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Haiku Reviews

Sideways :)

Wine, women, and wrong --
these three things garnish our way.
but the film's too long.

Tirade's Choice

Sirlin's Theory of Game Design

"I've had a couple of LL games for years now, but since I got to enjoy your table at Ubercon this fall it reminded me of how much fun they are now that Christmas present time has come around. So, though our group didn't buy anything that same day, your time demoing games for us did pay off a bit! Thank you!" -- comments with an order from Jeremiah of Parsippany, NJ

Thursday, December 2nd, 2004
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

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What's Going On? Trying Out New Icehouse Games

This week finds us playing a lot of new Icehouse games. Since the votes for the 2nd Ice Games Design Contest are due in a matter of hours now (at one minute before midnight on Friday), it's crunch time for anyone planning to vote who hasn't yet played all six games. (I myself have played most of them, and will finish up this evening.)

I don't want to say anything yet about which games I like best, since some voters may still be making up their own minds, but I will say that all of the games have interesting and unique features, and as always I'm excited by peoples' continuing ability to come up with new ways of playing with the pyramids.

With one exception, the only equipment (besides pyramids) needed for these games are basic items easily found in any gamer's house. The exception is E, Carol Townsend's game of Martian Chinese Checkers, which Alison and I are playing in the photo shown here. This game requires a rather large specialized board, a hex grid like a Chinese Checkers board, with enough colored hexes for 6 full Icehouse stashes. Carol has plenty of advice for making or finding a board, but I couldn't resist coming up with my own solution to this pre-game challenge.

Last year at Essen I picked up a set of Hextremity tiles, and that's what I used to build our E board. Hextremity is an abstract board game that features these wonderful large clear plastic hex tiles, very much akin to Icehouse pieces in appearance and each one is big enough for a large pyramid to sit on. Unfortunately, the set only includes 12 of each color, so adapting the E board to work with Hextremity tiles required playing with a 12 piece stash. (But that's OK, it makes for a shorter game, which I prefer anyway.) Also, I didn't have anywhere near enough black filler tiles to build out the whole board with, meaning we were only able to try the 2 player version with this board. To really do this right, you'd want 3 or more Hextremity sets, and what you'd really want is to buy a whole bunch of extra black tiles a la carte. (And then, what you'd really really want to do would be to put it all only a huge light table. Now that would REALLY look cool!)

AndyAnyway, I've still one game left to play and a ton of other work to do, so that's all for now from here.

Have a Great Week!

Thought Residue
The gay community needs a new word. The lesson of the recent backlash against gay marriage is that the straight community doesn't want the words "wedding" and "marriage" corrupted as was the word "gay" (which used to mean simply happy and carefree). At the same time, the existence of gay unions are grudgingly being admitted to, with many conservatives coming out in support of civil unions. Now, from what I understand, "civil unions" are functionally equivalent to "marriages," at least in some states, so what it all boils down to is a question of semantics. It's like the straight world is saying to the gay world, "OK, OK, you can live together if you must, but you can't use the word 'marriage.' That's OUR word." So, in the spirit of compromise, I urge the gay community to let the straights have their word. Better progress will be made if you find a catchy new name for civil unions, and fight to make that option available everywhere, and transferrable from state to state.

My nomination for this word is "unification." Instead of getting "married," gay couples would speak of becoming "unified," and instead of a wedding ceremony and reception, we'd attend their unification ritual and party. Unification has a nice formal, futuristic sound to it, like a ceremony you'd see being performed on a distant planet in an episode of Star Trek, and it would work for trios, too! Perhaps in a hundred years or so, there'll be a whole series of unification traditions which parallel wedding traditions, and which are similarly honored and respected. If only we could use time travel to skip ahead!
One of the strangest things I've seen on TV lately is a peculiar import on Comedy Central called "Banzai!" Each show sets up a series of bizarre "What will happen?" situations, labels the various possible outcomes, and then encourages viewers to "Place Bets Now!" and watch to see if you win. No mechanism is given nor even suggested for how to actually place a bet, but there it is, before each scene, "Place Bets Now!" and after an often-hilarious outcome, you'll be told that, if you'd bet on, for example, Choice B, then "you are the winner!" This of course leaves me trying to tinker up a system for actually playing along at home, as a game, using Icehouse pieces (what else?) on a Ouija board to track the bets...



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