Blackstone Fortress: Deadly Alliance and the Versatility of The Archivist
Inquisitor Plexus Romadi of the Ordos Chronos steps off of the Thunderhawk with his retinue. Surrounded by his ten armed acolytes, he walks off the ramp with an entitled sense of royalty and a feeling of relief as entry into the atmosphere of a planet moving backwards in time just does not feel normal. Captain Furio Faustian of the Angels Encarmine leading the assault of the planet, is unmoved by the presence of this Inquisitor and disgusted as he now has to follow the orders of the Ordos Chronos. Shortly after the Inquisitor steps off the ship, a large figure appears on the ramp of the Thunderhawk. It’s reptilian in nature with a respirator and other bits of technology attached to it that the Captain cannot identify. The Captain has only heard of this form of Xenos but has never seen one with his own eyes. The Zoat is carrying some form of measuring device it keeps aiming towards the sky and then towards the ground. No, this is not some failed short story submitted to Black Library. This is a portion of the ongoing Warhammer 40K campaign I have running in my house for the multitude of children that are always over learning wargaming.
Deadly Alliance is the latest expansion to the Warhammer Quest game: Blackstone Fortress, taking you into a portion of the Fortress known as The Seethe. This expansion requires a copy of the core game and a copy of the Escalation expansion to play. The box comes with an array of items to accompany the game. The obvious attraction of this expansion is the character that comes along with it known as The Archivist. The Archivist is a Zoat. What is a Zoat? Think of a crocodile or even some dinosaur-esque reptile with a similar body to a centaur. Zoats are a race that are possibly on the verge of extinction across the universe. Zoats could also just be spread out across the universe in their nomadic ways with whatever intent meets their desires. Either way, they are rare and this is an opportunity to put one on the table in your personal gaming sessions.
The Archivist’s sprue is only 16 pieces, leading to an assembly time of roughly under an hour depending on how fast or meticulous you are with gluing models. The detail within the model is beautiful; with its reptilian scales and cybernetic themed technology. The rest of the box comes with a 24 page booklet, a Shardcell sheet, an assembly guide, a punch board, 12 Discovery cards, 15 Exploration cards, three Forerunner Relic cards, a Retinue Character Card, a Trust card, and a sealed Shardcell envelope. Amongst the rules and setup of the several Blackstone Fortress scenarios in the booklet, there is a page on the lore of Zoats and an excerpt for the Blackstone Fortress narrative as it pertains to the Seethe. The Seethe has unique properties where it reshapes itself. When I read this, I immediately wished there was a villain modeled after David Bowie and this could be Games Workshop’s take on the movie Labyrinth. The Seethe can lead adventurers to become lost, as corridors they walk down will change due to the possibility of Shardquakes, a phenomenon unique to The Seethe.
Fortunately, the adventurers must escort The Archivist into The Seethe and he has a device that can mitigate the effects of the random Shardquakes. Deadly Alliance brings a new mechanic called Trust into the game. Events in the game can lead The Archivist to trust the adventurers or not trust them. The enclosed Trust card provides the different rules for the mysterious Zoat’s view of the adventurers at any given time. Finally, the Shardcell is an adventure contained within the rules which has a sealed envelope associated with it. The adventurer’s are only to open the sealed envelope on a successful completion of the Shardcell mission. The only way to know what is inside is to complete the mission.
My main intention for purchasing Deadly Alliance actually has nothing to do with Blackstone Fortress. I purchased this because there are Warhammer 40K rules for The Archivist included in the box. As stated in the opening of this article, I intend to use The Archivist as a member of an Inquisition detachment. Per the 9th edition rules, The Archivist is unaligned. It can go into any detachment and any army. This is a fantastic model to add to your Warhammer 40K collection. With the start of 9th Edition, the new campaign style of Crusade allows players to really advance the storytelling portion of the Warhammer game. Personally, I own Blood Angels, Tyranids, Necrons and a handful of boxed games that have been released over the years where I can piece together various detachments. When Deadly Alliance was first announced, immediately I had to think about how this would align with my campaign the best. From owning Blackstone Fortress and Kill Team: Rogue Trader, I have two separate Rogue Trader teams I could throw together with The Archivist. However, I realized that Rogue Traders do not fit well into the overall theme of my campaign. With an Inquisitor from the Ordos Chronos as the lead, why can’t he have a Xenos entity alongside him? He just doesn’t have to tell the Ordos Xenos at all. I bring this up to point out how the Crusade style of play for Warhammer 40K is going to expand horizons for the game that have not been executed before. Of course, you can insert The Archivist into a detachment for matched play. However, he may not be the most competitive model in your army, especially with what a player can add to their army list in equivalent points.
Warhammer 9th Edition has generated more interest in the Games Workshop universe. I see folks asking on Reddit daily about how they get into Warhammer, how expensive is it going to be, and where is the best place to start. What I love about the Games Workshop models is how many of the models can be interchangeable between the various games. Blackstone Fortress: Deadly Alliance is no different in this aspect. As long as you purchase the Blackstone Fortress core game and Blackstone Fortress: Escalation before they go out of print, you can add a fantastic adventure to your Blackstone Fortress campaign. Concurrently, the same model inside the box can be utilized in Warhammer 40K and can fit into any army. Your imagination is the limit with how The Archivist aligns with your particular army. For the Necromunda players, with a little bit of effort and imagination, I guarantee you can utilize existing rules to make The Archivist a custom villain or even a hired gun in a Venator Gang. We do not know how long this model will be available for purchase, so I recommend picking it up when you can if you even have an interest in playing it later on in the future. Even if you do not have Blackstone Fortress, you will be able to add The Archivist into any list, making this purchase worthwhile for multiple games in the Games Workshop library.