The Icehouse Scepter is currently possessed by: Eric Zuckerman

Icehouse Tournament Almanac

For eight years, a tiny and seriously underfunded game company, called Icehouse Games, sought to manufacture and sell game sets for the unique and unusual strategy game called Icehouse. During that time, they sponsored an annual tournament, usually held in conjunction with the Disclave Science Fiction convention. Then official Icehouse tournaments ceased when Icehouse Games inc. went out of business. Briefly, the tournaments became a fan run event, beginning again at the Origins gaming convention. Icehouse sets are now available from Looney Labs, who once again run official tournaments with more participants than ever before.

Listed below are the brief results of these tournaments. During the original eight tournaments, the winner was determined after a full day (often two) of grueling competition. The format of the tournaments evolved over the years; the rules used during the 8th tournament reflect the accumulated wisdom gained from years of running Icehouse tournaments. Modern tournaments have gotten faster, and are run in just a few hours. The rules have also changed slightly over the years, making the game more simple and not stagnant.

The Cooler than Ice award was given to the player selected by the referees and other players as the one who best demonstrated the cool attitude of play recommended in the Mystique section of the handbook.

Chort, who had made the very first plastic icehouse set, made a little scepter to be awarded to the winner of the first tournament; it was passed from winner to winner over the years.

The Fifteenth Icehouse Tournament

June 26, 2004
Winner: Eric Zuckerman
Cooler than Ice: Julia Tenney

The fifteenth tournament had fifteen players, although it started a bit late while hoping that Liam would show up to be the sixteenth. Everyone except for Pace had played in prior tournaments, and yet Pace played the Ice-offs very well and squeaked into the finals, just ahead of Julia, who was voted Cooler than Ice. Jacob took the first of the three finals games, and then Pace turned around to put Jacob in the Icehouse on the second, going on to win that game. As usual in these tournament, it was still anyone's game by the last finals game. To win, Jacob had to win the last game, Pace had to win or keep her score high on the last game, Mike had to win the last game, and Eric had to win on the last game and beat Pace by seven points. A quick alliance between Jacob and Eric formed against Pace and Mike, and while Jacob played a good game, Eric played an exceptional and aggressive game to win with ten more point than Pace and capture the title.

After Eric was awarded the scepter, he gave a speech. Years before at a previous tournament, someone gave him the Icehouse scepter to hold for a moment. Andy caught him holding it and demanded that he give it back, that he should not be holding it. Eric informed us that he now had every right to be holding the Icehouse scepter. Unlike some people, he'll remember to bring it with him to the sixteenth tournament.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Fourteenth Icehouse Tournament

July 6, 2003
Winner: Jacob Davenport
Cooler than Ice: Yvonne Kelly

New players distinguished themselves, with Chris Cieslik coming in a very close second place, having never competed in Icehouse before. Yvonne Kelly came in sixth in the Ice-offs, having just learned the game. Andy proved that he still knows a thing or two about Icehouse, getting just a few points away from winning both the second and third final games. Jacob used the old "attack last year's champion" strategy to knock out Liam in the finals, and held on to edge out Chris in the end by a margin even narrower than the previous year.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Thirteenth Icehouse Tournament

July 6, 2002
Winner: Liam Bryan
Cooler than Ice: Liam Bryan

The 13th tournament was again part of the Big Experiment. The tournament followed a few months after the book Playing With Pyramids came out. The book taught new players how to play, and gave insights into how some experts see the game. As a result, the turn-out was great and the variety of play was exciting. Liam played brilliantly and coolly, and won both awards. Shortly after realizing that he won, he lost his cool. It was an excellent tournament.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Twelfth Icehouse Tournament

July 7, 2001
Winner: Jacob Davenport
Cooler than Ice: Mike Sugerbaker

The 12th tournament was even more successful than the previous year, again part of the Big Experiment. See the official report.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Eleventh Icehouse Tournament

July 15, 2000
Winner: Elliott "Eeyore" Evans
Cooler than Ice: Eric Zuckerman

The 11th tournament was part of the hugely successful Big Experiment, and the tournament is discussed in that report.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Tenth Icehouse Tournament

July 3, 1999
Winner: Andrew Looney
Cooler than Ice: Elliott "Eeyore" Evans

The Tenth Tournament was perhaps the smallest and fiercest ever played. The finals involved 3 intense rounds between reigning champ Elliott Evans, former champ and tourney organizer Jake Davenport, and game inventors John Cooper and Andrew Looney. Andy emerged victorious.

Whereas it was once common for all players to build a shared central structure that provided easy, secure fortresses for all (a technique known as the Snowball opening), this year's players alternated between this style of play and the more recent development known as the Shotgun, which rejects close initial placement of small pieces in favor of open placement of large ones. This trend made this year's tournament games far more unpredictable and varying from one to the next, as players mixed and matched these strategies with each new game's spontaneous alliances.

During one round of the finals, Andy and John developed a seemingly effective Shotgun counter-strategy, which will no doubt end up being known by the words "Share the Pain". The game in which it was developed is shown here. As you can see, Jake (yellow) was using a full-bore shotgun opening, deployed about 5 minutes into the game. In order to ice Jake's scattered pieces, John suggested that he and Andy attack them together, with each of them contributing one attack piece. Before each attack, one would ask the other, "Share the pain?" because if Jake ever succeeded in getting a prisoner, the pain they'd both feel would be severe. By teaming up in this way, they both had a vested interest in keeping prisoners away from Jake.

In another memorable game, Jake was driving John into the Icehouse, and when he attacked John's last piece and yelled "Icehouse", he was shocked to learn that Eeyore had secretly played a prisoner belonging to John as a stealth defender. Although Jake took a dim view of this (not surprising since the penalty required him to give away the last piece on his pad), this unconventional rescue of another player is probably what won Eeyore the Cooler than Ice award, determined by secret ballot among the players.

The referee for this year's event was Andrew Plotkin, who also designed the winning entry in the resurrected tradition of awarding medallions to the Finalist, Winner, and Cooler Than Ice players.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Ninth Icehouse Tournament

July 4, 1998
Winner: Elliott "Eeyore" Evans
Cooler than Ice: N/A

The annual Icehouse tournament was restarted, thanks to the efforts of Richard Braxton, at Origins '98 in the Columbus Convention Center. Richard's style to refereeing a tournament was refreshingly different to some, but disconcerting to others. Ratings were calculated with a different method, and the hidden timer had a random duration between 10 and 15 minutes.

Jake gave Eeyore a good run for his money, and might have stolen the victory if it weren't for the organized opposition to his unique style of play, now termed the Shotgun. Jake scored a perfect 30 in one game without playing a single attack piece, and in another game he put both himself and Eeyore in the Icehouse in the first game on record in which all four players lost.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Eighth International Icehouse Tournament

May 25, 1996
Winner: Jacob Davenport
Cooler than Ice: Dave Wendland

In spite of some of the most intense competition ever, Jake managed to frighten and confused his opponents with his ruthless and untraditional style of play. Judges and observers of the finals wanted to yell "ice him, he has no prisoners!", but wisely kept quiet.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Seventh International Icehouse Tournament

May, 1995
Winner: Elliott "Eeyore" Evans
Cooler than Ice: Greg Crowe

Eeyore, who had distinguished himself years before as the most fanatical Icehouse fan (by buying Icehouse Soap) now gained the title of best player, too.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Sixth International Icehouse Tournament

June, 1994
Winner: Dan Russett
Cooler than Ice: David Hendrickson

The Sixth tournament was the only one of the original Icehouse Games series of tourneys that wasn't held in conjunction with Disclave, being held instead in a room at the University of Maryland. Dan's victory made him a three-time champion.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Fifth International Icehouse Tournament

May, 1993
Winner: Dan Russett
Cooler than Ice: Frank Cooper

The competitors from Bates swore they weren't working together this time, but Dan still emerged as the winner. Frank, meanwhile, who had once been an obnoxious uncool kid, distinguished himself as a master of cool play.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Fourth International Icehouse Tournament

May 23-24, 1992
Winner: Bates Team
Cooler than Ice: Dan Efran

The fourth tournament was held in actual hotel function space and employed all-new, much improved gaming tables. The event will long be remembered as the year the Bates Discordians (Dan Russett, Rob Bryan, Keith Baker, and Craig Mackey) secretly teamed up and won the event as a group. They had practiced strategies which would let them work together effectively. When they crashed, they would only give the piece to a teammate. They would help each other ice other players, help make fortresses, and watch each other to keep them out of the icehouse. This method made them unstoppable, and they all ended in the finals. After intentionally getting identical scores in the 5 game final match, they were forced to play a tie-breaker, which was won by Craig.

The rules of Icehouse were subsequently changed to disallow alliances that lasted from game to game, although impromptu alliances within a game were still permitted and even expected.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Third International Icehouse Tournament

May 25-26, 1991
Winner: Keith Baker
Cooler than Ice: Keith Baker

The third tournament was also held in a hotel room; this time, the scene was dominated by the mural sized painting Dawn had done as an illustration for the "100,000 year old game from Mars" ad campaign.

See also Eeyore's report.

The Second International Icehouse Tournament

May 26-27, 1990
Winner: Ruth Conley
Cooler than Ice: Stevyn Travillian

The second tournament was held in a hotel room, a major step up from the concrete floor of the year before. Icehouse was still a new game for most players, and key strategies that were developed in later years were unknown, so the competition was beset by stagnation. The rules did call for a timer, and included the often-confusing "walls" rule, both of which were changed before the next tournament.

See also Eeyore's report.

The First International Icehouse Tournament

May 29, 1989
Winner: Joyce Choat
Cooler than Ice: Robert Atwood

The first tournament was a completely unauthorized event; it was held outside, next to the swimming pool, using small portable tables. This was one of the few of these Icehouse tournaments to actually be international, since the Cooler than Ice winner was from Toronto.

See also Eeyore's report.

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