Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘Pyramid Arcade’

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Pyramid Arcade box

Today, Looney Labs launched a Kickstarter campaign for Pyramid Arcade, a revamped box set set of games featuring their famous Looney Pyramids (originally known as Icehouse pieces).

I’m really excited for this one. I first discovered Looney Pyramids back when I first started getting into modern board gaming about a decade ago. The pyramids are more of a gaming system than a game, like a deck of cards. There are hundreds of games that you can play with them–some require a chessboard or a deck of cards or other pieces, but there are many that can be played with nothing but the pyramids. I started collecting sets of pyramids (at the time, they were sold in little single-color tubes), putting the rules to games on my Palm Pilot (ahem) and making my own felt chessboard to pack along with them. I’d even found a pattern for a shape that could be used to make a chessboard section so that you could make a board that would fit 2 to 6 players for Martian Chess.

Martian Chess
Playing Martian Chess on my homemade board. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The variety of games you can play with the pyramids is staggering, and there are some really innovative designs. IceTowers was the first game I’d played in which players didn’t take turns, but all played simultaneously. Martian Chess is a fascinating twist on chess-like games in which ownership of pieces is determined by their location rather than color.

The pyramids are four-sided, with an open bottom that allows you to stack or nest them. They come in three sizes (marked with 1, 2, or 3 pips near the base), and can be nested so that each size fits completely inside the next larger size. They also come in a variety of colors, some more rare than others–most are transparent but there are also a few opaque colors. Over the years, Looney Labs has released various accessories: a 5×5 grid that works with particular games like Volcano, coasters that can be used in various games, specialized dice for games like Treehouse, and so on.

Pyramid Throwdown
Back at Gen Con 2015, I got an advance look at a “Pyramid Throwdown” prototype. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I wasn’t able to get a preview of the Kickstarter campaign itself before launch, but I did talk to Kristin Looney at Gen Con last summer–she gave me a peek at a sample prototype of the sort of thing that will come in the box (as you can see in the photo above). The final product has changed a little since then, but here’s what I know.

Pyramid Arcade

The Pyramid Arcade will include:

  • 90 Pyramids (9 each in 10 different colors)
  • 8 mini gameboards
  • 1 two-sided folding gameboard
  • 2 deluxe plastic boards
  • 9 dice
  • 1 deck of special cards (with 5 suits)
  • 1 mini deck of Twin Win cards
  • 1 deck of Arcade cards
  • 1 drawstring bag
  • 1 turn token
  • 1 Starship Captain sticker
  • 1 instruction book

There are instructions and components to play the following 22 games:

  • Black Ice
  • Color Wheel
  • Give or Take
  • Hijinks
  • Homeworlds
  • Ice Dice
  • Ice Towers
  • Launchpad 23
  • Looney Ludo
  • Lunar Invaders
  • Martian Chess
  • Petal Battle
  • Petri Dish
  • Pharaoh
  • Powerhouse
  • Pyramid-Sham-Bo
  • Twin Win
  • Treehouse
  • Verticality
  • Volcano
  • World War 5
  • Zark City

I’ve played several but not most of these games, and I’m thrilled that the Looney Pyramids are finally getting a box set. It’s not cheap–the pledge level is $77 for the set–but if you think about it in terms of cost per game, it’s unbelievably low. If you already own pyramids, you can get an “everything but the pyramids” set for $62. Besides the 22 games included in the box, you can look up hundreds more on the Icehouse.org Wiki or on BoardGameGeek.

Pyramid claws
Back when my oldest daughter was wee, she loved making claws out of Looney Pyramids. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

One of the best thing about Looney Pyramids is that it’s basically a game design kit: once you’ve played a few games, you’ll be itching to try your hand at designing a game yourself. It’s a great way to get you and your kids thinking about what makes a game work, and seeing the variety of games that can be played with the pyramids is inspiring and challenging.

I highly recommend that you check out the Pyramid Arcade Kickstarter today!

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

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