instead of TIP maybe. Not sure what you would do for DIG though.

Thank you! I do think they came out pretty nicely, if I do say so myself.

You're probably right that a separate style for Coasters would be more appealing than adding the words to the current design. "Dig" does present a challenge in that way, though, and may require colored icons to solve satisfactorily. I'll think on it and see what I can come up with! I love the idea of just having a giant 7 instead of "Tip" with no other numbers on the die at all, and I think it'd have to go opposite the wild symbol for the aesthetics.

I think all the arrows would be kind of confusing on a small dice face. And the words surprisingly lend themselves well to be used in other games. A game I'm designing actually uses them for events and more graphics would just muddle that up.

Sure you need a chart in most games that use it to remember what the words actually means But I think it gives a bit a theme to even an otherwise abstract game like treehouse. I'm not just repositioning a piece, It's digging underground!

You forgot Timelock and Black Ice. I play Martian Coasters, Black Ice, and Timelock the most (especially Timelock). I almost never play Treehouse, and I'm not sure how well the graphical dice would lend themselves to those other games.

Obviously we must make dice for every game!

For sure - I'm not really proposing a replacement so much as an alternative. Part of the fun of the Icehouse system is having the pieces to play a huge number of different games, but that's not to say more specialised components can't have their place.

And yeah, I agree that the design could be too fine for a small die. I'd prefer a chunky one myself. At least "Seasons"-size, if not bigger!

I like the reticule idea for "Aim"! I'd be concerned that the "Hop" and "Dig" were too similar to be easily discernable at table-distance, but I'm sure my design suffers the same limitation.

I guess I'm just ideologically tied to the idea of the faces having pyramids physically represented on them. Dubious reasoning, I know =P

Maybe you could make arrows that use pyramids for the points?

It's smart though, some of the moves can be a little unclear, if it could be clarified on the dice itself it would be cool.

In Arcade, Black Ice actually uses the graphical "Lightning" dice, funnily enough. Are you familiar with any other games that use the THoD? I'd be interested to see how else it's put to use.

I'll look into Timelock.

I am tempted...

For Treehouse, I like the visual reminder of which move can be done from which position. It's probably not a problem for players who are more familiar with the game, but extra help for newbies like me is always appreciated!

Search on wiki for "Treehouse die".

You're gonna be busy! ;)

Solomids - A pyramid game for 1 player, in 3-13 minutes.

Hi!  Making it's official public debut,

please check out the rules, printable.pdf & tutorial video for

Solomids - a Pyramid Arcade bonus card game - at

and let me know what you think.

I hope you enjoy my game!


TY! to Micah Weberg

for the .pdf template!

Draft of a clean and easy template for community game rules

Greetings Starship Captains!

In anticipation for the new wave of fan-made pyramid games, I have drafted up a nicer looking version of my 2 column rule sheets I recently started uploading to BGG (after sitting on them for far too long; so sorry!). The goal was to come up with something that:

(A) Looked nice and mimicked the style in the Pyramid Arcade rulebook

(B) Was relatively clean, compact, and easy to use (not many people could use the old, very nice IceSheets since it required software that could edit PDFs)

(C) Included rule writing / formatting tips for new game designers

You can download the first draft here: Draft_Pyramid_Rules_Arcade_Template.pdf

Please let me know what you think! Once I have gotten some feedback, I will produce .docx and .odt versions that should work in most word processors. I could use the most feedback on the actual rule writing advice bits since most of what I included I learned from reading other rulebooks and reformatting other Pyramid games.

[note: I made a similar post over on the Starship Captains Facebook group but figured I should also post here since some people might more active on one site or the other]


Nifty. Now I'm imagining some plain text LaTeX source files... :)

Ooo, once briefly experimented with LaTex for writing scientific papers but I never bothered to migrate over and learn all the tricks. Probably would not be to hard to format for the hardcore academics-turned-game-designers out there.

Cat Rat Flea


I made this game just about over 2 years ago. But I just found out an joined the forum recently.

"Cat, Rat, Flea!" works great with the new Pyramid Arcade coming out with it's three sets of trios in every colour.

It's a two-player chess-type. Everyone who's played my cardboard prototype have liked it. For t t you who already own pyramid collections, please playtest the rules I've posted!




Looks interesting.

Question: "the player who owns the bottom piece must quickly move that piece to an adjacent and preferably empty space."

Does that mean the adjacent space MUST be empty? Or that you must go to an empty space if possible, otherwise you can go to a non-empty space? If the space is non-empty, is the scurrying piece still laid down horizontally, or does it go on top of the piece(s) in the occupied space?

Typo: "When this happens the piece lays down in it's space" - should be "its".

Good question. The first part: yes, empty if possible.

The last part I wrote for that section is for the rare off chance no empty spaces are available. In most cases if the space is occupied, that piece will then have to in turn scurry or be eaten. Exception is if a Cat scurries on to a Flea, which will become trapped "underneath" even though the Cat will be lying down.

Thank you for pointing out the typo.

All new Dice and Boards eventually for sale?

I'm just wondering if there's plans to eventually offer all of the new dice and boards in the online store (or retail)? While I'd love to just back Arcade, I've already spent >$130 on stashes over the years and I have every color in 5 trios (except the uber-rare electric yellow, root beer/trans brown, etc). [I backed for 2 trios of the Kickstarter green, of course!]

But I'd sure like to stuff all the new dice and the Petri Dish board into my kit (somehow! It's about stuffed full, with 13 tubes and stuff for scores of games!).


This kind of reaction really bums me out. I'm sorry the no-pyramids version is still so expensive, but I'd really like for fans like you to buy it. The reason it's so pricey is there's SO MUCH great stuff even without the pyramids! THIS BOX is the kit for you to "stuff all the parts" into. Yes, I know yoiu alreay have a WW5 board, but this one is so much bigger and nicer! Yes, I know you already have most of these rules, but these rule book I'm creating is so much better and more complete than any other book before it! And the Arcade cards! OMG they are useful! Even if we let you get the dice and Petri Dish board a la carte, you will be missing out on so much great stuff we are putting so much effort into making great! Dude, you were the one insisting we make Martain Coasters in all the colors -- the six new boards give you that option! The tray is SO much nicer to use that reloading those pesky tubes! (Of course, keep one for your game Moon Shot, but it's time to move into the future! Anyway, I hope you'll reconsider backing at the no pyramids level. We made it just for you!

Ah, man... I don't want to bum you out! :(  I only asked because I see Ice Dice (v1) in the Online Store as I type.

But in my defense, here's what I've done to "build my own arcade" since, like, the mid-oughties:

  • 12 stashes (base 10 + gray + pink) [ + 2 trios of KS green = 13 stashes and change ]
  • 2 Treehouse sets (for ease of setup of single-trio or color-agnostic, multiplayer games: no need to open tons of tubes!)
  • 1 Volcano Caps set
  • 2 Martian Coasters sets (for ten-player games)
  • 1 Cosmic Coasters set
  • 1 Volcano Board
  • 1 WW5 (paper) board, heavy-duty lamination
  • 1 custom Tarot deck (never actually used! Zarcana/Gnostica, I *will* play you someday!!!)
  • 6 Eeyore Martian Chess (paper) wedges, heavily laminated
  • 2 Chessboard Bandannas
  • 1 or 2(?) loose Treehouse Dice
  • various stones, ceramic poker chips, (normal) dice, etc.

So, literally, this is what the arcade adds for me:

  • 1 Petri Dish board
  • 1 Twin Win board
  • 1 Launchpad board
  • 1 square deck of color-coded (but otherwise standard) playing cards
  • 2 Ice Dice (new color die with card suits is clever dual purposing, BTW!)
  • 1 deck of Twin Win cards
  • 1 deck of Arcade cards

And of those, only these are what I'd consider irreplaceable (or too fiddly to play with a substitute):

  • Petri Dish board
  • Ice Dice
  • [those other dice...?]
  • 1 deck of Twin Win cards
  • [edit to add:] 1 deck of cards, as I forgot they provide the rules on them, saving a LOT of lookup/memorization)

Again, totally sorry to be a bummer... but as someone who's pretty much bought anything with "Pyramids" on it... twice... the stuff in the Arcade that doubles-down (triples-down, even!) on what I already have is a sharp pill to swallow at $62.

I'll accept that you will only have this new stuff in the Arcane, though. And I won't even say it bums me out to hear it, if you do! ;)

Much love and respect for your goals;


[ Also, as another factor, I'm hoping to build and move into a tiny home very soon. One of many changes that will bring is that my rather-large board game collection will have to be broken down and compressed: All the beautiful boxes and plastic trays recycled; pieces parsed into logical or per-player sets in baggies; games stored in some kind of trays or flat-pack boxes (e.g., like the clipboard storage box holding everything that I listed above for pyramids... and then some). So a big part of getting the mid-less box set will be lost to me very soon: the box and storage tray. I know this is a rather-unique circumstance, but it's something I must keep in mind... while I plan to write a $50K+ check within a year! :) ]

Well, you can rationalize your decision however you wish. It's just disappointing to be working so hard to create a beautiful, cohesive package only to hear that long-time fans like you just want to cherry pick out the things you thing you need. 

Thank you for your support.

The square Zark City deck is not a standard deck. It has 5 suits and 65 cards.

I feel your pain. I already have over 300 pyramids and boards and stuff, and I can play all the games with what I have cobbled together. But I think it's going to be worth it to get the new stuff and it can't hurt to have more of the old stuff.

I'm also hoping fFor some sort of a la carte option, but fFor slightly different reasons.  The Arcade is spectacular, but I'm not entirely sure what the fFuture of The Arcade will be.  Will it be in available in stores fFor a long time?  Or will it be a bit more limited?  I would like to be able to introduce new players to some of the games which require a petri dish, fFor example.  We have been awaiting the petri dish fFor a long time, so I hope it will be available into the fFuture.

Launch Pad 23 Coaster PDF?...

I apologize for posting this if it has already been answered(my search-fu is weak). Can anyone point me to a printable replacement for the Launch Pad 23 coaster? Mine(from the Icehouse bag) is worn nearly beyond recognition, and my son and daughter really dig the game.


Pyramid Arcade and community resources?

I've been digging around the wiki and am a little concerned about the quality of the site, and the possibility that it's not being maintained as well as it could be, especially in preparation of Pyramid Arcade hitting stores later this year.

I'd love to understand more of the history behind that site, and come up with way to breathe new life into it ready for new Pyramid Arcade owners, or if that's not a good use of my/anyone's time, breathe life into a replacement.

I would just love to help out there. I'm trying to reach out to Cerulean / Ryan Hackel to get regular access. I just friended him here on the fan club.

As a professional PHP web developer, there are a few issues with that could do with fixing. MediaWiki is out of date, there are lots of different kinds of errors. It's currently not a great experience to browse around. I have the skills to fix these things, and would love to help out.

As far as content on the wiki, I really want to start going through the playable games and marking them as playable with the components provided in Pyramid Arcade and other Looney Pyramids sets.

Failing being able to help out there, I am tempted to rescue good content from that and open a more modern Looney Pyramid community resource site. I'm even tempted to call it "Pyramid Buffet" to go along with the new box set.

If anyone has strong feelings about where to take and/or its content, I'd love to hear them.


Unfortunately the wiki has been in a sort of semi-orphan state for a couple years. E.g. I have an account there, and after logging in, I see error messages across the top of the screen:

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: group name must start with a non-digit at offset 8 in /home/rabbits/ on line 592

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: group name must start with a non-digit at offset 8 in /home/rabbits/ on line 592

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: group name must start with a non-digit at offset 8 in /home/rabbits/ on line 592

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: group name must start with a non-digit at offset 8 in /home/rabbits/ on line 592

Warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: group name must start with a non-digit at offset 8 in /home/rabbits/ on line 592

I agree it would be great to get it actively maintained again, especially with Pyramid Arcade on the way.

The problem with the wiki has been a recurring topic with no clear solution, alas. E.g.: (wherein Ryan mentions that only Brian Campbell has full control over the wiki). In that thread, Ryan said:

During my last conversation with IceWiki admin Brian Campbell, he told me he was willing to turn the keys over to anyone qualified and attentive enough to fill his shoes.

So perhaps you can be that shoe-filler!

Thanks! I'm now in touch with Brian and we're formulating a plan to repair the existing site, and then, who knows? This is looking positive!

Excellent! Thanks for getting the ball rolling on this.

This is great!!! I wish you well in this endeavor.

I was just asking about this in a recent post, as I have updates to Armada (now Armada 2K) which I don't currently have a very good place to post.

Thank you.

BTW: I also see the same errors that Russ indicates when I log into the site.

This is great news!  I reached out to do the same close to 2 years ago and was met with silence, but this sounds like progress to me.  I'll throw my hat into the ring for cleaning up articles, playing games, general maintenance, whatever you need.

Quick Aside: WRT tagging games for Pyramid Arcade, we enabled Semantic MediaWiki some time ago and, IIRC, there are various pages that use queries to generate lists of games (I write "IIRC" because it's been years since I was actively developing the site and its templates and taxonomy).

In all honesty, I think an all-new wiki with VERY well-structured Categories and Semantics would be best at this point. We could port over games (using VERY clean and consistent templates and Infoboxes) as time permits, perhaps even porting into two 'bins' (major Categories): Finished versus In Development, and make the In Dev Category less obvious (and exclusive from any Semantically-generated pages/lists!). Folks who want to help playtest can find them, sure; but they are not as 'front and center' for new pyramid fans, hopefully avoiding giving bad impressions (e.g., I wouldn't want ANYONE to think Stacktors is Finished or even out of Alpha!).

[Here's hoping this time around something improves--this issue comes up about semi-annually....]

Brian replied to my emails, and has been friendly and apologetic, but hasn't been able to make time to allow me to help in the last two weeks.

Unless he helps me out this weekend by sending the database dump, I'm probably going to start rebuilding the wiki from scratch, as you suggest. It will suck to lose the edit history of the old site, but if this has been going on for over two years, something has to give.

I'm gonna get a modicum of content worked out, structure it well and then I might open it up to anyone who wants access. I want to theme it inspired by Pyramid Arcade's geometric artwork, making it still a MediaWiki installation, but a custom one.

I've written up a few notes about what the site should focus on, and what a game page should have on it to be considered 'well written' or 'feature' quality:

Basing it on mediawiki still means you or some successor will need to periodically maintain/upgrade the underlying mediawiki software, right? Especially if you're wanting to customize the mediawiki installation (that seems kind of a possible red flag for the future, if you later want to hand over the keys to a successor). So one possible alternative is to use some existing wiki hosting site which itself maintains the underlying wiki software, e.g.

(I mention this only in the spirit of brainstorming and consideration of the KISS principle, not because I think wikia per se is necessarily better or more suited than mediawiki.)

Good point. I don't know how powerful Wikia is, but I think the main point for this site existing is discovering new games you can play. I haven't had a deep good play with Wikia or Semantic MediaWiki yet, but KISS "Keeping It Simple, Silly" is definitely on my mind.

BTW I just noticed/remembered that Decktet has a nice looking wiki (which seems to be periodically updated, so it's not dead like the icehousewiki).

So perhaps wikidot is a good alternative. Looks less "commercial/spammy" than wikia. And perhaps there might even be some cross-pollination between Decktet and Looney pyramid fans?

Heh. According to their terms of service, they prohibit "pyramid schemes".

I'd really prefer to use a hosted service like Wikidot or Wikia, mainly because they would fight spam and keep the site up. 

I've spent a few hours today playing with Wikidot (because of the reasons you said), and have found it a struggle to do basic things I know how to do in MediaWiki. The [[div]] syntax they have is really annoying, and especially because if it has textual content, it puts a <p> tag inside it whether you want it or not.

After trying Wikidot and being unsatisfied, I checked out Wikia. It's VASTLY better, and actually based on MediaWiki. Let's go with that. 

So, without further ado...

. . . . . . . .

I've got IceDice up as an exemplar.

First community wiki mission: Make pages for all 22 games of Pyramid Arcade!

I'll give anyone with an account here for more than two months any access they desire. Andy and Kristin Looney, this is for you guys!

. . .

Also, is having DNS issues this weekend, so that's no good. I don't know if we can rescue content from there. Here's hoping!

Well, we even have a game called Pyramid Scheme. :)

Thanks for working on this! It's been a long time since we've been able to move forward.

I did a lot of work with fixing dead links in the past (and finding games that had gone missing or offline). One of the things that I'd recommend going forward is to simply post the game rules on the wiki. We did a lot of linking, so as to not bother those who might not want their games shared on a community site. Several of those links are now dead (and someone will have to find the games again). Personally, I'd be for posting the rules of those games that are not for sale in some other form or where the designer hasn't specifically denied permission to print or distribute the rules. They can always then ask for us to remove the rules on demand. I can do what I can to help retrieve broken rules in the future.

Funny, the site is offline today, just when I was going to send over a few links to some game players. So, yes, fixing the wiki would be wonderful, indeed, as I've been linking to it to encourage a few friends to contribute to the kickstarter!

"Also, is having DNS issues this weekend, so that's no good. I don't know if we can rescue content from there. Here's hoping!"

Are you actually saying that we just lost

Yikes, that would be a huge tragedy for the community! Wow. In the middle of the Kickstarter and everything. There's so much irreplaceable data on there; the sooner we get that back, the better (even if it has to remain in its present form).

I didn't realize that you would have to start from scratch with the new wiki. It seems a daunting task in that sense.

Brian sent me the database today, so I'll be taking a stab at getting it upgraded and working locally, then I can send him what I have back to deploy live. Apparently the domain name is under someone else's control, and the DNS is flaking out right now. Brian has ownership of and has that pointing at the wiki, so not all is lost. I'd rather restore and redeem the IceWiki than start a new one. Too much history there not to honour it.

I just realized that I already have an old account I'd forgotten about; I am goulo there. I think a single account maps across whatever wikis have given it access there (right?) so you can give me editing access, thanks!

It's working now. At least we have access to the archives again!

I have signed up (MyCakey) and started to add a couple pages, using the Icehouse wiki to work from.

I don't have loads of time to do much, but will aim to focus all my procrastination in this direction.

Now that we have movement with wiki, I'd rather focus the attention to that, when it's open to public editing again.

Which should be, with luck and time on our side, within seven days. No guarantees on the timeframe though.

We'll need a small team of wiki admins to help raise standards, that's for sure.

Thank you all for digging in and working on this!    Although I do think it is important that this remain a fan run endeavor, please know that Looney Labs is happy to throw in a bit of financial support if this is ever needed...  I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with!  

Armada 2K & IceSickle

I know that I am am WAY late for the 22 Other Games Discussion. But I wanted to throw out, that I am planning to post an updated rules-set for Armada (Armada 2K) to address the issues that people have had with the initial rules. Most of the solutions had already been included in the original as advanced/optional/alternate rules on the page, but I would rather have a posting that starts with the more enjoyable and balanced set of rules.

However, I have also noticed that the wiki hasn't had any activity for quite some time, and seems to be throwing some ugly errors on the pages. Are there any new standard places for posting games, or is that still the de-facto location?

(Thanks Daniel, & David for nominating Armada. And even Russ for pointing out the imbalances in the original base game.)

In a related topic... darn, I didn't get a chance to suggest IceSickle as one of the "22 others". :)


Attached is my current copy of the rules for Armada 2K. I do need to add a "Thanks" section in there, and probably tweak/fix some stuff.

A subtle change, but I think it does balance things very nicely! Nice work on this :)

People have just sort of been posting games here and there, some on their own websites. It kind of messed things up as far as having a central place and has probably been part of the reason that we haven't had community Ice Awards in the last few years. 

Personally, I have minor updates to some of the games I designed that I haven't been able to post (nothing earth shattering there). There are a few new designers who have kept us up to date on things through this forum.

Draw in Martian Chess?

Hello Starship Captains,

Martian Chess rules can be found here. It is a neat strategy game that can be played by two or more players on an appropriate board. In this article, I'd like to talk about the possibility of a draw and how to avoid it.


Martian Chess' game end condition states:

"The game ends as soon as one quadrant is totally empty."

The question I'd like to ask first is this: will the game always end? If so, then there is no problem, but if not, I'd like to repair the rules.


Here is an example of a game that does not end (assuming optimal play).

Consider a 2-person endgame with 3 queens. One of the player is 1 point ahead of the other, but has 2 queens, while the other player has the third. Will this game end? If none of the queens can be captured, I believe the game will not end under optimal play. The reason is that the player who is behind, will not want to end the game, because he will lose. The player who is ahead can not end the game, because if they move one of their queens to the other quadrant, then the other player will also move one of his queens to the other quadrant. A queen can not be captured with best play (but this is not a totally trivial statement). So, after every two moves, the situation is basically unchanged and the player ahead still has two queens and the player behind still has one queen.

I came across this situation in one of my games and both of us realized that the game could go on forever. In other words, the game would never satisfy the game end condition. Who wins?

The player who is behind is dragging the game forever. Should that count to his advantage? The simple answer is 'no'. By dragging the game, no points are being made. So, ultimately, the score is unaffected by this play.
Note that the rules do not specify who wins in case of such a draw. At first we thought that if we both agree that the game will never end, then we can stop. HOWEVER, why would the losing player agree? You see, the rules do not specify that any player has to agree . . .
Therefore, I propose to change the following

GAME END CONDITION for Martian Chess:

- The game ends as soon as one of the quadrants is empty OR if after 25 moves (of all players) no piece was captured.

To accommodate for this, we also need to adjust the

WINNING CONDITION for Martian Chess:

- The player with the most points wins. In case of a tie: 1. if an empty quadrant resulted, then the player who moved last wins OR 2. if the game ended after 25 moves and no empty quadrant resulted, the player who captured the last piece wins.


Note. In effect, if 25 moves have been played and no empty quadrant resulted, then the last capture was the the last "move" that counted.

Note. I realize that the proposal for 25 moves is arbitrary, but a lower number like 10 seems too low. It is also loosely based on an analogy with chess, which has a 50-move rule and starts with 32 pieces. 2-player Martian Chess, there are 18 pieces, hence the number of moves by analogy should be (50/32).18 = 900/32 ~ 28. However, if future analysis shows that winnable endgames require more than 25 moves, I propose to allow these endgames to be played and not be cut off by the rules like in chess. Let anybody with such information present the endgames and how to proceed to win in more than 25 moves!

Note. Perhaps this strange situation will not happen that often in a game with more than 2 players, but we can still conceive of an endgame where everybody has two queens and prevents any of the other players to end the game. Whether this will happen likely or not, the adjusted rules now specify when the game ends.

Note. Even if the scores are equal before the game ends, an optimal strategy could be to drag the game. E.g., in an endgame where both players have two queens. In this case, none of the players will want the other player to end the game, because of the (original) winning condition.

Note. The 50-move rule in chess states that a game can be called a draw by either player as soon as 50 moves have been played without moving a pawn or a capture. It was at one time believed that no longer winnable endgames existed. But ongoing computer search showed much longer winnable endgames. In 2008 the record was 517 moves (assuming optimal play by both sides) to make a piece capture or exchange that achieves a simpler and more obviously winnable sub-endgame, for a particular position involving a queen and knight versus a rook, bishop, and knight. In 2009, this record was improved to 545 moves. (See Wikipedia.)


Please leave any remarks, thoughts or questions on this incorporation of a 25-move rule for Martian Chess.


FWIW I started a discussion about this a while back at BGG:

I play sometimes at SDG and this sort of endgame with few pieces comes up somewhat often indeed. But to my surprise there often seem to be sneaky ways that the person ahead on points manipulates the situation to nonetheless end the game, despite my attempts to keep drawing it out. Or else I am just a lame player (quite possible!) :)


I'm interested whether I (blue) simply bumbled, or whether wil (red) indeed successfully forced termination in games like this.

Either way, I agree that even if termination is force-able with 3 queens, nonetheless with casual players the game will draw out forever. I suppose it's a question of taste whether this is a problem, or whether it's fine for players to simply agree to a tie in that case!

Hi Russ, 

This is really interesting. I replayed the whole game and initially thought that you made a blunder, and I backtracked the game to an earlier point. But I noticed that once you were more than 3 points behind, and the end game with 3 queens started, you were doomed. The reason is as follows.

In order to prevent a similar maneuver, you would have to prevent Wil from occupying either d5 or a5. But you can't, because he can place his queens in any column and on any field on his quadrant. Notice that you can't capture his queen, because you will lose (being behind more than 3 points). So, he will maneuver both his queens to d5 AND a5 (but this is not even necessary), and then put one of his queens in front of the other on your quadrant to force you to take one of his queens (or lose by being captured yourself). After that move, he has only one queen and can end the game and win.

However, as a result of this endgame, I noticed that there is a difference with my scenario. You were MORE than 3 points behind. In that case, the other player can simply attack (threaten to capture) any of your queens. Since you don't want to end the game, you will move out of the way.He is not interested in capturing the queen you have, but will have you capture his! (Sneakiest!)

But if you are 3 points or less behind, then this maneuver would not work. You would be able to win by capturing his queen. Because even if it is a tie, you win by moving last. This does not prove that another maneuver is not possible, though.

I looked at the endgame mentioned on BoardGameGeek. (Thanks for the link!) But I couldn't go over all the variations. It seems, however, that the situation can be extended indefinitely, as long as the player who is behind will always move in such a way as to either cover a4 or d4, or if not, then the other player can not move to both. I've tried a lot of variations, and I couldn't see how the stronger player could force the game to end. As a result, I thought it more interesting to share this challenge with other Starship Captains . . . 

New Game: Spice Smugglers

Hi all,

I recently invented a game I am calling Spice Smugglers. It is a 2 player strategy game with some Euro elements and a small amount of luck. Requires 3 trios, one of each rainbow color. I am interested in having some play-testers have a go with it and let me know what works, what doesn't, and what is unclear in the rules as I have written them.

Have fun!



The game sounds pretty good.

The rules jump between "Clippers" and "Cutters" a lot, but they are the same unit. You mention that the Clippers/Cutters have 2 cannons and can take 2 hits, but you also need to mention that Galleons have 3 cannons and can take 3? hits.

Without playing the game, I was thinking you could possibly use the coloured IceDice dice for combat in place of regular dice. Rolling the opponents colour would be a hit, while rolling a wild could be a crit and count as either 2 hits, or 1 hit and you get to roll an additional dice. This would allow a Clipper/Cutter to potentially KO a Galleon one on one without retaliation (at the expense of a lower hit chance). 

Thanks for the feedback! Good catch with the clipper/cutter thing. I'll go change it so that it's consistent throughout.

And thanks for the idea about the dice rolling. I like your idea! I'll try it out next time I play with my wife and see how it feels. The only downside I see to that idea is that there's really only a 1/3 of getting either a hit or a critical. That may lead to some boring battles with many misses. But it could up the tension, and I do like the idea of a cutter being able to take on a galleon. Without that rule, it pretty much forces a player to bring in two cutters if they're hoping to tackle a galleon. That ups the strategy a bit.

Anyway, thanks again for the feedback! I'll tweak the rules accordingly. If you get a chance to actually try the game out, let me know how it goes!

Currently, if a Galleon attacked a Cutter, the result is pretty much a foregone conclusion as it will always get two attacks. There could be the potential to add a withdrawal chance. In this case, if you survived the first barrage you might attempt to withdrawal to a neighbouring spot inplace of returning fire. Instead of rolling for hits, you are rolling for a chance to flee. You could even go further and say that when withdrawing, if you are carring goods you get one less dice to roll. The problem with this option is where can you withdraw to that is fair? (maybe the attacking player could choose where you have to withdraw to)

Even with the lower hit chance, I think 2 hits for a crit could actually be overpowered. The crit being worth a hit and another dice roll isn't as strong, but it means that there is always a chance of pulling off a miracle. The odds of getting a hit would be lower, but with an extra roll for crits it also means there is unlimited potential damage. Imagine your opponent has a Cutter and a Galleon together and is about to bank the goods for the victory. You can only get a Cutter to the action before he caps, but with extra rolls you could potentially wipe out his fleet. It is unlikely to happen, but at least you can have that last roll of the dice. If the impossible happens it will create pretty memorable game too.

I will try to convince my wife to try it. I think I will have a better chance with this than most pyramid games as it isn't so abstract.

I did have one instance in my own playtest where a clipper (calling them this from now on) was able to sink a galleon, even with the extremely low odds of the 50/50 chance (the galleon kept missing repeatedly), but it's extremely unlikely and pretty much forces a player to try to always keep an extra clipper around as a "bodyguard" if they think one of their spice-carrying ships is going to get attacked on the next turn.

I did want the galleons to be noticeably more powerful than the clippers in term of firepower and spice-carrying ability, especially since they are so slow, and each player only has one. It can take many moves to get your galleon where you want it to be, and to have it be sunk by a solitary clipper may be frustrating. That said, I do like the idea of there at least being SOME wild chance of it happening. Your idea of just rolling an extra dice as a "critical hit" does seem to be the most balanced for this, as it provides the potential to KO a galleon, but the odds are very small. Do you think the "critical extra shot" would stack? For instance, say you rolled a wild, and then on your extra roll, you immediately rolled a wild again, could the clipper keep firing indefinitely if the rolls were lucky enough? This also seems potentially overpowered...

If you do get the chance to try it, feel free to either try it with the original combat rules, or with your own ideas (or both!) and let me know how it goes and which you prefer. I'll also try play testing with your suggested combat rules and see how it feels.

Oh, and regarding the withdrawal idea. I like it, but it does seem potentially problematic, since there may be times where withdrawing will always be beneficial, regardless of where the opponent sends you. Still, I guess that could be part of the strategy: position yourself where you know that you can withdraw anywhere and still be closer to your goal, thus lowering the likelihood that your opponent will want to attack you there.

It has a lot of potential. I'll also try play testing this rule and see how it works. Thanks again for the thoughtful and creative feedback!

Hi, Daniel:

I tried this over the weekend - well thought out game.  Quick question - when you redeem a worker, does the worker 'leave' the island and go back in to your pool whether gathering spice or selling it?  I assumed that was what was meant, and how we played it, but wanted to be sure.  I will provide some more feedback after we get a couple of games in, as we only played once, but I liked what I tried.  :)



Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for trying the game out! You are indeed correct. Redeemed workers immediately go back into your worker pool. I will tweak the rules to make that more clear.

I'm glad you enjoyed it! Let me know if anything else jumps out at you after a couple more games, or if there's anything about the rules you don't care for.


Just so everyone's aware, I tweaked the combat system just a little bit. Previously, I had state a rule that clippers are always sunk first in combat involving more than one ship on each side. The new rule, however, is that the attacker may choose which ship is hit, each time a successful hit is made. This way, the attacker could potentially focus all fire on the opponent's galleon instead of the clippers automatically absorbing hits first. 

I think that's a great idea - makes a lot of sense.  Hopefully I'll get to try it out this evening with my sons.  Cheers!

I tried it with my suggested changes with mixed results. I think using the IceDice might slow the game down too much as it takes a while for your mind to register the other players colour as a hit. I also only had 3 dice when more would be preferred. After a couple of tries, I ended up grabbing a stack of defense dice from Arcadia Quest which have 4 blank faces, a crit and a shield which I was using as a standard hit. This worked really well, but the combat might be too random. I attacked my wife once with one Clipper vs 3 of her ships. Rolling 7 dice at a time she actually rolled all blanks twice in a row which was pretty amazing. I ended up winning the game 25 coins to 0, but she still said she liked the game.

I am still not 100% about how combat works. I was playing that if I roll 1 hit this attack, that hit carries across to my next roll. Once I have enough cumulative hits to take out a ship, I destroy it (and steal or discard any goods).

Thanks for the feedback on the alternative combat method! I was hoping to make the game more accessible, so that's why I decided to go with regular d6 dice and allow there to be a 50/50 chance of a hit.

You're correct about combat. Any hits you accumulate from one "salvo" will carry over to the next. So, say you have a clipper fighting another clipper, and in your first salvo (in which you would roll two dice) you score one hit and cause one damage to your opponent. Your opponent's clipper now has only 1 "hit point" remaining, but it is alive, so it can still fire back with both cannons. But your opponent misses both shots. You roll again, and again score one hit. This hit, combined with the hit from your first roll, is enough to sink your opponent, and you can then steal or discard any goods.

Make sense? Any suggestions to how I could make this clearer in the rules? Thanks again for the feedback.

I enjoyed this.  The balance of actions is impressive.  It's particularly interesting that combat heavily favors the attacker, but isn't always worth its cost in actions.  It was also fun to imagine a worker stranded on a dock after its clipper was attacked, to be redeemed by the galleon later.

I had to keep reminding myself that redeeming a worker didn't use up an action, though, and wasn't quite clear on whether that had to be done before taking any other actions.  A board would also be nice, to make it clearer where ships could move, but isn't essential.

Thanks for the feedback, Eric!

According to the rules, a worker wouldn't be able to be stranded on an island if all of your own ships there are destroyed. If you move your own ships away from the island or they get destroyed while your worker is still on the island, the worker is immediately moved back to your worker supply. Was this somewhat unclear in the rules? Do you think it would be more fun and/or interesting to have workers be stranded if ships are destroyed? The reason I made the rule that they are removed immediately is because that increases the incentive for someone to attack if their opponent has a worker on an island they want access to. If workers remained on islands after ships are destroyed, it would be easy to block off a desired island with a worker and just leave it there indefinitely.

I figured the "free" action rule for redeeming workers may cause some confusion. The rules as I wrote them state that a worker can be redeemed at any point during a turn, so you can choose whether to do this before or after other actions. Do you think it would make more sense to have redeeming a worker also cost an action? I will try to play test this and see how it functions. It may be necessary to increase the turn limit to 4 actions then, although that could break the balance of other actions. Hmm... I'll give it some more thought, but do let me know what you think would work best!

I agree that a board would be helpful! Perhaps I will try working on a print and play board to go with this, and see how that goes.

Thanks again for the feedback and for giving the game a shot.

Just a heads up to everyone: I added a new layout diagram to the rules that should be clearer. You could theoretically also use this layout as a PnP board, although I haven't tried it myself yet so I'm not sure if the dimensions are correct for playing with. Let me know if anyone gets a chance to try it out!

Fairness in Branches and Twigs and Thorns

In this elegant strategy game, the original rules (see here) were an adaptation of Martian Go, and the difference was the scoring rules; they were changed to prevent draws. I've been trying to understand if the current rules are fair or not. I found they aren't and propose in this post a different scoring rule which makes the game fair.

Let's state the counting rule.

  • (*) If a pyramid with a pips of player A is pointing to another pyramid with b pips of player B, then player A gets a penalty of b tokens, equal to the pip-count of player B's pyramid and player B gets a bonus of a tokens of the pip-count of player A's pyramid. 

Since player A has to pay b tokens, and player B gets a tokens, the score difference between B and A, written B-A, will afterwards be B+a - (A-b) = (B-A) + (a+b), i.e, the difference will increase by the sum of the pips of the pyramids involved. Please verify.

Now look at the following rule (it's similar):

  • (**) If a pyramid with a pips of player A is pointing to another pyramid with b pips of player B, then player A gets a penalty of b tokens, equal to the pip-count of their own pyramid, and player B gets a bonus of a tokens, equal to the pip-count of their own pyramid.

So, what happens to the score difference B-A? It becomes (B+b) - (A-a) = (B-A) + (a+b). So, the result is identical to the other rule. This means that for a 2-player game, both rules are identical for determining the score difference.

However, in games with more than 2 players, the rules do not yield identical results. It brings up the question what is fair in the first place. I will now give a simple scenario which shows that rule (*) is unfair in a 3-player game and rule (**) is fair.

So, let's say that (a*,b,c) means that player A has a pyramid of a pips, B has a pyramid of b pips, and C has pyramid of c pips. Furthermore, the * means that the mentioned pyramids of player B and C are pointed at player A's. We denote the score that comes from this situation by [pqr] with p the score of player A, q the score of B and r the score of C. If the star [*] appears at the second number, it's B's pyramid that is pointed to by the others, and if it occurs with the third, then it's C's pyramid that is pointed to.

So, (a*,b,c) gives a score [b+c, -a, -a] with rule (*), and [a, -b, -c] with rule (**), etc.

Individual scores can be added, as they refer to situations on different squares on the board. Look at the end of the following imaginary game where the shown combination of three situations are present:

(1*,1,3), (1,1*,3), (2,2,1*)

According to (*) we get the score 

[4,-1,-1]+[-1,4,-1]+[-1,-1,4] = [2,2,2].

I find this unfair. If we look carefully at the situation, we see that all players have a similar situation, a 1-pip is pointed to by two other pyramids of the opponents. Clearly, player C is doing worse than the other two players, because he uses twice a 3-pip to branch off an opponent's 1-pip, while players A and B use a 1-pip and a 2-pip respectively. Also note that if we would discard player A and the first situation, then player B would have won from player C, and if we discard player B and the second situation, then player A would have won of player C.

With the rule (**) we get the score

[2,-1,-3]+[-1,2,-3]+[-2,-2,2] = [-1,-1,-4]

Note that you get a bonus for every (two here) pyramid pointing at yours! Now it's clear how much player C is worse, because he used his 3-pips, squandering 6 points, against the other players only 3-pips; the fact that they point to a 1-pip doesn't matter, since it's equal for all. It makes sense (and is fair) that player C is now 3 points behind the others.

More complicated situations can be thought of--some where the worst player even wins by rule (*)--but I believe that the basic idea stays the same, showing that rule (*) is unfair in a game with more than 2 players, and rule (**) is fair.

So, I would vote to change the official rules to make Branches and Twigs and Thorns a fair game for more than 2 players. Hope this is in time for Pyramid Arcade . . . 



Clearly, player C is doing worse than the other two players, because he uses twice a 3-pip to branch off an opponent's 1-pip, while players A and B use a 1-pip and a 2-pip respectively.


I've not studied the argument in great detail, so I may be missing some subtlety, but it seems like you are basing it off of your personal idea of what "fairness" and "doing worse" should be, instead of what they actually are in terms of the rules as written, and the strategic/tactical implications of the rules as written.

It seems perhaps analogous to someone wanting to change the rules of Chess so that a player who is checkmated does not in fact lose if he actually has more material still on the board, because the player with less material "is doing worse", so it's not "fair" that the player with less material would win. Just as a Chess player may cleverly sacrifice material (which might seem "worse" to do - surely it's bad to lose material!) if it wins the game by the actual victory conditions, similarly a Branches player may cleverly place their 3-pippers (which might seem "worse" to do - surely it's bad to place your 3-pippers pointing at another player's pyramid!) if it wins the game by the actual victory conditions.

I.e., is player C really "doing worse"? Or is player C simply playing well and exploiting the rules as they are, and their scoring implications?

Or so it seems to me as my initial reaction, though I'm willing to be convinced otherwise. :)

Either way, I cannot imagine arbitrarily changing the rules of the game based on such a seemingly subjective argument about "fairness" without at least confirming with the game's author (Andrew Plotkin) to get his agreement and blessing to change the rules.

Hi Russ,
You have some good and some not so good points.
Starting with "I've not studied the argument in great detail," doesn't give me much confidence in the usefulness of your reply. Nevertheless, for the other readers who take the time to study the few details, it will be evident that my rule is sound and gives identical results for a 2-player game. This takes care of your argument about its "arbitrariness".
A better point you make is to verify with the author what the intention of the rule is. Regardless of the follow-up, this is a forum to explore ideas. Everybody can judge rules for themselves and share findings and solutions. Worst case would be that the author and I don't agree on what fair means, better is to adopt both rules as viable (answering to different concepts of fairness), and best to acknowledge that the current rule is flawed and the new rule replaces it (and agreement on fairness is established).
Since yesterday I found another reason to adopt my rule. As the example shows, the current rule still allows for draws in clearly asymmetrical situations in which one player does worse than the others.

This game has, as mentioned, a history of changing the scoring rule. The first version ended too often in a draw. This tells me that "fairness" is perhaps still under development for this game and I hope to contribute to an improvement.
I will try to contact Andrew Plotkin and inform him of these developments. His input will no doubt have a bearing. Thank you for your initiative and involvement.

Ahoy Starship Captains!

In this follow-up I will correct a mistake I made in the previous post, share an amazing discovery, report back from Andrew Plotking (the inventor of the game), and give a different fair rule that I now believe is the true fair rule.


To my amazement, I discovered today that there are an infinite number of rules that are identical for 2-player games, but diverge for multiplayer games! That's a surprise to me and a stepping stone that allowed me to find the correct fair rule that I tried to find. 


But first, I'd like to correct rule (**) in the original post. I made a copying error. I apologize for the confusion. So, let's correct it immediately and then move on to my discoveries.

Of course, I meant the following.

  • (**) If a pyramid with a pips of player A is pointing to another pyramid with b pips of player B, then player A gets apenalty of a tokens, equal to the pip-count of their own pyramid, and player B gets a bonus of b tokens, equal to the pip-count of their own pyramid.

Notice that I just forgot to change values a into b and vice versa, when I copied it from rule (*). Once more, I apologize. This is not Facebook, so I can't change the original post. But this is the next best.


And indeed, I contacted Andrew Plotkin, who responded promptly. His answer to get involved in this discussion was the following (he is OK with me quoting him):

"However, it's been so many years since I've looked at it that I'm really no more of an expert than anybody else. I don't expect to touch the web page ever again. So decide whatever you want! I leave it up to you."

That leaves it up to us, then. So, let's go on with an open mind.


Well, I intend to figure out what is going on with this intriguing and fun game! I love a challenge. And as I said, I found an infinite number of rules that coincide for the 2-player variant.

Those rules are as follows. Take a parameter 0 <= t <= 1, and consider the following rule for this t.

  • (t) If a pyramid with a pips of player A is pointing to another pyramid with b pips of player B, then player A gets a penalty of t.b + (1 - t).tokens, and player B gets a bonus of t.a + (1 - t).b tokens.

What happens to B - A? Well, it becomes [B + (t.a + (1 - t).b)] - [A - (t.b + (1 - t).a)] = (B - A) + (b + a). Please, check this. Again, the result is identical as before: B - A + (a + b)! Fascinating, isn't it?

So, for any t, these rules coincide for a 2-player game! This gives a bit of a different idea of "arbitrariness", wouldn't you say?

Well, what does this tell us? It tells us that the 2-player variant is in fact a special case, even a degenerate case. That means that any of these infinite counting rules for a 2-player game are naturally fair. But if we want the rules to be fair for a multi-player game, we have to find out what t to use. Note that (*) is the rule where = 1 and (**) is the rule where t = 0. I had honestly no clue about that yesterday! Note that t does not in fact have to be anywhere between 0 and 1 (it can also be negative or bigger than 1), but as it happens, these seem to be the natural boundaries. At once we can spot that t = 1/2 would also be a nice choice for t; it seems to balance the two "extreme" rules (*) and (**) out. So, let's look at it closer.

What does the rule with = 1/2 actually mean? It means that player A pays half of the sum value of the involved pyramids to B. But as it stands, if the rule would be to consistently pay double that, it is even easier to grasp. Now we can see that there is really no use for the pot, other than to provide enough tokens across the board: all the exchanges of tokens go from the one that pays the penalty to the one that receives the bonus. So, a small says: it's cheap to dock (branch), but you have to add a penalty for the size of your ship. A large says: It's expensive to dock (branch), but you also need to add a penalty for the size of your ship. In effect, branching off from a large with a small is as "expensive" as branching off from a small with a large. i think that is fair. Notice that rules (*) and (**) aren't so symmetrical! And that was so puzzling at first, since rules (*) and (**) are quite natural.


So, let's look at a different situation again that bothered me today, because it showed that my new rule (**) was faulty as well.

(1*,-,(3,3)), (-,1*,(3,3)), (3,3,1*), (3,3,1*).

So, player C branches off with four larges, once with two larges from a small of player A and once with two larges from a small of player B. Also, players A and B branch off from a small of C, both with two larges. Note that player C squanders 4 larges and the other players squander 2 larges, a total of 4 to player C. This ought to balance out. Also, player C squanders them to different players, while he gets the four all for himself. Should player C win? I don't think so. He squanders more than the other players (double the amount) against the same smalls. Perhaps he should play even?

Rule (*) gives the score [6,0,-2] + [0,6,-2] + [-1,-1,6] + [-1,-1,6] = [4,4,8], C wins.

Rule (**) gives the score [2,0,-6] + [0,2,-6] + [-3,-3,2] + [-3,-3,2] = [-4,-4,-8], C loses.

The result of (**) does not feel like fair to me in this situation, and it proved to me that rule (**) is not better than rule (*). It's as far from a tie as (*), just in the opposite direction!

So, what does rule (1/2) do? It gives [4,0,-4] + [0,4,-4] + [-2,-2,4] + [-2,-2,4] = [0,0,0]! Ah! I can live with this, can you?

Note. Multiplying all scores by 2 wouldn't affect who will win! But it prevents half tokens . . . And it's a natural rule that the player being penalized should pay the sum of the values of the pyramids to the player being rewarded. We call this rule (1/2)'.

Perhaps you think it is bad to change my mind so quickly? Not at all, it's a sign of flexibility! As I have been trying to understand what is going on with the scoring rule in this game, I have discovered quite a surprising property of the 2-player game, didn't I? To preserve fairness for multi-player game I am now practically convinced that rule (1/2)--or its cousin (1/2)'--is best.

If we go back to the example I gave in my previous post, let's see what rule (1/2)' does in that case.

So, starting with 

(1*,1,3), (1,1*,3), (2,2,1*),

the score with (1/2)' will be

[6,-2,-4] + [-2,6,-4] + [-3,-3,6] = [1,1,-2],

so C loses, just as (**) predicted. Since the result that C loses is the same, it explains why I was so charmed by rule (**). Nevertheless, note that C loses differently in both cases.

With (**) all players are in debt and that is a bit strange, because player A for instance has a total of 4 pips pointing at his 1 by two ships and only points with one medium 2 to a 2 (if it had been two smalls it would have been different). So, player A should have a positive score. And the same for player B. Even though player C loses, it kept bothering me that the result wasn't totally intuitive after yesterday. Now I know why. It wasn't fair either!

Now, with rule (1/2)', we see that player C payed a net of 1 to player A and also 1 to player B. It seems fair. A property of rule (1/2) is that the sum of all penalties (counting negative) and bonuses (counting positive) is zero! So, whoever loses has a negative score, and the winner has the highest positive score.


Conclusion. Rule (1/2) or (1/2)' is the preferred scoring for multiplayer games of Branches and Twigs and Thorns!

I hope I showed that the scoring rule of this game is an intriguing little puzzle and that I solved it satisfactorily. Thanks for reading.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Hello Starship Captains, here is a short update about the 3-player version of the game.

I am playing sample games in a 3-player version to get a feeling for how the game develops under normal circumstances and how the rules fare (pun intended). I need these real games to prove that our exercise with these counting rules actually make a difference at least in some games.

I played 10 games in all now, each taking about 10 minutes or so and about 10 minutes more to register the scores and do the calculations. In 9 of them ALL rules agree. This was somewhat of a surprise. Perhaps that explains why nobody found any problem with the rules before?

However, today I played one game in which rule (**) was found unfair and rule (1/2) agreed with rule (*)! Another indicator that my previous rule (**) is not fair. When I have played some more games and get a better feeling for the strategy of the players, I will be able to tweak the games and find an example where rules (*) and (**)  do not agree, yet rule (1/2) agrees with rule (**), showing that rule (*) is not fair either.

Once I have found that game, I will post pictures of both "problem" cases, show the involved calculations, so you can see why rule (1/2) is in fact the only fair rule.

I find it exciting times for this "antique" game from 2002!

Ahoy Starship Captains,

in this update about Branches and Twigs and Thorns, I will clarify the fairness of the rule (1/2) a bit more. If you've been studying my notes, you will have noticed that the third player was actually not involved in any comparison. I realized that I just as well might do that and consider the relative score differences that occur for all the mentioned rules. In that way, you can easily see what the effect of each rule is on the third player. Further in this post, I will go over some general considerations for fairness and give more examples that show that rule (1/2) is really the rule to consider.


The first idea I want to illustrate is that when a player branches off of another player, then this event is independent of any other branching event that may already have happened or will later happen in the game. In other words, all branches can be studied independently. Another way of saying it is that the order in which they happen does not matter for the score. 
So, let's assume that a ship of size a of player A points to a ship of size b of player B. In our previous notation we wrote (a,b*) or in a 3-player game (a,b*,-). Note that with our previous notation in 3-player game (a,b*,c) = (a,b*,-) + (-,b*,c), so we can study any 3-player situation as the sum of two 2-player situations.
So, we can ask: how do the score differences change with any such situation (a,b*,-)? We have to consider the new differences B'-A', C'-A' and C'-B' in relation to the old ones B-A, C-A and C-B. Note that this time I have included player C in the calculation of the differences. It seems too obvious to overlook, but we are learning . . .
Rule (*): 

B'-A' = B+a - (A-b) = B-A + (a+b). We knew this already, but I include it for completeness.
C'-A' = C - (A-b) = C-A + b
C'-B' = C - (B+a) = C-B - a

Rule (**): 

B'-A' = B+b - (A-a) = B-A + (a+b). We knew this already, but I include it for completeness.
C'-A' = C - (A-a) = C-A + a
C'-B' = C - (B+b) = C-B - b

Rule (1/2):

B'-A' = B+(b+a)/2 - (A-(a+b)/2) = B-A + (a+b). We knew this already, but I include it for completeness.
C'-A' = C - (A-(a+b)/2) = C-A + (a+b)/2
C'-B' = C - (B+(a+b)/2) = C-B - (a+b)/2

General Note. Please verify that the score for a fourth player D will behave just like the score for player C and the difference D'-C' is not affected whatsoever. So, every player not involved in a branching will stay at the same level as before relative to each other, no matter what rule is used. That is why we only need to understand the dynamics in a 3-person game.

Rules (*) and (**). A player not involved in the branching will gain an advantage over the player that pays a penalty and a disadvantage relative to the one that receives a bonus, but the amounts seem to be arbitrary. With rule (*) the advantage gained equals the size of the pyramid of the player paying the penalty. With rule (**) the advantage gained equals the size of the pyramid of the player receiving the bonus.

Rule (1/2). A player not involved in the branching will gain an advantage over the player that pays a penalty and a disadvantage relative to the one that received a bonus, with an amount equal to half of the sum of the pyramids involved.


To show that rules (*) or (**) are really unfair, I will make it more explicit that the differences C'-A' and C'-B' should at least not depend on only one of the involved pyramids.

For instance, I would like the rules to obey the following fairness principle:

  • (F1) If in a game situations (a,b*,-), (-,a,b*) and (b*,-,a) happen, then all players should end up with equal score 0.

This is because everybody gains from one player and loses to another the equal amount of points. Let's compute the scores for the sum of these situations.

Rule (*): [-b,a,0] + [0,-b,a] + [a,0,-b] = [a-b,a-b,a-b]. Note that if a<b, then everybody loses b-a points; if a>b, then everybody gains a-b points; if a=b then nobody gains or loses.

Rule (**): [-a,b,0] + [0,-a,b] + [b,0,-a] = [b-a,b-a,b-a]. Note that if a<b, then everybody gains b-a; if a>b, then everybody loses a-b points; if a=b, then nobody gains or loses.

Rule (1/2): [-(a+b)/2,(a+b)/2,0] + [0,-(a+b)/2,(a+b)/2,0] + [(a+b)/2,0,-(a+b)/2] = [0,0,0]. Note that nobody gains or loses, and this result is independent of the values of a and b. This is what we want for a fair rule.

We can ask the question if the effect of rules (*) or (**) might be desirable. To answer this, consider the fourth player: they will either gain or lose an advantage, depending on whether a<b, or b<a (with whatever rule (*) or (**) is played). It seems arbitrary how this goes down and hardly fair. Either the fourth player (not involved in the branching) wins an unfair advantage over the other players, or the other players win an unfair advantage over the fourth player. I believe that the score should be 0, as with rule (1/2), so that a fourth player does not lose or gain from this interaction between the other players.


I would also like the rules to obey the following fairness principle:

  • (F2) if in a game (b,a*,-), (-,a,b*) and (b*,-,a) happen, then all players should end up with equal score 0.

Note. The only difference between (F2) and (F1) is that (a,b*,-) has been replaced by (b,a*,-)!

Again this should be fair, because everybody gains from one player and loses to another the equal amount of points. However, an easier way of saying this is that (a,b*,-) should have the same impact on everybody's score as (b,a*,-); e.g., branching off with a pawn from a queen is equally bad as branching off with a queen from a pawn. (Note that this IS how a 2-player game is scored after all.)

Another way of formulating (F2) would be:

  • (F2)' The score for situation s1 = (a,b*) + (b*,a) must equal the score for situation s2 = (a,b*) + (a*,b).

Let's see what happens: 

Rule (*). [s1] = [-b,a,0] + [a,-b,0] = [a-b,a-b,0], while [s2] = [-b,a,0] + [b,-a,0] = [0,0,0]. Note that in the first case, in fact where the situation between player A and B is truly symmetrical, player C is either a beneficiary of the situation if a<b, or duped if b<a. This seems hardly desirable. Perhaps we could live with the idea that if player A and B branch off of each other, then player C should ALWAYS have an advantage or ALWAYS have a disadvantage; it shouldn't depend on what particular pyramids are used which of the two it is going to be, should it?

Rule (**). [s1] = [-a,b,0] + [b,-a,0] = [b-a,b-a,0], while [s2] = [-a,b,0] + [a,-b,0] = [0,0,0]. Again we see a similar asymmetry occur as with rule (*).

Rule (1/2). [s1] = [-(a+b)/2,(a+b)/2,0] + [(a+b)/2,-(a+b)/2,0] = [0,0,0], while
[s2] = [-(a+b)/2,(a+b)/2,0] + [(a+b)/2,-(a+b)/2,0] = [0,0,0]. Now the situations cancel out as desired.

Note. Since in the case of rule (1/2) the score equals 0 for all involved players, this means that it doesn't have any unfair effect, neither for the involved players, neither for the other players. This seems to be desirable for a fair rule.


This concludes my current investigation. I will try and play appropriate games which demonstrate these principles and then post pictures of the game end. I played about six 2-player games and am gaining experience with the strategy. The game is totally intriguing. We discovered that being the first to branch off of your opponent may be advantageous! I remember (only a few weeks ago) that it seemed that one had to postpone it the longest, but it isn't so . . .


Any observations, remarks or questions about this post are welcome.

Eleven Little Black Squares

I ordered the ELBS recently, and they arrived a bit late due to the blizzard.

But, they aren't black-the edges are, but there is a brown material covering the flat sides. Does that peel off? I can't seem to get it off, though I don't have fingernails to make a better attempt with.


IIRC, yes, that's a protective film. Try to soak them off in warm water...? I suspect they aren't even really 'adhered' but are that type of plastic that sticks with... magic... static... vacuum...?

Anyway, try something that will break their seal to the smooth plastic. Heck, you might be able to blow them off, if you can get a leading edge started.

Sorry I can't help more;


Hi Dave,

Yes, you have to peel off the paper on either side. It's a little tricky but after you've done a few you get the hang of it.

I suggest the careful use of a razor blade.  Carefully pick at the edges until you can get a fFinger nail under the paper.

Thanks for the info, folks. I rubbed one ELBS against another, and that did the trick.

Pyramids in Paradise!




New Multiplayer Boards

Many people know about the (Martian) Chess Boards designed by Elliot C. Evans, see They are perfect for Martian Chess, but I found them wanting for games where the pyramids need to lie down, such as Pikemen or Branches and Twigs and Thorns: a 3-pip pyramid (a large) can't comfortably lie on its side within every "square" or in every direction.

So, I designed my own boards that I want to share with you. In addition to playing Martian Chess, you can now play all the other pyramid games--that require a chess board--with 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 players (if the rules allow for it).

The boards are all diamond shaped and they come in three different patterns--that does not matter for the amount of cutting or laminating. You need two copies of each (six in total) to make all the different multiplayer boards (see attachments for boards and examples).


  • The boards were manually designed in Paint as 300 dpi PNG and provided as high quality PDF-format in letter size under the cc-by-nc 4.0 creative commons license (see

  • The document was designed to allow for lamination in a letter format pouch (use care while arranging) and leaving a border of at least a 1/8". This should suit any purpose.

  • The length of the side of a cell is approximately 1.9" (+/- .02"), which allows for a large to lie down in it, with a margin of about 0.15" or at least 1/7".

    • Note. A large on its side will cross a border if positioned along a row or column, but only with part of an edge. Notice that the part from the middle of the base till the tip fits just within a cell, so that even four larges pointing at each other in adjacent cells of the same row or column will fit easily on the board! (See example in the attachments.)

  • Boards fit together in different configurations that preserve at least one diagonal across edges and have no adjacent cells with the same color.


Some possible arrangements are sub-optimal as they do not preserve at least one diagonal along the edges. You might get puzzled without some examples, so take a look. To be honest, I suffered from bewilderment myself for a while. Preparing this post, I took pictures yesterday of all the boards, but I was shocked to notice that one example was not correct! I thought I had overlooked something that turned my design useless! I was relieved to find that I had only been impatient . . . Hence the examples to spare you the unjustified disappointment.

Technical Info.

The reason my boards work so well is that most 2x2 squares of neighboring cells use but two colors (distributed nicely over the diagonals), so you could call them "correct". Each of my boards has 6 "correct" 2x2 squares, while Evans' boards have only 4 "correct" 2x2 squares. In addition, my boards can be arranged to preserve this property along edges for one (in the case of 3-player board) or even two 2x2 squares (in the case of a 6-player board); in any case, all other 2x2 squares have at least one diagonal of the same color. Also, adjacent cells with identical colors can always be avoided! (Evans' boards always have some adjacent cells with the same color across edges and do not preserve any diagonal across edges--except for 2- and 4-player configurations.)

In the attachments, I provide examples of multi-player arrangements for 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-player boards. There are a few other arrangements possible, but I leave that for you to figure out.

Have fun!

Let me know your observations, remarks or questions. Thank you.


Neat idea!

very cool - can you post a picture of them?

Sure, Kristin, I was still learning about the interface.

So, here are the pictures. They are small versions of the boards in

Below are some pictures of the boards in Boards (no multiplayer configurations yet, but I assure you it's possible!). Again, you will need two copies of each to make all multi-player options!

[Technical info. I designed these today (Jan 25, 2016) after playing with some other options. These boards are also released under the cc-by-nc 4.0 creative common license (see for more details).]

Here is at least one Multiplayer option with Boards V2.0. It's the configuration for 3 players.
Have fun!

And now with 4 diagonals added. Note that "going straight" (horizontally or vertically) is always easy.

I added a photo album with comments explaining how to form each board and the number of solutions.

See Multiplayer Boards Album

Have fun!

Impressive, good job.  Thank you fFor all the demonstrative pictures, as well.  Very nice.

new FaceBook discussion group for Starship Captains!

I will post this many other places soon... but let me drop this link here first:

please join us over on FaceBook for discussions of the upcoming Pyramid Arcade Kickstarter! 


I hope any important news continues to be posted here. (Not everyone uses Facebook.) :)

Zark City Question

Studying the rules of Zark City (, I noticed that the terminology of Zark City includes "adjacent" and "diagonally connected", but it got me confused in relation to some of the actions. 

Is it allowed, with turn option "Move", to move a piece to a diagonally connected card?

The description of the action says that you need to move your piece to an adjacent card. So, I would say no. However, the reason I ask is because it says under the "Fly" action: "Note that a diagonal connection IS adequate to prevent isolation." as if this follows from the fact that pieces can still be moved to diagonally connected cards. If no pieces can move diagonally, I don't see how it follows that they are still "connected", or what "connected" means in any other way. It seems to be possible that pieces can become isolated, and that that was precisely what the rules tried to prevent?

The same question comes back with the "Convert/Demolish" action, which also relates to adjacent cards (and so possibly those diagonally connected cards).

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks for your help.


You can only move to adjacent cards. Diagonally connected cards are not adjacent. Don't overthink it.

Thank you Jeff,

Yes, this was my first impression also, and I accept it. Thank you for confirming this.

However, what about the digital connection rule? How is it that two cards that lie diagonally are "connected" in any way (other than geometrically)? Perhaps that is just a way to keep track of how the board is forming?

The original rules for Zark City did not have the "Fly" action and did not have the concept of "diagonally connected". The two go together. Without Fly, you can't have a card that's diagonally connected without being adjacent somewhere. I don't remember Andy ever saying why he allowed cards to be diagonally connected but not adjacent after Fly. So anything else I might say would just be speculation.

Thanks again for sharing a piece of information. I just now studied version 1 and version 2, and indeed it seems that only the Fly action and the diagonally placed cards have changed.
In order to understand why V2.0 is the preferred version, I need to understand why it exists at all. What failed in V1.0? Note that in V1.0 cards would always stay adjacent, so that movement across the board is always possible. If the board like in V2.0 can be "connected" but not adjacent, that means that in order to move your pieces to the part that is not reachable by moving to adjacent cards, you will need to use "Fly" at a different moment. OK, that solves the problem of being disconnected (not adjacent).


I'm studying the rules and I like what I imagine the game to be. It seems a lot of fun. I don't understand yet why Fly was introduced and how it "improves" the game. V1.0 and V2.0 look pretty much the same to me from a conceptual standpoint. But let's see. Here's an attempt to reach understanding of this.
Fly doesn't only allow you to move your own pieces, it also gives the option to move other players' pieces. If they get disconnected from their pieces at strategic times, it may make it harder for them to reach their goal. So, my conjecture is that in the gameplay of V1.0 it was too easy to win. That is, basically, because the one that is better and moves first, will win. In V2.0 it will be more difficult to win, so that it will take more planning and strategy to win. As a result, the "diagonal connection" is a way for the board to stay "relatively small" and not more than one card is needed to get all cards adjacent again. In theory, one could allow cards to go *anywhere* (if all possible positions were marked), but then the cards would probably fly off the table after a while! :-)
Just my five cents. (I'm pretty much satisfied with my explanation and the level of understanding here.)
If Andy ever reads this, I wonder if he agrees . . .

If a card becomes semi-disconnected because it's not adjacent, you can re-establish adjacency by Building a new card. You don't need to Fly.


If you're looking here at Version 1 and Version 2:

go here for an even more recent version of the rules:

The primary difference is that Aces can also be used to attack, so you aren't stuck with them if you don't want to Fly.


I haven't played Zark City a lot, and not at all recently, so I'm not exactly an expert on Zark City strategy. But I think you're underestimating the offensive uses of Fly. If I have a three of clubs in my hand, do I place it next to the four of clubs or the three of hearts? If I place it next to the four and then draw the three of diamonds, all need not be lost. I can build my Power Block in two pieces and then use Fly to bring them together (if I can draw an Ace, of course). You can no longer necessarily ignore a partial Power Block just because the other cards are on the board somewhere else.

That's a great response, Jeff.

Thanks for the references to the different rule sets (I am sure I have confused them at times). Versions 2 are only different in wording, I suppose.

Other differences between V1.0 and V2.0 are:

  • In V2.0 you always draw a card (and therefore, you either have to use it or discard another card). 
  • Attack works different. In V1.0 you use the amount of high cards per pip, in V2.0, the high cards have different point. This gives an extra option to draw cards and gives different value to the high cards.

All in all this makes the game more active (and fun), I suppose.

I agree with your insights and it totally resolves my questions.

Looney Ludo and Pharaon question

Hi! I've got a doubt in those games: rules says that you don't have to spend all your movement if you don't want, but do you have to make a move if you don't want to?

I mean if I got my pyramids in a better position than if I made a movement, can I reject all my movements points and do nothing?

I want to become a good Starship Captain  ^_^


You do not have to make a move if you don't want to. That is true in both Looney Ludo and Pharaoh.

So we were playing in the right way. Thanks!

Two new Homeworlds game variants

I thought of two game variants of Homeworlds. 1. First Epoch. More than 2 players. Take one less "Good" cards than players, and one less "Evil" cards than players. Each player draws a card. Now we know that there is at least one player of each alliance. You win if you are the first to eliminate a player of the other alliance. If the first player to eliminate another fails to win, the game continues as the "Second Epoch", etc. Note that in each epoch, there is at least one player of each alliance! This variation makes Good and Evil symmetrical, so that each player plays the same game. 2. Two vs. Two. Played with 4 players but without Good/Evil cards. Form two teams. The players of one team sit on opposite sides from each other. A team wins if both players of the other team are eliminated. This variant is, just as Binary Homeworlds a pure strategy game. Please, try these variants and let me know what you think. Thank you.

Rounder tipped pyramids

Pyramid fans have been asking for more details about the next generation of Looney Pyramids, which will have slightly rounder tips than the two previous manufacturing runs, which were themselves very slightly different. Our goal, of course, is for all pyramids to be interchangeable and as otherwise identical to the other versions as possible, but concerns have been expressed about stacking new ones onto old ones and having them look funny or something.

So, I put together a test set consisting of 4 trios from each of the 3 production runs, with freshly opened pieces of each type, and I’ve been carrying this set around in one of those awesome round tins I wrote about recently. (

These are my primary play-testing pyramids now, and I’ve spent a lot of time stacking, nesting, and playing actual games using this set, to make sure the 3 types all interact smoothly. And I’m happy to say they’re great!

I’ve also taken a series of photos:

The photos do reveal some slight differences. For the purposes of this report, I need a way to refer to each generation of pyramids, so G1 pyramids are the first type, made in the USA, G2 pyramids are the pointier Chinese-made pieces currently available, and G3 pyramids are from the future. And since I had some, I used G1 pieces with slightly non-standard colors (electric yellows and pinkish reds) to make them more easily distinguishable visually.

Photo #1 indicates that G1 pyramids do stack taller than the others, but as noted, I haven’t found this to matter — or even be distinguishable —in actual play. Perhaps the most important picture is #8, which shows 4 stacks of 3 nested trios. What’s not immediately obvious about this photo is that each trio consists of a G1, a G2, and a G3 pyramid, all nested together and stacked up. Again, there are some very slight differences in how they stack, but it’s not something you’d notice, let alone feel is a problem, in actual use. Photo #2 also depicts mixed generation trios, stacked up as trees. Photo #3 shows the mixed generation nests each sitting alone. Photo #10 just shows G3 pyramids being stacked up in weird ways that, as you can see, are all still possible. My favorite photo is #5, a close-up of 12 pyramid tips all pointing inward, and it really lets you see the differences in the tip rounding.

In closing I’d like to say, again, that I used to worry that rounder-tipped pyramids would feel inferior, but now that I actually have them, I not only think they’re perfectly acceptable, I have to admit they are actually pretty nice. Maybe even better.


Thanks for this info and the photos!

So it seems that (to my eye anyway) the differences are visible if I look for them, but quite negligible and shouldn't affect play of anything I play. :)

This is very good news!  I'm actually pretty relieved!  I was imagining something really rounded and kind of fFunny looking.  This is great!

By the way, since you mention it: I too have been using some round metal tins.  I'll have to get some kind of pictures.  Say, if you wanted to carry more than one or two tins, do you put them in something to keep them together?  I have a stretched out sock they can go in, but it's not great.  Usually I'll just have a couple tins, which slide into my pants pocket very nicely.

They look good! In my experience, I find that the bottom edges of the pyramids are just as sharp as the point... Will those edges also be smoothed a bit in the new version? Either way, I bet the rounded ones will be just as painful to step on!

No more Spicklehead!

Probably a good thing....

They look good, and looks like they fit nicely with older generations.

Am really looking forward to seeing pyramids available in Europe again!

Spicklehead was probably to popular with Europeans.  So now they can only have rounded pyramids. It is probably a good thing.

22 Other Games to Mention

Ok, I know y’all are dying to know exactly which 22 games we’ve chosen to include in Pyramid Arcade. So, here’s the list:

Twin Win
Pyramid Shambo
Looney Ludo (aka Martian Coasters)
Launchpad 23
Lunar Invaders
Volcano (aka Fiesta Caldera)
World War 5
Martian Chess
Zark City
Black Ice
Give or Take
Petal Battle
Color Wheel
Petri Dish

This is not up for debate, I’m just sharing the list as background for my question…

My plan is to make the final section of the book a teaser for yet other games. Here’s what I have so far:


We asked the community of Starship Captains for recommendations about other games to try, and this is the list they came up with. Most of these games can be played with this set, possibly including a few extra items of easily-gathered equipment, such as a chessboard, poker chips, gaming tokens, etc. Games that require additional pyramids are marked with a small pyramid. ( /\ ) Rules for all of these games can be found online.

<Full list of 22 other games + short descriptions for each goes here>


So, the floor is now open for other nominations. Here are a few obvious choices to start with:

* Icehouse /\
* Zendo /\
* RAMbots /\
* Pikemen /\

What else?


One of my personal favorites is TimeLock. And it can be played with the pyramids and items in the set.

My two cents -- the more multi-level strategy games the better. Maybe it's time to mine the Wiki for accessible items? 

Awesome!  You've hit on my fFavs!

"Hijinks" was otherwise known as "Pink Hijinks" yeah?  I can understand the name change there, just wondering.

Perhaps, if you're taking suggestions fFor more on the 'more' list, you could add Logger.  It doesn't require any other pyramids, since the pyramids used are not dependent on color.  Also, Alien City is a great game, but it may require too much extra stuff to be a good entry on the list (specifically a Piecepack).  And, the last one I shall nominate is Extinction, which is similar to Pikemen, but with different kinds of rules regarding movement and winning.

Definitely Gnostica, unless you'll already be mentioning it under Zark City. I like Virus Fight, and Branches, Twigs, & Thorns. And I'll second Alien City; even though piecepack isn't easily-gathered, it's not TOO hard to make your own set. I'll also humbly nominate my games Pylon and Quintazone... The latter could cross-promote Aquarius. And there's always Spicklehead!!

I'm surprised by the selection of Pyramid Shambo over Nothing Beats a Large, so I nominate Nothing. (At the very least, it has a great title.)

One of our favorite pyramid games is CrackeD Ice, so I nominate it also. It just requires one extra component, although spare CDs aren't as ubiquitous as they were thirteen years ago. (We play a variant that allows placing pyramids on their side.)

I don't feel like I've played Crosswalk enough to nominate it, so I'll just mention it for purposes of discussion. In the same vein: Blam!

Yes, since there aren't any pink pieces in the Arcade, and color doesn't matter anyway, we're just calling it Hijinks. This makes Pink Hijinks a pink edition of the game Hijinks.

I think Pyramid Shambo is a better game that Nothing Beats a Large and clever though the latter may be, the two games are too similar for both to be included. So Pyramid Shambo wins out.

I'm tossing in Freeze Tag, by my friend Rink, which brings us up to 18 nominations:

* Icehouse /\

* Zendo /\

* RAMbots /\

* Pikemen /\

* TimeLock

* Logger

* Alien City

* Extinction

* Gnostica /\

* Virus Fight

* Branches, Twigs, & Thorns

* Pylon

* Quintazone

* Nothing Beats a Large

* CrackeD Ice

* Crosswalk

* Blam!

* Freeze Tag

Keep 'em coming! We need to get beyond 22 so that we can start voting and choosing!

I'll suggest Martian Backgammon, Tic Tac Doh!, Pyrinoes (which requires dominoes), and Nile.

Certainly I will second your mentioned candidates:






Branches and Twigs and Thorns

Alien City (even though it needs Piecepack tiles)

I'd add:

Gleebs and Grues

Stack Control

Tic Tac Doh

and I'll immodestly plug my own Stawvs and Ricochet Pyramids which I've had people request to play sometimes. :)

Beyond what has already been suggested, here are my recommendations!

  • Amoeba - Requires poker chips and some extra pyramids, but is a lot of fun.
  • Armada - Great little strategy abstract. Should be playable without any extras, if the rules are tweaked slightly to allow for color variation (it's asymmetrical, and piece size distinguishes who owns which pieces, rather than color)
  • Dog Eat Dog - Only requires some d6 dice.

I'll second Armada: That was the game that really made me think, "Woah... these are a new class of playing piece, not just 'board game' pieces" because it's at its core a "miniature game" not a "board game" (to me).

Might I also suggest Ikkozendo, as it's playable with one TH set... or, really, any collection of 'mids--you just lose available characteristics when you don't have many colors (e.g., "has a pink medium"). And because all players need only two koans at all times, it's very piece-lite (and thus pocket-friendly). It's drawbacks are primarily memory-related: You really need to be present for a whole round, to hear each guess and to see each change in the koans; and there's nothing to 'review' in terms of previous koans marked black or white. Some would consider that a feature; and it makes two-player much more viable in a tight space (e.g., at bar or in small booth)..

And as long as we're pimpin', I get good traction with Moon Shot when I bust it out to kill time between longer games. Down side: no more tubes. [I reckon that kills it out of the gate, but worth a mention.]

In general, I'd try to showcase as many play STYLES as possible: solo, duel, multiplayer; cooperative, competitive; no-, variable-, static-board; pieces as counters, units/minis, or shared resources; luck, strategy, dexterity, memory; and so forth. Let the fact that 'mids are the first new type of playing piece since the playing card inspire your presentation of this 'relaunch'! I would especially be sure that the majority of games leverage stacking, nesting, and relative physical sizes: Without those elements of the physicality of the pieces, many, MANY games can be played with substitutions (e.g., LEGOS, coins, chess pieces).

Thank you for asking!


FWIW: A few years back, I tried Armada a few times with interest (since I liked the idea of it), but we found that (like the GEV problem in original Ogre), a fleet of small ships was just too powerfully maneuverable and fast, and they easily beat the fleet of big ships. Have others not found this to be the case?

I am not sure I have played enough games of it to tell whether the small ships always have an advantage, but I think this could theoretically be remedied by just having each player have the same ships (e.g., 2 large, 2 medium, and two small). Not sure how that works in practice though.

The mention of Nile makes me happy.  It seemed, when it came out, that it was largely panned, and even the designer seemed pressed to take note of it's existence.  Despite this, I find it to be an interesting Euro-style game.

It should probably receive a /\ symbol, since it does require 5 nests of red, yellow, blue, and green.  Although one could combine colors, such as 3 red and 2 orange.  With some care, one could make any colored piece represent money and workers, so long as you don't mix them.  But it's probably better to stick with single colors, so the /\ is appropriate.

How do you fFeel about the game Undercut?  It has been widely published as the game Karesansui.  It's a great game!  But also, it's not a Looney Pyramids game anymore.  Maybe it's encouraging to see other games get designed and published?  Or maybe we let those guys do their own marketing.  I dunno.

My friend & I also thought that starting each side with the same set of ships would be the obvious fix, but alas we never got around to trying it out.

I suggest a draft system, with each player allowed no more than 12 points of ships. Doesn't lead to equivalence; doesn't lead (often) to heavy imbalances. Then, setup either behind screens or alternating placement in starting areas at opposite ends of the field (e.g., the ships 'warp into battle' like in Star Wars).

I'd also suggest including 'terrain': I often used tubes as 'impassible' regions and tube caps as teleporters/wormholes (touch either one with tip of mid, appear facing same direction at other one with base of mid in contact).

Finally, don't underestimate multiplayer! Either a Circle of Death (enemy to left; theoretical allies opposite, if 4+ players) or freeform alliances (i.e., backstabby Diplomacy analog).

Bonus Note: A trick to distinguish teams when you use only a single (or a couple) of monochrome stashes is to place small stones, dice, or plastic 'gems' inside each mid. If doing so, I highly suggest translucent (ideally, clear) stashes! :)

That sounds like the perfect solution! I will definitely try it out.

Here’s the list I have now… * Icehouse /\ 
* Zendo /\ * RAMbots /\
 * Pikemen /\ * TimeLock 
* Logger 
* Alien City 
* Extinction 
* Gnostica /\ 
* Virus Fight 
* Branches, Twigs, & Thorns
 * Pylon * Quintazone * CrackeD Ice * Crosswalk * Blam! * Freeze Tag * Tic Tac Doh! * Pyrinoes * Nile * Stack Control 
* Gleebs and Grues
 * Stawvs * Ricochet Pyramids * Amoeba * Armada * Dog Eat Dog * Ikkozendo * Undercut Note that I dropped Nothing Beats a Large and rejected Martian Backgammon. Thanks for the nods but enough of my games are being featured in the box itself. I want everything on the 22 Other Games list to be other peoples’ games. Also, sorry David, but I’m afraid the need for tubes leaves Moon Shot out of the running. That puts this list at 29. No one has suggested anything in awhile, so let’s close the nominations. What 7 games should NOT be on this list? Are all of these truly worthy? Can anyone suggest something to take off the list?

I'd remove:

Armada: As noted in some earlier discussion, my friend and I found Armada to be disappointingly seriously unbalanced with its rules as written (fleet of bigger ships is easily beaten by fleet of smaller ships). With some modification, it could be an interesting and worthy "miniatures style" (gridless / continuous space) simple battle game. The idea of it is cool, so if you want to playtest and develop it yourself, it seems worthy. My BGG user comment:

As written, it seems to have the all-too-common "fuzzy wuzzy fallacy" of lots of small fast ships being able to destroy a few big slow ships.

We want to try again with a couple rule tweaks to try to tone down the small/medium power vs larges:
1. Small ships move 3 steps (as you'd expect, instead of 4).
2. Range for ships is their ship size, instead of all ships firing long like big ships do.

Or play with equal forces on both sides.

(But we never did try it again, which perhaps is indicative...)

Cracked Ice: "I'm not in the target audience for this kind of silly dexterity / balancing game. It also lasts longer than I'd like (15 or 20 minutes) - for a "physical" game, I'd much rather just play Drip in 1 minute."

Crosswalk: "After 1 play, we were not impressed; too random and drawn out."


FWIW: I've personally played with various people and definitely enjoyed:

Zendo, RAMbots, Pikemen, Alien City, Gnostica, Branches/Twigs/Thorns, Blam, Tic Tac Doh (These all seem definitely worthy of inclusion as I think they are not only good but also well known "classics" one way or another in the pyramid community, e.g. appearing in the Playing with Pyramids book or implemented at SuperDuperGames or discussed relatively often at BGG, etc)

Stack Control, Gleebs and Grues, Stawvs, Ricochet Robots, Extinction (I enjoy and recommend these too, but they seem less well known, if that matters)


Uncertain for me:

Amoeba: I played Amoeba twice long ago and wrote "Shares some similarities to Knizia's Ingenious. Need to play more to evaluate." So I'm not sure what I think about it. :)

Icehouse: I played several times with various people, and we found its strategy opaque and confusing and kept wondering what we were missing, giving its legendary reputation; if I recall, the need to "be cool" or whatever was also a bit confusing/offputting as it makes it sound like "the game is broken if you don't sometimes make suboptimal moves just to keep the game from deadlocking" or something.) Eventually we all lost interest, and I found Ice Towers to be much more pleasing (easier to explain, clearer strategy, more fun, etc - and I'm glad to see Ice Towers is included as a main game in the product). But maybe for historical reasons it should be included? :)

No idea (never played them) about TimeLock, Logger, Virus Fight (somehow it looks more complicated than a typical pyramid game), Pylon, Quintazone, Freeze Tag, Pyrinoes, Nile, Dog Eat Dog, Ikkozendo, Undercut.

(I think I covered all 29 games in your list...) :)

Here are my suggestions:

  • Crosswalk (I have not played this yet, but the rules do appear a bit too simple and luck-based for me. It seems like Freeze tag captures a similar feel while being more fleshed out.
  • Virus Fight (The gameplay gimmick feels similar to RAMbots, but the rules seem to be quite a bit more complicated. I think that these 22 games should provide as many different game STYLES as possible, so this one doesn’t need to be included.)
  • Ricochet pyramids (As with Virus Fight, this feels similar to RAMbots in some ways and may not be a necessary inclusion, as the other games on this list provide more unique gameplay styles.)
  • Ikkozendo (a neat variant, but as Zendo is already on this list, I’m not sure it’s a necessary inclusion)
  • Quintazone OR Amoeba (these both share a similar Carcassonne-like “tile” placement mechanic, so I think one or the other could be cut. I have personally not played Quintazone, so I can’t comment strongly on how it compares to Amoeba, but I do enjoy Amoeba quite a bit)

Maybe remove:
  • CrackeD Ice (While I agree that this kind of physical game doesn’t appeal to me, perhaps it should still be included, because it is certainly unique, and it’s important for this list to show off as many different game styles as possible).
  • Dog Eat Dog (I know I was the one who suggested this game, but compared with others on this list, I’m not sure it’s quite as fun or unique…)

I feel that the rest of the games on the list all capture unique ideas or gameplay styles (or are classics) that are worthy of inclusion.

Great feedback, thanks!! I’ve sorted this into 3 lists now: Yes, No, and Maybe. The Yes + Maybe list totals 22, so nothing new can be added unless something else comes off the Maybe list. Further thoughts?

Yes (17)

* Icehouse /\ 
* Zendo /\
 * RAMbots /\
 * Pikemen /\
 * Gnostica /\
* Branches, Twigs, & Thorns 
* TimeLock
* Logger 
* Alien City 
* Extinction
* Pylon
 * Blam! 
* Freeze Tag 
* Tic Tac Doh! 
* Stack Control 
* Amoeba 
* Undercut


* Nile * Pyrinoes
 * Gleebs and Grues
 * Stawvs
 * Armada

NO (7)

* Crosswalk 
* Ikkozendo
 * CrackeD Ice 
* Dog Eat Dog 
* Virus Fight
 * Ricochet Pyramids
 * Quintazone


Ricochet Pyramids is not really like RAMbots (unless one thinks Ricochet Robots is like RoboRally - sometimes people say they are similar, but to me and many other people, they are quite different genres and experiences:

The Ricochet games are about real-time pattern recognition (like Loonacy, Set, Dobble, etc), being the first to find a good solution to get a robot to a goal. Pieces are all neutral/communal.

RAMbots/RoboRally are about non-realtime thinky programming and simultaneous execution of programs for one's own robot (each player has their own which they control) to move and to attack others with unexpected funny chaotic results.)

(Disclosure: I wrote/web-published Ricochet Pyramids. If people don't like it on the list, cool, I just want it to be rejected for a valid reason, not because it's supposedly like RAMbots when it's not really. I play and enjoy both games, but the only thing they have in common is the high-level theme of robots on a square grid.) :)

Thanks for clarifying! Admittedly, I haven't played Ricochet Pyramids myself, so forgive me for providing an invalid reason. Just from my perusal of the rules it felt similar to me, so I was trying to help cull the list. I'm all for it being included though, if it's as unique as you say!

I don't quite have time for a full evaluation now, but here are a few comments:

I agree that the list should have as big a variety as possible of different game types. That shouldn't be an excuse to keep a weak game on the list, but it argues for reducing the number of similar games and keeping games that are good but not my particular preference.

CrackeD Ice - Keep. I'm not usually a dexterity/stacking kind of guy, but this is a worthy entry in that genre.

Zendo v. Ikkozendo - Drop Ikkozendo. It's too similar to Zendo, and you must have Zendo.

Freeze Tag v. Crosswalk - I agree they're similar, and I like Freeze Tag better. Drop Crosswalk.

RAMbots v. Ricochet Pyramids - My concern here is not that they're similar to each other play-wise. But it would be good to keep the "just like this published game" to a minimum. It might be fine to have a couple if they're good. but if it gets down to 23 and a cut it needed, maybe consider one of these.

Edit: I didn't see Andy's comment reducing it to Yes/No/Maybe. But I'm going to leave my comments alone. I've only played a couple on the Maybe list. Hmm.

I agree with this list.  Looks like a really good "Best Of" selection.  I'm sure there is something that no-one has suggested at all and in some months we will realize we missed something great.  But this list seems to really be solid.

I'm thinking of what games would require more the "More Pyramids Required" symbol.  Alien City, Extinction, and Nile would need some modification to the rules to play with 3 stashes, so they should just get the /\.  Pylon and Amoeba can play with 3 stashes, and should work just dandy as a shorter, smaller game.  I'm not sure about others, but I can research it if you like.

On a related note, Pikemen only requires more pyramids if you are playing a 2 or 3 player game on an 8x8 board.  I have been playing a smaller version of Pikemen I'm calling "Skirmish" which uses a smaller board and fFewer pieces.  Skirmish would not need the /\ symbol, but it's a basically a variant at this point.

Re: CrackeD Ice: I agree that this game is interesting and possibly worthy of being listed because it's a dexterity game and there aren't many of those in the library. However, one of the unpublished six will be Verticality, which IMO fills that niche better than CrackeD Ice. That's my main reason for moving this to the No list.

Re: Ricochet Pyramids: How close is this to Ricochet Robot? I've never played it. Does it replicate the original or is it new and different in some way and only inspired by Ricochet Robot? I strongly agree with Jeff that I'd like to minimize inclusion of games that are basically straight-up adaptations of published works.

OK, I'm really looking forward to Verticality. As I said, CrackeD Ice is probably my second most-played pyramid game (behind Zendo).

RP is unabashedly inspired by RR, but does not work the same.

In RR, robot movement is blocked by robots and walls. In RP there are no walls (other than the outside of the board), and robot movement is blocked by robots and non-current-goal towers. The current goal tower does not block, so to move onto the current goal, you often have to arrange that there is some other robot immediately behind it, otherwise the goal robot will move through the goal and onward without stopping.

The method of determining current robot & goal is different too, allowing repeats of previous pairs instead of going through a deck of robot/goal tokens.

You also have more flexible control over the setup arrangement to make it easier or harder to find paths, since you can put the 9 goal towers wherever you like on the board during setup, instead of the goals (and walls) being preprinted on the 4 board quadrants of RR.

Oh right. I forgot about Verticality.

Please, check the discussion on the fairness of Branches and Twigs and Thorns. Thanks.

I'm late to the game, but here are some additions that I think should be included.


Autumn Ash: My game that has only been out for a few years (a 2Xeno 2Rainbow stash game, so works with PA), so it probably hasn’t circulated much. It has been playtested like crazy with lots of players, and I still look forward to dragging it out whenever I can. I’m always thinking up new strategies for this.

Invaders of Mars: Wow, a fun game, with a good theme, that I haven’t played for a while.

Gleebs and Grues

Nile: Though it's been some time since Scott and I played this, so I could be foggy as to how much fun it was.

Skurðir: A good multiplayergame.

Apophis : I played Spaceteam the other day, so this is on my mind. It might not be to everyone’s liking.

Quicksand : One of my favorite head-to-head strategies. This would be up at the top of my list.

.... "Late for the game," meaning that read more of the above posts and see that things have been kind of selected through at this juncture.

I'd still recommend any of the games from my short list that didn't make it into the "Yes" column, though there are plenty of good ones in there. Perhaps if there's room in the "Maybe" column. ;)

If I was going to trade out any in the "Yes" column for any other game, it would be Stack Control. I like the game, and do play it often enough. However, it's basically derivative of other games, a multiplayer Pylon. This is the reason that I'd never recommend Hexano-Duel, even though it hovers at the top of my SC list. Hexano-Duel just happens to be my favorite version of Volcano; it's significantly different from others, but it's still derivative.

Amoeba never felt like a solid game to me either, but perhaps there are enough others who do enjoy it.

The rest of the games in the "Yes" column look like good games to me.

Homeworlds question about yellow/move

At a G3 planet I have 2 ships, a y2 and y1. May I sacrifice the y1 for a move action and move the y2 to the now-banked y1?


The rules say:

To sacrifice a ship, simply return it to the global stash. You may then perform the number of actions determined by the size of your sacrifice ship

So yes you can.

Thanks for the quick reply!

Pyramid Arcade

Greetings Starship Captains!

Did y'all see the thing I posted last month about the boxed set we're working on?

...or the thing I posted today about a metal tin that holds a Homeworlds set?


It looks so amazing. I'm excited. I've been waiting for years to play Petri dish. And five more? Dang. As for the Homeworlds kit, I have my own kit, though that looks great for backpacking and the like. I love pyramid games so much. Thanks for all the great contributions to gaming. It's simply the best.

Well, there are many details we're still hammering out. But here's a question I'd like to throw to this group...

I wish Martian Coasters had a better name. Any suggestions?

I did see!  The big box is really interesting and exciting!!  I've been pondering rounded pyramids, ever since the initial teaser came out.

And the little metal tin is also really cool, eh!  What an awesome fFind!  I'm now imaging the web-store having a sudden, unexpected run on these things and having no idea why.  =)  I notice, two tins will hold 24 nested trios, which is the amount needed fFor Caldera.  I can imagine carrying around a third tin with other stuff like some caps and dice.  I'm really keen to get several tins, now, and try them out.

Is "Looney Coasters" too obvious? ;)

PS: That round tin storage idea is very cool!

This is awesome.  I can't wait to see the new games!  The rounded pyramids are going to be interesting.  I like the tin idea too, but I already have the travel set I love so much.  Thanks for the exciting news and your hard work!

I can't think of any clever new names for Martian Coasters. We just call them "coasters" and that's cool by me. :)

Will there be a version of Pyramid Arcade available that won't include pyramids? I have all of them already; I just want/need the boards and rules!

We expect many to make this request, and plan to have a Kickstarter level called Everything But The Pyramids!

May I ask, why do you want to change the name?  Which part do you like less?  The "Martian" or the "Coasters"?  Many pyramid games have the Martian prefix, so that seems alright to me.  I don't know of any other game named coasters, however, so I'm not sure what a "Martian" version of coasters would be.  A reasonable name might be something like Martian Hopscotch.

I dislike both parts of the name, actually. There's nothing particularly Martian about it and it'd rather only have one game in the set called Martian something, and that's Martian Chess. Coasters is also a very unhelpful name since it doesn't really tell you anything about the game itself. Also -- and this is a good related question, we're considering making the ones in the set not actually coasters but instead simply small game boards. In which case it would make even less sense to include coasters in the name of the game. But is that a good idea? My thinking is that few would use or even want to use the game boards in their Arcade set as drink coasters. It makes sense to me as an a la carte product in a DIY world, but I don't think it does now. Thoughts? Anyway, I wish I had a one-word, snappy, unique name for the game that actually described some aspect of its gameplay. So I'm thinking something like Home Run, although that's two words. Alison suggested Shifter. Anyway, it may be too much to ask - name design is one of the hardest parts of game design - but if it's ever going to happen, now's the time.

It's true, I have never used my coasters as actual drink coasters, and probably will not do so in fFuture.  I know I could, but I probably won't.

Glad to know! Thank you for the speedy reply!

Maybe "Galaxy Discs" could work? But if they aren't going to be round that won't work, obviously. Will give it more thought.

Not to be confused with the very different game, Cosmic Coasters.

Just ordered 6 metal tins.  Let's see what we can do with them, shall we.  =)   I think I'll need to make up some nice stickers or labels, too.  A project!  Yay!!

Ah, I thought you meant the name of the objects, not the name of the game. :)

(Analogous to how the objects "Icehouse pyramids" became "Looney pyramids".)

The game is about trying to navigate land masses that are moving around all the time. What about "Tectonics"?

Here’s another tidbit about renaming Martian Coasters: the version we include with Pyramid Arcade will have one significant rule-change. The DIG action, which has always been weak & redundant, will instead give the option to spend your movement points on pieces of ANY color, not just your own. We have a new bacronym to help your remember it, too: Do It Globally.

A quotidian possibility for Martian Coasters would be something like "Pyramid Ludo", since it's always struck me as being a highly dynamic relative of Pachisi/Ludo/Mensch. If you were willing to keep "Martian", then "Martian Mensch" wouldn't be bad. But "Pyrachisi" sounds terrible.

I'm trying to get away from the Martian angle here, so I don't like Martian Mensch. What if embrace the crazy meaning of my name, which fits since it's a high-chaos game, and call it Looney Ludo? My previous best candidate name has been Get Back, but Looney Ludo does have a nice ring to it, and fits pretty well if you know what Ludo is.

Looney Ludo sounds like a plausible candidate!

Looney Ludo has a nice ring to it

If you're planning to go with Looney related name,  I think you should go all the way and play with your company name as well: Looney Laps. 

After you suggest it, "Looney Ludo" seems obvious. It also at least has a chance of approximately conveying the game play (to someone who knows what Ludo is) whereas Home Run and Get Back don't.

For what it's worth: Home Run sounds to me like it should be a baseball game. Get Back sounds like it ought to have some kind of advancing menace which players retreat from. Neither carries an apt connotation (to me, anyway).

I see Martian Coasters as a sort of race game, on an ever-changing course. Makes me think of another game, in fact: Robo Rally.

So... Looney Rally? Pyramid Rally? Fluxx Rally?

Or there's a strong "get safe to home" sense to the game's goal of finishing with a Nest on one's coaster/board.

So... Rally Home? Home Rally? Home Rush?


Orthogonal question, while I have the floor: Will you be including references or links to other games designed for the coasters/boards?

[No, I don't ask because I think Wormholes is one of the best games that uses them! ;-) ]

Hmm, someone's going to need to categorize all the games playable with the new release...

Caldera?  Doesn't that require six stashes of 4 colors?  I'm afraid that if you use three stashes of eight colors it will be considerably more difficult to make monochrome trees to win the game.  A couple options:

1. Caldera really is just that much harder.

2. Map colors together.  e.g. purple and blue count as one color, etc.

3. Tell people to buy two copies of Arcade if they want to play Caldera.

None of those options feel good to me.  I suspect we'll go with option 2, but that's just a cop out.  Let's face it... purple and blue aren't the same color - we're just pretending they are so that we can list out 22 games instead of just 21.

Martian Coaster Rename:

I like the "Tectonics" idea to capture the possibility of shifting land masses. 

Yes, I know what (regular) Ludo is, but I'm not convinced that enough other people do to make that a good name to just add an adjective to. 

I like the idea behind Home Run and Get Back, describing the goal of the game.  Along those lines, how about "Going Home", "Ollie Ollie In-Come Free", "Fly Away Home" or "Coming Home"? 

Since players are trying to gather their pieces on the correct coaster... "Looney: the Gathering."  (Just kidding.)

Hi Ryan! Actually, it's not Caldera, it's Fiesta Caldera, and we're probably just going to call it Volcano in the book. And what is Fiesta Caldera? It's like Caldera but with 3 Rainbow and 3 Xeno stashes, and these two rules. 1) Black caps and White caps are considered identical 2) You win by collecting 3 monochrome tress OR 5 mixed-color trees. It works great!

I'm feeling pretty solid on Looney Ludo. I like the way it sounds and I don't really mind that Ludo is obscure. If you don't know what it is, it's just a wacky sounding word until you get to the historical note which says: 

"This game was originally published under the name Martian Coasters, and featured beverage coasters as game boards. The new name was chosen because the gameplay is reminiscent of Ludo, a 19th century derivative of the ancient classic Parchisi. Except it's crazier."

... and then the name takes on meaning and informs the player about classic game history.

How frequent are the two endings? Is it usually one or the other, or are they pretty evenly split?

For me, that intro paragraph makes all the difference.  Ok, I'm on the Looney Ludo band wagon.

Ahh... I see.  Since "Fiesta" wasn't part of the hyperlink to Caldera, I thought it was just some random adjective.

Black and white caps together: Makes perfect sense.

Using the Volcano name: As you might remember from the original Caldera discussion, I'm a proponent of keeping the Volcano name for the original game.  In general, once you have a perfectly good name for a perfectly good game, you shouldn't change either one.  I could see using just plain "Caldera" and adding a little something to the rules like... "If you're using the Arcade set, here's the setup and the win condition.  On the other hand, if you have access to two Arcade sets or three IceDice sets or even six copies of either the Rainbow or Xeno Stash, here are the rule changes." 

Geez, I'm just never happy - am I?

Jeff, I would guess (with zero data to back it up) that the five-mixed-trees option is used at least 2/3 of the time. 

I would counter that Volcano and Caldera (and Fiesta Caldera) are all so similar as to really be the same game. Perhaps my planned historical notes for this one will sway your opinion as well: 

Historical Notes: Technically, this game is Fiesta Caldera, not Volcano. The original rules to Volcano evolved into a slightly different game we called Caldera, and that lead to Fiesta Caldera, the version you could play with the colorful mixture of pyramids in this set. But we decided to keep calling the game Volcano, even if it has changed a bit from the version first published in Playing with Pyramids, back in 2002.

Not that you need approval, but...

Including that type of information would indeed soften the blow, but it doesn't actually change my mind.  You could say it takes the situation from a -5 to merely a -1.

I think saying that this game is technically Fiesta Caldera only confuses things.  If you really wanted to mention that name, you could say something like...

This game was known as Fiesta Caldera during development.  Because it's now the flagship game in the Volcano family of games (and, we feel, the best), we are retiring the old rules, which used an expensive-to-obtain set of pyramids, and declaring this new ruleset the official Volcano rules.

As a Classic Volcano loyalist, I wouldn't say this is my favorite course of action - if it's a new game, use a new name.  However, if you're going to call the new game Volcano, I wouldn't even mention Fiesta Caldera except in the past tense.

I'm a little confused.  Why the new rules?  I'm always happy to play new games of course, but I fFeel like the classic Volcano is quite good.  The Caldera rules were a nice opportunity to play in Base_3 -- because IceDice bags contained 3 trees in several colors -- and you could simply buy 2 IceDicebags to get 6 trees.  But if the Arcade will include 5 trees in several colors, why not just stick with the classic Base_5 Volcano rules?

On a not wholly unrelated topic, I've been pondering the utility of making Volcano caps that are not pyramid shaped at all: Some kind of round blob that sits on top of a nest.  I mention this now because it seems to me part of the need to have so much stuff available in Volcano/Caldera is to get the caps in a separate color.  The arcade probably can't be redesigned to include extra blobby bits at this point, but it's a thing I think of making sometimes, possibly out of clay.  Such blobby bits would be good fFor other games, like Lumberjack to denote protestors, and Homeworlds to denote your own Homeworld.

Because Arcade will have only three nests/trees each of ten colors. 

Also, I thought IceDice includes only two nests each of five colors, so you'd need 3 IceDice bags to get six trees.

Ahhh, I see now.

And, you're right of course.  IceDice->Caldera is 2x3, not 3x2.

I'd also favor saying that Fiesta Caldera is a version of Volcano, rather than being "not Volcano". There are at least three ways to play Volcano (original recipe, caldera, and fiesta) which differ in requiring different distributions of colours.

Saying that it's not really Volcano, even though it's called that, invites the kind of hipster pedantry that makes some fandoms seem unwelcoming.

Oh, and just to make sure I respond directly to the part of your comment that is at the basis of my perspective...

> I would counter that Volcano and Caldera (and Fiesta Caldera) are all so similar as to really be the same game.

I would counter-counter that no, they're not. The difference between five and six caps is pretty significant.  In Volcano, the smaller number of caps leads to different, longer-term and, in my opinion, better strategies.  With even that one extra cap in Caldera, it is a LOT easier to get a cap onto pretty much any volcano you want to erupt, while in Volcano each player can have more impact on what the other can actually do on subsequent turns.  During the initial Caldera discussion, some people said this was an "pro" for Caldera, while I considered it a con.

Interesting. I still consider it a pro, despite everything you say. We have different opinions about what makes for better gameplay.

Anyway, yes of course, they aren't *exactly* the same game, that's what these debates are all about. But they're the same games in the way that No Limit Texas Hold 'em and Five Card Stud are the same game. Many differences, of course, but they're both called Poker. And of course, there are old school purists there too, but most poker players these days just want to play No Limit Texas Hold'em, and none of them say "Hey, let's play No Limit Texas Hold'em tonight," they say "Let's play Poker tonight." And that's what we're trying to do here. Yes, technically it's Fiesta Caldera, but when someone says "Does it include Volcano?" we want to say "Yes!" not "Yes, but it's called something else for confusing, historical reasons."

I was trying to formulate an argument for Poker not being a good analogy for Volcano/Caldera because of the differing end games of the latter two. But then I realized that Razz and Omaha Hi/Low may well undermine any argument I might devise. Not all Poker variants have the same objective, either.

Still, I think the end game of Caldera is infinitely more elegant than the end game of straight Volcano. I've never had a problem with the 6th cap, so I guess you know where my loyalties lie.

If we accept that Volcano is the game and the various incarnations are merely variants, doesn't that mean that we should have a retronym for the variant originally called Volcano? I called it "straight Volcano" above, maybe that would work.

Another example is Hearts. I've seen some old books about cardgames which say that only Hearts are point cards in "Hearts", and that the game is called something else (like "Black Mariah") if the Queen of Spades scores. Now having the Queen of Spades count for 13 is standard for "Hearts". Some people play with the Jack of Diamonds subtracting 10 points, which changes play a lot (for the worse) but without making it not "Hearts" anymore.

As for a retronym for the original version, maybe "Classic Volcano" or "5House Volcano"

+1 for Classic Volcano.

This fits the Poker analogy, at least for me.  Back when I was just a wee lad, Five Card Draw was the only form/variant/ruleset for Poker I knew.  If my brother suggested a game of Poker, 5CD is what I assumed he meant.  Now, not so much.  If I see a Poker event on the schedule for ESPN, I now assume it's Texas Hold'em.


Translate Poker to Volcano, 5 Card Draw to Classic and Texas Hold'em to Fiesta Caldera.  So what this seems to imply is that...

1. Volcano should be promoted from a single game to the name of the genre/family

2. Classic Volcano can become the new name for the original game.

3. Caldera and Fiesta Caldera should keep their names.

Maybe the Historical Note could start something like this:

Fiesta Caldera is the latest addition to the Volcano family of Looney Pyramid games, which started with a game which we initially called Volcano but have renamed to Classic Volcano. 

That way you won't have two names (Fiesta Caldera and Volcano) for the same thing going forward.  Fiesta Caldera is a game and Volcano is a family or genre of games, like Tx Hold'em and Poker.  It also allows you to use the more generic "Volcano" to mean Fiesta Caldera by default, much as an invitation to Poker Night at Casa de McGuire implies you'll be playing TH'e. 

I dig it. I think, as long as it has been effectively playtested, and plays well, it's good. I would like the historical note to be inclusive, and perhaps explain some of the rationale behind the different rule sets. Maybe even provide a kind of chart showing the differences. But, it sounds like you've put a lot of thought into the whole thing. Any other games in the arcade we can get riled up about? =)

I think the historical notes should be kept to a minimum to avoid confusing new players. But there probably should be some note to avoid confusing people familiar with a previous version of Volcano. I could see it being a sidebar that says: "For Volcano Fans - Volcano, like Poker, now has several variants. This one is called Fiesta Caldera. Please take a moment to look for differences from the versions of Volcano/Caldera that you might already know."

If you talk about variants, I'm familiar with Classic Volcano, Classic Caldera, MegaVolcano, and now Fiesta Caldera. I've played all but the last of these. Are there any other major variants?

(Reviving this discussion now that the project is out there on Kickstarter.)

Would the Zendo Arcade project be another standalone set or just the additional pieces required to play canonical Zendo, Icehouse, (original) IceTowers, (original) Volcano, etc when added to the Pyramid Arcade set?  What would you need to play those games?  Just two additional nests of four colors plus Zendop stones and maybe some nice postcard for stash pads.  Volcano would require two more nests of a fifth color plus two more small blacks.

The idea of an upgrade kit struck me as something they wouldn't do, but it does make some sense, considering what the pyramid system is supposed to be. It would make Zendo fans unhappy, though, to have to buy two things to get new Zendo. I would be extremely surprised if they included different versions of games that are already in the original Arcade. I would think that a Zendo Arcade would be all new games (new to the Arcade system anyway), whether it was an expansion or a standalone.

No, Zendo Arcade will be a standalone set, with pyramids in 4 colors and rules + parts for games that aren't in Pyramid Arcade.

This comes with a round sticker, correct?  Does it fit that round tin that was posted on the blog?  I picked a couple of those tins up, they're fairly neat.

I'd kind of like to see one for those tins with the circular logo on this page

Peiceniking in Pastillage.

Hi guys, thought I'd tell you about my current project at catering college.

I'm doing Patisserie (pastry chef) at college and our first project is Pastillage. Pastillage is a kind of icing that sets rock solid and very brittle. It's a bitch to work with, but worth the effort. I'm making launchpad 23 with pyramids in 8pip, roughly 7pip and roughly 6pip. I finished my dice yesterday! For scale, the pyramids on the dice were drawn around actual plastic ones. Pictures coming soon.


Oh my goodness, this sounds really cool!  =)

some in progress


I dig this.  Well done!

this is awesome!

board and rules now done. I've since done the grey cartoon rocket on the rules, and grey on the launchpads in sharpie. gluing it all together today.


completed work. still waiting on my mark for it. 

What kind of dye works on pyramids?

Hello :)

I wanna get some extra White pieces and try my hand at dyeing them to make new opaque colors and perhaps some tie-dye bits. Will dye that works on ABS plastic also work on these? What kind of plastic is used for the pyramids? I understand if the actual plastic type's a proprietary secret, I just wanna know what sort of dye will recolor pieces without melting them or something.

Anyone willing to share info about this? Anyone done it already in a way that worked well? I'd love to know.



I don't think it's a secret mixture, particularly. No worries there. But I can't tell you a lot more than that. I know other people have used spray paint and assorted other paints to relatively good effect, but I think it can chip off over time. I'm interested in what kind of dye you have. Sounds neat. I believe other people can offer more insight and useful stuff than this, but I wanted to offer a quick response anyway. We like pyramid hacks. =)

I don't have any dye, but might well end up buying an assortment just to experiment with. I like the thought of dye since it won't chip off and won't change the pyramids' dimensions like a solid coat of spray paint would.

I'm using the pawn pieces to indicate 'status effects' in a tabletop RPG that uses Heroscape terrain and a bunch of other stuff thrown together to sort-of emulate Final Fantasy Tactics. Since there's a lot of statuses (both good and bad) that a unit can have, I want to create a good amount of distinctively colored pieces. They're useful 'cause you can stack a lot of them near a minifigure and know at a glance what's going on with it, instead of having to look across the table at somebody's character sheet.

I'll post about my experimentations with dyeing pieces, but first I have to get my hands on dye... and an extra White stash.

Thanks for the quick reply! 

Eeyore had some good results with Rit dye:

Thanks for this post. Those results are quite nice. I dug around a bit on that site, Wunderland, Wikipedia and a few other sites and gleaned this information:

The pyramids are crystal styrene, which takes oil-based dyes well and anthraquinone based dyes the best. Unfortunately most of the anthraquinone dyes aren't approved for use in the US or EU - they're really toxic, requiring special microbes to degrade. But next to ABS, crystal styrene is comparatively easy to dye, being less resistant and taking the dye at a lower temperature.

I've seen ABS keyboard keycaps dyed with Rit to amazing effect, especially with lighter colors. It seems Rit will suffice and that I'm far less likely to melt pyramids than I thought. Rit also has those advantages of being cheap and common. I'm going to try it first, to make Whites into an opaque, 50% grey. Then I'll use the knowledge gained to fool with some of the other leftover, translucent colors.

When I find a method that produces results I think are worth posting, I'll update this. But gathering dye, pyramids and stuff will take a bit; the Xeno Stashes are on order...

Hi, folks. I've done more research and got some spare Xeno stashes and various dyes. It might be a month or two before I post my results, because I want to take my time with everything and get the best results I can the FIRST time. So, I'm saving this project for a day when I can house-sit for a friend who has a gas stove and fill their kitchen with weird dye fumes.

I am trying to get not only the solid grey but also smoked pieces that lie 'between' the existing colors without looking too much like an existing color. Pale pink, chartreuse, smoked grey, and smoked white could all work well. Brown would be a welcome addition, as well...

Will update as time goes on and results start coming!

Regaining access to

I was wondering what it took to get "regular" access. 


It takes an admin to personally bestow "regular status" on a user.  I could easily do the task.

However, due to a MediaWiki snafu, the IceWiki won't accept any edits at this time, even from admins and regulars.  This has been the unfortunate state for at least a year or two.  Only the wiki's webmaster, Brian Campbell, has any ability to solve the problem, whatever it is.

Isn't it really time to migrate the content to a new platform?

As a bonus, admin privileges could be given to someone at Looney Labs so that it wouldn't go all ghost town in the future.

We have tried getting official Looney adoption of it in the past, with little or no success. 

At this point, the best bet is probably to migrate it by hand. That would at least provide an opportunity to get all the infoboxes, metadata, tags, categories, etc into alignment... at the cost of several hundred hours of volunteer time (over 300 pages to convert). As a bonus, though, we also could install Semantic MediaWiki onto a new site and be able to much-easier build the game-list pages (especially What Can I Play, which is a hand-built index but could be auto-built with consistent, standardized semantic tags... and could be improved by including the new packaging option as a sort category (# sets of Ice Dice and Pink Hijinks has never been factored into the page).

I do not volunteer. :)

I would certainly assist with architecture, all kidding aside. Tagging, templates, structure are fun. Copy & paste for hours is not.

I would love to see a working wiki again !

I volunteer for copy & paste !

I can't offer any technical expertise, but I would definitely volunteer time copy/pasting things if someone is going to make a real go at this.

During my last conversation with IceWiki admin Brian Campbell, he told me he was willing to turn the keys over to anyone qualified and attentive enough to fill his shoes.

A further advantage to moving to a new platform would be that it could be called something like "The Pyramid Wiki", reflecting the name change for the system. Then there could be a site newsletter on Wednesday.

The Pyramid Wiki Mid-Weekly.

(The newsletter suggestion is just for the pun, but there would be advantages to the name change. Retaining all the "Ice" names harkens back to history, but doesn't situate things well for people new to the system.)

I'm glad that you got a hold of him. Hopefully someone will stand up and help out. It's a great resource of games that supports an often vibrant community of players and designers.

It would suck if it just ended up as an archive, like the Piecepack community's site, as so much work has gone into the wiki.

I would love to help with this, as I had been going through and pointing out spam where I could previously. Much as I would like to, I can't take on the whole thing because I know I'd overextend myself and it would fall apart. Definitely up for as much as I can mange tho. 

Icehouse International Tournament Status

Is this tournament still happening yearly? The latest entry in this wiki page is for 2011, but I don't know if that is because no one has updated it or the tournament has stopped. Will there be one in 2016?


Psshhh... I have no idea, but I wish. I played in the one in 2011, and it was amazing, though I had no idea what I was doing and Jacob Davenport was teaching me the tricks of the trade between rounds. My first official move was to crash and hand over a piece to Andy Looney, and I was more than happy to do so. It was GREAT. Best gaming experience of my life, and I'd pretty much show up wherever I could do do it again.

It used to be held at The Big Experiment, at Origins.  Looney Labs stopped doing The Big Experiment, because it was a lot of work!  hey wanted to fFocus more on cool games, not big expensive convention experiences.  And so, the IIT quietly dissipated.  There remains a great deal of interest in some circles, to be sure.  But I wouldn't count on it happening again anytime real soon unless a throng of interested people make it happen.

Buying stashes in bulk?


I would like to purchase 4 stashes to play icehouse with my friends. I'm currently planning on buying 1 ice-dice set and 3 rainbow stashes. 

Is there an easier way to buy multiple stashes?


I don't see another way to get 4 or more monochrome stashes for less than $50.  You plan sounds like the best one.

If you go with IceDice * 2 + Rainbow Stash * 1, you'd get the same pyramids for the same total price but endup with an extra IceDice bag and an extra set of dice (and two fewer boxes).

The Ice Etin's Cave (new game!)

You are one of four powerful Flamemights captured by the evil Ice Etin. Breaking out of the cave where you were held triggers an alarm within the Etin's frozen mountain lair, and the caverns start filling with deadly icicles! The only way to save yourselves and the world is to open the four Embergates by collecting five runes for each, thereby destroying the mountain and the Etin's power! But will you survive?


4 players

a Rainbow stash (or Xeno, or any 4 colors you care to use)

2 standard playing card decks (jokers removed)

36 small tokens

1 d6 spawn die of one color

1d6 location die of another color

1 d14 attack die

30-40 minutes of free time

Set up

Decide who shuffles and deals the cards. Each player is given a hand of 3 cards which are dealt face up.  The remaining cards are divided into 6 equal stacks and arranged in a circle face up in the center of the playing area, and are numbered 1-6 clockwise. The tokens are place in a pile on the side.

Players pick a color and put their tree on stack 1. One token is placed each on stacks 2-6.

Movement and Life Points

The number of pips in one's tree determines how far you can move during your turn, at the start of the game, anywhere from 1-6 spaces. Movement can be either clockwise or counterclockwise. Person to the left of the dealer goes first.  The pips also represent one's life points, which can be lost if injured by icicles (tokens).  When injured, remove a pyramid with the total of points lost and place it next to you, or rearrange your tree with lost pyramids to show the current movement ability/life points of your Flamemight. If you lose all your pyramids you died from your wounds and are out of the game!

Opening Embergates

5 cards for each suit (hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs) must be collected and turned in at portal spaces,  above/below stacks 1 and 4, in between stacks 5 and 6, and 2 and 3. An Emberune must contain 5 cards of the same suit.


Players take turns moving through the 6 caverns and encountering the spaces they land on.  Various actions can be performed during your turn:

1. prior to moving you may cast a healing spell on yourself, if you were injured in your last turn. Discard cards from your hand for one point each. Note you can only cast one healing spell per turn.

2. you must move to any stack you want, the pip count of your tree allowing.

3.  the cavern must be explored. Different scenarios can play out:

A. if the stack is empty of tokens, collect the rune (take the top card) and add it to your hand (face up), revealing the next card of the stack.

B. if there are tokens present you must cast a flame spell (roll the attack die). Add 1 point for every other Flamemight sharing the stack.  If the roll is equal to or greater than the value of the top card of the stack (Ace is 1, Jack 11, Queen 12, King 13), you were able to melt all the icicles (remove tokens to the pile) and can now collect the rune.

If the roll was less than the card value, you may cast battle spells. Discard cards for one point each. If the total is still lower, you were injured by the icicles and lose 1 pip.

C. if there is another Flamemight on the stack you may either:

a. cast a healing spell if you have not done so earlier by discarding cards to heal your companion.

b. give your companion a rune from your hand, so that they can use it later for spells or to help complete an emberune they're working on. If this action completes an emberune it is turned in. Note sharing cards can only happen after an attack has been completed, and you can only share with 1 player, if there is more than one on the stack.

4. you must roll the spawn and location dice together. The spawn die determines how many tokens you take from the pile, and the location die shows where to put them. Note a stack can only hold 6 tokens, if the stack rolled is full, or will be full before you can place all the tokens, spread the spare tokens to other stacks that still have openings.

5. your turn ends and play proceeds to the next person.

6. if all the caverns fill up with icicles you all died and lose the game!-so get those gates open pronto!

Optional Rule

Talent specializations: each color represents a different type of flamemight, based on where they draw their power:

Soot (black), from Coal

Volcanic (red), from Lava

Noon (yellow), from the Sun's Zenith

Abyssal (blue), from Deep Sea Vents

Dawn (pink), from the First Light of Day

Vital (green), from Life

Cinder (grey [I'm sure someone has these]), from Ash

Spark (cyan), from Electricity

Ardor (orange), from Fire

Twilight (purple), from the Last Light of Day

Celestial (clear), from Distant Stars

Forge (white), from Molten Metal

If using this option, prior to shuffling the deck, take 4 cards, one for each suit, shuffle them, and give one to each player. The suit you get determines your talent cards: if you get a club, and use club cards to cast spells, you get 2 points per card instead of 1, and if you're on a stack that matches your talent, add 1 point to you attack roll.

This game is a modification of one Daniel Solis is developing, called Particle Panic. The picture shows the starting lay out. The bowl on the left is for tossing dice into so they don't bounce all over the place. Hope you find it entertaining.


How does one represent a d14?

By using a fourteen-sided die. I'm not sure what you mean by "represent."

I did not know there was a 14 sided die, that's what I meant. 

Pardon my presumption; I'm used to playing games with all sorts of dice.  Yes, dice come in about every shape you can imagine. D14s are a more uncommon type; found mine on eBay.  If you like, you can substitute the die with a notecard cut into fourteen squares, numbered 1-14, and shuffled inside a little bag to be drawn from.

I work at a game shop, and have not ordered any of those before! Going to have to change that!

Looney Pyramids design principles (?)

I recall reading an article by Andy about his thoughts about important design principles to consider when designing pyramid games.  I don't recall every point made, but a couple were: 

  • Consider turnless
  • Consider using no boards

The basic premise was that the pyramids should inspire us to create different types of games.  

Does anyone have a link to the original article?


The front page of the IceWiki has a writeup that closely matches what you describe... but those aren't Andy's words.

Here's an article Andy wrote in 2003, but it isn't pyramid-centric:

The front page of the IceWiki has a writeup that closely matches what you describe... but those aren't Andy's words.

Look at that.  Those seem like the words that I remember, but I guess I mixed my remembrance of them with things that I read by Andy.  I stand corrected.

Thanks Ryan!

Pyramid Primer #2

Kristin, forgive me if this topic is premature.

At today's Looney Lounge, I took a peek at an early draft of Pyramid Primer #2.  Like its predecessor, this 28-page full size pamphlet contains space for the rules of approx. 12 popular pyramid games.

I noticed that there were a couple blank spaces on the cover, suggesting that there was more space left in the draft for a few more games.  Perhaps us Starship Captains could help you select some worthwhile fan designs?


I myself am rather partial to TimeLock

I don't know which games are in it, so I'm not sure which to suggest, but guessing about games probably not in it which I enjoy playing (some pretty regularly), I'll propose:

Tic-Tac-Doh (simple classic, needs only 1 stash)

Stack Control (good for various numbers of players, pretty easy to teach)

Gleebs and Grues (strange but pleasing 2-player game)

Branches and Twigs and Thorns

Blam! (good for 2 or more, easy to teach)

Ricochet Pyramids (port of Ricochet Robots but interestingly different; by me)

Stawvs (similar to Amazons with Volcano scoring; by me)

Martian Tic-Tac-Toe (discovered and played only recently but it seems interesting and good)

Games that might already be included:

Freeze Tag

Lunar Invaders

Nothing Beats a Large

Petal Battle

Petri Dish

Pink Hijinks

Pyramid Shambo


Twin Win


My recommendations:




Penguin Soccer






I do agree that is a great game. I don't know how they would put this in the current IceSheet format considering the ideal state for playing this game is one Xeno stash and one Rainbow. But, in terms of other requirements, it's fairly simple, and can be played with items currently found in the Treehouse sets sold in the bag. Sounds pretty solid to me.

I think Martian Whist is pretty good, but I would say something like that.

Alien City (yes it requires a piecepack, but it is a great game that I think about more than I play)

Autumn Ash (this tricky strategy game takes a little effort to learn, but it's also a good game to aspire to once you own several sets of xeno and rainbow pyramids)

Invaders of Mars (this is a fun game of doing yourself the least amount of harm_

Logger (evil little game that is fun to teach and play)

Moscow Ice (the rules could use a little bit of a rewrite, but it's a solid game with some fun variations for up to 4)

Paint the Line (I haven't played it enough of late, but it's a solid game)

Plutonian Poker (great for larger groups)

Quicksand (It's starting to become a 2-player classic)

Timelock (the perfect mix of strategy and luck--a game that lets you really mess with your opponent)

It would be hard for me to choose 12 games without a LOT of thought about quality and variety.

BUT, I am posting to suggest that many of them (if not all) should be selected based on having Rainbow and Xeno, to help promote sales and to reward those of us with 'complete' sets (complete commercial releases, not weird electric greens and blems). The wiki has RX and R+X+ categories (though I think they're incompletely tagged) to help find good ones.

And it it isn't too presumptuous to offer, I'd remove the NC portion of the CC license from any game of mine that you'd like to include! :)

Homeworlds question


  I was wondering what the current first turn rule is.  It used to be that Player A built his homeworld first and Player B took the first regular turn after setup.  SuperDuperGames  just alternates turns normally after setup.  The current PDF at LL says you flip a coin on evenly matched games, but it is listed after the homeworlds setup.  To me this sounds like either both players set up their homeworld and then decide who goes first with a coin toss, or SDG-style and I over-thought it.. What is the correct setup/first turn rule these days?


Hm, good question.  I had thought it was what you said fFirst.  Player A builds, Player B builds, player B takes her fFirst turn.  But I'm not sure where I got that fFrom.  Possibly the 3-house rule pamphlet?  Indeed, I hadn't really thought about it, but it's a good thing to get clarification on.  Andy, are you available to comment?

FWIW I asked a similar question at BGG and get this:

I was looking at the Binary HW PDF at the Looney Labs website and just wanted to make sure I have the first turns right. I'm playing that we decide who's first (coin toss), the winner builds HW first, and also takes the first move. This is the way SuperDuperGames does it. Is this correct? No more "player who chooses the homeworld first moves second"?


Correct. That's because if you let the second player build his homeworld and then immediately take a turn, he can often win by a "fool's mate" unless the first player chooses her homeworld colors to include red.

Alice chooses a homeworld: b3y1 g3
Bob chooses a homeworld: y2g2 r3 (deliberately adjacent to Alice)
Bob moves: build r1
Alice moves: build g1
Bob moves: move r3 to Alice (oh crap! thinks Alice)
Alice moves: build g1 (since moving away would instantly lose, and changing color doesn't do much)
Bob moves: capture g3 (leaving Alice with g1g1 at home, and Bob with r3g3)

Bob's "fool's mate" doesn't work if Alice happens to choose red as one of her starting colors; but that still cuts out a large swath of the possible starting positions, which is pretty sucky. It's simpler to just mandate that the first player to set up also moves first; then Bob has no incentive to set up deliberately adjacent to Alice, so we get a more satisfyingly large space of possible setups.


This is a good point: in the variant with the second player (Bob) getting two turns, then the first player must always choose a red pyramid or ship in their homeworld.

I had another reason for suggesting that this variant gives the second player a very large advantage. If player one chooses a homeworld with a small pyramid ('Goldilocks' or 'Banker'), then player two can choose a homeworld with a small pyramid of the same colour, and trade their first built ship for that colour before player one gets the chance to. From my experience, locking an opponent out of the small ships of a certain colour counts for quite a lot in the very early game, when nobody has spare medium or large ships to trade. Player one has to choose to trade their large ship for this colour (which will usually slow them down or put them at risk of catastrophe), or end up being locked out of that colour completely.

While this isn't as dramatic an advantage as Quuxplusone's "fools' mate", I think it means that player one should always choose the "fortress" homeworld in this variant to avoid this.

A Sid Sackson game that can be adapted to Pyramid use

Sly I research games made for traditional gaming systems and came upon Gateway, a golden oldie from the '70's. It's part of a set of games called Sly-the rules are available at Board Game Geek, but you'll need to register to download them.

Anyway, it's not that complicated of a game, the adaption of which I call "Iceway:" it requires a 12x12 board seen as being composed of 3x3 squares, with the center of each of these squares being a gateway that can only be used to enter new pieces. Two to four players can play, each gets an Icehouse stash of a different color with 4 queens removed so that each player only has one queen.

Pieces move any number of spaces horizontally or vertically, passing over any gateways and other pieces in the way to an available empty space. Pieces cannot land on another piece or a gateway. The goal of the game is to get all of one's pieces on the board (one begins with three, one of each size) by lining up one of your pieces, at right angles, to 2 pieces of another player of two different sizes, but of the same color, such as: Green queen and Cyan drone and pawn. These alignments can be made regardless of what's in the way.

When an alignment is made another of your pieces can be entered on the board by placing it on a gateway; if another player has a piece in the 3x3 square containing the gateway you have chosen, your piece must be moved off it that turn. The initial set up of the 3 pieces one starts with is the most complicated part of the game, so arranged to prevent any line ups on your first turn. Mr. Sackson used cylinders, squares and triangles-queen is cylinder, square drone, triangle pawn.

Set up for 4 players:

Player 1: Q at 10C; D12I; P6B

Player 2: Q10J; D4L; P11F

Player 3: Q3J; D1D; P7K

Player 4: Q3C; D9A; P2G

Hope ya don't mind my way of sayin' "hello," this bein' my first post.


With 6 rainbow stashes, you can duplicate the 1/4/6 distribution of pieces in the original exactly.  With 4 sets of Martian Coasters, you can duplicate the board.  Bonus: the center of each coaster is distinctive so it's easy to find the gateways.  I can't think of an easy way to build a 12x12 board otherwise.

I was amused that Sly uses the same "just like a deck of cards" analogy that Looney Labs now uses for Looney Pyramids.

Fun fact: I once adapted Can't Stop (another Sackson game) for play with pyramids.  I made a board, which fit on a standard sheet of paper.  It uses four rainbow stashes.

I totally forgot about the coasters. That's a good idea; it would make the adaptation pure Pyramid.

New pyramid game: Minimax

I've been interested in solitaire games lately so while playing around I came on the rules for a little game called Minimax.  It's a Mancala game with 5-cells where your goal is to get the most points possible.

The rules are at if you're so inclined to try.

Feedback is always welcome at me at fogus dot me or on this very forum.


"take four trios and randomly distribute the pyramids amongst all cards but the vault, two to each card."

Should that say "three to each card", since there are 4 non-vault cards? Or am I confused?

You're not confused.  I am.  :(  I fixed the rules to say "three."

I will look at the rules and try it this weekend!

Wonderful!  Feedback is always welcomed.

I tried it out and won, ending with 4 trees in the vault. I'm not sure if they are considered monocolor or not (see rule question below):

1. I found the paragraph starting with "While sowing onto cards you may build structures if possible." to be a bit confusing. Does it mean that only when you place a pyramid onto a card, you can make a tree on that card? Or can you make a tree before sowing (e.g. at the start of the game if a card randomly happens to have a small, a medium, and a large)? Or does it mean that you can e.g. sow a medium into a space with a large and decide to place it onto a large (committing yourself) in the hope of later sowing a small onto that? (In this case, I guess you can't rebuild structures, see question 2...)

2. Can existing structures be rebuilt (i.e. when I sow into the vault can I rearrange trees to make them monocolor for scoring purposes)?

3. The game ends when "You sow the last pyramid or tree during a turn onto an empty card." Literally that means that if your first move sows into the vault, then the game ends, since the vault is an empty card. Is that intended?

Hi Russ, it's no surprise that the rules were confusing, but thanks to your feedback I should be able to fix them.  That said, let me answer your question directly.

Does it mean that only when you place a pyramid onto a card, you can make a tree on that card? Or can you make a tree before sowing (e.g. at the start of the game if a card randomly happens to have a small, a medium, and a large)? Or does it mean that you can e.g. sow a medium into a space with a large and decide to place it onto a large (committing yourself) in the hope of later sowing a small onto that?

The last interpretation is correct.  That is, you can only construct parts of the tree "in passing."

Can existing structures be rebuilt (i.e. when I sow into the vault can I rearrange trees to make them monocolor for scoring purposes)?

Like before, tree building is always done in passing, even in the vault.

The game ends when "You sow the last pyramid or tree during a turn onto an empty card." Literally that means that if your first move sows into the vault, then the game ends, since the vault is an empty card. Is that intended?

My intent was to tree the vault differently from the other cards, so no you don't end the game if you end on the vault.  Indeed, if you end sowing in the vault you get a special power to choose from any other card on the next sow.

I'll look over the rules the first chace I get and try to clarify these points. 

Thanks again!

Thanks again for the feedback Russ.  I modified the rules to be (hopefully) more clear.


As I recall, you posted a very large number of games over a period of a year. I've been curious to try the stronger of those games, but I'm more inclined to try a game that is on the wiki (instead of trying to dig up random websites or an old forum post such as this).

Have you taken any consideration of putting some of your favorites on the wiki?

I definitely intended to always add them to the wiki, but for ~2-years it was down for the count.  Now that it's up I'll add what I've got to the wiki post haste. :)  Thanks for the poke.

BTW, I've been playing around with the PyArc-style template too.  :)

Is the Starship Captain Link Still Available?

Is this link to add to your profile still available? I can't seem to add it."


Ning has been having problems with profile page Apps. So until they have solved the problems it is not possible to add the Starship Captain App to your profile page.

A couple weeks ago I noticed that the SC section on my profile page was displaying an error message

Unable to retrieve gadget xml. HTTP error 404

So I moved my old text version of my SC higher up on my profile page.

(And updated it too.) :)

I am having the same problem, getting the message, "There was an error processing your OpenSocial XML file. Please verify that the OpenSocial XML file is valid and try again."

Yep - sorry, this is still broken, and Ning doesn't have any plans to fix it.  :(  We have a plan to move the database someplace new, but other web projects have a higher priority right now.  I'll let you know when it's fixed - in the meantime, you can do what Russ did... which I also just did for my own list! 

Icehouse Wiki Talk Page

Please help me on the Icehouse Wiki site make comments on designer's blog for games under development. When I try, it states I'm not permitted and need to request that my account be allowed group "regular" from this forum. Thanks in advance for your assistance!

Icehouse Wiki Talk Page

Please help me on the Icehouse Wiki site make comments on designer's blog for games under development. When I try, it states I'm not permitted and need to request that my account be allowed group "regular" from this forum. Thanks in advance for your assistance!


I am the admin for the IceWiki.  Please send me your user name and I can add your account to the regulars whitelist.

However, you still won't be able to make edits.  We are having some trouble with MediaWiki and the fix is above my admin level.

My username is tpbosco. Thank you for responding quickly! It's unfortunate that there aew technical difficulties.

Hi, I would like to become "regular" too, so I can add my games to the wiki and edit some typos I found here and there. My username is Rosbi. Thank you and I hope the wiki will be fixed soon :)

Lost Pyramid Games

A long time ago, (2004ish) I was super excited that all of the pyramid games had rules that lived online.  Then one day some of them started to disappear. This was before the wiki.  I panicked and started to print up a copy of all of the games that I could find that still existed. I have a pretty good collection.

I recently was able to have a conversation with Mr. Looney.  I mentioned a game that he had never hear of.  It was one of the lost ones.  I promised that I would post what I had printed up online here in the forum.  I think this thread would be a good place for others to post stuff that they might have printed up also....provided it doesn't exist on the wiki.  I have more in my collection.  When I get time, I will post more of the lost ones here for all to see.  I will scan them, that way the url and other info will appear as well so that the proper people might get credit.

The first game that I am posting is a solitaire game that is more of a puzzle than a game. Ice Star.


That's a great idea. It's very cool to hear that you have some old games printed out. Ice Star is one of the ones that I located a while back (probably through, and it is on our wiki. I actually got to try the game out a while ago.

There are, however, several games that are still missing, so feel free to take a look at the complete list of archived games and post any that you have that are missing.

Just looked up the ice star on the wiki. The name is there, but the instructions weren't.

Thanks for calling that to my attention.

There's a link on the page, which was working as of a few months. We didn't put a lot of games directly into the wiki because of copyright issues (perhaps silly in this case) or because the original page was done up with pictures, etc.  In this case, I'll have to go fix the link again (whenever the wiki gets fixed).

New pyramids game: Martian Whist

About a month ago I posted the rules for a game called Cydonia.  While I like the game, I was worried that requiring 8 Treehouse stashes would be prohibitive for play.  Therefore, I devised a similar game called Martian Whist that requires 2-4 Treehouse stashes instead.

The rules are at if you're so inclined to try.

Feedback is always welcome at me at fogus dot me or on this very forum.


The rules have been modified to include trumps (optional). -->

Tabletop Simulator

There's a game on Steam called Tabletop Simulator.

It allows you to play board and and card games online. There are lots of mods in the workshop of different games people have added including some pyramid games and different versions of fluxx.

There's Martian chess:

and solid pyramids:

The guy who made the 'mids doesn't know how to make them stack-able but there are stack-able ones in the making. 

Anyone want to join me for online gaming? 


I'm always up for Martian Chess

I saw this on Steam a while back, and remember thinking "I hope someone makes some Icehouse pyramids for this"!

Tabletop Simulator does look good, but I do hope that a set of stackable pyramids comes around soon. I think it'd be great for playing Zendo, which is one of my favourite games at the moment, but that one does really need stackable pyramids...

12 Icehouse designs in 2014

At one point this year I decided to challenge myself to create 10 Icehouse game designs this year. The precise reasoning for my self-imposed challenge is lost to the dustbin of history (or perhaps at the bottom of a wine glass). That said, the challenge was set and amazingly I managed to meet it. The following games were designed by me in 2014 (sorted in order of my favorite):

  1. Logistics– I actually think that this is a legitimately good game and as a fan of abstracts easily my favorite of the group. I still need to work on the capture powers however.

  2. Cydonia – I also think that this is a good game too, but the number of pyramids required might be prohibitive for some. I think that the “trick-taking” aspect is novel for a pyramid game.

  3. Toripoka – A neat micro card game that could use a lot more play-testing.

  4. Gorgias – My entry into the Yahtzee family with (I believe) a novel “battle” resolution scheme for pyramids.

  5. Quux – A little connection game designed purely to be a “breakfast game.” Needs more play-testing to see if there are any killer strategies.

  6. Malice – An Icehouse version of Alice, informed by Martian Chess. I enjoy it, but there is a decided lack of clarity.

  7. Pew Pew, Die – My version of Martian Roshambo using no pyramids at all.

  8. CarboniteDice– A variant of IceDice meant for Solo play.

  9. Initiative – A game of perfect information that sadly can be very cold.

  10. Pungo – Basically a game designed just to explore the “controlled roll” mechanism.

  11. Coin Hijinks – An adaptation of Pink Hijinks for pocket change.

  12. Pink Poppycock – An adaptation of Pink Hijinks to use the “controlled roll” mechanism


All in all not too bad IMO. There are a few games on this list that I think I can see myself (and others hopefully) actually enjoying. This to me is a success. Additionally, I learned some valuable design lessons over the past year that I share on my game-blog at -- please consider reading it.

Thanks and happy new year!  Here's to 12 more in 2015. :-)

New pyramid game: Quux

Concluding my goal of creating 10 pyramid games in 2014, I present my final effort (or at least that last that I'll spam here;)...Quux.

Quux is a connection game for two players requiring a 4x4 board and two mono-stashes of differing colors.

The current rules are on my personal site at  I will eventually put them onto the Icehouse games wiki once it's gotten over its... troubles.

Please consider trying it out.

And of course thanks for the feedback provided in 2015 on my games posted here. :)


Congratulations on completing your Ten Game Challenge!!  Actually I apparently missed one because I thought you only had 8, and the year was almost gone.  I had thought if you get one more up, this would be only #9.  I'll have to go back and review them all, eh!!

Again, congratulations!!!

Hi Scott,

Thanks for reading!  For the sake of Clarity I should say that I didn't post every entry here, but I assure you that between variants and new games there have been (at least) 10. :)

New pyramid game: Cydonia

Continuing my goal of creating 10 pyramid games in 2014, I present my latest effort...Cydonia.

Cydonia is a pyramidal trick-taking (using trees) game of perfect information for two players. It takes place over two rounds, the first used to build a mixed stash of pyramids used in the second phase to win another set of trees used for final scoring.

The current rules are on my personal site at  I will eventually put them onto the Icehouse games wiki once it's gotten over its latest configuration troubles.

Please consider trying it out.

Best tarot deck to use for Gnostica or Zarcana

Hi Team,

Just wondering what Tarot deck would you recommend for Gnostica or Zarcana?  I know where I can get the stickers to add, but I would really like to make the best possible gaming experience.  I'm also asking this question on BGG.  If you would add where I can get the deck, Amazon, B&N, etc., it would be very appreciated.

Thank you,





Any of dozens (hundreds?) of published tarot decks with the correct suits and major arcana should work fine, so it's basically a subjective matter of taste, i.e. which one has art you like the most!

(FWIW I'm a fan of the classic/traditional Rider-Waite, though I don't currently own that version, alas.)

It's not a tarot deck, but I was happy with this set of custom-designed cards for Gnostica:

If you want the best gaming experience for Zarcana, then use this deck explicitly made for Zarcana (by me):

All rules on every card... no stickers needed.


That looks great for Zarcana!  Wonderful art!  I'm going to get some more ink tomorrow!

Would you recommend a Rider-Waite deck?  Crowly-Thoth?

I wholly endorse Ryan Hackel's deck, and prefer it to any other.

The Crowly-Thoth deck changes several major arcana cards.  This makes it somewhat less ideal, since the rules use a more traditional approach to card names.

I believe the games were designed using the Rider-Waite deck, but I'm not sure on that.  In theory, any tarot deck will work, as long as it has the standard major and minor arcana.

The non-tarot deck is the perfect deck to play with. Not only are all of the rules on each card, if you are playing with people that refuse to touch a tarot deck, they will usually play with this one without objecting. (It's a bit of a problem here in scenic Utah.)

Ryder-Waite is the default tarot, these days. Just a hunch, but I would avoid the newer "art" or heavily-themed decks, such as the Dali' deck or "Tarot of the Foxes" or whatever, because they would be hard to correlate with the rules. I'm not terribly familiar with Gnostica, but one of the older tarot, i.e. the Marseilles, might be better (or worse?) for play. The Marseilles includes the major arcana in images similar to the Ryder-Waite, but the miner arcana are presented with images similar to conventional playing cards.

I got "The Tarot Box" at Barnes & Noble and like it because the cards (Caselli tarot) are pretty close to Rider-Waite, and smaller so the playing surface doesn't grow as fast."the+tarot+box"&tbm=isch

New pyramid game: Gorgias

Continuing my goal of creating 10 pyramid games in 2014, I present my latest effort...Gorgias.

Gorgias is a press-your-luck dice game of philosophical debates for two players. It takes place over the course of seven rounds whereby players roll dice to help build their philosophical arguments. During each round the arguments will be secretly arranged and pitted against the opponent's arguments. The results of these arguments will help the players score points toward winning the debate. The most balanced debate wins the game!

The current rules are on my personal site at  I will eventually put them onto the Icehouse games wiki once it's gotten over its latest configuration troubles.

Please consider trying it out.

Starship Captain instructions not working

When I try to add the app by url, and paste the url provided, I get the following error:

There was an error processing your OpenSocial XML file. Please verify that the OpenSocial XML file is valid and try again.

Has something changed on the back end that's preventing this from working?


Thanks for letting us know.  I believe this is a problem with the Ning platform not our gadget specifically. I will check with Ning support. -- It's dead Jim

The wiki is down.  Does anyone need help?


Yikes, that's too bad! I was actually planning to get to one of your games this weekend (still will if we are back online). I'm sure that it will be up sooner or later.

There are so many great hidden gems from the past three years that haven't been played as much, especially after the pause in the ICE Awards. 

My games are also at if you're still interested.

That said, I agree that there are many good games created recently that deserve to be played and explored.  I don't know much about the situation with the ICE awards, so I can't comment about it except to say that it's a shame to see that they're (effectively) dead.

What is needed to keep it alive?  New administrators, renewing the web name cost, or what?

I don't really know.  From an outside perspective it looks like a configuration setting is wrong, but that is just speculative based on looking at the error message.

Thanks for letting us know.  Unfortunately, the wiki is a fan run site so we (Looney Labs) can't fix it.

I'm trying to contact Brian to see if I can lend a hand to get it going again (I think I've seen that error problem before on a wiki I run).

Just for the record I wasn't posting to try to get Looney Labs to handle the problem.  My only hope was that the owner/admin (whom I don't know) would see it.

I'll try contacting the webmaster, Brian Campbell.

Disregard.  The wiki seems to be back up, at least me me.

(I'm using Win7 and Firefox 33.1)

It's feeling much better...

Indeed it is for the purposes of viewing, but there still seems to be a problem that prohibits editing and/or creating pages.

I confirm that edits are blocked somehow.

Error: "Warning: Parameter 1 to ReCaptcha::confirmEdit() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/rabbits/ on line 113"

Internal Error: "Set $wgShowExceptionDetails = true; at the bottom of LocalSettings.php to show detailed debugging information."

I emailed Mr/ Campbell about it, but to no avail. :(

New pyramid game: Toripoka

Continuing my goal of creating 10 pyramid games in 2014, I present my latest effort...Toripoka.

Toripoka is a set-collecting, bluffing card game based loosely on Three Card Poker, for 2 players. The game takes place over a series of rounds, each played to determine the winner of one or both of the pyramids available for capture. Pyramids are captured by players building the best possible three-card Poker hands given three personal cards and two exposed public cards. The player who captures the most points when the pyramids run out wins the game.

The rules are on the Icehouse games wiki at

Please consider trying it out.

Hi and Zark City question


First time posting! Hello from Cape Town, South Africa :)

I would love to have some help re: Zark City. I posted this question on BGG but no responses.

- if during convert/demolish action a target pyramid is removed from the board, is that piece then completely out of play i.e. cannot be used again by the player who placed it?

If this is the case then I assume that a player who no longer has any small pyramids and has pyramids on only two cards is out of the game...?


No, pieces are never fully removed from the game. They go back into the personal stash of player whose color it is. For example, if I destroyed one of your pieces, I'd just give it back to you. There's no way to be placed out of the game in Zark City. It's actually the whole point of the Hatch rule. No one gets taken out, at least, until there's a winner!

Great! That makes a lot of sense - the alternative means that players are knocked out early in the game and that you can win by merely eliminating your opponent. 

Thanks for the quick response, this has been bugging me :)

FWIW I saw a response to what I assume was your post at BGG; perhaps your BGG subscription settings are not set to notify you about responses to your posts?

Advice on running a Zendo session.

I'm attending a conference this week in which I volunteered to run a Zendo session.  For those of you who've done such a thing before, I wonder if you have any advice.  Before my questions, please keep in mind the following:

  • Not everyone in attendance will be a gamer
  • However, they will all be highly technical thinkers
  • There will be ~10-12 in attendance at any given moment
  • I'd love smaller groups over one large group
  • People may drift in and out
  • A cooperative experience rather than adversarial will probably more popular

That said, my questions are:

  1. Are there any Zendo rules that foster cooperative play?
  2. Is it a bad idea for me to try to be Master for every game?
  3. Are there any rule variants that account for transient players?
  4. Any general advice?

Thanks in advance. I'm very excited. :)


Especially with non-gamers, I often introduce the game without guessing stones. Just say you can make a guess as part of your turn if you wish. (And then there's no problem with people dropping in or out of the game.)

Keep the koan rules simple. A very common mistake for new players is making too complicated rules. (If you find yourself making a compound rule with "and", "or", "if", etc, stop! Don't do it!) Better to start too easy than too hard. Even a simple rule like "There must be a green piece" can sometimes take a while for newbies to get.

10 or 12 people is too many for a single game - too much down time between turns, the koan could be solved before some players even got a single turn. But you could start that way in a single big group to show how the game works, then break them into 2 or 3 groups to play in parallel.

I usually ask the correct guesser in one game if they'd like to make the rule and run the next game. Usually they do. (And then I emphasize that they should not try to make a complex rule, and they are not competing: their goal is not to "stump" the players but to provide a fun game to the players.)

You might stock up on pyramids (or borrow some extras). I wound up with 8 people per game, and we played for over three hours. We needed 8 stashes and a big table!

I'm all set in the pyramids department.  Thanks. :)

Everything Russ said, except I wouldn't ask a newcomer if they want to master a game until they've had at least three or so games under their belt.  Even if the first winner proactively asks to master the next game, I'd tend to err on the side of saying no.  Maybe tell them they have to win two games.

As master, try to think out loud without giving away the rule.  e.g. When someone makes a guess, say something like, "Hmmm... now I have to make a koan that either follows your rule and not mine or follows my rule but not yours... without giving too much away."  Also, explain  how did you picked the opening koans?

You might consider having little sheets printed up with just an intro to the game so that you don't have to stop a game in progress every time a person shows up.  Just one quarter of an 8.5x11.

Keep the koan rules simple.  It's a heck of a lot better experience to burn through a half-dozen games with rules that are "too" easy, than to take an hour to grind away at a rule with prime numbers and weird orientations.


That was a blast.  Thanks everyone for the feedback, specifically around guessing stones, beginner masters, and complicated rules.  I had ~10 people sign up on the conference site and brought enough pyramids sufficient for ~4-5 groups.

My session was due to start at 9pm and due to very slow service at a restaurant I arrived about 5 minutes late.  The room was filled, but I suspected that the previous session had run over.  I immediately spoke up and asked "how many people are here to discover Zendo?"  Every single hand went up...


That is, ~30-35 hands went up.

I immediately knew that I was in trouble.  However, and this is a big however, a couple (Danielle and David) immediately stood up and pulled out a huge stash of pyramids!  They also knew and loved the game and offered to help.  Once we ran through the rules, we split up the pyramids, split up the Masters and started.  Both Danielle and David ran a table each and managed to teach their players the traditional Zendo rules.  However, as I was Mastering 3 tables to start, I went with a simplified version of the rules and jumped from table to table.

Zendo was a immediate hit.  The players, though most were new to Zendo, instantly "got it."  There were constant congratulations on finding the rules and echoes of "let's play another."  I mastered about 9 games between 3 tables, but soon was able to relax, vet some rules, and just sit and play once the other players felt confident to be Master.  I still jumped from table to table to play a rule or two (and got in ~20 games by night's end) but after a while the tables were off and running without intervention.  It was a thing of beauty.  

I stayed until the end of the last game ... that ended at about 1am.  That's 4 hours of Zendo played and enjoyed by 40-50 people, many whom were new to the game. If you do a Twitter search for strangeloop and zendo, you'll see some of the feedback and positivity.

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback, and to David and Danielle for bailing me out of a potentially embarrassing lack of pyramids.  The Zendo session was a smashing success. 

<br /><small><a href="">Find more photos like this on <em>The Looney Labs Fan Club</em></a></small><br />

"That's 4 hours of Zendo played and enjoyed by 40-50 people, many whom were new to the game."

Holy smokes, that's impressive! Glad it went so amazingly well! Congrats!

Thanks Russ.  And thank you for the advice.  It was invaluable. 

New Pyramid game: Logistics

Continuing my goal of creating 10 pyramid games in 2014, I present my latest (and greatest?) effort.

Logistics is a game of pyramid transportation and capture using a Mancala-like movement and capture mechanism for 2 players.  It requires 1 IceDice set per player (more for a larger board) and plays in 15-30 minutes.

The rules are on the Icehouse games wiki at

Please consider trying it out.


Very interesting. I'm digging this idea, I felt like there must be some way to incorporate mancala and pyramids too. Nice work. When a player sows the pieces, is your intent to do it exactly like mancala, so one "piece" is distributed in every following cell? And do you sow into the opponent's row? I just wanted to double check. ^_^

1) The sowing happens just like in Manacala - one pyramid per cell.

2) You never sow into the opponent's row unless a capture power allows you to manipulate one of their pieces.

I'll modify the rules a bit to make these bot more clear. Thanks for checking it out.  


So if a player sows into their vault with two or more pyramids left, do they all go into the vault, and you only get the free move if it's exactly one pyramid landing in the vault?

You can only sow into the vault if the number of sowed pyramids puts the last one into the vault. When that happens only the pyramid sowed into the vault is kept, the others are still on the play area cards.  When sowing into the vault you'll only ever put one pyramid or a tree if you've managed to build one.  I think drawing up some examples might be helpful. Thanks for pushing on this. :)

Thanks for that clarification. Sorry if I'm coming off as annoying. ^_^ Like I said, I really like your idea here. I was just a little fuzzy on what you meant. I blame it on years of 40k, trying to fight rules-lawyers.

Sorry if I'm coming off as annoying. ^_^

Not at all.  Quite the contrary. Thank you.

I went ahead and added a game fragment for illustrative purposes.  I hope this helps to clarify the rules.  Thanks again.

Custom mousepad vendors?

Anyone know of an online vendor for custom mousepads? I want to get some 5.5" (measured from corner to corner diagonally) or 4"x4" edge measured mousepads done up with the Martian coasters designs and colors as well as a launchpad 23 board done on a mousepad. I have seen these done before and I love how flexible and easy to pack they are but not as easily blown away in a breeze as a sheet of paper or piece of cloth. I have been toying with the Idea of getting Martian coasters printed up for a while now and recently started thinking about it again when I was trying to find something to sit my launchpad 23 board under to flatten it back out after it had been riding in my cargo pocket for a few hours getting bent every which way. I have only come across mass production sites that would require me to buy an order of 300+ of each design. I am not trying to stock the entire looney labs fan club here...just trying to test out some new mediums for durable pack ready boards for some of my favorite pyramids games, so if anyone knows of a company that does custom printing on mousepad material I would love to hear about it. I really want to give this a try without having spend hundreds of dollars on a company sized order of something that may not even work out the way I plan for it to.


So I finally spoke with someone at one of these printing companies. I don't have high hopes for them going along with my plans though. It seemed like it was the right place to try for my little 4x4 mousepads idea but since one of the questions she wanted to know was how many of each design I wanted done up "in the first order", I foresee them being another bulk order only type deal. I am not giving up though, I will find somewhere to get a more survival kit/hiker friendly set of Martian coasters/launchpad 23 printed up so I can test then out.

Have you tried Inked Playmats? I don't know if they do any that small, but they make good stuff, allow for customization and are usually pretty fast. And I've never seen them require a big batch order.

I will have to check them out. I was talking with I think their prices are insane. They wanted $500 for one mouspad of each of the 4 main Martian Coaster colors. There is no way I am going to pay $125 per mouspad for a little 4x4 square of fabric so I am back to looking for a vendor. I will try this one you linked next. I already sent them an email asking if they can do 4x4 sizes. I love martian coasters and really hope I can find someone to do the mouspad version of the coasters for an easily packed and carried version to go into my emergency kit.

Have you thought of doing a 9x8 sized one with all four colors in the four corners and then cutting them apart?

Ooo, that's a good idea too.
I may have to look into that as well. I honestly had not thought about that at all, mostly because I was also looking into the idea of getting some other small boards done up as well. But either way, an update here on inked playmats, they got back to me with a price list, anything smaller than an order of 10 at that size would be $53 each and the price obviously decreases the higher the bulk order number goes to a certain point. I may keep them in the reserve and get the mousepads for all the boards I want done by them if I find myself with extra expendable income laying around.
Ok so I have to make another update, inked playmats contacted me back to clarify. Because 4x4 is a new size they are charging a one time fee if $50 then it is $3 per board and any additional orders will not incur the $50 charge. So I will probably go with them at this point. I just need to try to find a good high quality picture of the coaster art to send them to have a batch made up and give them a play test/storage test
Have you tried just a local print shop? I have a buddy at one that had offered in the past to do work like this fire a different game.

The only local print shop I know of is Kinkos lol. 

Yeah, they're probably not going to be super helpful, but you could try. Believe it or not, I've had good luck at Office Max, however in not sure if they do mouse pads. Worth a try.

I will have to try Office Depot....closest Office Max is like 70 miles away. Way too far to drive in a Gas Guzzling tank of a vehicle.

I'm sure that works. I can hardly tell the difference between an Office Max, Depot or Staples anyways.

I actually think they are owned by the same parent corp...I used Office Max website to double check and they showed me where the nearest Office Depot was.

Next Question...does anyone have a good high quality picture of each individual coaster? My scanner is being a POS and all my scans come out blurry which just wont do...There is a PDF version of the Launchpad23 game board so that's easily accessible to get a durable travel version made. The Martian Coasters though....I haven't seen any pictures of the individual coaster designs themselves to provide to the print shop for getting my rollable,foldable, non breaking, non bendy travel coasters....might even end up ordering two sets since my demo coasters get a beating getting lugged back and forth between cons and game stores and friends nice if this plan works out to have a set of coasters that won't get bent, banged or battered being hauled all over the place.

The Rules PDF at has images of the coasters at the bottom.

Direct link to the PDF:

Nice...I never noticed that before..I guess maybe I just never scrolled all the way down, or I never looked at the online rules just the mini pack rules that come with the coasters...either way, thanks for the help and once I guet these things printed I will let you guys know how the portable coasters work out for me on my next hike/campingtrip.

Well Thanks to the helpful hint from Mr. Wolfe here I have the Art work for the 4 primary coasters. I couldn't find a good picture of the black coaster so I had to deal with a slightly blurred picture of the actual coaster rather than a drawing. We will see how they fair in a few weeks when I send them to inked playmats to get my 4x4 fabric and rubber mats made up, if I don'f find that Office Depot will do them cheaper.

I'm out of town right now, but if you can wait until maybe Tuesday I can throw one of the cleaner ones in photoshop to get you nice black one.

Yeah sure. I wont be placing any orders for 2 weeks to a month or maybe a little longer depending on how my school funding looks, I am just working out the finer details at the moment so when the time comes I will have everything together. I did send the pictures I had off to Inked playmats already, not as a model for the order but as a general idea of the colors and designs in case that will change the pricing at all. Once I get to the point where everything is ready and I have the extra funds put aside to make a test order I will send them the actual Art to be used, i.e. the nice clean photos, and send them the $68 for the initial order. and if they work out nicely I will find out from them if you guys can order them directly from them if you too want a travel set of coasters that can be folded and moldered without bending or breaking and if not I can order them for you guys since after the initial order it will be $3 each board rather than $50 + $3 for each board. Just not sure if that is any orders or just orders I make, so I will get clarification on that so that anyone else here that wants a travel set of coasters can get them as well whether with me as the middle man or by providing a link or something.

New Pyramid game: Pungo

Though it wasn't a resolution per se, I challenged myself to invent 10 pyramid games in 2014.  While I have a few in various stages of development, I recently "completed" a game called Pungo.

Pungo came out of my explorations in attempting to remove the randomness from Pink Hijinks (see my post on Pink Poppycock).  This thread of exploration led to a game that hints of PH, but plays quite differently. 

The rules are on the Icehouse games wiki at

Please consider trying it out.


A very interesting way to counter the die rolling in Pink Hijinks. I have wondered if chance was a little too high in PH, but we enjoy it enough to not worry. We'll try your variant next time we play though!

Thanks.  I hope you enjoy the game.  Just to be clear.  I love PH very much, so this was not an attempt to "fix" it.  Instead, it was more an exercise in exploring remove luck from it that yielded interesting results. :)

Starship Captains Membership form error and Captains list errors.

So I may have resubmitted my Membership card for a dozen or so times...Every time I tried to fill out the form, the captcha box would disappear after I uploaded my photo. I tried a few work arounds and had "Captcha reuse attack detected" pop up on the screen when I submitted. I finally had one at the end with no errors let me submit the form.(this is on Google chrome) And I have also been noticing that my Captains list disappears. When logging into my page from a tablet or smartphone using Google chrome as the browser I have had to reenter the list twice because it gets totally cleared out. I have not experienced the total loss of list on a desktop version of Google Chrome but I do get an HTTP error 404 and blank list loads on Google chrome for desktop. I haven't tried Safari or Firefox or IE yet to see if it bleeds over or it is just a chrome issue. I will start trying to remember to log in using something other than Chrome and make note if I get the error there as well.


Thanks for letting us know.  I will take a look at it. Do you have any ad-blockers or other extensions installed in your browser.  I have seen problems with NoScript and Ning in the past.

A quick follow up.

I am able to reproduce the 404 error on the starship captain game list but I don't know why it is happening.

For the Membership card form, I don't have a fix but I have a work around.  Instead of pressing the "Upload" button to send the file, just select the image file and fill out the rest of the form (including the captcha) then use the "Submit" button below the captcha.  The image will be uploaded with the form and you should not get the captcha error message.

Great thanks, I will try that if I don't hear anything back on it. Like I said I think it made it through at least once and I don't want to have 400 submissions if the form. But to your other, I have no extensions installed at all in the mobile device versions of chrome and the only one I have on the desktop version is the IE tab extension because I work as Work from home IT and my companies web tools only work on IE so I installed the IE extension to get them to work in chrome. No ad blockers or anything like that installed.

Spanish, Chinese, Czech and English - grab the right one

It took some time but my first game with pyramids - Pyramideto - got new version. More cards, Magic cards, new goals, updated rules and new languages.
If you like it, try it at DTC (


Martian Moleskine

While searching for a way to make Martian Chess more portable for any upcoming trip, I happened upon a way to repurpose a small Moleskine notebook and some Chessex dice.




Oh that's clever.  :D  And as it's my favorite game…

Although, today, I fought the game to a 9yo.  And he promptly kicked my butt.  :)  Made TWO mistakes that round, and now he's hooked and I want a rematch.

Pink Poppycock

My son and I were toying around with our Pink Hijinks set and happened on a "variant" called Pink Poppycock.

Pink Poppycock plays exactly like Pink Hijinks except a player's possible moves are populated ahead of time rather than on a per turn basis. In other words, before the game begins we take the pyramid die and each roll it 10 times, writing down the result of the rolls. We then start a game using only the rolls that we got, crossing off those used from the list as we go. We've played around with various scenarios including:

  • A common pool of rolls
  • Each a separate pool of rolls
  • Cyclic expenditures
  • A common pool with takes determined by the previous move

We've not played Pink Poppycock enough to know if this is a viable variant, but the first few plays have at least been fun.  If you're so inclined give it a try and let me know what you think, ideas for improvement, different pool scenarios, etc.


This sounds like fun, and Pink Hijinks as a packaged monochrome set of three trios definitely needs some more love.

The pre-populated set of move choices is interesting to me.  I wonder how well it would work to have a small deck of cards or something, and you must play through all 6 cards, before you can replay any card.  Something to think about.  Interesting idea, sir.

Lunar Chess/Martian Chess for iOS

Does anybody happen to know who developed "Lunar Chess" for iOS? It's Free(*) in the App Store (modest fee to remove the ads that theoretically support the dev's $99/yr signing cert fee—though the domain that served up the adds, provided network play, etc, is now dead. If the developer has no interest in updating this, I'd be willing to have a look. Obj-C is something I've never actually gotten into, but I'm proficient in C and half a dozen OO languages. Obj-C is just a matter of an API I never bothered to learn and ecoming friendly with XCode—I already know the syntactic differences from work on other projects. My major goals are to restore network play and perhaps add GameCenter integration for high scores. Following that, I'd look into piece promotion code—though that would require teaching the AI to use the tactic against the player. Might also in the process teach the AI not to make the mistake that lead to my last victory with 21 POINTS. I dunno how that happened, usually the AI and I have pretty even scoring. Today somehow I just spanked it.


A quick search turned up a person, Andrew Farley, and a company, Neon Surge.  It does have a VideoGameGeek entry, but information is sketchy.

I got that far, but appears defunct, as does  The two domains are related, despite having different registrants.  The registrar of uses a Yahoo email address which IMO just screams "send domain spam here!"  Andrew Farley's registrant email is at neonsurge.

Sounds like a couple of guys got together to start a small indie game company, which is cool.  But it looks like things may not have panned out for some reason.  The domain is coming up on expiration, and the iOS app (which appears to have been blessed by Looney Labs since it now bears the name Martian Chess and a LL logo) is still at 1.0.

I'll keep digging.


Pulled a major coup today, trading a couple copies of my books for:

I'm dying to learn more about this set, but for now I'll read the Mystique.


Man... that is sexy. Now I'm jealous. I've been dying to get my hands on an Icehouse set for three years now.

Is this what you ended up with? They're extrememly rare. :)

There is a stash of silver glitter pyramid in my set.  More detail of the set on BGG:

Some interesting bits about the set:

  • The foam insert has deteriorated over the years.
  • The pyramids are a little sticky to the touch, but not in a gross way. This is great for grip, but not great when they pull off bits of the aforementioned foam insert.
  • The stash pads are moderately heavy stock black paper. For whatever reason the pyramids do not stick to them.
  • The material is a bit soft and in a few places you can see indented fingerprints on the surface. Perhaps they belong to the previous owner, but I like to think that they were put there during packaging... a unique Looney signature if you will. ;-)

More images:


BTW Greg, thank you for that link.  It's a wealth of knowledge and as an added bonus it's led me to the old Looney news entries. No sleep for me tonight. ;-)

Wow, I didn't even know that they created an entire set of glitter icehouse pyramids (that particular silver pyramid stash was a limited edition of one). I gather that what you have there is extremely rare. Btw, I love your little display of stackable/physical games.

Ooh, shiny! That causes me to like the idea of glittery pyramids in a kick starter project even more! *drool*

Wow that is an amazing find!

Has anyone by chance scanned those original booklets?  I know that *most* (but not all) issues of Hypothermia have been scanned (with some OCR errors I should probably email ee0r about when I'm thinking about it and have some time).

Being that I only recently discovered icehouse pieces (saw mention of them a few times on BoardGameGeek, but only in reference to their usability with piecepacks and the like), I of course missed a lot of the rich history of this system.  A fair bit of the older things are being lost now, so the archivist in me is looking to see these things preserved.

Game Techs on the Book of Faces have seen the project I've been working on now…  Hoping to have that done soon.

I should've been a librarian or something.  :)

I've not seen any scans of the enclosed booklets, but I imagine most of the material has migrated online or to other documents.

  • The "History" booklet looks like it might contain stories from "The Empty City" -- or at least earlier versions.  The stories included are: "Icehouse", "The Children of Mars", and "Seagulls and Horseshoe Crabs."  I've not had a chance to read the stories nor TEC. A little more information is found on the "Empty City" page.
  • The "Rules" booklet looks like a slimmed version of the rules PDF on Wunderland. Both share many of the same game diagrams.  I suspect that the booklet I have has an earlier version of the rules, but I have not checked. If anyone knows for certain then I'd love to know.

While I think it would be interesting to scan the documents in the old Icehouse sets for the sake of preservation, it seems that all of the information contained therein is available elsewhere.  Indeed the Wunderland Icehouse site has a lot more information than that contained in the original booklets.

I hope this helps on catching up on the history.

That is interesting to know.  I was never really clear on what came with these old sets.  Pretty awesome, thank you!

The printed book The Empty City is numbered "zero" on the spine, and the book Playing With Pyramids is numbered "one."  I believe the original intention was to take this mode of publishing a series of books themed on the Icehouse set, with each book containing a mixture of rules and myths of the lost civilization of the Martians.  This idea has been re-expressed over the years in newsletters, magazines, and pamphlets.  This current website you're reading is a direct descendant of that basic desire to play games and share stories.

On this related point, I would like to quietly suggest everyone with a fFew minutes should read The Empty City.  It is a nice work of fFiction.  When I read it some years ago, I was at that point deep into playing the game Perplex City, an Alternate Reality Games with some similar themes as The Empty City.  And I had just gotten really into playing a lot of the game Alien Cities, so i fFelt like I was really building this whole thing up in my head.  I was walking around in this really cool place fFor a month or so.  =)

Oh there's online versions of just about everything needed to play somewhere or other. You may have to find some of it though as there are a few dead links that get in the way. But as I noted on the game techs FB group, I'm an archivist at heart. :)

Zark City and Rook

Rook, if you've been living under a rock, is an odd bird.  (See what I did there?)  It's a deck of 57 cards, made because a lot of American Bible Belt Christians see poker/bridge cards as second only to Dungeons and Dragons as tools of Satan himself in corrupting people through gambling, drinking, smoking, and probably other vices.

So someone came up with the idea of "Christian cards", a deck of cards with just colors and numbers rather the suits and ranks of the typical poker deck.  To do this, they took a TAROT DECK, removed the trump suit, gave the others their own color, and numbered them 1-14.  They kept the fool, and turned him into a dopey looking bird called a rook, from whence the deck derives its name.  And of course Rook, the standard rummy-style game played with the deck, is most often played for stakes.  Fail.  :D

Even so, the rook deck is quite useful as two of them can be used to play games with non-standard decks pretty easily, and a generic "57 Cards" exists printed on KEM (USPCC-owned) plastic stock, as well as USPCC paper used to make Bicycle, Hoyle, Bee, etc.  Good quality stuff, and it's what I use.


So anyway, Zark City…  I think it seems like the way to adapt this is to leave the 14s in, and treat thusly:

  • 14,Bird: Treat as Ace, flying carpet and 1 pip
  • 13: Treat as King, 3 pips
  • 12: Treat as Queen, 2 pips
  • 10-11: Treat as Jack
  • 1-9: Normal number cards

Option #2 is to pull the bird (or tree in the case of 57 Cards) and two 14s.  Now you've got a 54 card deck.  Treat ones as aces and ranks above ten as in Poker (so no Knight/Chevalier rank), and consider your two 14s to be Jokers.

The second option is a direct 1 to 1, which is often what people want, but I think Zark City merely becomes more competitive with the extra 1 pip cards.

Any thoughts?


Primarily Mennonites and Puritanical Christians had (have) that issue with standard cards.

Very interesting how a tarot deck was used to make this deck!

Inorite!  It's absolutely hilarious to me—but then the Poker deck is also tarot-derived.  Indeed, the first playing cards were tarot, and tarot is a GAME.  The idea of using them for the occult, divination, etc, came later.  The "major arcana" were originally just the trump suit, and there were more cards in the trump suit than any other.

What this suggests to me is that a single deck of cards could play Gnostica, Rook, Poker, and any number of other games.  Use Rook colors for the four poker suits (which are French tarot suits), and include yellow stars for the trumps.  Print on Poker or Bridge sized cards.  Second set can be marked on the card fronts (black dot works) opposite the rank/suit.  That's 156 cards, and it's quite universal.  Only there's no way anybody's going to be producing that in high quality cards because demand is just too low.

I find it very helpful during Zark City that the attack cards are all "letter" cards instead of numbers.  It's a simple and direct "at a glance" way to see how much attack you have in your hand.  I'm not sure two-digit numbers would have the same standout effect.

I didn't find the difference to be that great simply because the numbers were two-digit.  In the two or three test games I've had with with a Rook deck, it seems to play pretty well so far.  Granted, I've thus far only had the opportunity to test it in 2 player games, and Zark City tends to play a bit differently with two versus more players.

I should've suggested blue stars, not yellow.  But I was thinking of Five Crowns at the time I suggested it, which is a five-suited deck of French-suited cards plus stars with A/2 cards removed.  There's also the Stardeck which has stars that are red/black.

There are a few double and triple "universal" decks out there, but I dunno what kind of stock they're printed on (usually the same stuff a Decktet is, but I haven't got a Decktet either), and honestly the universal decks are trying too hard IMO.  I generally keep two decks handy, when I can have only two: My 57 Cards deck, and a Bicycle Double 9 Domino deck.  I tried posting about the circumstances of that over in the general forum but … browser/network/something issues…  It didn't take.  :)

I'll post something about it with pictures when I figure out how best to cut some foam to keep a 3House set from rattling around inside the box.  Also, I might have to find an alternative box because currently I use an old VHS rental type plastic case.  Those are rare nowadays.  :)

The chessboard bandanna…

Okay, so we all know you can't get them anymore.  And we all know that they're really kind of nifty, especially version two with canals for Martian Chess and other games.

I have the beginnings of a solution, I think, and I would like some suggestions from the crafty amongst the group.

Yup, that's a plain men's handkerchief, white.  It came in a pack of a baker's dozen at Walmart for $5.

You can see here that the things are not 100% perfectly square and that they have a slight texture in the weave, but the thing is basically just a white square. Turns out it measures 16 inches to a side.  To determine this, I folded the thing into quarters as best I could and measured along the folds.  I did it that way to ensure that if I think I can get a certain measurement, I really can.

You probably see where I'm going with this. A 16 inch square is a little small for a tournament chessboard, but realistically speaking it is big enough.  Or is it?  Well, my tallest regulation pyramids are my Pink Treehouse set, so I'll use these as a guideline:

As you can see here, any game that involves setting the pieces on their side in a chessboard square is going to be a bit snug of a fit.  You could do it on a tournament regulation chessboard or rollup mat, but I don't know of any games off the top of my head that require the ability to do it. And I suspect Andy would say of such things that games should be spontaneous—you out to be able to play with whatever you have handy, or improvise something on the spot.  And we all know that THE EMPEROR MUST BE OBEYED.

So I think it should be sufficient to use this smaller size.

Which brings me to this:

Well welIt's what I happened to have around from another project that didn't end up needing them, although for this project I wonder if they're suited to making crisp lines.  Perhaps my best bet is to pin the thing to a backing I don't mind bleeding on to and drawing an 8 by 8 grid with sharpie.  Or 4x4 quadrants with canals.  Or something.  To be able to play traditional chess with it, you need the alternating colors, so maybe I need to use an ultra fine point sharpie to draw the grid?

What do you think, Crafty Captains?  For $5 a pack, I can afford to screw up a couple of these things trying to get it right, but … I'd rather make a bunch of them and give them away as prizes for Cadet Trainings if they come out nicely.

I intend to post pictures of whatever I do here on this thread.


I think homecrafted chessboard bandanas would make great "graduation" gifts for new Starship Captains and as prizes in pyramid tournaments. 

That's another cool idea, especially if I can make them cheaply enough

A little more crossover from the day job: McNett, the people responsible for Aquamira water purification tablets and Frontier filter straws widely known to backpackers and emergency preparedness folks also have a brand for pack towels and whatnot, Outgo.  What I just stumbled upon is this Game Towel they produce.

They've got chess, backgammon, and scrabble boards.  Doesn't pack down nearly as small as a bandanna will, mostly because of the large amount of space NOT used. for gaming.  Still, for those who might be interested in travel gaming for actual travel, this might be an easy solution.  Also for gamers who are HHGttG fans, campers, people with families interested in preparedness, etc…  :)

They also have a smaller workout-sized towel under their Tactical brand ("fer duck-huntin'!", explained), and apparently they CAN put chessboards on those if you want a dozen of them…  For what pack towels cost, I don't need a dozen of them, thanks.  :D

I haven't had time to work on my little art project above.  Much going on.

Hey, that is pretty cool. :)

I've seen 'em at craft fairs. I have a bandana chinese checker board I got 20 years ago. A quick google search turned up several, but I kinda like these

Oh cool, if I had found those sooner I probably wouldnt have bothered to try doing my owm. But then, mine will have canals.

I like the extra space on these. Makes it great for people in super windy areas to be able to put the board in the center of something and tie-down or strap the rest of the towel down so the board doesn't fly away on you. and most likely way lighter than my carved stone chess set that would not make it very far in a SHTF scenario.

While I'm all for do-it-yourself crafts, I also recognize the limits of what I'm capable of with squeeze-on fabric paints.  I'm guessing I would get results I'm much happier with by going with a higher resolution process.  Two options come to mind immediately:

1. Screen printing.

2. A custom fabric printing service such as Spoonflower

A standard-sized 22" square bandana is fine, since a chess board with 2" squares (need 1.8something for a "flat" three-pointer) would come out to 16" square.  That leaves a 3" border for fancy designs or a little extra room for Martian Chess canals.  If you had custom-printed fabric made, a 24" repeat pattern would give you enough extra fabric to add a hem to prevent raveling.  Unfortunately, I looks like the minimum you can buy from Spoonflower that would be big enough is 1 yard of fabric, 54" wide.  That would allow your 24" pattern to be printed twice across the width of the fabric and 1.5 tiems in length.  For the sake of the math, 2 yds of fabric would yield 6 pattern repeats and cost $35 for their limited-availability satin fabric.  (Different fabrics are different widths and prices.)  That comes out to just under $6 per bandana.  Also, 24" of fabric gives enough to allow a draw string to be hemmed in, so you could make either a bandana or a bag/board.

This would give you something comparable to the Chesspas "board".

Chesspas: $6.75 for 1, already designed and made.

Spponflower: $35.00 for 6, one of us (could | would have to) design it and it would have to be cut and hemmed.

So... Spoonflower would be slightly cheaper (in multiples of 6) and would allow more design freedom, but it requires more effort (design, upload, cut, sew).

Note: Spoonflower just happens to be the one fabric printer I know.  I have to imagine there's more out there.

Skype-able pyramid games?

Hi all,

Much to my joy, I learned recently that a co-worker is an old Icehouse player. We chatted briefly about the prospects of teaching each other some pyramid games and I wonder if anyone has suggestions on games amenable to Skype-based play?

Some initial ideas:

* Homeworlds

* Blam

* Treehouse

I suspect the answer is that there are many, but I thought I'd ask anyway.

Thanks in advance.


Not Icehouse or Icetowers. :)

Probably just about anything Turn Based, I would think.  Eschew a deck of cards and it is even easier to play, because then both people can setup their own tabletop of a game.  Martian Chess, fFor example, would play very well.  People have been playing Chess by Mail fFor a very long time, so Martian Chess by Skype should be really natural. Zark City, however, would probably be clumsier.

Volcano/Caldera would probably be very easy, I think.

Pyramid storage

Hi everyone, I'm looking for a way to store my pyramids and assorted other stuff.  Actually, two ways–one for an Icehouse set, and one for full set of (currently 11) colors.  I've noticed pink pyramids stack a little taller than the others do (at least my Pink Treehouse set does) and the plastic tote that would otherwise hold six stashes wouldn't quite work.

So, what do you use?  And of course…

Showing off is mandatory.  :)


Also, I'd like permission to post your pics of iceboxes and general gaming kits over on the wiki where they can be found.  If you're willing, let me know.  Also if you have preferences for attribution and license—CC BY-SA or something?

I just realized, I don't think I have ever actually taken pictures of my storage solution.  I'll do that later.

I have essentially two sets of pyramids.

One set is like my grab-and-go bag.  It lives in the car, and is always handy.  It is a Laptop Case with pyramids in plastic tubes, along with a bunch of other stuff like dice and cards and stuff.

The other set is a couple overstuffed pyramid bags which hang by my desk.  Those bags hold a lot of pyramids!!

Also I have a set of Giant Pyramids, which are in a big cardboard box in the garage.  But that's sort of, you know, different.

Ultimately, I intend to have two sets as well as a set of IceDice and Treehouse as they appear on the retail market.

The first set is my full 11 stash (and room to grow) kit.  Carryable, but not exactly travel sized.  :)

The second is kind of a games survival kit.  And I'm kind of not kidding about that, since I intend to actually put such a set in a "survival kit".  Basically, a means of entertaining a family when disaster strikes.  Needs to be small, lightweight, and cover a wide range of ages and interests.  You can see why pyramids, a deck of cards, and some dice would be a good starting point.

"The second is kind of a games survival kit" this is exactly what got me back into tabletop style games. I have all this junk for surviving a disaster and realized that if its something major that shuts down utilities for weeks or even months I would probably lose my mind and either kill myself trying to do something dumb or get taken down by the police as a raving madman if I have nothing to entertain myself and my family for that time. One of the reasons I got hooked on Looney dice as well as some of Steve Jackson's dice games is the portability of it all. Easily stashed into a go bag or in a cargo pocket. So I too would love to see some of these storage solutions as I accidentally killed my big box-o-storing when I tried to fancy it up with wood burning...which I quickly learned I DO NOT know how to do lol. But I was using this wooden artist case to hold everything since it is compartmentalized for holding paint brushes and paint tubes and colored pencils and other such art tools, just stuck my colored pyramids into those pre-cut wooden bins inside the case and lined the inside with felt to keep everything soft. and non abrasive so it wouldn't scratch up any of my more delicate gaming pieces....the end came when I decided to re-purpose it to carry my Call of Cthulhu LCG set because it was bigger than what I wanted to be carrying around and wood burn an elder sign on the lid....I ended up breaking the whole thing before I was long story short, I am in the market for some carrying cases too. Although I did see a video about a game called Hippos&Crocodiles that is carried in a long zippered pencil case type deal and it got me thinking that if I could find some zippered pencil cases that were nice/long/wide enough they might make for a good storage option for the grab-n-go set. Especially if I could get my game mats done up on mousepads like the game boards for that hippos & crocs game then It would be as easy as rolling up my game mat stuffing it in with the pyramids and hitting the street. Time to play? unzip drop mousepad type game mat and enjoy/

I was thinking about it and getting a set of Martian coasters printed up on a small 4" mousepad would give you the ability to roll them up and stuff them into a small container as well. Then you would just need to find something sturdy to sit each one on during play so that the pieces won't tumble off when you move a coaster. Anyone know of a company that does custom mouse pads or coasters made out of mousepad material? (I got a mousepad and coaster set that matches my dog not too long ago and the coasters are just little 4" mousepads themselves) I would love to get a quote on getting some flexible mousepad material Martian coasters printed up. something like that. A simple zippered canvas bag for each set. Because eventually I will have three. The survival set of stashes, the home set, and the demo set. I plan on purchasing this specific canvas bag to try out within a month or so depending on what else I need to stock up on before winter. I will let you know how it works out. Hopefully it fits in nicely with my portable dice tray, dice sets, cosmic wimpout cubes, and playing cards with poker chips I already have in the bug out bag right now. I really want to add pyramids into the mix, just have to find the right storage option. there is the link to the makeup case I was talking about...from the picture it looks like the mirror slab is removable with a few screws and I am sure with a little time and motivation I could find something related to my pyramids and/or cards or dice to replace the mirror with or just totally remove it or maybe even leave it in. Seems like a good choice for carrying lots of pyramids or a combo of pyramids and accessories especially if you end up in one of those disasters where you have to vacate the premises with a quickness, nice little grab and go tote as far as I'm concerned. Again I have not tested it yet...but soon. I will post results when I do get a chance to order and test this and the canvas zipper pouch from my last reply.

Oo, that is a nice bag. Let us know how that works for you!

I just ordered the zippered canvas pencil case. I will post up here with details on how it works out when I get it. I plan on probably getting that makeup case and fiddling with the mirror slab to see what I can come up with next month. Then I will have most everything set. I will have my zippered pencil case for holding however many stashes it will hold, I will have my purple looney labs bag for grab and go gaming, and I will have the make up case for a durable crush resistant storage box.
How is that? I'm mainly using the pyramid bags plus my old clear plastic Martian chess box. Had been considering getting that lunch box bag, but have been on the fence about it.

It is not bad. It's just one of those mini coolers for a sixer done up with the Looney Labs logo on it. so it has plenty of internal space. I use it more for holding the Pyramids that are already stored in something like a small bag. but it is water proof.

I expect to have my pencil case here Monday so I will see how the pyramids fit in there, and how it fits into my Looney Labs Purple bag. for one storage and transport option. The only downside is the pencil case comes from China any domestic ones were much smaller in size, so there is the extra shipping time to ship overseas.

Ok, so I got the Pencil case in today. The thing is Huge....Way bigger than I expected. I tried out my Looney Pyramids Demo kit and all 6 rainbow stashes EASILY fit with plenty of room to spare. As it stands right now I could put each individual Rainbow stash into a ziploc baggy(like the ones they come in) and then put each one of those baggies inside the pencil case and still have plenty of room left over. I can see this bag easily holding 11 stashes of pyramids with room to spare, especially if you take the time to place them neatly inside the case, I just rolled up the ziploc baggies and stuffed them into the case. I would venture that You could store multiple Icehouse sets in this case. If you want something smaller JUST for 11 trios of the Current colors available then I believe any store with school supplies should have similar pencil cases that are smaller. But I think this one will handle your Icehouse set easily. I will get some pictures later when I have better light to work with. I have my three loose stashes that came with the Demo kit in the case right now and they cover the bottom of the case with room for a couple more stashes just on the bottom layer and the case is easily 5 inches tall. I will be buying a few more of these cases myself for other collections of Pyramids. The construction seems decent and it doesn't appear that is will be easily destroyed, that being said it is a bag with a zipper and zippers are not the most reliable invention ever so expect the zipper to fail at some point, especially if you over stuff the bag with a couple hundred mids. but aside from that, the seams appear to be stitched well, the handle is secure, and the canvas fabric appears to be sturdy enough to stand up to the test of time. We shall see, but for now I am giving this my stamp of approval for a method of pyramid storage(also if I ever get those mouse pad style game boards/martian coasters made then they should also be able to fit nicely inside the bag along with Zendo stones, Treehouse dice, and other assorted dice for games. I will take a look at the makeup case soon to see if that can be converted into a decent hard sided travel case for pyramids and accessories.

(Afterthought, the pencil case in question is actually just a hair longer than the inside length of the Looney Labs Purple Bag so if it is fully stuffed it wont fit. Not too big of a deal though since I use that for Fluxx and Chrononauts and was looking at this zipper case as a separate storage option for pyramids all together.)

Wow, that's big. Much larger than the pictures seem to suggest. Looking forward to the pictures!

First three pictures. Used a 3 pip pyramid for size reference. As you can see its a decent sized bag, also inside the bag are three rainbow stashes, you can see there is plenty or room to the right(see the next two uploaded pictures) for a few more rainbow stashes to layer the bottom.

Last 2 images. The inside looks a little cramped, but there is plenty of room, I couldnt find a good way to hold the camera and move the baggies inside and hold the bag open and snap the picture to show how much room there is, but as I said I basically just rolled up the excess plastic on the baggies that the stashes come in and tossed them into the zipper bag, so they came loose and are taking up space with nothing but empty plastic that can easily be moved aside or rolled back up if I need to put more into the bag.

Sorry to be more space cadet than starship captain for awhile there—much has happened personally and medically which has interfered with regular life for awhile.  The “terminal” cancer isn't going to kill me, but everything else might at this rate.  ;P

I haven't really thought about storing these things in a single-person-carryable bug out bag backpack, but that's largely because I consider such things to be somewhat different purpose than most.  My philosophy on bags/kits is rather off-topic for this thread and it starts to run into professional territory for me, so I'd best not use this forum for it anyway.  Suffice it to say that I believe in things being built for the purpose so that you don't have to carry more than you need to, because I know I'll be carrying it under my own power, and I suspect you will be too.

That said, if that rugged pencil case could be made to keep things from rattling around inside it, it'd be well-suted to the task.  The makeup case you cite below is a little heavy for a go kit of any sort, but it'd do for a home- or car-carryable kit I suppose, and such a kit can hold more internally.  If you have pics of your internal setup, I'd love to see them (and you may have already posted them to page 2…)

The small kit I hope to eventually turn into something that the local Red Cross chapter can assemble and offer for around $40 or less, so that particular pencil pouch might not do it for their purpose, but it's a step in the right direction.

Y'know, when I see your pictures, I think of stuff like packing cubes.  The smaller sizes.  The Eagle Creek ones are very nicely made and high-end, but the Red Cross kits could easily use something a little more basic.  Should be quite doable to include some pyramids, some cards, and some colored dice in such a setup with room to spare.

I'd like my personal kit to handle water though, and coasters would only take so much unless I get creative and do something with plastic.  Hmmm…

Not the best method of storage for the pyramids, but could be nice a water tight storage option to put your smaller storage options into. These things work wonders. 

Those things are quite effective, yeah.  I stuff my phone (Survivor case and all) into something very similar when I'm going to be out where there's more than just rain to worry about and it's always stayed dry, even when I got completely soaked.

Definitely. I had a few of these to lug around different things during my Army time. They did quite well keeping the sensitive equipment dry even under the worst of conditions.

I use a Lego Storage Box.

Wow, that is surprisingly tidy.  And somehow completely obvious.  So obvious, I never thought of doing it before.  Like, of course a plastic case designed fFor carrying small, sharp pieces of slightly fFragile plastic would be the right box.  Why did I never think of this?


Alas, the Treehouse tube is no more.  It would be so obvious to use any number of small bit carriers if we still had a source for treehouse tubes.  I've got one now, but I paid a premium for the set.  Unless anyone has found a source for the tubes in question?  They are likely a fairly standard part, though probably normally sold in lots of like 10,000 or something.  ;P

I think these would work, but I'm not too keen on having to trim them down to 6.5" and buy 25 at a time. =P

(I have been soooo neglecting LL stuff lately.  Life has seriously interfered with my free time!)

I think if we could get tubes for pyramid storage, a group buy would certainly be in order so that you didn't have to buy more than you needed.  I could immediately use half a carton, with caps, as could most of us.

The issue with these tubes is that they're both too long and they're round.  The Treehouse tube is used as a game piece, which is the biggest argument for having it.  Otherwise you could just use treehouse and icehouse bags labeled and tossed into a six pack cooler.

I think you're close looking at a site like uline though.  I'll keep this in the back of my head and actually try to remember to do something other than just let it rattle around for months as something that I intend to address when I have time.

(I also haven't forgotten about finishing the ePub of The Empty City either…)

The square ones I found (not from Uline, which doesn't seem to carry square plastic tubes) were both more expensive and too short. I figured it'd be possible to trim down the 8.75" tubes to 6.5" with a miter box from an arts and crafts store. The 1.5" diameter allows the pyramids, which are 1.414" diagonally at the base, to fit easily with very little wiggle room.

I've just started getting into the pyramids games after becoming a Fluxx fanatic over the last few years. A couple of days ago I decided to make my own box after looking around at both suggestions and pre-built products online. It's still in progress, but I bought a hinged wooden box for $5 at a Michael's craft store as well as a few strips of alder in 1/8x3/8 and 1/16 square sizes. The outer dimensions of the box are just over 8x8.25x1.75. The walls are about 1/4 inch and the top/bottom are very thin plywood. I used the strips to make a raised 6x6 board on top. Remaining work includes interior dividers and lining - it'll hold 39 nests, plus dice and coasters - plus staining, a felt pad on the bottom and replacement hardware.

Picture: Ice chest in progress

I'm a somewhat newcomer to the whole pyramid scene but I've got a case I find works pretty well so far.

It comes in a few different arrangements but here's the manufacturer's website:   Mine is like that but it holds 12 instead of 16.  I got it at the Container Store, Amazon has them too.  There are also versions of these boxes that are 5x7 instead of 4x6.

Anyway each of those 4x6 units can hold at least 18 nested trios.  I've got mine in them as 6 nests of 3 colors each.  So two containers hold my rainbows with a slot to spare, and two more hold the xenos + pink.  I don't like them rattling around loose so I keep them in plastic baggies per color for now, although I'm trying to rig up a thing with little foam sheets that you can see with the red/yellow/green container in the photos below.  I've also got the games that come in pyramid bags inside their own 4x6 so if someone wants to play one of those, they can just grab that 4x6 and the needed pyramids.  The other 4x6s have extra dice, coasters, a rainbow box (which I'm using the hold the little booklets those come with), that sort of thing.  A 3house book and World War 5 board fit inside the outer box.

Photo gallery of this box as of this post:

Hoping to get a tarot deck and some zendo stones in there too eventually, probably the rainbow/xeno/pink boxes will come out to accommodate those.  I might get another rainbow stash for the "extra" slot so it could be easily grabbed too.  Ideally I'd also do that for xeno, and then have a 4x6 for pink/grey/kickstarter green but I'd need to get greys for that!

Biggest downsides I see with it now are that some things might not fit the 4x6, the handle is potentially too flimsy for really using it a lot (like at a convention maybe.  perhaps it could be modified or replaced?), and I bought a 12 box unit without knowing there was a 16!  Also there are transparent color versions of the 4x6s but not in all the colors you'd want if you were going to dedicate a 4x6 to each color of pyramid.

Tip-saver/rattle resistors for Metal Tins:

So, as Andy indicated back in October, these metal tins (Starship Captain’s Metal Tin) could be a neat way to store your pyramids.A few years ago, I had made a similar (cardboard) container, but with cone-shaped bottom and lid to better fit/protect the pyramids. Basically the cone was just a small 0.5" high, and 2" in radius.

They are fairly simple to make: (Make two, one for the bottom and one for the top)

1) Draw a 2.12" radius circle on a piece of card-stock. (A little over 2-1/16")

2) Draw a radial line, plus an additional radial offset from the first by 10.27degrees. (10 degrees is probably sufficient)

3) Cut along one of the radials, and bend the paper into a cone such that the cut line meets the offset line.

4) Tape ends in place.

Possibility of eBook versions of Pyramid publications?

I hope this question hasn't been asked to death…  Are electronic versions of the Pyramid rule publications a possibility?  Stuff like PwP, 3H, PP#1, etc.  I realize that most of the games in these books are posted elsewhere such as the wiki and elsewhere in more than enough detail to play them, and often citing the company's permission to do it.  That suggests to me that the issue is more one of interest or logistics than of possibly cannibalizing sales from the printed copies by the often lower-priced digital ones.

Printed books just aren't the most convenient thing in the world for me.  My eyes basically suck, which is why I tend to enjoy abstract games.  (I still manage to play Chrononauts and a few editions of Fluxx with a "pocket" (by some definition) magnifier.  Still for longer reading, electronic documents on a screen are much nicer.

Thanks, regardless of answer!


I can't speak fFor the looneys in any official capacity on things like copyright, but yes, many of the games are available online.  Actually, I think it's fFair to say that many of the games in print were *originally* online, and selected to be printed later.  Though I agree, an ebook of some of those publications might be nice.  An assortment of PDFs are variously available, at least.

Yeah, I think it's basically a question of interest/time/energy. I'm not aware of anyone having made specific e-book format documents like mobi or whatever, as opposed to PDFs or various word processor formats.

Pamphlets and just about everything sent to a publisher can be turned into a PDF.  These, as sent to the publisher, usually include cut marks, color swatches for quality control, etc.  A few minutes in Acrobat can "crop" (hide, really) those edges for nicer presentation.  Being legally blind, I can usually talk publishers into a PDF in exchange for a receipt for the printed version and proof of disability.  Most of these are what they send to the printers and have all of those borders intact and visible—I never bother to cut them on screen, though I might for mobile device viewing.

Of course the usefulness of the PDFs publishers send me varies greatly. Some of them ratchet down the DRM settings to the point that the documents cannot be used for their intended legitimate purpose.  I'll spare everyone the rant and point out that "unbreakable" DRM simply cannot exist and the law expressly permits me to prove it when legitimately necessary.  And I do!  :) 

Books tend to be written in a source format, often MS Word or LaTeX if the author is a UNIX nerd either by choice or by having gone to university in the right time period…  I have experience turning the former into ePub, and the latter into HTML which is one step removed from ePub.  If the source comes to me with the PDF so I know how the printed version is supposed to look, I often can incorporate some elements of that into the eBook.  I usually work cheap, since I do this in my spare time which is not generous.  I think last time I basically got an autographed copy of the book and a mention in the acknowledgments section in the next printing of the book.  Oh, and the PDF and ePub copies of the book, obviously.

The last resort for these things is chop and scan.  You literally saw the binding off the book and run the pages through a sheetfed scanner.  Time was not so long ago this was the ONLY way to produce electronic books.  The scanner produces multi-page TIFF files or the equivalent as PDF, and you stick the result into OCR.  This winds up creating many errors and editing is tedious.  I simply hate doing this because the product is always inferior and it destroys a perfectly good book.  But for smaller publishers or books out of print, sometimes it's still the only option available.  IMO it's criminal to do to an out of print book.

I spent many hours growing up in front of an industrial scanner, tediously scanning pages sometimes one at a time if the page stock was too thin for the feeder.  Now I just ask, and usually get them without much fuss.  :)  And in recent years, I'm not the only one asking, so I ask BEFORE buying.  The result usually winds up on sale wherever the publisher wants it sold, usually at a discount from the print edition, the company makes profits on bits, and there is much rejoicing.  Thank you Amazon and Apple for getting eReaders right!

Looks like that's a variant of Pyramid Primer #1.  That covers the 3House games for anyone but an OCD pyramid freak who probably wants the original paper product anyway.  But about half of the games in PwP aren't in that primer.

OTOH, it might make sense to just put the rules to a bunch of pyramid games in ePub format and a PDF with chessboard wedges and the like collected and ready to print.  :)

W00T!  Some of my xeno stashes are here!  The rest probably Monday.  I also had another Pink Hijinks "delivered" to give me a full stash, but … it wasn't actually delivered.  It'll either be actually delivered tomorrow, or show up in 6 months, or not at all.  *sigh*

icehouse wiki editing permissions

Hi, I added an account "atehwa" to icehousegames wiki.  Could I get my account added to the "regular" group?  I'd like to add a couple of games there (and a few house variants of other games, such as triangular RAMbots).


New pyramid game: Malice

Imagine a cross between Martian Chess and Alice, with tweaks here and there to try and maintain the essence of that classic pyramid game.  I've added the rules to the Icehouse wiki at

Please consider checking it out.


Ha, if nothing else, it's an amusing mash-up title! :)

Out of curiosity, did doing it more straightforwardly (every move takes the piece to the dual square, as in Alice) not work well? Malice's teleportation seems more complex, and I'm curious why you made it so.

Likewise for the starting setup being divided between both boards instead of all on one board in the usual setup (as in Alice).

I'm quite proud of that one. ;-)

PS: I just edited in some questions while you replied to the first one-sentence version of my comment. :)

Malice's teleportation seems more complex

I played around with the straight-forward Alice teleportation, but it was not as satisfying.  One reason is that in Alice no matter where you put a piece it's always yours on the other side, but not so in Martian Chess.  Also, in Martian Chess captures tend to happen because pieces are trapped or pieces are overloaded, but that's it.  The extra complexity helped to enable more interesting capture combinations.

the starting setup

The starting setup is still being tweaked, so feedback would be much appreciated there.

Also, the "blocked teleportation" stems from the fact that in Alice, disallowing a move because of an occupied dual square is a powerful way to avoid checkmate, but in Malice that's not a consideration.

New pyramid (sorta) game: Pew Pew, Die

Whilst fiddling around with a couple of IceDice pyramid dice I came up with a weird little 2-player dueling dice game where the dice are never really rolled.  I've added the rules to the Icehouse wiki at

Please consider checking it out.

New pyramid game: Initiative

Hi all.  I created a game inspired by the old classic "Mate" named "Initiative."  Initiative is an abstract fencing game of perfect information where one player attempts to place a pyramid that his or her opponent cannot parry.

The rules are on the Icehouse games wiki at

Please consider trying it out.  Feedback is of course welcome.


I'll give it a try this weekend while I'm demoing at AnCon. I've gotta teach pyramid games anyways, So why not give it a go??

I know this is kind of late, but I wonder if you had a chance to try at AnCon?

Wedding Centerpieces

My fiance, who has just recently finished her Starship Captain training, and I are getting married in September, and she has left it up to me to create the centerpieces for my wedding. We decided that, due to our love of games, that each centerpiece should be a self contained, functional game. Our hope is that we can have the people who take home the centerpieces take home a game that they can play, and so what better way to make centerpieces than to create them out of pyramids? I have some ideas about what games I would use, and I'll list them here, but I'd love to hear from the community about what games they would like/expect to see if they were at this wedding.

My list so far includes:

Martian Coasters

Ice Dice



World War 5

Zark City



Thin Ice

Cracked Ice

So, knowing that I'm thinking of these, what other ideas would you all have? Keep in mind that I'm going to have to buy all of these stashes, so I'm thinking 3HOUSE and less, just due to the sheer costs involved.


How about Daniel Solis' "Procession?" You can play it with a Chess queen and 5 marbles in two different colors, and a chess board (or bandana printed like a chess board), but I've found it works beautifully with a Queen pyramid and five pawns each. And, it was designed for a wedding, and the theme is a wedding processional. More here:


Are you intending that the games be played at the wedding? If so, I suspect that RAMbots is rather too long and complex for that kind of setting, where the focus is presumably on the wedding and the socializing, especially if many of the guests are not already experienced gamers. I'd tend toward simple short stuff like Martian Coasters in that case.

FWIW I've had success playing Stack Control with casual gamers.

Well the idea is some function, but a good portion of what I want is form. Pyramid games are very pretty and I want to leverage that. I understand why casual gamers would be put off by rambots or other similar games. I wish I could do volcano, but unfortunately the pyramid costs alone would bankrupt me. I guess I want the most attractive games I can find that are still accessible if you've ever played a board game before.

I would suggest Pikemen in place of Rambots, actually.  The setup looks lovely, with each set of pieces already on the board arranged in a cool setup, and the rules are fFairly simple to explain.  Rambots is simple enough I suppose, but the board starts mostly empty.

I get a lot of mileage out of playing Giant Volcano.  But this requires you actually have Giant Pyramids to play with.

Logger is nicely playable with assorted pyramids, if you wind up with a number of extra parts that need a game.

Depending on who is coming, and how you arrange tables and such, you might be able to simply put Treehouse at several tables with less experienced gamers.  It's a very fFriendly game with minimal part requirements.

Actually, that's the next project on my radar. My friends and I are going to make some attempts at some sturdy giant pyramids. We demo at cons and we play enough pyramid games to actually warrant their construction

First, this is awesome. Second, congratulations on your upcoming marriage!  Third, when you have your plan together, and know how many pyramids you need to order, be sure you call Alison at the Looney Labs office...  she has been known to offer discounts for larger purchases used at wedding receptions...

also, check out this old Fluxx Love Stores page:

Thanks Kristin!

So far planning has been going very smoothly, but this will be a great help. Actually, the great part about using the pyramids for centerpieces is that while it was my idea, Joshua has really been the one to run with it. Even so, I really appreciate your post.


CarboniteDice - an IceDice variant for Solo play

So I was sitting around, alone, and wanted to play IceDice, but I was alone. So instead of complaining about it I played around until I discovered a set of solitaire rules that were mostly sensible and challenging enough to be interesting.  I typed up the rules for CarboniteDice on the wiki for your feedback and (hopefully) enjoyment.



Lately I've been thinking about multi-discipline sports... triathlons, pentathlons, decathlons.  The idea is to combine contests in a way that challenges the whole person, to find the most well-rounded competitor rather than just the most specialized one.  (For example, a triathlete must run, bike and swim.)

I want the pyramid-athlon to measure the player's ability to think in all directions.  It should include perfect information strategy, risk-vs-reward management, inter-player diplomacy, turnless speed thinking, and creativity.

If you were going to make a pyramid triathlon, which three games would you pick?  (My vote is for Homeworlds, Zark City, and Martian Coasters).

How about a pyramid pentathlon? Which five would you pick?  (I'd add IceDice and IceTowers to the triathlon.)

Let's go for a whole decathlon.  Pick ten.  (Pentathlon plus World War 5, Caldera, Pikemen, Martian Chess, and either Zendo or RAMbots.)

But I want to hear from you.  I challenge you to condense the gamut of pyramid gaming experiences into the 3/5/10 most diverse and challenging representatives.


I've actually put lots of thought into this, and honestly the biggest problem I see with these types of events is scoring. I have spent many hours attempting to figure out how I would score games put into these competitions. While games such as IceTowers, Icehouse, and Martian Chess have actual scoring mechanisms, how would you score a game of World War 5? Or more interestingly how would you score a game of Homeworlds?

If I could find an interesting solution to this conundrum I think I might actually run a decathlon at AnCon in Hudson, OH this year.

I'd just score rank results from each game and combine them, ignoring specific scores. I.e. who was 1st place, who was 2nd place, etc.

(E.g. see )

For a good hardcore triathalon :) I'd probably say Homeworlds, Zendo, and Gnostica.

To bring it to 5, perhaps add IceTowers (for realtime) and Tic Tac Doh (for tiny/minimalist abstract).

To bring it to 10, add Martian Coasters (for silly random game), Pikemen (for classic style abstract), World War 5 (for dice-rolling ameritrash), RAMbots (for simultaneous programming), Volcano (popular abstract).

But tomorrow I might give other answers. Many choices... :)

I would probably build the Triathlon with an eye towards getting each of the various main styles of game.  This is more fFlexible, allowing you to pick the games based on length and available time.  I'll give a more concise answer next.  =)

  1. A Chessboard Style Game, probably Pikemen or Martian Chess or Extinction
  2. A Random Luck Game, almost certainly IceDice, possibly Martian Coasters or maybe World War 5
  3. A Complex Game with a Theme, like Homeworlds, Alien City, or Nile.

The next couple would be perfect abstracts, and would be sorely missed in their absence.

  1. Volcano (I would enjoy a tournament of just this alone, but I suspect not everyone shares my opinion)
  2. Zendo (although it seems to me a Zendo Koan, or a series of them, might not make the fFairest Tournament game)

Rounding out the Decathlon would be any of the things mentioned above we didn't include, plus:

  1. A Zarc game, probably Zark City, but maybe Zarcana, or even Decktana.  Emperor's Garden if you fFeel exotic.
  2. A turnless game like Icehouse or Icetowers
  3. Probably should get in something in the Tiny Games category, like Pink Hijinks, Pharoah, or Launchpad 23.  These might be too light to be a valid game in a grand tournament, but also there are some good fFun games in that toybox.
  4. If possible, something in the "Experimental" category which Andy hasn't even published yet like Petri Dish or Sandships

Here is a more precise answer to what I think you are asking:  What are the 3 games that we can measure a person by, and decide conclusively that they are The Master of The Pyramids?

The three I have chosen each display properties which are completely unique to a Pyramid game, and are all unique fFrom each other.  They eschew conventional materials, and tend to highlight the defining fFeatures of a Pyramid game.  I probably sound a bit presumptuous here, but I think it's a pretty good basis.

  1. Volcano (My fFavorite game, I'm going to be honest)
  2. Icehouse (The classic; even if noone plays it, I maintain it is a keystone of the fFamily)
  3. Dectana or Zark City, depending on if you own a Decktet

I would round that out to a pentathlon with:

  1. Alien City or Homeworlds, depending on if you own a Piecepack
  2. ...undecided actually.  Ice Palace or Sprawl are both very good choices, due to their unconventional usage of a checkerboard grid.  But i am yet to play a game of either where I explained the rules, or got the rules explained to me correctly, which suggests to me maybe they are not the best games.
  3. An alternate here, due if only to its popularity:  Zendo.

I named a bunch of other great choices to make a Decathlon in my previous post, and those all stand.  It's probably cheating to wave my hands and say "...and some of these, too."  But I also think if you're going to do such an event, it would be wise to consider the audience.  If you anticipate new or easily confused new players, maybe use this Triathlon instead:

  1. IceDice
  2. Martian Coasters
  3. Pikemen

Well, I wouldn't expect "new or easily confused players" to be a "Master of The Pyramids" in any case. :)

True, good point.

So... a Sharp Point Olympiad?  (groans)

Anyway, I would love to see (and participate) in an event around this topic.  It would be fun to see it organized along various levels of participation and pyramidal experience, each corresponding to the triathlon, pentathlon, and decathlon.  That is, rather than trying to focus on diversity at the 3 and 5-game levels, I'd rather see a focus on getting people who might have never played before up and running and competing.

That said, my entries are as follows.

# Triathlon

1. Zark City

2. IceDice

3. IceTowers

My thought here is that each is simple enough to learn fairly quickly and represent a nice survey of pyramidness.  As an additional bonus each can play 2-4 players allowing some flexibility in matching players and also in helping to host a large group.

# Pentathlon

4. Pink Hijinks

5. Volcano

The pentathlon would still focus on newcomers to the games in that it still has games that are quick to explain.  However, more so than the triathlon games, the pentathlon games offer more change for strategic thinking and perhaps a way of segmenting awards amongst the newcomers to the games and the veterans.

# Decathlon

Now we get into the hardcore events, for the players who might already know many pyramid games.

6. Martian Chess OR Pikepersons

7. Homeworlds

8. World War 5 OR Icehouse

9. Gnostica OR Zarcana

10. Zendo

Rounding out with the cream of the crop (IMO).  You could choose the game to the right or the left of the ORs to make the event more or less intense.

It would be a blast to participate even if I'd probably be one of the worst players.  In any case I could shoot for a Cool As Ice award.  ;-)

See the only problem with this, for me personally, is that some games, being only 2 player, might pose a difficulty in actually scoring that way. For example, while Homeworlds can be played with multiple players, most players will agree that the purity of Binary Homeworlds is far superior. So, without having to get into a complicated tournament (I say this because a single game of Homeworlds could take hours), how would you score a game of Binary Homeworlds in which there is one winner and one loser?

Just asking out of curiosity, because I really love Binary Homeworlds and I would honestly put it in any kind of competition for a true Master of Pyramids.

I don't see the problem. Many 2-player games (e.g. Go, Chess, Pentago, etc) have tournaments with the simple system of giving 1 tournament point for each win and 0 for a loss.

Or using my "devil points" system (linked earlier), +1 for win and -1 for loss (a point for each player you beat and -1 point for each player who beat you).

I don't see a need for having "scores" from each game. (Especially since indeed many games, not just 2-player games, don't end with "scores" but only with a winner.)

Just note who won, or note final ranks if desired.

Hmmm.... I didn't approach this from the "how to run a tournament" perspective, but you guys make a good point.

I see two obvious approaches.

One solution is to have all the games in the pyramid-athlon be 2-player games, so you can use an existing FIDE-like method for scoring tournaments.  This cuts out most of the diplomacy and player interaction games, and limits the ability to test the full athletic range.

The other solution is to only include games have objective scoring built-in, so that you can compare relative scores and performance between multiple players across many games.  IceTowers, Gnostica, Dectana, Volcano, Martian Chess, etc.  There aren't that many of these, and they all play with the same part of the brain.  So much for well-roundedness.

Most pyramid games I've played, especially more of the recent designs, simplify the endgame into a "get there first" race.  Perhaps just extending two-player formats into multi-player dimensions would be adequate.

English-Spanish and English-Chinese cards for Pyramideto game

I work on new card editions for my first game with pyramids - Pyramideto.

Anyone who wants to help is welcome.

Tasks: playtesting, rules editing/translating.

Reward: new cards :)

BTW any ideas for other languages?

Link to the first draft of rules -here.

If you want to comment, send me your emal address, pls.


Looks like a fun game especially to play with the little ones. I checked out the drivethrucards page, but the new versions don't show up. Just thought I would let you know.

Thanx. I know about. I uploaded my first expansion to Geodeto and made new layout for the most of backsides, so it takes few days to go through proof prints. I guess it will take some 14 days max. If you want you can add yourself to my mail-list.

So, the cards are ready at:

All Pyramideto NEW versions have same decks of cards, just the second language (English-Spanish, English-Chinese, English-Czech) differs.

I hope you will have fun :)

Erm... Pyramids? Where should I start?

Hi everyone, just a quick little topic.

I have only just recently been introduced to Looney Labs, and as of yet have only played Fluxx games. I say played... I mean pretty much formed an addiction to them already.

But the Pyramid games also look interesting, and I was wondering what peoples opinions were in relation to which Pyramid set I should buy, and what games might be easy enough for me to get into. I have a good friend who will also be delving into this with me, but he too will be new to it.

Any help you can give would be great.



My geeklist about pyramid games I've played might be useful:

For me, I started with ice dice and sort of fell into the rest. But knowing what I know now, I have the following advice: Start with what we call a 3house set. It's short hand for 3 treehouse sets. You can do this by getting icedice and treehouse, or get 3 treehouse sets, or even just buy 3 rainbow stashes (rainbow stashes are just a treehouse set without all the awesome extra goodies). A 3house set will allow you to try out a host of games, and if you go with the first of my three options, you'll already have 4 games to try out. Next, hit up the wiki at or the Looney pyramids page at these are great resources for learning about pyramid games. The former has a page called what can I play, and you can look at games you can play with what you have, I did that a lot when I started. The latter has really nice formulated sheets called Icesheets for learning rules in a very easy fashion. It's quite honestly six of one half a dozen of the other because both are great. If you have any other questions feel free to friend request me and send me a message, I'm a pyramid maniac, or a starship captain, one of the two. So I'll be happy to help in any way I can.

For me (so far!), the breakout game is Zendo -- sort of like Mastermind with three dimensions. Also like Martian Chess and Rotationary. Would like to try Homeworlds, but, so far, haven't found any takers. (It's also OK if you just want to build cool stuff with them. Builders of R'lyeh is basically pointy building blocks, but really cool pointy building blocks.)

Thank you for the help. I think I might buy the Looney Pyramid Demo Kit. The whole idea is not only do I learn the games with my friend, but there are also a few gaming clubs where I live, and a great FLGS that is owned by a friend. I'm hoping to put some demos on in the future when I have a better knowledge of how to play.

That's a good idea. The kit comes with the pyramid primer guide #1 which is a great place to start. 13 pyramid games, and most of them among the best and most popular, plus all the things you need to play said games

Hey everyone. Jim I'm so glad you posted this. I to wanted some advice on pyramids. I think we should combine our efforts and during our next gaming night try it out. I'm also very interested in seven dragons if anyone has advice or feedback on it?

I love 7 dragons!  It is both fFun and beautiful.  An exquisite gem.

Thanks Scott, that's sold for me.
I can see myself spendng far too much money over the next couple of months.

Actually, pyramids are ultimately pretty economical. I have seven rainbow sets and a couple Xeno, and I've got any game I can think of covered -- many in two color schemes ; ). (Of course, maybe I might get a couple more Xeno sets... OK, maybe 3.) The most pyramids I've ever used at one time was the 7 rainbow sets, for an 8-player game of Zendo.

I mean in general. With all the Fluxx, then starting Pyramids, then other Looney games. Well worth it though.

Built this in the shop today. :)


I had extra mediums I didn't know what to do with... 

Holy fFrijoles!  That is amazing!!  How long did it take you?

Downright spiffy!

Thanks! :)

Without drying time about an hour.

Gamer's Grind Day 02/08/14, Folsom, CA

I'll be teaching Martian Coasters and whatever other Pyramids games folks wanna get into tomorrow at this event. FREE play all day off the "Wall of Games." Great people. Great fun.


(Note: the news people thought Ron had already reopened the cafe. He hasn't YET. The event's at the Round Table Pizza at 9500 Greenback in Folsom, CA. It's an appreciation day for his regulars, and also a demo for potential investors.)

Ice Towers


you'll have to excuse me, i've been drooling for about the past hour.

Haha!  I know the feeling! :)  I purchased this specifically for the gaming community who like pyramids. I purchased one for myself years ago, then I remembered the same place had a second copy. I went back years later (last weekend) and it was still there, same price. So I just got it to sell. It's on ebay. I really hope someone who loves pyramids / looney games ends up with it. With extras.. it's worth it...  :)

A cheap and compact way to store your Rainbow Stashes

Hi! I got tired of having my five Rainbow Stashes always falling apart into an untidy mess, so I decided to see what I could do to keep all my stuff compact and together. Here's what I came up with:

Total materials: two paperclips and a rubber band.

Some terminology: You can easily think of a paperclip as a combination of an outer loop and an inner loop. I will be using these terms in the instructions below.

Before you start: Buy an assortment of rubber bands from an office supply house (or use what you have). Pick a rubber band and tentatively complete the steps below to create the "bottom" and "top" halves of the assembly, described below.

Building your Rainbow Stash holder

Here are the steps to create the "bottom" part of your Stash holder:

Step 1 (above photo, top left): Lift the inner loop out all of the outer loop until the two, viewed sideways, makes an "L" shape.

Step 2 (top right): Bend the longer side of the inner loop so that the bent portion is the same length as the shorter side of the inner loop. Bend it to a 90° angle so that is parallel to the outer loop. This "U"-like  shape will fit into the hollow portion of the smallest pyramid in the five nested pyramid sets of your Rainbow Stash.

Step 3 (bottom right): Wrap the curve of the outer loop around the rubber band you chose to use. Do this loosely so that you can undo your work if necessary. Once you've found the right rubber band, you can make the wrap tighter (as shown in the above photo).


Here are the steps to create the "top" part of your Stash holder:

Step 1 (above photo, upper left): Twist the inner loop away from the outer loop, flattening it out until it achieves the "reverse-S" shape shown in the upper left portion of the above photo.

Step 2 (upper right): Twist the outer loop into a nice circle, which will later be used to capture the tip of the leftmost pyramid. You can use the tapered end of a pencil or pen to "capture" the natural curve of the outer loop. Wrap the straight leg of the outer loop around the pencil or pen to make a very nice round "lasso."

Step 3 (left half of bottom of photo): Wrap the curve of the inner loop around the rubber band that is attached to the "bottom" Stash holder part. Do this loosely so that you can undo your work if necessary. Once you've found the right rubber band, you can make the wrap tighter (as shown in the above photo, bottom half, left side).


Adjusting your Rainbow Stash holder

Try using what you've created to hold together the five pyramid nests of your Rainbow Stash. You may need to substitute a larger or smaller rubber band to get the best results. If needed, bend the two metal parts of your Stash holder in whatever ways you think will make it work better.

Additional suggestions

I find that I can fit up to three Rainbow Stashes and a few dice in a zipper-lock sandwich bag. The only weakness I found with these Stash holders is that if they are jostled hard, the stack may come apart in the middle, leaving you with a lot of loose pyramids. To combat this, I wrap the excess sandwich bag around the pyramids, then secure this with one or two extra rubber bands.

My Stash holder design isn't pretty, but it's cheap, it works, and it totally minimizes the amount of space multiple sets of Rainbow Pyramids take up.

Give them a try! I hope you find them useful.


Wow, that's really interesting.  =)  How well do they hold together, in that?  I mean, i don't think I'd want a stack of pyramids like that, alone, tossed into a purse or big game bag.  I'm pretty sure they'd fFly apart.  But maybe a fFew sets lined up together side by side in a box, might hold okay?

Clever and weird, though the risk of it flying apart gives me pause. :)

In a box would be fine. Also, putting them in a sandwich bag like I described works quite well. I hope you give it a try--it *does* work!

Thanks for the compliment! As I said in the above reply, the method I described with the sandwich bag and rubber band works quite well. When you take the stack out of the bag, the tension of the rubber band holds the stack together (although you do need to be careful with it at this point). Really, I've had no accidents using this method.

To anyone reading this: How do you store and transport your Rainbow Stashes? What works for you? Please share your experiences.

I'm still keeping my pyramids in the original tubes, and I have a box which holds 6 tubes.

What I want is to make a securely closing box that would hold a bunch of stacks of them flat in divided slots, like tubes missing one long side. But I've not found one "off the shelf" and have been too lazy to try designing and making my own.

Ah, yes. I'm a newcomer and got my pyramids in boxes and Ice Dice pouches. Yes, the original tubes are certanly ideal. I thought of trying to find "just the right size," but that felt like too much work. I got the idea for my paperclips-and-rubber-band holder by playing with a stack of nested pyramids, and it works well enough for me.

I tried this, it seemed to work well, but I was paranoid about adding more scratches to my stashes.  Here's a simplified version I came up with: one 7-inch band (made for file folders) with 3 overhand knots.  The center knot keeps it under the base of the bottom nest, and the two end knots form loops to hook around the tip of the top nest on both sides.

Hey, great--I like your idea better! Thanks for sharing--this is what happens when people share their ideas!

Sorry to resurrect the thread; but it's important enough to dissuade people--my method with the rubber band will cause stress fractures in pyramids over time, don't do it.

Thanks for the warning/update!

Bummer--I really liked your solution. Thanks for letting us know! could use some love...

Hey Starship Captains,

I was just looking at wiki to refer a new player to guides as to what can be played with their supplies, and I see it's a bit out of date.  Not sure if anyone wants to poke around there, but I thought I'd bring it to people's attention.  There might be people on this forum who had not yet discovered this resource, and I think it's worth keeping up.

Most glaring omission to me is that the Pyramid Primer is not listed as a game rules publication.  Beyond that, I'm sure that there are many new games people have invented which could be added and tagged with specs (what components, how many stashes, how many people, etc.)

Thanks for playing with pyramids, everyone!



[One moment while I put the slide show to the right on "pause." Thanks for that, from all we migraineurs who are triggered by animations in peripheral vision...]

We were discussing in another thread my personal enflummoxing (it is too a word) by the Wiki functions, etc. on that page. I like the idea of a wiki for this purpose, but there are more recent versions that don't have as high a learning curve, i.e. the freebie version of SharePoint. I do web admin for a living, and would be able to help out with the grunt work on converting files, etc., and giving input on a redesign, if folks want to go that way. (NO, I'm not willing to head up a redesign -- still working full-time these days.) I'm finding that, once introduced in person, many people (including non-techies) are fascinated with pyramids (especially Zendo), and I think a more user-friendly pyramids site is needed. End of two cents...

You're saying you find a wiki to be an uninviting format for users looking for information, or just for people who want to add to or edit the site? While I find it very bare-bones, stylistically, I don't see how it differs from other sites in information quality or navigability.  Most people have perused, say, Wikipedia...

As for editing it, there is certainly some technical savvy involved - a certain learning curve, but I figured there might be some pyramid folks who are already familiar with wikis, or who would be interested in pursuing it.  I didn't find it all that hard to pick up the gist of the wiki markup language myself, but I'd balk at having to download and use some app I'd never heard of.  (What is SharePoint and what does it do?  I'll admit I'm not particularly tech savvy myself.)

In short, I wasn't suggesting moving away from a wiki format at this time.  This site is not run by Looney Labs (so it's not really up to us!)  There is already so much information that has already been built in this format, that moving it into a completely different system doesn't sound practical to me, but maybe I'm wrong.  I was just hoping we could get some more info up there.  I'd love to hear what others think about this!

If nothing else, thanks for your enthusiasm!


PS: Sorry about the slideshow...

The idea of changing to a different wiki format has been floated before ( ), but the general consensus seemed that it would be a logistical nightmare, as there are thousands of pages, tags, links, etc. There doesn’t seem to be a burning need for it either. It’s a very functional site as is, and, with the spam issue under control now, I haven’t heard a lot of complaints about the content.

I try to help keep the tags up to date, etc. And there are others who do so as well. Alison’s encouragement is very welcome though! If you want to actively get involved in the forum, just jump in and help. Alternatively, if you see something that doesn’t look right while reading the thousands of pages on the wiki, feel free to take the initiative and fix it up! 

BTW, I’m not a programmer, and I haven’t had a lot of difficulty editing within the wiki. There are several of us who use it who would likely help out if someone needed to dump their rules into a new wiki page. It isn’t that difficult to fix up the format of a given page.

But, is there any "Help" file or instructions anywhere on the site? I invested over an hour one day trying to get the gist of the thing, and all I found were "joke" help files that said "We have no help files." It's not even clear what program it is. (I have an Associates in Computer Science focusing on web design, and over 13 years experience designing and maintaining web sites, including those with database support. If I can't figure out even where the instructions are on the site, how is someone with no coding or design experience?)

I'm very familiar with several types of Wiki configurations, but, as I say below, I can't even identify the program running this one, and can't find any help files, instructions, or templates for using it.

There is a "Help" link to the left-hand side of the page. That works for me. 

At the bottom right of the front page is the "Powered by MediaWiki" logo. It's the same software used by Wikipedia.

(Forces myself not to comment on changing hosting to a Looney sure...) The What page was my creation, and it predates semantic wiki. A redesign could just generate that from standard tags. Couple of issues: 1) It was intended only to list finished games, so somehow conditionality would have to be encoded in the semantics (or regex). 2) Not currently being semantic, it's a game author's responsibility to add finalized games to both major What lists (and, sadly, manually readjust the column breaks). At the end of the day, a wiki is a poor format for doing all this in a distributed manner. A database would be more powerful and maintainable. Form fields for all the ways to classify a game, followed by a large text field for the rules in HTML. Then all the sorting, categorizing, and navigation would be generated on the fly (i.e., 'reports'). I'd suggest going that route before grinding through hundreds of pages of conversions just to use an easier interface. Such a project would make for an impressive school project (hint, hint, you folks with free time!). ;-)

Oh. So, you have to be a sexist Democrat to use it? (That's a joke, people.) Thanks for the clue. I'm surprised to find out there isn't a database involved -- I was looking for data tables, which is one of several problems in how I was researching it.

The problem with a database is that then you need a database design and a front end.  Both of those would need to be maintained, so you're not really eliminating problems so much as moving them to a different level.  Considering the problems we've had with administration on the current site, I think that's exactly the wrong way to go.

The last time I tried to make any significant changes, I found that the site was not using the current version of MediaWiki.  I was unable to use some features I found in the MediaWiki documentation, which limited my ability to make improvements.  I do not know if it was ever upgraded.  If not, it would be more accurate to say, " older version of the same software used by Wikipedia."

I just got the Pyramid Primer tags into the wiki. Someone will still need to make a little page for the PP, along the lines of what was made for the other publications.

My thoughts are, if we want a nice curated space, then neither a wiki or a database or anything else is the answer.  A genuinely designed and curated webpage of some sort would be the way to go.  A minimum of automated entries, a low amount of untested games.  Something which really showcases the available games.

I think that's what the "Other Games" page on the looney website is intended to be, more or less, but it too lacks curation.  The Looneys don't really have time, one assumes.

Oh, and that webpage could probably produce some sort of periodical.  Because people like physical objects fFor their games.  But that might be rather difficult.

Agreed, although in practice I've not had that problem. I just do pretty standard basic vanilla wiki formatting, the sort of thing which has existed stably for many years.

Hmm... you know, this isn't a political forum and we are probably a rather diverse community politically; odd "jokes" about sexist Democrats (or racist Republicans, or creationist Teabaggers, or anything else off-topic and political like that) else seem unnecessarily antagonistic/divisive.

Actually, it was intended to be a joke about Wikipedia.

and I think it's worth keeping up.

I couldn't agree more.  I'm happy to help maintain the information given the proper rights.  As a relative newcomer to pyramid games I've found the wiki an invaluable source of information.  Likewise, I think that I have the proper mix of knowledge and ignorance to help. :-)

The biggest problem with a distributed-authoring wiki is that nothing enforces formatting or metadata standards. Considering that Alison asked about a specific page--one that is basically a bunch of ways to filter and sort the list of games--I replied to her point with the best sustainable solution.

While I'm disinclined to entertain a conversation about 'defense of a platform', I will say:

1) There is no law requiring that a working interface to create and access HTML pages be "maintained". Unless some new LL product drives a change to the metadata schema or adds colors or similar, it could tick over fine for years.

2) I could do the "design" for the form entry and table structure in about a half a day. Wrapping the database with a site that has navigation, sorting, filtering, and grouping would be the biggest challenge, not only in technical accomplishment but also working through all the aesthetics (which a wiki platform usually resolves for you). Hence why I think it would be a capital school project.

3) What we could really use is something like Joomla, with some serious standards applied on the Editor role (i.e., where the tagging is made consistent). It wouldn't be as custom as a purpose-built DB site; but it wouldn't be the 'wild west' that an open wiki site tends to become.


If an admin will install SemanticWiki, I could begin to add tags to finalized games to make the What Can I Play page be automatically generated (then it would need to be protected by an admin). It's likely that just semanticizing (heh) the infobox would do 90% of what the WCIP page needs.

What you’re talking about has merit if someone wishes to create a curated site. However, I see that as an addition to the wiki, which functions as a vital community  database, serving various needs that wouldn’t be covered by a website.

It would be nice to offer players better guidance as to the scope and quality of the overall collection of games. I’m thinking of doing something on the wiki to address this better. At the very least, I’m going to start a page accessible from the "What Can I Play" page that links to the different databases, blogs, forums, etc. where reviews of assorted games are to be found.  To be most helpful, I think these should be pages that offer reviews for more than one game, and it should include external and internal links.

Promising Cadet here, I've discovered several pages have dead links (moved usually, or some no longer available) and it would generally be good to update those links where possible, find archival info where not, and overall get permission where possible to actually put content on the site.  If has bandwidth or storage limitations, that could be an additional problem we might endeavor to solve.  (I'm personally shocked when people tell me they still have any kind of serious limits on either for hosting they pay for as I've not had to worry about either for years…)

There are a LOT of pages on the site, obviously, and many of them could use some TLC.  I created an account on the site, but I don't believe I have access to edit anything, and even if I did I wouldn't correct more than typos without some notion of a standard/optimal entry of the type upon which to model edits to other pages.  I wouldn't want to make the problem worse.

It was obvious to me just looking at it that it was a fairly basic MediaWiki installation with a few thematic adjustments.  MediaWiki isn't the easiest thing in the world to cope with (and I admit I haven't much experience with it because of that), but it gets the job done.

The one thing I wish MediaWiki did better would be images.  Text markup syntax is a matter of taste, and wars have been fought since Mars was green and blue over whose taste is better.  ;)  Most of us learn all the ones we use often and find cheatsheets for the ones we don't.  But we're talking about games, and in describing a game's setup, a picture really is worth a thousand words.  Even if you're legally blind.  (Hi.)

As I don't have anything but the Treehouse/IceDice mini-guide as far as official Looney publications go (for now), I don't know if there's a better or more complete way to do these things.  That said, the summary boxes in that little guide are quite useful:

Difficulty, Duration, Number of players, Pyramids required, Other equipment, Picture, Short Description.  That seems to be a great index entry for a game IMO.  If the author wants to link to official rules or even describe them outright on the page, I'm perfectly happy with that.  :)

That's not a particularly complicated format for the purposes of indexing.  As you say, the web interface and making it look good is the majority of the work here.

Oh I think any love to any page at all is good.  I wouldn't worry too much about conforming to standards.  In short, there aren't any real standards.  Most games need more pictures, and many games need revisions.  Probably the most common type of problem is a page which writes a lot about some minor detail, but fFails to describe important concepts.

As fFor editing rights and ownership, the main page of the wiki reads:  "This is a wiki: Dive right in!"  The game designer is considered to Own the game, but they have also posted it in a public space with the understanding that anyone may revise.  Good editing is as important as good design.  Give attribution where necessary and you'll be okay.

I don't seem to have access to edit anything.  It may be a public space that editors should dive right into, but there's the procedural matter of having the appropriate access permissions it seems.  :)  The current state of things is good to know.  I might have some suggestions for improving the free-for-all somewhat at some point, but I'm rather new here and it's generally a good idea to get to know things before one goes around messing with stuff.

How new?  Well, I got my first IceDice set less than two weeks ago now and absolutely fell in love with the system!  I will shortly have as full of a full set of stashes as one can get.  I've learned eight games, though I haven't played them all yet because of time, availability of players, and oh, I just got the rest of my rainbow stashes this week.  Xenos will come mostly next week.  :)

Boards will take time as I determine what is best to print, what is best to buy, and what is best to build.  I saw some pictures of a couple of lightboards out there and they were just amazing.  Oh, and I can handle the LEDs for such things if I have something to do with them, so you KNOW I'm going to wind up with glowy pyramid action sooner or later.  Especially since slightly glowy pyramids would play easily in low light—I'm legally blind and an albino, so playing in low light with lots of contrast to my pieces is much appreciated.  :D

Oh, yes, uhm, Ryan Hackel needs to grant you Editing access to the wiki.  He will probably need to know your username.  Ryan, are you tuned in this thread?  He's generally pretty awesome about adding people.  Actually Ryan is pretty awesome all around.  =)  If he doesn't respond here, I suggest maybe starting a new thread somewhere asking fFor editing rights, that usually grabs his attention.

I would love to see your Glowy Pyramids, if you do assemble them.  People have discussed putting small LEDs inside the pyramids themselves, which sounds just awesome!  Pictures!

INSIDE the pyramids sounds like too much work.  Plus, you couldn't do it with regulation pyramids, sadly.  They just nest too tightly.

What you might be able to do, if you were really creative, is arrange for individual spaces on a board to light up only when a pyramid was placed on the square.  Something involving a very light pressure making contact.

No, I'd either bottom-light a diffuser under plastic or glass, or I'd use some kind of side-lighting arrangement as is done for LCD screens.  Should be workable for anything up to about a 14x14 grid if I light all four sides.  I can envision games useful with up to that size of board.  Lit or not, I think I want multiple boards.  I have use for 3x3, 3x4, 4x4, 3x5, and 5x5, in multiple combinations. (4 3x3 and 4x4 would be useful to have, for example to make 6x6 and 8x8 boards…)  Magnets might be useful to hold them together.  I'm probably getting too fancy on myself.

Whatever I do, there will be pictures, if I can come up with anything worth taking pictures of.  For the forum, and for BGG.

U.S. President

I updated the entry on BBG pages - and Icehouse wiki. I will edit the rules. No changies in the game rules, just the text. If anyone can help me to do it in proper english - will be honoured :).

Best regards, more pyramids :)


For all English speaking fans. There is a link to Updated English Rules. If you would like to make any comment, do it here or send me your email and I will give you access to comment the main Google Doc.

Last three rounds differ. All players play simultaneously.  For each of last three rounds, to avoid frictions, each player writes down name of the swing state, in which he or she intends to place a pyramid, and size of the pyramid. If applicable, make changes in State cards possessions after each round.

would read better as:

"In the last three rounds of the game, pyramids are placed simultaneously.  All players should secretly write down the name of the state and the size of the pyramid they will play there.  Then, change State Card ownership as normal."

I think the enterprising gamer will make their own set of state cards and size cards fFor this purpose.  But it's probably not necessary to say this in the rules.  Maybe if this game gets published in a deluxe edition or something, cards fFor this purpose could be made.

There's probably other cases where the English could be improved.  But this paragraph kinda stood out, to me.

If you give me permission to add comments, I would do so.

I sent you one.

I think the enterprising gamer will make their own set of state cards and size cards fFor this purpose.  But it's probably not necessary to say this in the rules.  Maybe if this game gets published in a deluxe edition or something, cards fFor this purpose could be made.

To much cards I think if there will be more players. Do you mean it is problem to write down f.e. 3 to FLO?

No no, not too much trouble.  I think I really mean to point out, the general trend in modern gaming is to include a token, card, or chit fFor almost any activity done in the game.  A "deluxe" edition of this game might have these things.  But it is not at all needed.

There is a free competition version of the game named VIRIBUS UNITIS - see it here:


Great games of Binary Homeworlds

I've been trying to learn Homeworlds by playing at home and on Super Duper Games with limited success.  What will help me tremendously is to look at examples of great games.  My question therefore is can anyone recommend past game listings that I could look over and play-through on my own?  Thanks in advance.


I have no concrete suggestions of specific games, but if you look at the highest ranked players and then view their lists of games to find ones they played with other highest ranked players, that might work... If you find anything particularly cool, please post it. :)

I will do that.  I was aware of the archived games at, but was hoping for a few pointers to n00b-friendly games.  That said, I will work my way through and highlight some interesting games as suggested. :-)

Andy thoroughly documented a play-by-email session from 2003:

Here is the current #1 on the Binary Homeworlds ladder playing the current #2 (as of this post on 4.27.2014), so this could be a decent game to follow.  Though the OP may be good by now, in reference to ways for people to learn the game beyond just reading the rules, it helps to get your own pyramids, set them up, and use them to replicate the move-by-move as they are played out by these people online.  This will help with visualization, and then you can stop at any time, analyze the move made, and try and figure out why the person made it against what other options they had.

Thank you for that link.  I'll work through that game the first chance that I get.

Pyramid game etiquette

I have a couple of pyramid game that I would like to share named "Pew Pew Die" and "Initiative." However, I'm not sure if sharing the rules here is appropriate or if the Icehouse Wiki is preferred. Any suggestions?


The Icehouse Wiki seems the obvious place to me, as it's the primary central archive of pyramid games.

I'd say post to the wiki, then link to it here for discussion/feedback. Folks have tended not to do much on Talk pages, these past few years.

I would be happy to post to the Wiki... if I had creation rights.  Would anyone with the power consider allowing me (username Fogus) such power?

This question comes up from time to time (too often). Is there a way that a link could be added to the create account page that tells new users how to edit (as that's probably the reason most people create new accounts anyway)?

You'll want to message on here to get editing rights.

Xendo retheme.

I'm going to shift a discussion here from Board Game Geek, just to make sure the greater Looney Pyramid community can be involved.

From Andy, June 2013:

Without completely repeating everything from the BGG thread here, I will give a brief summary:

I think it's a mistake to replace the Zen theme from Zendo with the Xendo "cluster analyzer" theme.  Yes, the Zen theme may be offputting to some, but I'm convinced the Xendo theme would be just as bad, especially if it adds some ceremonial terminology to support it.  "A cluster is positively charged iff ___," is just as bad as, "A koan has the buddha nature iff ___."

My suggestion for rereleasing Zendo:

Call it Zendo. Describe the rules in a completely theme-free way. e.g. "A group of pyramids is marked white iff ___." Describe the Zendo Zen theme, the Xendo cluster analyzer, the software debugging theme and any others that might apply in the introduction or an addendum to the rules. Heck, you could even include additional themes specifically tailored to special interest groups. Christian Zendo anyone? "A congregation is going to heaven iff ___."


And I'll mention here my point that changing the title to "Xendo" will be bad for player searching info on the web; there are a lot of useful good webpages about "Zendo" which won't be found searching for "Xendo".

Agree completely (and, I've played a lot of Zendo with different groups of people). Light on the theme, already. And, I don't think a name change is appropriate. Pyramid stuff is hard enough to find/explain/market as it is. Now, maybe if there were a sequel with different rules...  Of course, even with a variant, I'd still call it "Zendo II" or whatever, for all the reasons Russ W mentioned.

I've tried both and the only new term I really like is "clusters" instead of "koans," because it solves the "cone" problem I have when introducing people to the pyramids via Zendo. Other than that, I think the science theme actually undermines the teacher-student roles... it's important to me that the players think of me as a guide who they can freely ask clarifying questions of, not a mere true/false dispenser.

Ha ha, I was wondering what the "cone" problem was until I muttered out loud to myself "the cone problem?!" :)

"Koan" has 2 syllables... I don't think I've had people confuse it with "cone".

> "Koan" has 2 syllables... I don't think I've had people confuse it with "cone".

Must be nice. :) We often played Zendo at lunch at my previous job and had one occasional player that still had the cone problem after maybe two years.

I fFeel like I'm rally late to the conversation here.  I wasn't aware this was a conversation in transit.  My thoughts are thus.

Zendo is a well known game which has a great deal of awareness.  Casual strangers may not be fFamiliar with the Zen component, but people seem to respond to the name, know what it is, know how to play it.  When I play with pyramids in public, I can depend on having to explain at least once "no no, we're not playing Zendo, although it's a great game and you can play that with these pieces, too.  No, we're playing ..."

And, of people who do know the theme and are fFamiliar with the basic notion, it seems to resonate with a stoic search fFor truth.  I will fForever have the image of the Zendo tournament judges, at the big experiment, in very smart looking robes.

Changing the spelling to Xendo seems a bit ... meh.  I don't think I understand the motivation there.  But maybe there is some value to publishing something slightly unique.  But, as Kell mentioned, you lose the ability to google "Zendo."

Perhaps, if you just want to rename it a bit, you could go fFor some munging like "Zendo, the computer mastermind" or the like.

I suppose this is all a lot of words amounting to a plaintive, unsolicited opinion.  And I don't really play much Zendo at all, so I can't claim personal interest.  I guess what I'm saying is, themes don't really need to match gameplay.  Ask Reiner Knizia about that.

I vote the keep "Zendo."

Another vote for Zendo; it's an interesting theme that fits the contemplative nature of the game.

Shipping Deadlines

Is it too late to order something online and have it arrive before christmas? I already asked my FLGS and they're not able to order what I want right now.


An item from the LL store? Or just online in general?

I work in a comic/game shop in Illinois. I might be able to help you; send me a message if needed.


From Looney Labs. And it's going to New York. I've got a ton of pyramid stuff picked out, I just want to know whether I should request faster shipping.

Conquest of Mars >> totally overhauled!

I replaced the v1.0 rules on the wiki with v2.0:

Major changes are:

1) A more formal and rigid board made of cards, instead of the territories existing independent of the others.

2) No more Action points.  Turn options are made from a fixed list.

3) Larger pyramids roll more dice in combat, instead of enabling rerolls.

4) Dice are no longer stocked on territories, nor can players place new territories into play.

5) The game ends when one player gets all of their pyramids on the board.

6) Territories are no longer removed from play when they are captured.  The board position is fixed during the entire game.

That's a lot of big changes!  I hope this version is far more improved and strategic.  The Decktet variant is still available, too.


I enjoyed the old version. Can't wait to try this one. Looks good.

During setup, should the cards be shuffled before the deal, after removing from ones the 7x7 layout and adding them back into the unused cards?

The cards were always face down.  I don't see a point in shuffling.

I didn't even think of that. Never mind, nothing to see here.

Entry for 2013 Ice Awards

OK. Here's my contribution. I'll spare you the story about 12 bucks worth of Swiss Chard starts that were taken out overnight by a band of roving gastropods from a neighboring yard...


I've changed the attachment. I've added a note about the number of players (1 or 2).

We need to run the 2012 Ice Awards first....

Yeah, I've been telling my friends the results for 2013 should be out in about fourteen months. ; )

I'm thinking at this point of running the 2012 and 2013 awards at the same time.  It's just a very time consuming endeavor, so I've been putting off.  Last year we ran long, awarding the 2011 award sometime in March of 2013, I think.  Combining efforts might be a very sensible way to go.  Maybe have a slightly wider range of awards available, to account fFor a broader diversity of games.  Also I'd like to streamline the voting process.

Generally my thoughts are, whoever runs the awards process gets to be the benevolent dictator and make a fFew executive decisions.  So, if I am the one to run it next, these are things I may do.  I guess this isn't really the place to sort of this stuff, but there it is.

Storing Icehouse Pieces

Ah, the age-old question... how the heck do you put these things away when you want to put them on the shelf or in a backpack?

The big thing I've run into this time around is that I'd like something which doesn't take long to get the pieces out of or into, yet is still relatively rectangular and space efficient. I'm trying to find Eeyore's page on paper stash boxes but it seems to have been buried in the depths of old mailing list posts or something, so a link would be nice.

The tubes themselves were a great fit in most regards, but still a little tricky to get into and out of. In particular, the only way to get all the pieces back in is to hold the stack upside down and lower the tube backwards over it-- something not a lot of people at my game night seem to figure out on the first try, leading to a bit of fumbling trying to get everything back in the game box before everyone leaves.

I'm particularly interested in any solutions that don't involve a wood shop, laser cutter, or 3D printer. I'd love to be a fancy craftsman like the rest of you, but lately all I've had in reliable supply is cardstock and old boxes.


I've certainly had fantasies about a custom wooden box or 3D-printed box with rectangular compartments to hold stashes analogous to the plastic tubes... :)

It seems like it might be relatively easy to make a box with separate stash compartments by accordion-folding a long sheet of cardstock and laying it across the box, so that its cross section looks like this:


and then stashes could be laid in each rectangular section. Perhaps glue the cardboard in place to stabilize it. But I've not yet gotten around to trying this.

I did recently handcraft a very simple cardboard thingie with a dozen slots to organize and hold Kingdom Builder tokens, since I got sick of having so many little plastic bags to rummage through, so maybe I'll try handcrafting a pyramid storage solution sometime soon... :)

In years past, I kept my pyramids in the stash tubes.  They were a great way to store them in the stashes that I was likely to use them in.  They were translucent so I could see which stashes I was looking for.  They were rigid and kept my pyramids from being crushed  in my heavy game bag.  They were long and narrow and often fitted in those little places where nothing else could go.

Unfortunately, as the years went by, the tubes began to wear out.  The caps no longer fit tightly, and popped open, scattering pyramids in my bag.  The edges of the tubes began to crack, and the plastic began to fade into a dim yellow.  I still have the tubes, but don't use them regularly anymore.

Since the Treehouse Revolution, it is less important for me to keep my pyramids in separate stashes.  Since I'm going to need multiple colors for games, it's actually convenient for all my rainbow colors to live together in one box and my xeno colors in another box (with grays, electrics, and pinks in there too). 

In my search for a practical container, I've tried keeping my pyrarmids in ziplock bags, toddler-size shoeboxes, and even a box that once contained little jars of novelty jams.  I've had good results with 300-count CCG longboxes. 

I went out to a hardware store, and found a container most people would use for nuts and bolts and things like that. It had 6 compartments, and each holds a monochrome stash. I placed the six colors for World War 5 in there, since it's the most common game that my group plays with pyramids. I also bought another box, and keep volcano caps, Zendo stones, black, electric yellow, and dice of all kinds in there.

I've tried stuff like this. It's not easy to get the flaps to stand up though-- that sort of fold tends to flatten itself really easily.

If I can find a good way to stabilize it, though, you can bet I'll make a volcano board out of it too.

A couple ideas using store bought divided cases:

I have a box a little like that first one, but the dividers in it are all wrong-- all I have are full-length horizontal dividers and the smallest size of vertical divider. I've tried a few arrangements but ultimately it was still too much of a pain to get everything in and out. Currently I'm using an undivided box I found at a general store... it's only 6x8x4 so it fits much easier in my backpack than a tackle box style thing, and I just dumped some pyramids into it on top of my bandana and dice. I'm starting to think maybe there's no way to get around the clean-up time and still sort the pieces in any meaningful pattern. I'd still like to try dividing up the box though, maybe I can cut some cardboard down to fit the slightly sloped edges...

This also looks like an interesting option. Looks like the vertical pieces come out.

Thinking about the pros and cons of sorting/nesting versus just pouring all the pyramids into a single big sack/box/etc:

Although sorting and nesting the pyramids during clean-up takes more time, I generally like doing it:

1. It helps verify that none are missing (fallen on the floor or whatever) and should be looked for

2. Nests make it possible to store them more compactly.

3. I worry about loose pyramids being more likely to get broken/chipped/cracked. (Has anyone who carries their pyramids mixed in a single box/sack/etc had problems with this, or am I needlessly worried?)

I store mine neatly, and I have seen others which are stuffed in a bag or box.  Mine, which are stored neatly, look much nicer still.  Pyramids stored in a loose box will tend to get more scuffs, more rough edges,and less shininess.

I'm not saying my solution is better -- they are meant to be used, and battle scars are sexy -- but sorting them and storing them neatly has a demonstrably positive effect on the life of the pyramids.  Also you risk looking like an anal retentive weirdo, sorting out a million bits of plastic.  Choose your path, I suppose.  =)

Or, take the middle path, and buy two complete sets.  One set to store neatly in organized rows and columns, and one set to throw in a bag.  Then, see which set you use more often.  =)

I used to carry a full set of pyramids in a large drawstring bag I stole from a set of bedsheets (not sure why it came with one, maybe they expected me to actually store my sheets neatly rather than just folded on a shelf?), and I can assure you they never cracked... although they did get pretty scuffed up, and I did lose a small at a party once. I agree that knowing you have everything is one of the big advantages to sorting them.

Oh, by the way, I finally found Eeyore's paper tube designs again. They don't seem to be linked from his main site, so I'm not sure how long this link will work.

Yes, but that has the same problem as mine-- the horizontal pieces are effectively fixed. Not so great for sticking little rulebooks into the "leftover" space.

I'd also like to point out that I've never felt a need to carry all 10 colors around. Really, I think 6 is enough for almost all purposes-- Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Black, and either Clear or Pink according to preference and availability. That's enough to play anything from the Black Ice era, including Volcano. If I could get a small box that just holds six rows of five nests, plus maybe a little space on the side for dice and tokens, that'd be perfect.

Here's some photos of my setup.

Wiki Activation

Was browsing the wiki today and I noticed that Cardinal Connections, one of my favorite single-stash games growing up, has a lot of gaps its Infobox. So I logged in to update it and found that I can't edit anymore. Can someone add me to Regulars so I can go along my merry way?


I can grant you editing access.  What is your user name on the wiki?

Oh geez, I forgot to mention. It's nupanick.

Done.  You should be able to make edits now.

Thank you, Ryan, for keeping the wiki alive - and thank you, Nicholas, for working on updating pages! 


No need to thank me, ma'am.   All in a day's work.


He’s not the first person who has mentioned having trouble editing the wiki. Is there a particular reason that’s happening? There has been less activity on the wiki this year, when compared to the amazing number of new games that were made in 2012. I wonder if there are people wanting to edit the wiki who, for whatever reason, are running into errors. 

From what I've read recently, I think the chain of events was

- Slight decline in wiki activity

- Unchecked spambots go wild, clutter up pages

- Registration AND verification now required to edit

- Massive decline in wiki activity

My hypothesis is that a fair number of people in situations like mine simply didn't follow through when they found out they couldn't edit anymore. On top of that, I nearly couldn't get into my own wiki account because it's been a few years since I last logged into it and there's no password reset link... luckily I was able to recall my past self's password-choosing logic and guess my way in.

The IceWiki has been fighting a War On Spam ever since its first days.

We tried a CAPTCHA, but spammers blew through that like it wasn't there.

We tried an IP blacklist, but spammers rarely used the same IP address twice.

We tried a URL whitelist, but it was too exhausting to maintain, and spammers switched to spam without URLs.

We blocked edits by non-members, so spammers created new user accounts for each spam post.

At this point last year, the IceWiki was still open to regular edits, and it was getting a new spam post every 20 minutes!  It was more spam than the admin team could keep up with, and we needed a big change. 

We finally dropped the hammer earlier this year and restricted edits to an admin-controlled whitelist of approved members.  This has completely stopped the spam, but has made legit edits less convenient.

I get a "help unlock my wiki account" request about every three months.  It's a lot easier than deleting spam round the clock 24/7.

Meanwhile, the IceWiki's activity levels have stayed about the same, about a handful of edits each month.  The activity levels spike during a contest (IGDC or ICE Awards) cycle, which we haven't had for a long time now.

A number of pyramid games have been created in the last year, but they are more often being published here on the fan club than on the wiki.  In my experience as the wiki admin, people are more scared of MediaWiki code than of inconvenient account registration.

It is my hypothesis that, as Looney Labs has transitioned from selling the Looney Pyramid game system to selling individual Looney Pyramid games, the influx of recent pyramid converts are less likely to be the type of creative abstract gamers who invent their own games (or at least less likely to post new games on the web) and more likely to be the kind of casual gamers who are content with the rules that came with the game. 

I guess that I assumed that those who were regular editors before the change was implemented  automatically had the ability to continue editing by default, but I understand if that wasn’t practical.

LL has transitioned to selling individual LP games for some time, so I don't think it's the only factor. If you compare the number of new games invented in 2012 to 2013, the difference is very obvious. Of course, 2012 probably got a real push from the introduction of IceDice, and the absence of an ICE Awards for the 2012 games may have dampened the spirit of designers a little. As regards to the latter, in the absence of  a formal Award (assuming that remains the case), it might be nice if people began to informally put up reviews on here of some of those games that they may have played from that giant batch of games.

“A number of pyramid games have been created in the last year, but they are more often being published here on the fan club than on the wiki. “

I have seen a few games posted… mostly in their early design phase. Obviously, this forum is not the idea place to post a final rule sheet, as such games will inevitably be lost in threads—rarely to be retrieved. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to encourage those designers to post their rules to the wiki. If they get the basic rules up, there are those of us would be more than ready to help fix tags and infoboxes. 

White Treehouse Dice

Does anyone have a white Treehouse die they'd be willing to sell/trade/exchange for some small number of souls? I just purchased some NOS Xeno Treehouse tubes in hopes that they may've included the older dice (and also just to get more pyramids, of course!), but they were of more recent vintage. I'd love to have one, just to complete my collection.


Send me a message and we'll work a trade.

Info Cards for UnPub Event?

Hi. I'm going to be participating in an UnPublished Mini-convention next weekend. If I get the rules done in time, I'm going to demo a game for Pyramids ("Snail Invasion!") Are there any cards available that I could hand out to people who aren't familiar with Looney Pyramids? Or, maybe something I could print out? I don't want/need to invest in an entire demo kit -- I just need something for folks who are interested in more info.




In the store there's always packs of Ice7. It's a quick little pack with information on pyramid games, and rules for 7 games on handy little cards.

There's this:

If you print page 2 of the full pocket guide, you get the same information as the web page.

Wanted: Spare IceDice Dice

I can get as many Treehouse dice as I want from the store, but I have some game ideas that would require multiple colour dice and pyramid dice. Does anyone know where (or if) I can get those? I'd prefer to buy official dice rather than stickering blank dice.


Pink hijinks has the pyramid dice, which is pretty awesome.  Which is not really what you were asking about, i know.  =)  But then you also have a slew of pyramids to do stuff with.

Contact Alison ( - we have a big pile of these dice from an early test run, that have printing that wasn't cured well and rubs off easily.  We are never going to put these up for sale, but Alison sends them out to people when they ask really nicely, and understand the work required to coat them with clear nail polish before use.

Thank you, I'll drop her a line! Clearcoating them should be a simple project, and I'd love to start playing around with more of them.

Wiki account activation

I just created an account, "Sehrgut", on the wiki. Would an admin be able to add it to the "regular" group so I can edit? Thanks!


Done.  You should be able to edit now.  Thanks for helping the IceWiki grow!

Thanks! I'm happy to contribute!

Games to play with Pink Hijinks

Does anyone know of any games other than Pink Hijinks itself, and two-handed Treehouse, that can be played with a Pink Hijinks set? It's such a convenient little pack — so easy to cart around, that it'd be nice to have a bigger repertoire with it.

Perhaps I'm missing some on the wiki, but I seem to have read through all the ones that require minimal pyramids, and haven't come across any others. Maybe someone's working on a game playable with the PH set? I'd definitely be interested in hearing any ideas!


I have hunted through them, but as Pink Hijinks isn't a complete stash, they aren't playable with it. It's a set of three mono trios, which disqualifies games that use colour to differentiate piece behaviour or owner. As well, since there are only nine pieces, it limits even further what they can be used for.

It may be possible that there aren't any other similar games in existence yet. I've searched the wiki for the phrases "one nest" through "three nests", and "one trio" through "three trios". None of the results for these are playable with a PH set due either to requiring significantly more pyramids (the majority of results simply used those phrases in describing their rules), or use colour as a significant factor.

You can play a smaller 3x3 variant of Rotationary, a solitaire puzzle.

IceSickle should work with fewer pieces, just quicker and low scoring.

With a Treehouse die, you can play two-player Treehouse.

If you can get a stash tube, you can play Drip and Moon Shot.

If you wanted to mark up each nest to be distinct (via painted pips, decoration etc.) there are a number of one-nest-per-player games that become possible, such as Penguin Soccer, Zamboni Wars, and Ziggurat.

I have been thinking of a monochrome game which is vaguely derived fFrom Homeworlds.  Instead of using color to decide what you can do, you simply choose the action you want to take.  That or roll a die to decide what limits you have at the moment.  I did say I'm thinking about how it would work.  =)

So fFar, the game is sort of like pink hijinks without a board, which is not quite what I was hoping fFor.  I'm aiming fFor Homeworlds without color.  I'll keep you posted if I come up with anything interesting.

I like that idea! Here's something I came up with this evening riffing on that, but adding a color die. It seems moderately-playable, though not easy to end, at least playing two- and three-hand games against myself.

You might be able to get away with Tic Tac Doh with only three nests. Might end in a tie more often though.

I'm trying to organize a bigger demo of pyramids (something that'd justify asking for access to demo kits) and found myself describing what's in Pink Hijinks as a "short stash".  I propose the term be added to the wiki.  :)

The Game of year (2013, Czech)

All fans are welcome and asked to participate in the vote... 

What is your favourite game with pyramids of this year? And what like other players the most? And what like players in far far far Czech republic? We all will see as all fans are welcome and asked to participate and vote for The Game of 2013.

There are only two candidates this year, but the vote is not easy at all. You can choose or U.S. President (USP) or Geodeto. The contest ends on 19 of October.

More details at:


Sorry I forgot the most important: the link to vote - I hope you do not need any translations:

Three games with Pyramids on DriveThruCards

With the consent of Andy Looney I would like to draw your attention to my three games with pyramids.

For these three games you need cards besides pyramids. These cards can be obtained here from the Web DriveThruCards

For games Pyramideto and Geodeto you will need one set of pyramids (rainbow) and a white trio. To play U.S. President you will need three sets of pyramids.

Geodeto and U.S. President are designed for more experienced players.
Pyramideto is designed for families and younger children, so be careful.

I'll be glad if you try these games. And I am looking forward for any comments. Here or to mail mail

The link:

Best regards, Jan


To clarify: You're saying that U.S. President requires three rainbow stashes?

By the way, for everyone else reading here, Pyramideto was one of the finalists for the 2011 ICE Award for best game of 2010.  The ICE Awards are given out by the Looney Pyramid fan community.  Pyrinoes won that year.

Thanks for the heads-up, Jan.  And thanks for making them available this way.  I plan to get them at an appropriate time.

I confess I'm at a loss about the "be careful" warning. :)

As all players need their color, with rainbow stahes you can play in max. 5 players. No other limits. If you add white - you can play in six or three couples. 

BTW if you remove 6 white cards from Pyramideto, you can play also with only one rainbow set. 

Maybe because the game is geared to younger children? Have to watch that they don't get hurt with handling the pointy pyramids, I presume.

That's great, Jan!

I can easily endorse all 3 of these games as being great fFun.

If I ever get around to running the dang ICE Awards fFor 2012, U.S. President will probably be a strong contender.

Thanks fFor your words and fFs. :)

Yes. As LooneyLabs put it - pyramids are designed for older players than Pyramideto.

Android app. of Martian Chess in play store.

Hi all. I do not know if you know it but Martian Chess is in the play store. I downloaded it and it plays well. Under credits It says the game is based on Andrew Looney's classic board game Martian Chess.

The one thing I do not like is the lack of pyramids, It has other symbols instead. 

Personally I would like to see other pyramid games on andriod but only if it were ok with Looney Labs.This game has no pyramids how should it be rated.


I agree with you about having more pyramid games on Android. I'd love to see Volcano/Caldera on my Nook. I'd never get any work done then as I'd always be playing it.

Thanks Chris.

Also worth mentioning that it's FREE, after all, we all like free.

Simply go to the Play Store and search 'martian chess'

Rules questions on Martian Backgammon

1) Must my piece move through the Exit Portal on exact count only, as in Earth Backgammon?

2) If I have a piece awaiting Re-Entry, must I move that piece before any other?

3) How many of my pieces can I have waiting outside my Re-Entry Point at once?  Just one?  More than one?

EDIT: Official rules are here:


Hello!  You probably have arrived at an answer by now, since I'm slow in responding.  Nevertheless, I've reviewed the rules and here's what seems to be the case.  I may be wrong, but this stuff seems to be true:

1) No.  The rule under 'Rolling the Dice' states "You need not use all of your pips."  fFurther, the example photo shows Green is about to win, having rolled 4 and 5, although Green only needs 1 and 3.

2)That doesn't appear to be the case either.  There is no rule about re-entering before other movement.

3) Well, pieces must stack in trees while waiting in the hall.  Therefore, immediately outside the entry point, you could have no more than 3 pieces: a small, a medium, and a large.  However I think you are asking if pieces stack outside the entry point.  That is a pretty good question!  I think they do not.  The rules are very vague on this point, stating simply "If you leave a solitary piece unattended ... and your opponent lands on that piece, it gets moved to the Re-Entry Point," which suggests that every piece at the re-entry point stacks collectively on top of each other.

It seems to me your questions 2 and 3 are basically about the same thing.  How are pieces handled at the re-entry point?  The rules are very vague on this point, aren't they.

I think it would be most logical that a player must move pieces back inside the entry before doing anything else.  Your opponent may have bumped 1 or 2 of your pieces (of any size) on his last turn, therefore you could have no more than that outside the entry point.  Also, the pieces would probably stack in the order they were bumped, and that is the order they must be brought back in.

But that is only an interpretation.

Android app for LLabs dice?

What options exist for Looney dice apps on Android? 

I know there's an iOS option for Treehouse. but couldn't find a similar Android offering.  I would love an all-inclusive LooneyDice app that would cover Treehouse, IceDice, Black ICE, Petri Dish, and future "custom dice" pyramid games.

So.... what's out there, app-geeks?


Nothing that I'm aware of unfortunately. What I would love is an app that allowed me to play homeworlds with other starship captains. That one website is all well and good, but it's clunky and not mobile friendly. I'd love more pyramid game apps, of all varieties.

actually i cant seem to fFind the app fFor iOS, either.  There are a lot of dice rollers fFor iOS and Android alike.  I'm yet to fFind a good dice roller app fFor either system.

I hope bumping up an old topic like this is OK.  I've found a pretty good solution for this question, I think.  This app is free and works pretty nicely:

And I've gone ahead and made custom dice sets for a few pyramid games:  Press the import button in the app and point it to the zip files inside that zip.  Or you can unzip the images and make the dice manually in the app yourself if you'd prefer.

The games are Treehouse,Pink Hijinks, Martian Coasters, and Ice Dice.  I also made my own take on a theoretical "Xeno" version of Ice Dice for anyone who prefers those colors.

Any feedback on the dice sets/images is welcome.  If you'd like me to try making some dice/sets that are not in that pack, feel free to ask but it helps if you have existing reference images to work with!

Here's a preview of the dice faces, so you can see what they look like:

Pretty cool. Hopefully you can make Lightning dice and the new color dice when those are available.

Thank you very much! I didn't know this app and it's amazing

Yeah when I get my copy of Pyramid Arcade I'll look into what else I can add.

Alright I've started making the arcade dice.  This file is JUST the dice faces themselves, feel free to add them to the app as you'd like them.  If I get around to setting up the custom dice per game for the app I'll upload that later.  I made a bunch of variants too, mostly for the lightning die.  Let me know if you think this is missing anything.  I might attempt a second color die but I dunno.  Most of this is pulled straight from the PDF of the book that was sent out awhile back, a few things (the Spade and Diamond and some Atom adjustments mostly) are custom.

Oops, forgot to include a preview.  Lots of variants, enjoy.  Or make requests, if you need something.

I wish we had this for the iPhone!

New/Completed Game: Autumn Ash (with Ice Sheet ready for suggestions)

Presenting Autumn Ash (finally in its advanced/playtested form) a R+X+ game for two players.

Do you have and IceDice set and two Xeno booster sets? Then you have enough pieces to play this fun strategy game that employs lots of colors. It’s a game that works mostly as a complex strategy game but also feels a little like a race (albeit a race without randomness or luck). This is because, after any given piece  enters the board, it can only be moved four times (though it may end up returning to the board later). After you play it a few times, I'm sure that you'll find a number of interesting strategies and ways to thwart your opponent.

Download the attachment and give it a try! The few final changes have been made to the online copies. We’ve spent a lot of time playtesting this over the past 15 months, but I’m still interested in what others think. I’m also looking for suggestions for the Ice Sheet.

So many colors? There aren't a lot of games that use all ten standard colors, and the design was, in part, meant to address one of the problems associated with using so many different pieces. I tried to make a strategy game using all the colors but also a game that, once its mechanic was learned, wouldn’t require a lot of rereading or relearning. The key to getting the game run smoothly was to not make the colors represent different powers but instead different stages or moves on the board.

The rules are also available on our wiki.


Suggestion for Unsettled Autumn Ash (the advanced version of this game):  I have trouble describing this advanced version of the game, and, as it is a really great way to play AA, I've been thinking that there has to be a good way to visualize the shifting board and how pieces can be entered onto the playfield. One suggestion I have for first-time players is that they cut a template out the size of a 5X6 board (based on the dimensions of whatever board you are playing on). Use the negative space of your cut out to place over the actual game board, and use it to determine possible corner spaces for the given state of the board!

It's been a while since I've updated this. I've just uploaded the final version of the IceSheet, as the stacking rules were revised (largely simplified) a while back; this now conforms with the wiki version but add additional game aids and diagrams.

I've played this extensively with people who I've taught the game to (thanks again to my awesome playtesters), but I'm now turning to the community to help out and encouraging players to give it a go. I'm curious as to whether there is any portion that needs additional clarity, and I'm really interested in reading what people think of the mechanics and game play. Enjoy!

I'll be posting a video in a little bit that introduces the visual aid to aid for playing the "Unsettled" version of the game. It's probably not necessary, but it might give that variant greater exposure. I believe that version will become the default for experienced players.

I have not tried playing this (sorry) but I wanted to say the picture is beautiful - I have been playing a 10 color version of Caldara recently and it's so much fun having all the colors in play! 

Thanks Kristin! It is actually really cool to have a game that works well with all of the colors.  Ten-color Caldara game sounds awesome. :)

I'm glad that you like the picture; I'm going a little bit further to promote this game over some other games I've come up with. That's because it's a strategy game that I really enjoy :), and, let's face it, with over 400 games to choose from on the wiki, if you have something worth sharing, you have to do a little promotion.

Regular Group for

I visited for the first time in a while and when trying to look at the discussion pages was told I don't have rights for that. It instructed me to come here asn asked to be added to the 'regular' group. I didn't see a place for that and so am asking here. 


As the IceWiki Bureaucrat, I have added "Noles" to Regular status.  You should be able to access all pages now.

Hi Carlton!  You seem somewhat confused by the situation, and I can see why it might not be immediately clear.  See, the wiki used to be assaulted on an almost constant basis by spambots.  So we elected a new set of rules and rulers, and now, anyone who wants to edit or contribute, simply need ask fFor "regular" permissions.  Hopefully the process is quite painless.

No I understood fine I just thought there might be a sticky forum topic or something of that nature. Since I didn't find one, I hoped I was acting appropriately. Apparently I was. :{)} 

Thanx ever so much. You are a gentleman and a scholar. There aren't many of us left.

Clarification on How to Enter a Game in the IceAwards

How? Where? When? I've been working on a game with a customized board that I'd like to enter. When should I start watching for rules, etc.? It looks like something happened last December, where people were playing games and evaluating, but I've not been able to find any specfics on how to enter games, or deadlines, etc. Help!? Thanks.


The information on the IceAwards is here.

Feel free to submit your game on the wiki. It will then be considered during next year’s award cycle. I'm not sure when this year's evaluation will begin--probably in the next few months. 


Yeah, we *really* need to do this.

Bear in mind, the ice awards are usually fFor the previous calendar year.  When we start the awards, now, we will be looking at every game "published*" fFrom January 1st, 2012, through December 31st 2012.

* Published in this case means, most generally, put up on the wiki.

The reason fFor choosing to go a year back has to do with the idea that hopefully a game will be playtested, edited, and improved by the time we get to examining it.  If a game has proper ownership, then it should have improved noticeably beyond a simple rough draft.

Thanks very much for your response, but I can't figure out how to submit a game to the site. I just keep getting relinked back to the info page. I have a game ready to go ("Snail Invasion!) The rules and a customized game board are all ready to go as a PDF file, but how do I get it to show up on the wiki site? Thx. P.P.S. I just tried uploading the file, and I got an "Upload Warning." I followed the link above to get to this page, but I keep jumping back and forth between old salmon-colored pages and what looks like slightly-newer blue and gray pages. Is there any relationship between the salmon pages and the blue ones? Why are the formats different? Why is everything, as far as I can tell, accessibly only to Admins? Am I even on the right site? Am I supposed to be emailing files somewhere instead of trying to edit the wiki? (I've worked with SharePoint wikis, but I've never seen anything like the pseudo-code on this site. I'm guessing it's about three generations back?) Thanks for any help anyone can offer. I've been working on the game for about ten months, and really want to enter it for  2013.

Last note -- I tried looking for "Help" and find references to "Talk" pages, but I have no idea what a "talk" page is. Even the "instructions" say they're not really instructions for the Pyramids site... Ai yi yi. I gotta tell you, folks. This whole thing is starting to feel like one of those Masonic "worthiness" tests. Are only people who are willing to spend a couple weeks studying old programming language "worthy" of playing with pyramids? I have an AS in computer science, and have been maintaining and designing HTML and ColdFusion sites since they were invented, yet I can't make sense out of anything on the site. I suspect people who aren't in IT in any way but who still like playing with pyramids would give up in total frustration...

If you have never edited a wiki page, then I can certainly imagine your confusion. The Icehouse wiki uses the same software as Wikipedia, so if you have ever edited a Wikipedia page, that prior experience should help.

A "Talk" page is a page for discussion about an Article page in the site. (Typically about a specific game's page, e.g. playtesters giving feedback or someone asking about a rules ambiguity.)

If you have not already created a user account, you'll need to do that. The reason why everything is accessible only to Admins is because in the past there was a HUGE problem with asshole spammers constantly creating accounts and leaving spam all over the site. (See for when that happened.) So now new users need to explicitly request that the wiki admins give them editing rights. (You can probably do that here in this thread if you tell your user name.) (I am not an admin, but they read these forums.)

Once you have editing rights, you can edit existing articles and create new articles (such as an article with the title of your game's name!) You can look at an existing game's article (use Edit to see the wiki source code) to see the format of wiki markup syntax.

Hope that helps. Good luck!


If you want your game designs posted on the IceWikiiki, please do one of the following:

1) Post the rules to your game in a thread here at the fan club (under the Pyramid Games subforum (just like you did to start this thread).  One of our IceWiki experts will format the rules for you and handle of the confusing MediaWiki code.


2) Email the rules to me at deeplogic at excite dot com, and I'll take it from there.

Thanks for designing pyramid games!

Thanks bunches for your help. (It's been a migrainy work week already. I don't think I could handle another learning curve.) I've created a new thread -- "Entry for 2013 Ice Awards" and uploaded the rules & board. Watch where you step... 

Looking for some input on a new pyramid game: PARANOIA!

Hello everyone! Just thought if drop a request in here for input on my new pyramid game, "PARANOIA"! For those of you who don't know what PARANOIA is, read the next paragraph. If you are already familiar with it, feel free to skip down to the third paragraph. The world of PARANOIA is best described as a dystopian society contained in an underground complex about the size of Northern California that is run by a seriously deranged and Paranoid artificially intelligent computer. The computer's intact records of history consist heavily of 1950's war propaganda, so it is understandably concerned about the "communist threat". The Computer routinely employs teams of "Troubleshooters" to go root out the commies, mutants and Traitors that its paranoia insists must exist within its complex. The Truth is that EVERYONE in Alpha Complex is a commie mutant traitor to one degree or another. In true paranoia form, players will attempt to carry out a mission given by The Computer while attempting to deceive, betray, accuse, and summarily execute as many of the other players as possible. Paranoia the Role Playing Game has been around for many years and is a super fun game to play when you want a break from all the other "not-fun", serious RPG's. But I found myself In a dilemma where I don't really have anyone around that plays RPGs, don't have the hours to devote to a decent gaming session, but I wanted to play Paranoia. So, I was sitting around one day, bored and playing with pyramids, when I started daydreaming about past Paranoia gaming sessions and a Paranoia story I've been writing. When I noticed that I had absentmindedly built a little tower of large pyramids in the ROY-G-BIV scheme, it struck me that the pyramids might be great for a making a board game version of the game. The idea was to create a game themed after the paranoia universe that was simpler than the RPG, took less time to play, but still gave you that lovely PARANOIA feel. I think I have been able to accomplish this. Anyway, I'd love to hear what y'all think of it. Check out the (mostly completed) game rules at Thanks everyone!



My very-fast two cents -- I'd go with a theme that is totally removed from any historical reality. I'd give this game a pass because it seems to imply, yet again, that Left Wing equals good and Right Wing equals bad, and I lost my patience with that BS a couple decades ago. In this particular instance, the Communist Threat was very real, and many of the people Hollywierd's continually presenting as innocent absolutely were not. (Start here in your research of opinions not approved of by the celebrity marketing machine:

Short version: do you really want to go there?

Short answer: yes. Following is why. #1. It's not really MY idea to start with. The Paranoia game has actually been around for over twenty years and it was pretty well received by the gaming community at large. #2. It really doesn't have anything at all to do with politics. But I can definitely see where you might think this eapecially if youre not familiar with the game... In Alpha Complex The Computer is basically a ruthless, (but well meaning) tyrant that has very little idea of what Communism ACTUALLY is. And since Friend Computer doesn't really know what it is, neither does anyone else living in the Complex. It's the irony that makes it funny. The Computer would agree with you Citizen! The Communist Threat is very real. It just thinks that communists run around in furry hats, speaking in Russian accents while saying things that are (in the computer's opinion) subversive. (Oh by the way, speaking about Democracy or leaving the complex is subversive! Sounds a little like the iron curtain, Da?). #3. It's a game that is meant to be silly and fun. Not serious at all. Check out the following link for a better idea of What Paranoia is truly like. Having said all that, I'm not adverse to the idea of a new backdrop, I just really liked the PARANOIA setting. So, maybe just look at the game's mechanics and let me know what you think about just them.

Yes, my limited experience with Paranoia (the RPG) back in the day (read the rules, played an online campaign) was that it was a quite silly and quite non-politically specific parody of the paranoia of living in a totalitarian society, but the totalitarian society's actual political structure ("left" or "right", as if politics is a simplistic 1-dimensional spectrum to begin with... but that's a tangent) was quite undefined and unimportant... and could be left to the imagination of the players as desired. Which if viewed through a specific lens can apparently invite projection of one's own political hot button issues: the rules to your Paranoia pyramid game prompting Kell to a vigorous defense of Joseph McCarthy's activities and insistence on the real dangers of the Communist Threat was... rather surprising to me. :)



The game rules you linked to are rather verbose with flavor text, a turn off for me, and the game doesn't appear to be my sort of "pyramid game" (what with the diplomacy/role-playing and need for creating custom cards, etc - it seems more of a boardgame version of Paranoia which just incidentally happens to use pyramids). I'm more into the abstract strategy type pyramid games mostly, so I am probably not in the target audience, alas! Good luck with it, in any case!

Yeah, I know that this game is not really a "full" pyramid game. Honestly, I could have done the whole thing with cards only, but the pyramids seemed more fun and easier since they come in colors and have opaque pieces. I felt that it would be a fun tribute to Mongoose and Looney Labs (which sounds suspiciously like an Alpha Complex Service Firm, LOL.) I thought people might like the way that it encourages story-like thinking, diplomacy, team-work (sort of) and ridiculous back stabbing! It won't be everyone's cup of tea, that's for sure. I just thought SOMEONE might appreciate it. I'll let you all know how the first few test games go..

Giant Pyramids at Origins

I have an Origins badge and Board Room ribbon, and I have giant pyramids.  I would like to find a way to bring those things together.  I don't have anything on the schedule, but if you're interested in doing something giant-pyramidy, especially Zendo, let me know.  I'm planning to do things in the Board Room, since that's where I'll be anyway and I've already talked to people at CABS and GAMA about that location.

Please respond to this thread or at one of the following links at BoardGameGeek.

Giant Zendo:
Other Giant Pyramids games:
(They are entries on the same GeekList, so you probably only need to follow one of them.)


I won't be bringing my Giant set, but I will merrily hang out with you and play things!  I could bring my Brobdingnagian chessboard bandanna (which is a king size bed sheet with a grid on it).

I've been meaning to make a volcano board too, actually, so this might be the motivation to do that.  Normally when I play volcano at conventions, i use a ton of duct tape to mark out an area n the fFloor.  But a nice bed sheet really is better fFor quick setup and tear-down.

That is, unless you have appropriately sized grids to use, yourself?

I don't have enough pyramids for Giant Volcano, but something like Freeze Tag or Pharoah could be done on a Giant Volcano board.  My Giant pyramids consist of four monochrome stashes.  I have Giant Zendo stones and I have a Giant Gnostica deck, but that's the extent of my Giant supplies.  When I need dice, I have some Big dice that aren't Giant, but they work.

I hope you guys managed to get some giant games going - we missed seeing everyone at Origins! 

It never seemed to be the right time to bring out the giant pyramids.  The closest we came was on Wednesday when the convention center was closed for a while because of a fire in the basement.  While waiting for the all-clear, a few friends and I grabbed a bit of floor in the walkway from the Hyatt and played Zendo.  We used regular sized pyramids, but it was on the floor.

Thanks for sending Fluxx: The Board Game.  I played it a couple of times at Origins, and I've managed to play it a couple of times since.  People are interested in trying it even if they don't like Fluxx.  I can only imagine the number of times I would've played it if Looney Labs had been at Origins.

So, no giant pyramids at Origins, as far as I know, but we're on the schedule for Buckeye Game Fest in September.

The Barney Pyramids

Does anyone have contact info for the Barney family that made the giant fuzzy pyramids that showed up at The Big Experiment at Origins many years back?  I would love to show them this picture!


What's the pip value of that tent?

Good Question - it's 25 feet tall  :) 

According to my math, its pip-value is 1575. :)

if that's true... it's going to take a lot of queens to ice that puppy over. According to my calculations, we'll need about 525 Queens to successfully ice that over.

Or just leave it outside in January.  That outta "ice" it over real good.

Designing a new(?) Icehouse variation! Need some input.

Hello everyone! For my very first post on these forums, I'd like to share my first attempt at creating a game for Looney Pyramids. Tonight's just full of firsts, apparently. ((Jump past the first line for the nitty gritty work-in-progress rules, and past the second for a tl;dr.))

I've been whiling away at my local Starbucks all day, working on the mechanics for the game with my friend/test subject, recording ideas on napkins and scraps of paper. When I got home and started typing everything into coherent phrases, something hit me: Something like this has probably been done before. 

I've only been playing with these pyramids for about seven years, but they've been around for a lot longer than that. I've only played a few games, maybe six in all, not including variations. On top of that, the "kernel" of my game is actually the original game that the pieces were invented for. How could I possibly think of a variation of the game that no one else had ever thought of? It can't be possible. But, by George, I had to be sure. So I set out on an epic adventure, exploring the labyrinthine archives Icehousegames of the dot com and the dot org. I stared down the notorious Googantuan. I consulted the Geeks of the Board Games. I mentally hacked away at paragraph after paragraph of descriptive text. Somewhere halfway into the list of games starting with "A", I had a brilliant idea: I bet the forums could tell me if a similar game existed.

And here I am, asking (no, pleading) for help.




The game I started to hash out had very similar basic rules to Icehouse. There are attacking pieces and defending pieces. Defending pieces have health equivalent to their number of pips, and attacking pieces have an attack stat equivalent to their pips. That hasn't changed.

The play area for my variation is split into quadrants. This comes in to play in a bit.

My variation is turn based. It works kind of like Warhammer (or so I assume, as I've never actually played Warhammer): You roll dice that tell you which pieces you may deploy (and possibly in what mode, attack or defense) and to where they may be deployed (hence the quadrants).

While I haven't worked out all the dice mechanics, I do want there to be a dice pool and a dice "lock" area. You can lock a die and save it for another turn, and you may only roll the dice you have not locked (i.e. your dice pool) on any of your turns. You'll also have a chance to use some of these dice during your opponents turns (maybe, I haven't fully sold myself on that one yet).

There are other mechanics I am toying around with (like modifier dice, and/or a card-based item system similar to Munckin), but the key ones are being dice-based and turn-based, two things that I think change the very nature of the original game completely.




Too long; didn't read:

I'm developing a variation of the original Icehouse game which involves dice and turns. I am curious if there are any games that are similar. If there are similar games I would love to take a look at them for inspiration and for fun.

It's going to be a pretty complex game. I've always been a fan of really complex games, and this is my first real effort at designing one. Any and all input, comments, criticism, and praise is completely welcome.

I'm currently typing up a Google Doc with a first draft of the rules, which I'll link here when I get closer to finishing the barebones. I'm also going to keep trying to find similar games, mostly so I can make sure I'm not blatantly reproducing anything.


I've been playing with Pyramids for only about the same amount of time you have. For what it's worth, I've not seen anything like what you've described, although perhaps Martian Coasters has a similar "quadrant" element? Might be worth looking at, anyway. Also, you might check out Munchkin Quest (not regular Munchkin), which has some ability tracking that may be similar.

Given that you say "It's going to be a pretty complex game. I've always been a fan of really complex games", I'm guessing there are not similar existing games, since in my experience, pyramid games tend to aim toward the more simple/elegant/abstract/minimalist end of the spectrum (arguably as part of their spirit, though some games push that a bit, e.g. Gnostica is a bit more complex than the average pyramid game, but Gnostica's complexity is nothing like Warhammer's).

I can think of several complex pyramid games. Some are arguably too daunting for casual players, but there are also several well-written games that also have a lot going on in them. I suppose it depends how one interprets “complex” or “Warhammer like.” What you describe, on the surface, doesn’t sound too complex for pyramid pieces, but I’d like to hear more. If a lot of charts are required to look up dozens of distinct powers, then it may be something that doesn’t appeal to the typical pyramid player. Of course, the more you playtest what you have, the more likely your final rule set will be a success.

To your question, there are at least two or three games that I can think of that use a turn-based adaptation or revisioning of Icehouse. One of those is a game that was never finished. I can look them up when I return home and provide the links. What you describe seem distinct from those.

I did a little digging into Warhammer, and I realized that wasn't a very good example. The closest thing to Warhammer would be my modifier dice, which you could roll to give your attacking or defending pieces more power, or to extend the range of your attacking pieces. The item cards would do the same thing, so I'd probably pick either the modifier dice or the cards.

I'll go a bit more in depth about the dice mechanics. Since the game is designed more for me to play with some of my more "hardcore" gamer friends, it uses a couple non-standard dice (a D-4 and possibly a D-10, to be specific) as well as a few custom D-6's (these would be the modifier dice and could easily be substituted for with regular D-6's. If I go with the card system, these wouldn't be needed.) and a few of the "pyramid size selecting" Icedice. At the beginning of your turn, you roll the D-4 to decide which quadrant you'll be campaigning in for the turn. Then you roll one pyramid selector three-five times (haven't decided yet, and there might be a way to roll for more per turn later on), showing you which pyramids you can play this turn.

You can choose to place all your pieces during your turn, or you can "lock" the dice that you want to try to play either during your next turn or during the end of your opponents turns. During the ends of your opponents turns, any player may stop the turn and roll the D-4 to see if he can place his pieces in the quadrant that that player just played in. If more than one person wishes to do so, they proceed in normal turn order. Then play continues to the person whose turn it would have been.

@Russ: I think the reason I think it's so complicated is that I'm the one writing out the rules, and having to think about how the rules might interact is making the game seem more complicated than it actually is. I should mention that my playtester, who is in no way a hardcore gamer, has been able to follow the rules pretty well, though we've really only been playing it with turns and pyramid selectors. I haven't tried any of the fancy-schmancy modifiers yet. I just think that they sound like a good/fun idea.

@ Kell: I actually did get the inspiration for the quadrant system from Martian Coasters. :D I haven't played it, but when I started pondering my game, I decided that I needed to make my play area smaller, and originally thought I could somehow adapt the coasters to my idea. I didn't end up doing so, but the quadrant idea stuck.

@Greg: I am very intrigued to hear about those games,especially the unfinished one. In my experience of games in general, the games that are dropped are usually ridiculously complicated, and are abandoned because the creators couldn't get all the features they wanted to fit together into a coherent game. I can think of a few video games that never saw the light of day because of technology restraints and creative overload. I don't want to get caught in that trap.

Actually, this incomplete one may be the least interesting of the two:

I can't think of the other one, though it was more interesting... perhaps I'll run into it again soon and post the link.

I look forward to seeing how your game turns out.

Hey guys! Just a little update. After a lot of playtesting and a whole lot of input from non-gamer friends and family, I've decided to go with a card-based modification system. Essentially, each turn you get to draw a card. That card modifies your icehouse pieces in some way. I haven't yet figured out exactly how they will be applicable to the pieces, but the basic modifiers are as follows:

  • Range: Extends the range of an icehouse piece. All ranges are in icehouse standard; i.e. ranges are the height of a 1, 2, or 3 pip icehouse piece. Range modifiers can be either additive or multiplicative.
  • Power: Empowers icehouse pieces to do more than their value in pips in either attack or defense. I'm waffling between two systems:
  1. a system that will simply add pips on to existing pieces, empowering either attack or defense depending on what state that piece is in
  2. a system that assigns specifically an attack or defense modifier, only working on pieces that are in the state that the card represents
  • State-swapping: simply changes the state of a piece. Can change pieces from attacking to defending or vice versa

The reason for the cards is two-fold; It is much easier for "non-hardcore" gamers to follow directions that are placed immediately in front of them, via a card which is placed on the board underneath the piece that it affects. Also, this mechanic adds a level of strategy that more "hardcore" gamers will enjoy. It does not necessarily give any advantage to wither hardcore or non-hardcore gamers, as most hardcore gamers have an ingrained understanding and near-eidetic memory of dice rolls, while non-hardcore gamers will have to keep checking a rule book at every time a die is rolled.

I have also considered swapping to a six-sectored board, so that more people will be able to play the game. It will likely make games longer, and I'm tying to think of a better way to implement a placement system that involves more "normal" dice. One such idea is to have players roll four d-6's, and making the values equal to quadrants. The problem I have with this is that I would have to stagger the values of the dice-rolls to make each quadrant have an equal chance of being chosen, as there are always more chances of the median numbers being rolled than the outliers. This is a huge problem for me, as 1. I don't feel like working out the math to make this work and 2. it makes the game much more complicated.

One idea I had to counter this was to simply limit the "sectors" to 2; flip a coin, and that decides which sector you can play in. That, or I could get rid of sectors entirely and everyone could play on one contiguous board, but I feel that would make the game far too simple (and far too similar to Icehouse to be a true offshoot, as opposed to a branch), even with the dice and card mechanics.

I am still working on how I want the dice to work, but I think I'm pretty close to a complete idea with them. They will be the hardest step into playing the game, meaning most gamers would need to either make their own dice or assign specific die values to the numerical values on standard d-6's. The only reason I think this will work is because of the ease of which I made my own set of icedice and treehouse die, being too poor to buy a real set.

In the near future, I hope to release a tentative rules page along with a template for the custom dice (and one for the icedie that I am using, in case anyone needs it). As before, I would love to hear any input any of you have.

I just had kind of a brainstorm, and here are the big points I made to myself:

  • What if I had two versions of the game; a hardcore and a softcore version?
  • Softcore uses the card system and doesn't include dynamic obstacles.
  • Hardcore uses a modifier dice system and includes dynamic obstacles. Essentially, the hardcore version would be a simpler version of several Warhammer variants (I've been doing a lot of research into Warhammer)

Now, needless to say, I'll be finishing the "softcore" version first. I want something new to share with my friends and family whom I have recently gotten hooked on Looney Pyramid games. That said, I would love to challenge some of my more hardcore gamer friends with a fun and complex game hat they have never played but may understand from other games they have played.

From now on, this thread will be solely focused on the softcore version of the game. After it is done, I will start a new thread which will be the development of the "hardcore" version of the game, building on what we have talked about here.

I think the "softcore" version fits very well into the classic, "intuitive" paradigm that most Looney Pyramid and, indeed, Looney Labs' games fall into. Even with the extra mechanics, I think it's fairly eay to larn, and the cards can esily be downloaded from a public folder on Dropbox to be printed. I am debating on simply making 52 different cards and assigning the 52 cards in a standard playing card deck to a card. That would cut down on the supplies needed significantly, though might make it harder for "softcore" gamers to understand.

~~~ALSO::: I tried using the basic dice mechanics with the card mechanics, only using cards from the original Munchkin set. It worked surprisingly well. I am strongly considering using the Munchkin system to run my card-based system in the game. I might have to contact Steve Jackson Games about this, and I'm wondering if any of you guys think it is worth pursuing. I am all for making my own set of cards, but if I can save time and energy by somehow including Munchkin in all of my mechanics, I wouldn't mind making the plea to Steve Jackson for the rights to include their info in my rules. That's obviously a very complicated route, but I feel that it might help a lot of gamers who love both Steve Jackson and Looney Labs to get their conscripted family-teams to try my game. Advice and opinions on this are highly recommended.

Would it help to think in terms of the basic game, and then an "expansion?"

That's actually a good idea. I should do that.

Looney Pyramids Classic Game Review Initiative

While we are in between community-award contests, I think it might be fun to open up an ongoing thread where we can post game reviews. The goal is to help preserve games and identify forgotten classics.  The challenge is to find, play, and review games that were designed before the original community design contests (in other words, any game pre 2004). 


Any game that was designed between the invention of the pyramids and January 2004 qualifies, to the exclusion of those few that are already considered popular classics (those on the SSCL) or which are "published" games. If a game was made before 2004 and was subsequently entered into the first IGDC (which was open to older games), it is still eligible for the Game Review initiative.


When you have a short review of a forgotten classic, please post it here. With so many new games being designed each year, there are bound to be several games that would otherwise go largely unplayed.

List of Eligible Games for Review:




Battle Zone

Bottoms Up




  1. Review I



Crystal Formation

Dragon's Hoard











Great Martian Ice Machine

Ice Age

Ice Dao

Ice Fishing

Ice Market

Ice Merchants

Ice Solo

Ice Storm

Ice Tiddly Winks




Imperial Shuffle

Interstellar Conquest

Invaders of Mars 

  1. Review I




Lonely Ice

Magic Mids


Martian Assassination Game

Martian Bowling

Martian Frisby

Martian Gathering

Martian Go

Martian Greenhouse

Martian Life

Martian Mids

Martian Poker

Martian Quilting

Martian Race

Martian Shogi

Martian Tic-Tac-Toe

Martian Treasure Hunt


Mind Control


Nightmare Pachisi


Nonub Ish






Pyramid Scheme

Pythagoras [Still looking for a link, but it looks like this one is gone too]




Snowman Meltdown

Solace I

Solace II

Stack Chess







Games that should probably be removed:

Martian Backgammon and Thin Ice were published in Playing With Pyramids.

CrackeD Ice, DNA, and Martian Mud Wrestling were published in various issues of Hypothermia.

IceTraders is listed on as published, although I'm not sure where.  It was later developed into Homeworlds, which has been published several times.

It would make Andy very sad if you left Spicklehead on the list.

Thanks for checking that. I thought that I had taken all of the Hypothermia games out, but some of them snuck back in. If someone thinks a game should be included that I missed, I'll be happy to check into that too.

We had been thinking of ways to recognize great community games from before 2004, and this seems a simple way to do so. I'm sure that many players have played at least one two of these already, and I'm curious as to which games people would recommend to be played or to be wary of.

I've added the list to the above, so I can edit it easier.

If you're looking for rules to a particular game, I recommend that people look on the icehousegames wiki first, as the most recent rules and links should be there. A few games might be only available from SLICK.

I have not included games that were considered to be in a largely unfinished. A few of these may be found to actually be complete if examined further, as Martian Mids was found to be. However, these should be taken on a case by case basis, so I think it's best not to include them all here at this time. 

Invaders of Mars: This is a game of doing yourself the least amount of harm. The strategy is to pick your poison smartly and to force your opponent into doing more damage to themselves than they would like. It's one of those games that gets more strategic as the rounds progress. To mend the rules, players should, as Brilk suggested, have a queen seek out the drones when possible, instead of landing on players pieces when no babies are left. In some ways, this is a predecessor of Gleebs and Grues (similar in its theme, scale, and the fact that players are not only competing against themselves but also a malevolent force), which is a really good game in its own right.


Verdict: Is this a classic? When played with the amended rules, this game is a lot of fun. The game has stronger narrative/theme than many of the games of its time period. Its mechanic is simple and effective. Invaders of Mars doesn't have as much strategic depth as some classics, but it doesn't need to. I'd call this a casual classic, with average to good replay appeal. For its fun and originality, I'd rate it around 7 out of 10 aliens.

I've fixed the list above to include links to all the games that qualify. The restrictions placed on what qualifies were perhaps kind of strict, but the goal is to concentrate on games that meet certain criteria that often means they are overlooked with so many other games out there.


This game is inspired by its namesake, developed over one hundred years ago and its redesign called Camelot. The pyramid variant has the appeal of a largely blank board at the start, and thus the game can go in many disparate directions right from the beginning. I played this game a lot when I first got my pyramid pieces, and I took it up again for this review. In the context of all the games I’ve played since, I suppose that I’d have to more judicial in how I grade it. It feels a little like checkers, but much more deliberate and strategic. It’s also a game where one misstep can, and usually does, end it.

I’ve read a few comments on this game that indicate that players may not have been using their playing options to the fullest. This is understandable as there is little direction in the rules and some of the ways of winning this game go counter to how we typically play games. Remember the following and you should have a good game of it. 1. Pawns can move in any direction diagonally, and queens can jump backwards and forwards on the board. 2. If you have a jump, you MUST take it. Jumps can suddenly appear after the other player takes their turn, so both players need to be aware of the changing board. 3. Remember that you only need two queens to win, so sacrificing a queen to help another queen out is sometimes wise.

Underappreciated? Yes it is. Is it a classic? Perhaps not, but I still recommend it. Despite liking it as much as I do, it does borrow much from it’s predecessor; add to that it doesn’t have a high pyramicity rating either. However, it is, despite it’s terse rules, well designed, and offers a good replay value. With so many good pyramid games, it’s not a game I’d say was “required” playing, but it’s one to try for fans of strategy games. 7/10

Are reviews still welcomed?

Indeed, the imitative is ongoing. There are a lot of games here that have never been evaluated, at least not in any formal way. Please feel free to add any opinions you have on the games listed.

Availability questions

Afternoon all,

I was just wondering if there was any progress on making Pyramids available in the UK / EU? I'm hoping to buy some more in the near future, and was wondering if there was any better way than getting them shipped over from America - including shipping and customs charges, it works out at nearly $20 a stash...

Also are there any plans to sell pink pyramids by the stash, or do I have to buy two copies of Pink Hijinks and throw away three pyramids?


Vegas, Baby!

Wish I could have made it to Vegas this week!  Understand Some of the Loonatics were there, and met the owner of "My" store, (adopted) Dirigo Hobbies, Nick Jutzi!  Ready to set up Starship Captain training when he gets back, and Have plans to demo on Tabletop day!  Yay!

How much "later" does my homeworld need yellow?

I'm trying to figure out something about Andy's "Standard Opening Move", as reported on the I Love Homeworlds page.

He usually starts "with a Large Green ship and a Blue/Red star system", and mentions "Yellow isn't needed until later..."

Since you need yellow to move out of your homeworld, isn't yellow needed in the next turn or two? There's only so much building and trading you can do at homeworld. Or is that the strategic point I'm missing? I should build/trade up to 3 of each color before I start Discovering?

If mega-stockpiling is not the strategy, then it feels like I've wasted a turn, since I'll need to trade into yellow sooner than "later". Can you tell I'm relatively new at Homeworlds?

Thanks for any ideas you have.


"Later" does not imply "many turns later". It can also mean just a few turns (e.g. 3) later. It's not uncommon to build & change colors for the first few turns before moving.

About "wasting a turn" - I think it's simply a matter of tradeoffs. You'll probably want ships of all colors sooner or later, so if you start with a yellow ship instead of some other color, then you could similarly consider yourself to be "wasting a turn" to get that other color later. And evidently Andy thinks a blue/red star is good for other reasons, so you couldn't start with a yellow ship, given a blue/red star, or you couldn't build anyway.

I'd say if you really want to play andy's opening, you should keep building green until doing so would let someone else get an early two-pointer. Then switch to yellow and start moving out. You'll need plenty of green ships hanging around if you want to pull off a Banker or Factory build, and I know those are two of Andy's favorite tricks.

"Later" in this case is usually about 2 turns later. I always build a small as my second move (who doesn't?) and usually my third move is to trade that small green for a small yellow.

Pyramid Expert Needed- San Diego Comic Con 2013

Looking for a Starship captain or someone who is willing to run pyramid demos and host games to come to the international San Diego comic convention and run cadet training and other various pyramid, and other Looney lab games. Convention is Wednesday July 17, 2013-Sunday July 21, 2013. Located in San Diego CA.


Must be able to provide yourself with transportation, and lodging arrangements. 

I will provide badge.

If you are interested, send me a message, telling me why and a little bit about yourself.


Boy would I love to go.  Someday, perhaps!!!

The IceAwards for 2012, play through of the games from 2011 FINAL VOTING ROUND

The following games have made it to the final round of the ICE Awards.  What games will end up on top, a game of dueling elderly wizards fight for neighborly supremacy? Pyro Martian clubbers competing to exit a conflagration? alien monsters fighting to the death in a Gleeb arena? or pyramid factions racing to be the first to traverse a treacherous “volcano board”?



A• Evacuate   (Designed by Gregory Lattanzio)

B• Freeze Tag   (Designed by Jeanne Rink Kramer-Smyth)

C. Gleebs and Grues   (Designed by Robert Dudley)

D. Ziggurat Demolition Throwdown   (Designed by P.D. Magnus)


It is now up to us to determine a winner and a runner up!


      1. To vote, you need to request the poll link from me. Feel free to do so through a "friend request". This personalized link is all that is required to vote (no login or password is required), and can only be used once. Alternatively, you can email your ranged votes to me, and I will add them into the tally.

You can email me through this forum or through my email: glattanzio(at)

     2. Rate each game on a scale between F and A+ (with A+ being, of course, the best).

Guideline: From F to A+, you might evaluate the games in relation to this guideline.

F In your evaluation, the game is awful. What was the designer thinking?

C Is midrange, for an acceptable and at least somewhat entertaining or interesting experience. There were a few things that you liked about the game, but you may not play it again in the near future.

A+ An exceptional game that you really enjoyed. This is a game that captured your imagination and that you can’t wait to play again.

All votes need to be in by 1pm EST on 3/10/13.

Voting is done via an online survey program that allows for a lot of flexibility in ranged voting. This way you’re not voting simply yes or no to a particular game, you’re grading the game itself based on your reaction to it. It also keeps a lot of good data on the votes.

Here are things to consider in the final round:

Originality: With 400+ games on our wiki, it’s amazing (and a testament to genius of the pyramids design) that there is still such diversity in what designers come up with. That said, how original a game is, and how interesting its concept is, probably has some affect on how we view it. Some games may simply update existing games (published or otherwise), and some may seem familiar but do something very new with these familiar mechanics.

Replaybility and Strategic Depth: Does a given game make you want to play it again? And then, having played it again, do you still need to play it… just one more time! The depth of a game comes in here as well. A game that offers a number of options for strategic play may end up being returned to more often, as there will be quite a number of things you may wish to try out.

Fun Factor: This is hard to measure but… were the game mechanics and the general game experience fun? Were you able to get beyond the frustration of learning something new and really get into the pleasure of playing?

Pyramidicity: Some games make more use of the attributes of pyramid pieces than others. The use the color, shape, size, opacitity, and pips on a piece may come into play in some games. Some games may utilize the ability of a pyramid to point in a certain direction, be stacked, hide information, and some games even use gravity (and the tendency for awkwardly placed pyramids to topple). Pyramidicity helps one to decide if a game is a pyramid game foundationally or simply a game that uses pyramids as pieces. That said, nobody says a game should use all of the characteristics of the pyramids or that a game that has the highest pyramidicity rating is the necessarily the best.


And so the round begins! Please note, for the next two days I'll be presenting a paper at a literary conference. If you request your voting link before then, there will be a delay in my response. Thanks for understanding.

I’m back and town now and will continue to provide the voting links for players, when they are ready to vote on the final list of games.


Of note, we welcome more pics of game play, questions concerning play, etc.


I regret that I didn’t get a pic of Ziggurat Demolition Throwdown up in time for the prior round. The only pic I had was a phone pic someone took during a 4-player game played during GAGG. Unfortunately, the shot didn’t really provide for a distinct representation of the gameplay.


For that game, you should check out the work that P.D. M. has done on the decktet. They’re worth printing or purchasing, as there are several interesting games that you can play with them.


The Decktet

Print and Play Version

Hey Greg - how do I request a link to vote?  I've been playing the new games... and want to make sure I vote before the deadline! 

Thanks Kristin.

The links can be gotten by emailing me on this forum. For most people, that means that you have to add me as a friend, but, in your case, I was able to just send the link to you.

Alternatively, people can email me at my personal email (see above).

Calling all pyramid players! There’s just a few days left in the ICE Award contest, and voting has slowed down a little these past few days. This is a reminder that everyone in this community is eligible to vote. Even if you’ve only played one of the games listed, feel free to log in and rank it (though the more games you can vote on the better the final total will be). Thanks!

The contest has officially ended!

The winner, and final standings, determined by round robin voting, are as follows:

1. WINNER: Freeze Tag  (with the most first-place positions on voters ballots)

2. Runner up: Evacuate

3. Gleebs and Grues  

4. Ziggurat Demolition Throwdown 

Congratulations to Jeanne Rink Kramer-Smyth!!  And congratulations to everyone who participated!!  There has been no shortage of great games to play!!!

Jeanne Rink Kramer-Smyth

Thanks so much!!

Thanks for all your work on the 2011 IceAwards, Greg. I don't feel like I pulled my weight to the extent that I might have, but I'm glad to see the process bear fruit.

Zendo elevator speech

So I'm trying to run a Zendo event at my school's board game minicon (it's called Rudicon if you're interested). The event submission is supposed to have a short catchy description of the event, and I know from experience I should have someone proofread mine in case I do a bad job selling it. Here's what I've got so far.

"Zendo is a cooperative puzzle game in which players use logic to discover a hidden rule, which changes every game. It has elements of Mastermind and uses Looney Labs' trademark Icehouse Pyramids as the game pieces."


Hey!!  I didn't know you are in Rochester, Nick!!  Cool!  If you'd like, I can probably bring my giant pyramids, and maybe run some other stuff.  Giant Zendo is awesome.  I actually need to make some guessing stones in giant fFormat (beans bags are preferred, but take some time and energy to assemble. Maybe something with colored fFoam or something)

Anyway, your description looks good.  You could get into the dynamics of having a Master and Guessing Stones.  But what you have is sufficient.

What time are you planning on running your game?  I have a thing on Saturday night and I work fFriday night, but I would totally show up to play on Saturday afternoon.

Sounds great Nicholas. If I remember correctly, this con isn't for several months?

I'm not sure the word "cooperative" belongs in a Zendo description. Ordinarily, Zendo is a competitive game, with opportunities to take advantage of the efforts of other players.


Since Mastermind is deductive and Zendo is inductive, that comparison may not be warranted. Also, I don't think Mastermind has the currency it once did, so it may not have much explanatory value.


Here's my quick go at an elevator pitch: "Zendo is a game of inductive reasoning where players try to discover a secret rule by making experimental attempts to fulfill or break it. It's customarily played with Looney Pyramids, a beautiful system of game pieces that are also used for many other inventive games."

Woah, that's a pretty good one, Matt. Can I use it? And yeah, I forget that not everyone grew up on Mastermind. I've gotten more blank stares than I expected using that comparison.

Oh, and Greg, it's a lot sooner than that. March 8 I think.

Of course you can use that. It strikes me as a little too lofty in its diction; it could probably be tamed into greater vernacularity.

As a game store owner, this is the pitch I've found most useful to introduce Zendo:

"Zendo is the Looney Labs Pyramid Game and Logic Puzzle where you get to construct cool buildings (called Koans) while attempting to guess the "secret construction rule" set by the "Zendo Master" for each individual round.


On the day of the event (as people are looking at your game table) you can say, "Zendo - Build the Koan; Guess the Rule; Become the Master!" -- I've used this phrase to good effect at local conventions.


The first one taunts logic puzzle fanatics, conveys the basic theme, and is on an easily comprehendable vocabulary level. (not that elevated diction is bad, but you do want to make it appeal to as many people as possible.<grin>)

The second (spoken only) one takes less than 15 seconds to catch attention and draw someone in to watch or hear more about the game you are running.

Thanks for your suggestions. I ended up going with the following, building largely on your sales pitch:

"Zendo is a multiplayer logic puzzle where players build structures ("Koans") out of colorful pieces ("Icehouse Pyramids") to try to determine what type of constructions match the secret rule set by the Zendo Master of each round.

Any number can play, length of game varies with difficulty of puzzle (pre-written beginner puzzles will be provided), feel free to jump in mid-puzzle."

Oh, and for anyone looking to attend the event, I'm asking for it to run late evening of saturday, the 9th.

Is this in March? I'll do my best to make it.

Yup. Next weekend at RIT. Pretty sure entrance fee is 5$, I assume they make most of the profit off tournaments though.

Cool. I'll be there. Do you have a set time? I didn't see it in the event calendar when I last looked. 

Check again, should be up by now. Saturday at 8PM. I also intend to enter the Dominion tournament while I'm there.

Ah, I'll be out with a girlfriend for a prior engagement, but, if it goes on for an hour or two, we'll be able to jump in mid session. 

It was good to have made it to the event, which we did finally get set up and going. It was nice to have met you Nick. Thanks for bringing the event to Rudicon.

Playing With Pyramids??

In the online store I saw mention of a book called Playing With Pyramids. I did not see it listed anywhere in the online store.


Does it have rules for games in it?


Are they the exact same games as in Pyramid Primer #1(which I already have)?


Is it available anywhere?











The book contains rules to the following 12 games:

It also has some historical anecdotes, strategy notes, etc.

It is technically out of print, but you can get it at different places online that still have copies. It's quite useful and includes many games not included in the pyramid primer... for now.

The IceAwards for 2012, play through of the games from 2011 OPEN VOTING ROUND

COME JOIN US for the first round of voting for the ICE Awards of 2012 (the play through of the games from 2011). Voting starts 1/25 and ends on 2/17 (1pm EST).

What is this? "The ICE Award is a fan-organized award given annually to recognize quality fan-produced games for Looney pyramids."

Rules for voting: Rate the games from one to seven (with one being your favorite). You can rate as many games as you wish, To keep the voting system working well, please vote for as many games as you are able. You’ll have three weeks to do so, so feel free to try out a few games that you haven’t played before. If you have a game in the mix, you may vote for your own game.

Send your votes to me via email through this forum or via glattanzio(at) and they will be tabulated if received while the round is active.

The top four games will make it to the final round (from which the winner and the runner up will be awarded).


To encourage informed votes for as many games as possible, the games on your list will receive a bonus if you list at least two games in your list, even more if you vote for five or more.


THE GAMES: These are each quality games that I would be happy to teach others.

A• Evacuate   (Designed by Gregory Lattanzio)

B• Freeze Tag   (Designed by Jeanne Rink Kramer-Smyth)

C. Gleebs and Grues   (Designed by Robert Dudley)

D. Paint the Line  (Designed by Robert Dudley)

E. Martian Canals  (Designed by Dennis D Duquette)

F• Stawvs   (Designed by Russ Williams)

G. Ziggurat Demolition Throwdown   (Designed by P.D. Magnus)

How the order is tabulated:

Because this round includes seven games and not everyone will get to play all of them, the order will be tabulated by hand. All users will get to vote once by email; those who may not have an account on here will be encouraged to sign up through the wiki. The final round of four games will be tabulated via a simple voting program.

If you vote on one game: The game gets three points

Two to four games: The game in the first spot gets five points, the game in the second gets four, and so on.

Five or more games: The game in the first spot gets seven points, the game in the second gets six, and so on.


I decided on the above tabulation rules due to the fact that I wanted the best quality votes, accumulated in the shortest time possible (as we need to have the award finalized so that whoever runs the next contest can do so soon).

I will encourage my local gaming friends to get together over the next three weeks to play through all of the games at least once, and I encourage that process as able.

Good structure.  I like it.

So many tough decisions!

On just the topic of Robert Dudley's games alone, I think Paint the Line has a really good mechanic, but Gleebs and Grues is likely to be a more commonly played game.  But which is actually *better*?  Which deserves the highest accolades?

And how do they fFall in among the rest?


It might be nice to post a few pictures of the games in this round. 

Here is a picture of Evacuate to start off.

And here is Gleebs and Grues.

Picture by Matthew Rogers (posted on this forum).

Some of the games also have pages on Boardgamegeek. Ratings, comments, and reviews are always appreciated!

Freeze Tag

Gleebs and Grues

Paint the Line


Ziggurat Demolition Throwdown

And here is a picture of Freeze Tag (taken from the Icehouse wiki).

REMINDER: We have just 10 days before the end of round one of the ICE Awards of 2012 (7 days before Valentine’s Day, which I suppose you should also probably be cognizant of).


I want to note that I personally send an acknowledgement email out for each group of votes that I receive. If you have sent your votes already, but have not received a response, try submitting them again. 

A pic of Martian Canals:

Just 2 days to go in this voting round! Here is a picture of another game up for voting.

Paint the Line (photo by Robert Dudley)

A board filled for a game of Stawvs.

There's less than 24 hours before the end of the first round of open voting...

As votes are starting to come in more rapidly, I'm extending the voting round until 1pm on 2/17, EST.  That way, if you want to play a last round of games tonight, you'll have a little more time to get your votes in.

Remember, if you believe that you've voted, but haven't received an email confirming your vote, send it again.

The winners of the 3rd Round are Evacuate, Freeze Tag, Gleebs and Grues, and Ziggurat Demolition Throwdown. Congratulations to everyone whose game has made it this far!

Feel free to begin evaluating these games. The voting will start soon. I've been running test of various voting services for the final round. As soon as I figure that out, I'll announce it here. The contest will end approximately two weeks after the voting goes live.

And, fFor those who are confused about what year this is, and what happened to last year's games ....

Well, you see.  We got started unbelievably late with "The Class of 2011."  That is what these fFew are, you see.  Greg nobly picked up the mantle and carried it proudly.  And has more or less sworn to never do it again, I think  =)

I will start assembling "The Class of 2012" -- that is, all the games designed during the actual year of 2012 -- after all this stuff is over.  Confusion will absolutely ensue, as we complete one set of fFinal voting and hand out an award, then jump directly into a whole new set of all new voting with new games and all new stuff.

I will give at least a month or two between the two series to ensure we cleanse the palette and have time to refresh and renew.  I will say, I've started looking through some of the newer game designs, and there are some quite awesome offerings!

I'm getting ready for the final round:  I've narrowed the final round process down to two or three voting options... The only concern I have is that the most appealing one may not be the most stable one. I'll figure that out by tomorrow night.

Scott: As to whether I'd gladly jump in and run things again--never say never. That said, I'm happy to pass the torch on to you or someone else for the next few years. :)

Y'all are such rockstars for doing this. 

When will the final round start up?

I'll post the thread shortly... I'm waiting to hear back from a programer on a possible voting program, but things should be set in the next two days.

5th Black Martian Coaster

I'm new to Looney Pyramids and just started playing Martian Coasters.  I'm looking to get a hold of the 5th Black Martian coaster but was told they were no longer for sale.  Does anyone have one they would be willing to sell me?


First thing you should try is finding a Starship Captain who happens to also be on the demo team that is in your area. They have demo kits that include copies of the 5th coaster, and might be able to help there.

I'm having difficulty navigating the Looney Labs website.  Where on the website do I look to find a Starship Captain on the demo team in the Boston area?

I ended up making my own. To start can do a google image search on “5th Martian coaster.” You can also find images for the white pieces (and probably other Xeno colors).

I found some thin cardboard which I glued the images to, and it looks and feels very much like the real thing.

Treehouse Tube Rules?

I started my pyramania with an IceDice set, and I missed the window for the old tube-packaged sets of Treehouse. But now I'd like to get my hands on a copy of the rules from that set. Or maybe someone could even tell me whether it will really answer my need. Here's the scenario.

Pink Hijinks is adorable, but a little frustrating in the face of the terrific flexibility offered by the contents of other pyramid games. E.g. The new Treehouse set explicitly offers itself to play Pharaoh, but it's also ready for IceSickle, Ice Age, and other game options. For a little while, I thought that Pink Hijinks itself was the only game playable with the contents of the Pink Hijinks bag. Then I realized that I could add a Treehouse die, and the kit would be sufficient for a two-handed game of Treehouse.

So I'd like a copy of the rules that will fit in the Hijinks bag, to orient new players. The IceSheet version is too big, but I'm hopeful that the rules from the old Treehouse tubes will do the trick.


There's a scan at boardgamegeek of some older version of the Treehouse rules from the tube:

Yeah, that's just what I need. Thanks!

if you give me your address, I can probably send you one of my dozen sets of classic treehouse rules.

fFunny thing about those.  you'd buy a bunch of tubes, and you'd get a whole lot of rules to that one game.  I think i still have lots of copies in my bag of stuff.

Terrific. I'm actually having trouble legibly printing out the BGG image file. I'll send you my address. I figured there would be folks with a surplus of old tube rules. Thanks in advance.

Parts for 3x4 board

Hi, I was wondering if the black top and white bottom layers of the 3x4 boards can be bought seperatly. What I would like to do is this. I would need 1 white bottom layer and 2 black top layers. From 1 top layer, I would remove the grid and 1 of the short sides. Then I would glue the 3 layers together with the modified layer in the middle. This would make it possible to slide in boards like they are being used in Twin Win or Launchpad 23. You could use the handy grid of the lasercut board and still having all the individual gameboard info right were it needs to be. Thanks in advance Mike


You could use a service like to get acrylic (or wood) custom cut for this.

Thanks for your advise, but unfortunately we don't have such a service where I live. That's why I thought that using existing parts was the way to go.

Maybe I'm confused... but doesn't that service take orders/plans online, find a creator to handle the job(s), and then the creator cuts and ships them? Their FAQ even talks about international shipping (e.g., customs fees). Heck, they might pair you with a creator in Western Europe....

I don't think so -- they have facilities in a number of countries though.  From their FAQ:

We are optimized to ship domestically within the United States of America, New Zealand, Germany, Italy and the UK. We also ship internationally to almost everywhere in the world.

But on something like this I wouldn't be surprised if shipping would be more costly than the item itself if it has to ship internationally.

That said, a google search for "Laser cutting service in Netherlands" will probably turn up a domestic option.

There are lasercutters in the Netherlands, but I'd have to provide them with all the measurements they need being able to create what I want. Why invent what has already been invented ;-)

Looney Labs has all I need, I just need to know if the 2 parts of the board can be bought separately. If yes, I would easily be able to do the rest myself. Ripping an existing board into 2 pieces doesn't work. There's just no place to get any grip between the pieces. I'm sure it'll somehow get damaged when putting too much force into it.

Don't try to rip them apart -- it won't work.

Acrylic is not glued in the traditional sense it is "welded" with a solvent effectively turning the 2 pieces into a single fused item.

Why invent what has already been invented

To not have to wait indefinitely.

To be creative and put your personal style on it.

Because it hasn't been invented (i.e., maybe you can't buy the layers separate; or doing so might be a custom-order situation, with commensurate costs and delays)

...kind of a theme of mine, these days: why wait on a message board when you could take charge of your own happiness?

The IceAwards for 2012/ Play through of the games from 2011 ROUND 2

Round two of the 2012 Ice Awards, for the games of 2011, has closed. As we have exactly seven games passing, there is no for second evaluations of the games to further narrow the list.

My thanks goes to all of you who contributed comments and reviews. The first round of voting will begin shortly.

The goal of the ICE Awards is to evaluate and celebrate the games from the prior year (being the games created in 2011). It also provides means to encourage game designers by offering a certain amount of recognition, along with a small reward.

We have made it through the first round (which was to simply verify that the games listed “can be played as written”), and now the fun begins. We welcome anyone and everyone in the community to become involved in evaluating and voting on these games.

Here are the games up for evaluation in the 2nd round of the 2011 Ice Awards:

Awaiting Evaluation:


Passes to Round 3

1• Evacuate  

2• Freeze Tag

3. Gleebs and Grues 

4. Paint the Line 

5. Martian Canals 

6• Stawvs

7. Ziggurat Demolition Throwdown

Does not currently pass:

Having one negative review, these games are not out of the running. We will attempt to get up to two reviews per game this round. If there’s a game here that you think might be worth a second look, give it a try. If you think it belongs in the top 50% of the remaining games, it will be reconsidered. 

1. Bridge

2. Chain Reaction (Although we allowed it through the first round, it had two initial negative but passing assessments. Since they were both in the first round, if someone has a positive review of it, it would then be up for reconsideration.)

3• Ice Colony

4. Pentamid Twist

5• Whack Chess

6• The Wilds of Mars

Disqualified (having two negative reviews):


None yet. 


2nd round goal: (Slight updated) To speed up the evaluation round, and get us to the final voting rounds, we need to get a single vote per game. If we can get it down to seven games passing, and no more, we will simply move on. If we have more than seven games passing, then I will ask for a second vote until we've gotten it down to seven. 


A game needs at least one passing evaluation to make it through to the next round.

For the reviews: You are free to evaluate these games as you wish. My recommendation is to ask yourself whether the game is fun, interesting and worthy of being in the top half of games. I recommend that you refamiliarize yourself with the games you wish to review, perhaps playing them again if it has been some time. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions that you might have of the designer (or other players). We hope to thin the field down to the best games of the year per the contest, but this process will hopefully also help designers to improve/fix their games and thus improve the overall quality of the wiki, regardless of whether they are the winners.


Note: The Original IceAwards rules states that different players should review each game then did the prior round. This is to encourage more players to learn the games, but, as the first 1st round was only to "pass" a game as playable, I believe that reviews for games you played in the first round should be allowed. I do, however, encourage players to also review something that they have not commented on yet, just to get more of us familiar with a greater number of games. 


So, how should we submit evaluations? Just post them to this thread?

Yes, feel free to post them in here (or on the wiki). Even feel free to have discussions. We'll probably switch to secret ballot for the final two rounds.

Could you include links to all the games' rules here, so we don't have to go searching?  Thanks.

I’m at work, and it is easier for me to do that from home, so I’ll link them up tonight.

I have done something ... strange.  I have made a specialized deck of too many cards, fFor Ziggurat Demolition Throwdown.

I don't know if this will make the game better, but certainly it will be easier to understand.  Players could also use some sort of player guide, like describing how to attack and defend, and how towers work.  But the important stuff fFor each card is fFound herein.

Note that the Decktet is only 30something cards, and this fFull set catches nearly every combination of actions, fFor a whopping 90 card deck!  Also it doesn't include pawns.  It is not, to be sure, a Decktet replacement.  But it is an overlarge deck of cards fFor this one game.

I haven't actually played with this deck, but I should be able to print it out on plain paper and use some of these card sleeves I have lying around the house, in order to see if it works well.

I imagine P.D. Magnus choking on his coffee this afternoon when sees what I have wrought.  Sorry, dude!  I think I like the game, but i wanted to test this theory I have.

I am going to cut Bridge.  It is not a bad game, it's just not especially profound.  I've played it a couple times, and it didn't really move me.  It is workable, and not at all tragic.  But it tends towards specific outcomes.

I found Bridge's movement rules to be unclear. Must you move onto an empty space? Or can you move onto an occupied space (I hesitantly suppose so), and if so do you cover/stack, or do you capture? Can the bishop movement go through occupied spaces (I hesitantly suppose not)?

(I also added this to the game's discussion page at the wiki.)

I confess that I'm more puzzled than anything. This custom deck doesn't just provide more explicit instructions on the cards. It also changes the game.

With this custom deck, there are 9 special defense cards. I guess "attack strength" can still be stacked together to use cards for defense? Are black towers still required for defense?

In the game as written, everybody loses one pip of tower every time the deck is exhausted. With the larger deck, this well happen less often. But the attrition is deliberate: Players can't just keep drawing cards and defending forever. If you get stuck with towers that are useless to you, then you can change one colour eventually (by taking attrition to it and making change for a different colour).

NB: Reference cards for the game as written are available on the Decktet Wiki.

Whoops, I meant that I hesitantly assume you can NOT move onto an occupied space. Not that this changes my point that I found the movement rules to be unclear. :)

True, and true, and true, and true.

The 9 special defense cards are partly because I was a little lazy, and didn't fFeel like removing 3 cards fFrom my 9-card layout.  But also I fFigured, with a larger deck, more special defense cards would be an okay thing to have.

Yes, Attack Strength is intended to reflect defense strength as well.  And yes, players still need a black or green tower to do any defense.  I did not (intentionally) change the game mechanics.

However, I did actually overlook one rule entirely:  "Everybody loses one pip of tower every time the deck is exhausted."  Oh dear, that does change things, doesn't it.  I don't believe I even noticed that rule, and I've been playing it wrong altogether!  It's a small note, but an important one.

The best solution I can think of right now is to invoke the rule that, at the start of the game, you should draw 30 or 40 random cards fFrom the deck.  That way you never really know what you're getting.  As a matter of fFact, this solution would allow the game to be played with more than 2 players.  Perhaps it should be 15 cards per player, so the deck scales with the number of players in the game.  I might also invoke some rule that reduces the size of the deck as players are eliminated, but now we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Another option is to simply play with the cards that appear in the decktet.  I could mark those cards with a small glyph in one corner, or something.  I might make up a new version with that, now.  I sorta need to make an 11th page anyway (one color combination is missing)(even though that bumps the card count up to 99 (oi vey!)), so what the heck.

By the way, the fFact that we can have this conversation probably means the games passes the second round.  I still have not had a chance to play it more, but I can imagine myself playing it more than just fFor testing or whatever.  It's a cool thing.  The name of the game is an unfortunate run-on, but I like the things this has going on.

Paint the Line

The rules seem clearly written to me. The mechanic of the game is solid; I like how the game plays out on two distinct levels. On both of these you are trying to limit the possibilities of the opposing player while opening up your own pieces and strengthening your position at the ideal time.

Because of the nature of the game, essentially strategy develops once the board has progressed to a bit. For the first moves, players are free to make selections based on a very general plan of attack. After those initial moves, the real fun begins, and this makes for a solid game of medium length.

Having played this three times now, I am confident that it belongs in the next round.  

We've played several games of Gleebs and Grues now and enjoy it. It's extremely short (player will make 6 placements and at most 6 moves), and probably perfectly solvable by brute force by a weak computer :) , but it seems a clever and fun light pure 2-player abstract strategy game which also makes nice use of a single Treehouse set (5 different colored trios, with each player meaningfully controlling 2 colors (where it matters that they are 2 colors, not just 2 treated as 1 color) and a neutral 5th color which actually does stuff too). Also the rules are pretty short and clear. It fills a nice analogous to Tic Tac Doh.

I had a similar response overall, but I'm not quite ready to review it at this time (for one thing, I'm going to ask the designer to clarify one thing in the rules, when I get the chance tomorrow). It does make for a fun, really quick game. Do you have a verdict at this point? Does it belong in the top half of the remaining games?

Scott, at least when we played it, we did use the lose one pip rule.

Also, the game always allowed for more than two players. However, I have worried some that the deck recycle penalty might get a little crazy with a four or five player game. Scaling the deck some way may be an option, if that is a real concern.

Answering whether it belongs in the top half is hard since I've not played most of them still. :/

I can only say that I think it's a fine game which I would not strike from the list and which I think (in the absence of knowledge of the majority of the games) seems a good candidate to progress further.

BTW what was the rule question you had?

Looking through the rules again, they seem clear to me, except I realize that I forgot one rule: "Any single gleeb a grue lands on is eaten. Remove eaten gleebs from the game." I'd been playing that a grue landing on a single gleeb gets locked just like a grue landing on more than one gleeb. Doh! That would have possibly altered the game we just played this morning, but not altered at least some of our previous games. (We had a game where no grues ever moved!) A quite diverse range of results in our 5 games so far, in fact, which is pleasing.

Don't be too hard on yourself. We did do gleeb munching correctly, but, when I first played it, we forgot that gleebs only go on pieces of the same size.

Our only problem was an ambiguous sentence issue: "Move any one gleeb that you control if possible. It must end its movement on top of another gleeb."

If you read that closely, you may wonder whether stacks of gleebs can move or only a lone gleeb. The following paragraph implies the latter (that stacks of gleebs move). If true, that ambiguity can easily be fixed by rewriting the sentence: "Move any one gleeb or stack of geelbs that you control if possible...."

I can reword that part if necessary, but I really feel like the paragraph that follows it and the example spell things out clearly enough.

"Move any one gleeb that you control if possible. It must end its movement on top of another gleeb. Gleebs can not move onto other gleebs of the same color.

Gleebs absorb other gleebs when they jump on them. The whole stack moves together and is treated as if it is only the size and color of the gleeb on top.

Example: A stack with a small yellow gleeb on top counts as a small yellow gleeb regardless of the sizes or colors of gleebs below it. It is unable to move on top of another yellow gleeb and its stack can only be pinned by a small grue."

The paragraph following that creates a contradiction with the preceeding paragraph. That's why I recommend rewording it, to make the game easier to understand. You move from the singular (used twice in the first paragraph) to the suggestion of the stack moving as one in the second paragraph (and the reader gets that after comparing the two).

We considered the two paragraphs for several minutes and concluded that we'd go with what we guessed you meant after reading everything else, but I think that can be avoided with that minor change. Of course, the example clears things up. However, I do think that it's best to avoid having to extrapolate rules from examples.

There's actually no such thing as a stack of gleebs due to gleebs absorbing each other. Like the example says, a stack with a little yellow gleeb on top is a little yellow gleeb. Think of a single little yellow gleeb as a 100 pound human and a stack with one on top as a 1000 pound human. They're both still a single thing; one's just way bigger than the other. When the rules say to move a single gleeb, that includes stacks due to them being single gleebs. Again, I really feel like this is spelled out clearly in the rules. The example isn't necessary to understand the rules, but it's there because it should clear up any confusion.

I don't think I can find a way to word the rules that won't confuse anybody, though. Talking about stacks of gleebs leads to plenty of other questions like whether it matters that a medium red is in the middle of a stack for grue movement. The current wording is what I ended up with due to all the other ways I thought of leading to even more questions. If this still ends up being too bad, I'll try to figure something else out.

Then I suggest calling it a "Gleeb stack?" (and not a stack of Gleebs). It's still a stack (in common, physical pyramid terms), and switching from singular to the plural makes someone question whether you erorred in the first paragraph. Sure, we figured it out, but we also looked at each other afterwards and said that it could have been worded differently.

I understand the theme and the description in the second paragraph. That works fine. It's the wording in the first paragraph that seems like it could be easily fixed to make it easier for new players. Most of the rest of the rules seem very clear, and the game is easy to learn.

I'd forgotten this issue until Greg mentioned, but yes, that confused me at first as well.

Note that earlier we are told "Give one player all of the blue and yellow pyramids and the other all of the green and red pyramids. These are the gleebs." So we are already led to think each individual colored pyramid is a gleeb. It comes as a confusing surprise later that a stack is also a gleeb.

And even then it could be clearer, because there's still an ambiguity about whether a gleeb is an individual pyramid or a stack: "The whole stack moves together and is treated as if it is only the size and color of the gleeb on top" talks about "the gleeb on top", which reinforces the idea that the top pyramid by itself is a gleeb.

If you want to keep this conceptual framework, then instead of "The whole stack moves together and is treated as if it is only the size and color of the gleeb on top", perhaps say "The whole stack is now a single gleeb, whose size and color is that of the top pyramid".

And in the set-up section, perhaps say "Give one player all of the blue and yellow pyramids and the other all of the green and red pyramids. These are their initial gleebs, but in general gleebs are stacks of one or more colored pyramids." or some such.

"The whole stack is now a single gleeb, whose size and color is that of the top pyramid".

Outside of the setup rules, pyramids are referred to as either gleebs or grues. Since gleebs and grues are both pyramids, using the word pyramid in the movement rules just brings in more ambiguity. Again, this change would be eliminating possible confusion in one place to cause it in others. I really did put some effort into making the rules as clear as I could. This issue is actually why most of my games are themed instead of abstract. Wording them in non-ridiculous ways is harder than actually designing them, and being able to use more terminology like gleebs and grues simplifies the language tremendously.

If anyone has a better wording option that doesn't just move the problem somewhere else, I'm definitely up for changing it. As this thread shows, it could clearly be better. I just can't figure out how to get there.

"Gleebs absorb other gleebs when they jump on them. The whole stack moves together and is treated as if it is only the size and color of the gleeb on top."

I feel like there should probably be a sentence between these two or just a change in this paragraph to clear this up. "Stacks formed this way are [something rulesy]." I'll work on it. This is definitely reminding me how horrible writing the rules was the first time around.

we forgot that gleebs only go on pieces of the same size.

You mean "grues", not "gleebs", right? Gleebs only go on gleebs of a different color - size is irrelevant, unless I'm missing something.

The rules say: "Grues must end their movement either on top of a gleeb of the same size or in an empty space."

Which makes me realize another thing we weren't doing, doh! (We were only moving a grue if it could capture a gleeb. I forgot that they can/should be moved to empty spaces also... this will change the gameplay a lot by making the grues much more dynamic, I suspect!)

You mean "grues", not "gleebs", right? Gleebs only go on gleebs of a different color - size is irrelevant, unless I'm missing something.

Indeed. That's what I meant.

Hey, why does pentamid twist fFeel so fFamiliar ? I know it's based on pentamid. But beyond that, it fFeels like a different game that already exists. Am I delusional?
Stawvs, by the way, definitely exists already. It is a nice implementation of the game Hey That's My fFish, published by fFantasy fFlight Games. How do we fFeel about ports of games? It is a nice port of a game, anyway. I fFind myself trying to decide if it is better than Gleebs n Grues. The two are are closely ranked, at the moment, in relation to the "top half of the games of the year."

If you are familiar with Amazons, you'll note that both Stawvs and Hey That's My Fish drew inspiration from Amazons. :)

(Stawvs uses Amazons' more general/free "shooting" of any space accessible from the space you moved to (instead of HTMF's requirement that you take/shoot the specific space which you just moved from.)

And of course it uses Volcano scoring. :)

There are other games with the same board twisting mechanism, e.g. the commercially published Pentago and the pyramid game Quicksand.

YES!  That's it!!!  I'm partly thinking of Quicksand, the 2009 ICE Awards Winner, and Pentago, the abstract game published in 2005!  No wonder the mechanisms seemed so fFamiliar!

I like Pentamid Twist.  But I am willing to cut it.  Pentamid Twist definitely offers new mechanisms, and it definitely uses unique rules and concepts.  But I would prefer to avoid something that's sort of similar to something that recieved fFanfare.

All in all though, the significant difference from Pentago is the ability to move (and cover) pieces, which makes it a close adaptation--closer than Quicksand.

I'm not really that familiar with Pentamid Twist. So, what do you think, should we cut it this round?

Update/Pep talk ;)

The voting has slowed down throughout the second half of December, which is to be expected with the holidays. As we are rapidly approaching the new year, let’s see if we can’t get reviews for the remaining, ungraded eight games before Sunday, 1/6 (with the goal of finishing up the final two rounds by the end of January).


I recommend that we concentrate on getting at least one review for those eight games. We may need second opinions on a few, but we can cross that bridge once we get there.


I will be in touch Eric as to how he set up the evoting for the final two rounds last.  Hopefully, we’ll have enough people playing the final batch of games so that those get the response and attention they deserve. 

I'm taking this one off the list.

Game notes: Pentamid Twist adds a little twist to a Pentago game. It reminds me a little of Quicksand, but it is essentially most like Pentago. It adds a nice little change to the endgame of Pentago. However, it isn’t until the last few moves of a given game that the extra rules of PT even come into play, and that only if you are playing another good Pentago player (as a shorter game will end before it even gets that far). I like the end game this provides for, as it breathes a little more life into Pentago. However, this is an adaptation where the additional rules don’t change things enough to get the game into the next round, where more original games will stand out.

Based on conversations I’ve had with Scott and on the various playtests, Martian Canals makes the cut while the Wilds of Mars doesn’t quite make it into the top half of the remaining games.

Scott might have a few remarks on WoM.

Concerning MC, in brief, it’s a good game, played on an interesting board that makes good use of the fudge dice. We concentrated mostly on building canals, but I imagine that the decay strategy comes more into play with more than two players (not sure how well it works with 12 players, but it should accommodate several on its unusually large board). I’m looking forward to giving it another try in the next round.

heh, yes, i get the hint.  I should add some words about Wilds of Mars.

It is not a bad game, but it doesn't particularly move me.  I have no problem with implementations of other games, and in that regard this is a fFine game.  It's actually a pretty good implementation of another game, as a matter of fFact.  But that is not to say the game is GREAT.  We are hoping fFor GREAT here, and this is good; above average even.

There seems to be a tendency in this game to do exactly one set of things: build a path to the nearest Thing, return to camp and do it again.  There is plenty of opportunity to interact with opponents, but you are probably better off working on your own thing, most likely.

There is a Hidden Map problem, in which players will make lofty plans to win, but players will tend to be at the mercy of the cards they draw, which is really a pity because the setup and structure of the game is quite lovely.

This is the part of the ICE Awards where we have to make tough choices and start cutting perfectly good games.  The Wilds of Mars is such a tough choice.

Both of the guys I used to play pyramid games with moved away recently, so I've been forced to sit this out. This round seems to have stagnated, though. If nobody objects, I can run solo games with some of the remaining games to move things along. I don't have the wedges for Whack Chess, but I can do the rest. I'd really like to get someone else's opinion on Evacuate, though. We didn't like how it played when I tested it last year, but that definitely could have just been me and the guy I played it with.

I don't think Ice Colony's quite ready yet. Combat favors attackers as defenders win ties, so games will naturally stall out with both players just rolling dice and saying go for a long time. Since some territories boost the defensive bonus even further, there's really no point in the game when it's actually favorable to attack them. The odds of successfully attacking these territories are always terrible. There's also a chance you can lose on your first turn with bad rolls, which I'm never a fan of.

Thanks Robert,


It did stall a bit. :) I wonder if it's the evaluation process seems to do that; I’m hoping that the response will pick up in the straight voting rounds. I appreciate your offer; if you get the time, we could use some help getting the last few games an evaluation.

Having read through Ice Colony, I concur that, while it looks like it could be interesting to play, it probably doesn’t belong in the top half of the remaining games.  

Feel free to take a look at what’s left for this round. I have played a few of the other games, but am not familiar enough or quite ready to evaluate them. For Whack Chess, the wedges are printable, but, if you don’t get a chance to get them, I’ll probably get to play it at some point.

I appreciate the comments that you left for me on Evacuate, especially as it was in development at the time, so the feedback was invaluable. You’re always welcome to replay it if you are so inclined. 


I wish to cut Whack Chess.  It is well written, and a nice thing worth playing.  But it seems to be almost entirely Stack Chess, with some fFairly ill advised rules about shuffling the board.  The rules are very well written.  But I am of the opinion that rearranging that many board sections with that many stacked pieces will result only in a big mess.  It is a good and playable game.  But it will get messy quick.  It is, as the name suggests, WHACK!

i have played Evacuate a number of times with different people and i say it should pass. its a very original and playful concept.

Concerning Stawvs:

I’m trying to finish up this round within the next day or so, as we'll need to clear room for the 2012 awards. Then it’s on to the first of two voting rounds.

We’ve had a few comments already on Stawvs. It’s fun to play, but there have been concerns as to whether it is a unique and worthy enough adaption of games like Hey, That’s My Fish to include in the first voting round. People are generally on the fence, so the next comment will tip the scales. Thus I’m eliciting any final suggestions as to how you lean on this one.

Stawvs is quite a bit different from HTMF. I'm fine with simply judging the game on its own merits. I don't have a full review of the game, but I've definitely played it enough to feel comfortable saying it should pass this round.

Since we're down to just Freeze Tag, I also think it should pass. I'm not a fan of roll and move games, but Freeze Tag eliminates a lot of the problems I typically have with them. "Rolling better" isn't a back breaker like in many other roll and moves. It's a solid game.

I agree that Stawvs merits further play.

I haven’t played FreezeTag yet, though I elicited reviews from some of the players of that game, just last night. Thus we’ll pass the game pending any negative comments they might wish to post this afternoon.

Cooperative games?

Are there any cooperative pyramid games? 


It's fFunny you ask.  I don't actually know of any explicitly cooperative pyramid games ... until this morning when I was playing around with some pieces and sort of inadvertently invented a weird game.  (Actually my new game may or may not actually be cooperative in nature.  It's still really in development.  I just made it up this morning, after all.  But I think it has interesting prospects as a coop game, anyway.)

Of course, any game that plays 4 players may be played in teams.  Martian Coasters, fFor example.

Homeworlds has a semi-cooperative component, in that the good guys are trying to destroy the bad guys.  But nobody knows who is on what team, so that gets a bit messy.

In short ... not really, that I know of.  Which is really a shame.  Great point though!

People!!  Where are the coop games!?!?

The only ones I know of are 3-High and Apophis.

The latter has an interesting theme and actually makes for  a really fun cooperative experience.

See for 5 (I haven't played any of them so all I know is that they are in the coop category!)

Pink Hijinks

So, I just got my copy of Pink Hijinks in the mail.

The rules stated that I win "with all three pieces of a given size" are in my home row.

When is this size 'given'?  Is it specified before the game starts? Or do I win if I have all 3 of a particular size?  If the later, it seems to be impossible to win with the second goal.


It's not really "given", in the sense of specified for a particular game.  It just means you win if you have all 3 pyramids of any size in your home row: all 3 Smalls, or all 3 Mediums, or all 3 Larges. 

Ah - re-reading it, I missed part of the rule is "and no extras."  The second goal made no sense without that.

Are the current Xeno pyramids new or old?

I bought a copy of the new Treehouse, and I love the colors of the pyramids produced at the new manufacturer in China: very strong and vibrant, and consistent in coloring.  Passing through a game store today I almost bought a box of Xeno pyramids in order to start building up new copies in those colors as well. 

I did not, though, because I was wondered whether the Xeno pyramids that are being sold in the new boxes are also made by that same manufacturer, or whether they are leftovers from the previous manufacturer.  I have not seen any photos of the Xeno pyramids that show the same quality of coloring that the Rainbow pyramids now have, so I suspected that they are still selling through the existing stock before releasing any new Xenos.  I already have plenty of Xeno stashes, so I don't need to buy more, but I will once I find that they are also from the new manufacturer. 

Are we still selling through existing stock?  If so, what is the estimate for new ones being available? 


I thought all of the card-boxed Rainbow and Xeno 'mids were from the new manufacturer, and I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary. The Rainbow ones in the card boxes match the "new" ones in my IceDice and Treehouse. My card-box Xeno 'mids are similarly free of flash and other minor defects that I see in the earlier pyramids (Pink and Electric Yellow) in my collection.

IceSickle revival

As I've been playing around with the new Treehouse, I noticed that another old Pyramid game playable with the contents of the little green bag is IceSickle. Suitably inspired, I made an edit pass at the rules from the wiki, and I formatted them in a style modeled on the Pharaoh rules that come with the new Treehouse:


The docx file here is intended to be printed back-to-back with itself, so that a single sheet cuts into four copies of the rules. I left it in Word format so that people can more easily use the text elsewhere or make their own edits.

This is a super-playable game, and anyone who has the new Treehouse has everything they need in order to play. There should probably be a corresponding IceSheet, and this game might be a good candidate for Pyramid Primer #2.



I think this is a great idea. I will get right on working on the initial forms of an IceSheet for this. I should have something together by the weekend.

The new Treehouse -- first impressions

I saw and picked up a copy of the new Treehouse set at the Game Parlor in Chantilly VA last week.  Here are some reactions I have:

- I love the vibrant colors in the new pieces.  It looks like there is a much more consistent color between different sets as well.

- I really like how the different different rule sets and the Pharaoh board fold up nicely to fit on top of the Pocket Guide to reinforce the bottom of the bag.  Even the descriptive tag on the outside fits on top of them.

- It's really cool to have a cloth board for Pharoah: it's foldable, more durable than a paper board (and doesn't stay creased when you unfold it), and can be used for Caldera, of course.

- It's also nice to have more breathing room in the Treehouse rules.



Here are my reactions (all positive, like yours):

  • This is my sixth rainbow stash, so now I'm finally playing Caldera, and I do find it an improvement over old-style Volcano. (See my recently-posted pic.)
  • The emphasis on Pharaoh got me playing it again. I had dismissed it pretty quickly when I was first experimenting with pyramid games, and I've now found that my daughter really likes it, Also, it is very easy to throw down as a three- or four-player game.
  • I love the little green bag even more than the IceDice bag.

Now that I have 13 stashes of pyramids (6 Rainbow, 5 Xeno, 1 Pink, 1 Electric Yellow), I prefer to keep all the Rainbow ones together in my larger kit. The super-pocketable Treehouse bag gets to hold what I need for Pharaoh, Treehouse, Tic Tac Doh!, Ice Age, and IceSickle:

  1. One trio each of Electric Yellow, Clear, Cyan, and Pink.
  2. Four more Electric Yellow queens.
  3. Four more Clear drones.
  4. Four more Pink pawns.
  5. Treehouse die and conventional die.
  6. Cloth Pharaoh board.
  7. Treehouse and Pharaoh rules.

I've got the Pocket Guide in there now, but I'm thinking of formatting some rules for IceSickle and Ice Age to fit instead.

Membership Cards! and a new public roster

Are you registered as a Starship Captain yet?

If you followed these instructions to add the list app to your profile page, and listed at least ten pyramid games you know how to play, then you are an officially registered Starship Captain and are eligible for a free membership card!   Request Membership Card

You can check to see if you are registered via this Starship Captain Search tool... if you were one of the first few Starship Captains who signed up, you may not find yourself on this list, because you originally listed your games in the text of your profile and never came back and installed the app that drives the roster. Please go add the app to your profile page before you request your membership card.  

... and if you don't want to be listed on the public roster of Starship Captains - just edit your list of pyramid games on your profile page and uncheck 'Include me on the public roster'. 

It will be a few weeks before we are ready to start shipping out the coins and membership cards - but please go send in a request for your card. Thanks for joining the Academy of Starship Captains! 


Being one of the early captains, I added the tool per the instructions.  But I still don't find myself on the SCSearch tool, when I search on my zip code.  What else do I need to do?

You just need to wait for us to go in and approve your list...   but the lights are flickering, so it might not be today! Just go ahead and sign up, and order your membership card, and the search will start finding you soon. Thanks!

OK.  I hope Sandy does no serious damage to you and yours, or to anyone else within its range (which is quite large!).  We're fine so far here.  

Is that app a new thingie, or I just missed the memo earlier? :)

I did it back in the "old days" via a plain text list in a "text box" profile element, but I have now installed the app and added some games.

It would be neat if (like "hot 10" and "top 10" at it was easy to move a title up or down in the list (shifting the others automatically). I suppose (perhaps erroneously) that there's some intent that they're sorted in order from games one most enjoys...?

It is nice that we can add more than 10 games!

I look forward to the Starship Captain search tool working internationally as well. :)

So, for the "Coin Order Number" I used the Confirmation Number from the order I placed for the coin, but I had to take out the hyphen because the Membership Card form insisted on strictly numeric characters for that field. Hope that was the right way to do it.

This. This now makes my Looney Labs experience complete (well except for someday successfully taking Andy down in homeworlds haha).

I'm on now; thanks.

Doing some browsing led to a lot of questions:

- Is 50 miles the only US search option? Changing the radius, or searching by state, might be nice.

- Are there really so few SCs outside the US?

- If the zip code is relevant only for US search, it would help to hide (or disable and gray out) that field. 

The app's not new but the Starship Captain search functionality is! Glad you were able to add it with no problem.

That should be just fine. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

feeling stupid. I added the App, but I don't see where to add games to the list.

I've been a startship Captain from the start. I have tried clicking on EDIT for the box where the app put itself, and I have also tried clicking on the My Starship Captain List. I get a screen with a text box that says "No games selected" . I don't see where to add games.

So when I originally notices the email I distinctly remember seeing a request for an order number but now I am not seeing any mention of this at all. I could be blind or did it get removed?

No, you're not blind. We removed it to make the process easier for everyone. 

Sorry for the confusion!

Hi Robert, are you following the these instructions:

To add your list...

  1. Go to "My Page",
  2. Click the "+ Add Apps" link in the left sidebar (under your photo),
  3. Click "+ Add by URL" (at the bottom of the left column, under Categories),
  4. Add ""
  5. Select OK and return to your profile page, find the new box and enter your list
  6. Also, please move your list to be second on your page, just after your profile!

If so, the app added will have blank text fields for you to write in the games you've played. If this still isn't working please let me know. 

Hi! I've tried to add the app but I get this message:  "There was an error processing your OpenSocial XML file. Please verify that the OpenSocial XML file is valid and try again."

How can I do it?

[Icesheet] Pikemen (revision1.1)


Over on three different threads (1) (2) (3), a standing discussion and voting process was begun regarding the Pikemen IceSheet.  Here's the current vote tally on that:


  1. Scott Myers (I think I can count myself?  I dunno really)
  2. Jacob Davenport (He approved it before I ever showed it to anyone else)
  3. Jeff Wolfe
  4. Joshua Denmeade
  5. Greg Lattanzio


  • Scott Alan Sulzer (Reason: It's just too dang long)
  • Russ Williams (Reason: Too long / several good edits and addenda.)
  • David Artman (Reason: concerns over "stash" vs. "set")

Also I think I got a yes out of someone on the Google Hangout a while back, but I don't recall who.  Kristin maybe, Bryan maybe?

Okay, so why such a low voter turn-out?  I know people have actually played Pikemen before now.  I think it has to do with noone wanting to say something else is cool, and then turn out to be wrong.

But it's okay!  Be brave!  If you haven't had time to pour through the rules with a fFine tooth comb, that's okay!  BE BOLD!!  We would like some more votes on this sucker, ya know?

Jeff made a good note.  I incorporated his notion about pyramids "standing upright" at setup.

Regarding Scott Alan Sulzer's comments: I plan on issuing a much shorter game with much shorter rules.  Mr. Sulzer made a terrific suggestion when he said:  "I was suggesting that the 2 player, 6x6 board variant be redone as Pikemen: Skirmish but keep the other options available as Pikemen."  Brilliant!  I plan on doing exactly that!!  After this is done.  I have played it a couple times.  It will be a slightly different game, which should play a bit fFaster, and should be quite a win.  Just think of Pikemen as the classic game, with this sheet as a nice compendium of rules.  The fForthcoming "Skirmish" Icesheet will be much shorter, and well suited fFor a modern era of Starship captains.

Regarding David Artman's complaint:  It's good that we are thinking about these things.  But let me just say, all IceSheets say "Stash," not "Set."  That's Andy's choice, not mine.  If that's the problem, then you will have a problem with any IceSheet ever.  It is perfectly acceptable to stand by your convictions, though.  Bravo.  But, with apologies, I am not addressing that here.

Russ made some good suggestions.  I have edited the IceSheet with his notes, and I'm attaching it below.

I believe the only suggestion I did not employ was striking the silly Start Player rule.  I like the idea of silly start player rules, myself.  This one is as good as any.  And I think people understand that silly start player rules don't actually need to be used all the time.

Let me know what you think!!  5 more up votes, and this is Certified Gold.


I don't like the entire section about the 6x6 variant:

When the game Pikemen was originally
conceived in 997, Looney Pyramids were
available as Monochrome Stashes of 5 trees. This
meant that getting 5 trees of the same color
was somewhat easier than it is more recently.
Although it is less known and less played, the
2-player variant, on a smaller 6x6 grid might be
easier for new players to accomplish, because it
uses only 3 trees of any one color, and therefore
only 3 Rainbow Treehouse sets. Also, it’s probably
good anytime you want a shorter game.

It's full of filler and sloppy writing. I don't have an issue with anything else. Here's an example of text for that section that would change my vote to a yes:

"This 6x6 variant only requires 3 Rainbow sets."

I'm still a big fan of this sheet. Grammatically, I think it's just fine. Some fine tuning that I might suggest, since you wanted me to break out the fine toothed comb, would deal with the maneuvers section. I dunno if i would necessarily reference Playing with Pyramids, especially because it's out of print now.

Also, if we're going to publish Skirmish as a separate game, do we still need the section in the rules here? I don't mind it being there, but if we're going to be making a separate IceSheet, and this was still included, why would i need skirmish when i already have pikemen?

Just thoughts, those things are just me nitpicking via opinion. i'm still giving this my vote of approval.

IceAwards / Play through of the games from 2011

I’ve spoke with a few of you who bemoaned the absence of an IceAwards for last year’s games. The IceAwards inspire game creation and keep exemplar, potentially classic games from falling into obscurity. Over at the Starship Captains forum (and at the wiki) we’ve been going through the first elimination round to decide what games from 2011 are playable at this point. We've always intended that, for the second round, the discussion and votes could be taken up here on the main forum (especially after some of the unplayable games were take out of the list). However, stuck in the first round, there are a few games left that could use an opinion. Thus, to speed things along, feel free to join us there or within this thread.

1. 1st round: Game play through to make sure games “work” and are actually “pyramid games” (not Snakes and Ladders with pyramids as merely movement pieces). A game passes if one player, who didn’t make the game, vouches for it. If a game maker or player can explain why a broken game isn't broken, they have a last chance to quickly fix or clarify a rule.

Here are the remaining games that could use an initial judgement:

Round 1:

If you've played the above game, or are willing to give it a try, let us know whether you think it should make it past the first round.


I've passed Pentamid Twist on to Round 2.

Second opinion on Chain reaction: We made it through a dozen turns or so before giving up.  It could make a great computer or tablet game, with simultaneous random particle ejection, but it's far too fiddly and frustrating for the table top.

It probably qualifies as a game, though.

Then I guess whether it passes as or not as a formality, without someone getting through a single game (much less offering a single positive review) it won't really be passed onto the third round.

We’re almost there… only a half dozen to go. It makes some sense to make a somewhat arbitrary deadline. Let’s see if we can’t get through these final games in the next week, roughly by 11/18th! That way, we may be done with the contest by mid Jan, well in advance of next year’s voting.

The final list of playable games and initial comments will go up as soon as the last few are given a read through and cursory test. You probably don’t even have to completely finish the game at this point in the process.

Then we’ll move on to the next round where the real reviewing process begins.

We’re moving ever closer to completing the first round of the IceAwards for 2011! Thus this is one last push to get the final few games evaluated (at the very least, we could use your help in reading through the directions and playing through a turn or two of a game, to make sure that it “works” ). Then we can move on to the fun part of the judging and presenting the awards themselves!

Only two to go... It would be nice to get through these this weekend. The next round is the first real evaluation round, so these just need a general test to see if they work (play a few rounds, or one complete game). It's been indicated that we might want to start the 2012 Awards earlier in 2013, so the sooner we get through the 2011, the better. I hope that we can be onto the final voting round by the end of January.

I’m withdrawing my game, Stacktrices, partially in interest of moving the judging forward and in favor of my other game, Evacuate.

We’re almost ready to start the next round! I’ll be organizing the details on that and will post them within the next few days.

I'll pull Colonization again as well. Down to zero!

Pyramid Cadet Training Quiz Part II ANSWERS AND SCORES!


Greetings Captains!


Well, it seems that our visual recognition abilities are at their prime and ready to be tested in the field. Well done to all Captains who provided answers. The answers and your scores are below...


What challenge will the next quiz hold?


At this time I would like to ask for feedback. I noticed that more than 100 fans viewed the Quiz, yet only 9 Captains provided answers.  Was the quiz to difficult? too easy?  Email me at or friend me and send a message through the website or ad a comment below and let me know what would make this quiz more enjoyable for all of you. I want you to look forward to it, to be challenged of course, but mostly have a good time. And of course I would love to see more responses! 


And now on to the answers! 


Pyramid Cadet Instructor Quiz part II:  “I’ve been Set Up!”

Difficulty rating:            A bit tougher!


(Correct answer is worth 1 point. Super Bonus Question is worth 3 points for a total possible score of 13 points – all answers (except the Super Bonus question) can be found online in the rules sets and are only taken from the games in the Cadet Training Syllabus)


Name the Pyramid Game and the Number of Players:

(Sample Answer: IceDice - 3-players)


1. Black Ice - 2 players (of course!)

2.  Martian Chess - 2 players

3.  World War 5 - 3 players (Blue is in Australia!)

4. Treehouse - 2 players

5.  Ice Towers - 5 players 

6. Zark City - 3 players

7.  Martian Coasters - 3 players

8.  Pharaoh - 3 players

9.  Launchpad 23 - 4 players

10.  IceDice - 2 players  (a very stylish setup dont you think?)

(Super Bonus Question) But wait!  Off in a side chamber, two Starship Captains were playing a brand new Pyramid Game. It is not in the syllabus and unpublished as of yet, but it has had a lot of plays and is a recent topic of discussion on the forums and has its own IceSheet! Can you name this game? 

Super Bonus Image!   Freeze Tag - 4 players (way to go Rink!)


Congratulations Captains!

Thomas Preece   (13 pts)

Jeff Wolfe  (13 pts)

Alison Looney  (13 pts)

Mark Valenti   (13 pts)

Jennifer Waddington   (13 pts)

Joshua Denmeade (13 pts)

Thomas Winward  (13 pts)

Frank DeGroot (13 pts) 

Scott Myers (12 pts)


Somehow I never even saw this quiz until this evening, not sure how I missed it :(

[Pre-IceSheet Rules] Cracked Ice

In working towards more IceSheets for the big pyramid push, I looked towards the classics, such as the game this thread concerns itself with, Cracked Ice. It was originally published in Hypothermia, and was a classic back in the day. It's a personal favorite, so I decided to write this up. The game has been playtested enough over the years, that the rules themselves are set. The question with this thread is are the rules written up correctly enough to be put in an IceSheet. I look forward to your input.


Good I Approve.

[Pre-Icesheet Rules] Thin Ice

In working towards getting more IceSheets together, I looked towards the classics. As in games that have already been published with rules, but haven't been put in the IceSheet format yet. So, here is the first of two that I have written up the rules for: Thin Ice, originally designed by Jacob Davenport. The game has already been playtested enough that it was included in Playing with Pyramids, so that isn't the main concern of these rules, but instead to look and ensure that I have put into words correctly the rules, so someone can put this together into a proper IceSheet. Thank you!


Good I Aprove

Maybe add some pictures of examples

I plan on adding pictures, but only when it's actually being made into an IceSheet. For now, I'm more concerned with getting the rules into the proper format.

Thin Ice is okay, but CrackeD ICE is the preeminent dexterity game, if you ask me.

Cracked Ice is okay, but I'd rather be playing Leaning Towers.

I had not heard of that game.  I assume you mean this one described at the Icehouse wiki?  It looks potentially interesting, but the lack of any images of the game interferes with both understanding it and appreciating it.  The link at them bottom to a page with images no longer exists. :(

There’s a BoardGameGeek page that has a few pictures to help you out. 

Plutonian Poker Rules; 2nd edition

So, apparently I missed a lot in the two years I didn't visit here (particularly an entire ICE Awards where my game was a finalist!).

Now that I'm back, I have updated the rules to Plutonian Poker (finally), available here.

I applied the changes suggested by Bryan and Ryan, and after playtesting them I think they greatly streamline the game- Thanks very much to both of you for the feedback, and I apologize for the delay between the advice and its implementation.

I also added a new optional rule concerning turn order; me and a friend lifted the idea from Catan's setup phase after learning it recently. I think it adds a decent twist, but in larger games it would become cumbersome, and I haven't used it many times so it may not have a lot of staying power.

I was also considering adding a new hand or two; Firstly, an equivalent to the flush which is fiendishly difficult to acquire, lacks partial goals, but has a high-point payoff and noticeable bragging rights if completed. Secondly, another "small" hand that would give 2 and 3 player games more options. Nothing has come to mind while brainstorming, however, so any suggestions about that would be appreciated.

Thanks for reading


This looks like a good game.  A possible variant that occurs to me is turnless play as in Icehouse.

Good job. We've played this many times (and with groups up to 6 players), so I look forward to using the updated rules.

Questions about the new tree house set.

Hi there,

Here come the questions. :)

1.) Is it out yet?

2.) What is the new board made of?

3.) Will you be selling it in the Looney Labs online store?



Treehouse arrived at our warehouse on Friday!  It should start showing up in game stores the week after next... we will start taking orders in our webstore next week. The board is cloth and it is lovely!  here is a picture...

Is the Pharaoh board paper?  The folds are barely visible, but that's to be expected in a promotional photo.  I wonder how it works in practice with the folds.  I was wondering the same thing about the Pink Hijinks board when I saw a picture on BoardGameGeek.  I look forward to both of them coming out before the end of the year.

Hi Kristin,

Cloth? Yay! People will be buying these for the board alone. I can't wait!  :)

This looks great. It will be a perfect way for me to pick up that final rainbow set so I can finally play Caldera! I'm off to add it to my BGG wishlist.


Hrmph. Can't do that, because there's no version entry in the db yet. I'll add it, unless someone else wants dibs or it's already pending moderation. Kristin, should I do so, and can I use the image you've posted here?

D'oh.  There it is in Kristin's post.  Cloth.  Cool.

Starship Captains Pyramid Quiz Part II - Visual Recognition

Welcome back Starship Captains! You did a great job on the first part of the Cadet Training Quiz. Congratulations! Let's up the difficulty a notch...

Part II involves visual recognition – crucial when training Cadets for the Icehouse Academy. This quiz specifically focuses on Game Set-up. First a tale of woe...


Recently on a sojourn to the outer reaches, a test crew of Starship Captains had all 10 games from the Cadet Syllabus set up and ready to play, when alas, the artificial gravity failed and an airlock blew! The moment was caught with on-board cameras in the instant that the Pyramid pieces maintained their position but just after all the other game components flew off out into the vacuum of space!

Below you will find the images taken of the 10 Pyramid games from the syllabus that were taken aboard that space flight. They are positioned in Set-up positions just before the first turn of each game. There are no dice, no boards, no playing cards and no bags to store hidden pieces.  (We will have to order more from the Game Tech Store!) In addition, since the gravity was off, some of the images are askew as a few cameras came untethered and were floating around.


Can you identify the name of the game and the number of players just from the images? Be careful, sometimes the color of the Pyramids don't matter, and the number of players may affect the set-up positions.

Best of luck Captains,

Cap'n Drew

Email answers to Answers will be tallied and posted on October 28th.


Pyramid Cadet Instructor Quiz part II:  “I’ve been Set Up!”

Difficulty rating:            A bit tougher!


(Correct answer is worth 1 point. Super Bonus Question is worth 3 points for a total possible score of 13 points – all answers (except the Super Bonus question) can be found online in the rules sets and are only taken from the games in the Cadet Training Syllabus)


Name the Pyramid Game and the Number of Players:

(Sample Answer: IceDice - 3-players)












(Super Bonus Question) But wait!  Off in a side chamber, two Starship Captains were playing a brand new Pyramid Game. It is not in the syllabus and unpublished as of yet, but it has had a lot of plays and is a recent topic of discussion on the forums and has its own IceSheet! Can you name this game? 

Super Bonus Image!


This one is going to take me a little longer. :)

Starship Captain Pyramid Quiz Part I: ANSWERS and SCORES

And now the answers and the scores for all Starship Captains that took part! 


1. “If the attacker wins, the loser must flee…” 

Answer: World War 5

2. “Slide one of your pyramids onto an adjacent card.” 

Answer: Zark City

3. “Players can only bring their pieces onto the board from their edge.” 

Answer: Pharoah

4. “If you can use the action on your trio, you must.” 

Answer: Tree House

5. “Whoever is holding the dice goes first” 

Answer: IceDice

6. “…cup your hand around it, forming a little shield…” 

Answer: Black Ice

7. “It’s helpful to imagine that the quadrants are divided by small canals.” 

Answer: Martian Chess

8. “Begin by naming your imaginary friend…” 

Answer: Ice Towers

9. ..”the fictional origin of these pyramids is in the lost, ancient cities of the planet Mars.” 

Answer: Martian Coasters

10. “..have each player take a monochrome Trio and hide the leftover pieces behind them…” 

Answer: Launch Pad 23

Super Bonus Question  (Not one of the games in the Cadet Training Syllabus)


“During each turn, you get TWO actions.”


Super Bonus Answer: Twin Win


Starship Captains Quiz Rankings!


Perfect 13 Points:

Mark Valenti

Jeff Wolfe

Joshua Denmeade

Jennifer Waddington

Thomas Preece

Christian Gilbert

Alison Looney

Frank DeGroot

Genevieve Sanders

Jeremy Wedel

Mark Booker


12 Points

David Artman 


9 Points

Lorena Finnerty


8 Points 

Scott Myers 


Congrats to all the Captains out there that replied... Quiz part II coming this week!

To all those that didn't take part.. grab a space helmet and get in the game!


The IceSheet Initiative

I have been super busy as of late, but I finally made a some time to create a location on the wiki to track our progress on working games through the process of becoming quality IceSheets. I call this, The IceSheet Initiative. Now we have a central location to go add games to a list so that Starship Captains can see the progress of games and what needs to be done on certain games to help get it to the stage of becoming a glorified IceSheet. Go check it out and if you feel comfortable in the wiki, you can add games to the list and create links in the forum for discussion and voting.

Give me your feedback of what we can add to this or how to improve upon it. Thanks!

Here's the link:


Thanks a lot, Dallan.  I have some questions, though.

1. How do we decide which games "are already solid and ready to become IceSheets"?  You have set it up with 4 games, 3 of which were mentioned in the "Which Games Next?" thread.  (I'm surprised no one thought of Tic Tac Doh!)  What about the others?  Shall we add all the other games that were in Playing with Pyramids or a Big Experiment tournament?  What about award winners?

Gotta go; I'll post more later.

2.  Do people just volunteer to do a writeup of a games' rules, adding themselves to the wiki entry? 

3.  Where shall we post and discuss rules writeups?  Here at the Fan Club, or on the wiki, or what?

Hey Captains.. Drew here.


First, great work on this initiative. It's very exciting to see the Pyramid excitement growing and evolving. What a wealth of information and passion.

Following up from the online discussion, and the responses from Bryan's comments below I would like to make some suggestions at this point mainly involving process (which is the main thrust of Byan’s questions)  

Lets look at the IceSheet Initiative step by step...


Stage One: Thorough Playtesting

Before even submitting a game to be playtested by Starship Captains, make sure that you have done ample local playtesting and can find no flaws in your game. Once a game enters Stage 1, it cannot enter Stage 2 until it has passed the approval of at least 10 Starship Captains that the gameplay is solid.


General Comment: Creating and playtesting a game that a fan wants to submit is all on their own time, and yes - don't submit a game until it has been played through to a point where it won't be shunned when played by others. You don’t want a lot of holes found in the game play after submission.  

Stage One Process

-       Start right off the bat by writing the rules for your game in a format that closely resembles or is just like an IceSheet. This will save time later in Stage 2 and 3 when it comes to editing and presentation. It will also force you to create rules that are clear, concise and will fit in the IceSheet format.

-       Process: In order for a game to enter stage 2 it has to pass the approval of 10 “outside” Starship Captains. Once you feel your game is ready..

  • Create a new forum Thread in the Starship Captains only Forum with the title of the game.  (Ex: Thin Ice) and post your final rules (Or a link to them) to this forum.
  • Any and all Captains will have access to the rules and will report the progress of their playtesting. (no formal process here just  play ‘till you feel its reached a well-tested stage)
  • Post all comments, questions issues, etc. to this forum. The owner of the rules / thread will see comments and make changes.
  • Update the revised rules and attach it to the thread. This allows editing to be taken out of Stage 2 – again simplifying the process. Then, all games will be played from the updated edited version. Date the saved rules like this. “Thin Ice Ver. 1-3” Or you can just use the date, “Thin Ice 10_3_12,” etc.
  • When the time has come the author of the game and forum will call for a vote of completion on the thread. If 10 or more Starship Captains agree to move forward, then the thread is closed and we move on to stage two.
  • Set a deadline for everyone. This process for most games should take no more than 4 weeks. Shorter for most games. But it helps to say, “I need all final comments in by the Xth of November.” This helps everyone stay on track and give a definite goal instead of an opened ended deadline.


Stage Two: Clear, Simple Rules

Once a game has been approved as a playable game, then it moves into the stage where the rules need to become as clear and simple as possible. Reword, rewrite, simplify as best you can so that the future players will never have to question the rules. Make sure the text is clear of typos and grammatical errors. Once a game enters Stage 2, it cannot enter Stage 3 until it has passed the approval of at least 10 Starship Captains that the rules are as simple and clear as possible.


General Comment: This stage (the editing of a document) doesn’t need 10 Starship Captains.  It needs exactly 2 people: 1 Looney Labs employee and Andy or Kristin) Based on personal experience, if edited by too many people the editing of a document can go on ad nauseam. And if the rules are written clearly and concisely as possible from the start, this stage will be easy.  Here is the process:


Stage Two Process:

-       The rules should be in their most final form on that game’s dedicated thread on the Starship Captain’s Forum if the process of Stage One is followed. In fact many edits and simplification will have taken place during the Stage One process.

  • Set a Deadline. Stage Two should take no more than a week
  • Stage 2-1: This version of the document is sent to Drew or Bianca to go over in detail for grammar, questions and general editing. This is so someone who does not know the game can look at it and make edits. This is important because if someone doesn’t know how to play the game and doesn’t understand it, it just needs to be re-written for clarification.
  • This will have the suffix Edit1 (Ex: Thin Ice_Edit1)
  • Stage 2-2: This version will be passed to Andy and/or Kristin for a final look. (Although they may be involved up to this point. This is their final “seal of approval.”)
  • This is the final file prior to formatting and is titled simply: _final (Ex: Thin Ice_final)


Stage Three: IceSheet Formatting

Now that the gameplay is solid and the rules are clear and simple, a game is ready to be made into an IceSheet. During this stage, a Starship Captain skilled in the art of Adobe Illustrator, will take the approved rules and begin formatting them into an IceSheet. Graphics that visually assist players understand how to play the game are usually encouraged. Many times a new font or logo is used for the name/title of the game. Multiple Starship Captains may work on any given IceSheet together. Maybe one could focus on the layout while another, who enjoys creating graphics, could create a visual of how to play the game and supply that graphic to the person working on the layout to just plop into place. Just an idea for a possible joint effort on an IceSheet for a single game. Like each stage, games cannot leave Stage 3 until it has been passed the approval of at least 10 Starship Captains that the layout/graphics look good and the document is without typos. Once Stage 3 has been approved, the IceSheet is ready to go on the "More Games" section of the Looney Labs website and possibly make it into a future Pyramid Primer.


General Comment: All the work in previous stages will also make this stage simpler. Stage Three needs the help of Starship Captains (SC) that can create the sheet but only one person should work on it at a time.  That Starship Captain must dedicate themselves to seeing the project through. Since it is voluntary, if a SC cannot finish the project they shouldn’t begin it. This is a just a courtesy to all the folks working on the game and to make the process move smoothly in a timely fashion. It will also make multiple games able to be worked on at once.


Stage Three Process:

-       The File (Thin Ice_final) is now in the hands of the one SC that will create the formatted IceSheet.

  • Graphics and fonts should be consistent with all other IceSheets, unless the game uses a special font for the title.
  • The game’s author and this SC communicate directly with regards to the creation of the IceSheet. Images, suggestions of image placement, etc. are all worked between these two Starship Captains.
  • Once that sheet is in its final version. It is passed along to Kristin or Andy for a final/final check.
  • Comments or suggestions on this file are made and then IceSheet is completed.
  • This stage takes as long as the volunteer SC says it will take, but once this goal is set, it is adhered to as closely as possible.



  1. In effect, the author of the new Pyramid rules becomes the “Project Manager” and manages each stage of the process. All aspects of the new IceSheet initiative should come back to the author, until it is ready to be posted to the “More Games” section, or is ready for consideration to be put into the next Primer.
  2. In Stage One - besides play testing – everyone works to make the subsequent stages easier. Edits as you go, grammar edits, rules simplification, and formatting toward an actual IceSheet will eliminate work in the next two stages.
  3. Except for Stage One, the less folks involved after the play testing process the more efficiently the process will move along.
  4. Set time goals for the work to be finished.  Since most of the work is voluntary and done out of passion, it gives a clear understanding of the time investment needed.
  5. Communication. It is key to completing any task with many folks involved. Stage 1 happens in the forums, Stage 2 and 3 shouldn’t, just to keep the process simplified. But use whatever means is best suited to your particular needs, email, ichat, Skype, whatever. Just know that if you post something on the forums, the process may be complicated.


Please feel free to discuss this process but I believe this will help stream line all our efforts to make this a great experience. If there is a suggested change to this process - please post it here, so that all involved will be on the same page.





I think general consensus will work for this. The community as a whole will have the best idea of accomplishing this. 

But it could be voted on! How about a survey!


I think Bianca's and my reply to the initial message covers these.  But if not, lets discuss!

Thanks, Drew, for taking the lead to clarify this.  

I have one suggestion: in Stages 2 & 3, I completely agree that just 1 or 2 people should be in charge of editing -- the recent discussion about the Pikemen rules sheet is an example of how long it can take when lots of people edit.  But we have also seen that having many people comment on editing details can be extremely helpful, as Andy has stated when he has posted pdfs of game rules for comment.  

The difference between the examples is how many people have decision-making authority.  Let as many people as you want raise issues, but let only the editor decide whether, and how, to handle them.  

That's right Bryan - It is very helpful when many participate, and it is in Stage One where much of this "group think" and "group edit" will occur. But, as I said in the Summery #1 above..

In effect, the author of the new Pyramid rules becomes the “Project Manager” and manages each stage of the process. All aspects of the new IceSheet initiative should come back to the author,

In Stage One As many SCs as want may playtest - offers suggestions to rules, edits, phrasing, and as I said Andy and Kristin may also chime in if they want.  But it is the author's job  (the one who begins the forum post and created the game) to take these suggestions edits, changes to game play, etc. and implement them into the rules and repost the updated version. Manage this IceSheet's production. 

In Stages 2 & 3 as you said, the time for group think is over and the author of the rules works one-on-one with only those needed to create the IceSheet, and also have a final edit.

Actually, I did think of Tic Tac Doh! (I was the only one to log plays of it on BGG last month.) But I didn't actually post anything...

In the examples I cited above, Andy submitted his rules write-ups for comments at Stage 2: the rules were finalized, but he wanted comments on how the rules were written.  An example is with Lunar Invaders: Andy got lots of comments to help improve how the rules were written, not all of which he would not gotten by himself.  

That's what I mean.  During Stage 1, the worry is about the game play, and once its quality is established, the written rules can be finalized in Stage 2.  There is overlap, of course, but I think multiple inputs on issues to consider is still valuable during Stage 2, as it has been with Andy's games.  The problem comes when there is no chief, such as the long back-and-forth about whether to use "Stash" or "Set" -- that's something for people to mention, and leave for the editor to decide on.  

I guess that you and I were drawing the line between the stages at different points.  As long as it all gets done, it's fine.  Thanks, Drew.

Which Games' Rules to post next?

In the brainstorming session we had last night, we decided that in anticipation of the release of the new Treehouse and the Pyramids Demo Kit next month, we need to get a bunch of additional game rules ready to download at the More Games page, so excited new fans can follow up and easily explore the Pyramid universe. 

The games which are described in the Guide to Looney Pyramids, and whose rule sheets will appear in Pyramid Primer #1, are:

(As an aside, I have to admit that I'm excited about the Pyramid Primers.  Their magazine format will allow them to come out on an on-demand basis.  The hope is that they will appear a couple of times a year, and this will allow us to have professionally formatted rules to numerous pyramid games, something which we've never been able to have before.  PP#2 will probably have other classic games which did not appear in PP#1.)

So, which other games shall we prepare for rules formatting for the Other Games page?  At the time of this writing, that page says:

So far, rules pages and PDFs have been built for:  

         Zendo, Twin Win, Pyramid Shambo, Lunar Invaders and Nothing Beats a Large

Scott Myer has also done a rules sheet for Pikemen, and Andy has reserved RAMBots for himself to write up.  Other possibilities include:

  • Cosmic Coasters
  • CrackeD Ice
  • Gnostica
  • Hearts with Pyramids
  • Martian Hold'em
  • Martian Backgammon
  • Martian Mud Wrestling
  • Thin Ice
  • Zagami
  • Zarcana

I made this list mainly from games in Playing with Pyramids, or done at the Big Experiments back to 2003. 

What else would you suggest?


From your "possibilities" list, I'd go for CrackeD Ice, Gnostica, and Martian Mud Wrestling.

A few random thoughts:

  • Cosmic Coasters isn't an Icehouse game, though it can be played with Icehouse pyramids (as it requires five of any kind of unique token per player).
  • CrackeD Ice doesn't actually play very well at all, I find.
  • Gnostica is kind of tricky--maybe Zarcana instead?
  • MMW can get into weird states where little/nothing happens for several turns. I'd avoid it.


I'd suggest the IGDC winners be considered:

In particular, Summer 2007 was full of great games:

(Subdivision, Zamboni Wars, and if I may say so, Moon Shot)

Also: Armada - AWEsome game, really.


Finally, I'd make sure that the games under consideration be added across multiple play styles:

  • Pure strategy "board" and "boardless" (e.g., Armada) games
  • Some randomness "board" and "boardless" (e.g., Treehouse) games
  • High randomness "board" and "boardless" games (a given, if Andy has any say! ;) )
  • Dexterity (e.g., Moon Shot, Drip--err, damn... both need tubes to play--oh, well! :( )
  • Miniatures (e.g., Armada)




From the IGDC, I picked out Pylon and Hextris as games I've found especially playable.

I know that Andy prefers Zarcana to Gnostica; I was expressing my personal preference. I think there might be some merit in showing a "heavier" outlier pyramid game at some point.

Our experiences with CrackeD Ice obviously differ, and I know from reading remarks online that mine isn't a unique take.

I finally got Freeze Tag to the table this weekend.  I've only played it once now, but I think it would be a good candidate for an IceSheet.

Expanding what David wrote, the page about award-winning games includes the Icehouse Award winners and finalists as well as the IGDC 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. 

Gnostica is definitely my favorite pyramid game. It gets my vote.

My favorite light abstracts that have good ratings are Infiltrate and Logger. I've found them both to have high replayability.

For roll and moves, I was particularly impressed by Freeze Tag and Timelock. Either or both of those would be good, especially since they're both great games for the target audience. Timelock needs three Treehouse dice, though, which is a pretty big strike against it with the current distribution model.

I think Robert's Gleebs and Grues is an excellent one-Rainbow-stash game, by the way.

Cosmic Coasters isn't an Icehouse game, though it can be played with Icehouse pyramids (as it requires five of any kind of unique token per player).

I was actually thinking about the pyramid game adaptation of Cosmic Coasters.  I'd forgotten that its name is Lunar Invaders, so it's already covered. 

(However, I think it would be good to include the Special Powers from Cosmic Coasters as variants to Lunar Invaders, supplemented by new powers pertaining to Luna's 2 faces.) 

Brian and everyone involved in the discussion here, I added a new wiki page on to help us have a central location for tracking all of the games that we are trying to get to the stage of finally becoming an IceSheet. Go check out my start and give feedback on ideas on how we can make it better. Thanks!

Here's the link:

[Icesheet] Pikemen

A few months ago, our own Scott Myers put out an IceSheet for the game Pikemen. It is attached here, and if you would like to take a moment and check it out, and have some discussion here about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Once you've checked it out, and if you're a Starship Captain, head over to the Starship Captain forums for the official vote. If ten Captains approve the sheet, it will go up on the More Games page on the Looney Pyramids section of the Looney Labs website. 


The requirements list "Rainbow Stash x5", but it would seem more accurate to say something like "1 stash per player". I.e. it doesn't require rainbow colors, and it doesn't really require 5 stashes per se.

> The player who captures a number of enemy Pikemen first wins.

That's not strictly true (victory depends on points captured, not number of pieces captured). So it might be better to say something like:

The player who first captures a certain number of points wins.

>accommodate a large pyramid laying on it's side.

Grammar typo: that should be "on its side."

I'm not a fan of having all the alternate layouts appear on page 2; I'd put them in an appendix. I'd much rather see a single physical sheet with all the truly essential stuff, and put optional/historical/Eeyore/strategy/etc stuff on the second physical sheet. Having a literal single physical "Icesheet" with all I need to play the standard game seems a Good Thing. Optional stuff should be on an optional second physical sheet of additional Pikemen info.

The 3 setup positions on page 1 could be made smaller to make more room for core rules text on pages 1 and 2.

> Gameplay: The tallest player starts, and play proceeds clockwise from there.

Ah, silly starting player rules... Maybe simply "Choose a starting player."?

> Attackers are always laying down, pointing in one of the 8 cardinal directions, on the board.

Remove ", on the board". I'm not sure what benefit/clarity it adds.

> Defenders are always standing straight up, pointing at the sky.

Remove ", pointing at the sky".

> · Any opponent's Pikeman that is not upright.
> · Any opponent's smaller Pikeman which is standing upright.

Inconsistent usage of "upright" or "standing upright". Maybe change to:

· Any opponent's Pikeman that is lying down.
· Any opponent's smaller Pikeman which is standing up.

> Tactics: Always bear in mind, any Pikeman in attack position can be taken by any opponent.

Simplify "Always bear in mind" to "Remember"

I will take a look at some of the grammatical issues later, but for now i will point out that rainbow stashes is the term used because Looney Labs doesn't sell monochrome stashes, just rainbow and xeno stashes. so, for someone to have the ability to play this game, five rainbow stashes are needed. the icesheets are more for new pyramid players than for old hands. going forward rainbow stashes will be the gold standard.

secondly, the layout issues was discussed with the looneys last night and the vote is more about whether the rules are presentedin such a way to be understandable with layout being of secondary concern, because layout becomes more about personal preference rather than playability. So while suggesting layout concerns is important don't let it be the primary factor in the vote. it may take a while to get in the groove of how to do this because so far only andy has really written published icesheets. 

but as i said i will review the grammatical errors later today and start a dialog with scott about which layout concerns need addressed and see if we can get the grammar errors fixed. our goal is to get this published asap, but to make sure we don't skimp on quality. we just want to be ready, for all the new pyramid players that will be joining in the next couple months.

The term "stash" is used for 15 monochrome pieces.

Rainbow and Xeno are sets of 15 pieces in five colors (one opaque).

So it's either "one monochrome stash of 15 pieces per player" or it's "five sets of Rainbow or Xeno pieces, so that each player has 15 pieces of the same color (5 of each size small, medium, and large)".

This terminology is consistent across Looney Labs' product page and the Icehouse Games wiki.

The Guide to Looney Pyramids booklet uses the term Rainbow Stash.  See also this page.  Stash is no longer for monochrome any more.  And since the primary way pyramids have been sold since 2006 has been rainbow stashes, I think it's best to use rainbow stashes as the standard unit if possible.  The term Monochrome Stash is still officially used, though, so I could see cases where it might be appropriate.

My take is that in the case of a game like Pikemen where each player has their own monochrome stash, it seems clearly nicer to say "1 monochrome stash per player" instead of "5 Rainbow stashes".

If it's a new customer who is buying Rainbow stashes, then "1 monochrome stash per player" still give the information that they'll need 5 Rainbow stashes in order to assemble monochrome stashes, but "5 Rainbow stashes" overly strictly suggests that Rainbow colors are necessary (like RAMbots or Homeworlds) when they're not (you can play Pikemen with Xeno colors or pink or gray just as well), and it too strictly suggests that 5 different colors are needed (when only N colors where N=number of players) are needed.

Maybe "1 monochrome stash per player" with smaller print saying "E.g. 5 Rainbow stashes" or something? I don't know. I can understand the desire to cater to newbies, but at the same time it seems like the game description shouldn't immediately turn people away who have (e.g.) a Xeno stash or who have several monochrome stashes.

The page you point to also defines monochrome stash, as "5 trios of one color". Since the Introduction still includes the term, what's wrong with using it?

My previous post was mostly focused on the word "stash" and I was rather wishy-washy on the use of "monochrome stash."  I'm still not sure how best to resolve the conflict between "precise" and "newbie-friendly."

The term "monochrome stash" is defined in the little booklet, but just because a term is defined somewhere, doesn't mean people know it.  And some people who don't know the term will turn away rather than trying to figure it out.

At this point, I'm interested in seeing how it would look if you said, "1 monochrome stash per player (or 5 rainbow stashes)", to see if that would crowd the box too much.  You could put the parenthetical in smaller type, but that's still a lot.

Is there a way to make it shorter but still understandable?  "Stashes: 1 monochrome per player or 5 rainbow" maybe.

I keep looking for an ideal solution, but I don't know that there is one.

How about "1 monochrome stash (15 pyramids) per player"

Because it seems to me that saying "5 rainbow stashes" isn't even newb friendly. Remember that these are game rules, not a shopping list. When I put the game on the table, what do I need to get out of the box? I only ever need 5 rainbow stashes if I'm playing with 5 players.

Search for "stash" on the Looney Labs Product page

You'll see that it is only mentions "stash" for an old Tic Tac Doh rule card and for Deluxe Volcano Board ("the equivalent of 10 monochrome stashes").

Now search for set

You'll see that EVERY reference to Treehouse uses "set".

There is no such thing as a "Treehouse stash," a "Rainbow stash," nor a "Xeno stash"... and a customer that searches for those gets 0 hits.

Now... as Jeff points out, a document at use the phrase "Rainbow stash": a PDF (and a PNG taken from page one of that PDF). Neither PDF nor PNG are directly searchable at the site.

So... I'd suggest that that one document be updated to use the phrase "set" for multi-colored groups trios (Treehouse set; IceDice set; 3HOUSE set) and use the phrase "stash" only for a monochrome group of five trios (in the context primarily of older games--like Icehouse!).

Or, like... we go and update 150+ wiki pages. You know: to align with one PDF. *rolleyes*

I vote rather that Andy update that one PDF and we all stick to the conventions established when the product line was rejiggered. I think that's less confusing for new customers, and it's what we old hands are used to.

Or don't, and continue to be vague for both old and new players. Whatever y'all think is best for the brand....

I think we should let Andy vet the Icesheet for Pikemen before it's posted on the page.  So why don't we let him decide whether to use "stash" or "set" or whatever?  And similarly for other questions that there is disagreement on.  

Pyramid Cadet Training Quiz Part I !! ANSWERS AND SCORES!

And now the answers and the scores for all Starship Captains that took part! 


1. “If the attacker wins, the loser must flee…” 

Answer: World War 5

2. “Slide one of your pyramids onto an adjacent card.” 

Answer: Zark City

3. “Players can only bring their pieces onto the board from their edge.” 

Answer: Pharoah

4. “If you can use the action on your trio, you must.” 

Answer: TreeHouse

5. “Whoever is holding the dice goes first” 

Answer: IceDice

6. “…cup your hand around it, forming a little shield…” 

Answer: BlackIce

7. “It’s helpful to imagine that the quadrants are divided by small canals.” 

Answer: Martian Chess

8. “Begin by naming your imaginary friend…” 

Answer: Ice Towers

9. ..”the fictional origin of these pyramids is in the lost, ancient cities of the planet Mars.” 

Answer: Martian Coasters

10. “..have each player take a monochrome Trio and hide the leftover pieces behind them…” 

Answer: Launch Pad 23

Super Bonus Question  (Not one of the games in the Cadet Training Syllabus)


“During each turn, you get TWO actions.”


Super Bonus Answer: Twin Win


Starship Captains Quiz Rankings!


Perfect 13 Points:

Mark Valenti

Jeff Wolfe

Joshua Denmeade

Jennifer Waddington

Thomas Preece

Christian Gilbert

Alison Looney

Frank DeGroot

Genevieve Sanders

Jeremy Wedel

Mark Booker


12 Points

David Artman 


9 Points

Lorena Finnerty


8 Points 

Scott Myers 


Congrats to all the Captains out there that replied... Quiz part II coming this week!

To all those that didn't take part.. grab a space helmet and get in the game!


The Ice Box

Hello!!  As you may know, I have been working on making the IceSheets more accessible.  To that end, I have made a new thing.  It's a PDF fForm, with spaces to add your own text.  Since the info box is the most uniquely "IceSheet" part of the IceSheet, I fFocused on making that.  You could fFill in the blanks, then plop that sucker right in your own rule set.

You'll fFind the actual PDF attached below, but here's what it looks like:

Neat, huh?  Okay, maybe it doesn't look like much.  But imagine, you can easily fFill in all those blanks and spaces with stuff about your game!

As a proof of concept, here's the block fFor Caldera.  The IceSheet fFor Caldera already exists, of course, but I wanted to make this piece look as good as the original.

Pretty good, right?

So let me tell you a little about it.  In Acrobat Reader, you can turn on "Highlights Fields" which will make it have a bunch of blue boxes, like so:

  • The Game Name is "Rich Text," so you can either type in some stuff, or you can select pieces and make it bold or italics or whatever.  You can even copy text fFrom other text editors, and paste in place, with different editing styles.  Such as I did with the Caldera example above, I used a bigger, different fFont to match the original.
    • If you want to something really creative with your Game Name, like use a strange fFont effect, make the text all wobbly and outlined and stretched, or something like that, you won't be able to do that here. So sorry, Acrobat Rich Text boxes know how to do things like subscript and superscript and underline and different fFont fFaces, but really exotic effects are the realm of different tools.  But read on, because you can add some images...
  • The "Designed By" fField is entirely changeable, so you could say "Inspired by the classic Game of Chess" or whatever if you wanted.  I did notice one quirk: when typing in a box that is right aligned like this, Acrobat doesn't seem to add spaces at the end of the line.  You could type a letter at the end, then type all you want with spaces in place.  I'm not explaining it well, I guess.  Just know that you may type stuff and realize you need to go back and add spaces.  That's a quirk with Acrobat.
  • The "Complexity" and "Duration" fFields are awesome.  They will change the color of the box, depending on what you type.  And, they will (or should) throw up an error if you type something other than "Simple/Medium/Complex" or "Fast/Medium/Slow."  So your sheet will stay nice and uniform.  Cool, eh?
  • Players, Stashes, and Extra Equipment are pretty much just text entry boxes, but the plurals "Stashes" and "Players" will switch to singular "Stash" and "Player" if you state exactly 1 (or x1 in stashes) there.
  • There are 2 image slots in here:
    • One is the big white box at the right.  Click on the box, and it will open a dialogue to add a picture.  Easy.  The image will stretch to fFit, so I suggest starting with an image that is a square shape.
    • The other image is less obvious.  Just above and to the right of the GAME NAME box, you may see your mouse change.  There is a spot to put an icon fFor your game, if you'd like.  It has no border, and if you leave it blank it won't show anything.  Your image will scale proprtionally, so it won't fFill the entire box, unless it's a squarish shape as well.  This image might be covered partly by your GAME NAME text, so it might require some fFiddling, if you want to get creative.

This whole thing is really cool.  It's not a whole Ice Sheet, obviously, but I think if you make a block like this, and add it to your new rules layout (i suggest taking a screenshot of just this block and paste it into place in word or whatever), then use a 2 column layout and use Myriad Pro as your fFont, you will have a very very good looking page!!

Also, I have attached the fFooter promoting Looney Pyramids to this post, which appears at the bottom of the right column at the end of every rule-set, to help you look even more smooth.  All you're missing now is the little page number glyphs, which are sort of tricky.  Maybe I'll make a series of those or something.  =)

I'd love to hear if anyone uses this!  I'm fFairly proud of it, I'd say.




this is awesome!!!

Wow, you really moved on that Scott. I tested it, making an icebox for Autumn Ash, and it worked well.

The one thing I noticed was that "Rainbow Stashes" is permanent. Is "Rainbow" necessary? Or, better yet, it would be nice to be able to change that to "Xeno" Stashes or some custom wording. For many games, the type of stash is irrelevant (only that they are of the same type). For Autumn Ash (requiring two R stashes and two X stashes) "Rainbow" Stashes ends up being privledged on its own line, and bellow it is Xeno Stashes X2. Other games require other combinations.

The wording that line might be worth rethinking for IceSheets in general.

I'll end up trying to copy the same font and pyramid icon to put below the "Rainbow" line, for the Xeno stashes. However, you might make the line that says "Rainbow" editable in the IceBox.pdf

Ah, yes.  I had considered that issue.  As yet, I'm only keeping with the Original layout.  I had thought of making "Rainbow" changeable to "Monochrome" as well.  But, the issue of the Rainbow and Xeno does alter things.  Because, with your game Autumn Ash fFor example, we need both R+X.  So, how does that get laid out?  hmmm... 

Maybe a slightly more advanced version of this fFile is called fFor.  Not sure.  I was considering making some sort of page 2 or something, which lays out all the items in drop down menus or something, with all possibilities like this represented.  It would alter things, but it might give more fFlexibility.

[Pyramid Playtesters] Brainstorming Stage

I am starting a new forum post in regards to the comment from Kristin Looney in this post:

First off, I just started a new job and out of the days that Kristin listed as being available for a Google+ Hangout, I would only be available on Tuesday September 25 at 9PM ET because I get off of work at 8:30 PM ET that evening.

However, I would like to present my idea here and see what you all think. If you like this idea and we can have a conversation via this forum post, we may not even need to arrange a time that will work for all of us.

So here's the idea that I have come up with:

I have created the email address:    I plan on setting this email address up on my phone so that I will be alerted soon after getting an email. So my idea would be that if a Starship Captain or any other pyramid player would like to be a Pyramid Playtester of new games, then they can send an email to and ask to be added to the Pyramid Playtest Team. I would then add their email to a "group" in the google address book so that it makes it quick and easy for me to send emails out to all the playtesters by just typing the group name instead of a bunch of individual emails.

So that is step one. Allow Pyramid Playtesters to join the playtest team.

Step two would be anyone who has a new game that has already been formatted in the new IceSheet format, could send an email to and attach their nicely formatted PDF or a link to go download it. I would then take that email and send it out to all the Pyramid Playtesters that are currently on the list of playtesters. Before sending the email out, I would create a new forum post under the Pyramid Games category called something like this [PP New Game] Egyptian Solitaire. PP standing for Pyramid Playtesters and then the name of the game that has been submitted. I would post that link in the email that gets sent to all the Pyramid Playtesters with instructions to post their thoughts/approval on that thread instead of sending an email back to

The reason for the email is because I believe that some of the problem is that pyramid players aren't logging on to the Looney Labs Fan Club every day to see if their are new games or something. So if they want to be a playtester and they opt in to receive email from then they will get emails when a new game needs playtesting and they will get that notification in their email inbox which is something that they most likely check everyday.

As far as whether a game should be approved or not, the criteria that I can think of right now would be:

1. Format - Is it formatted in the new IceSheet standard formatting? If not, I don't think I should send it out to playtesters until it is. This should be a requirement before submitting it for playtesting. If they need help formatting it, maybe there is someone who could help with that? I don't know?

2. Gameplay - Does the game play well? Is it flawed in anyway? If needed, add suggestions on how to make the gameplay better.

3. Writing - Are the rules simple and clear? Is the text free of grammatical errors? If needed, add suggestions on how to word something better.

4. Graphics - Are the rules supported with visuals of how to play or move pieces during gameplay? Are the graphics confusing or misleading in anyway? If needed, add suggestions on how to visually display gameplay graphics more efficiently. Graphics may be somewhat optional on some games, I guess. However, I always prefer them.

So let me know what you think about this idea and how we can improve it if you think it is a possibility. Also, if we do go along with doing something like this, then it would be great to have a blurb on the website that talks about what to do to become a Pyramid Playtester and also how to submit your nicely formatted rules for the Pyramid Playtesters to play and hopefully approve.

I know this is a huge task because not everybody has a bunch of time on their hands to playtest games and many times you need more than yourself to playtest it, which can make it even harder. However, I think if there are people who want to be playtesters and have time to do so, then getting an email notification will at least help them get rules to new games which hopefully they will playtest and write their quick review on the forum thread for that particular game.

So I think that is all for this huge novel that I just wrote hahaha


I would love to throw my hat into the ring for that meeting. I am a rabid player of Pyramids, and I live in an area with tons of Starship Captains (2 registered, 5-7 unregistered) and we love learning that playing new games. My biggest issue is how to get the rules for some of the games that have become obscure recently into their hands for teaching purposes. I would love to get this ball rolling even if I have to do most of the work myself, because I hold these games in a place of honor among my gaming collection, and would love to see them elevated to bigger and loftier heights. I am available tuesday as well at that same time, and possibly earlier if necessary.


Thanks for the support! I am glad to see that you are interested in seeing more and more pyramid games getting formatted to the new standard formatting and becoming more widely accessible to all pyramid players. We are definitely going to need the help and support of as many Starship Captains and avid pyramid players as possible. Let's wait to hear from Kristin and others on what they think of this idea and hopefully we will get something moving along here in the near future. That's good that you are available on that Tuesday (Sept 25) so that if we do end up holding that Google+ Hangout then that would be great to have you there for that.

This could work well to get games recognized, both old and new, and I think it could also work well in tandem with the ICE Awards.

That said, the biggest potential problem I have is with the formating requirement. Some of use have already noted problems getting the template provided by Looney Labs to work. It creates a divide between game designers who have access and can use the technology and those who can't. In my case, I even own Acrobat Pro, and I can't use the template. I also tried the free program Sribus (not even close). The problem may be the different between Macs (what I have) and PC, or between the different types of Acrobat composition programs out there. Some have suggested trying to do something through Word, but this won't conform closely to what the Looneys have in mind.

I think this is the reason that, while there have been more games created this year than last, we haven't seen many of the new games created in Icesheets.

I'm pretty sure the Looneys use Illustrator, as do I.  I also made a nice template fFor InDesign.  I think anything short of a design package like that probably won't make pretty results.  This echoes the most common problem I've heard about IceSheets: they are not easy to generate.

I've been wrestling with this issue fFor a time.  I've considered some sort of webpage with a style sheet and some PHP to fFill in.  that isn't the absolute best method, but it's an idea.  Or maybe just a PDF fForm.  Might be the easier way, tho I'm not sure how fFlexible a fForm actually is.  Can you put an image in place?  Not sure.  I'm open to other ideas as well.

At present, the way to make an IceSheet is to have some design experience and spend the time making it -- which makes one really appreciate what Andy does just that much more -- or else send your rules to someone like me and have the Ice Sheet generated.  I don't mind it one bit, it's quite fFun.  But it's not the most accessible method.

That actually gives me an idea. What if we had people specifically who were around to generate IceSheets? I'm working on getting a copy of illistrator from the university and want to make plenty of icesheets, but what if we had 4 5 6 people who others just sent their rules to, and generated IceSheets based on that. I mean it's not a perfect idea, but it's somewhere to start at least. if only we could get a good word template, it'd probably make people's lives much easier

Even if all sorts of discussion on this thread moves us forward on ideas, I still think a conference call would be awesome...

So, I just put 9PM - 10PM ET on Tuesday Sept 25th on my calendar for a google hangout to chat about all this stuff with you guys.  Andy is also available, and would like to join in, and I would like to reserve one of the 10 slots for Bianca Ruffin (if she is available) since she is starting as our full time marketing manager on Sept 24th.

With Dallan and Joshua taking two of the other 10 slots, there is room for 5 more pyramid fans to join this first brainstorming hangout session... 

I have a medium interest of being part of the conversation, so if there are enough with a strong interest, I'm willing to cede to them. 

Also, regarding Dallan's post: For new games, there should be a round of playtesting among Starship Captains BEFORE bothering to put the rules into IceSheet format.  That layout job ideally wouldn't happen until the rules have been hashed out and tested and are declared ready - so the layout work only happens once. There are lots of already well tested known good games that could/should be formatted into IceSheets, and we will be discussing the challenges to overcome regarding the layout of IceSheets, but the biggest most important challenge for NEW games is the one that Dallan is trying to address with his ideas here:  how do we get the community of pyramid game players to help playtest each others new game ideas?   And it starts by making it easy for those who want to playtest to find out what to playtest... 

So there are two very different challenges - making playtesting happen, and formatting final rules sheets. 

Fantastic, I shall be there and ready. I'm very excited about the direction this is going.

I'm available! I'll take a slot.

Scott:  can you join in on Tuesday Sept 24th fFor a google hangout conference call? 

I am quite keen on doing so, yes!!  I've never been a talking head in a hangout before, so I'll need to fFigure that out, but I'm betting it's not hard.  Now where did I put that webcam ... hmmm...

Anyway, yes, please!!

Eek!!  I just realized!  I will be out of town that week!  I might be able to connect to the hangout fFrom my phone.  It's an android phone, and i'm pretty sure there's an app fFor that.  I will need to look into the matter.

Or I can just bow out, but I think I would really like to be there.  I happened to meet up with Greg Lattanzio tonight, and we talked about stuff while playing some games, so if I am unable to join, he's probably a good replacement fFor me.

But yeah, I'll see if I can fFigure out how to log into a hangout fFrom my device.  Or, I might be able to borrow a computer fFrom someone else while journeying.

I will give a tentative yes to attending.  =)

I agree about separating the issues of playtesting and "official" IceSheets. Linking to the game's rules in the icehouse wiki, or some other clear readable rule format, seems like it should suffice for requesting playtesting, especially since it sounds like creating "official" IceSheets requires possession of specific software and knowledge.

BTW I'm interested in this discussion generally, but I totally won't be available in this Tuesday night hangout. Hopefully a summary report about it gets posted. :)

I agree with splitting up these two very different challenges and talking about them separately in our meeting on Tuesday Sept. 25

I think something else to start pondering is how we keep track of who is playtesting what games. Without having some sort of organization for that, it could lead to 10 people playtesting a game that they happen to like or they know the designer, while there are no people playtesting a game from a relatively unknown designer. The games may or may not be good, but we'll not have the ability to discern that without making sure Starship Captains are truly giving all the games a good go.

I'm not sure that's necessarily a problem (ultimately people should test games they are interested in playing and not games that don't interest them, one might argue), but if one wants to keep track of who's testing which games, it could be done on a wiki page at the icehouse wiki, or a shared google docs spreadsheet...

To me, it could be more useful to just have a public list of games desiring testing, and people could "sign" them with a comment if they test them. Personally I find it hard to say for sure in advance if I'll be able to convince my gaming partners to try a prototype game, even if the game interests me.

Hey gang.,  I just started a new, relevant topic, about something new I made.  It is what I'm calling The IceBox, which is just the top left opening section of the IceSheet.

Go have a look!

Well, I don't think it's a problem right now per se, but, it could become a problem once a system is started and games are really going through the ringer. And i totally agree that people should play the games that they want to, but having a system worked out so that people are aware of who is playing what could be for many other reasons. It could operate as a place for people to post problems as soon as they find them, so that when others go to start playtesting, they already know it's there, and we don't end up with many redundant reports. A guestbook type system would be perfect for this. It can help build interest for a game, or let people try to find the next big thing that no one may have noticed yet. I was just proffering a suggestion of something to think about, so we can cover as many bases as possible.

Little update: hangouts are pretty awesome. I should have no trouble getting in, on my mobile device, I think. Tuesday at 9 pm, right?

Is the conference call on for tonight?  Who will be participating?  I don't mind if I'm not one of them, but if I am I want to know.  

How do those involved hook up to the conference call?

I might be able to join in.  It doesn't require video, does it?

Yeah, I think it's up to mass consensus if we are going to have this tonight. Can I please get a roll-call on who is available and wants to be on the call tonight? If we only have one or two people, we may need to reschedule.

Kristin and I are on board but let us know if y'all are up for it.


It requires the use of google hangouts. If you don't have a webcam - but do have a computer mic - you can still participate we just won't be able to see you.

I will definitely be available. 9 PM sharp. I am somewhat familiar with Google hangouts, but might need a bit of information on how to get into the hangout

I'm available.

What is a Google hangout and how does it work?

A Google Hangout is just like a video chat session. You'll need to create a Google + account (it's free) and then find the Hangouts link on your profile -- it's located on the left side, towards the bottom.

There is some software that needs to be downloaded for the Hangout to work, so you'll need to handle this ahead of time. Once your G+ account is created, click on Hangouts (on the left), then click "START A HANGOUT" on the top, right side of the screen. This is *only* to get you to the welcome screen where it'll prompt you to download the pertinent software.

If we get enough people to join tonight's conversation, at 9:00 ET, I will start a hangout with Kristin, then one of us will post the link in this forum. You'll need to be logged into Google+ for it to work.

So far, we only have Josh and Bryan available tonight. What about Dallan, who started this conversation, and others?

All right y'all, we're only four hours away from the original scheduled time and only two confirmed. So we're going to cancel this for tonight but we are *extremely* interested in doing one of these in the very near future.

We'll let you guys take the reigns on the agenda and potential re-schedule dates, then go from there. Because this is really a great idea and we want to see it through.

Thanks everyone!!

I will definitely be there. I am at work right now and will get off work 30 mins before then so I might be just a few minutes late, but I should be on time. I know how to use Google Hangouts so it won't take me long to set up. I'll be there.

Ok, that's wonderful! We'll have it at 9:00 pm tonight, then!

Just in case my reply to Dallan didn't get pushed to everyone, we are BACK ON! We've got three folks so far, hopefully a few more will be available for 9:00 pm ET

Thanks everyone! We're excited!

I'm in. what sort of contact info works you like?

I'll post the link in a moment.

Ready when you are! 

same here :)

Just wanted to say thank you for joining us the other night. Great discussion and we're excited about what these beginning plans may bring. Y'all are WONDERFUL!

Looking forward to digging in and finding out more about this discussion. Let me know if I can be of any help!


By the way, if you are interested in hosting playtest events when the pyramid demo kit hits stores, but already have several boxes of pyramids, playmats and/or rules -- don't be afraid to suggest to your local gamestore to make the demo kit purchase for you all to use.

That way, you don't need to use your own pieces and you aren't in a position to purchase them all over again. :)

What next?  

I posted a thread asking for suggestions on which games to do Icesheets for next.  I listed games from Playing with Pyramids and old Big Experiment tournaments that hadn't been done yet, and others suggested games from old IGDC competitions and a few others.  

I don't remember exactly what was decided about where and how to determine which games to write up next.  But if we want to have a bunch of games up on the Other Games page, we really need to get going on it and parcel out who is going to write up what.  Shall we assume that if a game appeared in PwP, was in a BE tournament, or was a competition finalist, it's worthy of writing up?  

I just wanted to let everyone here know that I added a new wiki page on to help us have a central location for tracking all of the games that we are trying to get to the stage of finally becoming an IceSheet. The wiki was an idea that Kristin suggested during the Google+ Hangout. Go check out my start and give feedback on ideas on how we can make it better. Thanks!

Here's the link:

Thanks, Dallan.  That's the sort of thing I'd been looking for.

New Games for 2012: Autumn Ash, Latent Binaries, PyLiPo, and Cascades

These games are now developed enough to formally post here.

Autumn Ash

Enjoy a strategy game made specifically for the coming season.

The game uses a type of color promotion that I haven’t seen used in a pyramid game. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I think it will be a satisfying challenge to anyone who enjoys a good abstract (and has at least two rainbow AND two Xeon stashes).

There aren’t a lot of rules, but the mechanics are different enough that it might take you a few minutes to get it right. If you think that you don’t understand something in the rules, let me know and I’ll work on tweaking it. I hope to get to play a lot of different people in this game, and I hope the broader community enjoys it.


Latent Binaries

Abide by the rules of binaries... Rely on deductive reasoning and luck to create weaknesses in your opponent's defenses in order to have a clear shot at taking control of their base. It’s sort of a cross between BlackIce and a positional strategy game.


Cascades and PyLiPo

Still early on in playtesting are Cascades and PyLiPo. The former is a light strategy game of mountaineering that uses a deck of cards; it's not quite there yet. The latter is a literary generation game for a group of players; test your imagination and writing skills. You get to try to stump each other and create some interesting writing in the process. It should be fun, even in its largely untested form.


An IceSheet is now available here. It hasn't been finalized (mostly because the "Advanced Rules" will probably be tweaked slightly after I test a few things out), so I'm not giving it its own thread for approval yet. The game itse