Today we did the twin cave tour at Waitomo Caves. It was absolutely stunning.
There was no cameras allowed in the first Waitomo glow worm cave as the glow worms don't like the noises and flashes. The glow worms were beautiful, and the boat ride under them quite surreal.
We next did the Aranui cave. It was full of stalagmites and stalactites. According to our tour guides today, they grow at a rate of only 1cm per 200 years. The Aranui cave was first discovered while pig hunting.
The two tours were wonderful and the caves were amazing. Here are some photos of the Aranui cave at Waitomo Caves, New Zealand.
This was definitely a showcase for something that takes Time and is Beautiful
Home made pasta is soooo goood. It turns you into a pasta snob, shaking your head and pffting as you walk past the dried pasta section in the grocery shop.
It is not hard to make and doesn't take that long. Here is my easy egg dough recipe and a quick dinner you can make with it.
Egg Pasta Recipe
3/4 Cup of white flour and 1 medium egg per person you are cooking for. Put it all in a bowl.
Then I give a swirl of olive oil into the mix.
You can use a mixer if you want, but I just use my hands and mix it till it forms a firm dough. I knead it enough that it all holds together.
Then wrap it while you make you other things for your dinner. In my case I am making pasta rolls or cannelloni type dish. So while my pasta is resting I'm cooking up mince with a pasta tomato sauce.
Because it doesn't take long to cook mince, I just leave the dough out in the kitchen with me. But if it is a hot kitchen and you are going to be awhile, I would put it in the fridge and bring it out just before you need it.
While it have been resting at room temperature, the dough will be getting softer.
I am wanting pasta sheets today, so I divide the dough into 4 pieces to roll separately.
Just before I roll each piece, I flatten it slightly and dust with flour.
I use a pasta machine for making my pasta sheets, but if your good with a rolling pin, you could use that too. I roll the pasta to a thickness that I know will hold mince without breaking, but still has a slight opaqueness to it. That is the pasta dough recipe, but you can make spaghetti, ribbons or whatever you like with it. If you are cooking it in boiling water, it does not take as long to cook as dried pasta, and remember even when you take it off the heat, it is still cooking. I only boil it for a couple of minutes.
Read on to see how I used the pasta dough for my pasta rolls.
I cut each of the 4 sheets in half, to make 8 rolls.
Put mince by the wider edge and roll up. Put in a baking dish with cheese or white sauce. Top with cheese and bake at 180 degrees celcius until the cheese is melted how you like it, about 25 minutes for me.
I like this dish with a salad and olives, my sons eat it with gherkins...because he says it tastes like a Big Mac... go figure...
Take it Easy is a game I bring to dinner parties or a group of friends who don't usually play board games. It plays a bit like a puzzley Bingo.
It can play from 1-6 players. Each player has a coloured board and matching coloured tiles. Each player places the tiles face up in front of them, (every player has the same tiles on in their colour). One player is the caller and they have their tiles face down. The caller will then pick up on randomly, call it out and everyone has to place that tile of their board. There are more tiles than what fits on the board, so every game is different. The aim of the game is to get as many same coloured pipes connecting from one side of your player board to the other. At the end of the game you score the total amount of those completed pipes. For example on the cover pic, there is a completed line of orange 8 pipes. This line would score 8 x 5 pipes = 40 points. There is also a completed line of white 2 pipes. This would score 3 x 2 = 6 points.
There is a bit of skill involved in knowing where to put good scoring tiles, but on the whole it is how well you've place randomly picked tiles and one game you can score great, and in another game completely bomb.
It is fun to play with new players. I love hearing the groans and blaming the caller when the wrong tile is called, or the squeals of delight when something fits just right, and both happen to you in a game. The game does not take long either, so they are usually keen for a more plays.
There is no difference when playing solo except you are drawing from your face down tiles and trying to better your score each time.
There is also quite a few variants to try in the rule book. They make the game more challenging, and I find it challenging enough, so I haven't tried them yet.
Here are photos of the last 3 games I played solo.... I just got worse! hahaha
Viticulture is a Stonemaier game that uses the Automa system for solo game play. It is very clever. It is a deck of cards where the top card is turned over for each automa turn, and there is usually some marker of what action to take for that turn. In Viticulture it is colour coded for the 4 seasons, so depending on what season you are in, is what the Automa actions will be.
I like Stonemaier games, they are beautiful and they are fun. I like the Automa system too, but I do find them really challenging, especially in Viticulture. In Wingspan, the other Stonemaier game I own with Automa, you seem to accomplish more. In Viticulture you have 7 years or rounds to try and beat the Automa score, but I find it is only the last 2 rounds anything really happens and it is over before I feel like I've really done anything. I don't want it to be easy. It is good that it is a challenge, but I find the solo play in Viticulture more frustrating than fun. Maybe I just haven't got a good strategy with this one yet.
The last solo game I played, when I took these photos, I only got one wine order completed. I could have got more, but the Automa blocked me the last few rounds.
So my verdict on this one is that I really prefer the multi player over the solo game.
In solo play you play each of the different starting points once, in any order. You take the glass token and this can be spent to do a bonus action on the action area where your worker is.
SOLO BOARD GAME RANKING - with the board games I own
1st Terraforming Mars
3rd Clans of Calendonia
4th Star Trek Panic
5th Ganz Schon Clever
6th Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Star Trek Panic is a cooperative game where players act as members of the Star Trek crew to try complete 5 missions before the Enterprise gets destroyed. If you are on a roll, you can complete up to 10 missions, to see how you can get. There is no difference in the solo play, except you cannot obviously trade a card with another player..... its you against the galaxy... all by yourself....
This game is super fun especially if you are a Star Trek fan. I love the Enterprise ship that is part of the game and the cool shields and explosions that come with it.
There is a handy turn order card, so you know exactly when to do things. In a solo play, you miss out number 3.
1: After you have picked your character, you start with 6 cards in your hands that do various things. Some cards fire at different distances and sectors, some help protect you or help you repair damage.
2: Reveal a mission. Now that I have had the game awhile, I do wish there was a next generation and new missions expansion. We have done the missions included a few times now. There is still a variety in play in the randomness of the drawn threats, the timing of the missions, and what characters you play, but I think there will be a point when we will feel like we've played out this game.
Miss out 3 for solo play, but with multiplayers the active player can trade one card with another player.
4: Play the cards and maneuver. You can play as many cards out of your hand as you would like. You can turn the Enterprise one facing in either direction. This helps if you want to put the shielded area in front of enemies or give them the part of the Enterprise that is already destroyed, as they can't destroy it anymore than it is.
5: Check to see if you have completed the mission. If you have you get the reward stated and put a counter on the mission scoring ladder. If not you put the mission timer down one, (missions state how many rounds you have to accomplish it). If time is up, you discard the mission as a fail. Some missions have punishments for failure, but most are put down as a fail and you have to try another mission usually with a fair amount of damage to the Enterprise.
6: Threats move and fire. You will usually have some enemy ships hovering around. In this stage they come in closer and fire one or two shots, even board you, doing some kind of damage to the Enterprise.
7: Then to top it off you have to draw 2 more threats from the bag of evil!!
I really do enjoy this game, just as much as a solo as I do multi player. I have mentioned my worries about lack of more missions, but at present I'm still enjoying it.
Here is how the last solo play went. I thought I'd won completing the 5 missions, not that the Enterprise would have lasted much longer. But on writing this I realised I'd made some mistakes, so I may not have done it. Here is the rundown with the mistakes I made.
SOLO BOARD GAME RANKING - For the board games I own
1st: Terraforming Mars
3rd: Clans of Calendonia
4th: Star Trek Panic (this would actually be 3rd if it had more missions to add)
5th: Ganz Schon Clever
6th: Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Bandido, the small boxed game that takes over the whole table.
Bandido is a quick fun game that you play cooperatively with other players or as a solo player.
The aim is to stop the Bandido from escaping by blocking off all his tunnels.
There is a starting card that has either 5 starting tunnels, or flipped over, 6 starting tunnels.
Each player starts with a hand of 3 cards, they play one joining a tunnel, (tunnel placement rule is that a tunnel has to join from another and cannot go into a wall), then redraw to 3 cards. If there is no way you can place one of your cards legally, you put your 3 cards at the bottom of the draw pile and draw another 3. If you block off all tunnel entrances before the draw pile ends, you win. If you don't the Bandido escapes and wins.
The solo game is no different from the multi player. It may be a little easier only by the fact you don't have to worry about the random cards other players play, but can just focus on what you have. That being said, it is still very easy to lose!
This game is so much fun..... I think I like it even better in solo mode.
It is a small box and a cheap game to buy. It is a quick shuffle and play setup. It plays fast, 10 - 20 minutes solo, and is a great puzzle. I really really like it as a solo game.
SOLO BOARD GAME RANKING - with the solo play board games I own
1st Terraforming Mars
3rd Clans of Calendonia
4th Ganz Schon Clever
5th Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Terraforming Mars has been my favourite board game for the past 2 years, and still is. The aim of the game is to terraform Mars by getting all the ocean tiles out, and getting oxygen and heat levels to where they need to be. Plant tiles are also planted and cities built, milestones and awards are achieved, all done mainly by the collecting and playing of cards that do different things. Every card that comes in the game is different. The winner in a multi player game is the one with the highest Terraform Rating, or victory points.
In the solo version it is basically the same game. The challenge is to complete the 3 terraforming requirements before 14 generations, (or player turns). I play with the Prelude expansion which gives a bit of a jumpstart to your game, but it means you only get 12 generations to get it all done. You don't go for points in the solo version, so you don't have milestones or awards.
There is a solo variant, that instead of trying to terraform Mars you try and get a TR rating of 63 or more. With this variant you count up the points of cities and plants and the points on the cards like in the multi player game. I found this variant less challenging and not as enjoyable, so I always play the terraforming way.
I have yet to terraform Mars in 12 generations, I always miss out on the oxygen levels. Next game I try I'm going to focus on those.
My verdict of the solo play: I love it! It is still my favorite game, multi or solo mode.
Here is some photos of my last two games trying out the expansion maps of Hellas and Elysium.
MY SOLO BOARD GAME RANKING with the board games I own
1st Terraforming Mars
2nd Clans of Calendoni
3rd Ganz Schon Clever
4th Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Sagrada is a pretty dice puzzle game inspired by stain glass windows. You draft dice and place them to try achieve final scoring points. No two colours or matching numbers can be adjacent to each other.
In the solo game over the 10 rounds the same as the multi player and dice placement rules are the same. You also get 2 public objectives and 2 private objectives to work towards, however you only choose 1 of the 2 private objectives to score at the end of the game.
You have a choice of 5 tool cards to use. You don't use the glass tokens that are used in the multi player, instead you use one of the rolled dice which has to match the die colour on the left top corner of the tool card to place on the card and use it. You can only use it once per solo game.
Each round you draw 4 dice from the bag to roll. Use 2 for your glass window and the other two can either be used on a tool card or they are put on the round tracker. At the end of the tenth round you add up the total value of the dice on the round tracker, and that is the score you try to beat.
It's a nice little puzzle, but I think I prefer playing multiple boards like a multi player game. There is more choosing options in a multi player and I find it more fun. So I play with my imaginary friends Smelly and Bob and 3 boards rather than the solo mode on this one.
Here is some photos of the solo game play.
Solo Game Ranking with the games I own:
1st Clans of Calendonia
2nd Ganz Schon Clever
3rd Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Castles of Mad King Ludwig is funny and a good game to play. You build your own castle by buying rooms and gain points depending on the rooms and what they are placed next to. Plus there is bonus points to achieve through private goals and King favors. The funny part is the talk around the table of the mad castles you end up building.
The difference in the solo play version is that you flip over room cards and they go in order to the $2000, $4000 and $6000 spots. You choose one to use, or do the $3000 stairs / hallway option, or the pass and get $5000 option. The rooms that didn't get used then get discarded. The money goes to the bank instead of the master builder, and those are the only differences.
I like it when the solo play is not much different to the multi player game and Castles of Mad King Ludwig is pretty much the same game. I really like it.
The only thing I don't like is that there is a lot of shuffling and setting up just for a quick one player game. A game will take around 20 - 30 minutes for a solo play.
The solo scoring is ranked:
<50 = Court Jester
51-70 = Servant to his Royal Majesty
71-85 = The Duke of Castle Building
86-100 = The Supreme Prince of Regent of Palaces
>101 = King of Grand Castle Construction
I have yet to get past The Duke.
Here is photos from the last 3 solo plays
My solo game ranking from the games I own:
1st Clans of Caledonia
2nd Ganz Schon Clever
3rd Castles of Mad King Ludwig (would have been 2nd if it didn't take so long to set up between games)
Ganz Schon Clever translates as 'That's Pretty Clever'. It is a really fun roll and write dice game. It is played over 4-6 rounds depending on on player count. The solo play doesn't change the game much at all.
The different coloured dice are for different categories that you mark off to get points and bonuses.
In the yellow area you cross out the value of the yellow die and get points at the end of the game for columns completed.
In the blue area is always the value of the blue die and the white die together. The points at the end are based on how many you have crossed off in this area. The white die is also a wild and can be used as any of the other die except blue.
The green area is marked off from left to right. Each number has to be greater than the stated number. The points at the end are based on how far to get along the row.
The orange area is also done from left to right putting any value you like in the boxes. The points at the end is the total of all values in the area.
The purple area is done from left to right making sure the number written is greater than the one before until a 6 resets it.
Bonuses are also gained when you cross off or reach certain points in an area, so sometimes it can set off a chain reaction that allows you to cross off or write in a few numbers in one dice roll. This is really fun when it happens. Even when it is not your turn you get to use one of the die from another players turn to work off.
The Solo game lasts 6 rounds. After you have had your turn of 3 dice rolls, you roll the 6 dice again and place the 3 lowest value ones on the silver platter, (if its a tie, the die closest to the platter), to choose one from. That is considered one round. You try and get the highest score you can in the 6 rounds.
I really like this game with other people or as a solo game. It is a fun challenge..... but I'm not very god at it. I usually score in the "not bad you could do better", or the "try harder!" level. But I still love it!
Here is the images from the last 4 solo games I played.
So here is how it ranks compared to the other solo games I have reviewed:
1st: Clans of Calendonia
2nd: Ganz Schon Clever