Tag Archives: Blackstone Fortress

Blackstone Fortress: Janus Draik

As noted previously my plan for Blackstone Fortress is to start by painting up everything we need to play a game, beginning with anything I can’t proxy from elsewhere in my collection and focusing as much as possible on the basic units first, before moving on to those that only appear in more advanced missions or expansions. Of course I also aim to take a fairly relaxed attitude towards this, so long as everything gets painted to a standard I’m happy with in fairly short order I don’t mind being casual about the process itself.

One of the key things that you require for every game, regardless of the mission played, is a band of heroes willing to enter the alien labyrinth. Regardless of the number of players each game contains a party of four heroes, so with three already painted it made sense to get a fourth finished in order to round out the company. In addition, well-known blogger and one man painting machine Azazel has launched his latest monthly challenge – the Jewel of July – which calls for, amongst other things, the painting of great heroes and other characters so this seemed like a fine opportunity to round out the adventuring party. In our previous games my partner Janice played the navigator Espern Locarno, her brother Tom the robot UR-025, whilst I took the pyromaniacal Pious Vorne. Control of the rogue trader Janus Draik was passed between us. Thus he was the natural choice to be bumped up the queue for a coat of paint. 

Janus Draik Blackstone Fortress Wudugast (1)Janus Draik Blackstone Fortress Wudugast (2)Janus Draik Blackstone Fortress Wudugast (3)Janus Draik Blackstone Fortress Wudugast (4)Janus Draik Blackstone Fortress Wudugast (5)

Like all of the characters from Blackstone Fortress that I’ve tackled so far he was a real joy to paint, the model packed with clever elements with which to convey his personality. Much as I enjoyed novelization of the game by Darius Hinks (perhaps not great literature but well written and solidly entertaining nonetheless) I must confess that his vision of Draik never really gelled with my own. Rather than the tragic figure – generally noble (in both senses of the word) – who has fallen on hard times as the book portrays, I always envisioned him as a high-class bastard, ruthless, cunning, self-interested and self-aggrandising, a profiteering privateer, a ladies’ man, a do-er of derring-do and a buckler of considerable swash. Here, I always thought, was a man always ready to face death armed with nothing but a razor sharp quip – so long as the money was right and there was someone nearby to capture the moment for posterity.

Blackstone Fortress Wudugast

Next up I want to tackle a few other projects by way of a quick palate cleanser, but I’ll be returning to Blackstone Fortress in the near future. Really I should crack on with some more of the adversaries, the decidedly tricky to paint negavolt cultists or perhaps the beastmen. On the other hand it’s very possible that Jewel of July will encourage me in my temptation to paint another character or two – watch this space I guess…

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Blackstone Fortress: Ur-Ghuls

The first time we played Blackstone Fortress the Ur-Ghuls which leapt from the shadows to savage our brave heroes may not have been the unpainted horrors which represented some of the other inhabitants of the fortress, but were instead crypt ghouls – still square based and fresh from the graveyards of Sylvania. Although this was better than some of the proxies we came up with (grots acting as Spindle Drones?! Desperate measures indeed!) it still wasn’t the sort of thing I wanted to tolerate in the long term so, on the grounds that I thought they looked fairly quick and easy to paint, I boosted them up the queue for getting painted.

One thing I wasn’t keen on about them was the duplicate poses. If built as instructed you end up, not with four distinct individuals, but with two pairs of clones. I didn’t think there was any need to make radical changes but I did want to do something about this, adjusting one from each pair slightly so that the end result looked a little more organic. Here’s they are as they looked before they were painted. The original is on the right, the converted version on the left.

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And here they are again, fully painted and ready to prowl the dark corridors of the fortress.

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In order to add a little more diversity I tried to add some variety to their skin tones whilst still keeping them uniformly pale and ghastly.

Ur-Ghuls Blackstone Fortress Wudugast (7)

Next up I’ll try to finish off Janus Draik so that we have a full set of adventurers with which to tackle the fortress, after which I’ll probably try to get the Negavolt Cultists painted. As models I really like them, and there really isn’t a suitable proxy in my collection, so they make a natural choice to prioritise but unfortunately they’re proving to be a real headache to paint so expect much swearing and gnashing of teeth before they’re done…


Cursed In Eternity – Part 4

Since the release of the Chaos Marines back in April I’ve been feeling enthused about painting some more of these murderous power-armoured warriors. However having also set myself the task of painting up the contents of Blackstone Fortress I don’t want to allow myself to become too distracted by other projects just yet. Luckily there is a way to combine the two, by painting the pair of Chaos Marines who serve as henchman to Obsidius Mallex, the terrifying chaos lord who dwells in the heart of the fortress and serves as the games primary bad guy. Thus I’m able to kill two birds with one stone – and they say men can’t multitask!

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Rather than paint the second Blackstone Fortress Marine I decided to add some visual interest and paint one, suitably armed with a bolter of course, that I’d kitbashed based around the new plastic kit. Sooner or later I’ll get around to painting the second Blackstone Fortress chaos marine but for now this guy will do nicely.

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With these two done I’m another step closer to being able to play a game of Blackstone Fortress using only painted models, rather than the shameful display of bare plastic that I inflicted on my (very polite and tolerant) friends last time we played.

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What’s more, when I add them to the two I’ve already painted I have the beginnings of a squad which only needs a champion to be ready for action.

Chaos Marines Convert Or Die Wudugast (9)

Hopefully these two will scratch the chaos marine itch for a little while longer, allowing me to focus my attentions on the other inhabitants of the Blackstone fortress. Of course given the lure of Chaos its almost inevitable that, even with numerous mortal servants of the ruinous powers lurking in the fortress, I’ll find myself painting another power armoured giant or two  before long…


Blackstone Fortress: Espern Locarno

Next to emerge from the labyrinthine depths of the Blackstone Fortress, my partner’s favourite character – Espern Locarno. I must admit, I don’t think she was entirely sure about her choice to begin with but once she saw the kind of effect a glance from a Navigator’s warp-filled third eye has on a hapless traitor guardsman she was sold. Given her enthusiasm for the character I probably should have painted him sooner but, in my defence, I was terrified of messing up the pattern on his cape. It still isn’t perfect but it looks good in hand and that’s good enough for now.

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The Navigator households are one of the most interesting parts of the Imperium for me, and ripe for future exploration by GW’s miniature’s designers. I’m also pleased to see that a novel featuring them, Rites of Passage by Mike Brooks, is forthcoming – given his masterful handling of Necromunda in Wanted: Dead and A Common Ground (itself apparently a prequel to Rites of Passage) this will definitely be on the “to read” list as soon as it’s released.


The Cult of Ruin – Part 6

Next up, something I can only describe as a rabble of Chaos cultists. As I’ve mentioned before work has been particularly crazy recently and, despite actually managing to finish some models last week, painting time has been thin on the ground. Thus when I did manage to claw back some painting time I went for a few “easy wins” and tackled some of the part-painted chaos cultists that have been waiting on the edge of the desk for some time.

First up there’s this savage beastman. I built him a number of years ago (indeed a quick look back into the archives of this blog tells me it was 2015) but he’s spent most of the intervening time with nothing more than a few basecoats to his name. Time to put in the (fairly minimal when it came down to it) extra effort to get him finished and ready to rage through the Underhive in full colour!

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Whilst I was working on him I found my attention drawn to the traitor guardsmen from the Blackstone Fortress box. Now as I’ve previous noted my aim with Blackstone Fortress is to paint up those models that I can’t easily proxy from elsewhere in my collection and then work on the rest – that way we can actually play it with a full set of painted models sooner rather than later. Traitor guard are something which isn’t in short supply so my plan was to shove them to the back and crack on with things like Negavolt Cultists and Ur-Ghuls in the meantime. A good plan sure enough, but not one which survived first contact with the painting desk! After all, it’s all very well to have these organised and sensible aspirations but how could I allow models as cool as these to sit unpainted for long?

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In turn working on these gave me the impetus to go for a few more “easy wins”. All of the above models may well find their way into my long-gestated Chaos Cult gang for Necromunda. When I originally planned this gang last year the idea was that it would be quick and easy to put together, just a case of gathering models I’d already painted and going for it. However I quickly became dissatisfied with this idea. The models I had to hand had mostly been painted several years ago and the quality of the painting really didn’t hold up next to the newer stuff. Thus I picked out several cultists that I wanted to use in the gang and decided to make a start by giving them a quick repaint – and of course having made this plan then proceeded to do absolutely nothing about it.

However with other chaos models on the painting desk and feeling the temptation to do something quick and easy with what little painting time I could scrape together I finally got around giving these three the love and attention they deserve.

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Now I just need to find the time to get this month’s Skaven photographed and write some words about them. Perhaps if I give up sleep…


Blackstone Fortress: Pious Vorne

When we first sat down to play Blackstone Fortress we all grabbed our favourite characters and naturally I went for the mad lady with the flamethrower strapped to a chainsaw. Don’t you judge me! Thus having already painted UR-025, the not-so-Imperial robot, I couldn’t help but continue my love-affair with Pious and paint her next.

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Navigator Espern Locarno (who more than proved his worth by frying enemies aplenty with his soul-stealing third eye) and debonair king-of-style rogue trader Janus Draik, made up the rest of our original party so I may well paint one of them next – or I may decide to mix things up with one of the other heroes.


Blackstone Fortress – UR-025

“Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind”

– Dune; Terminology of the Imperium, Frank Herbert

I’m aware that I’m juggling projects a bit at the moment but I’ve been inspired to try and get my Blackstone Fortress set painted up as soon as possible. Part of the blame (or, more accurately, credit) for this decision has to be laid at the feet of KrautScientist, who has been busy painting up a full set of HeroQuest models – if you’ve not seen this work of art I highly recommend you check it out at once.

As mentioned back when I showed the Spindle Drones I have quite a lot of models kicking around which could stand in for some of the adversaries (traitor guard for instance are not in short supply!) so I’m starting off by trying to fill in the gaps where useful proxies aren’t easily available. Today it’s the turn of one of the most interesting heroes in the set; the Man of Iron UR-025.

Of course this model isn’t just wearing a suit of armour, it is a suit of armour and thus, to my mind, definitely counts towards Azazel’s Armoured April hobby challenge.

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I’ve been curious about the Men of Iron ever since I first heard of them, tucked away in one of the little snippets of text that hint at pre-Imperial history in the 40k setting. We’ve only ever seen hints regarding them before although that in itself was enough to demonstrate how awe-inspiringly terrible they were in all their sun-quenching, planet-devouring might – and by extension how powerful the humans of the Dark Age of Technology must have been to have defeated them. Factor in that the Eldar of that era still regarded the humans as little more than animals scampering for scraps around their feet and we begin to see that, despite the Emperor’s best efforts, by the 40k era we truly are living in the twilight of the gods.

In the war with the Men of Iron we see that once again humanity ended up battling with the weapons that outgrew them, just as they would go on to do to the Thunder Warriors and Space Marine Legions. Those chapters still loyal to the Throne beware!

Then again, although one of the key narrative points of the 40k setting is the Imperium’s struggle to make do and mend, facing the horrors of the galaxy without access to the technologies they once possessed, what little we’ve seen of the Men of Iron at their height should be more than enough to confirm that some things really are best forgotten!

UR-025 Blackstone Wudugast (3)

“War to the death should be instantly proclaimed against them. Every machine of every sort should be destroyed by the well-wisher of his species. Let there be no exceptions made, no quarter shown; let us at once go back to the primeval condition of the race.”

– Darwin Among The Machines, Samuel Butler

UR-025 isn’t about to single-handedly bring the Imperium to it’s knees of course (or is it?). It’s just a friendly robot, a survivor from a lost age, trying to make its way through a hostile galaxy, isn’t it? Wouldn’t that be a surprise for Abaddon and Guilliman alike if it managed to turn the Blackstone Fortress into a factory for making new Men of Iron and the galaxy fell, not to the daemons of the Warp or to a horde of hostile xenos, but to the return of humanity’s first spurned angels?

All that aside I think it’s very unlikely we’ll be seeing the Men of Iron return to the setting in a big way (although of course I may find myself eating my words). Rather I prefer them lurking in the corners, hidden by thousands of years of corrupted history or vanished off the edges of the map, into the dark spaces of the galaxy where human feet do not tread, where the lone survivor of a long ended war can live in peace, free from the depredations and paranoia of the species that spawned it.

“I am not a machine as you would understand, I am not a slave. I am not a thing. I am beyond and above you. I am a Man of Iron. And I am free.”

– UR-025, in the short story Man of Iron by Guy Haley