Thin Ice

The first time you see Icehouse pieces, you want to build something with them. This quick party game pits your balancing skills against that of others, allowing you to build piles up from three base pieces, but not allowing any easy stacking. The last pile standing wins.

Players: 2 or more

Equipment: An Icehouse set, or at least one stash per person. Color is not important. Everyone should play on the same surface, and one with high friction is the most fun.


  • Pick someone to start.
  • On your turn, “call” one or two icehouse piece sizes. For example, you might call a large piece; or two mediums; or a small and a large.
  • All players must pick up pieces of the called size and add them to the stack in front of them. When everyone has added those pieces and is holding none, or is out, the turn passes to the left.
  • It doesn’t matter how long a player takes, and waiting confers no advantage.
  • Players may reorganize their piles any way they want, as long as they follow the rules below.


  • If, at any time, you have four pieces touching the table, you are out.
  • If, at any time, you have three pieces air-borne (not touching the table or other pieces in the pile) you are out.
  • If, at any time, you have two pieces nested such that the point of one of your pieces clearly touching the inside point of another piece, you are out.

The first player out receives one point, the second two points, and so on. If two or more players crash on the same turn, whomever had a turn more recently gets the lower score.
Your group may choose to play a series of single games without keeping a running score; or you may play a match, keeping a running score and playing to a predetermined total. Often the game just devolves into making neat stacks. That’s OK too. If you make a good one, in play or otherwise, send me a picture.

I’ve already made a pile of all 60 pieces outside of a game, so it can be done. In a game, players will call pieces that make it impossible for you to build exactly what you want.

Drinking Version

Called “On The Rocks,” the last player to finish adding his pieces each round must drink. When a player is out, he takes a drink. After that, he must drink whenever it would have been his turn, until the game ends.

Thanks to Eric Zuckerman for inspiring me with his game Precaryice, Tucker Taylor for the name, Peter Hammond for his hands and building skills, Kory Heath for the scoring mechanism, and to Kristin Matherly for doing half of the design work. It takes a village.