Pyramid Game Review - Ice Dice

It's been almost two years since I first reviewed Treehouse from Looney Labs (you can read about it here), so it was about time to score another set of brightly colored translucent triangles and play more wacky abstract games. Well, maybe it was past time. It's hard to say, because I can't figure out how to set the clock on my cell phone (I have a new kick-ass Android phone, that keeps track of my budget and plays games and reminds me to take out the garbage, but I still can't reliably make phone calls).

The new Treehouse game is called Ice Dice, and it's got so much going for it, Looney Labs should be charging a lot more. Seriously, when you get this much awesome crap for twenty bucks, you should check to see if your Delorean has accidentally been set to 1986.

The new Ice Dice set has two full pyramid sets, all in technicolor shiny plastic. That's actually ten pyramids, total, each composed of three nesting pyramids. That's less than a dollar per piece. Plus you get two wacky dice (which I suppose is where they got the name) and rules for two games, with summaries for lots more.

But it's more than that, too. With just the pieces you get in Ice Dice, you can play a half dozen different games. You can add in one or two more boxes of pyramids (they're cheap, too) and play a whole hell of a lot more. If you need rules for some new games, Looney Labs has a baker's dozen on their website - and those are all free. Seriously, this is a great bargain.

But the coolest thing about Ice Dice, my favorite part of the whole package, actually is the package. Ice Dice comes in a pyramid-shaped zipper bag that will store all the pyramids you'll ever need, and keeps them all in a handy, instantly identifiable bag that you can shove in a coat pocket and take anywhere you go. If you ever like to travel and have games that go with you, Ice Dice should be at the tippy-top of your pyramid-shaped list.

There are two games inside the bag - Ice Dice (duh) and Launchpad 23. The title game is a clever little push-your-luck game for two players, and you can add more players if you have more pyramids. If you're just itching to play with four players, Launchpad 23 is a cutthroat maneuvering game where you'll routinely frustrate and counter your friends, if you can decide who to pick on. Both are fun, easy, abstract games that will entertain for fifteen minutes while you wait for the waitress at Denny's to bring your Moons Over My Hammy at a Barstow truck stop.

Of course, there are really more than two games in the bag. There are at least a dozen - all you need is the rules. And like I said, those are freely available at the Looney Labs site. My new phone will download those rules anywhere I go, and let me read them in the front seat of the car (though after I finish, it will probably butt-dial my boss who thinks I'm out sick, so he can listen to me sing along to Van Halen on the radio).

There are lots of games out there. Thousands, really. And of those thousands, hundreds of them will travel really well. But for my money, the best investment the traveling gamer can make is a couple sets of pyramids and some wacky dice that can be chucked into the glove box and dragged out when we get to the giant ball of twine, so me and the kids will have something to do while my wife takes pictures for her scrapbook.

If she does takes pictures, she's probably using my new phone. If I could figure out how to see the pictures, I would show them to you.


2-4 players

Attractive, fun shapes
More games than you'll probably have time to play
Light and easy abstracts
Insanely portable
Really good value

Once you get started, you'll want more, so they're a little like heroin

Did I say Ice Dice was twenty bucks? I lied. If you got to Noble Knight Games, it's even cheaper than that.

And if you need rules to more of the pyramid games, here's a good-sized pile to get you started:
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Card Game Review - Star Fluxx

I think we need to start a campaign to tell Looney Labs what settings to use for Fluxx. We've got zombies and pirates, Martians and potheads. We've got Monty Python and eco-friendly shrubbery. Looney Labs cranks out another Fluxx version about once a year, and so I think we need to offer some ideas. I think maybe Dino Fluxx, Balanced Diet Fluxx, and Porn Fluxx (my personal favorite idea) should be added to the lineup.

At least this year, we won't have to worry about what the new Fluxx is called. It's already called Star Fluxx, and riffs off so many science fiction tropes you may not even recognize all of them. Like you can win the Landing Party goal if you have the captain, the scientist, and an expendable crewman. In case you're wondering, yes, the expendable crewman is wearing a red shirt. No, the captain is not pictured with a hot alien chick. Or Khan.

One thing that's really cool about Star Fluxx is that most of the Keepers have special abilities. In other versions, the Keepers mostly just sit there and draw attention, which gives players a really good reason not to play them until the last minute. However, in Star Fluxx, the captain can recruit crew members from other players, the brain parasite can attach itself to the captain, and the laser sword can chop the captain in half and rid you of that pesky space monster. For the first time that I can remember, nearly any Keeper card is good for something, so you'll probably want to throw down as many as you can.

The surprises in Star Fluxx are also fun. You can counter other players, change goals before other people win, and otherwise screw with your friends. My favorite card is called It's A Trap. I don't even care what it does (though it is pretty fun). Mostly I just like to channel Admiral Ackbar when I play it, and yell 'It's a trap!' while sounding like someone cut off my lips.

Star Fluxx is not my favorite Fluxx so far. That would be Martian Fluxx, which does a great job of making you feel like you're playing a bunch of alien invaders harvesting Earthlings. But Star Fluxx pulls a close second, because on top of having a bunch of recognizable sci-fi gags that make me feel cool because I get the joke, it feels the most like you might have some impact on the end result, rather than just playing cards at random and hoping you don't lose before you get another turn.

Fluxx is still about the most random game you can play, although I think Star Fluxx does the best job so far of letting you feel like you have any ability to influence the outcome. I don't play Fluxx very often, simply because it is so random, but Star Fluxx might actually get played more often now that I know it's actually got some smart plays to be played. The new art is a hoot, too, so there's that.

At least for this year, we don't have to worry about what to call the latest Fluxx. But I think pretty soon, we will need to put our heads together and come up with the next Fluxx. I think it's important that we start on this idea very soon. For now, try Star Fluxx and see if you're inspired.


2 or more players

Great art
Lots of special powers let you feel like you can actually set up card combos
More potential decision-making than any previous version (which is not saying much)
Cute sci-fi references
Better than any other Fluxx except Martian Fluxx

Still wildly random and chaotic
Could end in two minutes; could take an hour and a half

If you want a cheap, portable, fun game that you can take anywhere and play with nearly anyone, Star Fluxx is a great choice. Want to save a few bucks on it? Try Noble Knight Games:
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