Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

Into the Blackstone Fortress: Unboxing

I know I’m a bit late here and anyone who’s had their interest piqued by Warhammer Quest’s first venture in the 40k universe has probably either already picked up this box, or at the very least played with a friend’s set.  Still, I feel like this deserves a post as Blackstone Fortress was one of the highlights of Games Workshop’s 2018 release schedule for me — which by the way is no small feat.  They’re killing it right now.  Seriously, give my wallet time to breathe.

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Up until recently with the Kill Team Starter Set — which is what caused Blackstone Fortress to sit on the sidelines for a few months — I’ve never actually had the pleasure of opening up a box of one of Games Workshop’s big releases.  Army specific ‘starter’ boxes and the like sure, but never any of the specialist games or any of the edition specific starter sets.  …Though I do have a Battle for Macragge box sitting around, that was passed off to me by a friend who took an extended leave of absence from the hobby, and was mostly finished anyway.  So that doesn’t count.

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With that said, man does it feel like a mini-Christmas when you first remove the lid and see all the new stuff that’ll be occupying your free time for the foreseeable future.  There was definitely a lot less plastic here than in the Kill Team box, but that’s understandable since Blackstone Fortress is closer to a board game and is pretty much devoid of all the terrain that gave the Kill Team box so much of its heft. What you do get instead are a set of entirely brand new set of sculpts, including the much requested Traitor Guardsmen and an early peek at what modern Chaos Space Marines would look like.

As seems to be the trend, you also get a neat little placard that features art from the game, but also doubles as a layer of protection separating the sprues (and their pointy bits) from potentially damaging any of the cards or books underneath.  So while it’ll likely be a bit scratched up when you open up the box, know that it took one for the team.

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Apart from rulebooks and dice, you get multiple decks of cards, some of which serve as character sheets for the heroes, or explorers as they’re called, as well as decks which I assume are for randomizing encounters as well as dictating what form the Blackstone Fortress takes.  You also get a little book that contains the first bit of the Blackstone Fortress tie-in novel.  Not shown are the five sheets of heavy cardboard, four of which are the tiles that make up the board, as well as one that contains counters and markers you’ll be using during the game.

The last thing of note is a sleeve that warns you not to open it until you’ve finished a certain quest.  It likely has some really powerful piece of archeotech that you’ll be able to use in future adventures.  The air of mystery it adds is a nice touch and fitting for the mood of the game, giving you a reason to play until the end provided you have it in you to resist opening it beforehand.

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As soon as I could, I jumped right into clipping plastic, and assembling models.  Most were really straight forward and consisted of only 3 pieces, but despite being snap fit, it took about two nights to get everything done.  This might vary from box to box, but some pieces were annoyingly hard to get to push all the way together; so much so that on at least one model I just clipped the peg and glued them on the old fashioned way.

As for the models themselves, they are mono-pose, but look great and are full of character.  My favorite, unsurprisingly, is the Aeldari Ranger, who gives me hope that one day we’ll see all the Finecast stuff in the Eldar ranges (Drukhari included) get phased out for some really slick looking plastic kits.

I also opted to base them to match my default 40k scheme since I planned on using some of them either in Kill Team or regular 40k.  Warhammer TV does have a tutorial on how to get that glossy black stone effect that you see on the box and website, but that requires filing down every base, something I didn’t feel like dealing with.

And that’s that.  I’ve actually made a decision not to play the game until all this is painted.  I just hope I don’t burn out before that happens.

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Boxed Games · Non-Warhammer

Biters. Walkers. Zeds. Zom–

When I finally finished my Orks I jumped straight into painting the Season One box of Zombicide that I’ve had sitting around for about a year.  The game had piqued my interest awhile back being a tabletop game you could legit play solo — as opposed to say, running around a table and playing two armies to simulate a game of 40k.  I was also partial to the setting, though as Wil Wheaton said, “some time in the past few years, I feel like we kinda hit peak zombie.”  And sure, with zombie cellphone commercials, movies about zombie girlfriends, and zombie enemies becoming a staple of first person shooters — some with full blown zombie modes in games that otherwise have nothing to do with them — zombies have kind of become watered down and played out.  Hell, there are even zombie walks for people to dress up and play undead with others.

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I promise I’m not shaking my fist at the screen, admonishing strangers for having fun, but while I’m not old enough to truly be OG with zombies in pop culture, I still have an appreciation of the genre that comes from the idea of them being actually terrifying and an ever present threat to protagonists.  Something so horrible it allows us to examine humanity at its best and worst in a familiar but now endlessly hostile world.

28 Days Later remains one of my favorite movies, and I couldn’t stop watching The Walking Dead up until the last few seasons.  I’ve also clocked in a decent amount of time in Left 4 Dead and its sequel.  And how can I not mention the Resident Evil games?  I never jumped at all things zombie related, but as I get older it takes more than their presence in entertainment to catch my attention.  Hell, in my opinion, the game that claimed Left 4 Dead’s throne as the premier co-op horde “shooter” doesn’t even feature zombies.  Granted, the sequel introduces a Nurgle worshipping warband that throws a lot of zombie-like cultists at you, but that stretches the definition a bit.

Anyway, before I prolong this unintended rant…  Besides the random foreign zombie movie on Netflix — Train to Busan most recently — I haven’t really had much involvement with anything related to the genre in the past few years, that is until I picked up Zombicide and found myself painting a small horde of them.  When I first opened the box, I immediately noticed how much smaller they seemed compared to Eldar Guardians or even Drukhari Wyches.  Honestly, they’re probably more realistically proportioned as opposed to Warhammer’s “heroic scale”.  They were the first non-GW models I would be working with, and while it was kind of a nice change of pace, it was also coming off the heels of the Orks I had just finished…

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If I was gonna do this without burning out entirely, I set two goals for myself.  The first was to keep the paint job and overall process as basic as possible. For the clothes, it was a base color, followed by Agrax Earthshade which gave everything a uniformly dirty look, then two very quick passes with the relevant highlights.  Exposed skin was probably the most time consuming part since a half-assed job can lead to some unnatural looking minis.

The second goal was to make sure every single one was different while avoiding whacky colors for clothes like hot pink jeans or neon green suits.  The Citadel Paint app kinda helped for this step, and it gave me a chance to try out some colors I wouldn’t normally be able to on any of my Eldar or Orks.  Having three different approaches to painting skin also helped a bunch since I limited my range of colors.  Those were:

  • Pale: Basecoat Rakarth Flesh.  Wash of Carroburg Crimson and Druchii Violet.  Highlight Rakarth Flesh.  Fine highlight of 1:1 Rakarth Flesh and Pallid Wych Flesh.
  • Burnt: Basecoat Bugman’s Glow.  Wash of Reikland Fleshshade.  Highlight Cadian Fleshtone.
  • Rotten: Basecoat Deathguard Green.  Wash Agrax Earthshade.  Layer Elysian Green.  Fine Highlight Ogryn Camo.

All eyes and teeth were painted with Pallid Wych Flesh instead of something like White Scar to prevent too stark of a contrast between the more drab colors.  Their eyes weren’t supposed to be glowing and their teeth weren’t pristine.  Some time in the future I want to try taking some Blood for the Blood God paint to the zombies, maybe even use the paint brush splatter technique.  Until then, I think they look alright.

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Then of course we have the heroes.  Don’t really have much to say about them.  I just referenced the box art and online bios as closely as I could.  The only one that gave me a bit of trouble was Wanda, the rollerblading chainsaw girl, and that was just because I never painted a model where bright blues were so prominent.  It took a second try to get it looking natural.  I also opted for stockings instead of fishnets on Amy, the katana girl since I wasn’t keen on painting those, though it’d’ve been great practice for doing Harlequin diamonds in the future.

I considered sprucing up the bases with Astrogranite Debris or something, but in bulk, that shit’s too expensive to be using on a “minor” side project like this, and flat pavement was more fitting for the setting.  Besides, there were a lot of bases that needed doing and something real simple would need to suffice:

  • Basecoat Mechanicus Standard Grey
  • Wash of Agrax Earthshade (the real MVP in Zombicide)
  • Heavy drybrush of Dawnstone
  • Abaddon Black around the rim of the base.

Somewhat recently, Warhammer TV released a tutorial on how to paint Blackstone Fortress bases, where they show how those texture paints can be used sparingly to add just a little detail to otherwise flat and featureless bases and I kinda wish I gave that a try, but this is well after I’d finished and shelved Zombicide.  Unfortunately, because of my hobby backlog I was kinda compelled to move on to the next project, and so despite it now being fully painted, the board tiles and cards remain sealed and the game unplayed.

Speaking of Blackstone Fortress btw, I’m in the thick of painting those models up as of this writing.  Real excited to get that done, especially since like Zombicide, it’s possible to play it solo.  More on that another time.