What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – May 23-29

You want to know, I want to know, we all want to know, what have the Sentry Box Staff been up to this week?

More progress on Kris’ giant backlog of Necromunda. “I converted a more close combat focused Hive Scum to give my Delaque Gang a bit of useful fodder. He is a combination of the Hive Scum body & legs, Genestealer Cult arms and an Orlock head. He was fun to build, but I think I have been spoiled by the cool Forge World models recently.”

Sean’s first squad or more accurately contubernium of Caesarian Romans for SPQR. “Though not every contubernium had a horn guy, signifier and a centurion whose scowl suggests some bad garum at last nights mess. Done is classic Sean-style slappy-slopply fashion they’re ready to deal abuse and take some. Sean’s Rule on Ancient Wargaming #1:  80% of it is all about the shield and the funny hat. Get those right and you are doing fine. As to that the Warlord shield transfers are lovely but a little brittle. Decal solvent and fix is recommended. Helmet and plume is Vallejo Bronze and Black contrast. Except for the Centurion, I used the Turquoise Contrast. Centurions of this period had some latitude and I chose to depict his characteristic crest as dyed feathers rather that usual horse hair plume. “

In Greg and Tracy’s weekly game of Agricola Greg saw an interesting Occupation card, Collector, and decided he’d give it a try. “It’s a card that becomes an action space for me only and provides a bunch of different goods in exchange for taking a begging token. I did slightly misread the card though as I thought I could get whatever goods I wanted, but in reality all goods had to be different, so I wasn’t able to grab multiples of anything. I suspected that it wouldn’t be amazing but it was too interesting to ignore. It did give me access to vegetables, cattle and boar much earlier than usual, but it didn’t ramp up my engine as well as I hoped. Overall the game was a fairly average one for me, with a score in the 40s, but Tracy got caught up in building ovens to generate her food and only ended up scoring 25 points which she was disappointed with.”

Tracy was tired due to having sick kids this week so this week’s game of A Feast for Odin was just Matt, Lani and Greg. “I ended up getting myself a Knarr early on and grabbed a couple of the better islands with explore actions in the first couple of rounds. I then mostly went hunting and setting snares to get my goods, upgrading them with overseas trading when it made sense. I rarely did any actions requiring 3 or more Vikings, so I took a lot of actions overall, but mostly less powerful ones. That also meant I didn’t draw or play many cards, but that’s something I usually do too much of anyway. Matt stuck with his usual pillaging strategy, but because I’d explored a couple of the better islands it hampered him somewhat as he didn’t have his usual surplus of food from bonuses that he uses to fill longhouses. It meant that the scores were lower than usual overall, but Matt still won of course!”

Greg finished reading Letters from a Stoic by Seneca, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius & Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus. “I’ve always had a passing interest in philosophy and also studied Classics, Latin and Roman Civilization in school, so when I was reminded about some of the principles of Stoicism in another book (Happy by Derren Brown) I started listening to a Podcast about Stoicism and subsequently picked up these three books. They’re all very different in style, with Seneca’s book literally being copies of letters he wrote to his friend where they discussed a variety of philosophical topics; Marcus Aurelius’ book is a bit more like a journal, or notes written to himself as reminders and affirmations; Epictetus’ book is a transcription of various lectures he gave amongst other things. One of the core principles in Stoicism is about accepting things that are outside of your control, and realizing that the only things actually within your control are your mind, thoughts, and to some extent, your actions. I’ve been trying to find ways to help with some of the mental struggles of the world we live in, and Stoicism definitely fits the bill for something that can allow you to get some perspective and make sure you’re reacting to things in an appropriate way. It’s most definitely a work in progress though, as the two referees at my soccer games last night most definitely received the sharp end of my tongue on a few occasions. I’m going to keep working on it though, and I definitely recommend looking into Stoicism as a way to help find some balance in your life. The book by Epictetus in particular I found to be full of useful thoughts.”

Greg also finished this Labyrinth puzzle, from the same company that did the Dark Crystal one. “It was the same awkward square shape and had the same style of pieces, but I was prepared for it this time. There were a few trickier sections in this one, but also some cool details for fans of the movie.”

Renee and Jenn had a chance to play Creature Comforts again, this time with the Dreams Come True micro expansion. “This expansion adds a small deck of personal objective cards that rewards points for achieving a wide range of goals. These goals can include having certain amount of resources, placing your villagers in certain locations, having certain conditions met during play, like not using your village dice, or using certain dice to activate villagers. Jenn played them well, changing the way she played and making sacrifices just to meet the conditions, but I kept prioritizing my base game play and finding it hard to have them met naturally. Definitely found it an interesting addition to the game.”

Renee got a chance to try out SCOUT with Jenn and her dad. “This is a game by Oink that I had recently read about and thought sounded like a good little card game for the family. It shares some similarities to another favourite, Dealt!, in that after you pick up your hand, you may not re-arrange the cards, being forced to play sets of cards that are naturally in your hand to beat the previously played set. However each card has a 2 values depending on its orientation, so before you start the round you have the option of turning your entire hand over before play begins. On your turn you either ’Show’ and play a higher set, taking the cards of the active set into your scoring pile, or ’Scout’ by drafting a card from the active set and adding it anywhere you want in your hand in either orientation, which earns the owner of the active set a scout chip. This does 2 things: by removing a card you’ve made the active set easier to beat and you’ve likely made your hand stronger. Play continues around until someone runs out of cards or everyone ‘scouts’ from the active set and then you score the round, earning points for cards and scout chips you’ve collected but losing points for cards left in your hand. This is a nice short card game that does involve some good choices, trying to balance not making the sets too hard to beat while trying to get rid of as many cards from your hand before play ends. I will also mention that SCOUT was just nominated for this year’s Spiel des Jahres.”

Renee and Jenn played another EXIT game after a long hiatus, The Forbidden Castle. “This one was thematically a sequel to The Abandoned Cabin and had a little bit of “Here we go again…” humour in the opening text which made us laugh. It was rated as a more difficult game but we didn’t find it too tricky or frustrating. The puzzles were definitely interesting to solve and we had our usual “Aha!” moments when things came together. While not one of my favourites, it was still a lot of fun.”