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"Treehouse proved to be a great portable game - 9 Icehouse pieces, a small d6, a printout of the rules, all stuffed into a small dice bag, it sat happily in the lid of my rucksack with no perceptible increase in the load. The game proved popular with Sue, who feels less intimidated by games with a reasonable quota of luck, and we played on four separate evenings, sitting in pubs or hostels after a long day tramping St Cuthbert's Way. Treehouse (like most of Andy Looney's games) has no strategic planning, but it has nice little tactical puzzles along the way, and each round only takes a few minutes to complete. Best of all it cost me nothing (except a little ink to print out the rules) since I already own Zendo." -- Nimrod's blog entry, "Andy Looney's perfect travelling companion"


Thursday, September 7th, 2006
Sponsored by Looney Labs

What's New?

Coming Soon: Martian Coasters!

I feel like I've been on quite a roll lately, at least from a game-inventing standpoint. Last week (and last month) I talked about major breakthroughs I've made in the development of the rules for Just Desserts, and it was still pretty recently (January 7th) that I first came up with Treehouse, a game which has reshaped our entire way of thinking about Icehouse pyramids. The Treehouse Revolution, as I like to call it, triggered the need for another new product, a booklet called 3HOUSE (which was supposed to be for sale by now but is still only half written -- sorry about the delay, folks) plus my time has been needed for everything from Fluxx Espanol and the Holy Fluxx expansions to Are You A Werewolf? 3rd Edition and Stoner Fluxx 2.0 (not to mention our big events at Origins and Gen-Con). So lately, I've been very very busy.

And in between all of that, I've also been quietly working on yet another new game. This week, I'm happy to announce that it's called Martian Coasters and it will be going to the printer soon. Woo-hoo!

And what are Martian Coasters? They're a set of 4 colorful 4" beverage coasters, each featuring a small gameboard. They'll work great right out of the package for the "Where Can I Put Down My Beverage?" game, but to play the game of Martian Coasters, you will also need a Treehouse set and a standard D6.

Each player gets 3 pyramids of one color, which are distributed around on the 3 gameboards other than the one featuring that player's color. The object is to move all of your pyramids onto the board of your color and into a nested stack on the center of that board. Here's what a typical game in progress looks like:

The spaces on the boards have small triangles which indicate the directions in which pieces may be moved, since there are limits to where you may go; meanwhile, the distance each piece may travel is determined by its size, and limited by the luck of your die rolls. Best of all, the Treehouse die is also rolled during each turn, providing a variety of wacky actions which include rotating the coasters, swapping pairs of coasters, and even "hopping" a coaster to another edge, breaking the universe out of its initial square configuration. When you roll TIP, you get to "Totally Increase Points" by changing your other die roll to a 7. And of course, WILD works just as you'd expect, letting you choose one of the other 5 actions.

Martian Coasters was another of those game designs of mine that popped almost fully formed into my head (unlike Just Desserts, which I've been tinkering with for years). I've been quietly playtesting Martian Coasters all summer, and the rules have barely changed at all from what I first described in my inventor's logbook on Sunday, May 21.

Martian Coasters has proven to be such a fun little game, and it's so cool the way it expands the Treehouse set, that we couldn't resist fast-tracking it into production, ahead of 3HOUSE even, so that (for one thing) I can promote it in 3HOUSE's closing section.

It should be noted that Martian Coasters (the product) will contain only the actual Martian Coasters (the game components) meaning you'll need to provide your own pyramids and dice to play Martian Coasters (the game itself). Notice also that there are 3 different things you could be referring to with the name Martian Coasters. (We thought about trying to differentiate them by calling the actual game Martian Fire-Drill, but that just added to the confusion.)

Although it might seem at first like Martian Coasters can be played only with a Rainbow Treehouse set, look again: the arrowheads feature the colors of the pieces in the Xeno set, thus providing full compatibility.

If all goes as we hope it will, Martian Coasters will be for sale in game stores everywhere this November!

Thanks for reading, and have a great week! (Thanks also to everyone who helped me play-test Martian Coasters this summer, in particular Josh, who first got me thinking about a new board game, and the Other Kristin, who suggested a couple of tweaks including the TIP rule.)

AndyThanks for reading, and have a great week!

Thought Residue
Inspiration is like lightning: you never know when or where it will strike. Often ideas occur during a (brain)storm, when you can kind of expect it, but sometimes they strike totally out of nowhere. Depending on how interesting the idea is, and what else is going on and such, I will often go into a sort of trance, becoming deep in thought, pondering the idea, running thought experiments, etc. And of course, after 16 years of marriage (Happy Anniversary to us tomorrow, dear!) my wife Kristin can read me like a book, and she can tell as soon as I'm getting one that I'm having an idea. Sometimes I'll go off on my ponderings, knowing that she's waiting for me to snap back to reality and tell her about the idea I just had, and sometimes I do; other times, I'll insist on having more time to think about it before explaining whatever the idea is. And that's what it takes, to get time to ponder an idea before presenting it to Kristin, at least for any idea I have while she's nearby... she's so good at noticing when an idea has occurred to me that even when I try to totally keep that fact to myself, she's always asking "What did you just think of?" (It's a good thing she doesn't play poker with me, she'd probably be great at picking up on my tells.)
"I tell people now that this extradition attempt is a blessing, because it has galvanized the world movement for cannabis peace. It has given me an even stronger personal urge to have marijuana legalized in Canada within two years, and I am given opportunity in regular media exposure to be a proud spokesperson for our great culture. I am not afraid of the task ahead of me. I am not afraid of jail for the rest of my life, undoubtably painful as that would be. I don't fear prison rape or abuse or suffering or lonliness, though those miseries will no doubt be present in a US federal prison. My fear is that the marijuana people will continue to be taken away to lives of ruin and despair by a murderous police state. My fear is that Canada will be absorbed as a compliant puppet state of the US War on Drugs. My fear is that the DEA, with offices in 65 nations around the Earth, will have more and more citizens from other countries extradited to the USA to face draconian punishments for the rest of their lives." -- Marc Emery's Message

"The media focuses relentless attention on the president, on the premise that he is actually the chief executive. But for all intents and purposes, Cheney is chief, and Bush is more in the ceremonial role of the queen of England. Yet the press buys the pretense of Bush being 'the decider,' and relentlessly covers Bush -- meeting with world leaders, cutting brush, holding press conferences, while Cheney works in secret, largely undisturbed. So let's take half the members of the overblown White House press corps, which has almost nothing to do anyway, and send them over to Cheney Boot Camp for Reporters. They might learn how to be journalists again, and we might learn who is running the government." -- Robert Kuttner, "The Cheney presidency"

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