Blackstone Fortress is the latest installment of the venerable Warhammer Quest series and the first Quest game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
What I love
- The models – As expected, the minis are top tier. Games Workshop plastic miniatures are of the highest production quality and the Blackstone Fortress models are no exception. The fact these models are push-fit is unreal.
- The theme – Warhammer Quest has always been about dungeon crawling. Blackstone Fortress retains this classic theme by having the players take the role of Explorers heading deep into the unexplored bowels of an ancient space station on the hunt for lost technology. There are unspeakable horrors around every corner but with rewards this great, it’s worth the risk. The grimdark theme of Warhammer 40,000 oozes from the game. It’s all too easy to add a touch of RP to your game play as you burn heretic guardsmen, trade blades with foul xenos and warp flame duel with rogue psykers.
- The legacy – The Explorers do not have infinite resources. There is a finite amount of time you can spend launching expeditions into the Blackstone Fortress. With this limitation, the game only allows for a set number of sessions. After each session you draw a Legacy card. Those cards determine how much time you have left to achieve your ultimate objective – unlock The Vault. This small addition adds a bit of pressure to each game session. You need to decide if you are going to press your luck and head further into the Blackstone, risking death, or do you abandon the current session to head back and regroup?
- The teamwork – During our game sessions we found ourselves discussing entire turns, mapping out and planning moves before heading into combat. Every Explorer has strengths and weaknesses and we planned every move together. Of course, no plan survives first contact with the enemy…It speaks to the strength of the game that the actions you take vary drastically from turn to turn and your choices matter.
What I’m not sure of
- The hostile activation mechanic – I am a big fan of how this game handles initiative. It’s a fluid non-cumbersome method to quickly figure out who goes when. But, when you activate a hostile group, you need to roll a d20 and consult a table. This wouldn’t be an issue except you need to roll for each model in the group, individually. So it’s no problem when you need to activate two Spindle Drones but it is a chore when it’s ten Traitor Guard. But, as Zach said, “once the game gets going, you get into it and it’s not an issue.”
- The Combat Encounter cards – These cards show how to set up each combat encounter. The card has a map of the tiles you need to place and where you place them. The problem is, the cards are small and it’s hard to make out where the tiles go. I realize this is a nitpick but it really slows down the game when you need to spend several minutes just to get an encounter set up.
After four sessions, I am enjoying Blackstone Fortress. This game created a narrative of discovery and I need to find out what will happen at the end of this journey.