GW at the UK Games Expo 2019

Hey everybody!
There were a slew of previews coming from GW yesterday, as they showed off more stuff for upcoming games at the UK Games Expo. In a way, I was more excited for this one than the previews we got last year, though I suppose we were in the middle of getting the 40k codexes we wanted, and the new edition of Age of Sigmar was underway, so it was certainly a different time, with different priorities. This year, we’re definitely in more of a boxed-game mood, with all of the previews for the specialist games, rather than anything specifically for 40k or AoS (though, of course, the use of these models in the big games is not exactly impossible…)

I want to start with the Palanite Enforcers for Necromunda, as these are models that I’ve been eagerly awaiting for a long time now.

So they don’t have the classic Arbites look that I had been hoping for, but I guess Necromunda Enforcers were never true Judge Dredd-style Arbites, so it’s difficult to argue that point. We basically have ten chaps in carapace armour, who would look fantastic as Guardsmen allies for a Primaris Marines force because their helmets are so damn similar! I feel like that is something of a let-down, though it’s something I’m sure I could get used to. A lot has also been made already of the fact that the shoulder armour actually seems to be restrictive of movement, but hopefully they can be posed without that being too obvious – the two “gangers” who have that look may just need to wait for the Forge World additional weapons options, to see if there’s some way I can use the bodies with different arms and avoid the narrow, squat-y look. Hopefully.

However, on the whole they do look pretty good, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I could potentially do with them, given a different paint job (I’m thinking of a deeper navy, and then red for the yellow…) Shame about the lack of cyber-mastiff, though!

Whether Adeptus Arbites will ever make an appearance for, well, anything, will remain to be seen, then. I do entertain some hopes that we’ll get actual Arbites if they ever decide to do something properly in plastic for the Inquisition, so that we could use them in a retinue or something. I know that they’re the police, so can’t really be expected to act within the context of the tabletop game, but even so, stranger things have happened!

Up next, we’ve got the fourth new warband for the upcoming Warcry, the Corvus Cabal, a bunch of bird-worshipping cultists who wouldn’t be out of place in a Tzeentch-themed army!

This fourth warband is, admittedly, quite weird, although beautifully realised, so I can’t honestly complain much there. We’ve seen some really unique Chaos cults come out for this product line already, and it has been fascinating to see them take shape. With two further warbands due for reveal, I’m intrigued to see what else we could possibly be in store for here!

That said, I’m finding myself a little bit bored with Warcry now. We’ve been having previews like this for months, but we don’t know a great deal about what the game actually is. Back in February, when it was first announced at the LVO, it was described as a mix of Warhammer Underworlds and Kill Team, so everybody has been assuming that it is AoS Skirmish, re-imagined with bespoke Chaos warbands. At the Adepticon preview, GW confirmed that nine non-Chaos warbands would also be playable when the game launches, making this sound a lot like Kill Team, and I suppose that’s the analogy people have been using since. We also know it is coming with fancy new terrain, so the comparison is a good one, right?

Well, who knows. I don’t know what the game is going to look like yet, whether we’re getting a big, expensive core set with all the terrain and new warbands, or whether it’s going to be a whole product line similar to Adeptus Titanicus, with everything sold separately. Are all these new Chaos warbands going to be available in one big release, or are we seeing the next six months of releases with these previews, and the game will more likely remind us of Necromunda in that respect? I suppose at this point, I just want to know more details about how I need to plan my purchases, but all we’re getting is “hey, look at these new miniatures!” rather than anything more solid as regards what we can do with those miniatures. Time for details, GW, if you please!

In the interests of saving the best til last, we’ve got another expansion for Blackstone Fortress, this time something more along the lines of what I would have been expecting for this game all along: Escalation. I say that, because I’ve been expecting GW to put out this sort of hero-and-enemy pack as the first expansion, rather than the third. Getting the Ambull was nice, although a little unexpected, and the Traitor Command stuff should be another interesting addition, though both of those are more akin to the sort of thing I would have thought we’d have seen much further down the line. I’m not really explaining this well at all, but never mind!

We’re getting four new explorers, the characters from the Combat Arena game that was first previewed a whiles back, with the suggestion here that the Servitor is somehow either not a playable character, or else is linked with (presumably) the Tech Priest in-game. I thought it was interesting to learn that Combat Arena isn’t going to be available outside of the US and Germany – something they’ve kept to themselves up to this point. I do find it a bit disappointing that GW have these country-exclusive games, as with Labyrinth of the Necrons last year. It just boggles my mind that they’d go to the trouble of creating a game just for release in one country – why not get as much money as you can off the back of it, and release it worldwide? Bah! Anyway. We’re also getting enemy miniatures, to change up the battlefield from the original game:

These models do look quite beautiful. Six cultists, plus two villain-style minis, with a rag-tag feel that does seem to complement the heroes from this set quite nicely. There’s a parallel between the Rogue Trader and the pirate-queen-style cultist, to my eyes.

There is almost something AoS-y about these new Cultist models, as well, maybe it’s the tusks on flame-pole guy there, or the Daughters of Khaine-style face mask on the other one. It’s always really good to get new Chaos implementations like this, for sure, and I think it’s a good sign for things to come if we’re seeing updates for the Cultists as well (though, a cultist with a grenade launcher? Interesting…)

Blackstone Fortress has definitely been kind to Chaos!

I’m going to assume this will be the big box expansion that we can expect to get around about the 1 year anniversary date, so in the shops in time for Christmas. Hopefully Traitor Command will come out sometime between now and then, to keep us going with more content, and then I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if next year brings us plastic flayed ones, or plastic mandrakes, or some other weird and wonderful corner of the 40k universe! Certainly, I think GW will be using this game to put out miniatures that capitalize on the fact there is a lot of weird out there!

Playing catch-up!

Hey everybody!
It feels like it’s been a while, due to real life intruding quite rudely once again! But I’ve now sold and bought a house, and while playing the waiting game, I thought I’d catch up with some of the new (and not-so-new!) stuff from recent weeks and months!

new stuff!

There has been a lot going on, it seems, with stuff like the Kill Team expansions coming out the other week. Kill Team Elites and the new killzone will be featured in their own blog coming soon, as there is quite a bit to go through there, but suffice it to say, I like this tranche quite a lot! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to pick up the Vigilus Ablaze book, though I suppose I have stalled a bit with my Chaos Space Marines project due to the impending house move, so that does at least kind of explain that. And the Ambull has been out for a while already, but I’ve still only played Blackstone Fortress the once, so I hadn’t really been feeling the need to expand that game quite so soon. In the end, though, my natural curiosity won out and I’ve picked up the big monster to see what I’ve been missing.

I’m actually keen to try out the Fortress again soon – it’s something that I’ve thought about a couple of times since Christmas, as I’m sure I hadn’t been playing it properly when I had that first game! Should definitely make more of an effort there! I don’t feel quite so bad, though, as I had heard that a couple of people in my local group had only just finished the base set campaign and opened the mystery envelope a week or two ago, so that feels like it might have a lot of game in the base set alone!

Of course, we’ve got Traitor Command coming out soon, so that’ll be even more stuff to look forward to! I was recently reading a thread over on boardgamegeek where someone had been decrying the state of expansions with this game, which I thought quite funny as I suppose I just hadn’t been expecting expansions to come out for this game with anywhere near the regularity other people had been expecting! Personally, I was expecting we’d see another expansion, along the lines of a big-box thing with new models and a new campaign, around November this year, and that would be it. We’re already getting different enemies to try with missions of their own, and Combat Arena coming at some time will apparently give us new heroes as well. Warhammer Quest isn’t, to my mind, the sort of game system that will come with multiple expansions month on month. Remember when games like Runebound and Arkham Horror had one small box and one big box every year or so, and otherwise all was quiet? Seems like we’re getting a lot more support for this one already, and we’ve not yet reached the one year anniversary!

I suppose I just find it amusing how expectations have changed, perhaps with the rise of Kickstarters and the ability to get a game and multiple expansions all in one sitting. I realise that I do tend to demonise Kickstarter a lot, but part of me feels like it has spoiled us for how game releases used to be!

Ultimately, though, Blackstone Fortress is a third-tier game for GW, after the big wargames and the skirmish variants of those games, so I think we should all just calm down a bit.

As well as all of this Warhammer goodness, I’ve also decided the time is possibly right to try and get back into Magic! I do this every so often, it seems, dipping out for a couple of sets then coming back and trying to play catch-up. I picked up some boosters for Ravnica Allegiance when I was collecting my Warhammer purchases the other day, and have also ordered some more online, for both Ravnica Allegiance and War of the Spark. Seems like all hell has broken loose since I was last properly in the game, around a year ago! I did pick up a Guilds of Ravnica bundle, but didn’t really spend any time properly looking through the cards due to the set not having many of my favourite Guilds within. Orzhov and Rakdos have returned in Ravnica Allegiance, however, so I thought it might be fun to get back into the swing of things now, and see what’s been going on.

Turns out, a lot! Just looking through the cards in the set for War of the Spark, it seems like that has broken with a lot of tradition by giving us 36 Planeswalker cards, something previously unheard of! It is, however, an “event set”, and shows the culmination of the story from, as far as I can make out, Battle for Zendikar block, when the Gatewatch was first formed. Wow! So there’s a hell of a lot to catch up on, and I think it might be about time to jump in with the new novel, as it feels like there is a lot of story going on here, and I’ve heard rumours that a lot of the Planeswalkers that we’ve seen and enjoyed over the years might actually be dying… The novel is out in August here in the UK, from what I’ve been able to see, so I’m looking forward to picking it up and seeing what I’ve missed! As the first novel set in the multiverse for, I believe, 8 years, it will hopefully be an event!

Planeswalkers, powerful mages from many disparate realities, must unite against the elder dragon Nicol Bolas, who has claimed dominion over Ravnica and is perilously close to completing the spell that will grant him godhood. Now, as dozens of Planeswalkers fight alongside the Gatewatch – led by Chandra Nalaar, Jace Beleren, and Gideon Jura – against Bolas and his relentless army of Eternals, nothing less than the fate of the multiverse is at stake.

Exciting stuff!

MTG Modern Horizons

I’m weirdly also really looking forward to the Modern Horizons set, the first time a set is going to be released directly into Modern (and other non-rotating formats, such as Commander!) I’ve had a brief look through some of the spoilers that have made it into the wild so far, and it was actually these cropping up on instagram that got me looking into the game once again! I’m not into the whole competitive Modern scene, or anything, but I was really enjoying building some decks just with the cards that I have, regardless of Standard, and seeing the interactions etc. So I could see myself picking up some of these in the future!

I do miss my days playing Magic, I have to say. I enjoy the Warhammer stuff, of course, but playing a card game is so much cleaner than fiddling with glues and knives, after all! While I think this pattern of drifting in and out of the game will likely continue for quite some time to come, I can certainly see myself always being around the game, even if it’s just collecting some cards for a nebulous possible future use. I mean, the artwork is just beautiful, and so incredibly evocative. It’s cool that Wizards are making efforts to have a properly-contained story now, as well, so maybe we’ll have more of these event sets in years to come…

It’s the GAMA Trade Show 2019!

Hey everybody!
It’s the GAMA Trade Show, and as I have done in the past, I’ll be keeping an eye on the proceedings to see what we’ve got to look forward to in the coming weeks and months!

First up, it’s none other than Games Workshop, who have just updated their community site with a first look at the next expansion for Kill Team – Elites. I mean, of course they have – not to be too proud of myself, or whatever, but I saw this coming a good while ago

We’re getting all manner of delights here, from terminators (as we can see on the cover) to Drukhari Grotesques! It was almost prescient of me, then, to have just bought a pair of these delights!

For all my cynicism of expanding the game like this, I am actually looking forward to seeing how it continues to grow – the danger, of course, being that it will soon turn into just low-point 40k if it isn’t careful. But so long as we continue to get intelligent choices with reasonable rules behind them, why not, right? Just let me take Lychguard now!

I suppose this also answers the question, where has the Thousand Sons faction box been?

Along with a Kal Jerico model for Necromunda, we’re also getting a Halfling team for Blood Bowl, with promises of more announcements to come in the next couple of days!

…let’s see what else is on offer!!

Next generation of the DC Deck Building Game, with the Rebirth branding? Very cool. Not sure about the more board-gamey aspect with moving cardboard chits around – it is supposed to be a deck building game, after all – but linked campaign scenarios and character progression do sound like they should be a lot of fun. Gonna keep my eye on this one!

You know, I’d forgotten about the two Fortune & Glory expansions until reviewing last year’s GAMA blog, but now that I’ve had my memory jogged, I really feel the need to have them in my life! It feels like Shadows of Brimstone has taken over Flying Frog, and with the third kickstarter for this game currently ongoing, I have to wonder if they have their sights set anywhere near the more traditional games manufacturing route. Not that I’m trying to be bitter or anything, but I do miss their games like Fortune & Glory, and A Touch of Evil. Last year, they were in the middle of making sure the Forbidden Fortress SOBS game was shipped in time, pushing the FANG expansions back to the first quarter of 2019. Well, we’ll just have to wait patiently for something not weird-west related to arrive, I guess!


GAMA day two has arrived, and my goodness, how exciting is this:

Traitor Command, the next Blackstone Fortress expansion, gives us a Traitor Commissar and a Chaos Ogryn, both of whom look delightful gentlemen – and will have 40k rules, to boot! Awesome! Forging alliances with unlikely friends sounds interesting, too…

I’ve said it before, of course, but I really love how GW are using Blackstone Fortress to explore these weird and wonderful bits of the 40k universe. The Commissar in particular looks like a stunning chap, I’m really looking forward to snapping these up when they’re out!

Warcry, the skirmish game set in the AoS universe and first teased a few months back now, has finally been shown off to be really quite the interesting game! Pitting different Chaos warbands against one another, at first it sounded like it might be a bit too exclusive – I mean, what about us Death players, right? But whether Chaos is just the first wave or not, it’s difficult to not be enamoured with at least one of these factions, particularly the cute looking devil-bats! I like it, which I’m a bit sorry about, as I feel like it might well become another juggernaut like Kill Team, and I’m not sure my bank balance can cope with that!

I really like the look of those pit-fighters with the welding masks, they remind me of Haemonculus Covens creations among the Drukhari, and I’m sure plenty of us will be using them for Grotesque conversions as these things move along. The scenery looks pretty amazing, too!

Not sure, of course, but this could tie in with the rumours of Warriors of Chaos/Slaves to Darkness getting an overhaul soon. I suppose we’ll see!


At any rate, that appears to be that! Plenty to look forward to from Games Workshop, who appear to have taken over with their exciting announcements of new stuff! Nothing from FFG, though the distributor Asmodee has announced a deal with Cool Mini Or Not, which may bring those incredible games to the masses (personally I try to avoid CMON as I find it difficult to resist them!)

It almost feels like the landscape of boardgame news has changed, and the big trade shows are no longer that important for getting a picture of what’s coming up next. Even the big daddy of them all, GenCon, hasn’t been that explosive for the last year or two. Is it a result of Kickstarter seemingly taking over the world of boardgame production? Speaking from an entirely personal perspective, it seems like the companies I used to watch – FFG in particular here – just aren’t knocking it out of the park anymore, with nothing really overwhelming me with its excitement. Meanwhile, established companies like Cryptozoic and Flying Frog Productions seem to be using Kickstarter more like their business model than not, and it’s leading to an over-saturation of stuff. Shadows of Brimstone has been a case in point here – when that stuff eventually found its way to me, it was like receiving 5+ years’ worth of expansion material in one hit, and I’m not sure I want that from a board game. Has our modern sense of impatience and always wanting the next thing caught up with us, to the point where we suddenly need everything for a game right now? All of these companies using Kickstarter to distribute games, and somewhat by necessity producing almost an entire game’s run in one go just to ensure the crowdfunding, seems to have led to a point where they just don’t have anything new to announce, because we had it all in one hit a year or two ago.

Makes me wonder what GAMA 2020 will have in store for us…

New Year Open Day 2019!

Ohmygod you guys! Ohmygod! There’s so much good stuff in this latest round of reveals from the New Year Open Day, I just don’t know where to begin! Well, I’ll start at the top, I guess, and go from there…

Genestealer Cults are getting a slew of new and interesting figures, and I just don’t know how to explain how excited I am for these guys! Well, the female magos seems to be a little pandering – I mean, the Magos from Overkill is a classic sculpt, I’m not entirely convinced by this one as she seems a little too… 1950s sci-fi? I don’t know. I really like the mysterious chap with his pimp-cane (seems like GW are really pimping it up after the Delaque chaps arrived) and the vox-hacker chap is also really cool. Not sure about the assassin-type model, either, but anyway.

Someone on the GSC facebook page suggested these might come as something akin to the Court of the Archon for the Dark Eldar, which would make more sense than having a massive selection of different HQs to deal with, but I suspect we might have a similar situation to Space Marine Command Squads, where they’re now separated out into a number of elites slots rather than being fielded as a unit. But I would also like to see them packaged together and come as one, so hope springs eternal on that one.

As well as the bikers, we’re also getting a new terrain piece, which I do like – hopefully we’ll be getting a lot more custom terrain for each force as time goes on. Necrons could do with having something interesting, I feel! It’s certainly an exciting time to be a 40k fan, that’s for sure!

But 40k isn’t the only system getting the love, as we see a new Battle Box for Age of Sigmar coming out, featuring Flesh Eater Courts and Skaven! I’ve recently been thinking about investigating the little rats, as several of their models remind me of the Mechanicus minis, and I think that’s cool. I’ve been thinking about, but ultimately passing over, several of these boxes since we initially had Forgebane, but I think I might well pick this one up and sell off the zombie portion, instead getting a decent start on some Skaven models!

Looks like we’re getting Stormfiends, a Warp Lightning Cannon, a Doomwheel, and the new character model, the Warlock Bombadier. I find it a little bit odd that there’s no infantry for the box set, but then the Skaven models included come to £79.50 without the new character, so I suppose the set is going to retail around £90, and still provide a massive saving. Definitely one for the list, anyway!

I’m also looking forward to some Grots, though given the sheer amount of new stuff being announced here, I think I’m going to not only be planning out very carefully what I end up buying, but also downsizing my collection of existing miniatures in order to make room!

Back to 40k and Kill Team now, with a look at the next batch of good stuff. I’m not honestly all that sure about Kill Team: Arena, as it looks a lot like a rehashing of the Rogue Trader box. Maybe it’ll be worth it for the additional rules content, but the box size initially made me interested, then I saw that the terrain was mainly doors and barrels, with rules for fighting in close quarters. Well, I suppose it might be a cheaper price point than the Rogue Trader box, which might make it worth getting for some, but I might be holding off for the time being, until we see some more.

Interestingly, however, there are two new expansions for the two Kill Teams that came in the original box – an AdMech team that features Sicarians, and a Genestealer Cults team that includes Acolyte Hybrids. Both of them come with a Commander model, though, and the usual sheet of tokens and terrain and whatnot, but I find it interesting how we’re seeing the evolution of the different Team expansions from last year. Commanders is presumably a more integrated part of the game than we’d originally expected, and they’re using this game as a delivery method for new models for the regular 40k game, with the Cult Eastwood gunslinger Primus, alongside a new sort of Tech-Priest, the Manipulus. I’m not 100% sold on the latter, if I’m honest, as he does look a little too much like he was originally intended as a Nurgle model. But maybe he’ll be better in the flesh, or else with a little converting.

I’m glad to see more for Kill Team, for sure, and I hope this new type of expansion could herald my idea for “famous teams” to come further down the line. I especially like the idea that they’re expanding the original two teams from the core set, as that is a fantastic way to build on last year’s box for people new to the game, as well as to get them hooked into buying more for regular 40k in true gateway-drug style!

While that’s all for the stuff that grabbed my attention over on the Community site, there are a few other choice morsels doing the rounds of the internets, including an expansion for the Blackstone Fortress game!

Blackstone Fortress Dreaded Ambull

I’m not that old in the hobby to remember the Ambull from back in the Rogue Trader days, but this has got a lot of people excited! Looking at the additional contents in this picture has got me wondering, though – if we’re having a new ship tile, will we be getting a new Hero to go along with it? And there’s another mystery envelope in this one, as well! How exciting!

I really like the idea of this expansion, and it once again puts me in mind of Shadows of Brimstone, only done correctly. I mean, FFP have definitely worked their socks off for that game, and I don’t mean to be too harsh, but it just didn’t feel anywhere near as polished as it perhaps could have been, possibly due to the amount of stuff they had to do to fulfill peoples’ pledges. But that’s a topic for another blog!

Finally (for now!) we’re getting two plastic Am-bots for Necromunda! Not the Adeptus Arbites, but it’ll do!

And finally, we have what looks like a new kind of Chaos Sorcerer for the Black Legion, presumably coming out when the whole Vigilus 80-day countdown thing comes to a conclusion:

I don’t know if this would happen or not, but I do quite like the idea that he might be a part of a wider Servants of the Abyss release, alongside the Blackstone Fortress goodness that is reputedly coming out in March. I think he certainly looks cool, and I’m thinking I might actually get myself a small Chaos Space Marines force soon! (Who am I kidding, small…!)

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Vigilus will burn. #PaintingWarhammer

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Overall, it’s been incredibly exciting so far this New Year Open Day. I’m really excited to see what’s next from Nottingham, anyway!

2018 in review

Happy New Year, everyone!
It’s time to go all traditional, and all, and look back at my hobby year for 2018!

It’s been quite the year, I have to say! Despite some monumental events, including getting married in September, I’m glad to have been able to keep going with hobby stuff. I’ve definitely built more than I’ve painted, but of course that is always the case, really! Starting really quite early, I built this beautiful beast 12 months ago, though he sadly still languishes in the same state after all this time!

I really need to get a move on and make some decisions as regards my Tyranids.

I’ve done quite well with the Great Reanimation of my Necrons, getting a good number of units painted up, including the beautiful new Cryptek model. I’ve still got a way to go with the army, for sure, but having only had one unit of Immortals painted in the new Thokt dynasty scheme back in 2017, this year has seen a real surge! Splendid stuff.

2018 saw me start a couple of armies, most notably the Tau. I’m in a bit of a weird position with this army now, as I feel like it was a bit of a distraction for me while I was waiting for the Dark Eldar codex. I did enjoy building up the models, for sure, and I think there is still a place for them in my collection, but probably nowhere near as many models as I have ended up with! So I’m going to be looking through both the Tau and Tyranid collections in an effort to thin out some of the dead wood, so to speak, and make sure I only keep enough models for small forces of each that I want to actually play with. Famous last words, probably, but still!

I’ve made significant strides with yet another xenos force, the Genestealer Cults!

I was really quite surprised that I even managed to finish these guys, as I’ve been working at them for a long time now, but always seemed to be putting them off for one reason or another. Kill Team, in that respect, was a good thing for me, as it made me finish painting them up, and indeed to get moving with more models for the force:

Being a horde army, though, I’m still nowhere near to having the required number of models for the force, but I think I’m suitably inspired to keep going. Slow and steady, and all that!

I’ve been steadily progressing with my Dark Eldar, though having painted up pretty much the entire army in 2017, 2018 has definitely been a slower year for the dark kin. I’ve got plenty built up, for sure, mainly due to having formed the plans for the army during 7th edition, but we’ll see how many models get painted during 2019…

In terms of smaller scale games, I’ve painted up some Van Saar gangers for Necromunda, and have started work on the Elucidian Starstriders, but this is where things get interesting, as I started looking back into fantasy after all these years, with the new iteration of Warhammer Underworlds.

It was a lot of fun, and it has led to getting myself into a very ghostly mess!

The Nighthaunt models are beautiful, but I’m also vacillating between Idoneth Deepkin and Chaos Beastmen in creating my first army for the new Age of Sigmar. It’s definitely going to be one of them, though I’ll most likely also be picking up some of these new grots models in time. I do enjoy squigs!

Finally, I’ve been working on some of the Chaos Cultists that I’ve had hanging about for years, inspired by the weird and wonderful underbelly of 40k that we got to glimpse in Blackstone Fortress!

This game was quite the boon to me, as it inspired not only the Cultists but also work on the Electro-Priests that had similarly been hanging about for years – all in all, then, it was very much well-received!

I wonder what 2019 will see for my hobby! Hopefully some of those models that I’ve built up over the last year will see themselves finished!!


I’ve definitely enjoyed my hobby time this year, but in order to make sure I stay focused during the coming year, I’ve drawn up a list of hobby resolutions as a lot of folks have been doing over on instagram:

There is a nice mix, I feel, between some of the more wide-ranging stuff with the Grey Knights and the Nighthaunt, and more focused goals for things like the Neophytes and Doomsday Ark. There is bound to be more that distracts me as the year goes on, of course – I’m looking forward to the Genestealer Cults getting their bikers, for sure! Whether Inquisitors come out for Kill Team is anyone’s guess, though I’m fairly positive I’ll go heavily into this one!

I’m going to be writing up my Hobby Progress blogs on the last day of each month as 2019 goes on, so it should keep me motivated to stay on track. Exciting times ahead, at any rate!!

Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress – first impressions

Hey everybody,
Had my first game with Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress at the weekend, so thought I’d re-institute the Game Day blogs while we run up to the festive period by looking at this beast!

Blackstone Fortress

At its heart, Blackstone Fortress has a lot in common with the earlier Silver Tower game. We have a co-operative adventure for four heroes delving into the labyrinth, with the mechanics of destiny dice and activation dice being common to both iterations. There have been some tweaks, which has led to many people calling Age of Sigmar in general something of a test-bed for 40k and its related games.

I’m not going to call Blackstone Fortress a re-skin, as there is more to it than that. But there are enough similarities between the two so that, if you’re familiar with one, then you’ll be able to get cracking with the other quickly enough. Once I got going with this, I certainly had no problems running the adventure along.

Blackstone Fortress

The biggest draw, for me, was definitely the miniatures. I try not to buy these games purely for the minis, as I want to enjoy the game aspect of the box. I am extremely guilty of having been suckered into this game purely for the fact that the minis look amazing, and so very different to anything we’ve had so far. Negavolt Cultists and Traitor Guard are just fabulous, while plastic Ministorum Priests and Navigators are just phenomenal! One of my driving reasons for picking up the game was that I have a concept for Armies on Parade that a lot of these miniatures really fit into, so in a way I dropped a lot of cash on picking up some minis that look fantastic.

However, the game itself is actually really quite good!

There are some very specific set-up instructions that I don’t remember from Silver Tower, which help to balance the game somewhat and introduce you to things slowly as you begin with the prospect of lower-level adversaries to fight. The game features an in-built levelling system whereby, each time you end an adventure, you add in a Legacy card that either gives you more enemies to fight, or increases the difficulty of the current selection. Combat is not always a given, either – during set-up, you create an encounter deck, which are split into combat and challenges, and it just so happened that I drew a combat to start things off. Challenges are almost out-of-game things where you need to build a tower of dice in 20 seconds, or whatnot. I suppose this is what GW meant when it came to the RPG aspect of things.

Blackstone Fortress

Something else that has an RPG element is the cleanup step at the end of the encounter, called the Precipice step as it involves returning to the main space station where all the adventurers’ ships are docked. There, you get to trade the strange archaeotech you discover for some upgrades – there are six ships included in the core set, and each of them has a distinct flavour, such as bizarre xenos tech on the Rogue Trader’s vessel, military hardware on the Kroot Mercenary’s ship, Prayers and such on the Priest’s vessel, etc. It’s all quite thematic, but I wasn’t entirely sure of the value of a lot of the upgrades – possibly due to the fact it was my first game…

I’d been hoping this game would be something akin to Shadows of Brimstone, though with a better quality of miniature and a much slicker implementation. The gameplay itself is actually really straightforward, and like I said earlier, it wasn’t a huge concern for me once I got going. The structure of the turn is fairly straightforward, if a little packed with stages, and there are some bits that I found myself forgetting at first, such as the Event phase at the end. The main problem, I found, was that the rulebook feels very much like it has been separated into three separate booklets for no good reason. There is the actual Rulebook, which only includes the rules for set-up, and then some advanced rule stuff; the Combat book actually includes most of the rules you’ll need to reference during the main body of the game, and the Precipice book has all of the after-game stuff like buying stuff and whatnot. It felt clunky for the amount of booklets I was leafing through each time, and I do believe it could have been organised much better, with just one big book that also includes the Background material included within a fourth booklet.

Blackstone Fortress

This isn’t a dungeon-crawl in the sense that Silver Tower is, as the Combat cards re-invent the board each time you draw one, and place adversaries for you to overcome. The AI that drives these adversaries is, if I’m honest, fairly basic – being a hex-based map, there are often a lot of decisions to make as to where best to move the adversary, and I can imagine a lot of players would position them in such a way as makes it easier on the explorers. I did like the Reinforcements idea, though, whereby enemy models can potentially always come back, even if you’ve gotten rid of the entire group. I was seconds from getting all of my explorers clear of the maze near the end, when a group of six Traitor Guard reappeared and blocked Thaddeus from joining the others, causing the game to continue another couple of turns. Talk about dramatic!

Blackstone Fortress

I think this is where the game is really going to shine, though, in terms of the storytelling and the drama that it can create when getting these moments in-game. There are a lot of moving parts to this game, and a lot of things to keep track of. While it does work fine as a pure co-op adventure, the rules state that for five players, one will take on the role of a GM almost, and control the adversary groups as well as the additional stuff like Initiative. Doing that, I can see the game being a lot more involved and, dare I say, enjoyable as you feel more like you’re actually fighting against the fortress. But these are my initial thoughts, and increased familiarity with the game might see me change that idea.

Blackstone Fortress

Overall, I think the game is a really good implementation of the Warhammer Quest core ideas. It doesn’t really feel that much like a simple re-skin of Silver Tower, but instead there is so much going on that you really feel in the 40k universe. If you’re already familiar with the setting, then there’s a lot to enjoy as you work your way through the adventure.

I think a lot of people may be a little bit confused, or misled into thinking this is a Legacy-type game, with a lot of mileage out of your actions in one game spilling over into the next. This isn’t a Legacy game in the sense that Pandemic has made us understand it. There is the opportunity to not so much level up your character, but certainly to create a narrative around them in the spirit of an RPG, and you can buy upgrades to add to their abilities.

The confusing aspect, I think, is that there is a Legacy card deck, and GW have made a big thing about the sealed envelope that signifies the hidden heart of the fortress, to be opened only after you’ve defeated four strongholds (basically a more narrative, drawn-out Combat step). Once you’ve done that, you get to open the envelope and find what was waiting for you all that time. I’ve notheard of anybody who has opened one without completing the adventure yet, so at least it has captured some people’s imagination, but this is really where any similarity to the Legacy genre ends.

It’s definitely an enjoyable game, and there are a lot of storytelling possibilities within the game, but the main roadblock for it is the same as that for Silver Tower: you’re paying £95 for a type of game that you can get for probably half that price elsewhere – and where the miniatures come pre-assembled! Unless, like me, you’re invested in the lore, and you love the look of these new miniatures, then I can imagine you’d be better off going elsewhere for your space-faring co-op adventure.

Games Workshop have recently come out to say that there will be expansions, more news of which will be coming in the new year. This is an exciting prospect, as they’re using this game as a way to explore the dark corners of the 40k universe, and based on what they’ve done with this already, I cannot wait to see where they go next with it. I hope we will see some rules to add selected pre-existing miniatures as adversary groups to the game – possibly through card expansion packs, as we only really need the Legacy cards, the Adversary stat cards, and maybe a themed mission or something to bind it all together. I’ve talked in the past how they could use this to introduce something like plastic Flayed Ones, but I don’t know if this could actually happen. However, I also hope we won’t have to wait 12 months before we see another big box for the game. I’d like to see something that basically expands the game with a smaller-scale version of the core set: a couple more explorers, with a couple more adversaries, and maybe a mission or two with the appropriate tiles, etc. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see just how much love they give this game, though!

Join me next week for another Game Day blog, where I’ll be shining the spotlight of awesome on another game from my collection!

Rampant Speculation, and more!

Hey everybody!
It probably hasn’t escaped anybody’s notice that tomorrow is the start of the Vigilus Weekender, a two day event at Warhammer World, where GW are going to announce “something big” for us all. Intrigued? Well, I am!

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Vigilus Calls. The Imperium will answer…

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This “something big” could, of course, be anything. I’ve been reading a lot online where people have suggested it could be the return of Abaddon, or it could be Marneus Calgar as a dreadnought, based on the teaser video GW posted yesterday. Frankly, both of those things could well be true, as it wouldn’t be a massive stretch of the imagination to learn that the Black Legion has shown up on the hotly-contested battleground, and given how sidelined Marneus Calgar was during the Dark Imperium novel, I think it would be so cool to see him come back as a relic dreadnought to really kick some ass.

I suppose the problem with that last could be that it feels like such a huge event, it should be in a novel. Calgar’s last stand, his heroic death and eventual reincarnation in the sarcophagus of a dreadnought – it’s too much to just bring out the model and say, “oh yeah, he’s in there now”. Maybe they’ll announce the tie-in book, though something just feels a little off about that. Sure, there has been a build-up for months now, with all the box sets coming out! But who knows?!

Abaddon and the Black Legion are a very safe bet, as it feels like the Blackstone Fortress stuff is going to be heralding a new age for Chaos. If we don’t get more Chaos Space Marines in the mould of those chaps from the boxed game, then I don’t know anything, anymore! I’ve talked about this extensively in the past, but I would love to see GW come out with a full Black Legion release, making use of the new minis as well as the Chaos Renegades such as Traitor Guard and Beastmen, with maybe some sort of campaign book rather than a full Codex. A Black Legion Codex just seems like a silly thing, to me. I am really excited to see how GW progress with the new models from Blackstone Fortress, however, so I’m probably talking about them a great deal because I’m just so interested!!

Personally, I would love to see the announcement of the Genestealer Cults Codex come out of this weekend. We know that they’re an active force on Vigilus, and while they have only recently had Tooth and Claw devoted to them, I would like to see this be a major thing to come out of the weekend. Preferably with a pre-order to boot! But between a Codex, the new Aberrant models, maybe the new Abominant, and of course the gunslinger Primus, this is a Codex release that would actually feel like a new army release once more. It’s the last of the regular Codexes from 7th edition to have the 8th edition treatment, so why not go out with a bang? We could even be seeing more new releases for the army that we hadn’t been expecting – I mean, who was expecting that Abominant?

Equally, I would love it to be something entirely out of left field, that comes as a complete surprise to us all. Codex: Dark Mechanicum, with a whole new line of models after the Negavolt Cultists!

But it’s most likely to involve Primaris Marines, so there is that…

Anyway! Whatever is involved this weekend, I’m just rubbing my hands with anticipation!

In other news, I’ve picked up my copy of Blackstone Fortress today, and have put together a little unboxing video in the way that I used to for these things! I haven’t made a youtube video for a while now, though that is at least partly due to the fact I was moving house so didn’t get a chance to keep going there. Might get back into it all sometime, once things calm down again! Of course, it feels like there are enough miniatures in the Blackstone Fortress box to keep me busy until Christmas, so I may have other things to occupy my time!

I’ve been busy building some units for the Ravenwing portion of my Dark Angels army that I talked about in some depth the other day, so I currently have the bikers from Dark Vengeance (that I eventually bought from ebay, as I couldn’t find my own – they were a nightmare to fix up, but got there in the end!) and a Talonmaster that was built out of a landspeeder and the Ravenwing upgrade sprue. I’ve also put together this little beauty:

I’ve had this kit for years, and have been recently on the fence as to whether to keep it or not, but having now built it up, I’m really chuffed that I did! It looks amazing, and I can’t wait to get it painted!

I’ve also been building AdMech stuff, which is exciting – I’d previously built a Tech Priest Dominus, but the model broke, so it’s nice to have another one to get painted.

While building both the Tech Priest and the Darkshroud, I was thinking about how amazingly detailed these models are, and how I really want to do them justice. So I’m really looking forward to getting started on them, as a little winter painting project. This hopefully won’t impact too much on the plans I talked about the other day, of course!!

Anyway, it’s been a busy time for building, and with the arrival of Blackstone Fortress, it’s going to be even busier! But I’m really looking forward to seeing what comes next from this weekend’s event!!