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Subject: the ever changing treehouse of Icehouse rss

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Lowell Kempf
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One of the first games that I picked up when I began rediscovering board games was Fluxx. While I have grown as a collector and as a gamer since then, Looney Labs still holds a special place in my heart.

Treehouse represents a shift in the way that Looney Labs markets Icehouse, the stackable pyramids that can be used to play hundreds of different games. Originally, Icehouse was sold in sets of five triplettes of the same color and you would have to buy at least four sets to play most Icehouse games.

Treehouse, on the other hand, is is sold as a stand alone game. It comes in the same tube as the old caches did, still holding five triplettes of pyramids. However, each set of pyramids is a different color and the game comes with a special die that you will use to play Treehouse. Treehouse is a one time purchase and, if you like it enough, you can buy more sets to play other games.

Each Treehouse set can support up to four players. Each player takes all of the pyramids of one color and stacks them up from largest to smallest, forming a little pyramid tree. A neutral set of pyramids is set in the middle of the players, with the middle-sized piece and largest piece pointing in opposite directions and the smallest pyramid pointing up. This neutral set is the treehouse of the title.

The object of the game is simple. you are trying to make your set of pyramids match the treehouse before anyone else does.

So, how do you rearrange the set? That's where the die comes in. The die is a six sider but is marked with words instead of pips. Those words are tip, swap, hop, dig, aim and wild.

Tip allows you to knock over an upright piece. If there were other pieces on top of it, the pieces separate, all pointing the same way. You get to choose which way you tip, by the way.

Swap lets you do just that, swapping two pieces. Their orientation stays the same, unless one of the pieces is entering a stack.

Hop lets you jump an upright piece to a different place in the line. It can't land on the same place. If it lands on another piece, that piece will be reoriented upright, underneath the piece that hopped.

Dig lets you move a sideways pieces in the direction it is pointing, where it will come out upright. If it comes up under another piece, that piece gets reoriented upright and the digging piece is under it.

Aim lets you reorient a solitary piece. If a piece is part of a stack, it cannot be aimed.

Wild lets you pick any of the five actions and apply it to your own pieces OR to the treehouse.

On your turn, you roll the die. If you can apply the roll to your own set of pieces, you must. If you cannot, you may apply it to the treehouse but you can choose not to. If you cannot apply it to either your set or the treehouse, you get to roll again. Obviously, if you roll wild, you can change the treehouse, even if you could change your own pieces.

All of the lines in the game run parallel. In essense, you have three possible spaces to place your pieces and each of the spaces will have an equivilent in front of your opponents and in the treehouse itself.

The game ends when someone's pieces match the treehouse. If more than one player matches, the win goes to whoever made the change.

Treehouse is a fast and simple game, one that only takes five or so minutes to play. I have heard it called the Icehouse version of Fluxx but Treehouse is much less random than Fluxx. You have more control over your decisions and, thanks to the wild side of the die, you have a one in three chance of getting the right roll.

Luck obviously plays a big roll, since you're rolling a die. However, there is some hidden tactics to the game. If you want to win, you can't play randomly. You always need to think one move ahead, even if you know you might not be able to make that move.

I have really enjoyed Treehouse. It is designed to be a fast and light filler that takes advantage of the unique properties of Icehouse and I think it does a great job.
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Julian Murdoch
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This was the year I got sold on Icehouse too, precisely because I did a demo at Gencon. It's a great great system and I don't know why I haven't dug into it before.
 
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Troy Davidson
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Treehouse is one of the best games I have played. Why is that? It's fast, easy, and small. Whenever I go to a family function, you can guarentee that Treehouse is in my pocket. My son and I will play it while sitting around a table with other family members. Since the game is so simple, you can carry on a conversation with others while playing the game. It sure makes those functions go by faster. laugh
 
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Jody Ludwick
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Nice review Lowell.


Treehouse currently resides at the bottom of my purse for that just in case restaurant-wait moment. Although I do appriciate its overall convenience and intro to the world of Icehouse games image, it's my least favorite Icehouse game.

MUCH more lies beyond this single stash of pyramids folks...
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Brian Campbell
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I wouldn't say it's my least favorite Icehouse game, but there are several that I like better. It is, though, the best restaurant-wait-moment game, and it's not a bad filler game. The fact that it's single stash means it's easy to carry around, quick to set up and clean up. It's fairly light and random, though there's enough choice to make it feel good when you win. It's perfect for sitting in a coffee shop and playing while you finish up your coffee, or waiting for your food at a restaurant, or killing time while you wait for one of your players on a game night to show up.

But yeah, if you like treehouse, then buy a few more stashes, and learn more of the wonderful Icehouse games.
 
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j b Goodwin

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Good review. The Icehouse pyramid remains the coolest game bit out there; however, after playing around with this particular application, I am wondering if this game is actually trivial. So far, I'm not really finding that this rewards good play (not just mine, so this isn't an ego thing). The die just seems to take too much control out of the hands of the player, and it seems like you just wait around hoping to get a useful roll. Comments?
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Andrew Chapman
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I agree that it's fairly trivial. I love the design, elegance and simplicity - it's clever. But the game does seem arbitrary (perhaps a little less so than Fluxx, mind) and very dry. It's not very engaging - though passes a few minutes agreeably enough, I suppose.
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Tom
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As Gygax intended.
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“It is a trivial grammar-school text, but yet worthy a wise man’s consideration. Question was asked of Demosthenes, what was the chief part of an orator? he answered, action; what next? action; what next again? action.”
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swandive78 wrote:
...it seems like you just wait around hoping to get a useful roll.

Don't you mean "you just wait around rolling to get a useful hop."

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