Blackstone Fortress is the third in the new series of Warhammer Quest, released in November 2018, and set in the 40k futuristic universe. A group of disparate explorers delve into the labyrinth of a vast and ancient space station to uncover its secrets via a series of missions leading to a final showdown scenario.
This game uses the same core dice allocation mechanics found within Silver Tower and Hammerhal, and also has the familiar extra destiny dice rolling each round. However it adds some new and better ideas, such a random activation order using a card draw, which can be manipulated by special skills, and combat dice of different shapes to roll depending on a characters ability. Both of these are great improvements.
Similar to Hammerhal and the original 1995 game, each adventure requires four heroes to play, albeit you can of course run multiple characters, and it generates its own enemy intelligence through dice rolling which is more like the Silver Tower approach, but does mean there is a lot of dice rolling. All the components and tiles look great and the model set for me rivals Silver Tower for its huge variety and enjoyment to paint.
Repeat playing can become repetitive over time, so games like this really need expansions to keep them alive, and this one is being best supported since the original 1995 game …
The Dreaded Ambull – i love huge hulking monsters to fight in a quest mission showdown, and once this box set was released i knew i was going to have to buy the main game after all. Whilst this is quite expensive for a small set, it does have a superb large monster model, and two small ones, but the designers through White Dwarf have since expanded extra linked missions using this box, which for me made it the must have expansion given its theme. This kind of monster is what the original set really needed as its icon.
Traitor Command – another smaller box expansion with a traitor command leader and a chaos ogryn with a claw arm. These fit really well with the core set guards squads, but may not quite have the same pull factor as the ambull, however the models are nice additions to the game and for collectors are likely worth getting. It has not had any additional missions written for it, but as it can easily be used with the core set, it is a really viable expansion.
Three card packs have also been released, Endless Peril which adds new exploration events to your deck including 15 more combat maps which do not seem overly essential for me, however the 15 new challenges would add nice variety as these in particular could feel repetitive over time. Advanced Arsenal is a smaller pack adding 24 new resource cards but is the more interesting addition card set giving new items and ship cards and has item artwork. Abominable Intellect provides new encounters to increase the difficulty level of the game and mainly adds to the enemy count but this means you probably have to also consider adding extra models (a core enemy pack is available to buy). If you play a lot of Blackstone games, then these may be useful to expand the variety within the core game, but their overall value is questionable against the model sets providing new adventure stories, and I have held off from buying these cards for now.
Escalation – is the biggest expansion for the game, with new tiles, four new heroes, a new machine support retinue character, and a barbaric chaos warband. It looks a great addition, adding a new story adventure and it’s price point whilst high, could be considered better value than combining one or more of the other expansions available. I was always going to get the ambull expansion as it is such a good monster with a great mission, but this set is definitely looking like a great one one to get if you want to keep playing beyond the core set.
The Blackstone Fortress Annual – brings together all the expansion content from White Dwarf from the last 12 months. This includes adding in supporting retinue characters, new precipice rules and a lot of new quest missions including the excellent multi part ambull adventure. This was a must have purchase for me to extend the original box, even though i have some of the content already, it is a nice book format edition and there are a really good number of new scenarios to play. I wish a new quest book like this had been added to Shadows over Hammerhal.
Blackstone Fortress is becoming a big game set now, and it looks like content will be continuing into 2020, as the game seems to still be a strong product line for games workshop, which is great news.