Wednesday, August 16, 2023

My inner game snob can’t beat Treehouse

One game, or really a game system, that was never in danger of being purged from my collection is IceHouse/Treehouse/Looney Pyramids. Yes, back in my day, we bought pyramids in sets of fifteen in tubes that didn’t come with any rules!

I feel a very important milestone in the system’s history was Treehouse. While boxes sets had existed before (I have copies of Ice Towers and the original Zendo and I understand one of the earliest releases was The Martian Chess Set), Treehouse was an accessible, low price point entry into the system.

Looking back, one of the last times I really wrote about Treehouse was ten years ago. Where I dismissed it as too light and random while also admitting that I played the heck out of it with a wide variety of places and people. Man, I can be a game snob!

Some years in between, I was at a convention where I met James Ernest of Cheapass fame, which was the same convention where I learned he was a real person. He commented on how some designers were surprised that there was a market for a family of pub games like Pairs. (He said this in a tone that clearly said that some people need to get out more)

That comment has stuck with me. Moving away from my old group in Illinois that focused on new and increasingly complex games made me realize that there was a world of causal games and gaming out there that was clearly doing well enough to be profitable. A world of gaming that had more people in it than the insular gaming world I’d been living in.

And Treehouse totally fits in that paradigm, part of the world of casual gamers and family games and pub games. Heck, all the pieces are waterproof and a game doesn’t take up a lot of space so it checks off some important pub game boxes. And it works very well for all kinds of audiences.

While I think that the earlier pyramid games Volcano and Zendo have aged well and are brilliant (particularly Zendo), Treehouse was a more accessible entry point. A ine tube game for everyone.I believe it helped the pyramid brand grow.

I ought to get it out again.

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