The hits just keep coming from Games Workshop. Now they’re getting their sweet chocolate Warhammer Quest in their tasty 40k peanut butter with Warhammer Quest: Blackstone Fortress. Yep, it’s a questy board game set in the grim universe of the 41st millennium, and it’s got a little something for everyone.
A Blackstone Fortress, one of the dangerous engines of war left over from an ancient age, has been discovered in the Segmentum Pacificus. The Empire of Man has its hands full dealing with the chaos (quite literally) unleashed by the Great Rift. So it’s up to the Rogue Trader Janus Draik to secure this amazing resource for the Imperium. He’ll recruit a disparate band of adventurers to plumb the fortress’ depths, overcome its dangers, and reveal its secrets. But they’ll need to survive not only the perilous architecture of the alien fortress and its defenders, but also the minions of Chaos who have gotten to the fortress first. And, just to make things more exciting, each of Draik’s allies has their own, personal reasons for coming to the fortress, reasons that might not harmonize with the designs of the Imperium.
Inside the (very large) box, you’ll find a literal horde of plastic minis, a handful of rulebooks, cards of various sorts, and zip-lock bags to store your characters and their associated cards because this is a narrative game of the legacy sort. That means the game will change as you play it; characters will die (in fact, the entire crew of heroes can permanently die leading to a loss for the players), acquire new powers or handicaps, and the state of the game is in constant flux in terms of what baddies and challenges might threaten our heroes. The final challenge of the game comes in a sealed envelope and early reviewers of the game who’ve compared notes have not discovered any duplicates between the boxed sets yet.
Blackstone Fortress is primarily a co-operative game. You can play it solo or with up to three friends with each of you taking control of one or more heroes on each expedition into the fortress. If five of you want to play, the fifth player will control the baddies. If you don’t have a fifth player, you’ll use dice to roll on tables to dictate the moves of baddies.
As you explore the fortress, you’ll draw cards to see what you discover. You might find a reward, but you’re more likely to find challenges (usually rolling dice based on a character’s stat to successfully negotiate a hazard; fail and your characters will suffer, or possibly even perish), or combat encounters. If it’s a combat, it’ll show you how to lay out a small maze of hexes describing different terrain and the spawn points of any baddies. Just what the baddies are depends on the cards you draw. The deeper you go into the fortress, the more, and more dangerous, cards you’ll add to your deck of baddies. Explore the maze, gather treasures, and get out before the potentially endless swarm of baddies swamps you. Once you’re back to the relative safety of Precipice, you can trade your treasures for various goodies randomly drawn for each ship still in the game (and your ships depend on your characters; if the character associated with a ship dies, that ship is no longer available for trading or any other bonuses it provides).
Among the goodies you can find are clues. Collect four to tackle one of the fortress’ strongholds, larger maps with more villains. Conquer four strongholds and you can finally make a try for the vault in its sealed envelope. But each time you return to Precipice, you’ll draw a card from the Legacy deck. Each of these cards changes the game’s rules, usually increasing the challenge for the players. If you draw the last Legacy card before you’ve entered the Vault, you lose the game.
If you’re a fan of the 40k setting, Blackstone Fortress is a treasure trove. We get the fortress itself, a Rogue Trader, a Kroot spaceship, an Imperial Navigator, even an ancient Man of Iron disguised as an Imperial robot. Want cool minis? Blackstone Fortress has plastic traitor guardsmen, wicked-looking spindle drones and, for the first time in I don’t know how long, 40k beastmen! Want to add these new minis to your games of Warhammer 40,000? Can do! Blackstone Fortress includes data sheets for translating all the minis into 40k so you can field them alongside your usual units.
Games Workshop is promising to add more content to Blackstone Fortress in the future, which almost certainly means more minis and heroes and baddies, as well as new cards and possibly even new sealed envelopes. The early buzz on this game is extremely positive, so if you want be sure to get your hands on a copy, talk to the good folks at your local Dragon’s Lair Comics & Fantasy® about pre-ordering your copy today.