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Subject: Review: Ice Dice is Great On-The-Go Fun rss

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Matt Morgan
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This review was originally posted to MTV Geek

Some games set out to tell a story. They drip with theme, drawing players into immersive fictional worlds that enhance the gaming experience. IceDice is not one of those games.

Instead, IceDice is part of a large family of abstract strategy games that use standard Looney Pyramid game pieces. Pyramids come in three sizes and a variety of colors, allowing them to be used in literally hundreds of different games. Tucked into a zippered travel bag, IceDice uses two full sets (or "stashes") of Pyramids to play a 2-player dice rolling game that's easy enough to teach in 30 seconds.

As geeks, we spend our lives surrounding by line culture. We wait in line for the latest summer blockbuster movie, to get into panels at conventions, and to become early adopters of the latest tech gadgets. If you would have more fun playing a lightweight game than just waiting around, then IceDice might be the right game for you.



Just the Facts:

Players: 2+
Playing Time: 5-10 minutes
Publisher: Looney Labs
MSRP: $20
Release: September 2011

Gameplay: IceDice is a "push your luck" dice rolling game in the vein of Pass the Pigs or Zombie Dice. Players can repeatedly roll dice on their turn, deciding after each roll whether to collect what they've earned or to press forward. The risk of losing it all is always present, though, so players must carefully walk the risk-reward tightrope.

Specifically in IceDice, players are seeking to collect three stacks of pyramid-shaped game pieces. Each stack must contain one Pyramid of each size (there are three) for a single matching color. A roll of the dice instructs the player what color and size pyramid they can collect, and then the decision on whether to continue rolling must be made. If a player rolls the same color as a piece they have already collected this turn, then they will lose all of those pieces and gain nothing for the turn. If a player completes his or her three stacks, they immediately are declared the winner.

Only two special rules apply. First, if a player rolls a size/color combo that is not available in the bank, they may instead claim that piece from their opponents. Even if the player "busts" this turn, the stolen piece gets returned to the bank, not the original player. Second, if a player can ever collect all five colors in a turn, they immediately bank all of their pieces and can begin an additional turn.

Components:


30 Looney Pyramids
2 Dice
2 Rules booklets
1 Travel bag



The Pyramids themselves are great components as far as abstract game pieces go. Looney Labs compares these little game pieces to a deck of cards in that they both fit in your pocket and can be used to play a large number of different games. That description is spot on, as they are very versatile pieces that allow for many different modes of play. You can stack them, nest them, and mix them up by color or size.

A second rule booklet included in the bag shows players how to play an additional game, Launch Pad 23, so you're already getting two games for the price of one. Additionaly, a 24-page pocket guide to the Looney Pyramids system gives short previews of several other games, and encourages players to head to the internet where they can download rules for many more.

Final Thoughts:


There is always a need for portable and inexpensive games that can be played as a warm-up or while waiting around. IceDice itself is a fun take on the "push your luck" dice rolling game. It separates itself from the pack by allowing players to steal pieces from each other, making it a more interactive game than its peers. Too often, these types of games devolve into simultaneous games of solitaire.

Priced at $20, IceDice is at the high end for a quick and easy game, but I believe the versatility of the Looney Pyramids components makes this a worthy purchase. After trying out just two of the games that can be played using the Pyramids, I look forward to learning more.


Disclaimer: MTV Geek was provided with a complimentary review sample of this game.
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Andy Andersen
United States
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Thanks for the review.
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George Leach
United Kingdom
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It sounds awful. I'm not sure why they insist on packaging a really weak game with the pyramids, it sets a certain tone and it's not a tone I like.

Nevertheless I'm glad they've got new packaging and someone is enjoying the game.
 
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Chris Bailey
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Jugular wrote:
It sounds awful. I'm not sure why they insist on packaging a really weak game with the pyramids, it sets a certain tone and it's not a tone I like.

Nevertheless I'm glad they've got new packaging and someone is enjoying the game.


I like push your luck games and this sounds like a fun one. Plus you get 2 stashes worth of icehouse pieces which you can use for other games.
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Spencer C
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Jugular wrote:
It sounds awful. I'm not sure why they insist on packaging a really weak game with the pyramids, it sets a certain tone and it's not a tone I like.

Nevertheless I'm glad they've got new packaging and someone is enjoying the game.


Agreed. But then, they used to package it as IceTowers, Martian Chess, and Zendo, all three of which are (imo) reasonably good games. There is probably a sound business reason they're shifting toward lighter games. One should also consider the fact that Andrew Looney makes light games. I've played most of his Icehouse creations, and they're mostly very random, very light.
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Jeff Wolfe
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Zendo fan, Columbus Blue Jackets fan, Dominion Fan. These are 'permanent microbadges' to free up space on my microbadge row
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UanarchyK wrote:
Jugular wrote:
It sounds awful. I'm not sure why they insist on packaging a really weak game with the pyramids, it sets a certain tone and it's not a tone I like.

Nevertheless I'm glad they've got new packaging and someone is enjoying the game.


Agreed. But then, they used to package it as IceTowers, Martian Chess, and Zendo, all three of which are (imo) reasonably good games. There is probably a sound business reason they're shifting toward lighter games. One should also consider the fact that Andrew Looney makes light games. I've played most of his Icehouse creations, and they're mostly very random, very light.

Nothing like "we tried that and it failed miserably" to get them to try something else. Clearly, experience has shown that the product needs to be accessible and affordable, and IceDice is. Plus, it's a pretty good game, especially considering it uses only two stashes. Most of the heavier games use 4 or more stashes (monochrome or rainbow).
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