The 12 Best Looney Pyramid Games
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Below are twelve Icehouse/Looney Pyramid games that I've personally tried, played multiple times, and liked the best. Some are thinky, some are fast-paced, some are cooperative. All are enjoyable.


> 5: Number of years I've been trying pyramid games
> 40: Number of pyramid games that were rejected in favor of these
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1. Board Game: Pentamid [Average Rating:5.66 Unranked]
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mb 4 minutes mb Players: 2

Easy to teach to non-gamers and a fun diversion for gamers. The goal is a familiar 5-in-a-row, but it's approached in a new way. You're allowed to move each other's pieces, cover up each other's pieces, and strengthen your own position by loading up more pyramids of your own color onto a given square, so the multi-size pyramids are really part and parcel of the game. Makes you laugh when you move each other's pyramids and change the colors by covering them up, like an argument with snappy comebacks... in pyramid form. The under-5-minute playing time means you always have time for a game of Pentamid.


youblankneed
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
= 30 pyramids total
mb Board: 5×5

Rules available in this pdf or at this external site.
 
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2. Board Game: Ricochet Pyramids [Average Rating:7.10 Unranked]
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mb 15-60 minutes mb Players: 2-8

Ricochet Pyramids does a fantastic job of recreating the experience you get playing Ricochet Robots, and uses only a quarter of the space. It's a very satisfying puzzle game that easily scales up to as many players as can get a good look at the board.

youblankneed
ΔΔ × 3
ΔΔ × 3
ΔΔ × 3
Δ × 1
Δ × 1
Δ × 1
=21 pyramids total
(The rules call for more pyramids, but the extra ones are just used for randomization and score-keeping. You could easily use other materials for that.)
mb Board: 8×8
mb A 30-second timer
mb Some way to keep score
d10-8 Some way to randomize
Rules available at this wiki page.
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3. Board Game: Zark City [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:6974]
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mb 9 minutes mb Players: 2-4

Zark City uses standard playing cards as the board. It manages to make a satisfying game with many decisions out of just a few materials. You have eight different actions you can take on each turn, and once you've been playing for a few turns, you can remember all eight of them without consulting a cheat sheet because they are so intuitive.

Your goal is get your pyramids onto a cluster of three playing cards that are either three-of-a-kind or a suited run. But your opponent can destroy your pyramids, barge in with his own pyramids, and even use an Ace to change the board by moving your card, with you still on it, to a completely different spot.

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mbmb
ΔΔΔ × 3
ΔΔΔ × 3
=18 pyramids total
--or--
mbmbmb
ΔΔΔ × 3
ΔΔΔ × 3
ΔΔΔ × 3
=27 pyramids total
--or--
mbmbmbmb
ΔΔΔ × 3
ΔΔΔ × 3
ΔΔΔ × 3
ΔΔΔ × 3
=45 pyramids total
Plus
mb A pack of playing cards with Jokers

Rules available in this external site's pdf.
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4. Board Game: Synapse-Ice [Average Rating:6.53 Unranked]
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mb 6 minutes mb Players: 2


Excellent pacing. Each player takes only one action per turn, AND half of the decision (where to place the piece) has been predetermined by the opponent's last move, so turns are satisfyingly quick and there is little AP. There's still thinking and planning going on, though, so Synapse-Ice makes for a great blend of fast and thinky.

youblankneed
ΔΔΔ × 10 in any colors
=30 pyramids total

mb Board: 6×5

Rules with pictures available in this review and in this pdf, which also includes a 6×5 board.
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5. Board Game: Apophis [Average Rating:6.06 Unranked]
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mb 15 minutes exactly mb Players: 1-4

This is a real-time venture and a cooperative game to boot.

A huge asteroid is heading for Earth, and your job is to destroy it before it wipes out all life. This is a real-time co-op game with quick turns and intuitive actions. You either add on to the communal rocketship by spending cards, or you draw cards. Clever success-checks after launch highlight the importance of the different rocketship materials: for instance, to check if the ship actually makes contact with the asteroid, you add the size of the asteroid to the blue (navigation equipment) pips on your ship. A large asteroid is a bigger target, so it makes sense, see? Altogether an enjoyable, well-thought-out game.

youblankneed
ΔΔΔ × 1
ΔΔΔ × 1
ΔΔΔ × 1
ΔΔΔ × 1
ΔΔΔ × 1
=15 pyramids total
Plus
mb 5 buttons, paperclips, pennies...
mb A deck of playing cards (Uno or Phase 10 work well)
mb A six-sided die
mb A 15-minute timer

Overview with pictures available at this review and more detailed rules available in this pdf.
 
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6. Board Game: IceSickle [Average Rating:6.85 Unranked]
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mb 2 minutes. Really. mb Players: 2

IceSickle is light and easy to teach people, but deeper than other games this short. You can think several turns ahead and use strategy: "I could jump that way and get 5 points, but if I do, I'll end up placing a big pyramid THERE and give my opponent 7 points..." New players immediately ask for a second game.

youblankneed
ΔΔΔ × 5
= 15 pyramids total (any colors)
mb Board: 5×5

Rules available in this pdf
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7. Board Game: Pikemen [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:6158]
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mb 11 minutes mb Players: 2-4

Pikemen has an agreeable chess-like feel and mirror-symmetry balance. Each turn you have many options: you may move or make pyramids lie down in 8 possible positions, any of which can have a profound effect your partner's next move. A clearcut end-condition puts a cap on game length and adds extra tension to the last few moves.


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mbmb2 players:
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
=30 pyramids total
--or--
mbmbmb3 players:
ΔΔΔ × 4
ΔΔΔ × 4
ΔΔΔ × 4
=36 pyramids total
--or--
mbmbmbmb 4 players:
ΔΔΔ × 3
ΔΔΔ × 3
ΔΔΔ × 3
ΔΔΔ × 3
=36 pyramids total
Plus
mb Board: 8×8, the larger the better

Rules with color setup examples available in this file
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8. Board Game: Stawvs [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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mb 25 minutes mb Players: 2-4

Stawvs is just good hopp-y, collect-y fun. It plays like Hey, That's My Fish! but is more colorful and deeper. The colors of the pyramids you collect matter in addition to just the sizes because scoring is nuanced. So there are a few more layers of strategy to where you'll move next. You might jump somewhere to a) complete a collection, b) deny another player a needed piece, c) cut someone else off, d) keep yourself from being cut off, or e) just because you feel like it.

There is no luck; setup is random; turns move quickly. I really enjoy this one.

youblankneed
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
=60 pyramids total
Plus
mb 3 pawns for each player.
mb Board: 8×8

Rules are at this external site.
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9. Board Game: Pylon [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked]
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mb 8 minutes mb Players: 2

Good game; nice mix of medium complexity with short playtime. You take turns placing pyramids, then you take turns moving each stack onto an adjacent stack. There are quite a few chuckles and groans with this one as your opponent moves your piece in a direction you didn't expect, and you find somewhere to do that back to him.

youblankneed
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
=30 pyramids total
mb Board: 6×5

Rules available in this pdf
 
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10. Board Game: Homeworlds [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:2913]
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mb 30-60 minutes mb Players: 2-6

Space travel game with a lot of depth. Homeworlds has a good deal of complexity, but uses no other materials than just the pyramids. You don't even need a board.

Pyramids standing up are star systems; pyramids lying down are space ships. You can use wormholes to travel between star systems and you can discover new star systems with your little ships. Homeworlds takes the longest to learn of any Looney game I've played, but the deep gameplay is worth the effort for this one.

youblankneed
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
=60 pyramids total

Rules available at this external site.
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11. Board Game: Volcano [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:2870]
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mb 25 minutes mb Players: 1-6

Good abstract for sitting and puzzling out the best move. My first games of this took a good 45 minutes, but after several plays it became apparent that you could engineer an early win by keeping track of your opponents' spoils. A lot of Looney games feel like they've been made up at the last minute by some guy entering a contest, but the volcano-eruption thing and the rules for cap movement seem to really fit well together to make Volcano a nice, cohesive game that feels both novel and, somehow, like it's always existed.

youblankneed
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
ΔΔΔ × 5
Δ × 5
=80 pyramids total
mb Board: 5×5

Rules with illustrated examples at this external site.
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12. Board Game: Zendo [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:706]
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mb 20 minutes mb Players: 2-10

Zendo is a puzzle game that never runs out of new challenges. That's because the challenges come from the brains of the other players instead of a fixed set of cards. It plays like a cooperative game and can scale up to however many players can comfortably sit around a table. Each session, someone is the "Zen Master" and secretly makes up a rule about how the pyramids should be arranged. Then, going around the table, each player makes an example arrangement of one or more pyramids and is informed via a white or black pebble whether that arrangement fits the secret rule or breaks it. The first player who correctly guesses the rule technically wins, but all players end up having interesting discussions about the possible answer and helping each other figure it out.

youblankneed

ΔΔΔΔ × ?
=a bunch of pyramids. The exact amount isn't important.
mb tokens in white and black (buttons, pebbles...)

Rules in this pdf.
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