Andy's Report on Big
In previous years, it's been hard for me to really enjoy the
events we put on at our Big Experiment,
since I've had to spend many hours each day helping staff the
sales counter in our official Looney Labs booth. This year, however,
we didn't have a sales booth (see Kristin's
article on Not Having A Booth) so I had time to play in lots
of our own tournaments!
This page will feature a rambling and random list of observations,
recollections, statistics, and of course, photos, of my experiences
at this year's Big Experiment.
- The tournaments I competed in were: Binary
Homeworlds (which I won), IceTowers
(which I also won), Zarcana
(I came in 2nd), Proton
(also 2nd place), Fluxx
(I played in 2 of the 5 Prelims but only made it to the finals
in one of them), Chrononauts
(washed out early), Martian
Hold'em (made it to the finals with the 2nd highest Bleem
count but I made a bad call and washed out first), Q-Turn
(lost in the first round to a kid I'd just taught), Martian
Chess (held my own but lost), RAMbots
(got rammed early and never recovered), and of course, the 16th International
Icehouse Tournament (in which I got respectable scores but
too few wins to get into the finals).
- We debuted a new issue of Hypothermia!
Issue #16 (now available through our online store) features
the 4 games that won the 4 Ice
Game Design Contests run this year (which we also held little
tournaments for at Origins): Sprawl,
Hypo #16 also includes the rules to Armada,
a clever little one-stash game which only got 4th place in the
contest it was in, but which has a movement mechanic so clever
I decided to name it Editor's Choice.
- Just Desserts
is Tasting Well. This was the first chance a lot of people had
to see/try my new card game, and people seem to be liking it.
(How were sales? We don't know yet! We didn't handle them directly!)
I got lots of comments from people who liked it (or loved it)
and some from people who seemed to think it still needs a little
something. There were some issues with the rules, but those were
matters of clarity not gameplay. I myself remain very pleased
with the design as it plays. But the beta-testing continues...
if you want to get in on it, buy a copy of the limited
edition beta printing now!
- We ran 3 sessions of Andy
vs. Everybody, every afternoon (except Sunday) at 5 pm. Each
was a huge success, always attracting at least 30 players and
allowing me to play in around 10 games at once each time. In
the first session, I won 6 of the 21 total games I played. (I
don't have results from the other 2 sessions here.) Everyone
seemed to get a big kick out of it, just as at Dragon*Con, and
no one enjoyed it more than me.
- Alison won the
CrackeD Ice tournament,
the first of its kind and the first medallion given out this
- The new system for awarding AYAW?
medallions worked great, though unfortunately the Mayor had already
left by the time we'd counted the "ballots." We know
her name is Natalie Kochte, but I'm not sure we have an address
to mail it to. (Hey Mayor! Contact us!) She won 5 games as a
human. Meanwhile, the honor of Alpha Werewolf went to Peter Charnley,
who won a 7 games as a Werewolf. Results were drawn from a total
of 108 games played throughout the event.
commemorative stashpads which he gave to this year's Icehouse
players, this was the 10000th International Icehouse Tournament.
(Of course, that's how you say 16 in binary...)
won the Icehouse tournament again. Jesse
got Cooler Than Ice due mostly I think to his "cool as a
cucumber" reaction to being put in the Icehouse, not once
but twice, the first time in a context in which most of the players
had to have their scores go uncounted -- but his score was official.
- Though Jesse
was double-Icehoused, he did great in the Binary
Homeworlds tournament. It was he whom I went up against in
the finals, and unlike mine, his record going into that match
was undefeated. The night before, he'd beaten me, and he told
Russell later that he'd learned a lot of strategies from me during
that game. He played well in the finals, but I guess I learned
a few things about the way he plays the night before too, since
I emerged victorious. I was really happy about it, too, since
this was the medallion I most wanted to win. And I was even more
pleased at how many people have been getting into Binary Homeworlds...
Cieslik won the Martian
Hold'em tournament and in so doing, he "defended the
honor of the Bleem," as he enjoyed saying. He did this while
playing a game of Binary Homeworlds with me on the side, a game
I kept playing with him long after I washed out of Hold'em. We
had to freeze and photograph that game though, since we didn't
finish it before it was time for me to compete in the Homeworlds
- The Proton Tournament
was a surprisingly big hit. We got 8 people, we ran a double
elimination tournament, it was tense and exciting and the victory
hard fought, and players left feeling like it was a really cool
game they were surprised they hadn't heard of. One player was
even talking about writing up some strategy tips he had learned/observed...
I hope he does. Proton made for a fun, fast tourney. The Q-Turn
one by comparison was half as well attended (even though at a
better time -- Proton was at 9 am!) and a lot less exciting.
favorite time during the whole of the weekend was Saturday afternoon,
when I was sitting in on a session of Martian
Hold'em on one side while playing 2 separate games of Binary Homeworlds
at an adjoining side table on the other. I described this moment
as "Andy Gaming Heaven." As embodied in the premise
of Andy Versus Everybody, I love playing multiple games at once,
and while I'll happily run around a room playing 10 games of
my own design simultaneously, the games I'm personally the most
interested in playing are Hold'em and Binary Homeworlds. Thus,
for me, nothing could beat playing Hold'em and Double Binary
Homeworlds in the center of the our wonderful tie-dyed gaming
space filled with fans who, now and then, would gently request
an autograph between turns in the games I was playing. It was
- My favorite "gaming with a fan" moment was a game
of Fluxx I played (on
the side of an extended Homeworlds match, of course) with a sweet
little 10 year old girl named Olivia. When her mom got a call
on the cellphone, Olivia squealed at the person on the other
end that she was "playing Fluxx with Andy, the actual inventor
of the game!!!" She got a signed card and described her
plan for displaying it in a fancy case along with the Fluxx deck
we'd played with together.
- One of my fans told me he'd read The
Empty City six times. Wow. Six times. I had been surprised
recently to read on someone's rabbit bio that they'd read it
online three times, so I was blown away to hear someone had read
it twice that many times. I'm still blown away by that.
used a new point-based system for the Aquarius
tourney, which I think she'd said Liam
came up with, that seemed both clever and successful. (This reminds
me yet again that I'd really like to get all of our Tournament
procedures officially written down...)
won an amazing 5 medallions, winning the Nanofictionary
finals with a hilarious story about the Snake with a Great Personality
and his excellent work (as a fan belt) at the Dangerous Objects
Factory. Five medals is the most anyone has won before, so Lee
didn't break the record...
- The Fluxx World Championship
this year was won by a charming little 13- year old girl named
Miranda. She is easily the youngest player ever to win this tournament.
Way to go, Miranda!
of Fluxx, I ruled that
the "you may" wording on the Hand Limit cards means
you can choose to discard those cards during your turn if you
- There was much concern about our new, more remote upstairs
location, but I thought it worked out just fine, particularly
after Izolda got our banner well situated at the base of the
escalators, with an arrow by Rich pointing the way up.
- One afternoon I was interviewed by a freelance writer named
Mur Lafferty. She asked if I thought game design qualified as
artistic culture. (Of course I said yes.) I think she said the
magazine she was working on the article for was Scrye...
- On the final evening, during a late night werewolf game,
some guy I didn't recognize had an seizure. They took him away
in an ambulance. Does anyone know who he was? I hope he'll be
- Eco-Fluxx and Fluxx Jr both playtested
very well. Here you see teacher-rabbit Amy
playtesting Fluxx Jr with some kids. The Eco-Fluxx prototypes
we were using featured the beautiful finished artwork Alison's
been hammering out (the game goes to the printer in less than
two weeks now).
crafty stuff was awesome too! Kids and adults alike were always
in her space, building something new, from embroidery Tirades
and Mad Lab Rabbits to wacky Volcano
Boards to decorated drink holders and "vases" for
Flowers. My favorite was the Martian Hold'em visor Ryan
made to wear when he dealt for us in the finals.
- Every year, Petra
makes a new Icehouse tiara. I think this one is her best yet!
- Here's Luisa
learning to play IceTowers. She's new with us at Looney Labs...
check out her info on the new Who's
- Late on the last night we went up to the Big Bar On Two and
met a guy named Wallace who was playing Volcano
on a really cool little wooden lightbox he had built. It consisted
of a wooden structure that held a standard deluxe Volcano board
over top of one of those little round battery powered "tap"
lights. It was really cool!
- These two adorable people are Josh Matisoff and Teddi Banks.
They just got engaged,
in a tender moment that featured a Fluxx card! Josh used a blank
Fluxx card to create the special goal, "Live Happily Ever
After" with the message "Teddi, Will You Marry Me?"
and played it during a game. (Josh has been a fan of our games
since first buying a case from us at our very first Origins booth.
He knew Teddi was the girl for him when he told her he liked
games and she asked if he'd ever heard of Fluxx.)
winning the Homeworlds finals and receiving the last of the medallions
to be given out there, I spent the rest of the afternoon in a
happy blur. Alison returned from RPGing and I gave her my last
$100 to shop with in the soon-to-close Exhibit Hall. A couple
of guys who'd watched the Homeworlds finals asked if I was up
for one more game... and since I'm always up for a game of Binary
Homeworlds, I got a final notch in my belt before we started
taking down the tie-dyes and putting away the demo copies.
- Then the big pile of pizzas (the negotiations for the ordering
of which had been going on all weekend (Thanks Emily!)) arrived
and the rabbits did eat. After that, we had the usual post-Origins
rabbit debriefing, which was as usual wonderful and informative
and full of good ideas I can't recall at this time. Hopefully
Liam was taking good notes.
- Meanwhile, back at home, Janet was house-sitting for us,
and she discovered an ant-colony being built inside the remains
of a tiny-sized Milky Way candy bar lodged in between the layers
of the Iron Schefflera's pot. She didst battle the ants, and
she won, but it was big time yucky. (Thanks for house-sitting,
Thank you to all the Rabbits
who worked so hard to make another Big Experiment another huge
success! You-all rock!