John Cooper's (and then some) Games

I have invented several games that have been played by more than 10 people.

Games that can be played with Icehouse pieces:

A really weird board game I invented from an idea in a short story written by Andy Looney. Icehouse is played with no board and no turns, just these cool looking pointy pyramids and tense moments where your hand is shaking just a bit too much to put your piece in that nice safe place before somebody calls Icehouse and ruins your day. But it's fun. Really. It was awarded a place in Games Magazine's Best 100 Games of 1993, and it spawned a patent!

In Gnostica, players create a dynamic, hostile, but beautiful world of their own, represented by Tarot cards and Icehouse pieces. The goal of the game is, of course, to take over this lovely little creation. This game involves some diplomacy, a lot of strategy, and a modicum of luck. It is probably one of the most emotion-filled games I play, which is interesting, given that at its heart Gnostica is a humble abstract strategy game. I get caught up as a participant in each gameís unique plot, I guess. I co-designed (or gnosticized) this game with a team called the "Core Four" - Kory Heath, Kristin Matherly, Jake Davenport, and myself.  Gnostica grew out of a redesign of the game Zarcana (originally called Arcana). A fine predecessor, but in my opinion Zarcana is not as refined as Gnostica. Zarcana involves much more luck than Gnostica (although for first time players this may not be so evident), and itís peppered with more exceptions to the underlying rules than Gnostica. To some people, this gives Zarcana its charm. Zarcana, to me, is a more frivolous game, although many players search for such games. I include it here for archive purposes. It is an intricate, beautiful game to play; some people don't even play to win -- they just play for fun. 
  • Zarcana Rules (mostly unlinked, incredibly big document)
  • Instructions (by someone else) for crafting fine Zarcana playing pieces (easy and cheap, these work well as Gnostica pieces too)
  • Ancient comments by Kory Heath regarding Zarcana spawned a discussion on creation, chaos, games, etc., between Andy Looney, me, and Kory, much of which can be seen here, here, and here.
Homeworlds (IceTraders v2.0)
Homeworlds is an abstract game of stellar conquest for 2-5 players. It is a pure Icehouse game (meaning that only an Icehouse set is really needed to play, there are no boards, dice, etc. required). The feeling of this game is sort of like Chess mixed with Gnostica, with a little Werewolf for flavoring. 'Course, you must play those games to know what the hell I'm talking about, but that's the best I could come up with. The theme of Homeworlds is typical of many modern space epics (such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Foundation, etc.): As commander of a fleet of starships, you either
a) attempt to take over your stellar neighborhood as an "Evil" player by eliminating any other fleet, or
b) eliminate the fleets that are attempting to take over the stellar neighborhood, with the help of any other available "Good" players.
All players initially keep their goals secret from each other. Like Gnostica, Homeworlds is a complete tear-down and rebuild of a previous game. IceTraders v1.0, like Zarcana, enjoys a small following, but is hampered by unneeded rules complexities. The Core Four hammered out many of the original game's problems.  Zagami - a Heathcoop game
Zagami happens to be the name of a rock that somehow launched itself from Mars and made it all the way to Earth. Those Martian rocks seem to be good at that. Whatever. The game Zagami is about the little microbes on that rock, feeding, fleeing, and fighting each other during their long space voyage. It's played on a chessboard (you might try Zarf's Martian board for more of that spacey feel). During the game your Icehouse pieces evolve and strengthen their attributes based on the types of food they eat. The types of food are other players' pieces. This is the first game designed by myself and Kory Heath.

Games to play with cards:

This is a bidding-style card game where cards designate bids for tricks. I invented this game in France with my buddy Jim Risner. (Cooper, Risner, Coosner. Get it? Got it? Good.) 

This is a card game for 3 to 5 people, based heavily on Reiner Knizia's (admittedly better) game called Quandary. (And I have since discovered that there is a related Knizia card game called Flinke Plinke, which kind of negates any incentive to come up with another such card game. Oh well.) Rules summary: Deal all the cards out. Take turns. On your turn put a card face up in the center of the table on one of four suit piles. When one suit pile reaches six cards high, the game ends. Count the cards left in your hand. Each card is worth the value of the top matching suit card in the center of the table. (Example: if you have six Spade cards left, and the top spade on the table is a 9, your six Spade cards are worth 54 points.) The winner is the player with the most total points.  Aqua-Chicken
This is really just a classic game of Chicken played within the confines of an Aquarius game.

Other games and pastimes by friends and relations and me:

You can play a game right now that was invented by my father! His name is William Cooper, and his game is called Tombstone. You play it for the rest of your life.

Gina is consantly racking up points with what I call the ScarfBarf game. This game will drive you crazy. Reality changes to accomodate the play. The awful pattern turns up everywhere. AAAUGH!

Ouija Dancing is a game (or a dance) invented by Ginohn, and is for 1 to 13 dancers. The object, for some people, is to get in touch with spirits (whatever they are) by relinquishing conscious control of motor nerves. For others, it's just a surreal dance that feels good.

Happy Fun Die is another Ginohn game -- a very simple role-playing exercise where players become emotionally involved (and unstable). Unlike many other role-playing games, Happy Fun Die only requires one piece of equipment: a single six-sided happy fun die.

CheezWiz is a solitaire game that you play with other people.  It requires no playing board or pieces, just your imagination and a will to keep playing until you win, lose, or are committed to a nice institution with flowers and birds.

Zietgeist is a chess variant that I'm working on. It's basically chess with simutaneous movement.

Icehouse games card games: other distractions:


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last modified 1/15/2