What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – Jan 4-10

Greg does enjoy Bora Bora but when deciding what to play the other night he was swayed by the idea of a game about gorgeous beaches and a nice blue ocean. “I think I need a vacation somewhere like this. As for the game, it had been a couple of years since I’d played, and more than five since Tracy had played, so we needed a bit of a refresher. It’s a Stefan Feld point salad game using dice rolling for action selection, with the strength of the action determined by the die value, but when placing a die on an action space it must be lower than all other dice on the space. There’s a fair bit going on so it’s not surprising I managed to win, having played it more times and more recently than Tracy.”

Jenn and Renee were excited to get a chance to play a 2 player game of Viscounts of The West Kingdom the other day. “It definitely confirmed that we had learned the rules as we found our turns a lot faster than in our previous game. But in addition to that, the game was also a lot shorter in terms of the number of rounds because it was over way sooner than we both expected. Turns out we were both being too virtuous and collecting deeds like crazy and when the game ended only 2 debts in total had been collected. I think next time I’m going to try to play with more criminals and corruption and see what happens.”

They also learned and played Calico! “We played the beginner version of this fun tile drafting game with Christopher. In this version you focus on earning cats (for 3, 4 or 5 tiles in a row of the same pattern) and buttons (for 3 tiles in a row of the same colour). Jenn and I also played the regular version in which you add addition scoring objectives to your board, which give you end game scoring bonuses for matching certain patterns around the scoring tiles. This version was a lot more puzzly which Jenn and I really enjoyed. We only played with the beginner cats and scoring objectives, so still lots to discover in future plays.”

Jenn really wanted to get Terraforming Mars back to the table for a play this week so she and Renee played with the Hellas board for the first time. “We both had very different engines with me focusing on plant production and cards with microbes and animals, and Jenn playing a ton of cards, earning almost all the milestones and awards and having a more generalized production approach. Neither of us actually explored the South Pole of the map which is one of its unique features. In the end, after scoring all the board points we were tied, so it came down to our card points. However after tallying them all up we remained tied. I always love it when games prove that vastly different approaches can be equally successful. I hadn’t played this in quite some time so really enjoyed playing it again. This is a solid game and exploring all the expansions continues to be very rewarding.”

Greg has been wanting to play Brass: Birmingham more and Tracy was happy to play when he suggested it. “She went for a pottery strategy whereas I went for cotton and rail links. It ended up being a close game, with a dearth of beer in the last few rounds meaning I wasn’t able to get as much cotton sold as I wanted. I do love this game – there’s so much to think about.”

Jenn and Renee got a chance to play another new game, this time The Castles of Tuscany, a follow up to The Castles of Burgundy. “This is a quicker, lighter version of the game, which retains the tile drafting and tile laying portions of the game, while eliminating the dice actions. On their turn, players can either draft a tile from the market, draw cards, or discard 2 matching cards to place a drafted tile onto their player board. When placing a tile, players get points for completing regions and each tile type also gives the player a bonus. Workers can be used to replace cards, stone can be used to do a second action on your turn, and there are also opportunities to upgrade your player board allowing you to make certain actions more powerful. While certainly not as good as the original, I did enjoy playing this version, especially since it can be played within about 30 minutes.”

Renee finally picked up The Cities of Splendor, a box which contains 4 expansions for Splendor, a game she absolutely loves. “Jenn and I tried 2 of those expansions today and really enjoyed both. As fans of a game we’ve played so many times over the last 5 or so years, it was so much fun to get to enjoy it with new mechanics and a slightly different strategy. We first played with The Trading Posts which has a board with a set of requirements, each that when met, allow the player to place a crest on the board, rewarding them with either ongoing abilities or additional opportunities to score. As promised, this does speed the game up somewhat, with players using their abilities to get additional actions during their turns, plus more ways to race to 15 points. We also tried The Orient which adds a special market of 2 cards per level, which can be purchased just like regular cards. These cards allow you to copy a previously purchased card, give you 2 gold tokens, free card purchases and even cards with multiple gems. Looking forward to trying the remaining 2 expansions and then, despite instructions to only play with 1 expansion at a time, try a game with all 4.”

Since Alex is obsessed with unicorns and enjoyed the previous Unicorn Glitterluck game, Greg thought he’d pick up Unicorn Glitterluck: A Party for Rosalie too. “The bonus here is that it’s a co-op game, so there’s no whining if she doesn’t win. Both her and Luke insisted on opening it up and playing it the moment I got home, and Luke was able to join in and play the game with us. We managed to win, getting all the friends and cloud crystals to the party before Rosalie arrived!”

Raiders of the North Sea is another game Greg has been wanting to get back to the table. “I thought Tracy had played this before but she didn’t recognise it (not that it stopped her kicking my ass). I really like the worker placement mechanism used in this game, where you play one worker to do an action and then take back another to do a second action. It’s simple but different, and makes you think. Things just didn’t pan out for me in this particular game, but I’m happy I got to play it again.”

Sam finally tried out Chronicles of Crime and she was blown away. “The game play is very similar to the Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective series with you have to keep track of information through notes and make your own deductions, but has a really cool technology element with an app that allows you to scan the QR codes in the game to change locations, talk to suspects and witnesses, and examine evidence. The first scenario we tried was supposedly an easy one but we still found it quite challenging! The game itself is very clear on how to play and how to set things up which is nice, the difficulty comes from your ability to make connections and discover evidence. At the scene of the crime in a scenario, you can use the little VR glasses with your phone to look around your room and see what happened and what evidence was left behind. I wasn’t sure how this would work but it was actually great. Similar to Sherlock again, the game rewards you for solving the case fast. This can be hard to do since every action you make costs you in game time. A conversation is 5 mins a dialogue option and traveling is 20 mins to each location. It’s a very natural way to encourage players to try and be concise, but doesn’t punish you too much if you take longer. Overall I can’t wait to play it again and try out the expansion scenarios!”

Jenn and Renee later played the remaining 2 Splendor explanations. “Cities had tiles that replaced the nobles, each with a point condition and a purchased card condition. When a player claimed a city tile, this triggered game end and when that round was over, the player that collected the city tile won. If another player also collected a city tile that round, the player with the most points won. It definitely changed your strategy, being able to trigger game end with only 11 or 12 points but with specific cards. In the Strongholds expansion, each player has 3 stronghold pieces and after purchasing a card, a player can add or move one of their own strongholds to a card not already claimed by another player, or remove an opponent’s stronghold from a card they’ve claimed. Any card with a stronghold can only be purchased by that player. This was also an interesting version of the game, making the purchasing choices more limited but also providing an indication of the other player’s purchasing intentions.”

They also tried Troyes Dice for the first time. “This is a dice drafting game that uses transparent dice on coloured tiles, so the dice take on the colour of the tile. Each round, 4 dice are rolled. The black event die blocks a die area on your board for the rest of the game. Players choose one of the 3 coloured dice and mark the area on their board, either constructing one of 2 buildings or gaining resources. There are some good choices here, with ways to protect areas of your sheet from the event die, getting workers for end game points, or using buildings for scoring bonuses or resource bonuses. Like other dice drafting games, resources can be used to change the pip value or die colour. I definitely feel like I need to play this a few more times to explore my choices.”

Christopher was excited to play Dice Forge again with the Rebellion expansion he got for Christmas. “The expansion includes 2 more sets of Heroic Feat cards as well as 2 modules. We played with a new set of cards and decided to leave the modules for future sessions. The new cards added some good new strategic options which we all enjoyed and appreciated with all the plays we’ve been getting in with this game. Looking forward to exploring the rest of the expansion as well.”

Tia has been working on painting Celennar for the last few evenings. “It’s my first attempt at painting wings, so it’s pretty slow going, but I’m happy with the results so far. I’m painting each feather and adding a few lowlights here and there to try and create a more 3D effect.”

Hadara is Greg’s go to drafting and tableau-building game now, ahead of 7 Wonders. “It’s simple, yet agonizing as you decide which cards to take, whether to play them or discard them for money, and what end game scoring you go for. The bonus is that it’s short enough for us to fit in a game during the day while the kids are busy!”

Sue got a large Citadel miniature case this week. “I like the Citadel cases because they are both flexible and durable. I like this one because you can store a few different Kill Teams, or a larger point Warhammer army, or a large number of any other miniature collection, and have them all in one place and well protected from damage or dust. It’s also surprisingly light weight. As someone who is walking distance from the store, I like the option to be able to comfortably carry a large group of miniatures on foot, and also have the peace of mind that they are well protected.”

A 200+ point Tau Kill Team (plus a few other misc GW models). Sue likes that you can easily store both larger and smaller models in this case.
Some larger and smaller D&D models. There is also space around the edges for bases etc

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