Tips & Strategies (2)

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Tips & Strategies (2)

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I play purple
Football Fan
Movie Lover
5 of 5 gamers found this helpful
“Use 1 or 2 sets with tokens for playing Zendo!”

Zendo is one of my most favorite Looney Labs games that has been out of print for several years and nearly impossible to find. It’s similar to the classic game, Mastermind, but with a twist. Instead of just having limited colors and spaces that you try to guess, with Zendo you have the pyramid pieces with other distinguishing characteristics such as top/bottom/middle, pointing direction, contact/no-contact, size, number of pips, standing/tipped/on-side, etc – anything you can think up!

Here are the rules: Best with 3-5 players, choose one to be “The Teacher” (or “The Master”). The teacher writes down on a hidden sheet of paper a rule – any one or a combination of ways of distinguishing the colorful pyramid pieces. For example, “green pieces must always touch red pieces, green must never touch blue pieces“. The teacher then creates two examples with the pyramid pieces: 1 that is true under the rule (eg. green piece on top of a red piece, or blue next to yellow, etc) and one that does not follow the rule (eg. green on top of blue, or green next to but not touching red) and then indicates which is which by placing a token in front of each. I use black/white pieces from my copy of Go (black for no, white for yes), but you can use anything including dice and paper.

Going clockwise, the next player creates an example using pyramid pieces. The Teacher gets ready to indicate using a token whether it follows the rule (or “way of the path”) or not. Before this is decided, each player puts a token hidden in their hand as their guess as to how The Teacher will rule. If the player is correct in their guess, the player gets a special token (I use poker chips, coins, or plastic gems from games) which they can use on their turn to make a guess as to what the rule is. If they turn a token in on their turn, they guess the rule that must be consistent with all other examples on the table that have been judged, and then either they win the round if they are correct or, more likely, they will be wrong and The Teacher will create an example that either follows the player’s guess that doesn’t follow the main rule (black token) or an example that doesn’t follow the guess but does the main rule (white token). This continues until there is a winner who then becomes The Master for the subsequent round.

I use 2 copies of IceDice so we don’t run out of pieces so quickly. If you do, try to find examples that are most similar and have the same judgement (white or black token) to scavenge. Sometimes we make it have a more Eastern feel as if we were all pupils learning the way of the path from a Zen master. Feel free to modify as you see fit for your group and enjoy!

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The Gold Heart
Plaid Hat Games fan
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Bronze Supporter
8 of 9 gamers found this helpful
“The Rainbow Bonus”

IceDice is obviously a “push your luck” game. And one of the best accomplishments that you can achieve in the game is the “Rainbow Bonus.” That is: 5 rolls in a row where you don’t duplicate a previously rolled color. If you do achieve a Rainbow Bonus, you place all the Pyramids rolled for thus far in your turn and place them in your vault. Best of all, you get to keep rolling with a clean slate.

Now this is a game changer, invariably when an opponent has achieved a Rainbow Bonus, they have gone on to win the game. (alas… I have never been so fortunate… or brave!)

But it doesn’t only take bravery. How do you know when to take the chance? Well there is one element of IceDice strategy that figures into the decision. That is being the spoiler.

In the game, after you roll the dice, you can choose to take a Pyramid from the Bank, or from an Opponent that has the piece you rolled – thereby taking away their opportunity to collect the pieces necessary to win. The spoiler…

Later in the game, when your opponent or opponents have a good stash of pieces is their vault, start taking from them instead of from the bank. If you have at least 3 different colored pyramids in the Counter, that’s where the decision can be made to go for the Rainbow Bonus. So go for it! Why?

The reasoning is, even if you don’t get the Rainbow Bonus, you will at least have taken away pieces from your opponents and and sent them back to the Bank. So you don’t gain any pieces, but your opponents will lose some of theirs.

In abstract strategy games such as chess and backgammon, this is known as a “material advantage,” Strategically, you are slowing your opponents down, taking pieces away from them, and making the game harder for them to win. This is just as good as gaining ground on them by collecting your own. You will have an advantage in pieces. And maintaining a material advantage is very important to the game.

And who knows you just may roll that 5th color and gain the Rainbow Bonus and most likely the game!

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