December 04, 2011

Ice Dice Written Review (Board Game)


For the longest time I've known of the existence of a line of products that contained a bunch of translucent multicoloured pyramids. It turned out that these were called Looney Pyramids, a product put out by Looney Labs.  Unfortunately, I could never get a hold of them. I've heard whispers of these from various gamers and on various podcasts but none of the gaming stores that I frequent ever stocked them. They've gone under various names like Icehouse sets or Treehouse sets but every attempt to find these had yielded no results. Well, the search was over finally. Very recently a new line of this unorthodox product was released to the general public. It's called IceDice. I was ecstatic.

Five colours, two sets
Those that don't know what I'm referring to may be scratching their heads by now. What is this highly coveted product? As mentioned, it's just a bunch of plastic pyramids that come in five different colours and in sets of three different sizes. Not much else really. Some versions of this product have more sets of pyramids, some have additional components like dice, and some even come with small game boards of some form. The contents of this specific product is similar: thirty pyramids, two dice, rules for two different games, and a small cardboard square specifically for one of the included games. Oh! And the cute bag that all this comes in as well!

All the components
The title of this particular game is IceDice. It's a really simple push your luck style game where you're rolling dice to set aside pyramids of different sizes and colours. Once your first pyramid has been identified you're given a choice: Take the loot that you've scored or roll again. The problem is that if you roll again and if you roll the same colour of pyramid that has been set aside then you lose it all - nothing returns back with you to your bank. Players take turns going back and forth until one player has acquired a "mono-chrome trio". In layman terms, that's three stacks of pyramids that have each of the three sizes. You could, for instance, have a red stack, a yellow stack, and even another red stack to win. Simple and fast.

One stack, a green monochrome trio
IceDice also comes with a bonus game called Launchpad 23. Here you use the provided small game board which depicts a 3 x 3 grid. Each player controls a corner and the goal is to manipulate the pyramids that enter at the center of the grid in order to make a stack of pyramids (read: rocket ship) that only contains the same sized pyramids having one of each colour. Players have access to a variable amount of actions to move these pyramids around the board for various reasons.  The game implements a throw-a-monkey-wrench-into-your-opponents-plans mechanic which is both enjoyable and frustrating. Again, simple and fast.

Launchpad 23 in progress
Alas, the two included games are not the reason that I absolutely had to get this product. You see, these pyramids are but mere components. Akin to a deck of cards these pyramids are the basis of a plethora of games that are freely and legally available on the internet. Go to http://www.looneylabs.com/more-games for a taste and then go to http://icehousegames.org/wiki/index.php?title=What_Can_I_Play%3F for a list of proven games listed by how many sets of pyramids that you'll need. It is such a pleasure to have access to such a large amount of games using a fairly base set of components.

And this is one of my biggest puzzles. I typically don't like abstract games. Faceless games like backgammon or checkers have always put my brain asleep. There's some mystical draw to these pyramid pieces that I can't wrap my head around. I enjoy the simple act of stacking them. I like the clink that they make when they hit each other. I'm actively researching new games to play with these things. I don't know why! The only problem that I'm finding is that some of the more intriguing games that I want to play require more sets of pyramids. Is it fair to list my desire to buy more pyramids as a negative?

For some reason this was fun
As you can see, I've looked at this game on two levels. When looking at it as simply the product provided I see it as a very light filler that can be played with virtually anyone. The rules are incredibly basic but each of the games had me and my girlfriend playing multiple times. Especially with the Christmas season upon us I see this as a no brainer.  It's economical and it's fairly small.  The other (and more important) level that I'm looking at this game is it's use in gaining access to many more games. For this I find IceDice priceless. I've tried out games like Martian Chess, Quicksand, and Treehouse with the pieces that I have and have had fun exploring those. Games that I really want to try out in the future (when I have enough pyramids) include Zendo, Volcano, and Homeworlds. Just poke around the pages I've mentioned for a bit and I'm sure you'll want in on the action too.

For my video review of IceDice go HERE

1 comment:

  1. Ice Dice is a simple press your luck game where you don’t score anything until you stop playing and busting out means you lose all your progress. The pieces are laid out in an area known as the bank. The goal is to create 3 similarly colored “trios” which is a large, medium and small pyramid stacked up to kind of look like a tree...
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