Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Pyramid Primer #1 by Andrew Looney. This is no longer in print, and is related to a previous edition of the Looney Pyramids, but the contents can be found at Guide to Looney Pyramids on the Looney Labs site. Check out Pyramid Arcade (which was just, at the time of this post, recently reprinted and restocked) and other Looney Pyramid games.
The #1 after Pyramid Primer indicates the Looney Labs aspiration to make this volume of Looney Pyramid game rules the first of a series in this glossy magazine format. It succeeds the earlier rules volume Playing with Pyramids, with surprisingly little overlap in content. (It does, however, entirely obsolete the intermediate 3House rules collection). Pyramid Primer uses the “IceSheet” format and rules style that has been developed in recent years to highlight the variety of games playable with Looney Pyramids (f.k.a. Icehouse pieces).
Here is a point-by-point comparison of the contents with those of the out-of-print Playing with Pyramids: The first Primer has full sets of rules for thirteen different games, compared to twelve in PwP. Martian Chess, Ice Towers, Icehouse, and Homeworlds are holdovers from the earlier volume. The Tarot-based Gnostica (my very favorite Pyramid game) has been replaced with Zark City, a shorter (and still excellent) game that uses a standard playing-card deck. Volcano has given way to Caldera, a redevelopment that uses one more set of pyramids than its predecessor. Otherwise, the older games are rightfully discarded, with the key exceptions of Zendo (an elegant classic that could take up a 32-page Primer of its own with rules and strategy) and Pikemen. The Primer has a clean, efficient exposition of the rules for each game, but omits some of the strategic advice entertained in PwP.
The actual Looney Pyramids used to play these games are currently available in two game packages: IceDice and Treehouse. Treehouse (the smaller of the two) includes sufficient Pyramid supply for three of the games (although one of those, Martian Coasters, needs a custom modular gameboard to boot); IceDice is enough for four others; and with both sets it is possible to play ten of the thirteen. Looney Labs sells Pyramids in sets of fifteen to supplement the basic sets, to furnish the more demanding games such as Caldera, IceTowers, and Icehouse.
The Primer succeeds in its ambition to offer a digest of quality Looney Pyramids game rules across a variety of highly replayable games. It is full of useful diagrams and comic-style art by Andy Looney. The Looney Pyramid community wiki has over four hundred different games represented, with thirty invented just this year. The idea of continuing the Primer to circulate the best of these is a laudable intention, and I wish Looney Labs great success with it.