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"It's a great game: we keep one deck at home and the other travels with us. An Aquarius deck + 2 large coffees (decaf for me) + a table at our favorite coffee place = a really nice Sunday afternoon. Thanks for making the world a lot more fun." -- Barbara of Chicago, in comments accompanying an order

Thursday, May 2, 2002
by the Wunderland Toast Society

What's New?

What's Going On? Hailstorms and Laser Lines

My big news of the week is that I invented a cool new Icehouse game! I'm calling it Hailstorm. It's wonderfully easy and heaps of fun. If you've got an Icehouse set, give it a try!

How I Came To Invent This Game: Ever since our last trip to Vegas, I've been thinking about an Icehouse game that would permit, nay thrive upon, gambling. If Icehouse pyramids are like playing cards and Gnostica is our version of Bridge, then where is our equivalent to Poker or Blackjack?

I figured such a game would need a huge luck factor, and I wanted something that would involve dropping pieces and seeing which way they land, since this would evoke the feeling of rolling dice. Soon we were adapting the pointing rules from Icehouse to fit, and the goal itself came to me late Saturday morning, just as I was falling asleep.

We started playtesting it when I got up that evening, and it was immediately successful, but also immediately begged the question of how best to be sure of what a given piece is pointing at. Alison suggested a laser pointer that projected a straight line, so Kristin asked the geeks (on our geeks mailing list), and before you could say "All Hail the Internet!" we'd learned of the existence of the STRAIT-LINE Laser Line Generator and were off on our way to the local Home Depot to get one.

And let me tell you Dude, this thing is GREAT! It not only turns the one drawback of my new game into something fun, but it's also going to change the face of Icehouse tournaments. No longer will a ref need to hold a thread over a table to make a dreaded "floss call." One word of warning though: since the Laser Line Generator is meant for use by carpenters, it "features" a pair of sharp little spikes you can stab into yourself with the push of a button!

But back to the key question: how does one put some money down on a game of Hailstorm? I have no idea. I'm not a gambler myself (I've been to Vegas 4 times but I've never gambled a penny there) so I haven't worked that part out yet. But hey, one thing at a time...

In other news, this week we're finally getting Paper Icehouse back into print, and there'll be a few minor changes in the new edition. Now that Playing with Pyramids is available, we're doing the same thing we did with the a la carte plastic pyramids, namely eliminating the rulebook. Also, we couldn't get the same shade of green cardstock as before, so the new Paper Icehouse will include a more lime-colored green. Lastly, instead of including ("for practice and experimentation") an extra card of each color (which allowed you to make 18 pyramids of each color, when you're only supposed to make 15), we'll be including just one spare card, with a plain white pyramid of each size. ROI will be doing the assembly work early next week.

Also, at the request of many icehouse fans, we are making a special alternate edition of Paper Icehouse. It will feature 3 stashes worth of plain white pyramids, along with a very special 4th stash: black. The Black and White edition of Paper Icehouse will be available in the Dangling Carrot, at some still-unknown point in the future when this new online store of ours is actually finished. (And don't ask us when.)

AndyHave a Great Week!

the story so far

Thought Residue
I received an Office Action from the PTO regarding my Chrononauts patent application, and although they had some complaints about the wording of my claims, they used the magic phrase "allowable subject matter," so it looks like I'm on my way to patent #3!
Before they started Apple, Steves Jobs and Woz invented the classic videogame Breakout! (So why isn't a version of the game included automatically on every iMac, like Solitaire on Windows?)
"You don't have to like drugs to hate prohibition." -- something I heard at the NORML conference


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