What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – Dec 31-Jan 6

Happy New Year’s from all the staff at The Sentry Box.  We hope you enjoyed your holidays and kicked off the new year as we did: gaming!20181231_161741

The year end started with some painting by Chris, “Happy New Tanks! I mean, Happy New Year! Here are the core elements for my TANKS: Modern Age collection in 2019: M1A1 Abrams and M163 VADS (from Battlefront) and Plastic Soldier’s M60A3 Patton. I love the original WW2 version of TANKS and I’m looking forward to playing this Cold War spinoff in the new year.”

Danille played Discover: Lands Unknown with her family, “The game mechanics are relatively easy to play but it helped that we started with a YouTube tutorial (https://youtu.be/iOxxh34drxM). We really enjoyed this game! We liked that the resources and items were surprises, it was a good balance between being challenging but winning was not completely out of reach. It was nice that no items were OP, they gave you a benefit but didn’t make you all powerful. The art was also really well done.”

Jordan’s last game of 2018 was Dice Throne (Season 2),  “Loving it as a competitive dice/card game. the different classes offer loads of replay ability and the game mechanics are a great level of easy to learn, hard to master.”

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Appropriately, Greg finished off 2018 with his most played game of the year: Ganz Schön Clever, “My 65th play of it out of exactly 400 games played in 2018.”  He also started 2019 with another play of the game.

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Chris kicked off the new year with Wallet, “Tried this one out at a New Year’s Eve party. Players are all crooks scrambling for a cover story (and cold, hard cash) before police raid the building. Your turn is mostly about adding or removing cards between your hand and the deck inside the titular wallet, trying to find an ID to fool the cops and as many valuables as you can grab without appearing suspicious. A separate deck of special action cards livens up your choices and means that you’re never quite sure what an opponent might do. I enjoyed it, but it seemed that if you were dealt a bad hand you had little time to try and fix it before other players with better draws would start burning through the round timer to secure their advantage.”

Greg’s second game of 2019 was Crusaders: Thy Will Be Done, “A different take on the mancala rondel, with players as competing factions of crusading knights. I liked the way this version of the mancala rondel worked, with players choosing an action and the number of tokens in that wedge indicating the strength of the action. Players travel around the map, muster troops, crusade against the enemies and build buildings to give bonuses and points. Variable player powers and a random setup should mean it’s pretty re-playable too.”

Kris’ group played another session of Arkham Horror: The Card Game, “We played the Carnival of Horrors as a stand alone adventure to test our new decks before we started our next campaign. It was an interesting scenario that didn’t take too long to play, set in Venice the interesting movement mechanics forcing you to travel clockwise with the flow of the Carnival trying to identity and save the Innocent Revellers as you go. The first act took us a little tool long with us taking a little bit too much mental trauma on the way. The revelation of an Ancient One at the end drove three members of the party instantly insane and whilst Mark Harrigan came in to his element fighting the malevolent monstrosity in the end even he was dragged under the churning waters of the Venice Canals, leaving the city and wider world to its fate…”

Renee got The Quacks of Quedlinburg to the table, “A really fun press your luck bag building game. Players simultaneously pull potion ingredients from the bag and place them on their track, trying to get as far as possible for points and money to buy better ingredients for future turns without puling out too many white berries which makes their pots explode. The game comes with 4 sets of books, each which give the ingredients different abilities so basically 4 different ways to play. And the player board has an alternate side for an alternate version of the game. It played really quick with 2 players, in fact we both felt it ended too soon. At first glance it looked busy but its actually a fairly light game.”

Greg and Renee played Dice Settlers on the livestream with 4 players, which Greg notes, “definitely changed the game as far as decision making because there were three opponents to worry about. It did make it a fair bit longer too, but not overly long – it still came in under two hours including rules explanation. I’d like to try with three players now as well, to see what player count I prefer best.”  Renee, “Finally a game about how to settle the west with dice. Players simultaneously roll, re-roll and set their dice to select 2 actions to take during the round. You can harvest goods and trade for points, you can explore to add tiles to the board, you can settle to increase your presence on tiles and gain control of tiles, you can research to gain additional abilities…lots of choices. It was interesting that in the final numbers, we each had a different way in which we got the majority of our points. I love the player boards which very clearly lay out all the rules and info you need to play. Another fun game on the stream!”

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Amanda played Treasure Island, “Very neat idea for a board game, I ended up finding the treasure playing as the pirates. This game played alright with 2 players but Jim and I decided it would be best with 4 or 5. The game play is very fun and really well thought out, however the components in the game I found a little lacking ( not the worst that I have seen, but defiantly disappointing).”

Kris played A Song of Ice & Fire: A Tabletop Miniatures Game, “I played Bill again after our game one stream, I again took House Stark whilst Bill lead House Bolton to the field of battle. I did mix it up a little from our last game and took Great Jon Umber as my commander and lots of Umber Greataxes and Beserkers so it was a very aggressive force. Bill rules the non combat board with 2 units to my 1 and kept me from reinforcing my units but a mistake in the last round let me grab two objectives for a 3 point swing meaning I won by 1 point at the end of turn 6!”

Sue is back with painting this year, “Painted up some Star Wars – Imperial Assault miniatures. Two player characters, and one hired gun. The Wookie on the right is from the base game, and I would describe him as one of the easiest minis I have ever painted. The hired gun was a straight forward paint job too. Both these minis are great for beginners or more experienced painters alike. The Wookie on the left wasn’t hard, he just required a little more effort because of his goggles and all the items strapped to his body. All of these minis were painted and then washed. I did not dry brush the wookies. Then I painted Darth Vader and the Royal Guard, all from the Imperial Assault base game. I primed the royal guard red which was a real time saver! Then I just applied a red wash over the robes. I primed Darth Vader dark grey, and then painted his helmet, gloves, boots, and belt Eshin Grey. I actually pulled Darth Vader’s legs out from his body (the model is 2 pieces) so that I could more easily prime and paint those hard to reach places. Then I washed him with a black wash. His cape didn’t look very good after the wash, so I tried to do some highlighting with Mechanicus Standard Grey. All of these miniatures were incredibly fast and easy to paint.”

Renee played a rushed teaching game of Trajan, “I really wanted to teach this game to my sister, but we didn’t have much time, so I rushed her through the turns to focus on explaining and understanding the various actions and scoring.  She liked it and is looking forward to playing it again when she has time to plan out her turns using the mancala rondal to get bonus tiles. I’ve also only played this with 3 or 4 players before, so I’m looking forward to trying out a proper 2 player game to see how it plays.”

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Jim ends the blog this week with his telling of the time he beat Gord at a war game, more specifically, Napoleonic Wars:

A few years ago Gord, the owner of the Sentry Box, was kind enough to invite me over for his Wednesday night wargaming group. He thought it might be a good fit and that it would add some fresh blood to the group. While “counter pushing” isn’t as much fun for me as miniatures it a.) gave me a chance to meet some new friends, b.) play some new games and most importantly, c.) gave Gord a new victim.

The Sentry Box’s historical/military section is so large because Gord has a passion for Wargames. His game room has a dedicated table for an unending game of Europa, a small table for two player games and a third for the Wednesday night game. There’s few Wargames that Gord hasn’t played, mastered or owns.

We’ve cycled through several games over the last few years. Two of the games we revisit are both from GMT: Here I Stand, I’ll write about another time, and Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleonic Wars is set at the height of Napoleon’s power. England, Austria and Russia stand before the Gallic juggernaut with Prussia undecided at the start of the game. Soon armies clash, territory falls and regardless of which country he is playing, usually, Gord wins.

Usually.

When we were deciding on a new game to play the week after Christmas Napoleonic Wars came up. I wasn’t exactly thrilled as the last few games had seen things go badly for me at the hands of Gord. They hadn’t been catastrophic but they had been bad enough to leave me with a sense of helplessness at a game I thought I understood. As we started prepping the board I muttered I didn’t care who I played As long as it wasn’t France.

Of course I drew France.

Playing France means you have to aggressively manage to attack the other players somewhat equally. At the same time you have to manage the diplomatic track to align neutral nations to your cause such as Turkey, important to tangling up the Russians, Denmark, because the Danes are gallant and irritating, and Sweden. (In some scenarios Prussia is an unaligned power but with five players this wasn’t the case.)

France begins the game in a strong position. It receives the most cards for actions and has the strongest military. The key to defeating France is to chip away at all fronts, militarily and diplomatically. This usually means Austria and sometimes Prussia have to endure waves of French invaders, desperately holding the line while Russian reinforcements rush forward to bolster their lines. England meanwhile is readying armies, seeks to hold the oceans and can wreak havoc on the diplomatic track.

Usually.

Turn one saw things go exactly the way they usually do: France gets stuck in with Austria, Russia begins mobilizing and England meddles. The biggest change was that Zac, as Prussia, allied with the Imperial cause. This meant that the stalwart Prussians were now one less factor for France to juggle. (Huzzah!)

By the end of turn one France had made inroads into Austria and despite Gordian maneuvering the diplomatic track was leaning towards favorable to France. Spanish ships had done unusually well against English fleets. Turn two saw Austria forced to surrender to France and Turkey join the Imperial camp due to some card playing shenanigans.

Cards are a critical part of the game. They not only provide points for actions but they can influence battles and cause events to occur. In my case in the first two turns they let me: negate a home card of a major power, steal a card from a major power, cause the Irish to rebel and align Turkey to my side. At the same time I also drew cards that, if played against me, would have caused me some serious problems.

“Oh look, some Russians.”

At the end of the first night I had accomplished some major successes but the stage was set for the worst part of the game for France and what was the historical downfall of Napoleon: the Russian problem and becoming spread too thin.

Zac’s Prussian alignment meant that Austria and Russia were dealing with him as well as the French. With Turkish armies starting to poke at Russian holdings the Russian player, Patrick, was being split between commitments to his allies and defending the motherland.

But, as Napoleon said, “Victory belongs to the most persevering.” So with Napoleon in Austria’s capital of Vienna I reenforced him with troops and marched East, eyeing all the time the British build up of troops that were being used to put down the Irish rebellion.

Turn three saw me take Moscow and garrison it with a Danish(!) army I had dragged along with me. Meanwhile the British navy was finally getting to grips with Spanish seamanship and Prussia was proving to be a bear trap for Russian forces in the West. Turn four had Wellington land in Spain as I took St. Petersburg. The final battle of the game saw Gord’s Wellington driven from Madrid by Davout, who had marched down from Paris.

Woof.

I had a ridiculous amount of good luck in card draws this game which directly influenced how things went for me. My dice rolling was, mostly, awful as I was unable to see any serious gain from forcing Austria or Russia to surrender. Still, any game that makes Gord swear bitterly is still a good one and I’ll take my victory lap.

Gord wants to make it clear that he did not swear at Jim, as that would be uncouth in a game. He swore at Jim’s luck drawing the one card out of five that would have allowed him to break the Turkish alliance with him.

And with that we wish you a Happy New Year and a year full of gaming, painting and reading!

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