No board, no turns. Standing pieces defend, flat pieces attack. For sharp minds and steady hands.
Downloadable Rules: 
John Cooper
Year Created: 
Stuff You Need To Play: 
5 Trios of a color for each player
table markings or cards for each player denoting their "stash area"
a timer


Icehouse - Sample Game

Publication History

  • The First 100 Sets: Icehouse was first published as a limited run of 100 signed and numbered sets, featuring handmade plastic pyramids, packaged in a simple black box, in December 1989. (One such set is shown here.) A few additional rounds of handmade plastic pieces were also sold at this time, in even smaller runs and in various non-standard colors.
  • "Origami" Icehouse: The second version of Icehouse featured cardstock punch-and-fold pyramids, available in two color schemes.
  • Xyloid Icehouse: The third version of Icehouse, released in 1993, featured factory-cut wooden pyramids ("xyolid" means "of or relating to wood") which were hand-colored using leather dyes and sold in a black, drawstring bag.
  • Although its name is on the box, Icehouse is NOT one of the 4 games featured in 1999's Icehouse: The Martian Chess Set.
  • Icehouse is one of 12 games featured in Playing with Pyramids, published in 2002.
  • Icehouse was included in Pyramid Primer #1. The rules from that version are still availble in this PDF.
  • Icehouse is one of 12 games for which special cards were created during the Pyramid Arcade Kickstarter campaign.

Other Notes

  • Fictional Origins: Icehouse was originally just an imaginary game described by Andy in a work of fiction he eventually entitled The Empty City. The description of the game included in the final version of The Empty City was revised to match the game John created; the original, five paragraph description of the game can be found in an essay Andy wrote called Playing Hearts With Pyramids.
  • Patent: Icehouse was protected by US Patent #4,936,585, "Method of manipulating and interpreting playing pieces," issued on June 26, 1990.
  • Tournaments: The "International" Icehouse Tournaments that were held every year at local sci-fi conventions were important events in the early history of this community. Check out the Icehouse Tournament Almanac for the records from the first 15 years. See also these vintage notes on Running an Icehouse Tournament.
  • Hypothermia: In the early days of Icehouse, i.e. before the interent, the company published an occassional newsletter called Hypothermia. Eeyore has archived the first 13 issues, which were published by Icehouse Games Inc. (A few years later, Looney Labs revived Hypothermia for three more issues, 14, 15, and 16.)
  • Signatures: The way you arrange your pieces on your stash pad before the game is called your signature. Eeyore created a gallery of sigatures called the Icehouse Signatorium