What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – Sept 5-11

Sean laboured on Labour Day producing these labourers. “Some Working Class Dwarves from the Oathmark Dwarf Light Infantry kit. No jumped-up fancy-pants princelings here. Just some ‘umble lads what knows their picks and pick their noses. Giving this kit a solid 5 star rating. It lets you make dwarf militia, archers and some skirmishy sorts.  Sprues have lots of fun details stuff like mugs and a pipe on each sprue as well.  Not all two hand combos work equally well with each torso and head combo, but that’s pretty minor. Especially when you get a guy with a shovel in the battle line.”

Renee read The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird. “This was a fascinating read for me. It’s a speculative science fiction novel exploring what happens in 2025 when a lethal virus breaks out in Scotland but then quickly becomes a worldwide pandemic, a virus that everyone carries but to which all women are immune but only 10% of men. It’s written as a collection of first person narratives from a bunch of different people, exploring their personal experiences from different perspectives, how society is forced the adapt to the loss of both a majority of the male population and a significant percentage of the workforce and community. What’s wild is that while this wasn’t published until we had experienced our own pandemic, it was written prior to these experiences. So what would have felt like a truly fictionalized version of our world, a thought exercise in how we would react and what would happen to our society, ended up feeling quite real and relatable. I really enjoyed this book; it explored a lot of different topics and ideas and didn’t become too heavy handed exploring any of them, but rather left a lot to personally reflect on and imagine how things would be.”

Sue proclaims that everything’s coming up Millhouse! “When WizKids brought back the characters from the 1980s Dungeons & Dragons cartoon for Magic the Gathering, I hoped that they would also find their way back into Dungeons & Dragons somehow. Well, sometimes wishes come true, apparently, as they have been included in the Dragons of Stormwreck Isle. WizKids has confirmed that the artwork for this new starter set is based on the artwork from the beloved 1980s cartoon show. And while the new Starter set won’t be in stores until October 4th, the miniatures are already available! WizKids has confirmed they have aged them up, which seems fair since it’s been over 30 years since they were teenagers. Here they are shown with their old nemesis Warduke (from the League of Malevolence set).”

Renee got a chance to try the new arrival Akropolis with Jenn and their Dad. “This is nice light tile drafting game, in which each district type has different scoring rules (similar to the wildlife tokens in Cascadia), but they only score if you also add their associated plazas (these stars score like the crowns in Kingdomino). So there’s a bunch of, “this tile isn’t worth much to me, but worth a LOT to my opponent” in addition to figuring out which tile will maximize your own scoring options. Districts also score more the higher you build them, so sometimes covering a low scoring district is absolutely worth it. The game comes with some alternate scoring rules for each district to provide some variety and there is a solo mode as well that you can download from the publisher’s website. We all enjoyed it and I think it will join the regular pile of lighter games we play regularly.”

The store got a few tickets to the Locked Zoo event at the Calgary Zoo on Saturday evening and Renee checked it out. “Being a fan of locked rooms I was curious what this event would be like. When we arrived we received a booklet which contained 4 puzzles. For 2 of the puzzles, you just collected the puzzle clues which had been posted throughout either the Africa or Asia sections of the zoo. Then once collected, we found a table to sit down and work together to solve that part’s puzzle by assembling the information we had received. The remaining puzzles we just solved using the information in the booklet. The puzzles were fun without being difficult, the intention being clearly to allow us all to have fun rather than trying to make it challenging. As for the event itself, it was a really fun way to explore the zoo. Having only ever been during normal opening time or for Zoo Lights, it was such a treat to be able to explore the zoo while it was so quiet – just small groups of other adults playing the game. They also had a lot of volunteers around to answer questions and talk about the animals. We were all definitely excited to get to check it out and had a great evening. Also, red panda!”

What have The Sentry Box been up to – Aug 29-Sept 4

10 angry wee Orcs are Sean’s new babies. “New kit from Oathmark/Osprey, goes together nicely with solid options. Some arms are a bit weird and limited in pose, but nothing a knife and sprue-goo won’t fix.
These lads are the Axe Gang, a tribute to Kung Fu Hustle, possibly one of the greatest movies ever.  Some sword guys and archers in the queue. 10/10, down with the Age of Men, stick ’em with a fork, it’s the Time of the Orc.

Renee had a chance to try out Shifting Stones with Christopher and her Dad. “It’s a straightforward abstract game with 9 tiles, each with a different colour on each side. You get 4 cards which have a scoring objective ranging from 1 to 5 points depending on how hard it is to achieve the required pattern. On your turn you can take up to 4 actions, either scoring a pattern card or discarding a card to either flip a tile or exchange 2 adjacent tiles orthogonally, drawing back up to 4 card at the end of your turn. It’s a quick game to learn, set and play, and I really like the visual puzzling aspect of this game. We had a lot of fun with the highs and lows of picking up a high scoring card that seemed easy to pull off, until the other players spent their entire turns messing with the board. We ended up playing it quite a bit over the last week, as 2, 3 and 4 player games. There is a little bit of luck with the cards you draw and the state of the board when it’s your turn, but it’s fun having folks react as the board is altered either in or out of their favour. There is also a clever solo variant in which you create a 16 card deck and as you play, you earn a strike on any turn you don’t score a card. Your goal is to score all 16 cards before you get 4 strikes. The puzzle is using the 1 and 2 point cards to both shift the stones to set up the higher scoring cards as well as score points on a turn. I really enjoyed it.”

Renee and Jenn played a game of Viticulture World, an expansion that turns Viticulture into a cooperative game. “In this version, you have 6 years to reach 2 collective goals: all players must score at least 25 points and you must have reached the end of the influence track. It was definitely interesting playing this cooperatively, working together to figure out which actions each player should take and to decide turn order and the associated bonus (who should get the extra worker this year?). Your workers start with super cute hats, designating them as untrained workers that can only work in their designated season until you train them. Another addition we really enjoyed was the innovation tiles which allowed you to upgrade the actions. We both really enjoyed our playthrough and it was really fun to play this version of the game. The game comes with a bunch of different continents, which range in difficultly allowing you to increase the challenge as you get better at the game. But that’s a way off. For now Jenn and I were just happy to get a chance to try the game and learn the rules…and pull out an almost win.” 

Kris played a game of 40k! “I have been working on my Nurgle Daemon Army since I had to redo some bases for Warcry. Then, I picked up all of the Maggotkin of Nurgle Stuff to double dip into Age of Sigmar and now with the new Chaos Daemons Codex I can use it in all 3 games!”

Czech games sent a couple of promotional puzzles for their games so Greg tried his hand at this Letter Jam puzzle. “It’s only a small 300 piece puzzle but with all the plain white it wasn’t as straightforward as you might expect. I usually start with the edges but in this case I started with the words and the big strawberry. Still didn’t take too long of course :grinning:

What have The Sentry Box been up to – Aug 22-28

Sean joined Mark and Peter with Chris at his place for game of Oathmark by Osprey Games.

We played 2v2 with 1500pts each. Mark’s Goblin Rider horde and Peter’s Olde School Bretonnians faced my Humanish-Elfo-Goblinian Alliance and Chris’ Homage a’ Rohan replete with many thunderous cavalry. It very much so turned out to be a game of heavy cavalry, the uses and abuses of such. Peter’s deftly handled Bretonnians vapourized my horse units and trampled my foot until elf archery, some backstabbing and a plucky unit of goblins stalled his rampage. Mark’s gobbos faced repeated near suicidal charges from Chris’ Rohirric assaults. Only brutal attrition and his giant Living Statues (great paint BTW Mark) blunted their onslaught and prevented a crucial breakthrough.

The game ended in a draw with interpenetrated flanks and pretty much every unit feeling bruised and sore. It was a lively table of beautiful figs and Chris’ choice terrain.  There were figures of august lineage like Peter’s Bretonnians  a line which gamers of a certain vintage hold dear.  Chris’ gorgeous horse boys are a mix of Norman Knights and Rohan figs.  Mark’s boisterous and very heterogeneous horde of greenies have been recruited from The Underdark to Gundabad. My own crew was Gripping Beast and Old Glory historical figs for the poor doomed human foot and reinforced by North Star’s Oathmark Elves and Wargames Atlantic Goblins.

The rules (when we played them right) offered a no nonsense fantasy scrap with very little cheese.  If you hanker for an old timey rank and flank fantasy beat down, consider trying Oathmark. It’s supported by some very nice kits and is just as open to a ‘play what you got’ philosophy.  Excited for the next time when I get to field some Halflings and Dwarves.  Thanks guys for a great game.

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What have The Sentry Box been up to – Aug 15-22

Chad tried out the new edition of Warcry this week. “It feels mostly the same but the minor tweaks and changes are very welcomed. We played a scenario where lightning was striking every time we moved our models, that ended up being quite perilous for the Nighthaunt player, and the Kruleboyz were victorious. The new Scenery from Heart of Ghur has nasty gnash whip trees and walkways high enough for a sneaky decent upon unsuspecting passerby’s who are too foolish to waltz beneath.”

Tracy and Greg have played a few more games of Marvel Dice Throne this week, with Greg trying out a new character each time and Tracy mostly using Scarlet Witch to try to get the hang of her. “The latest game saw me using Loki against Black Widow, and I was curious how it would play out. Loki seems quite swingy to me, with a fair amount of variability in how things can go. Black Widow ramps up as the game goes on, so the longer it goes, the better things tend to get for her. I barely managed to win this game, and I think I probably used up all of my luck doing so. I ended the game at 7 health, and that is thanks to some good use of Illusion, as well as some fortunate rolling. In three uses of Illusion I avoided half damage twice and full damage once (from a big attack for 11!). I also transferred two time bombs away and rolled a 6 to remove another. Through the use of some cards I managed to get an Ultimate part way through the game, but even then I was still behind. It came to my turn with me on 7 health, Black Widow on 9 but with two Agility Tokens on her. I didn’t know that Tracy was also holding a card to potentially save health too. I needed some good fortune and rolled 4 6s on my first roll and then the 5th 6 on my second roll for a natural Ultimate to win the game in true Loki style!”

Greg also played a couple of games in their Dice Throne Adventures campaign with his group, winning the third Portal Crawl without too much trouble, and then facing off against the Fallen Monk. “The Boss Fight didn’t start very well for us, but we got into a better rhythm as the game went on, and in the end we took him down, ending with just one salve less than we started with. We all have pretty decent loot cards in our decks now, so as the games go on we get stronger and stronger. Next up is the fourth and final Portal Crawl!”

They got a couple other games in this weekend, including some more Spades. “It was a pretty tight game throughout, with myself and Tracy missing a couple of bids, but also making a Zero bid, and Matt and Lani making all their bids but losing 100 points for getting to 10 bags. In the final round we needed to make Lani fail her bid of 3 while making our collective bid of 9 to have a chance to win. In the end we made our bid but couldn’t stop Lani and Matt, making it the first game I can remember where both teams ended over the 500 point mark, but with them further ahead.” They finished with a game of Tichu, playing girls against boys. “There were no Tichu calls in the first hand so it was fairly even. It was memorable  for the fact that I had two bombs but the rest of my hand was so poor I actually still went out last! In the second hand Tracy called Tichu but I was able to stop her so we sent them into negative points, and followed ot up with a successful Tichu the next hand to open up a gap. We followed that with another successful Tichu to put us to 450 points, but then Tracy and Lani ended up winning all 100 points the next hand, so we were kept waiting. The following hand I had two good straights and the Dragon so I was able to call Tichu and make it to send us over the 500 point mark and get a convincing win.”

Renee and her dad played TEN, a push your luck game in which you are trying to collect runs of numbers in each of the 4 colours. “We hadn’t played this in a while so decided to dig it out again. First time playing a 2 player game and we both quite enjoyed it! We both love the press your luck element; you draw cards from the deck until you stop and take your reward or bust. Your reward can be either all the number cards to add to your sets or all the currency which you can use in auctions for valuable wild cards. But if you choose number cards your opponent gets the currency! Things like limits to the amount of currency tokens a player can have and fights for specific cards made it a lot of fun for the 2 of us.”

What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – Aug 8-14

Renee picked up the new arrival So, You’ve Been Eaten. “This is a 2 player game in which one player takes on the role of a space miner who is mining for crystals inside a beast’s digestive tract; so, you know, you have to be eaten to do the mining. The other player controls the beast and its immune reactions to try to ingest the miner. The game includes 2 solo modes, allowing you to play as either the miner or the beast with either a robot minor or hibernating beast as your competitor. Hilariously the game includes instructions for a 0 player mode in which the robot minor plays against the hibernating beast. I played a solo game to learn the basics, playing as the miner. It was fun, but I’d like to try it as a a 2 player game as I think it would be a bit more interesting. While this is the retail version, it included upgraded wooden bacteria and acrylic crystals.”

Renee, her Dad and Christopher played Potion Explosion for the first time in years. “It was fun to revisit this classic! You remove marbles from the dispenser, collecting everything involved in the chain reaction and assign them to your potion bottles to complete potions. These potions provide end game points but also special abilities in future turns. I like the tactile nature of this game, handling the marbles, the clink of the marbles causing the explosions. It’s an easy game to teach and learn, and fun to plan the best way to make use of your potions’ abilities on the race to most points.”

Marvel Dice Throne showed up right after Greg left for his vacation so it had been sitting patiently awaiting his return and he finally got it to the table. “I tried out Black Widow against Tracy’s Captain Marvel for this first game. I have to laugh a bit as thematically this feels like it would be very one sided, but obviously in the game all characters are pretty well balanced. Black Widow was a fun character to play, starting slowly but building up as you add more and more upgrades. I was taking a beating from Tracy seemingly always having a Cosmic Ray token to spend and often rolling her Aurora Wave ability. Luckily my agility tokens started working to save me a bunch of damage, and I was chipping away with Time Bombs. I hit her with my Grapple II ability for 13 undefendable damage, leaving us both at 8, and on Tracy’s turn I had some good fortune as her Cosmic Ray only added 2 damage and I was able to survive on 2 health. I ended things in style, with an Ultimate, but it was a very close game. Looking forward to trying some of the other characters now!”

Tracy and Greg played three more games of Marvel Dice Throne over the week, testing out all the characters between them. “Matchups were Miles Morales Spiderman vs Loki, Black Panther vs Thor and Doctor Strange vs Scarlet Witch. None of the games were blowouts but some did feel as though one character had a slight edge. It was neat to see the different play styles they all had, and we’re definitely looking forward to trying some of them again, or switching out to try characters the other person used. I enjoyed all the characters but so far I think Black Widow might be my favourite because I’m a fan of upgrading my abilities and that’s definitely her thing!”

Renee read Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, in which Dana, a black woman from 1976 is pulled back in time to her ancestors on a plantation in the Antebellum South in 1815. “I found this a fascinating read. By putting someone modern into the past, it allowed us to experience that time as an outsider would, shocking in its reality. It explores how spending time in the past changes Dana and her struggles with those changes, as well as her complicated relationship with both her white slave owning ancestors and her slave ancestor. While it didn’t spend much time exploring what life was like for her as a black woman in the 1970’s, from what was shared, it was also shocking how little seems to have changed since that time; expectation vs the reality of the promised equality.”

What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – July 25-31

Sue finished the face of Hrothgorn Mantrapper at Sunday’s store painting demo. “I took another in progress shot vs. finished. I primed white because I wanted to do a white beard. First I used Dryad Bark to block out the eyes, then I used Dawnstone to draw the brows. It is easier to fix the eyes and brows at this stage. For a male I try to keep the brows a fairly consistent width. I used Blood Angels Red Contrast Paint for the hat. I did the hat first because red would have been the hardest color to clean up when I got it on other parts of the model. Photo 1 shows just the primer on the face with the eyes and brows blocked out. In Photo 2 I have put Guilliman Flesh Contrast Paint over the primed face then finished the eyes, brows, and teeth using a Citadel Layer Small brush. I used Ulthuan Grey to finish the eyebrows. I found having the darker grey outline underneath really helpful for knowing where to fill in the eyebrows. Also by not filling the brow in entirely with the Ulthuan Grey, it made them stand out more against the flesh tone. Everything you see here is a Contrast Paint other than the eyes, brows, and teeth. If you’re intimidated by GW faces, don’t be! GW faces are so detailed, and have so much character, they practically paint themselves. Just let the Contrast Paint or Wash (a.k.a. Shade) do most of the work for you!”

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What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – July 18-24

Sue (mostly) finished Severin Steelheart. “Originally from Steelheart’s Champions, I used greenstuff to make a turtleneck for him and put him in Vanquisher armor. I gave him a standard so that I could alternatively play him as a Knight Vexillor if desired. The big hero here is Vallejo’s Silver primer. I wanted my Stormcast Eternals to have heroic, bright silver armor and I think that the Vallejo primer was perfect for this. I thinned down a black wash with Lahmian Medium to preserve the bright silver. I used Vallejo’s Magic Blue for his cloth with Talassar Blue Contrast Paint overtop. This guy has been absolutely killing it in the Warcry league too. Got a decent shot of my leader (who is now based) in the light box also. Although only available in Warhammer Underworlds Harrowdeep Box Sets, I just think the models in these box sets are so cool they are worth picking up!”

Renee, Jenn and Christopher played The Legend of Redbeard’s Gold from the Escape Room series. “This one had a pirate theme which interested Christopher and it had a easier rating which worked out perfectly! The components and puzzles tied into the theme very well and we found the challenges interesting and fun. I’d definitely recommend this one.”

Jenn wanted to play a dice game so Renee pulled out Rolling Realms. “The first round our realms worked really well together and both of us easily got all 18 points, so we went into the next round way too confident; both the following rounds were more challenging to figure out how to maximize the dice rolls and make good use of our collected resources for extra dice. A fun little roll and write.”

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

Last Saturday Sean ran the first SPQR demo up in the Historical area. “With the help of Mike J who provided some lovely building and terrain we set a handsome table using the entire Starter Set. We had a fair number of observers, a few who I’d tag in to role and move the Romans around as Mike led the Gauls in a spirited and ultimately successful defence of their huts.The rules themselves are quite simple, making this a good choice as an entry game. The textuality of the rules themselves led to some intriguing and historical-ish outcomes as the outnumbered Romans absorbed and rebuffed frequent Gallic charges, inflicting disproportionate casualties on the Celts. However numbers ultimately told and when the Gallic hero slew the Roman commander fighting mano a mano the remaining legionaries lost heart and scampered off. We see the Centurion and his friend the signifer put flight to a horde of Gauls. The barbarians would ultimately rally and stomp them down. We also see the archers in a defensive perimeter, showing off the lovely fence and round houses from Mike J’s collection.”

This week’s theme for Sue was Bases & Faces. “I made some bases for my Stormcast Warcry warband. I wanted a mix of ruins and finely manicured lawn. The ruins come from the Citadel Shattered Dominion Large Base Detail Kit. I primed the ruins with Vallejo Grey, added a black wash, waited for them to dry and dry brushed them Uthhuan Grey. The top 2 faces were mostly finished last week and I just did touch ups today. This included trying to fix the janky eye I painted on the woman and I drew a line on her bottom lip. The top lip is always more naturally shadowed than the bottom lip. The bottom 2 faces I finished today. They are all Stormcast Eternals Heads. The woman and the man in the opposite, bottom corner are from Forgeworld. The blonde man at the top is from Steelheart’s Champions, and the man with the white beard is one of the heads from the Vanquishers box. All of them are primed Wraithbone with Guilliman Flesh Contrast Paint over top, except for the man with the white beard. I primed him white and used Apothecary White Contrast Paint to get that beard color. I used a black, Citadel Layer Small brush to do the eyes. I really love a lot of the Stormcast heads. They have so much personality!”

Here is a before and after Contrast Paints and washes to illustrate Sue’s process for painting faces. “I do as much as I can first (when it’s easy to fix) and then apply the Contrast Paints and washes and I finish up the eyes. If you’re nervous about finishing up the eyes after the Contrast Paint or wash has been applied, you can always finish the eye first and have a second brush on hand to take as much of that Contrast Paint/ wash out of the eyes before it dries. I know the first photo is quite dark, but you can really see how just adding a Contrast Paint over his face and a wash over his hair really brings out the detail.”

Renee and Jenn have had a chance to play Cascadia a few more times. “As you may recall, both Jenn and I immediately enjoyed our initial plays of this game, so I was curious how it would fair after a few more plays. As each animal type has a variety of scoring cards, each time you play your strategy for how to play each combination changes, which I enjoy as it makes each scoring approach a bit of a puzzle on its own. I still feel like I’m trying to figure out how to maximize each turn and when to use my nature tokens the most effectively. This version of the game itself is fun to play, easy to learn and set up and great for a casual but puzzly game at any time. However the rulebook comes with a whole set of Achievements you can earn – similar to when you’re playing a video game and meet certain criteria. This includes Scenarios with specific set up with scoring or other goals, as well as achievements you can earn if you win a game while playing the normal game (scoring goals, end the game with specific token numbers, or habitat goals). These can be used with the Solo mode to create challenges for yourself or just to make things more competitive when you’re playing with others.”

What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – June 20-26

Greg and Tracy played another two player game of Foundations of Rome with the Monuments module. “One of the monuments was a huge Winery that was 2×3 in size and earned a big 4 coins and 8 points per scoring phase. I was fortunate enough to build it in the second era, although Tracy then built a civic building next to it to leech victory points from it. We fought over the population track to earn the bonus points available for that, and between us we built the rest of the monuments too. In the end it was a pretty close game but I managed to just stay ahead on the population track and it proved to be enough to win me the game. Still can’t get over how awesome this game looks on the table too!”

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