Blackstone Fortress was the third in the new series of Warhammer Quest box sets, 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 enemy dice rolling. All the components and tiles look great and the model set 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 the best supported since the original 1995 game
Dreaded Ambull – a huge monster lurks within the fortress, this is a small expansion box which has a superb model and a nice side mission adventure, which can change your ongoing adventures slightly. Opinion > 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 expansion, the designers through White Dwarf expanded extra linked missions using this box, which for me make it a must have. This kind of monster is what the original set really needed as its icon, it is highly recommended.
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. Opinion > 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. I missed out buying this when i should have and it is now extremely costly to obtain, so i am a little annoyed with myself.
Card Packs – three extra content card packs were released, Endless Peril which adds new exploration events to your deck including 15 more combat maps and 15 encounter challenges. This pack does not seem overly essential for me if you are picking up other expansions but may be useful if you only stick with the core set as encounters could feel repetitive over time. Advanced Arsenal is a smaller pack adding 24 new resource cards and 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 was available to buy). Opinion > if you plan to only keep the core Blackstone Fortress set, then these may be useful to expand variety but their overall value is questionable against the model sets providing new adventure stories, and I am not sad that i held off from buying these cards.
Annual – is a softback book that brings together all the expansion content from White Dwarf from 2018 to 2019. This includes adding in supporting retinue characters, new precipice rules and a lot of new quest missions including the excellent multi part ambull adventure, and solo rules. Opinion > this was a must have purchase to extend the life of the original box, even though i had some of the content already, it is also a nice reference book and there are a good number of new scenarios to play so it is highly recommended.
Escalation – the biggest expansion for the game for new content, with new tiles, four new heroes, a machine support retinue ally character, and barbaric chaos warband. It is quite a costly box, but adding new story adventures and heroes it should be considered better value than combining a couple of the other smaller expansions available. Opinion > this set is a great expansion to get if you want to keep playing beyond the core set and follow the story into its next chapter. As such it is a recommended expansion.
No Respite – the third smaller box expansion bringing in nurgle enemies and plague afflictions to the game. The models within this set were not new ones and are more simple push together style and so are less sought after, however you do get nine of them. It does have some new rule ideas and a narrative side adventure. Opinion > i did not manage to buy this before it went out of stock and of the smaller sets this was my least wanted really. It is one for the completionist and i am not overly fussed i missed it.
Deadly Alliance – a fourth smaller box expansion bringing in a new zoat retinue ally character rather than new enemies, but has shardquakes to find which change the map layouts, making for a shifting adventure. Opinion > has a really neat model, but its addition to the overall game enjoyment is arguably more questionable than other sets such as the ambull or traitor command. So far i have not purchased but i may do before it goes, but it is not an overly essential one for me.
Ascension – is the final expansion for the game, and a larger box similar to Escalation. This box is not loaded with new models, just two large spindle drones but very cool in game context, and it majors on new storyline and hidden surprise content. Opinion > if you want to conclude your story journey then this is essential, and whilst it seems to lack models my feeling is that this could be the hidden gem of series for its development of the game, but i say that without having fully delved into it.
This is a really neat game to collect and own, with lovely production quality throughout, but all in it is pretty expensive for one dungeon crawl adventure game. My own collection choices so far are the Core Set > Dreaded Ambull > Annual > Escalation > Ascension. I am however slightly disappointed that i did not get Traitor Command when i could have.