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"Treehouse is one of the best games I have played. Why is that? It's fast, easy, and small. Whenever I go to a family function, you can guarentee that Treehouse is in my pocket. My son and I will play it while sitting around a table with other family members. Since the game is so simple, you can carry on a conversation with others while playing the game. It sure makes those functions go by faster." -- Troy Davidson's comment on a BGG thread called "The ever changing Treehouse of Icehouse"


Thursday, October 5th, 2006
Sponsored by Looney Labs

What's New?

What's Going On? Martian Coasters are at the Printers!

A month ago, I announced that I'd come up with another new game, called Martian Coasters, and that we'd decided to put it on the fast track to production. I'm pleased to report that the art for the coasters has been sent to the printers, and we're on schedule to have the game available for sale in November!

Shown here is what will appear on the backside of one of the four coasters in the set. (Surf back to last month's article for a glimpse of what the colorful fronts of the coasters will look like, and for more info on how the game itself is played.)

The other 3 coasters will have different designs on the back. One will feature an overview of the rules for Martian Coasters, the next a guide to Icehouse Terminology, and the last will feature this same view of Mars, except during the day.

To help promote the launch of this cool new product (and to help convey the fact that it's an expansion set for Treehouse and you need a Treehouse set to play), Kristin has come up with a marketing gimmick she's calling "The Crazy-Good Martian Coasters Special."

The retail price for Martian Coasters will be $6. Please ask your Friendly Local Game Store to pre-order it now, and be sure to tell them about the Crazy-Good Martian Coasters Special!

Another thing that happened a few weeks ago was that Susan Goldstine came to town, to work on a big mobile-making project. Alison has been into making mobiles for a while now, having gotten the bug (and know-how) from Russell, and she in turn has been getting others interested in the craft.

Now, Susan is pretty crafty too, and she's a math professor, so she really loved the idea of the Fibonacci-inspired mobile that Alison gave Kristin's Dad (who's also a mathematician) for Xmas a year or two ago. She liked the idea so much, Susan decided to make a Fibonacci mobile to hang in the hallway of the Math Department at the college where she works.

Here you see Susan and Alison with the almost-finished parts of the Fibonacci Mobile... for more details, photos, and diagrams, go see the page Susan posted about it!

AndyThanks for reading, and have a great week!

Thought Residue
We've just learned that, since we make all our games in the USA, Looney Labs qualifies for a special tax break for companies that do their production domestically! And it's getting better! The deduction doubles in 2007, and goes to 9% after that, so the tax savings could be substantial! [Our pyramids are manufactured right here in Maryland, as are many of our smaller printing tasks, and our card games are printed in Tennessee, which is also where the coaster company (now making Martian Coasters for us) is located.]

It dawned on me last night, while watching the Lost season 3 opener, that the main character has the same name as a now-obscure historical personality: Jack Sheppard. (The original Jack Sheppard was a thief who became famous for breaking out of prisons over and over again, early in the 18th century.) It's probably just a coincidence, but on this show, you never know. Various Lost-watchers have noted that the character name Henry Gale is undoubtedly a Wizard of Oz reference, so perhaps other names are clues as well. So maybe this Jack Sheppard is destined to break out of the prison that is the island they're all trapped on.
I first learned about the exploits of Jack Sheppard from my brother Jeff, who had this idea for a story called "Harry and Jack Escape From Hell." The idea was that Jack Sheppard meets up in the afterlife with Harry Houdini, the other greatest escape artist of all time, and together they find a way to break out of the underworld. Who else but those two working together could escape from the ultimate prison? I liked this idea so much that in 1985, I worked it into one of my earliest game design efforts, a LARP called Reklone 3: The Road to the Future. In that game, Harry & Jack had just escaped from Hell when they found themselves being automatically summoned to the Crystal Palace (along with everyone else outside of the normal time-stream) for an Emergency Meeting of the Union of Time Travelers. Since I wrote the part with him in mind, Jeff agreed to play Jack Sheppard, and he got a friend of his (named Ted) to play Houdini. Harry & Jack went on to play vital roles in preventing the destruction of the entire universe, due to an expanding hole in the Time-Space Continuum. (I reused a number of ideas from Reklone-3 in the design of Chrononauts, but neither Harry nor Jack have made an appearance in any of my modern games... yet.)

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