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Thursday, February 10th, 2011

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Tirade's Choice

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"Another thing I really liked about Aquarius is that it has amazingly written rules. Not only do they GET TO THE POINT QUICKLY, there are color diagrams, they have visual cues for easy navigation and they keep the FAQs and alternative play stuff for the back page. If you're an inventor and need an example of well-written rules, spend the money and get yourself a copy. I mean it." -- The Game Aisle's review of Aquarius: Because it looks SO GOOD!

Rash provides another batch of links and commentary on a wide range of topics

Almost Monthly

For about ten years, I updated this website once a week, every Thursday. Then I got too busy to keep up with that schedule, and it became an occasional thing which happened Whenever. So, how often is that really? Well, last year, I only posted nine updates -- almost monthly.

Looking back on 2010, there's another thing I did almost monthly: inventing new games! I did the heavy lifting -- if not end-to-end design -- on ELEVEN games last year! Some of those games have already been published, some are now on the Looney Labs schedule, and some are back-burnered, but I think they are all very good (and in some cases, insanely great).

Here are the games I designed last year:

1) Back to the Future: At the start of 2010, all I had done was a mostly-complete plan for the TimeLine. In September it went on sale!

2) Pirate Fluxx: After years of pondering, I hammered out a prototype just before Origins. Reviewers are calling it the Best Fluxx Ever. It goes on sale tomorrow!

3) Muffins: A year ago I was inspired by Action Castle to create a Parsely adventure based (very loosely) on my earliest game design efforts, which were primitive text adventure games written in BASIC around 1981. I ran sessions of Muffins at gatherings big and small over the course of the year and it was always a big hit. But since it's all about solving puzzles and discovering secrets, we've decided not to publish this, but to retain Muffins as part of my live act, alongside Andy vs. Everybody.

4-8) Pharaoh / Launchpad 23 / Powerhouse / Sandships / Petal Battle: I hammered out 5 new pyramid games last year! Speaking of which, there is a TON of stuff to say about the pyramids. After years of letting the system coast (on "life-support" as I've often said) while we focused on our most profitable products, and having recently discontinuing the current edition of Treehouse, we are now on the verge of relaunching the pyramids in grand style. We've been using the codename System 8 to refer to this, and we've probably changed our plans for what exactly System 8 would be at least 8 times before we finally settled on the current plan. But System 8 has developed into something truly fantastic. It's time for a bulletized-list within a bulletized list!

  • New Name: Looney Pyramids: After years of confusion between Icehouse The Game System and Icehouse The Abstruse Original Game, we have embraced a new naming paradigm. We're calling them Looney Pyramids. This will add yet more confusion in the short term but is much better from a Big Picture standpoint.
  • No More Tubes: After years of selling pyramids in those tight plastic tubes, we are turning our backs on the tubes forever. (Sorry Drip and Moonshot fans...) We plan to continue selling empty tubes through our website (while supplies last), for those old-school fans who can't move on, but the age of the plastic tube is officially over.
  • Made in China: After years of resisting the lure of the Orient (and allowing the system to be held back because of that decision) we are finally having pyramids made in China. (We will continue to print all of our card games here in the States.) We've already approved samples of the pyramids from the new mold - and they are even better than our US-made pyramids: the colors are vibrant, the pyramid walls are crystal clear, the trim is clean, the size is exactly the same as the old ones, they nest together perfectly, and they are incapable of sticking together. They are perfect!
  • Zippered Pyramid Bags: The next generation of pyramid products will be packaged in awesome little pyramid-shaped cloth bags, featuring a zippered back and a loop at the top. After years of occasionally losing a small pyramid because it slipped out of an incompletely-closed drawstring bag, I'm really excited about these new bags. (Of course, the only cost-effective way to get these bags made was to produce them in China, which helped open the door to making the contents over there too.)
  • IceDice & Treehouse: The pyramid bags are launching in June and will come in two styles: Treehouse and IceDice. Treehouse of course will be the existing classic in the new packaging, accompanied by the rules for a bonus game, Pharaoh. IceDice is an awesome press-your-luck dice game I invented in 2009 and which we've been sitting on so that it could become this new headliner. The IceDice set will include 2 rainbow stashes, making it a next-size-up starter set. IceDice will also include a bonus game, Launchpad 23, and both sets will include the Pocket Guide to Looney Pyramids.
  • The Pocket Guide: After years of not even trying (within our retail packaging) to explain the concept of the system or the other games you can play with a Treehouse set, we've created an awesome little overview booklet, called the Pocket Guide to Looney Pyramids. This colorful little 24-page handbook provides basic info on the pyramids and a short overview of a dozen of my favorite games for the system, each with a photo and an info block with the vital stats on what you need to play. It's the perfect thing to hand someone when you are playing a pyramid game in a bar or restaurant and someone asks what you're playing. We'll be making it in two sizes (same content, just printed smaller) so that it will properly fill out the base of the pyramid bag it comes in. Of course, the Starship Captains will all have their own individual opinions about which games should have been included in this guide, but the list we settled on overlaps very heavily with the Stereotypical Starship Captain's List put together by Ryan Hackel, plus we posted the pages of the guide for review by the Starship Captains at the fan club site as we finalized the contents, so although the booklet bears my heavy biases it's also been approved by the experts.
  • Pyramid-Only Products: In addition to the complete-game-in-a-zippered-bag products, we will also be releasing two minimally-packaged pyramids-only products. Called simply Looney Pyramids, they will consist of a ziplock baggie with a cardboard display flap, containing 15 pyramids and a copy of the new Pocket Guide. Available in the traditional Rainbow and Xeno color schemes, Looney Pyramids will retail for just $10. (BTW, we strongly considered bringing old-school monochrome stashes in this format as well, but decided against it, for reasons both philosophical and logistical.)
  • Petri Dish & Zark City: IceDice isn't the only great pyramid game I invented prior to last year which we've been waiting until the time was right to publish. Others include Petri Dish and Zark City, both of which require 3 mixed color stashes, and either of which could be the next major release.
    • Zark City: We're thinking to make Zark City the third pyramid bag product, featuring a square, custom-illustrated card deck. The Zark City product will include Xeno colored pyramids and come in a purple bag which will be a little larger than the IceDice bag.
    • Petri Dish: Because of its rather large (and totally groovy) gameboard, Petri Dish will be published as a traditional boxed board game. As such it will also fill in the gap at the top end of the product line. Petri Dish will feature 3 rainbow stashes, 3 special dice, and a really cool round gameboard.

9) Secret Project TW-10: In some ways the most exciting new game of 2010 is <STILL CLASSIFIED>. Unlike everything else on this list, TW-10 is something completely new. And it's awesome.

10) Gambling Fluxx: After finishing Pirate Fluxx, I turned my attention to another idea I've long been pondering, namely adding wagering to Fluxx. I'm really pleased with what I developed, but it's a good deal more complicated than any other Fluxx. I think this added complexity is fascinating but it also narrows the market and demands further playtesting. Anyway, as soon as I felt I had a solid prototype, I moved on to...


11) Star Fluxx: For years people have been suggesting that we make Star Wars Fluxx, or Star Trek Fluxx, or Dr. Who Fluxx, or even Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Fluxx. Sometimes these suggestions are just words, other times it's been entire fan-created prototypes. These are all fine and feasible ideas, but licensed-theme versions are a mixed blessing and after BTTF we're not eager to take on another license. Moreover, it occurred to me that there's more fun to be had in the parody route anyway. So in the grand tradition of Galaxy Quest I cooked up Star Fluxx, with a blend of references to all of my sci-fi favorites. And it's great! I think it's going to be my personal favorite Fluxx! Everyone's having so much fun with it that it's pulled ahead of Gambling Fluxx as our Most-Likely-To-Be-Published-Next Fluxx.

A) Seven Dragons: As if all that weren't enough, there's also Seven Dragons! I don't count it as a new game since it's just Aquarius with a new hat -- but it's a really cool new hat! Seven Dragons will feature original paintings by the king of dragon art in the fantasy game world, Mr. Larry Elmore! We've been working with him for some time now, working out the details of the art, and now he's busily painting dragons for us! And it won't be exactly the same game either; the biggest difference will be the inclusion of a new card type (the 7th dragon) which is akin to the Wild card but excitingly different too. Seven Dragons will hit stores on June 24, 2011!


B) BoardGameGeek cards: The latest in our series of expansion packets for Fluxx is this 8 card set we created as an exclusive for I also don't count this as one of last year's new games, but it does include one extremely cool new card: it's an action called Roshambo Showdown and it's the hit of the set with my playtesters. But you can only get this new set through -- even we aren't selling them!

Lastly, I just wanted to share this wonderful photo Alison recently took of me with a couple of our pets. That's Shiro on my shoulder and Molly in my lap. (Don't miss Pano Gallery #4 if you enjoy photos of my life...)

AndyThanks for reading, and have a great Whenever!



PS: I've already got several new ideas cooking for 2011!!!

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