Sometimes a game grows beyond its initial incarnation to become something more. Looney Pyramids is one of those games.
In 1987 a young Andrew Looney wrote a short story called Icehouse, which included a game played with colourful pyramid pieces. The concept was so appealing that Andy and his friends eventually created a real-world version of the game, also calling it Icehouse, and hand-produced it for 8 years under the banner Icehouse Games.
With the modest success of Fluxx, Looney Labs amassed enough capital to invest in producing Icehouse on a larger scale, eventually rebranding many of the newer products under the name Treehouse or as individual games. That is until 2016 came along and brought us the Kickstarter-funded Pyramid Arcade. This big-box version had tons of stuff and tons of games, and earlier this year some of those games were released as a series of lower-cost introductory games. This Pyramid Quartet, as it’s called, will be the starting point for what is planned to be an ongoing, bi-monthly, series of reviews.
Since all of these games use common terminology, many common mechanics, and (obviously) common components, I want to hit some of the most common terms we’ll be using. If there’s something I’ve missed, I’ll try to come back and update this column. But I also don’t want or need to reinvent the wheel here, since you can find almost anything you’d want to know on the Pyramids homepage area of the Looney Labs website.
I shouldn’t NEED to start here, but I will. A Pyramid is a game piece that has four triangle faces. Unlike in Egypt, these pieces are significantly taller than they are wide, and come in three sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. Each size has a set of Pips (like on dice) at the bottom, 1, 2, or 3 corresponding to the size of the piece. A set of all three sizes in a single colour is called a Trio, five Trios are called a Stash which can be either a Monochrome Stash (one colour) or Rainbow Stash (five different colours).
Players will often be asked to create a Tree or a Nest. A Tree is three pieces stacked Large, Medium, Small in the shape of a pine tree. A Nest is the opposite, with the Small piece first, then Medium, then Large, with the smaller pieces nesting inside the larger ones. Amazing how those terms make sense, hey?
The additional components for a game, if any, are usually some sort of board and a variety of dice. Standard Dice are your regular old dice. A Treehouse Die has either AIM, DIG, SWAP, HOP, TIP, or WILD on its faces. Similarly, a Lightning Die has six unique icons. The Pyramid Die shows a single or pair of Pyramid sizes on each face. The Color Die has five icons in five colours, making it easy to differentiate for people with visual impairments, it also has the same Wild icon as the Lightning die. A Pyramid and Color Die are often collectively referred to as Ice Dice.
I think those are all the basics, but as I mentioned before the Pyramids homepage has WAY more information. To be completely transparent, I used it for the bulk of this article, rather than jumping around to other sources for the same info.
I’m thrilled to announce that TheRatHole.ca will have a new writer joining us for most of these Looney Saturday posts. Kaitlin may not write all of these, nor will this be the only thing she does with us (hopefully). But you can look forward to getting to know her soon.