What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – June 13-19

With time running out before the Sentry Box Warcry Narrative League starts Kris figured he should probably finish up a Warband to be able to take part! “I settled on my Nurgle Daemons as my army for Age of Sigmar had been close to finished for years but I keep putting off doing the basing. I also updated some of the painting as most of the models were painted over a decade ago, so needed a little love!”

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What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – June 6-12

Gutenberg is a new release from Portal Games that Kris and Gill got on to the table this week for a two player learning game. “I was really impressed when I was opening up the box as there is a really cool themed storage solution and everything went together really well. Whilst punching the tokens and skimming the rules it felt quite intimidating as heavier euro games are not really our default, but as we went through the first round or two we picked it up and the game flowed really easily with two players. We ended up playing an extra round just rather than discounting the first turn so that we already go 6 real turns in, which meant that my printing press cogs all lined up to score me a bonus 12 points in that turn, which considering I won by 10 points was quite a turn of events…We both ended the game having really enjoyed it and are looking forward to playing a “real” game now that we have the basics down. There are a few cool mechanics that we both enjoyed, the bidding for initiative over the 5 phases of each round was really good fun, and with it being just the two of us, lead to some fairly warped extreme bids to ensure that we got what we want or messed up each other’s plans. The way you assemble your printing press works really well, and even after reminding myself every round, or when placing new cogs I still messed up the counter rotation for a turn :rolling_on_the_floor_laughing:Definitely a keeper for us though!”

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What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – May 9-15

Greg and Tracy played a couple of games of new arrival Yak. “First off, the components in this game are amazing. Chunky bakelite yaks with plastic horns; plastic carts with wheels; big chunky wooden blocks; dual layer player boards. All very nice. The game is one where you’re trading food for stone blocks of different colours in order to build a stone tower. Carts move around clockwise unless a fog token is pulled from the bag, in which case they switch direction. Planning ahead for what’s coming up is important, so these unexpected switches can throw a spanner in the works. In this game I got completely destroyed by Tracy who outscored me in every category. It was a fun, light to medium game though and I enjoyed it quite a bit. A couple days later Tracy also suggested a second game of Yak so we played this one again while the kids were busy. We still didn’t add the extra scoring cards, so it was just the normal scoring. Things went better for me this time and I was able to grab lots of food tokens a few times and then spend them the next turn. I even bought three crystal stones in one turn for 8 bread, which helped me get a large group of 7 stones for end game scoring. We’d both like to try this with more players now as it may have different dynamic. Plus I want to add the extra scoring cards for some variety.”

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What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – April 25-May 1

Renee and Jenn played Isle of Cats again, this time with the Kittens + Beasts expansion. “Beasts are special tiles you rescue on the first day and add to your boat. They each have 3 cat families they want to befriend on the boat, so if you place the correct colour cat family next to them you get to add a beast meeple to your boat for extra points. This definitely adds an additional element of strategy to your game. Kittens are smaller cat tiles that are always available to rescue, however each day only the fastest player gets to rescue kittens, so you have to strategize about when you want to make sure you are the fastest. In addition, because kittens are smaller, you can fit 2 in a basket, allowing you to add more tiles to your boat in a round. This makes it easier to create cat families and they fit almost anywhere! Both these modules allowed for more opportunities for points so it’s not surprising we both had by far our highest scores. We were also both very impressed that Jenn managed to almost completely fill her boat! That is not easy to do.”

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

Renee and Jenn got Creature Comforts by local designer Roberta Taylor to the table. “This game is already very cute, in an Everdell kind of way, but the Kickstarter version with upgraded wooden components and custom Gametrayz is just beautiful. You play over 8 seasons, gathering resources to build comforts and improvements for points. Players simultaneously place their workers on the board, however, you need to spend dice to activate each location successfully. But the thing is, when you place your workers, you only know the values of your 2 family dice and you’re forced to risk your choices on the results of the remaining 4 village dice. This results in some rounds feeling highly successful and other rounds just not going your way. There are ways to mitigate your risk, either through powers granted by built improvements or tokens which allow you to alter the value of the dice. Jenn and I both really enjoyed the resulting choices we were forced to make each round, struggling to commit to riskier choices that may pay off big over safer options. We definitely had a lot of fun playing this and are looking forward to playing it again.”

Sean cracked open the Army Painter Speed Paint set and gave it a try:

I doodled on this pugnacious Reaper Dwarf fightin’ lady. I was interested to see what results I could achieve with the ‘one coat and done’ claim by Army Painter. I primed her with matt white brush on from Army Painter. Here you can see the results. I’m pretty happy what I accomplished in 20 minutes. The Speed Paints have a good consistency and doesn’t run readily. You can squoosh them around to manage shadow and highlights. The drying is reasonably quick so I didn’t have too much bleeding of paints into each other.

There are some colours I am in love with. The Fire Giant Orange, which I used on her hair is brilliant, run and get a bottle. The Ember Red which I used on her shield rune is also a solid paint, though the picture does not do it justice. High fives to the Hardened Leather and Pallid Bone, everyone will get a lot of mileage out of these. The Grey (which I used on her metal bits) and the Purple are both deep and intense. They’ll shine on large surfaces. I am merely whelmed by the Highlord Blue I used on her kilt, but those who collect the popular lines of Ubermensch Galactic Troopers will find this shade useful. It does well on flat surfaces. The Orc Skin is green. That is it’s sole virtue. I am displeased with how the skin turned out. The hue is decent but it’s not as smooth as I’d like. Looks blotchy. I will varnish and repaint. I’ll try it on a few other figs with different undercoat. The Zealot Yellow which I used for her base is an interesting shade, not sure what to do with it…might be good monster hide.

Do you want the Starter Set?  Yeah, I think its a decent range for popular fantasy applications. Price is right too. Best advice I’ve ever received about painting was never to limit yourself to only one line of paints. Rather, view each shade on it’s own merit and application. Using this advice, most painters will find some fun stuff in here. The included brush is also very, very nice. I look forward to getting some of the more subdued colours and see I can exploit them for historicals. As far as ‘one and done’, I’m mixed. If I was painting 30 Maggies (as I’ve named her) sure, that’s perfect. Once I get my flesh technique more gooder I’d probably be happy with this as a PC fig. I have painted much worse, in longer time, so very, very often.

Renee played through the Cantaloop adventure Breaking into Prison. “This is a solo adventure game, billed as an analogue version of an old school point-and-click adventure, and it holds true. The game is presented in a book filled with locations – pictures with items and people with whom you can interact – and conversations which further the story. As you collect items, you can use them in the locations, or give them to people, using a code system which reveals your next piece of information. All info is either in the book at the relevant location, or in an inventory sheet, hidden behind red text so you can only read it when you place the red decoder over it. The story is decent and they added a lot of dad joke level humour to the game, especially when you try combining random items. There are 2 tangents of the story each with their own goals, so you find yourself going back and forth a bit. As you achieve each element of the story you check off a box in the grid, and this is used by the game to figure out where you are in the story. It’s one of those games where you have a bunch of items, a bunch of locations and you’re trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing next; there were definitely times when I felt stuck, so I was very grateful for the help system which based on where you are in story, tells you what your next objective is and then if you need it, starts giving you some hints about how to achieve it. But just knowing what I was supposed to be focusing on was a big help. I was afraid I would find it all too fiddly, that it would just be easier if it was a video game, but I ended up enjoying the experience of curling up on the sofa and just making my way through it. There is a lot of game play – I think it took me about 8-10 one hour sessions over a few weeks. I don’t think this is for everyone, but I liked it.”

What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – April 11-17

Sue finished her first Escher for Necromunda. “She is from the Death Maiden/ Wyld Runner box, but her arms are from the Weapons & Upgrades kit.  I gave her a Sisters of Battle head. I painted this model to table top quality using mostly Contrast Paints. I primed her with Grey Seer and colored her skin with Kislev Flesh. I used a thinned down black Contrast Paint (thinned with Contrast Medium) to paint her leather clothes. I thought that the black Contrast Paint over the Grey Seer would make a pretty nice looking quick leather. I put an extra coat of the thinned down Contrast paint between the straps to differentiate between the black pants and the black straps. The yellow pieces are Contrast Paint also. I added the blue streaks to her hair to make her look more punky.”

Greg and his group played a four player game of Space Base this time, “I think it makes it more tempting to buy lots of cheap ships so you have more deployed for potential use on opponent’s turns. I ended up getting a bunch of ships for the middle numbers so I was hitting them quite often. Then I saw the ‘Win the Game’ ship and decided to go for it because the others hadn’t really got victory point engines going and I was also able to get a few ships that would help me bump up the dice roll so that I could hit that ‘Win the Game’ ship in the 12 slot. It was slow going, and Matt ended up making it to 40 points on my turn, but it was just as I got the final charge on that card and was able to use it to win! A rare occurrence but a satisfying one!”

Greg also played some Sushi Go. “I always seem to do badly at this game but this time I resisted the early sashimi and opted for nigiri and maki rolls. Scoring was pretty close throughout, and at the very end I had managed to win, tying for most puddings, with Tracy losing 6 points for having the least. That proved decisive as she otherwise would have won.”

Greg provides his weekly Agricola game update. “I drafted some fun cards in this game, with synergy between them. However, they really worked better as cards for if I was the start player, which unfortunately I was not. I opted to still stick with playing them though, it just took more time and effort. They did work pretty well, scoring me a decent 48 points overall, but it was probably a mistake to stick with my initial plan and not play more tactically. Tracy meanwhile avoided the trap of the grain strategy that she often goes with, and played a stronger game, denying me early clay, getting a fireplace and the early sheep, and otherwise having a solid game plan. At the end when I looked at her farm I knew I might be in trouble and it turned out to be a close victory for her 50 to 48. She sometimes gets demoralised playing this against me as I usually win, but this time she played a good game, the practice paid off and she got a deserved win.”

Renee and Jenn finally got around to trying out Isle of Cats and ended up playing several games over the weekend. “We were expecting to enjoy this game and it absolutely lived up the expectations. Each round you do some card drafting, then have to decide which cards to purchase, and how many fish to use to do so, in order to get you baskets to save cats or collect treasures to add to your boat, play anytime cards that give you extra actions or abilities as well as end gaming scoring objectives. Of course, you need to make sure you still have enough fish left over to actually save some cats with the baskets you purchased! It’s a great combination of hand and fish management combined with the puzzle of filling your boat with rescued cats in order to meet your scoring objectives. I also really appreciated how much the end game scoring objectives you purchased in the game changed how to played the game. In the first game I just tried to fill my boat with cat families and in another game I ended up getting even more points by leaving the entire middle of my boat empty. Such a fun game!”

Kris used the last of his Sentry Box BBQ Sauce to make some Pulled Pork. “I got some Pork Tenderloin from a local butcher (Ernest Meats, I use them all of the time and their meat is locally sourced, great quality and they deliver to Cochrane!) I applied a dry rub to the pork, mixed with Chopped Garlic, lime juice and some salt and pepper and left it to marinade for 4 hours. I then preheated the oven to 450°f and cooked for 25 minutes in a covered oven dish turning once. After letting the pork rest for 5 minutes I roughly sliced it and added it to the slow cooker, added the Sentry Box Red Dragon BBQ Sauce a table spoon of Tomato Puree and a tea spoon of brown sugar and cooked on low in the slow cooker for 4-6 hours. I had mine on a Scottish Flowered Bap with lots of Butter and cheese, but it serves well as a rice dish too. Can’t wait for a restock of the Sauce in time for summer as that was the last of my stash!”

Renee and family did an unboxing and introductory evening of Return to Dark Tower! This game’s primary feature of course is the tower, which lights up, turns and makes sound, which delighted Christopher and had even us adults amused. You play using an app, to which the tower connects, so that dropping skulls in the tower at the end of your turn triggers events and such in the app, and as the adventure progresses, causes the tower to shift and spit out skulls, or light up gates to remove revealing glyphs which impact gameplay. The board itself is a map on which the players – each playing a different character with varying abilities – move around, cleansing the board of skulls, battling foes, exploring dungeons and completing quests. The quests, battles and dungeons are all handled in the app so the board itself is quite simple. We only played about half a scenario but enough to understand all the basic elements of gameplay. We’re pretty sure we weren’t following all the rules so next step is to review all the rules before trying to actually play the entire first scenario.

Greg and his group got A Feast for Odin back to the table again. “In our regular game we ended up with just three players. I decided to go for a whaling strategy, and only got myself one extra island, focusing mostly on filling the main board. I also did a bit of immigration and got myself a longhouse to use up some of the extra food I was getting. It did score me much better than the last game, earning 110 points, but still not enough to keep up with Matt’s pillaging.”

Greg got the fantastic The Quacks of Quedlinburg to the table. “Somehow Tracy had never actually played this, so I must have had all my previous games of it at The Sentry Box or some other game night. We played the first ingredient set since it was Tracy’s first game, and it had been a while for me so it was good to keep it fairly straightforward. I was reminded several times during the course of this game how much my skill I have in being able to draw the one chip from many that is the only one that will cause me to explode. I truly do have a gift for it. As it turns out though, it happened in the middle of the game when it perhaps had less impact than if it had happened towards the end. In fact I was behind the whole game but in the last round Tracy exploded and I was able to come from behind and sneak a close victory.”

Kris finally got to learn one of the games he picked up at the GAMA Trade Show. “Lost Ones is an interactive story adventure game. My character Maeve, woke up after being kidnapped by the Fae and is searching for a way home. So far I spoke with some spooky trees who filled me in on the gossip and told me that if I can awaken their brethren, they may be able to open a portal back to my world, then I met a delightful water spirit who told me that up in the north west there was something that would let me breath underwater, and that sounded cooler than going home, so I went and found a dwarven city, stole a key that will open any door and then had a sleep. (It was a busy day after all!) The mechanics are really simple, just set collection from an ability deck to overcome challenge levels for different encounters, but hand management is important as if you ever run out of cards you lose. The art work and feel of the game is really nice, and it has the dark undertones of traditional fairy tales so probably not one I will be playing with Evie any time soon, but I am looking forward to continuing my quest to find my way home (and be able to breathe underwater, obviously…)”