IceDice Review
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Players: 2 (ages 14+)
Playing Time: 5-10 minutes


Since my first introduction to Looney Labs at my very first Origins Game Fair several years ago, I’ve been intrigued by the company’s Looney Pyramids games. I heard people talking about games like Icehouse and Treehouse, but I never got to play them. Now, however, after years of wondering what all the fuss was about, I finally got my chance to try Looney’s latest version, IceDice.

The basic, two-player game is played with two Rainbow Stashes (each of which is made up of trios of pyramids—small, medium, and large—in five different colors), or a total of 30 pyramids, and two special IceDice dice—all of which come in a fun, pyramid-shaped bag.

  
 
When the game begins, all of the pyramids are stacked up in a “Bank.” When it’s your turn, you roll the two dice—one indicating a color and the other indicating a pyramid size—and set a pyramid of the color and size indicated in the center of the playing area (called the “Counter”). You may continue to roll the dice as long as you want, but rolling comes with a risk: if you roll the same color as a piece that’s already on the Counter, you bust out—and you have to return all of the pyramids on the Counter back to the Bank. Or, if you prefer not to take your chances, you can choose to end your turn at any time and move the pieces on the Counter into your own Vault.

Players take turns rolling the dice until one player collects three full monochrome trios (each of which includes a small, medium, and large pyramid of the same color) in his or her Vault to win the game.

IceDice is remarkably simple—and extremely addictive. It’s a fast-paced game that, the more you play, eventually builds up to an almost frenzied pace, as players quickly roll the dice, add to their Vault, and set the dice aside, only to be snatched away by their opponent.

It all goes by quickly, requiring just a few minutes per game—but that doesn’t mean that you’ll play just one five-minute game before moving on to something else. Instead, you’ll find yourself playing game after game, repeatedly collecting pyramids, filling your Vault, and returning everything to the Bank, so you can start another game. A quick game will soon turn into the best of seven games, which will soon turn into the best of 15.

Players might want to use a few basic strategies as they collect their pyramids (you even have the ability to steal pyramids from your opponent), but much of the game relies on the luck of the dice (as well as players’ willingness to tempt fate), making a simple and stress-free game—even for players who are much younger than the suggested 14.

The coolest thing about Looney Pyramids games: once you get a couple of sets of pyramids (like the two included with IceDice), you can play a variety of different games. IceDice also comes with instructions (and a board) for a game called Launchpad 23 (which isn’t quite as addictive as IceDice). Over the past 25 years, though, the gaming geniuses at Looney Labs have developed numerous other variations, offering instructions (as well as the available dice and game boards) online. Fans have gotten involved, too—and you can find nearly 400 variations on the fansite, IcehouseGames.org.

It may have taken several years for me to pick up my first Looney Pyramids game, but it took just minutes for me to turn into a fan. Simple to play but impossible to put down, Looney’s IceDice is a fast-paced, family-friendly game that offers endless game-playing possibilities. Pick up a copy of your own, and you’ll be in for hours and hours of head-to-head, pyramid-piling fun.

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