Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] Negavolt Cultists and Rogue Psykers

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Here we are almost nearing the end of the hostiles for Blackstone Fortress.  The Negavolt Culstists were one of the standout hostile models for me for a few reasons.  As far as I know, this is the closest thing we’ve seen to a representation of Dark Mechanicus in model form in the past couple decades, if ever at all.  It’s also just a really cool model.  The Adeptus Mechanicus could already easily be portrayed as an evil faction, corrupted by their obsession with machines in many other fictional universes, but this being 40k, you can always take it a step further.

Well, they took it a step further.  The whip-like tentacles coming out of their skulls, metal plates giving only the basic outline of a human face fused to mask their actual faces give even Electro Priests a bit of a run for their money when it comes to the creep factor.  Much like the Traitor Guardsman, there is a bit of a scavenger vibe to them as well that I like, and the power coils on their backs wouldn’t look out of place at all on an Ork Mek.

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Speaking of the power coils, I saw them as a great chance to practice object source lighting, aka OSL, again.  I wasn’t a fan of the orange coils Games Workshop used in the official paint schemes, so I went with good old blue plasma.  Warhammer TV has a basic tutorial on how to paint the plasma on plasma guns, and that’s a good starting point.  To sum it up:

  • [Base] Kantor Blue
  • [Layer] Teclis Blue
  • [Layer] Baharroth Blue on the raised coils
  • [Layer] Thinned down White Scar in patches around the raised coils to give it a more white-hot look

Next, if you’re going down the OSL route, you’re going to want to have the metal done first, as the glazes are meant to be applied over them.  The metal’s nothing special — the same technique you’ve seen a thousand times:

  • [Base] Leadbelcher
  • [Wash] Nuln Oil
  • [Wash] (Optional) Agrax Earthshade — helps break up the uniformity when applied to parts, (example: the shaft of the batons).
  • [Highlight] Leadbelcher
  • [Edge Highlight] Stormhost Silver

With that done, you’ll be thinning down Teclis Blue pretty heavily with Lahmian Medium, at least 2:1, to create a glaze.  You want to build this up slowly on the metallic surfaces where light from the coils would catch.  Remember, you can always add, but you can’t subtract — at least, not without a lot of effort.  Next, do the same with Baharroth Blue, but bring it in a little closer to the light wherever the light would be stronger.  I also used Stormhost Silver to reapply an edge highlight to the metal, but you could try playing around with White Scar as well.

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I don’t have much to say about the Rogue Psykers but here they are.  They were only a little more interesting to paint than the Traitor Guardsmen, but the callback to the old Daemonhost model, being shackled to weights, was a nice touch.

A lot of the techniques used on these guys I’ve already detailed in other entries, like the fur pelts which also appear on Traitor Guardsmen and the flesh which I took a very similar approach with as the Chaos Beastmen.  I wanted a bit more of an unnatural tone to their skin and didn’t want to just make them look pale like the Negavolt Cultists.

Next up for Blackstone Fortress, the Black Legion Marines and Obsidius Mallex.

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Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] Traitor Guardsmen

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These guys have so far been the biggest hurdle for me in trying paint my way through the Blackstone Fortress.  Most of us learn pretty early on in our hobby careers that painting groups of infantry in a sort of assembly line is generally the way to go.  Taking my Dire Avengers as an example, you might basecoat, wash and highlight the undersuit on the entire squad before moving on to the armor plates, which you would again finish on every model before moving on to the next detail whether it be the helmets, weapons, etc.  It saves paint, keeps colors more consistent, and is arguably just a much more efficient way to work through a squad of models rather than painting the same model over and over again from the beginning.

But that’s something I had trouble doing with these Traitor Guardsmen.  These guys are no longer a part of any “official” military force and a lot of their gear is obviously scavenged.  It’s also pretty easy to imagine that a lot of them come from different regiments or worlds so there’s probably very little uniformity in their clothing.  This is something I wanted to work into their paint jobs despite knowing that it would take a little extra time and effort.  And that goes without saying, I know — but I can’t be the only one who gets a little antsy when there’s still dozens of models waiting to be painted from the same set.  Right?

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The Guardsman on the right served as the sort of test model for everything else.  You get two identical models for every type of Guardsman, and one of the things I wanted to do was make sure each was distinct from the other.  The official GW color scheme ties them all together with black armor and I liked that look, so things like their clothing, capes, arm and leg wraps, fur coats, shoulder pads, etc. would be where I would try and mix things up.

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Here’s one half of the lot.  The black armor, dark reds and generally drab colors keep with the dark atmosphere of Blackstone Fortress, but they’re still identifiable as people who were, at least at one time, Imperial Guardsmen.  The paints used for the different fatigue colors was minimal, and the process for painting them was simple and the same throughout.  The first color is your basecoat, which you then hit with a wash.  Once the wash is dry, build the basecoat back up, leaving the darkened recesses alone, then finally highlight with the last color.

  • Grey : Mechanicus Standard Grey, Nuln Oil, Dawnstone
  • Tan (Cadian) : Zandri Dust, Agrax Earthshade, Ushabti Bone
  • Light Tan : Karak Stone, Agrax Earthshade, Screaming Skull
  • Sand : Balor Brown, Agrax Earthshade, Ushabti Bone

Just mix and match the pants and coats and you’ve got one way to add variation to your group of Traitor Guard.  Here’s the second set:

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The fur pelts were also something that gave me pause for thought, but Warhammer TV once again had a few really good tutorials on them.  The guy with the flamethrower up top is a good example of the following technique for grey fur:

  • Basecoat Mechanicus Standard Grey
  • Water down Administratum Grey to about the consistency of a wash and apply it towards the top third of the pelt
  • Use Nuln Oil to shade the bottom third
  • Once everything’s dry, use White Scar to lightly drybrush the pelt and tie all the colors together

Brown fur you can get a little more creative with:

  • Basecoat with Mournfang Brown
  • Use Zandri Dust to paint patterns into the fur like stripes, or just different colored patches
  • Wash all over with Agrax Earthshade to tie the two colors together
  • Once dry, use Tryrant Skull preferably to lightly drybrush the fur, though Ushabti Bone can work as well

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I’m probably still going to go back and add more scratches and maybe freehand more Chaos symbols into their armor before I varnish them, but for now these guys are pretty much done and I’ve moved on.  I hate to admit it, but as I make my way through Blackstone Fortress, hobby fatigue has started to kick in, which I might touch on in another post.

Up next, Chaos Beastmen.

 

Blackstone Fortress · Boxed Games · Warhammer 40000

[Blackstone Fortress] Ur’ghuls & Spindle Drones

I finished my first batches of Blackstone Fortress models starting with Ur’ghuls.  I’m pretty sure these are the first new Drukhari-related minis that have come out in years, and they just so happen to be in a release that has nothing to do with the Dark Eldar.  They’re also not generally considered a competitive addition for any army builds, but y’know?  It’s nice when releases like this include things that overlap with your existing armies.

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I hate to admit it, but my mentality has kind of been getting the “chaff” out of the way so I can really take my time and enjoy painting The Explorers and Chaos Marines.  In years prior when I had more time, I would’ve probably tried to give each set of models my undivided attention, but now I just have to settle for “good enough” to keep things moving.

That said, these did come out looking good enough, and because they don’t have all sorts of extra details like the armor, capes, lasguns, grenades, bottles, etc. on Traitor Guardsmen, they went by really fast.  I should probably take note of the exact paints I use from now on for the sake of this blog, but it wasn’t too dissimilar from what’s on the back of the Blackstone Fortress manual:

  • Basecoat of Stegadon Scale Green
  • Layer of Dark Reaper
  • Start picking out raised areas of muscle with Thunderhawk Blue
  • Pick out raised areas like the ribs, fingers, kneecaps and prominent muscles with a highlight of Fenrisian Grey
  • Selective edge highlight of Ulthuan Grey to add more depth to the Fenrisian Grey.
  • Wash of Druchii Violet on the hands from the fingertips up until somewhere below the elbow.

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Next were the Spindle Drones.  The biggest challenge would be finding a quick and efficient way of achieving that bluish-grey metallic look on the carapace while still keeping it presentable.  Outside of terrain and sometimes metallics, I don’t really make use of drybrushing, but it was perfect for what I was trying to do here.  So for the carapace I went:

  • Basecoat of Stegadon Scale Green
  • Layer of Russ Grey
  • All over wash of Coelia Greenshade
  • Heavy drybrush of Russ Grey focusing more towards the top to create a transition of colors.
  • Light, but still liberal drybrush of Ulthuan Grey to pick out the details and simulate light reflecting off the carapace.
  • Edge highlight of Ulthuan Grey across all the panels and edges.

If you’ve ever handled this model, you know how fragile the legs connecting to the slot feels, so when you’re drybrushing, make sure you’re holding the model from just behind the “neck”, or the section above the legs but below the carapace.

The lenses I’m actually not satisfied with, so I’ll probably go back and touch that up a bit, but they are basecoated with Screamer Pink then Pink Horror in the center to simulate a focused light.

To achieve a glow, which can be used as an effect on anything from eyes to plasma guns, you start with Lahmian Medium, and mix about 5:1 to 4:1 with the relevant color.  In this case I used Screamer Pink, though maybe a lighter pink would’ve worked better.  Regardless, you really want to dilute it to the point where there’s very little change in color when you apply the Lahmian Medium mix to the mini, and continue to build on until you feel happy with the intensity of the color.  It’s easier to add color than it is to take it away.

Next up from the Blackstone Fortress and incidentally what’s actually on my table right now: Traitor Guard.

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.