Wingspan is in my top 5 of board games. The game components and art are gorgeous, and the game play is fun. You are placing birds in your bird sanctuary by feeding them the food tokens they need and sometimes supplying the eggs.
In a multi player game, the winner is the one with the most points gained from bird cards, eggs, personal bonus cards and end of round bonus points.
It is not a difficult game to learn, but I have to admit I'm not good at it. I don't think I've mastered a winning strategy.... if there is one. With the solo player mode, I'm worse! But I still really enjoy playing this game.
In the solo play version, you are playing against an Automa system.
The Automa system is a deck of cards in which you flip over one per Automa turn and compare it to what round you are on. It will then tell you what actions to take for the Automa. There is also 2 double sided cards that tell you what scoring to give the Automa for the end of each round.
It is a clever system with different levels of difficulty for you to try. I'm terrible at it.
I've only ever tried the easiest "Eaglet' level of difficulty and I've only won once!!
I played 3 games last night and lost all 3.
Game 1 Me 63 - Automa 71
Game 2 Me 61 - Automa 77
Game 3 Me 51 - Automa 83
So do I like the solo play? Yes! Even though I'm bad at it. I think it is fun because it is a challenge.
With multi player the game is good playing against other players, competing with them for birds, bonus points and food resources. In a solo game the game is more of a puzzle, trying to figure out how to beat Automa!
Solo games take about 20 -30 minutes.
My ranking compared to the other solo games I've reviewed:
1st: Clans of Calendonia
I think I like Clans best because the game does not change much from playing multi player.
The Exit series is the family favourite out of all the escape room type games in the board game genre. We haven't played them all, but will keep updating this list as we go through them. Here is how I rank them in fun and experience:
1st: Exit - The Sunken Treasure
It is one of the easier Exit games with only 2 out of 5 difficulty. We loved it because if was hands on and more tactile than the others. We had the most fun with the one.
2nd: Exit - Dead Man on the Orient Express
Loved trying to guess the killer as well as the usual exit theme. What I really loved about this one was the clever way it did the train cabins. 4 out of 5 difficulty rating, and some puzzles were hard, but this one was really enjoyable.
3rd : Exit - The Mysterius Museum
Liked the theme of this one, and the puzzles. Only 2 out of 5 difficulty. It was fun and not stressful.
4th: Exit - The Forbidden Castle
This was actually a toss up between this and the Museum, we liked both pretty much the same in theme. I did like the things you got to play with this one. It was trickier being a 4 out of 5 difficulty, so was a little more stressful, but fun factor was still there.
5th: The Forgotten Island
We liked the theme of this one, a bit treasure Island and that was fun, but we did get stuck one puzzle for a long time which frustrated us a little in the fun factor.
6th: The House of Riddles
Only a 2 out of 5 difficulty so it was fun and not stressful, except...
There was a really cool component, a blue ball, that we were really excited to see what it would do..... and we completely failed at the puzzle for it. Therefore the disappointment made it less fun.
7th: Exit - The Pharaohs Tomb
It was okay. Still enjoyed it because it was an Exit game, but it could have been way cooler. We were expecting an Indiana Jones type experience with cool surprises, but it was just a bit bland.
8th: Exit - The Polar Station
Again we enjoyed it because it is an Exit game, but ranks lowest as it wasn't anything special, a bit forgettable afterwards.
That is it so far. Next to play is the science lab.
What has been your favourite?
Parks is a beautiful game that is also very relaxing to play.
In Parks you take the role of 2 hikers as they trek across different trails during the four seasons of a year. As each season passes, the trail changes and grows longer. Hikers see beautiful sites, and perform actions when they arrive. When a hiker reach the end of the trail, they can spend tokens they have received to visit Parks and earn points. Your goal is to achieve points from your Parks, Photos, and Personal Bonus at the end of the Year.
Gear and Canteens can be gained and used to help you through the trail and get points. Your campfire allows you to visit a site where another hiker already is and cannot be reused until one of your hikers reaches the trail end. Add to that wild animal tokens and changing weather tokens, and you get a really fun game.
In the solo version you play alongside 2 Rangers who join you along the trail. The end of the trail gets flipped to a solo side that give actions to the Rangers and Trail End. Their movement is dictated by the stars on the gear cards and where they are placed along the trail. The solo version also adds Event cards that are not in the normal group play.
Event cards are only activated when the Rangers have collected 3 suns or 3 raindrops. They do add excitement to the solo game, and I think they would be quite fun to add an Event expansion or variant to the normal multi player game.
I played 3 solo games of Parks today. My first 2 scores ranked me a Seasoned Hiker, but my third got me the worst ranking. Games take about 15 minutes.
There is some really good board games that include a solo player variant in their game play.
I'm terrible at crosswords, and I don't have the room to have a jigsaw out all the time, so I really like playing a solo mode board game as a bit of down time.
I will write some notes on the solo mode board games that I own, and then rank them.
First up: Clans of Caledonia
Clans of Caledonia is a strategic economic game set in 19th century Scotland. Players represent unique historical clans competing to produce, trade, and export agricultural good, as well as their famous whiskey!
In the solo version, you try and achieve the highest possible score and rate it against their scoring key:
0-115 = Newbie
116-130 = Rookie
131-145 = Average
146-160 = Expert
161 + = Genius
I really enjoy the solo mode of this game. You play the same as with other players except you are given 2 solo mode dice that change the market every round on 3 of the goods.
Each solo game takes about 20-30 minutes.
I played 5 solo games of this today! I wasn't planning to. I wanted to try a few different Clans but I kept getting worse scores! I dropped from Expert to Newbie, and I didn't want to end it there, so 5 games later....
In the solo play you use other player tokens to block off all the outer spaces and any land areas that cost $1. It means that land costs you from $2 to $6 to use, and there aren't as many land spaces to use. You also get only 5 contracts to choose from every round. The dice adjusts prices of 3 goods, up or down, up to +3 or -3.
My first play was as Clan Buchanan. No set up is the same even if you play the same clan. The map game board, the end of round scoring, start up resources, and corner bonuses, are all drawn randomly and change every game you play.
I do think Clan Buchanan is a strong Clan, that allows you to gain more than one contract at a time. This is a great help in the beginning of the game when you are paid or not charged to take contracts. Later on you have to pay to get contracts. This game gave the highest score of the 5 plays.
Clan McDonald allows you be fisherman as well as the others. It means you can put your workers on water as well as land. I did okay as this Clan, but it is harder I think only doing one contract at a time.
Clan Campbell allows you buy factories cheaper, so I tried to go into the whiskey business. I didn't really get enough money though to achieve any wheat fields, which made whiskey harder to make. Bad score with this one.
Clan Robertson allowed me to buy land cheaper by loch entrances. This was the worst scoring for me. Just seemed to be really short of money this game. Also by putting your pieces on loch entrances usually mean't I was further away from the corner bonuses.
Clan Fergusson allows you to start with 3 workers instead of 2, though you still have to pay for their placement. This game I went back up to an average score. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with having an extra worker at the start or the contracts just went better.
Here is the look of the final boards being Clan Buchanan and Clan McDonald, (I'm the white pieces).
Clan Buchanan: 154
Clan McDonald : 133
Clan Campbell : 114
Clan Robertson: 110
Clan Fergusson: 137
With 9 different Clans to choose from and the way the game set up changes every time, there is going to be lots of variability to keep this game interesting playing solo. It's going to be a tough one to beat. Really, really like it.
I have some portrait shoots coming up that I've been dreaming up over Winter. It put in mind of some of the photo series I have done under the Calico Jo's Photo Art banner. I have 3 favourite series which were as much fun to prepare as taking the photos. Hereare the highlights of the 3 series and a little about them.
The Sea Maidens
This series was based around 3 seamaidens wearing costumes created from cheesecloth tubing. They were all no sew. The dresses were made by creating cuts and knots. There were also head pieces that were made from seashells and beads.
I had 3 beautiful models to work with and a fab makeup artist.
The 3 costumes were inspired by aspects of the sea:
The first costume had a really long train and I wanted it to resemble the white water running over rocks.
The second was inspired by sea creatures like squid, octupus and jelly fish. It had long plaited segments at the back loke tentacles.
The 3rd costume was inspred by fishing nets.
The weather was so cold and stormy. I am very for the models for turning up and doing it.
A hot summer and some cool black and whites
Photo Series Based on Nursery Rhymes
I'm not taking a full series again yet, but I do have some pretty and fun photos coming up
I have been designing and making little drawstrings bags and card envelopes for my board games.
I wanted to do this so I could just pull them out as ready to go component holders, as well as storage. If I was going to do that, then I may as well make them thematic.
Here is what I made for my Wingspan board game, which is obviously all about birds.
Little crochet drawstring bags that can be rolled down to look like little nests while playing the game.
I used 4 x 50 grm balls of fluffy brown yarn for the nests and used coloured yarn for the drawstrings.
The yarn is for 6mm hooks, but I used smaller hooks (see instructions) for a tighter fabric.
Everything is bagged up including the dice and end of bonus tiles. They are also big enough to include the extra content game expansions will provide.
Here is the crochet instructions.
They are in UK crochet terms.
To convert to US: a UK treble is a US double crochet. A UK double crochet is a US single crochet.
Crochet Egg Nest Instructions
This is the biggest nest. Hook size is 4.5mm, (yarn recommended hook is 6mm). I am using smaller hooks than recommended to get a tighter, stiffer fabric.
Do a magic loop or ch 3 and join to first chain.
ROUND 1: Chain 3. 11 treble into magic loop or chain ring. Join to 3rd chain from the beginning (12 tr).
ROUND 2: Ch 3. 1 tr into same base stitch, counts as 2 tr. Do 2 tr into each remaining stitch, join to 3rd chain at beginning (24 tr).
ROUND 3: Place marker. We will be doing continuous no joining rounds from now on. 1 dc into next stitch, *2 dc into next stitch, 1 dc into next 2 stitches. Repeat from * to you reach your marker. (32 dc)
ROUND 4: 1 dc into next stitch, * 2 dc into next stitch, 1 dc into next 3 stitches. Repeat from * to you reach your marker. (40 dc)
Do 7 more rounds of 40 dc.
ROUND 12: chain 3. 1 tr into each stitch for the whole round, join to 3rd chain at beginning (40 tr).
This is going to make the holes where your drawstring threads through.
ROUND 13: slip stitch through back loop all the way around and finish off.
DRAWSTRING: Do a row of chains 35cm long. Thread through top treble round. Tie knots at the end of drawstrings or add beads for nice bobbly ends.
Nests for food, dice and bonus tiles
These remind me of little dumplings when all tied up.
I use a 3.5 or 4mm hook for these so they are a bit smaller than the egg nest.
Repeat the instructions for the crochet egg nest. The only part that is different is: Instead of doing 7 more rows of 40 dc, you will only do 5 more rows, before doing the treble drawstring hole round.
As you crochet these you make think they are too big for the amount of food tokens, but remember more of the tokens are coming in the expansions and when you roll down they edges to play the game, the fit is great. For the goal tokens, I keep it as a draw bag to randomly draw these tiles.
Coloured Cube Nests
These are all done in double crochet. They are designed to have flat bottoms to hold the cubes and any food tokens while you are playing, then draw string close to form the cutest little pouches.
I did the drawstrings in the same colours as the cubes so you know what colour is in which pouch.
The finished open nest will be a flat surface with a drawstring edging to stop the cubes and tokens from falling out.
Magic loop start or do 2 chain and join
ROUND 1: Make 6 dc into the loop created, join to the end of round with a slip stitch
ROUND 2: ch 1, 1 dc into the same stitch. 2 dc into each of the remaining stitches, join to the beginning of round, (12 dc).
ROUND 3: ch1, 2dc into next stitch, *1 dc into next stitch, 2 dc into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of round and join to beginning of round, (18 dc).
ROUND 4: ch 1, dc into next stitch, * 2 dc in next stitch, 1 dc into the next 2 stitches, repeat from * till the end of round joining with a slip stitch to the beginning of round. (24 dc).
ROUND 5: CH 1, 1 dc into next 2 stitches, *2 dc into next stitch, 1 dc into next 3 stitches, repeat from * to the end of round, join with slip stitch to the beginning of round. (30 DC)
ROUND 6: ch 1, 1 dc into next 3 stitches, *2 dc into next stitch, 1 dc into next 4 stitches, repeat from * till the end of round, joining with a slip stitch. (36 DC)
ROUND 7: ch 3, * miss a stitch and do 1 treble into next stitch, repeat from * to the end of round, joining with a slip stitch to beginning 3rd chain. This will make your drawstring holes to thread through.
ROUND 8: Slip stitch through the back loop all the way around, join to beginning and finish off.
DRAWSTRINGS: Make a chain of 32cm. Knot or bead ends. Thread through the treble row.
Tooth powder whitens and gives your teeth a really good clean. You can use it instead of tooth paste or alongside it if you still want a fluoride product on your teeth.
You use the toothpowder just like a toothpaste, by dampening your toothbrush and then dunking it into your tooth powder.
Tooth powder lasts for ages, and is very economical.
TOOTH POWDER RECIPE
4 Tablespoon bentonite clay (you can order from www.purenature.co.nz)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon clove powder (I dont bother with this)
3/4teaspoon activated charcoal ( you can buy off pure nature or in capsules in the vitamin section at the supermarket) .
Few drops of mint oil or ground mint (optional).
There are 13 board games featured in this photo, can you get them all?
This is the photo I took for my ABC personal photo project. It was G for Games. I tried to make it like a photo from the I Spy books. There are 13 games featured in the photo. Can you get them all?
Scroll down for the answers
4. Star Trek Catan
6. Hive Pocket
7. Take it Easy
8. Terraforming Mars
9. Star Trek Panic
11. Ticket to Ride
Kyra loves horses and wanted a photo shoot based with her favorite horses. Of course it is the middle of Winter, but the day was nice, and even though the ponies had their winter coats and had enjoyed rolling around in the mud, it was nice to get some natural shots with them. The ponies were well behaved, even the newest foal additions. Here is some photo highlights.
Just click on a photo to go through the gallery of shots.
I make this at least once a week for a dessert for the family. Powder hot chocolate just doesn't compare!
The photo does make the hot chocolate look thicker than it is. It is a drink and not a melted chocolate sludge.
RECIPE - MAKES 4 TEACUPS
250 gram dark chocolate. We use Whittakers 50% but if you like a less sweet drink go darker!
1 1/2 Cup of full cream milk
1/2 C of cream
Optional add ons:
Stir in white chocolate, or a creamy milk sante bar to add some sweetness.
Whipped cream on top
Chilli for some heat
Marshmellows on top
Melt dark chocolate in microwave. I do 1 minute to start and then 30 second bursts, stirring in between until melted.
In the meanwhile I heat milk and cream together in a saucepan until it is hot but not boiling.
Add the melted chocolate into the hot milk and cream and stir until mixed in. Add optionals if you want.
You can store any unused hot chocolate in the fridge for a few day and reheat when you would like it.