2017 Lonestar Board Game Review

Over the New Year 2017 my husband Patrick Walsh, who writes the amazing blog Bugbears for Breakfast, and I attend the 13-year-old boardgaming invitation only event.  The event is Lonestar gaming convention.  You have to know someone at the event and they have to invite you.  To my understanding one invitation per current attendee is what is allowed.  My husband Patrick just recently posted his review of the board games he played during our three-day stay at this four-day event on his blog Bugbears for Breakfast.

I am looking forward to 2018 being able to attend all four days.  The event is  across town at the Sonesta Hotel.  The travel time to Lonestar at the Sonesta is about 30 minutes to an hour.  Any notations on days of when played are questionable after the first day starting after dinner.  Con Time takes over and over clocks the neurons and they over heat.  There are no windows and no clocks on  or in the walls.



I am writing a separate review of the games I played as we were are at different tables for most of the convention.  Patrick enjoys involved games and Lonestar provides him the opportunity to play games that can last as long as 18 hours or quiet frankly a week.  My bottom has a timer going the moment it hits the seat.  My maximum time in a game is about 3 hours.  The longest board game I have played was 8 hours.  Though it was a marvelous game,  Fortune and Glory.

I play a few games with my husband Patrick, thus there will be some overlap between my blog Throwing Down Acorns and Bugbears for Breakfast.    I will be reviewing the games I played in the order in which they were played by me the first time round.

I have huge pockets of time missing from my Lone Star gaming fest.  I choose to play the puzzle contest, why I do not know.  Puzzles are Patrick’s thing.  Lost 3 hour there and had to cut a game short to participate, not doing that again.  Game show another 4 hours.    Buffy was my partner we got the hang of the rules and grid search techniques about half way through the evening.  Would do again. Were wolf at 11 PM.  I won one of the nights of Werewolf.  I should only do one game but I tend to take in the real game and the B.S. game.  I also participated in the social Battleship game.  My partner and I did not win.  I missed out on Liar’s Dice because I was eating lunch in my room after the end of Puzzle search which went past feed the hypoglycemic time.

Each of the games below has a hyperlink in the first appearance of the game’s name.  The hyper link goes to the website of much awesomeness Board Game Geek.  Each of these links will provide a deep delve into each game.  Such things are ratings by other board gamers, awards and nominations, other versions, expansions, where to buy a copy, year printed, and much more about and around the featured or rather reviewed game.

Sagrada (2-4 players) best at 2  20 -40 min.



The first board Game I played was Sagrada  I played this with two other players Nathan Zartman and Barry Bruegeman.  This is a beautiful game.  I ould have easily fallen in love with this game.  One issue the rules were explained by the owner of the game.  Both Barry and I had never played previous and trusted the owner of the game to know the rules well enough to explain the game en toto.  Nathan read the rules at us.



This board could never happen in Sagrada


He needed to point out the VERY IMPORTANT DETAILS OF the same color cannot be adjacent vertically or horizontally.  Further, Nathan neglected to point out that same die facings adjacent are also verboten.  Had I known these two highly valuable points of order at the top of the game, possibly through a sample board I would have had a much higher opinion of this game.  I would like to play again with four players.   I did not win. I left the table a tad frustrated, but determined to have a better next game.  I do not have to win to enjoy a game.  I really seriously appreciate playing the game correctly.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A very pretty game. 

I truly wish the rules allowed for colors next to one another to create stained glass window effects with the dice.

There is more to the game Sagrada than was in my review.  I was very saddened that this was how the first game of Lone Star went for me.


 Here is how to play Sagrada.


Click Clack Lumber Jack

(2  – 7 players), supposedly plays in 10 min.

Not so with 2 players one of them timidly waking at the trunk (me)



Box and art for Click Clack LumberJack


Click Clack Lumber Jack was my next game played with Ashley Boyer.  This is a dexterity based game.  I am still beside myself that I won a dexterity based game.  Ashley was training to win an upcoming competition that includes a series of games.   I went in knowing this information, so my win was even more profound.  Final score was Ashley -7 and me +2.


Game set up to play on mat


I choose to play this game because I was curious.  It is one of the many games are preset up on gaming tables at Lonestar.  Click Clack Lumber Jack  is a very quick playing game.



A very successful chop!


Basically you take a plastic axe and strike at the plastic tree trunk to knock off “bark”  In this the third iteration of the game there are grub stickers that allow another strike at the trunk to make another go at chopping off bark.


  Here is how to play Click Clack Lumber Jack


The next game took a searching of the board gaming shelves set up round the room.  Lonestar is invitation only, because each participant brings a selection of games from their home collection to be placed on shelves set around the edge of the room.  The shelves are free to be accessed by other convention participants.  We each like to know the other people in the room borrowing our games. So that we may trust that the other gamers will care for our games as we protectively and carefully look to the welfare of their collection of generously shared games.  I found Photosynthesis across the room from our  half shelf of games.

We then grabbed lunch.


Photosynthesis (2-4 Players)  30 – 60 min.

Longer if everyone is new to the game.

The box for Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis was my next gaming selection on day one Friday.  I was taken by the beauty of the game.  I love, adore, and enjoy wandering in the forest.  Thus my immediate selection of this Photosythesis when I laid my eyes upon the sumptuous art on the cover of the box.


Close up of the burgeoning forest

I played Photosynthesis with a full game of four players.  My competition was Neal Bertolwitz,  Ashley,  and Gabby.  I came in tied for second for this game.

The game is supposed to run 30 min to an hour. We took two hours to play Photosynthesis.  The game is plant trees from your free stash score sunlight points based upon where your trees are located relative to one another.  Use the sunlight points scored to grow trees which depending upon size will block other players trees and keeping them in the shade and keeping others with a dearth of sunlight.



Staged game in play

You use the sunlight points to buy new trees, and seed and to harvest them.   Point value is based upon soil quality.  One player sat on the rich soil location the entire game and choose not to harvest his center tree, nor grow it.   I have disdain for players who sit on a board location which is supposed to turn over.   I found this person’s action distasteful and in bad form.



Photosynthesis prepped to play

Over I did not enjoy this game.  Mostly, I suspect due to the poor explanation of the instructions.  I do think I shall be looking up the video explanation next time when I play a game.  We played the basic game.  This saddened me as I had exceptionally high hopes for this piece of art masquerading as a board game.  As I have a tendency to do I set off a trend.  The trend was the Lonestar gaming room filling up with every available copy of Photosynthesis.  By the time we completed the game there were no less than five other games of Photosynthesis being played.


 This is what I wish I had to explain this beautiful game.


Splendor (2 – 4 players) 30 min.


Next up for day 1 of the 3 days we were at LoneStar is Splendor.  We had 4 players which is the maximum amount of players for the game.  I recorded 2 of the three players names as the fourth player joined at the last possible moment.   The players names I have are Bob and Cheryl.  Three of the four players were quiet familiar and impassioned by the mention of a round of Splendor being played.

The fourth was a new player, James looking for a short game as he had another game he was due to join as soon as Splendor completed.  If you look above at the box top the game runs 30 minutes; 45 minutes with a single player with analysis paralysis.  The game copy came from our shelf.

James was almost always surprised when his turn came round again.  A very excellent and quick game.  Always time enough to play, get your butt kicked and turn right around and kick some hinny right back!


The Splendor is tidy. It unpacks and reloads quickly.

We were looking for a quick game before dinner. We being Bob and I.

 Beginning Playing Field


I love this game, so does Patrick.   The cards are beautiful.   The game pieces are a good weight.   The game is simple to explain and easy to quickly learn and master.


Early in the game


The goal is first to 15 points.  The acquisition of points is achieved by an accumulation of gem cards of various colors which become permanent gems of the type required to buy cards which have points.  There is a second way to accumulate points, patrons.


Nobles are selected random for each game and by player count

Each patron demands tribute according to the colors of gems on the left side of their card.  One patron may be acquired each round even if a player qualifies for multiple patrons.


Camel Card in Second Row


The sample camel card requires 3 diamond, 3 emerald, and 2 onyx to claim this card, for which you will receive both 1 point and permanent onyx gem.

The game begins with 2 options, reserve a card and take a gold piece (wild), or take gem tokens 1 of each gem color up to 3 total or 2 of one color which has at least 4 in its stack.

Maximum number of reserved cards is 3.  Maximum number of token pieces including gold is 10.  A player may reserve a card that is face up or pull blind from the deal deck.  Player will take gold if available.  In order to move a card out of your reserve deck into the play space where the player can use the gem on the card and attached points to the playing field they must meet the payment requirements in gem tokens or gem cards or a combination of both.  First to 15 or more wins once the play completes to the first player. High score takes the day!

Cheryl won, err mopped the floor with us.  I still had a really good time.


  A Video Tutorial of Splendor


We went to dinner off site at Dish  Society.  I loved the food and atmosphere.  The waiter was particularly wonderful.


Azul  (2-4 players) 30-45 min.


Box art for Azul


Upon our return from dinner I played my first round of Azul with Lynn and Peter Hendee.  They were enthusedly searching for players to teach their beloved game, thus I was in good hands.  Once again just 3 of us in a four player game.  Peter and was a fabulous teacher for Azul.


Markets with tiles

This is basically a drafting game with tiles.  The objective is to get the highest score.  A player will draft tiles to fill rows and columns on their board.  Columns are worth more than rows.  Gathering all of one color or multiple of individual colors function as multipliers at the end of the game.  The game ends when a row is completed.

A running score is kept throughout the game as players play through tile drafting phase.  There is a final scoring round.  I played Azul twice at Lone Star.  It is on my highly desired list of new games.  Peter won Azul with 43 points. A very good learning game.  I want this game. It is luxurious to the touch, engaging, and visually decadent.


Player’s card about mid game


Bag with heavy tile pieces


Two player run through of Azul


Mystic Vale (2 – 4 Players) 45 min.  An hour and a half with new players or players with analysis paralysis

Box cover for Mystic Vae


Next was Mystic Vale with a full table with Michael, Deborah, and Neal.  Warning incoming Eye Candy.  The game was described as druids saving the forest.  I heard druid and I was in as my faith path is Druid, so I was instantly pulled in.  Then I was shown the box and the cards.  My brain was full of glee.  So much lovely.  I love the theme of saving the forest.  SquEeEEeEeeeee.  Environmentalist heart says YAeh!


End game point and powers for during game

Energy unit face up (active) reverse is used in active

Back art for the draw decks

Points pieces gathered during game and for end scoring


Board Game Geeks description: (included in blog post, because I love this description)

“A curse has been placed on the Valley of Life. Hearing the spirits of nature cry out for aid, clans of druids have arrived, determined to use their blessings to heal the land and rescue the spirits. It will require courage and also caution, as the curse can overwhelm the careless who wield too much power.

In Mystic Vale, 2 to 4 players take on the role of druidic clans trying to cleanse the curse upon the land. Each turn, you play cards into your field to gain powerful advancements and useful vale cards. Use your power wisely, or decay will end your turn prematurely. Score the most victory points to win the game!

Mystic Vale uses the innovative “Card Crafting System”, which lets you not only build your deck, but build the individual cards in your deck, customizing each card’s abilities to exactly the strategy you want to follow.”


Player cards late in the game

The decks are very similar except for the symbols on the back.  I played the one with my religious symbol the triskelion for my first game.  I also played Mystic Vale twice at Lonestar.  The second time was to show Patrick my new love Mystic Vale. Want want want.

  Comes with card sleeves and 20 additional sleeves as needed

On my second game play Sunday I got to open a new box, quiet wonderful.

I got 4th in the scoring order on my first game.  Still marvelous.  Mystic Vale is a drafting game to build your cards up so that you may buy end game magic points and heal the land.  Below is a full tutorial from the game publisher AEG.

Mystic Vale Video instructions

Mystic Vale has a very high replayability, gorgeous cards, has an expansion, which I believe adds to more players.  Complex that It will take another two play through to full grasp the nuances of the rules and strategies.



Sol: Last Days of a Star (1-5 Players) best with 4.  45 -90 min.

Sol with Patrick, my sweety  Buffy and Tim.  Buffy and Tim own the game and had yet to play.  Patrick is an enthusiastic purveyor of Sol.  He jumped at the chance to play the game as he is yet to purchase this gem of a game.  I love love Love when Patrick teaches games.  98% of the time he does a brilliant job of explaining rules, even if he has never previously played.  The 2 % accounts for times Patrick is under the weather, has poorly written rules that have multiple ways of possible interpretation, and the odd day his mind is not focused.

Patrick explained the game perfectly.  We all had a really good time, even though once again Buffy mopped the floor with us.  She had easily gained escape velocity early on and everyone attempted to catch her.


Instability spiral and Momentum track

Blue player’s control board

Embellished game pieces blue

Patrick played Blue.  He prefers the shape of the blue ship to all others.



Green player’s control board

Embellished game pieces green

Tim played green.


Silver player’s control board

Embellished game pieces silver


Purple player’s control board

Embellished game pieces purple

I played the Squidies.  Very reminiscent of Vorlon Ships.  I love purple so I was thrilled.  Patrick does not like to include the silver pieces as he says the mothership looks like a pair of scissors.  I agree with his opinion on the look of the silver  ship.   However; not with removing the color from selection.  Some person may want to cut their competition down to size.


Black player’s control board

Embellished game pieces black

We all agreed that Buffy’s ship looked like a Babylon Five Ranger’s White Star.



Embellished Instability Marker


Game near completion


Staring position on Instability spiral and Momentum track

Sol is a beautiful game. Such a variety of winning strategies.

How to play Sol: Last Days of a Star (with the prototype)


I will complete this blog post tomorrow.  However; I have to be at a doctor’s appointment at 9 am so I am going to post a mostly complete blog at 4 AM this morning.  This blog will repost at 4PM this evening with completed content.  The new post time will from hence forth be 4AM or 4PM, which ever is the next time frame in my day.  I will be writing my book and posting excerpts to my blog as well as going and selling chapters of my work over on Patreon.  I will be establishing a yet to be named new category that I will use for blogging on my book writing.


Divinity Derby  (3 – 6 players ) 45 – 90 min. 

Box Top Art for Divity Derby

Divinty Derby is a game I sat down to play on Saturday evening.  I never got a chance to play a full game.  It looked Great I got to listen to the rules.



Squirrel Food for The Powerful Soul – Part 3 of 8 postponed until late Janaury

Yes, I have decided that posting a review of five videos from the 25 Feminist Anthems is too much for me to manage in on evening and have any chance of getting proper sleep.  Thus, the next post on this topic will include three artists.




The readership of this blog has also precipitously declined over the years.  I need to post more often with more intriguing topics.  My new goal is to get the readership of my blog up; start getting feedback, and see about releasing books,

Squirrelly Goodness

If you have liked any of Throwing Down Acorns blog images, individual blogs, or thoughts, then please subscribe to my blog.  Please like the individual blogs. Please comment. Please post queries.  Thanks.8299514_orig

One of my favorite images


Thank you for taking your time to read my blog


I really like these sewn sugar skulls.


 I will be posting weekly inspirations, as I am flying off to my writing corner to work on writing my book.



The Faith of Ages… as old as a Great Oaks probably older…definitely older

A Druid Samhain…. About My the symbol of my faith and my favorite holy days. Part 1 of 2

Though not all druids are from the same branch of the oak tree. I will talk about the other druids of different branches our faith, in a later blog post in an effort to “get er dun’ “as it were.  Druids as a people of faith tend to have more group participation and much more focus on maintaining heritage of their faith.  There are under 10 branches of Druidry or Druid faith branches globally to my knowledge, but in the interest of brevity and getting on with the focus topic I will cover the symbol of my faith, how Druids honor Samhain, and what it means to us.



This is my tree spirit peeking out at you.

I love squirrels. They are forest tenders.



I will quickly do my best to speak quickly to the one symbol of my faith.  I will have to continue writing on Tuesday next week and post on Wednesday morn.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ancient Triskelions from the Celts of Gallia




Modern Triskelion



The Triskelion as a 5 pound in circulation 2017 coin of the realm





Triskelion on a water wheel on the Isle of Skye



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Triskelion on Churches across Great Britain.

Most of these churches were erected on sites holy to the Druids

The Triskelion was easy to adopt into the Christian faith to represent the Trinity, thus subsuming the locals religion and converting the Celts to a new faith.


My symbol, the druidic symbol has two names the Triskelion and Triquetra. Triskelion means “three-legged” A being with three legs always must be in motion, in action. This is the founding concept of my faith, as it is the faith of the Natural world. The natural world is always in motion. Always dying, seeding, growing, birthing, blooming, striving, flying, germinating, thriving, harvesting, seeding, and dying again and again, and again…. eternally turning the cycle of life or you may know the Latin phrase ad infinitum or in Gaulish it would be said infinitamente. All life begins and ends with death. Death is what fuels the next cycle, it provides fecundity of the materials that nourish the Earth.



Triquetra – the Trinity Knot

“Also known as The Trinity Knot. Like all Celtic knots the triquetra is constructed of one continuous line interweaving around itself symbolising no beginning or end, an eternal spiritual life.

The Celts favoured the idea that everything important in the world came in threes; three stages of life, three elements, three domains; earth, sea and sky, past, present and future. The triquetra is sometimes drawn weaving around a circle, symbolising the unity of the three parts.”

From Ireland Calling


Though I was taught the three domains are Land, Sea, and Sky.  I am unsure as to the awareness of the ancien Celtic people’s perception of Earth rather than Land, even though Druids were noted astronomers.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.




The Public Face of the Triquetra


The Triquetra has been used in the media to portray Witches as Good, though it has nothing to do with Wicca or Witchcraft.

The Triquetra were used instead of a Pentacle, because the Pentacle is associated with the devil and evil.  The Witches in the Charmed series were good characters who did Hollywood magic.




 The Charmed Book of Shadows

(A tome that Witches and Wiccans keep the records of their spell research, spells, and rituals)



Symbols that regularly get mistaken for Triquetra or Triskelion


 A Tribal Valknut not to be confused with a Triskelion


Traditional Germanic Valknut, A symbol of the Asatru Belief



A Migi Mitsudomoe sp?

A Shinto “Fire Wheel”, another symbol that gets mistaken for a Triskelion.

This is a Shinto symbol of good fortune


A Druid symbol of good fortune



The end of Part 1 of 2







Pointy Witch Hats & Black Cats Part 2 of 2

A Wiccan Samhain Part 2 of 2


A wee bit o Wiccan Law or rather Rede, just so you know that Wicca, Wicce, or Witches as they choose to assign themselves.

WDONA231-Fall Witch's Hat w.squirrels

Just a bit of Squirrelin’ Around the Wich’s Hat to lighten the mood


And now the Rede en toto…



Now on to How The Wiccans Celebrate Samhain

They set up your Samhain Altar…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Basic Element Info

Masculine, projective element connected to rational thought, the mind, intellect, wisdom, communication, etc.
Corresponding to the North, the winter season, middle of the night.
Feminine, receptive, connected to stability, practicality, materialism, the physical world, etc.
Corresponding to the East, to the spring season, to sunrise time,
Masculine, projective, connected to the will, passion, creativity, etc.
Corresponding to the South, to the summer season, to midday (noon).
Feminine, receptive, connected to the emotions, intuition, mysterious, the subconscious, etc.
Corresponding to the West, to the fall season, to twilight time.


Samhain is both last and first.


Samhain is the ending and the beginning.


A Wiccan Ritual has a standard format for group rites.

  • A Circle is cast and elements called, the circle is sealed.
  • A Processional  – The Summoner of the rite sends out their page  to gather the coverners to ritual.  The Summoner rings a bell thrice to call the coven to the rite. The page sees to the coveners they are  asked to ground, center while focusing on the rite ahead. They then get ritually cleansed, generally smudging.  Next they are lead to the head of the path to the rite.
  • A door is cut to allow entry to the circle.  The covener enters and is greeted in turn by the priestess and then the priest (the order of who greets first is dependant upon the rite).  The door to the circle is sealed.
  • The Priest and Priestess lead a song, hymn, or chant and dance It is sung to honor the deity (ies) The dancing and singing may include instruments such as drums, tambourines, and finger cymbal. The song and movement build the energy to be utilized for the forthcoming magic work.  The dance always goes always desoil round the circle.
  • The Priest speaks about the shifting of the time and light
  • The Priestess speaks about the thinning of the veil and invites the ancestors and loved ones
  • Then an enactment of the Samhain rite occurs , honoring one of these energies or a few of these concepts: the final harvest, or death of the God, return of the dead to briefly rejoice, the creation of the world, with  chaos transformed to order,  or culling the weak animals that will not make it through the winter (this is the time of year to rid one’s self of weakness).  Enactment will take the form of a play, mime or dance.  At the end of the enactment a bell is rung seven times and
  • Then a convener speaks on how Samhain is perceived.
  • The Priest and Priestess respond
  • The coven reply
  • The Priest and Priestess respond
  • The coven reply
  • The Priest and Priestess respond
  • The coven reply
  • The Priest and Priestess respond
  • The coven reply
  • The Priest and Priestess lead a  dance around the circle
  • The Priestess takes up the symbol of the God and a sacred mystery of sacrifice is made going back and forth between Priestess and Priest. Covener stands by to light the cauldron.  The Coveners circle round to place an offering on or near the altar. They may kiss the Priest  and move back to their places, always moving desoil, as they pass the burning cauldron they may toss in their paper containing their weakness. The Priest contemplates, then removes the symbol of the God and dismisses the God.
  • The bell is rung nine times
  • Then follows the Ceremony of Cakes and Ale..
  • The circle is dismissed.
  • The feast (to ground out the energy of the rite ) occurs followed by  games and fun.
mostly researched  from Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft


According to Scott Cunningham’s Living Wicca… Samhain symbolizes The end of Summer and the dead are honored.  Scrying by flame or mirror is recommended, leave offerings for the departed. Colors are orange and black.



Online the consensus is that a Wiccan Samhain is one or two days around the 31st of October and the 1st of November.  Or takes place around the first full Moon of October, generally called the Harvest Moon. This year (2017) Samhain would have been at the top of the month if celebrated around the Full Moon.  The energy felt like Samhain to me.  This was the most intensely I have felt Samhain energy in quiet some time.

Here are two Wiccan Samhain rituals.

Take a few moments to watch and learn about Samhain by watching rites.

   A Wiccan Samhain Ritual

about 32 minutes

Cauldron Chat – 2015 Samhain Ritual

about 11 minutes




Squirrels in Pumpkins and Holiday Tales


September flew by… I may have missed a couple of weekly posts, apologies.

Now we are in my very Favorite month, October.

To honor all of the various traditional celebrations of Spirit,



Brown squirrel on Pumpkinwhat-to-do-with-pumpkins-after-halloween-2il_570xN.395535489_nh0b

and Bone;



I will post blogs on the various way many different cultures, faiths, and traditions celebrate. There may be more than one a week

What I will cover for the celebrations of Spirit, Gourd and Bone:

  • Samhain in the Wiccan Tradition


  • Samhain in the Druidic Tradition


  • Halloween


  • All Saints Day


  • Dios Del las Muertos


Another Bit of Weather & POP Gets the Thanks… Personal updates and late posts

Squirrelecain named Erma

Thanks to Sponge bob Square pants for the image.


Another bit of Weather Irma is headed to Cuba, Florida, Puerto Rico. Please take a moment to send these folks our thoughts, prayers (if that is your thing) and well wishes.



Thanks Zen Folio for the great image!


Irma is presently Cat 5. It seems to have stabilized at the top most Hurricane category.

Hopefully we do not go into science fiction Category 6 or GODS forbid worse that are beyond our present scale.

There is some variability of Irma’s Path, so Houston and the Gulf Coast may be hunkering down and going up our trees to hold on again for the next big wind and rain. The wind is what concerns this squirrel, as the ground is already mush and a strong wind could easily take down the whole forest of Trees, which could fall.




Prince of Peace Roman Catholic Church started  receiving donations just as Harvey was heading out on Late Monday. Without a whisper from the Holy See this group of Parishioners and those who lived around the church stacked the walls of the church to the ceiling. Donations of relief supplies were coming in faster than they could be sorted.

Thank you squirrels that Pray together!



Footnote: Acorn Thrower skipped a week of posting due to her Squirrel-mate having a Salsa Dancing Heart (Arrhythmia), on the normal writing day. It took three days to get my mates Blood pressure under control and out of the trees in height.(systolic and diastolic) on Thursday my mate Patrick’s heart got back to the standard 4/4 rhythm.

There was much stress to me Acorn Thrower and doctor recommended staying at home to work which occurred.  Patrick was working from home for about two weeks when Harvey blew in and had  him further his time working from home, as much as one can during a hurricane. Patrick was so anxious to go into work he went in to the office the Friday prior to Labor Day.