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:
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:
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.