PUBLISHER: GAMES WORKSHOP / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Blackstone Fortress is a Warhammer 40,000-themed dungeon crawler game that has been given a lot of love by Games Workshop. There are many expansions of the game, most of which are quite different to each other. The latest box is called No Respite and it introduces a new story and fresh threat to the game. This comes in the form of disease and dismay, all caused by followers of the chaos god, Nurgle.
As you might be able to guess, this is more of a ‘horror’ themed box than previous additions to the game. Our principle antagonists are Plague Marines and their zombie-like minions. The plot is that a series of horrific plagues have hit Fortress, causing the explorers in the ancient alien structure to get sick. The explorers must find a way to stop the sickness from spreading, which mostly means murdering any Nurgle cultist they can find.
This is a very particular mission with a strong story behind it. Unlike some of the other Blackstone Fortress adventures, you’re not wandering around looking for clues. Instead, this is all about the big missions, going into areas and dealing with a serious threat. Nurgle has infected parts of the station with supernatural diseases, ones that will kill the explorers over time if they’re not careful. The result is a more strategic game; you can’t just blast your way through most encounters because your party will get sick and die.
Of all of the expansions, this is the one that causes the most communication and planning. The plagues are interesting and appropriately gross and the tone is more grim and horror inclined, which you should total expect. We also get Sawbones Station, a new space ship card to add to the growing pile of ships that make up Precipice, the ‘home town’ that the heroes go to between adventures. This feature is a firm favourite in the 40K canon, the orang-utan-like alien geniuses the Jokaero. They’re a cool addition to the story, though you do find yourself wishing there was more to them.
No Respite requires both the core set and the Escalation expansion to play, partially because the maps use some of the Escalation tiles and mostly because you’ll need those extra explorers; this game has a strong mortality rate.
The biggest criticism of this set is, unusually, the miniatures. We get Pox Walkers and Death Guard, which are easy to assemble models that you may have seen in other Games Workshop products. There’s nothing actually wrong with the models; they’re supernaturally rotting horrors and look pretty cool in a horror movie sort of way. Alas we’ve come to expect more from Blackstone Fortress models, it would have been nice to have seen zombified versions of another Xenos type for example, or a kit for the Jokaero. On the other hand, if you’ve already got Poxwalker and Death Guard models (and it’s likely you do), then you can now add them to your games of Blackstone Fortress as this set gives you the rules and cards to do so. Overall, a fun expansion with some neat ideas.