I've seen a lot of Icebreaker players, and in my opinion, the all-time best is Greykell Dutton. With some help from her husband Rick, she has done every single level at the Insane setting, having finally nailed the most difficult one, which turned out to be #96 ("Live and Let Slide"). She even figured out how to do level 53 ("Mount St. Monday") on Insane, which I had once concluded was impossible at the Insane setting, due to a mistake on the part of the level designer. However, she proved me wrong and even taught me the trick to doing it, which I have since duplicated. (As for me, I've never even managed to get everything done on Hard, let alone Insane (I've done all but 4), so I consider her dedication pretty darned impressive.)
Oyez! Oyez! Gather round, my children -- spread ears like elephants, and you shall hear the tale of the Great Icebreaker Game, and how it was won!
So I was over at Wunderland of a Thursday night, as Thursday nights often go at Wunderland. Meaning that there were a bunch of people there. Most of whom you've seen at Icehouse tournaments, to give you an idea who they were. And I was a few cards deep into a game of Fluxx, when Greykell, I think it was, wandered past and said "Go out on the porch."
We all looked up in confusion.
(Well, probably not all of us. For all I know, I was the only visitor who didn't know what was planned for that night. But pretend it was all of us -- it makes better copy.)
We looked up in confusion, but "Go out on the porch" is all we were told. So we did. We went out on the porch, and someone started handing out pyramid-shaped hats. Brightly colored pyramid-shaped hats. Felt-covered cardboard. Orange and grey and pink and lime-green hats wandered by. I got three, stacked up -- blue, green, and red.
Undoubtedly you, oh wise ones, have already figured out the plan. But I am a simple storyteller, unused to these strategems, and I was not enlightened until the words "Live-Action Icebreaker" floated past.
It was, apparently, the Looneys' sixth anniversary. (May they be granted a hundred more.) This game had been arranged for Andy's benefit. He was, at that moment, safely entrapped in the living room, paralyzed by an extended high-quality backrub. The rest of us were hastily briefed and dispatched to our various locations around the house.
I did not witness the moment of Andy's enlightenment; I was a static pyramid, stuck back in a narrow alcove by the Missile Command machine. I must leave it to your imaginations to supply the expression on his face when the backrub was disengaged, a semi-automatic 15-shot Nerf cannon was placed in his hand, and he was told "You're the white pyramid. Get Ready!"
In fact, he had two Nerf cannons available; also a helper following him around to stuff foam balls into one cannon as he fired the other; a sound effects technician following him around to hold up a tape-deck which loudly played Icebreaker music; and Kristin following him around, ready to say "Uh-oh!" as necessary, and gratuitously shove a sign saying "Game over, dude!" into his face. As necessary.
Opposing him were (approximately) two pink seekers, two green limey seekers, one magenta lurker, two zombies, one orange meanie, one concrete pyramid, and about six of us normal (red, green, or blue) static pyramids. (We switched hats every ten or twenty seconds, as expected.)
The fun lasted at least an hour and a half.
We were doing it properly, of course. If Andy died, he had to start the level over from the beginning. He was not allowed to move around or reconnoiter except during game time. Seekers regenerated until all static pyramids were gone. They just kept coming... And it all worked. It worked like an Icebreaker player encountering a new level. First you panic and flail around and shoot wildly and get killed. Then you figure out the beginning of the level. Then you explore more bits, having gotten the beginning down to a pattern. Then you get stuck, trying one bit over and over. Eventually you win.
All these stages were observed. Moments of note:
(Remember, I was out of sight, so many details are certainly wrong. And I won't try to remember most of the names.)
Andy comes leaping out of the kitchen. His foot hits a large sheet of green paper taped to the carpet. Of course, it tears, and he comes crashing down. A seeker grabs for him -- but he looks at the floor, sees the green paper, and says (in a wonderfully regretful voice) "Oh, I fell into the slime."
Andy comes leaping out of the game room, right past my alcove, without seeing me. I had plenty of time to get used to this, because he did it a lot. He even stopped and stood facing me a couple of times. Heh heh.
The orange meanie was a thing of beauty. Four people, of course, holding hands in a square and prowling in unison. When anyone got hit, they split into two pairs, and so on.
Ken, as the lurker, dashing around, and then stopping to wheeze like an allergy sufferer in a cat-filled house. In fact, he *was* an allergy sufferer in a cat-filled house. I wanted to start a betting pool on whether hyperventilation or sneezing would take him down first. Neither did, quite, but it was close.
Zombies tottering past, eyes rolled back.
Running out of ammo. "I need a new gun!" howls Andy in desperation. Then one of the cannons jams. The planners take pity and allow him to pause the game to reload. (I point out that he should really be given an accurate pyramid-count whenever he pauses. The house is too chaotic to *get* an accurate count, however. They settle for telling him whether there are any static pyramids left, yes or no.)
Andy destroys the concrete pyramid blocking the access to the stairs. (Pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop. "Boom!") He glances past, sees two static pyramids -- green and blue, I think. He turns around and pops a couple of seekers coming up behind him. He jumps forward to grab (hit) the blue pyramid. And Keith, the green one, goes "Raarrrgghhhh!" and grabs him. ("Uh-oh.") Again, imagine the expression. (I had to -- but it sounded great.) Chameleons suck.
Later he was more careful. When he finally saw me, I was green. He fired a single shot at me "just in case." Then he went around the corner, took down the concrete pyramid, and backed up to see if I'd popped. I had -- I was blue by then -- so he grabbed me. (Pity. We were all hoping that he'd finally get upstairs, and clear it out, without ever having seen me. And then have to fight his way back down the stairs to search the house again.)
The last seeker was found stuck behind the soda machine. She was pink. Pinks are too stupid to go around obstacles. Sure did dance nicely in place, though.
And he went on to win. That was his tenth attempt, by our best count.
Then we all ate cake.
Oh, and I quietly stuck an extra square (pink post-it, labelled "151") on the level grid displayed on the Wunderland Icebreaker machine.
A camcorder was invested for the proceedings. Videotapes may become available -- Andy wanted to do some editing.