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Subject: Found out what the new Looney Labs fall release is going to be! rss

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sam zitin
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I just got finished speaking with Kristin Looney and she so kindly revealed to me what their new fall release is going to be, and while I very unfortunately cannot say what it is here I can say that I am INCREDIBLY excited for it's release.

Sorry to jump the gun without any actual information to give, but Kristin says they'll be making the official announcement as soon as the ink is dry on the licensing agreement which I think should be soon.

Oh, one piece of info I can give actually, in case anyone thought it would just be another version of Fluxx you would be very wrong!

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Chris Ferejohn
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It's another version of Chrononauts!

I kid, I kid (as I have no idea either).
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"The Leavetaking" - Michael Whelan planned for this piece to be a large "preliminary" to a new work in his Passage series that he would paint in oils. He wanted the design of the robe on the sand to suggest the drawing of water back into the sea.
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cferejohn wrote:
It's another version of Chrononauts!

I kid, I kid (as I have no idea either).


Of course you're kidding, Chris. Everyone knows it's going to be another Icehouse variant!
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Brad Miller
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No, it's going to be about weed.
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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Windopaene wrote:
No, it's going to be about weed.


Oh then I want it, maybe a game about making through a dead show
 
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sammyz wrote:
in case anyone thought it would just be another version of Fluxx you would be very wrong!

What on earth would make people think that? devil
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Lacombe
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I was a fledgling Looney Labs fanboy at one time, but lost all hope when they decided the best way to market the Icehouse game system (conceived of as an alternative to a deck of cards--something "every house" had in some alternate universe) was as a throwaway dice-based game called "Treehouse" that lost the single most interesting element of the game system--the system itself: stashes of 15 pieces of one color, 5 each of 3 sizes.

That was something both interesting enough and versatile enough to really go somewhere, but instead of spending time on game design and reasonable production costs, they spent their time on marketing to... god knows who. As it is now, you spend over 50 cents per pyramid piece in the package, and get a lousy game rather than a well-developed system.

Some company with know-how could have churned these things out in mass volume for something like $15 a set--a REAL set, with at least 4 colors--and been making 50% profit on each at retail still! Just look at all the plastic dreck that litters the kids' shelves in a department store... plastic is cheap. WTF, Looney Labs?!

It's not even that they've chosen better quality pieces for their higher price they charge; there are shots of cracked pyramids in the galleries, and NONE of my sets were removed from the flashing well [you can clearly see the cuts on every single piece] or sit / stack accurately or consistently.
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sam zitin
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Nate Straight, I notice the cuts from the flashing on my Icehouse pieces but that is an unfortunate fact of the injection molding process I believe. Gamescience dice have the same little nubs and would probably have to be sanded off by hand (which would affect the pieces in other ways). I've never had them interfere with stacking.

As for the switch to the Treehouse marketing, I can say that I was opposed to it initially as you are, but having spoken to the Looneys about it personally and also having sold the pieces as single color stashes as well as as Treehouse stashes I have to say the current system is much more accessible to the average person.

People do GET the idea of the system, even when they were single colored stashes, but the concept of HAVING to buy 3 or 4 or even 5 stashes before they could play a single game they wanted to was jarring. The idea now that you get a complete game in one tube and by buying some more copies of that game you can start to play others is much more palatable to most people.

Also, if you know of a company that could make 4 stash sets with the same plastic or better for $15 dollars I'm sure the Looneys would love to know.

All this has nothing to do with the fact that their upcoming game is going to be supremely awesome :D
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Lacombe
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sammyz wrote:
Nate Straight, I notice the cuts from the flashing on my Icehouse pieces but that is an unfortunate fact of the injection molding process I believe.


Sure, but there's injection molding and then there's injection molding.

I can't recall another injection-molded plastic item I've ever seen with worse cutting of the flash.

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People do GET the idea of the system, even when they were single colored stashes, but the concept of HAVING to buy 3 or 4 or even 5 stashes before they could play a single game they wanted to was jarring.


That's why the emphasis should have been on re-packaging the system as a system [with significant emphasis on game development, so you could include 10 great games] rather than as a bunch of stashes, like one of those 10-in-1 game sets you see in the stores all the time.

Don't make people "HAVE" to buy those 3 or 4 stashes; instead, give them to them when they purchase [by packaging it as such] and sell them on the fact that the system can play dozens of great games [there may be two or three right now I'd consider "great"].

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Also, if you know of a company that could make 4 stash sets with the same plastic or better for $15 dollars I'm sure the Looneys would love to know.


I doubt it. They've already obtained a quote of $.50 for 4 full stashes and kiboshed it.

And, apparently, their solution to finding a US producer is to.... post an ad on their website? Since the price of the pyramids has remain unchanged [actually, has gone up], I can't help but conclude they've stuck with their "family owned company" they've always had.

They even say as much: "I don't really need anyone but KLON to bid on this job just now." Huh? That's a worse business concept than a mayor who takes competing bids for a government contract and awards the job to a company who has his brother as its top executive.

The story so far:

- They "broke down" and got a quote? HUH? They should be doing this at least every other year!

- They were sad [?!] to discover they could produce their game at ~10% of the cost in China.

- They were so disheartened they didn't even bother to look for another US producer, apparently.

- They went back to their original producer and said "Hey, uh... so can you do this any cheaper?"

Lousy business practice.

That may be great for their hippie business concept, but it's lousy for making a game folks will pay for.
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David C
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Bip grabs popcorn, hits subscribe....
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sam zitin
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Wow, that's some real enmity for a company running their business how they feel is most appropriate. I've already voted with my wallet, I don't need to tell them how to run their company.


I can however comment that I was a game store employee during both the "Martian Chess set" days which came with 4 single color stashes and rules for multiple games (i.e. selling it as the system you described) and also the single stash tube days, and also the Treehouse days.

Without the slightest hesitation I can tell you that selling Treehouse was easier than the other two presentations.

Say what you want about their desire to produce things in America, but the company even encourages you http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/35802/make-your-own-ic...
http://www.wunderland.com/icehouse/MakingIcehouse.html
if you want.

As for bad injection molding, seriously check out Gamescience dice. The bad cutting they have doesn't change the fact that they're some of the most well thought of dice in the industry.

This is all moot and off topic however. I don't know when the official announcement is coming from them, but I hope it's soon because I'd really rather be discussing that.
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Lacombe
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sammyz wrote:
Wow, that's some real enmity for a company running their business how they feel is most appropriate. I've already voted with my wallet, I don't need to tell them how to run their company.


I have no enmity toward them at all.

I've spent more on my icehouse set [all the colors, except pink, with 2x each in white, black, and grey; then, almost all of their accessories--rule sets, etc--; then, dozens upon dozens of gems and dice--d4s and d6s in every pyramid color, as well as at least 25+ glass globs in each color; then, made my own volcano board] than on anything else game-related I own.

And I'm not telling them anything.

I'm talking to an unaffiliated end-user messageboard about my disappointment--as a huge fan--of the direction the game system has taken.

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I can however comment that I was a game store employee during both the "Martian Chess set" days which came with 4 single color stashes and rules for multiple games (i.e. selling it as the system you described) and also the single stash tube days, and also the Treehouse days.


Martian Chess is a craptastic game.

They have no "killer app"; that's the issue.

Essentially, the story of Icehouse is analogous to what would have happened had it been Moe from the Three Stooges who discovered the theory of relativity. Great idea, but it ain't going anywhere without development / research. How someone who designs random, chaotic, pointless games created one of the most elegant and compelling game system ideas is beyond me.

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This is all moot and off topic however. I don't know when the official announcement is coming from them, but I hope it's soon because I'd really rather be discussing that.


Well, to be fair... there is no topic.

I mean, what do you want us to say in here?

"Oh, I can't wait to hear about the new game!"

Well, that about covers the topics we can use.

How can we discuss something we know nothing of?
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Jon W
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NateStraight wrote:
They have no "killer app"; that's the issue.

Zendo is close. But yeah, I basically agree with you.

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Well, to be fair... there is no topic.

Exactly. Thanks for at least trying to make something useful out of it.

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sam zitin
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All fair points actually.

I wasn't actually referring to the game Martian Chess (though I think it's far from craptastic), but initially the plastic pieces were sold in 4 stash sets called "The Martian Chess set" which came with rules for 4 or 5 different games I think and DID emphasize the whole system aspect. They just never sold that well.

It's possible that times have changed though and that now would be better, I don't know.

Yes, I will admit to not having any content to share at this juncture...I guess I just wanted to see what people would be able to speculate.

EDIT: For me, Volcano is the killer app of Icehouse. I've sold more people on buying pieces over the years on that game alone than any other (I guess Zendo would be a close second for me)
 
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Lacombe
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waddball wrote:
NateStraight wrote:
They have no "killer app"; that's the issue.

Zendo is close. But yeah, I basically agree with you.


Yes. Zendo is incredible. If it were actually a game, it would be my third 10 [the others are Alien City--Icehouse again!--and Tichu]. It's a fabulous competitive logic puzzle, and something I would rarely if ever turn down a "game" of, but it's not a "game" as such.

I'd bet almost anything LL could have got into the "manipulatives" market in primary education if they had developed one or two more great "educational" / "mathematical" games to go with Zendo and packaged the thing in a large-scale format for K-3rd teachers.


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Lacombe
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sammyz wrote:

I wasn't actually referring to the game Martian Chess (though I think it's far from craptastic), but initially the plastic pieces were sold in 4 stash sets called "The Martian Chess set" which came with rules for 4 or 5 different games I think and DID emphasize the whole system aspect. They just never sold that well.


I think, honestly, the price was probably the biggest problem. I'd also bet that price is probably the biggest reason Treehouse sells now.

The pieces look like they should cost only about as much as one of those tin-packed "classic games" from Cardinal... which Treehouse does.

Quote:
It's possible that times have changed though and that now would be better, I don't know.


Not at the original price of $35.

Quote:
Yes, I will admit to not having any content to share at this juncture...I guess I just wanted to see what people would be able to speculate.


To be fair, "another Fluxx" and "another Chrononauts" are about the best guesses anyone is going to be able to make based on LL history.

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EDIT: For me, Volcano is the killer app of Icehouse. I've sold more people on buying pieces over the years on that game alone than any other (I guess Zendo would be a close second for me)


Conveniently, LL has never sold the pieces in a format that made it easy to get people into Volcano [yes, one of the better Icehouse games].

Not only did all the box sets only include 4 stashes [5+ being needed], but they charged [still do] a ludicrous $20 for a board that should be $2.

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Kristin Looney
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NateStraight wrote:
...but instead of spending time on game design and reasonable production costs, they spent their time on marketing to... god knows who. As it is now, you spend over 50 cents per pyramid piece in the package, and get a lousy game rather than a well-developed system.


Nate, you don't know anything about what we are spending our time on... First, Treehouse is not a lousy game. It isn't my favorite pyramid game, but it's a fun little game. And unlike every other format we have published our pyramids in, it actually sells quite well at the retail level. A little fact that is truly important when it comes to staying in business and keeping the pyramids in print and available to our fans who already understand how awesome this game system is.

As far as spending our time on game design, the Icehouse community continues to create all sorts of really cool games, and Andy Looney himself has designed several truly awesome new pyramid games in the last few years that we have not yet published, as we are holding them for the next incarnation of a boxed set, which we are hard at work on.

NateStraight wrote:
Some company with know-how could have churned these things out in mass volume for something like $15 a set--a REAL set, with at least 4 colors--and been making 50% profit on each at retail still! Just look at all the plastic dreck that litters the kids' shelves in a department store... plastic is cheap. WTF, Looney Labs?!


Wow. Again, I mean no offense, but you don't know what you are talking about. Later in this thread you point to an old RFQ I posted 5 years ago, which clearly I need to take down. That was the first time I tried pricing pyramids from China, I've done so several times since. I recently got quotes from Hasbro Manufacturing, both in their US plant and in China. The 'plastic dreck' that you see littering toy shelves in department stores are manufactured in HUGE quantities by HUGE companies, and there really is no comparison to what a small company like ours can reasonably produce. And 5 years ago when we switched to Treehouse, we were a tiny company, not the small company that we are today.

All that said... yes, it is true, our pyramid game system has gotten very little attention from Looney Labs in many years now. But you have the switch to selling our pyramids as Treehouse sets to thank for the pyramids being available right now at all. As I have been telling pyramids fans for many years now, the number one best thing they can do to help our pyramid game system find a place in the retail marketplace (and hence a larger audience of players) is to help us promote Fluxx. Our focus on Fluxx, and our new retail packaging, have more than doubled (almost tripled) the revenue of our little company, which makes it possible for us to focus again on the pyramids we love and believe in, even though ANY other company looking at the sales numbers would have dropped the product long ago.

To sum up: selling our pyramids as Treehouse sets has allowed the pyramids to stay in print as a viable product in the retail marketplace, until we as a company have the resources to promote the pyramids again as a game system at the retail level. And we are working hard on that relaunch. Sorry it is taking so long.

One more thought on something else you said...

NateStraight wrote:
How someone who designs random, chaotic, pointless games created one of the most elegant and compelling game system ideas is beyond me.


Ok, I'm guessing YOU don't like Fluxx, or probably any of Andy's other luck based social games. You probably are not going to like many of the new pyramid games Andy has invented... but Fluxx fans are going to love them. You say Zendo is the killer ap? Think again. Sales on the boxed Zendo set were lousy on the retail level, and we launched and promoted it better than many things that sold MUCH better. The kinds of elegant and compelling games that YOU love (and that Andy the gamer loves too) don't sell nearly as well as the fun social luck based games Andy designs for me to sell. I'm not saying they are better, but they sure are better sellers.

I am sorry you are disappointed in the direction our pyramid game system has taken, please trust me when I say it is temporary (if you can call 5 years temporary) and we are working on it. When we relaunch the system next year, I hope that you will help us promote it - even though the new games we launch are typical Andy Looney social luck based games...

...and when we relaunch our fan/demo program later this year, please join and help us promote that secret new fall release that Sam started this thread about - the more copies of the card games we sell, the more resources we will have for the pyramid relaunch next year!


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Wow. Didn't know I'd attract the attention of the big kahunas!

llabs wrote:
Nate, you don't know anything about what we are spending our time on...


No, of course not. About the best I can do in guessing at where your corporate time and money is spent is to look at what you put out in the marketplace, and that supports my perception of LL as a company focused on marketing gimmicks over game design.

That's fine of course, and I'm in no position to tell you how to run your business. I have a right to say that that's not the kind of games or game company I'm really interested in, and... it isn't. Hence, why I was once a fan but am no longer.

It's kind of why I stray away from games that promise stuff like "All the strategy of chess in a new dimension!" or "The best of chess and backgammon together at last!" or "A new way to play your favorite game of XXXXXX". It's context over content.

That's not always the best business decision to focus on game design over game marketing, but such is life. That's why my top three games are unmarketable: a) small pub [Zendo], b) print-and-play [Alien City], and c) public domain [Tichu... i.e. a deck of cards!].

In fact, it was Icehouse that got me into "modern" board games in the first place, about six months before Settlers even! I don't even recall how I came across them in the first place, but the idea was so interesting that it kick-started a brand new hobby for me.

Quote:
Wow. Again, I mean no offense, but you don't know what you are talking about. Later in this thread you point to an old RFQ I posted 5 years ago, which clearly I need to take down. That was the first time I tried pricing pyramids from China, I've done so several times since. I recently got quotes from Hasbro Manufacturing, both in their US plant and in China. The 'plastic dreck' that you see littering toy shelves in department stores are manufactured in HUGE quantities by HUGE companies, and there really is no comparison to what a small company like ours can reasonably produce. And 5 years ago when we switched to Treehouse, we were a tiny company, not the small company that we are today.


I didn't mean to imply that you could have done the production, which certainly would have been difficult on a fledgling budget.

If I were to have given a business recommendation, it would have been to license or sell off the pyramid scheme--no pun intended!--as quickly as possible to someone who could have flooded the market with it [like POGS a few years ago], keeping some rights to future production.

Sure, you would have been just one more flash-in-the-pan, but that flash would have provided you with plenty of capital to pour back into the system and into the rest of your games. This is almost always the best business move for small companies: attract attention, sell out

Obviously, that doesn't align with your mission, and that's fine. I'm just disappointed to see the system fall prey to small-pub syndrome.

Quote:
All that said... yes, it is true, our pyramid game system has gotten very little attention from Looney Labs in many years now. But you have the switch to selling our pyramids as Treehouse sets to thank for the pyramids being available right now at all. As I have been telling pyramids fans for many years now, the number one best thing they can do to help our pyramid game system find a place in the retail marketplace (and hence a larger audience of players) is to help us promote Fluxx. Our focus on Fluxx, and our new retail packaging, have more than doubled (almost tripled) the revenue of our little company, which makes it possible for us to focus again on the pyramids we love and believe in, even though ANY other company looking at the sales numbers would have dropped the product long ago.


Whether you drop them or continue them isn't really of terrible concern to me. I have my set, and LL has proven that their method of pursuing game design / development isn't in line with what I expect / desire. I'll take eBay for sets I still need [Pink] and the community for games.

Quote:
And we are working hard on that relaunch. Sorry it is taking so long.


This is fascinating news, but you don't really owe any apologies to me, at least, or customers. Business is impersonal. You make what you do; we buy it or not. You don't owe us anything other than to offer the products you say you offer at the prices you say you'll take for them.

I'm well within my rights as a general consumer just to be frustrated with the direction you've taken, compared to the direction I wish you'd taken. But, Dreamworks doesn't come apologizing to me for making Shrek II & III when I wish they'd made something NEW like Shrek I.

Quote:
One more thought on something else you said...

NateStraight wrote:
How someone who designs random, chaotic, pointless games created one of the most elegant and compelling game system ideas is beyond me.


Ok, I'm guessing YOU don't like Fluxx, or probably any of Andy's other luck based social games. You probably are not going to like many of the new pyramid games Andy has invented... but Fluxx fans are going to love them. You say Zendo is the killer ap? Think again. Sales on the boxed Zendo set were lousy on the retail level, and we launched and promoted it better than many things that sold MUCH better. The kinds of elegant and compelling games that YOU love (and that Andy the gamer loves too) don't sell nearly as well as the fun social luck based games Andy designs for me to sell. I'm not saying they are better, but they sure are better sellers.


No, I'm not terribly fond of Fluxx, though I'm supposed to be picking up a Monty Python edition for my wife who is a huge fan--of the Pythons, not of Fluxx, though she enjoys it. See, that right there is marketing over content: Why the Pythons? 'Cause it will sell.

Hey, that's fine. I expect a company to drop a product that won't sell, and wouldn't have minded at all if you'd dropped Icehouse instead of switching to Treehouse. You'd have actually increased the value of my "investment" if I ever decided to sell my set.

It's just not something that I, a "real" gamer [whatever that means] as opposed to a casual toy / game store browser, am really interested in. That's all well and good. There are gamers out there who love Fluxx; I happen not to be one of them, but it is what it is.

You're under no obligation, obviously, to produce anything other than what you think the market will bear. If it bears it, great; you make some money and try again. If it doesn't, great; you decide to operate at a loss to push a product you "believe in" or just drop it.

I'm really [despite my ranting, ramblings, and ravings] quite a dispassionate customer. I have almost no loyalty to any brand or company. I change my "consumer opinion" on a whim. I could care less whether [almost] any company I do business with exists tomorrow.

Quote:
I am sorry you are disappointed in the direction our pyramid game system has taken, please trust me when I say it is temporary (if you can call 5 years temporary) and we are working on it. When we relaunch the system next year, I hope that you will help us promote it - even though the new games we launch are typical Andy Looney social luck based games...

...and when we relaunch our fan/demo program later this year, please join and help us promote that secret new fall release that Sam started this thread about - the more copies of the card games we sell, the more resources we will have for the pyramid relaunch next year!


I have no interest in promoting something I'm not interested in [see above about being generally dispassionate], but thanks for the offer [?]. I do push Zendo and Alien City [though both are not really tied strongly to the Icehouse system] to my game group and the site here.

If you put out something interesting, I'll vote with my wallet and my word-of-mouth. That's really the way business works. It's nice that you have customers who are loyal and volunteer to do your marketing for you. I realize that's the "modern" thing to do in business.

I think it's mostly a passing fad, though. Regardless of loyalty, it's ultimately your product that makes or breaks you.

And now that I've rambled on about nothing for five pages, I'll stop. Quite interesting to hear from someone "in the know".
 
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slate43 wrote:
Bip, gimme some of your popcorn.


Here you are:

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llabs wrote:
...and when we relaunch our fan/demo program later this year, please join and help us promote that secret new fall release that Sam started this thread about - the more copies of the card games we sell, the more resources we will have for the pyramid relaunch next year!

Well... now we know it's a card game! whistle
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Jon W
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karlvonl wrote:
Well... now we know it's a card game! whistle

It was a cunning plan....
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tim Tim TIm TIM TIMMY!!
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BGG - threads like this make me glad I do not own a TV or I might have missed all this fun

Me - I am still hoping it is a game about weed, hey pass a bunch of that popcorn I am really hungry for some strange reason
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Kristin Looney
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just got approval for this tweet...
Kristin Looney signed the contract with Universal Studios!
Looney Labs will be publishing “Back to The Future: The
Card Game” this fall. More details soon…
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Steve B
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llabs wrote:
Kristin Looney signed the contract with Universal Studios!
Looney Labs will be publishing “Back to The Future: The
Card Game” this fall. More details soon…


Rock out. That's a great movie series. If there's a mini hoverboard included with this then that would be even better.
 
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