Entering the Blackstone Fortress – Part One

After receiving Blackstone Fortress for my birthday back in April, I’ve managed to create a seemingly endless list of diversions to prevent me from getting started on the monstrous 44-miniature boxed set. Whether it’s working to event deadlines1 or simply needing to keep up the momentum on some very long running projects, it felt like there was always another excuse not to get cracking on the boxed game. But no longer! The time has finally come to enter the Blackstone Fortress.

Blackstone Fortress released around around the holiday period in 2018 to a decent amount of fanfare from the GW crowd. Not only did was game itself more realised and fleshed out than the previous Sigmar-centric iterations of Warhammer Quest, but the contents of the box drew quite a lot of attention. The star of the show was always going to be the miniatures – a whopping 44 brand new plastic Citadel miniatures from the Warhammer 40,000 universe, every millimetre as rich with detail as you’d expect from Games Workshop. Beyond the miniatures, it was clear that BSF was so much more than a glorified Start Collecting! box. Every component of the game was presented immaculately – beautiful, modular game tiles, a range of specialist dice, several decks of full-colour cards, a number of rules booklets detailing separate elements of the game, plus some attractive quality of life tools such as an Initiative Timeline and Line of Sight ruler. At the time, I remember thinking that it all looked great, but when would I find the time to paint up another full-boxed game? I allowed myself to salivate for just a moment before I put my foot down on the hype and moved on with my life.

It would be around three more months before I turned my gaze towards Blackstone Fortress again. I was not long out of a Horus Heresy event and thinking once again about the greater universe and lore of Warhammer 40,000. I found myself on the Games Workshop website looking at BSF again, as if for the first time. In that moment, it started to hit home just what a tour de force of the greater 40K universe this boxed game really was. As if the setting – a Blackstone Fortress – was not niche enough, the adventurers included everything from Rogue Traders and Navigators to Kroot Trackers, Ecclesiarchy Priests and a bloody Man of Iron. The enemies came from an equally rich stock, including everything from Ur-Ghuls to Dark Mechanicum and Rogue Psykers. It’s a fascinating and diverse cast, ranging from niche Rogue Trader cameos to fringe and underutilized elements from factions present in the setting to this day. Even the Asartes models in the box presented a modern yet familiar new take on the flagging Chaos Space Marines kit that was still in production at the time.

Still, the reality of having to paint all of these miniatures was so painfully clear to me; given all my planned projects for the year, I still wasn’t convinced I could fit it in. I decided to stop overthinking things and threw it up on my Amazon Wish List that I put together ahead of birthdays and Christmases, not really expecting anything to come of it. A month later, I turned 30 – and to my delight, found that my mother had bought it for my birthday.

And so it transpired that – like many wargamer before me – I would pour over the box in excitement before squirrelling it away in the cupboard for some mythical date when my backlog would be clear. Days passed. Weeks. Months. Projects came and went – some overdue, others more… spontaneous. After 6 months in limbo, the stars had finally aligned – I was ready to do Blackstone Fortress justice.

A huge project like this needs some sort of game plan. A strategy for how to tackle it, to break it into achievable little chunks so as to not be so overwhelming. After some light research, I learned that at very least the first mission would only require 4 Explorers, 4 Ur-Ghuls, 4 Spindle Drones, 4 Negavolt Cultists and 14 Traitor Guardsmen. At 30 miniatures out of 44, it’s hardly a bite sized chunk – but every little helps when you’re trying to motivate yourself.

The next topic of internal debate was what level I would attempt to paint these miniatures to. This was a game that I was very much invested in playing, and after 6 months on the backburner I was feeling a little impatient to get it on the tabletop. 44 miniatures is quite a lot to get through. Still, to race my way through the kit would feel like a disservice to the quality of sculpts within. After much deliberation, I decided to treat the set like any other army project: batch painting the ‘Troops’ and spending a little longer on the Heroes. Lucky for me, with the exception of the Traitor Guardsmen, no one group of enemies came in greater numbers than 4, which goes a long way to keeping things fresh.

With my plan in place, I set about assembling everything. This was pretty trivial – they are all snap fit miniatures, and two of the sprues in the set are duplicates. I clipped them, glued them together with polystyrene cement, filled their gaps, and scraped the mould lines. Now I was ready to paint, so I did what any hot blooded gamer would do at this stage – I decided to pop out all of the game board pieces from the card sheets instead.

The best photo I could find on my phone showcasing the painted tile edges. Oh, and spoiler alert – those are my first four Explorers.

It was at this point I noticed how much I detest the exposed cardboard on the sides of these tiles. When the rest of the tile is a beautiful high resolution print, those gross, fibrous brown/grey edges just feel cheap and immersion breaking. My solution, thus, was to paint them. I squeezed out what felt like half a bottle of Vallejo Model Color Black onto my wet palette, mixed in a little water and went to town on the edges of my card assets with my size 1 Raphael 8404. This proved to be a lot more time consuming than I anticipated (there are a LOT of card assets in this game), but at least it wasn’t challenging. A nice benefit of the satin finish on the game tiles was how trivial this made wiping away any excess paint that got onto the tile faces. Ye gods though, it took hours.

You can probably imagine how silly I felt when a few weeks later I read about someone using a black marker pen to quickly and efficiently colour the edges of their board game tiles. I can’t speak from experience as to whether this would produce a better or worse finish than my acrylic paints, but I must admit it seems like it would work out a lot faster.

Having completely exhausted my productive procrastination options, there was nothing for it but to finally put brush to miniature. To get the ball rolling, I decided to pick off the lowest hanging fruit in the box set – the 4 Spindle Drones.

These models were every bit as trivial to paint as they look. The details are crisp enough and the expanses large enough that you could have a lot of fun blending and shading these miniatures if you were that way inclined, but they also look pretty good with a quick wash and a little highlighting.

I chose the latter. To begin, I applied a couple thin coats of Vallejo Metal Color Silver followed by a quick wash with Nuln Oil. After this had dried, I then glazed the metal with a 50:50 mix of Biel Tan Green and Guilliman Blue. This blend of Wash and Glaze creates dark turquoise glaze with a tendency to pull toward the recesses like wash, helping to tint the metal a spooky turquoise/teal in a manner that looked natural over the curved expanses. I then picked out the edges with Army Painter Shining Silver to finish the metallics.

I painted the exposed wiring on the back in Vallejo Game Heavy Red, highlighted with a Heavy Red/Elfic Flesh mix and shaded with Carroburg Crimson. The lenses were painted just like I do the lenses on my Space Wolves’ vehicles – increasingly smaller dots of Heavy Red, Orange Fire, Filthy Brown and finally Elfic Flesh. This technique has served me well on over 10,000 points of Space Marines and beyond, but admittedly it does look a little cartoonish. Maybe something worth working on improving in 2020.

The bases were probably the most time consuming part of these miniatures, broadly following Duncan from Warhammer TV’s advice on this, albeit with somewhat different colours based on what I had on hand. They turned out.. Okay. I prefer how this looks on the game tiles over simply texturing the bases with Vallejo Black Lava like any other army, but free handing straight lines is hard, man. Truth be told, I was slightly hoping that Secret Weapon’s HD Bases line was going to be out by the time I got around to painting this kit; their Fractal Black bases would have been perfect for this job – and considerably better looking than anything I could accomplish in a reasonably timescale. Ah well – the absence of texture on these bases means it shouldn’t be too hard to rebase them down the line.

Next up – and in fact finished over the same evening – were the Ur-Ghuls.

I started from a base of Hycote White Primer and started applying washes. The bulk of the flesh was washed with Guilliman Blue mixed with Biel Tan Green, while the hands were done with a mix of Bloodletter Red and Drakenhof Nightshade. I did my best at this step to try and wet blend where the two colours met at the wrists and knees a little, though this wasn’t especially crucial as any imperfections would be concealed by the next step.

When the washes were dry, I gave the models an all-over drybrush of Vallejo Game Verdigris, adding Elfic Flesh to the brush as I approached the hands and feet. This looked okay, but it left some pretty obvious brushstrokes. I tried to fix it with a little subsequent washing and relayering, with some more deliberate highlighting on the most defined muscles and spinal notches to clean things up a little bit. It helped a little, and at arms length they do look the part. Far from perfect, but at least the reddish hands and feet blended in quite naturally in the end, which is pretty satisfying.

My final ‘easy win’ of the box was the four Negavolt Cultists. Bit of flesh, bit of metallics. Little bit of loincloth. Nice and easy.

After priming in white, I went after the metallics. This was due to these minis having a lot of hard to reach metallic bits and pieces – such as between the coils on the backpacks – and I tend to get a bit sloppy with my brushwork when I’m trying to basecoat deep recesses. The other reason was that they would be getting pretty aggressively washed – for this same reason – and this was more likely to spill over and stain the flesh had I done that first than the other way around. Other than that, they were pretty much run of the mill – throw some Army Painter Plate Mail Metal and Vallejo Brassy Brass onto various metal components, drown the lot in Agrax Earthshade, clean up the Brass with a little layering and pick out the edges with Shining Silver.

For the skin, I knew wanted something that looked sick and tainted – these are Dark Mechanicum after all. It’s broadly known that bio-augmentation or Chaos worship are generally bad for your well being in their own right, so combining the two probably isn’t going to result in a glowing tan. To achieve a sickly looking hue, I applied lessons that I’d learned from my recent experiments in Blanchitsu, starting from a basecoat of Vallejo Game Dead Flesh, washing with 50:50 Athonian Camoshade and Reikland Fleshshade, and finally layering up with Dead Flesh and Elfic Flesh.

The final step was the red cloth, which I painted the same as the wiring on my Spindle Drones – Heavy Red, layered with Heavy Red mixed with Elfic Flesh and washed with Carroburg Crimson. Paint the base, spray with Dullcote, and finished!

At this point, I was feeling pretty good about my progress – just three and a half nights of painting had yielded 12 painted miniatures, which accounts for over 25% of the entire boxed game and almost half of the total adversaries needed to play the first scenario. The dreaded 14 Traitor Guard still loomed ahead of me, however.

Rather than jump right into that slog, I decided instead to start painting some Explorers!

The great thing about the Explorers of Blackstone Fortress is that while the set contains 8 of them (comprising of 9 miniatures total), you only need to get 4 painted to start playing. After some consideration, I decided that I wanted my starting party to comprise of Janus Draik, Espern Locaro, UR-025 and Amalyn Shadowguide – honestly, I’m not sure you can pick a bad party out of the 8 Explorers, but I felt like this one had a little bit of everything – including Xenos presence (Eldar), obscure references to old 40K lore (Men of Iron), a sensible leader (Rogue Trader) and an OK balance of RPG archetypes (DPS and Tank Warriors, Mage, Ranger). I was tempted to drop UR-025 in favour of Taddius to hit that sweet Warrior/Mage/Priest/Ranger balance, but ultimately the prospect of having a playable Man of Iron conquered even my love of the Ecclesiarchy.

Anyway, the first Explorer I decided to paint was Amalyn Shadowguide. I was quite looking forward to this one – Eldar is largely outside of my wheelhouse, and having just smashed out 12 quick adversaries, I was looking forward to focussing on a single miniature over the next evening or two.

Oh, how wrong I was. To paint, this miniature wasn’t so bad – I struggled a good bit with getting the shading on her robes, and then there was the sword, but my single biggest issue was the miniature itself. See, while cutting off the sprue and mould lines, I managed to snap the incredibly long and spindly barrel on her sniper rifle – it was too thin to drill a hole to pin together, so I had to resort to plastic and CA glue to get it to stick. This of course means that the rifle is now incredibly fragile – and every time I dropped this mini during painting, or didn’t take quite enough care picking her up, I’d snap the barrel again. And again. And again. And every time, reattaching it was.. Argh. It’s small and fiddly and not trivial to line up perfectly. Even after reattaching I had to file down the excess glue or uneven plastic, trying desperately not to snap it again in the process. The whole experience just sort of took all the fun out of painting this miniature.

But enough negativity. Let’s get onto the good bits. Being that I wanted to focus a little longer on my Hero models than the quickly bashed out adversaries, I decided the thing to take this model up a notch would be to paint her sword in that classic shimmering power sword style. This technique – which essentially boils down to blending a quartered pattern of white and your colour of choice then carefully edge highlighting with white – was pretty much entirely new to me, so that was a real learning experience. Unsurprisingly, it took me pretty much my whole first night of painting to get it finished and it turned out… Okay. Frustratingly, I actually did a much better job on my first attempt, but managed to splash some wash on the sword and failed to notice until the tiny splotches had dried. My second attempt that you’re seeing here turned out considerably darker with a worse spectrum of contrast and some kind of thick paint on one side. I’m still a little tempted to scrape it off and try again after I finish painting the rest of the adversaries.

The other notable area on this miniature is probably the freehand thorn design on the back of the robes. I hadn’t really intended to do anything like that, but in truth I just wasn’t quite happy enough with how the robes were turning out at the time. I figured an extra visual feature might help improve the overall look. My attempt at a thorn pattern is a little less subtle than ‘Eavy Metal’s version, but at this point I just really didn’t want to mess up the model by going too far out of my comfort zone. To achieve the thorns, I painted them on in black first, then went over again in Vallejo Game Shadow Grey, adding a little White in over the most folded/raised areas. The design was simple – wavy line across the bottom of the robe, then with thorns painted on by painting smaller curves coming out of it while slowly lifting the brush away to get a point. After the black “outline” was drawn, I did it all again in the grey/white layer to get the nicely defined/outlined look. It’s worth saying this didn’t always work out first time, and I had to tidy up some edges with more black or green or white until it looked tidy and deliberate.

Beyond the sword and the freehand, everything else was business as usual. The armour was white, shaded with thinned down Nuln Oil then layered with Shadow Grey and edged with White. The leathers were done with my usual technique of Vallejo Game Dark Skintone, Leather Brown, Elfic Flesh and Seraphim Sepia. And so on.

Next up after Amalyn was UR-025. I decided to tackle this guy next because.. well, I thought he would be quick and easy. After all the headaches that painting Amalyn’s sword or her gun snapping caused, I just wanted an easy win that wouldn’t demand too much of me.

I decided that I would paint UR-025 in a yellow colour scheme, rather than the pastel Sea Foam Green on the box art – and notably, this was the only miniature that I diverged from the box art this with so (as of Part 1 anyway). I had a couple of reasons – my initial party had green from Amalyn, it was going to have red and blue from Janus Draik, and purple from Espern. Yellow just seemed a good way to round out the colour palette. The other reason was that wasn’t sure I owned any appropriate colours to paint UR-025 like the box art, so you could say I was making do. Onto the process!

The first thing that I did was pick out all of the metallic areas with Vallejo Metal Color Silver, and wash with Nuln Oil. This included gun barrels, cabling and the exposed skeletal frame behind his legs and under his arms. When this has dried and the messy edges were cleaned up with some White, I applied the yellow to his armour plating – an all over coverage of Vallejo Yellow Ink, followed by a wash with Casandora Yellow wash to shade it all appropriately. To complete the yellow, I picked out the yellow edges with Elfic Flesh and the metallics with Army Painter Shining Silver.

This pretty much covered the main colours, leaving just the various embellishments. I painted his head dome in black for a bit of contrast, picked out the various lights and lenses with my usual technique and broke up the silver with a little Vallejo Game Brassy Brass, highlighted with Shining Silver and washed with Reikland Fleshshade.

As a final touch, I attempted some chipping/weathering like on my Iron Warriors by sponging on some Typhus Corrosion followed by Army Painter Plate Mail. It didn’t really work out as well as I’d hoped – maybe my sponge was too wet, but it reads a little more as grubby than it does chipped and battered. I might go back and redo the plates at a later date (it wasn’t exactly a huge effort to paint), but for the time being I was happy to call it a day and move on.

And so I moved onto Rogue Trader Janus Draik. After the relatively quick and dirty job I did on UR-025, I fancied another go at something a little more intricate, and you don’t get much more intricate than this guy. Thankfully, I hit my stride a bit by this point, and for the most part things went according to plan.

Let’s get the things that didn’t go so well out of the way. For one, the lining of his coat was a real pain to deal with. The external folds were fine – the usual Heavy Red, Elfic Flesh tinted Heavy Red highlights, Carroburg Crimson wash – but getting my brush angled to reach the inside of his coat tails nearly drove me mad. Suffice to say I didn’t bother shading those. Another area that didn’t necessarily go badly but doesn’t look as good as I think it could is his furry scarf thing. This I painted in my usual technique for fur – Beasty Brown, Leather Brown and Elfic Flesh drybrushing, then a Seraphim Sepia wash. It’s a venerable process that I’ve been using for years now and it’s starting to look a bit dated and basic. Perhaps another area to work on in 2020.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. I was pretty happy with how his face and flesh turned out – another venerable process of mine starting from Rosy Flesh, layered Pale Flesh and edged Elfic Flesh before washing everything with a thin coat of Reikland Fleshshade, and finishing with some extreme highlights in Elfic Flesh. Quick and easy and looks great.

I was also extremely happy with how his trousers turned out – this was a simple job. Imperial Blue, highlighted with a little Elfic Flesh mixed in2 for the stripes and the folds, then washed with Drakenhof Nightshade. The final step was to highlight the folds again – this helped keep them distinct as lighting. The shaded lighter blue stripes on the trousers felt like more of a pattern/change in texture, thanks to the Nightshade wash both bringing the tones a little closer together, but also shading both colours uniformly. It’s a nice subtle detail, I thought.

For the exterior of the coat, I basecoated it in Vallejo Game Turquoise and gave it a few recess washes with Drakenhof Nightshade. After this, I started applying smaller and smaller successive layers at the most exposed areas, all the while mixing Electric Blue and then Elfic Flesh into the paint as the highlights became more and more extreme – not dissimilar to how I paint my Middle-earth Elves or my Stormcast Eternals. Call me crazy, but I really like the “digital” gradient that layering produces (as opposed to the more “analogue” blends achieved with airbrushing or wet blending). It’s imperfect, but it’s also so cool how the brain fills in the gaps at arms length for you.

The final hurdle was Draik’s power rapier. I’ll admit, I went into painting this thing with no small amount of trepidation after Amalyn’s caused me so many headaches. I’m happy to say however that – for whatever reason – this time went really well. Perhaps it was the simplicity of a straight sword with flat and defined edges, but I’m reasonably pleased with the results – and it ended up not really taking all that much time at all. This time, it was a case of applying thin glazes of Magic Blue over a white power sword, then glazing Drakenhof Nightshade towards the extremes – with each side painted in the same quartered blending pattern. To finish, I carefully picked out the edges with White and called it a day. The experience was pretty invigorating, and I’m feeling much more confident about redoing Amalyn’s sword in the future.

Ah, Espern Locarno. While each of the three prior Explorers gave me some amount of grief – be it Amalyn’s power sword or her constantly snapping sniper rifle, the disappointing weathering on UR-025 or the difficult to reach areas of Janus Draik and constantly chipping tip of his rapier – Espern Locaro was a joy to paint from start to finish. A sturdy, single-piece miniature with a defined cloak and clean and crisp details, the Navigator was smooth sailing from start to finish As a matter of fact, I finished him in record time – in considerably less than a full evening.

I started with a white primer and laid down the initial layer of Vallejo Game Royal Purple, along with some Army Painter Plate Mail and Greedy Gold over the metallics. After a quick wash of Druchii Violet over the purples, Nuln Oil on the silvers and Reikland Fleshshade on the gold, I started getting the rest of the base colours blocked out. His scrollwork across the front and purity seal on his back were given three thin coats of Elfic Flesh followed by a light wash of Seraphim Sepia, and the robe lining painted Turquoise and pin washed with Drakenhof Nightshade in the recess. The last base coats were picking out the emblem on the back of the robe in Greedy Gold and the wax of the purity seal in Heavy Red. After a quick wash of Reikland Fleshshade on both of these details, the base coats were down – with minimal wash running or colour bleeding, thanks to the deliberate order that I tackled these individual steps.

Shading and highlighting the robes was an absolute doddle. The wash settled perfectly between the various folds and creases. In fact, all I had to do to finish shading was add a couple glazes of Army Painter Purple Quickshade in the broad, sunken areas where a bigger pool of wash would have been liable to run. As for highlighting, I picked out the folds and creases with Heavy Purple mixed with a little Elfic Flesh once, and then again with a little more Elfic Flesh on the most extreme points. The only remotely challenging part on this miniature was highlighting the edges around the filigree on Espern’s cloak. Even this wasn’t too bad, though. I highlighted it in the same manner as the rest of the cloak, using Royal Purple to both tidy up my lines and provide another mid tone between the highlight and the washed-tinted base colour.

The metallics were executed almost exactly as any of my previous – both the Greedy Gold and Plate Mail were edged with Shining Silver, with the Gold getting a quick relayer first to brighten it back up. As a final touch, I put a few very small dots of Nihilakh Oxide into the deepest corners and recesses, just to add a little extra visual interest.

The last major feature was the scrollwork. First, I very carefully picked out the edges of the paper on with Elfic Flesh, then going over the corners and sharpest edges with White. To finish, I painted some squiggly lines as fine as I could with some Vallejo Game Charcoal. I did this with the tip of my G&G Katana that I won as part of the Best Painted prize at The Scouring of Stirlingshire3 this year, which was a pretty fun learning experience. With my love of (read: addiction to) purchasing gear4, I really can’t believe I never bought one of these for myself!

For the finishing touches, I highlighted the purity seal in the usual fashion for Heavy Red and painted the Navigator’s third eye with Vallejo Game Livery Green, dotted with White and washed with Biel Tan green. After painting the base, the first four explorers were done and dusted!

The first 7 Traitor Guardsmen. I didn’t bother photographing the second set as there really wasn’t much discernible difference between the two batches, other than Sergeant #2 having a red rag instead of a brown. I’ll get a photo of all 14 together when I finish the whole box!

At this point, there was no more putting it off – it was time to get paint on those 14 Traitor Guardsmen. I was coming at these guys with a mixture of excitement and dread. On one hand, these guys were by a country mile my favourite sculpts out of the whole box. While I’m a huge fan of both the metal Steel Legion and Vostroyans sculpts, I’ve always5 had a bit of a problem with how dated and poorly proportioned the Cadian Shock Troops look, despite thoroughly enjoying their overall ‘generic sci-fi soldier in flak armour and fatigues’ aesthetics. These guys look like some sort of glorious mix of Cadians and Steel Legion – with armour and fatigues, helmets and gas masks – only with crisp modern details and proportions (although they do stand a little taller than Cadians to achieve this). That alone would do it for me, but the various trophy racks, furs, rags and skull mask features strewn across the 7 individual sculpts really help elevate these guys to something special. I love them.

On the other hand, there’s 14 of them – 7 of which are identical twins – and there’s quite a lot of detail to get through on every one of them. This was not going to get done in a single evening.

I decided that the correct approach was to batch them in two groups of 7. While I’ve certainly batch painted in greater numbers than this in the past, it’s generally been on way less detailed miniatures. Things like Plaguebearers or Space Marines are at least 60% one colour, making it really easy to blast your way through the base colour, then sections of details such as armour trim or claws and horns. You’d be hard pressed to find more than a couple square millimetres of any individual colour on the Traitor Guard, on the other hand. 7 at a time was more than enough.

On the upside, many of the colours on these miniatures had been figured out already on previous miniatures. The skin was painted with the same approach as on Janus, the red rags as on my Negavolt Cultists, the dark leather straps and boots as on Amalyn and the black flak armour painted in the same manner as Janus Draik’s boots or Amalyn’s sniper rifle6. No surprises on the metallics either, or the base for that matter.

That just left painting the wooden-casings on the lasguns (AK-40,000s) and the fatigues. The lasgun casings (and wooden clubs for that matter) were pretty trivial – Dark Fleshtone as a base, with a few thin lines running across the grain in Leather Brown and then Elfic Flesh, before giving the whole thing a wash in Seraphim Sepia to shade it all back down.

I wanted to keep the fatigues in various shades of brown, but I would need two more distinct shades – the fatigues had to be different from the trousers had to be different from the boots. With the boots based in Dark Fleshtone, I started with Leather Brown for the trousers and Khaki for the fatigues. The trousers were then layered with a 50:50 mix of Leather Brown and Elfic Fleshtone before getting edged on the harshest folds and creases, then washed with Seraphim Sepia to bring it all together again (you might be sensing a pattern here). The fatigues however were washed immediately with Seraphim Sepia, and then layered again with Khaki and followed up with a highlight of Elfic Flesh. Instead of painting just the edge itself, I painted a number of thin lines coming up from the edge, reducing pressure and tapering off a few millimetres in – producing a feathered pattern and a smoother, less immediate highlight. This gave the cotton fatigues something of a ragged appearance, in contrast to the smooth flat highlights of the leathers.

As a final touch, I applied a little Blood for the Blood God effect to their weapons and fatigues after taking them outside to varnish. It felt fitting, given the brutal aesthetic of the Guardsmen, but also helped me conceal a couple of mistakes I hadn’t noticed while batch painting. Bonus. With that, my Traitor Guardsmen were finished.

So, that’s it for Part One of Entering the Blackstone Fortress. With 4 of the Explorers, the Spindle Drones, Ur-Ghuls, Negavolt Cultists and Traitor Guardsmen finished, I can now start my journey into the Blackstone Fortress without having to use any unpainted miniatures – which seems like as good a place as any to break for part one. Next time, I’ll be tackling the Rogue Psykers, Beastmen, Chaos Space Marines and Obsideus Mallex himself – along with the 4 remaining Explorers, of course.

As always, thanks for reading – and happy wargaming!

1 Although somewhat disastrously in the case of my Creeping Scourge army for The Horus Heresy, I managed to find myself both sick and in the middle of an equally disastrous house move. Still need to get that first game in with the army.

2 Are you bored of reading about me mixing in Elfic Flesh yet?

3 I managed to win Best Painted by the skin of my teeth on the tiebreaker with my Rivendell and Angmar armies. Probably the highlight of my whole time in wargaming – the Scouring of Stirlingshire is easily the biggest event I’ve ever won an award at (with a whopping 60 participants) and the competition was fierce. Credit to the TO’s Chris, David and Rebecca for the pretty great prize support

4 Hobby tools and paints are like rulebooks and supplements in the sense that they let you scratch the urge to buy something hobby related without adding to the pile of shame. This is how – until this last month or so where I’ve ended up amassing two unpainted armies for Middle-earth – I’ve managed to go this long without owning too many unpainted miniatures. This is also how I’ve managed to collect almost every colour in the Vallejo Game Color paint range, despite never opening a third of them.

5 Where ‘always’ means 2016 and beyond – I absolutely loved those plastic Cadians on release.

6 I realise I never actually covered either, but in both cases they were somewhat messily edge highlighted with Mechanicus Standard Grey, then washed with Nuln Oil, more cleanly edged with Vallejo Game Heavy Bluegrey and dotted on the extreme edges with Shadow Grey.

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