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Archive for Jeff Wolfe

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Looney Labs: 2011 Releases, ICE Awards, & Future Fun

Jeff Wolfe
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Columbus
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We have three items related to Looney Labs: the company's remaining game releases in 2011: Star Fluxx and IceDice, the 2011 ICE Award sponsored by the Looney Pyramids community; and a look at some of the things Looney Labs is working on for the future.

Q3/Q4 2011 Releases

On September 30, 2011, Looney Labs will release its latest Fluxx product, Star Fluxx, and will finally relaunch the Looney Pyramids, highlighted by the new game IceDice.


Star Fluxx - The newest Fluxx takes on the science fiction genre. Unlike Martian Fluxx, which focused on the Martian invasion theme common in early science fiction, Star Fluxx focuses on more modern, space age science fiction works, from Star Trek to the present. This is not a licensed product, so expect the references to be suitably indirect.


Looney Pyramids relaunch, take 2 - As discussed previously on BoardGameGeek News, the relaunch of the Looney Pyramids was delayed by problems with product testing that required Looney Labs to repackage all of its inventory and stop selling the pyramids in Europe. The September releases will include the new game IceDice, which includes two Rainbow stashes and rules to a second game called Launchpad 23. Also scheduled for release at that time are single stash expansions in Rainbow and Xeno colors, which will contain only pyramids in the given colors. The new Treehouse, previously scheduled for release in September 2011, has been postponed indefinitely.

Pyrinoes Wins 2011 ICE Award

Andy Bond's Pyrinoes received the 2011 ICE Award for best fan-designed Looney Pyramid game of 2010. The award winner was chosen by members of the general public from a group of four finalists selected by the Looney Pyramid fan community. Voting was conducted over the Internet and in person at the 2011 Origins Game Fair, and the award was announced at Origins on June 25. The other finalists were Nile by Zach Hoekstra, Plutonian Poker by Spencer Lipori, and Pyramideto by Jan Divecky. The finalists were selected from over 20 eligible game designs.

The ICE Awards are sponsored by the Looney Pyramid fan community, led this year by Scott Myers. This is the second year the award has been given. (Note: The author of this article is a member of the Looney Pyramid fan community and was involved in organizing the ICE Awards and selecting the finalists.) The Looney Pyramids (then called Icehouse pieces) were first produced in 1989, and since then hundreds of games have been designed for the system, including such popular games as Zendo and Volcano. Only a small number of those games have been published, and the ICE Awards seek to highlight the best of the freely available games designed by fans of the system.


Long-Term Looneyness

At Origins 2011, Looney Labs conducted a "What's Next?" seminar and two playtesting sessions, at which they revealed details of some of the products in the works. The prototypes were fairly evenly divided into three categories: new Fluxxes, new Pyramid games, and everything else. Note that this section contains personal observations and speculation by the author, and none of it should be considered in any way to reflect official product information. Also, as tends to be the case with discussions of prototypes, details are necessarily a bit sketchy and subject to change.

Fluxx: Most notable of the Fluxxes was Gambling Fluxx, which designer Andy Looney mentioned in late 2010 in the company's Wunderland Whenever News. Adding the gambling element is a significant change that seems to still need work to properly balance, so it may be a while before this is ready to be published. When it is released, it's clearly destined for the adult-oriented Fully Baked Ideas imprint. The other Fluxx prototypes tend toward the more traditional rethemes (except for the permanently-shelved Drinking Fluxx). New Fluxxes often do contain new elements, such as the Creepers introduced in Zombie Fluxx and the Surprises introduced in Pirate Fluxx, but nothing quite so radical as the changes for Gambling Fluxx.

Pyramids: Clearly, the next pyramid game to be released (after IceDice comes out in Sept. 2011) will be the new Treehouse, with its companion game Pharaoh, probably in the first half of 2012. But since both of those games have already been released before, neither was on display in the playtest sessions. Of the prototypes, the closest to being finished are probably Petri Dish and Pink Hijinks. Petri Dish has been in the works for a few years, but its custom board and custom dice make it more difficult to produce and market. Pink Hijinks is one of the most recent designs, but its small footprint (less than a stash) might make it easier to work into the schedule. Also a possibility is the square-deck version of Zark City that Andy Looney has talked about from time to time. Looney Labs is working on posting the rules to older pyramid games to a new pyramid web site, so it's possible that some of the pyramid prototypes will end up there as rules-only releases.

Everything Else: The most notable of the remaining games is unlike anything Andy Looney has designed to date – which means, unfortunately, that no details about it can be revealed at this time. It's still an Andy Looney design, so don't expect Advanced Squad Leader, but it is a departure. Also in the works are new versions of Just Desserts and Nanofictionary. Just Desserts was never actually in print, but a "beta" deck was released several years ago. The new rules are significantly changed from the latest rules available online, which are no longer being updated since the current prototype is no longer compatible with the beta decks. Looney says that the new version is close, but he also said that in 2010. Nanofictionary is currently out of print, but an early version of the new rules is also available online.
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Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:30 am
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Looney Pyramids: Out with the old, in with the new

Jeff Wolfe
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In preparation for the introduction of IceDice in June 2011 and the new Treehouse in September, Looney Labs is selling off its old supply of Icehouse pyramids at discounted prices. The publisher is also discounting the rules compilations Playing With Pyramids and 3House.

In addition, Looney Labs is offering two new limited edition items to members of its fan site:

• Those who sign up for the Demo Team can order an "IceDice Upgrade kit", which consists of IceDice without the pyramids.
• Those who sign up as Starship Captains can order a misprinted pyramid called "Electric Yellow".

All of these items are in limited supply, available only from the Looney Labs Web Store. The fan-only items are not listed in the store catalog, but can be reached from the company's Looney Pyramids page.
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Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:31 am
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Looney Labs in 2011: Pyramids, Dragons...but No Rabbits

Jeff Wolfe
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With Pirate Fluxx hitting stores on Feb. 11, 2011, Looney Labs started to give people a look into the future by releasing information about its summer 2011 releases.

The Pyramids Are Back!

In November 2010, Looney Labs stopped selling Treehouse, its flagship pyramid product. On June 24, 2011, the company will release a new version of Treehouse with appropriately pyramidal packaging, as well as a new pyramid product called IceDice.

Treehouse - As with the previous version of this game, the new Treehouse includes 15 pyramids in five colors, rules, and a special Treehouse die. It also includes a regular die and rules to a second game called Pharaoh. Pharaoh had been previously released as a free rules download during the 2010 holiday season as the company's holiday gift to fans. Instead of the familiar plastic tube, the new version of Treehouse comes in a pyramid-shaped cloth bag with a zipper on the side and will retail for $14.

IceDice - The IceDice product includes 30 pyramids in five colors and a pair of special dice, also called IceDice. It also includes rules for two brand new games: IceDice and Launchpad 23. IceDice will come in a cloth bag similar to, but larger than, the Treehouse bag and will retail for $20.



Along with the new packaging comes a new brand name. The pyramid products are now being marketed under the name "Looney Pyramids". Previously, they were called Icehouse Pyramids, after the first game that was invented for the pyramids.

New-ish card game: Seven Dragons

Also on June 24, 2011, the company plans to release a card game called Seven Dragons, which is based on Aquarius, with dragon artwork by fantasy artist Larry Elmore. The game will retail for $12. There is no indication that the company plans to stop selling Aquarius, which has been rethemed once previously with a Mormon theme by Covenant Communications under the name Search, Ponder, & Play. (That version is still sold under license.)



Looney Labs Fan Club web site

In December (post-BoardgameNews.com and pre-BoardGameGeek News), Looney Labs unveiled a new web site for fans, The Looney Labs Fan Club. At least as far back as 1999, the company has reached out to fans, instituting its Mad Lab Rabbits program in November of that year. The program encouraged fans to spread the word of Looney Labs games to friends, in game stores, and at conventions. Until June 2007, the program included incentives for demoing games and directing new customers to the company's web site. Up to now, these activities had been coordinated through a series of email lists maintained by the company.

The new site has a public forum for general discussion of the company's various product lines, and a series of private forums dedicated to individual interest areas. Among the featured private groups are one for fans of the pyramid games (now dubbed Starship Captains), one to coordinate demo activities, and one for volunteers at the company's annual "Big Experiment" activites at the Origins Game Fair. The company says that it will offer "discounts and special deals" to fans who sign up for the web site, but there is no formal program as there was before.

With the new web site, the Mad Labs Rabbits program has been discontinued. The company had been gradually downplaying the rabbit theme over the last year, and actively looking for a new name since May 2010. In an open letter to fans on the new web site, company President Kristin Looney asked fans to stop calling themselves "rabbits", citing confusion the term has caused in the general public about the company and its games.

Fluxx: BoardGameGeek Expansion

In February 2011, Chad Krizan posted a message here on BoardGameGeek that a BoardGameGeek expansion to Fluxx is coming soon. The expansion will consist of eight cards: three Goals (including the BoardGameGeek.com Goal), three Keepers, an Action, and a New Rule, and should be available by mid-February 2011 in the BoardGameGeek store.
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Wed Feb 9, 2011 6:38 pm
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