My name is Brian Campbell, and I'm a Starship Captain. My favorite pyramid games are Zendo, Gnostica, Homeworlds, Volcano, RAMbots, Torpedo, Blam!, and IceTowers. I also like most of the other games from Looney Labs, as well as board gaming in general. I generally go to Arisia, and wish I had the time to go to more cons.
I'm a computer programmer by day, and sometimes by night as well. Otherwise, I spend my free time gaming, cooking, juggling, and doing medieval reenactment.
Feel free to say hi and introduce yourself, or ask me any questions.
Notes on games
These are some notes on various Icehouse games that I've played, or want to play. They're mainly here for my own reference, so I can keep track of what games I'd like to try, how my opinion of the games change as I play them, and so on, but could also be useful for other people trying to find games they'd like, or good for someone who wants to challenge me to a game. If you find any of this information particularly useful, feel free to copy it to other pages on the wiki where it might belong.
Here are the Icehouse games I know how to play, ranked in approximate order of preference.
- Zendo — A beautiful, elegant, engaging, deep game. This was what got me started on Icehouse games, and now I'm hooked. I just love trying to find the pattern behind what koans have the Buddha nature and which ones don't.
- Gnostica — The best strategic Icehouse game, in my opinion. This game has a lot going for it; tension, battles, a little luck with a lot of strategy, a great atmosphere, high player interaction, and so on. The main problems are that it's complex, and so can be hard to get people to learn it, and it can have some analysis paralysis, which can lead to it taking a while to play.
- RAMbots — This game is just loads of fun. There's enough room for strategy to make it interesting and lend it some depth, but then there's the whole simultaneous movement aspect that can be great for you, or destroy your best laid plans.
- Homeworlds — A lovely abstract strategy game, which I think has the strongest theme of any of the Icehouse games. This game has a bit of a steep learning curve, as the strategies are subtle, but can be lots of fun.
- Torpedo — This is my favorite of the real-time Icehouse games. The rules are quick and simple, but can lead to some interesting strategic questions. The main problem is that the "just play all of your pieces as fast as you can" strategy wins too often.
- IceTowers — A nice real-time game, that's in between Torpedo and Icehouse in terms of speed. Great with Giant Icehouse pieces.
- Blam! — This game is the most bang for your rules buck. The rules can be explained in a minute, and yet the game is surprisingly complex. It has a slight problem of being able to get into infinite loops easily, although I've found that it's usually possible for one of the players to break the loop.
- Treehouse — This is the best single-stash game so far. It has a bit more luck than I like in a game, but there is enough strategy to make it interesting, the game keeps a nice pace, and it's easy to just play several games in a row.
- Alien City — Only ever played on Super Duper Games. The mechanic of having the road network emerge from the spaces in between the buildings is beautiful. A bit prone to analysis paralysis, since you can sit there calculating scores for different moves for a while.
- Volcano — This one is quite popular among my friends, although I don't quite like it as much as they do. It's a set-collecting puzzle type game, and can be quite a brain burner. When played multiplayer, it has the problem that the person who does best is the person to the left of the worst player, instead of being the best player.
- Pikemen — A nice chess-like game. The attacking/defending dichotomy is neat, and the game is simple and easy to learn.
These are some Icehouse games that I've played once or twice. They're also ranked in approximate preference order, but that's a lot less certain for these games, since I'd need to be more familiar with them before I could really rank them.
- Icehouse — I always have a hard time finding people who want to play this, and it doesn't help that I only have regular, unfilled plastic pieces, which are a bit lighter than would be ideal. I did play a couple games at a con, though, and it seems like a lot of fun, with a lot of quirky, weird mystique, which I love.
- Zagami — I really like the enzyme mechanics of this game. I've only played it once, though, and that time it seemed like it could be prone to analysis paralysis. I'd like to try it again with a different group of players. It can be hard to find people, since it only plays with exactly 4 players.
- Martian Chess — This is probably the least Icehouse-y of the Icehouse games; all it uses are 3 different sizes of piece on a chessboard, not using their color, their orientability, their stackability, or even a number of pieces that divides nicely into the number in a stash.
- Tic Tac Doh! — I'm a fan of single stash games, since they're just so convenient. I usually carry several stashes, but one of the problems with trying to play these games in a restaurant or somewhere similar is that it takes a while to unpack and set up the pieces, play the game, and then pack the pieces back up again. Single stash games really help with this problem, since the setup and cleanup is so much quicker. Tic Tac Doh! seems like a decent game, but I need to play it a couple more times before I can really form a good opinion.
- Armada — This game was reasonably fun, and it wins points for being a single stash game, but it just feels unbalanced.
- Branches & Twigs & Thorns — This game just felt sort of dry to me, without quite enough depth of strategy to make it worth it. I should give it another chance, though.
- CrackeD Ice — Dexterity games are different enough from other games that I can't quite rank them relative to the other ones. The one time I tried this, we did it two-player, which just doesn't work. Then we looked a the rules, which said 3–5 player. Oops.
- Thin Ice — Everyone loves building little towers out of Icehouse pieces. I'm not sure I've ever actually played this game, though; generally, people just build towers of their own accord, without really paying attention to rules.
And these are some games that I'd like to try, or try again, ranked in approximate order of preference.