Friday, 7 August 2020

Entering the Blackstone Fortress

Questing in the dark

My progress with the core box set so far
I recently started playing Blackstone Fortress with a friend - so far we've only done a couple of delves into the fortress, but it's so much fun!  I've not enjoyed a pick up board game this much since Pandemic Legacy.  If you want a very narrative rich gaming experience with solid gameplay, this is definitely for you!

I definitely have a soft spot for legacy mechanics and Blackstone Fortress uses them thoughtfully without breaking the game.  I have managed to snaffle the expansions as well, but they're staying untouched until we've completed the base game content.  I picked up miniatures for the optional retinue characters as well, but again, they're waiting for us to finish the core box story.

In the mean time, I have been painting the miniatures and I have to say, I've really enjoyed painting them so far!  Each miniature in the set is crammed with intricate details - easily some of the most characterful sculpts Games Workshop have released to date!

I'm taking my time painting these miniatures, staying pretty true to the box art with my own little twists here and there!

The Asuryani Ranger, Amallyn Shadowguide surveys the hallways of the Fortress, noting the skulls of foul Ur-Ghuls littering the dark corridors which await her...
Imperial Robot UR-025 kicks aside an Ork skull as he advances implacably through the darkness
One could almost associate a hidden sentience with this ancient automata...
Sightless Ur-Ghuls skulk in the shadows of the ever changing shadow Fortress, just waiting to drag unwary explorers to their doom...  
A single Ur-Ghul is a deadly foe - a whole pack could mean certain death
A Spindle Drone scans the skull of a long dead adventurer
Silent extensions of the Fortress' alien will, Spindle Drones should not be provoked lightly...

Making 3D Blackstone Fortress Bases

I always like to add some additional character to my bases and these miniatures would be no exception.  I looked at several options, but eventually settled on doing it the hard way!!

If you're a lunatic like me and you want to replicate my bases, you'll need the following:

  • Very fine sand
  • Some small / medium gravel chips (between 2 - 4mm across)
  • Styrene in several thicknesses (I used 0.5mm, 1mm, 2mm, and 3mm thickness)
  • Some skulls (the Games Workshop skulls pack is the holy hobby grail)

Start by sanding the miniature bases relatively flat then glue the miniatures in place as they have tabs which you'll want to cover.

Next, cut some long strips of Styrene.  I cut several 15cm lengths of both the 0.5, 1 and 2mm Styrene, but only a couple of the 3mm thickness as I only use it sparingly.  I deliberately kept the width of these strips irregular (between 3 and 8mm) so that not all of the shapes would be the same size.

The main reoccurring shapes within Blackstone Fortress are triangles, so unsurprisingly, I would recommend cutting the Styrene strips into triangles of different sizes and angles.  You will need a lot of them and it will take a long time, but stick with it and keep the triangles very small as otherwise you won't fit many on the bases.

A note on alternatives: I have seen people 3D print similar bases and toppers, but they are expensive to buy or produce, the quality is generally poor at this scale because of the print grain and most of all, they seem a bit too regular to my eyes.  I know it's not for everyone, but this method does give you far more control over your basing and each one will be a unique 3D construction!

This is about half of what you'll need for the explorer bases.  I also cut a lot of the ones in this picture in half as they were a bit large when I started gluing them down
Once you have a nice range of triangles, start sticking them to the bases with precision plastic glue (liquid poly), trying to keep the triangles an even space and the same angles as one another as they are supposed to look interlocked.  I kept mine approximately half a millimetre apart.

Try to use different thicknesses next to each other as it will give you a nice uneven, stepped effect a bit like the giant's causeway in Ireland.

If you keep this in mind while making your Blackstone Fortress bases, you can't go far wrong
I'd recommend trying to get some of the 0.5mm triangles under the miniature's feet where possible as it will make them seem more like part of the environment.  Once you have finished the triangular jigsaw on each base, add one or two tiny patches of sand (a single spot of superglue is plenty) to each base along with one or two little gravel chips and a skull for flavour.  And that's it!  It takes effort, but it's pretty straightforward!

This tiny base only needed a few triangles and a smidgen of sand...
...whereas this greater possessed offered the opportunity for a more elaborate base!

Painting your Bases

Painting the bases is extremely easy - I have been base coating my Blackstone Fortress miniatures with a bone colour, but white would work in much the same way.  I'd recommend starting with a bone colour as it gives a nice, richer shade on the completed miniature.

Start by painting over the base colour with a 50:50 mix of Nuln Oil & Drakenhof Nightshade to add some contrast to the deeper recesses.

The 50:50 wash adds a little shade to the recesses and flat surfaces
Next, go over the entire base with a nice thick coat of Akhelian Green contrast paint.  You can do two coats for a deeper colour.  I have to say, I adore this paint - I have used it in so many different ways as it gives a beautiful colour over so many different base coats - it's magnificent over silver...

The Akhelian Green immediately adds a nice turquoise colouring with the first coat
A second coat of this contrast paint deepens the colour
Once both coats of the Akhelian Green have fully dried, go over the whole thing with a couple of coats of Soulstone Blue.  This layer gives the base its pleasing shiny two-tone effect.

Two coats of Soulstone blue further deepen the paving colour and recesses while giving a beautiful surface sheen 
Once you've finished with the triangle paving, paint any skulls with screaming skull and a recess wash with Reikland Fleshshade.  Finally, paint the sand and stone chips with Eshin Grey, then lightly drybrush with Dawnstone.
Try to keep the chips and skulls to a minimum so as not to overwhelm the miniature 
And there you have it!  I'd love to hear from anyone that found this little guide useful in the comments below! :)


  1. I love the bases - they look better than the flat ones you usually see. The simple geometric shapes look unnatural and very alien. Perfect for the fortress!

    1. Thanks Xarf - really pleased with how they turned out :)