Pop-Tart Cafe Scrapbook #7: Arisia 2003


Hello! Welcome to our 7th Pop-Tart Cafe! Come on in!

As you can see, we got some pretty fancy digs this time. (Being among the Guests of Honor has its advantages!)

This time we were in the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, in the Hancock room.

Above is the view looking to the left as you enter... that wall of tie-dye conceals our little kitchen space wherein we toast the tarts.

And this is the view from the back, looking forwards.

As usual, we were playing lots of games with pyramids, particularly IceTowers and Volcano (big and small, as seen on the left) and cards (for example, Nanofictionary on the right.)

The Cafe was only open on Saturday (from late afternoon until late at night) so at other times, Looney games were usually being played next door in the Stranbro Room. Our wonderful Boston-area rabbits were always ready to teach you to play! Most of the tournament games were also run in here. (Events included a Fluxx tournament, an IceTowers tournament, and a Volcano tournament.)

The IceTowers tournament was actually run a little further down the hall, in the Imperial Ballroom, using giant cardboard pyramids. It was a great place for it, as you can see.

However, Joshua (who ran the tourney) tells me the games had a tendency to go on too long... whereas IceTowers is usually a 5 - 15 minute game, he had one round that went on for an hour! People tend to take things far more seriously when you call a game a tournament, and the competition here was pretty fierce. So, we're considering taking a tip from the original real-time pyramid game and adding a timer, at least for tourneys. (When the timer goes off, you just score the game as it stands.) Thoughts?

Speaking of tournaments, the many events at Arisia even included an Aquarius Hairdown! Shown here are the finalists, but many others with long hair were there to show off their tresses. Aren't they all beautiful?


Experimental new games have often been tested and debuted at the Pop-Tart Cafe. On the left, we see an Aquarius/Icehouse hybrid that was described as being something like Carcassonne, and on the right is a Fluxx/Icehouse blend being playtested by the girl who had that day invented it. Both seemed quite intriguing, but I haven't have a chance to play either one myself as yet (I was kept pretty busy serving pop-tarts.) I also saw a miniatures-style wargame being played with Icehouse pieces, and What's My Sign? (a fascinating new twist on Aquarius), and right at the end I heard about Fluxxing, a variant inspired by Falling.

With so many new games popping up which are being designed to use our other game pieces in new and exciting ways, Kristin had a great idea: Someday, we should publish a book of such games!

As the official Gaming Guests of Honor, we decided to create something special and new for the occasion, and what we came up with was the Looney Labs Game Show. Alison and I designed a 4 round-event that allowed everyone (who wanted to) to play, gradually eliminating players based on their ability to answer trivia questions about us and our games.

For the first round, all contestants (of whom there were dozens) were issued a little rabbit shaped "bunny box" just big enough to hold several little pieces of candy. Everyone then stood in the center of the room, and listened as a series of multiple choice questions were asked. For each question, they had to decide which of the 3 of us was holding up the correct answer on a sign. (We were standing on chairs in different corners of the room.) Silently of course, all players had to choose which sign to go stand under, and when everyone was still, the correct response was revealed and everyone standing at the right person was rewarded by that person with a piece of candy. When the questions ran out, the players with the most candy got to advance to the next round (while everyone else just got to eat their candies).

Subsequent rounds thinned the contestants still further with various tests of obscure knowledge, but since we will probably pull this out and dust it off the next time we get to be Guests of Honor somewhere, I'm not going to reveal any of the actual questions, nor even any more of the game show's structure. (And if you were there, please don't blab too much about these details. Thanks!)

The winner turned out to be Michelle Lepovic, who now proudly carries the title of Looney Labs ÜberFan, and to prove it, she has a unique medallion created for the occassion by Alison. Since it wouldnt be much of a game show without a dazzling array of fabulous prizes, we also gave away a bunch of stuff; other prizes she received include one of our colorful store displays, along with whatever was left in it after repeated plunderings by the contestants she defeated, including runner-up Cat, seen here, who stayed in the game so long that she got to take 3 prize items from the display when she lost.

Congrats Michelle, and thank you to all who participated!

Of course, we met many cool new people in Boston...

This is Heather Keith, a big fan of Volcano who spent a huge amount of her time hanging out playing it (and Mega-Volcano!) at the Pop-Tart Cafe. Imagine our surprise when we succeeded in buying the one painting in the Art Show we were really drawn to, only to discover it was created by our new friend Heather! It's called "Dryad" and as you can see, it features a free-form "frame" made of twigs.

...and here we see Kristin talking to Maverick, another new friend we made at Arisia. Maverick is one of the original "travellers" who invented Cosmic Wimpout during a journey through the pacific northwest back in the 1970s. It was a real pleasure for us to finally meet Maverick and some of the other minds behind Cosmic Wimpout, since Kristin and I have both been huge fans of both their game and their company since long before we started our own game company... since before we'd even met in fact. We had a great time talking to Maverick at the con, but even more fun was driving up into the mountains the next day to meet Argo and Cargo at Cosmic Wimpout Central. (Read all about it in the travelogue entitled Pilgrimage to the Cosmic Clubhouse.)

Thanks again to the entire Boston Warren... if they hadn't been causing such a stir by being so enthusiastic about our games, we probably wouldn't have been chosen as Guests of Honor this year. You rabbits rock!

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