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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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 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…)”

What have The Sentry Box staff been up to – March 14-20

Tracy and Greg played another two player game of Agricola. “This time there were a bunch of cards providing clay, or discounts on clay, and then the Large Pottery. Those led me into just building one wooden room before renovating, which let me build fences earlier and still get another room using clay. It turned out pretty well, and I was able to get a bunch of bonus points from the Large Pottery, as well as good points across the board and the full five family members.”

Tracy and Greg got paired together in a game of Spades. “It started badly as we failed to make our bid in the first hand. It was a bit of a topsy turvy game, with me calling and making a Nil bid in the second hand but then we failed our bid again in the third hand. Matt and Lani had been making their bids but also picking up bags along the way, and then when I called and made a second Nil bid and we forced them over 10 bags the tides started to turn. In the end we completed a great comeback, winning 548 to 331!”

This is the first completed model in Chris’ Genestealer Cult gang for our upcoming Store Necromunda Campaign beginning next month. “As I had played Van Saar in the previous league, I wanted to go with something a bit more rag-tag, but with perhaps a bit more balance between shooting and melee capability. Given that I’d hit upon the name Radiant Dawn as sufficiently cult-sounding, bright orange robes seemed to fit the theme and also offer a nice contrast to the creepy purplish skin and carapace. Now that I have the colors worked out, it’s on to production-line painting for the rest of the gang.”

Christopher came to the store to visit Renee and very excitedly picked up his own copy of the D&D Monster Manual. “He’s not looking to DM anytime soon, but just wanted his own copy so he could learn about all the monsters. He’s been pouring over it, reading all the details on the various monsters and creatures, looking at their stats and is very happy with his purchase. Of course this means there’s even more “Did you know?” starts to conversations. Not that I’m complaining because in this case, as someone who does not play D&D, I have to admit, I did not know.”

Maximum Arbitration Part 1: Pre-Necromunda Action

It has long been rumoured that a shadowy cabal of Sentry Box staffers and select store regulars engage in sporadic and often grotesquely violent games of Necromunda. Those rumours are true. This super fun re-imagining of the classic Games Workshop sci-fi game has garnered no small amount of accolades from our ‘serious’ players, and now the Sentry Box is extending the invitation to all of you.

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

Another couple of Battletech models for my Draconis Combine forces, this time a Blackjack and Grasshopper. Not much to say about painting these that I haven’t mentioned previously, but I’m still super impressed by these re-imaginings of classic ‘mech designs. The game has never looked better and I’ve got lots more new stompy robots awaiting paint!

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

It’s never too early to get the kids started on miniature painting! Kris’ daughter Evie wanted to make a fish and paint it. We think she did a great job!

Greg tried out this puzzle from Genius Games. “Genius Games make science-themed board games that are really interesting. Like a few other game companies they also started dabbling in making puzzles during Covid, and this is one of them. I also have Nikola Tesla and Marie Curie to do, and figure they’re good for starting conversations with the kids about who they are and what they’re known for.”

Renee and Jenn had a chance to play Res Arcana with the just released second expansion, Perlae Imperii. “This expansion adds a new element, pearls. Pearls have similar rules to Gold but are worth 1 point at the end the the game for each one in the players collection. As a result, the game end is now triggered at 13 points instead of 10. The expansion also includes some new Mages, Monuments, Places of Power and Artifacts. Jenn ended up getting the Pearl Bed and created a fantastic engine and ended up winning the game handily. We both enjoyed the additions and continue to love playing this game!”

They also had a chance to try out the new game TEN. “I was really excited about this game because it’s from the same designers as Point Salad which I think is fantastic. What I was surprised to find out and made it even more awesome, was discovering that it had a push your luck drafting mechanic similar to another family favourite, Circus Flohcati! You draw cards until you either stop and claim your reward or you bust and get nothing. You bust when the total value of the cards exceeds 10. However there are also currency cards whose value subtracts from that total and when you stop you can either take all the cards or the currency cards. If you take cards, all your opponents get the currency, which you can use to purchase cards in the market. But there’s more! You can also use currency to purchase wild cards through auction whenever they are revealed from the draw pile. This has all the elements I enjoy in a quick card game – some push your luck with enough strategy to make it interesting. Over the weekend Jenn and I both had chances to play it with Dad and it has been a hit!”

Greg likes the little tableau-builder Deus because it’s so simple but still offers some interesting decisions. “You have to deal with the luck of the draw, but you can always choose to spend your turn discarding cards to gain something and then drawing new ones, so it’s easy to cycle through if you don’t like what you have. In two player I’ve found the game almost always ends by Temples being built and that was the case in this game. I picked up a bunch of points during the game though, whereas Tracy only really scored for her Temples and leftover resources, so it was a comfortable victory.”

Greg and Tracy also played TEN. “This is a neat little push-your-luck card game where you’re trying to get runs of numbers in each colour. There are some interesting choices to be made though as some turns you end up helping your opponents. This was a super close game where Tracy ended up winning 26-25!”

Kris is still working on painting different Orks for Orktober. “On last week’s stream I had a vote and everybody voted for my Battle Fleet Gothic Ork Fleet to be next on the list. I have had them for a while now, and just never got around to painting them as I was always a fan of the Imperial Navy. But, the Orks being able to swamp the table seems like it will be fun.This was my first batch while I work on my colour scheme, a Terror Ship and 6 Onslaught escort frigates.”