IceTowers is a game played with Icehouse pieces, created by Andy Looney of Looney Labs. It is played without any turns and without any board; any flat surface will do. 4 or 5 players works best.
The game play is simple. Each player has a single pyramid stash, of a given color. The pyramids from all of the players stashes start out standing on the table, randomly distributed. During the game, these will be stacked, and at the end of the game you get points for each tower you control - that is, each tower which has a piece of your color on top.
There are three different moves you can make:
- Capping: take a piece of your color and place it on top of a piece of another color. You may only do this with freestanding pieces, and you may only put a piece on a larger or equally sized piece.
- Mining: If you don't control a tower, and you have two or more pieces in it, you may "mine" one of those pieces out and play it somewhere else. You may not play it back onto the same tower (this is called auto-mining). You must play it somewhere else if there is a legal place to play it, but if there is not, you simply set it down.
- Splitting: If there are two pieces of the same color next to each other in a tower, then any player other than the player who controls that color may split the tower into two at that place. That is, a player may simply lift the top part of the tower off, starting with the upper piece of the color in question, and place it down, creating two towers.
The game ends when everyone agrees that there are no more plays to be made. Usually, this will be when no one wants to make any more plays, but sometimes it will be due to a stalemate. It's possible to end up with two (or more) players who each are holding a piece and don't want to play it until the other player(s) play their piece(s). In this case, if no other decision can be reached, the pieces are simply set down and scored as free-standing towers. This is called a Final Piece Showdown.
Scoring: For each tower you control, you receive points for the pieces in that tower, of any color. 3 points for a large pyramid, 2 points for a medium pyramid, and 1 point for a small pyramid. You start with 30 points, as there are 30 points in a single stash, so if you have more than that you're doing well.
IceTowers is considerably better when played with giant pyramids, in my opinion. It becomes almost a sport, albeit a fairly calm indoor sport, as the players dart around the floor moving pyramids hither and thither.