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.
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.
(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
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.