Although I’ve been playing Looney Labs card games for many years, it wasn’t until a little over two years ago that I stumbled into the world of Icehouse pyramids. Games like Fluxx, Chrononauts, and Aquarius eventually piqued my curiosity enough to discover more about this unique gaming company and its colorful baboushka-like pyramids.
After acquiring my first set of Treehouse I quickly became enamored. The set was portable enough to take along with me just about everywhere, and the game’s beauty had a habit of alluring strangers into sitting down to play almost every time I pulled it out.
Soon afterward my collection of pyramids was greatly expanded. Each time a new set was introduced, we could play more and more games with them. The collection reached 195 pyramids and the list of playable games became massive! I then purchased an old silverware box from a thrift store and converted it to hold my pyramids and all of my Icehouse accessories. I also printed out all of the rules to games not published and compiled them in a notebook I call “Still Playing with Pyramids”.
My “IceChest” and “Still Playing with Pyramids”.
Yes, I love Looney Pyramids. There are many games I have yet to play, but I am familiar with most of them. One thing I have noticed is that many pyramid fans claim to have a hard time getting their friends to play Icehouse games. You can confirm this at Boardgamegeek.com. Since this strikes me as incredibly odd, I have decided to do this event report based on the five Icehouse games I feel have received the best responses when introducing pyramids to mostly non-gamers. The list is by no means exclusive and will probably change over time, and it is in no particular order. It will most likely shed little new light, but it could help give an idea to which games are best to begin with when recruiting new rabbits. If nothing else, enjoy the pretty pictures!
Being the most accessible game in the pyramid line, Treehouse is incredibly portable and simple to teach and learn. I’ve pulled this out at bars, coffee shops, and cafes, and it has had a very high success rate. We have even played while waiting at venues before large musical performances, and each time a crowd has gathered around and eventually sat down to play. Treehouse is a very quick game, perfect for short breaks at work and standing in slow moving lines. Some strategy is involved, but it relies heavily on luck of the die.
This game requires quite the collection of pyramids, has a lengthy set up time, and isn’t easily portable, but is incredibly fun. Volcano has never failed to produce an exciting game, and is usually my go-to introductory game when at home. This one requires planning ahead and strategic thinking, so I mostly reserve it for the quieter game nights that allow concentration. Some of the most interesting things I've realized about Volcano is that every player develops their own style, and the game is usually over before someone notices.
This one uses only one Treehouse set, but requires special coasters to use as the board. You can order the set from looneylabs.com, which I recommend if you haven’t played this one. Martian Coasters is another easy game to teach and learn, and a perfect game to introduce the standard names and values of the pieces. (Queen, Drone, and Pawn.) This game can get pretty competitive, very silly, and it’s a quick one that will probably result in multiple rounds once everyone gets the hang of the rules.
Out of all of the Icehouse games I’ve played with my friends, this one seems to be the most requested. Twin Win is another game that uses only one set of Treehouse, but requires a small deck of special cards to play. Fortunately, Andy Looney shows you how to make your own or you can download his pdf file and print them out yourself. Twin Win is a fast, simple game that is sure to win over skeptical friends and spend some time on your table and not on your shelf.
This one is definitely a personal favorite. Martian Chess is (understandably) a very strategic game that can be played with two, three, or four players. You will need at least two sets of Treehouse to play, but this will increase the more players you have involved. This game seems to be close almost every time, so it rarely drags on. You will need a standard chess board, but it can get a bit confusing with three players since you are only controlling a quadrant of the board. You can find and print the board shown above by searching for “Eeyore’s Chess Board”at wunderland.com. Martian Chess is the most unique take on a chess-like game I have ever played, and I try to squeeze in matches whenever I see an opportunity to do so.
If you have as much luck and fun as I have teaching new fans these games, I recommend others like Blockade, Quicksand, Pharaoh, Binary Homeworlds, and Timelock, though the list could surely go on.
Thank you so much for reading, and happy playing!
-Daniel R. Nelon