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Most board and table games can last a long time if the players are taking it easy. In tournament events, which usually have a limited time frame, game lengths are often limited by a timer to make sure things keep moving. When the timer expires, the game is over. Somes games, like Icehouse, are best with a timer even when you're not in a tournament.

Several variations of timer can be used for playing Icehouse.

  • Normal timer - The timer is set to a time known to all players, and visible during the game.
  • Hidden timer - The timer is hidden after the game starts, so players may not know how much time is left.
  • Nuclear timer - The timer is not started at the beginning of the game, but sometime during the game, usually by one of the players. Nuclear timers are usually set to pretty short lengths like 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Random timer - To help foil people with a good time sense, set a hidden timer to a random number. A popular method is to roll a six-sided die and add the result to 9. This yields a timer somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes long.
  • External timer - Play until something specific happens, like, "play until the waiter brings our food," or "play until Dave arrives."

These options can be combined. The most common is the "Hidden Random" timer, but the "Hidden Random Nuclear" timer might be amusing.