IceTowers

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IceTowers
Andrew Looney, 1999
A game of IceTowers played with Giant pieces
Control the most valuable towers
Min. Players: 3
Max. Players: 5
Icehouse stashes: 1 per player
Treehouse sets: warning.png“” is no number.
Other equipment: playing surface
Setup time: 1 minute
Min. Playing time: about 5 minutes
Max. Playing time: warning.png“” is no number.
Rules complexity: Low
Strategy depth: Medium
Random chance: Low
Primary Mechanic: stacking pyramids
Additional Mechanic: turnless
Theme: Tower building
BGG Link: IceTowers


IceTowers uses three simple types of moves in an abstract battle of controlling towers for points. Although play is turnless, victory is not always to the swiftest player.

IceTowers is one of the boxed Icehouse games published by Looney Labs. At the time it was the only way for non-Rabbits to purchase cyan pyramids. Now, cyan is available in Xeno Treehouse.

Contents

Basic Rules

An IceTower is a stack of pyramids sorted by size, with the largest ones on the bottom. In this game, you'll get one point for each pip in the towers that end up with your color on top.

At the start of the game, all pyramids are set upright freestanding, one color per player, all in reach of everybody. If only two players are available, summon Gus the ghost and a third color of pyramids.

The Green player (as an example) may at any time:

  1. pick up a freestanding green pyramid and use it to cap a pyramid or tower,
  2. mine an excess green pyramid from a tower that's not green on top, but has two or more green pyramids, or
  3. split any tower into two towers between two same-color, but non-green, pieces.

There are some restrictions. A pyramid can never be placed atop a smaller one. The "No minebacks" rule forbids a mined piece from being used to cap the tower it came from. A mined piece may be played as a cap, or as a freestanding piece (the start of a new tower). Each move must be finished before starting the next one; this is sometimes called the "one-hand" rule.

When everyone agrees to stop playing, players count the number of pips in towers topped by their own color, one point per pip. Since there are 30 pips per player in all, players may count how many pips they have above or below 30.

Strategy

Usually, everyone agrees to stop playing because there are no more useful moves to make. For example, nobody may wish to split a tower, if there's nothing to cap it with. In rare cases, players may wish to leave pyramids unmined.

image:icetowersstandoff.jpg

For example, at the end of the game pictured above, neither Red nor Green wishes to be the first to mine a large piece from the towers in the foreground, because the other will be able to cap it at once. Note that the situation in the image is not symmetrical: To leave the pieces unmined gives Green's points to Red, but Red's points go to Blue. If there's no other way to resolve the standoff, that means that neither Red nor Green can win those points, but either can deny them to Blue, if strategy requires. As a practical matter, then, the two players may agree to withdraw those two pyramids from play, letting them count points for no one. As this is more appealing to Green than to Red, the players may find resolution difficult if the score is otherwise close.

Additional Languages

IceTowers (Polish)

External Links

Featured in Playing with Pyramids
Gnostica · Martian Chess · RAMbots · Pikemen
Volcano · Zagami · Zendo · Martian Backgammon
IceTowers · Icehouse · Thin Ice · Homeworlds
Featured in ICE-7
Zendo · IceTowers · Volcano · Homeworlds
Martian Chess · Icehouse · Tic Tac Doh!
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