Army Showcase; Michael Hanns’ Blackstone Fortress

As you know, here at Master of Magics we like to keep our eyes pleaded for interesting and unique painted miniatures. Hobbists spend hours of their time creating, for lack of a better word, art. So, when we see some mini’s that impresses us, we reach out and ask the owner if they want to tell us about how and why they came up with their ideas. While I was perusing the online wargaming groups I came across one such collection in the form of Michael Hanns’ Blackstone Fortress set and asked if he wanted to share it with you all for a Army Showcase. Thankfully, he said yes. I’m currently working through my own Blackstone Fortress set and let me just say, if I get them to look half as good as Michaels I’ll be a very happy hobbyist.

So, what made you want to pick up Blackstone Fortress? Are you a big 40k fan or just into dungeon crawling adventures?

A bit of both. I’ve been a fan of Warhammer since my first Space Marines Build and Paint kit back in the early 2000’s. I went on to collect Space Wolves, World Eaters, Tyranids and Eldar for 40K before moving into Fantasy. Eventually, my short attention span got the better of me and I lost interest in wargaming for a while.

After a hiatus of around 10 years, I stumbled upon Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower – it seemed like a fun, self-contained project that I could dip my toe into. Being a one off, I put a little more effort into the painting than I had with my armies as a teenager. The results were… mixed, but I fell in love with the feeling I got when I finished a mini. Silver Tower led to Age of Sigmar, which led to Warhammer 40,000, which led to the Horus Heresy, Middle-earth, Blood Bowl, Mordheim and more.

I hadn’t really planned on picking up Blackstone Fortress at first, if I’m honest. It’s such a huge kit to commit to painting that I wasn’t sure where I’d find the time. Then the first expansion was released and it completely changed my mind; seeing the Dreaded Ambull made it click that Blackstone Fortress was more than just a 40K dungeon crawler – it was a vehicle for GW to illuminate the darkest corners of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. As a fan of old school 40K lore, it’s just really exciting to see Rogue Traders, Navigators, Men of Iron, Ambulls and now even Zoats get their time back in the spotlight again.

How long did it take you to complete the box set? Were there any challenges?

Oh boy. My fiance and I bought a house when I was about halfway into set, which as you can imagine delayed things a little. The entire process took me about 4 months of real time, but it was probably around 2 months’ worth of uninterrupted work.

I tried to speed paint the Adversaries wherever I could, but I put a bit more effort into the individual Explorers. Amalyn the first on my painting table, and I decided that it would be cool to learn how to paint quartered gradient power swords properly with this miniature. I probably spent as long going back and forth between increasing the contrast and smoothing the blend on that sword as I spent painting the rest of the miniature. Worse still, later I accidentally got a little speckle of paint on the blade and had to redo it all again – anyone who’s ever done this knows it never looks as good the second time!

As if that wasn’t enough, I also managed to snap Amalyn’s very spindley sniper rifle cutting it off the frame. The barrel was just too small to pin, and so my numerous attempts to repair it with poly cement and ca glue failed me during painting – I think I might’ve broken the barrel off about 20 times by the time I was through. That was pretty stressful.

Do you have a particular model you are the proudest of?

I think Janus Draik was probably my best individual miniature. I applied some of the lessons I learned on Amalyn’s power sword to his rapier, and it turned out every bit as good in a much shorter space of time. I’m also really happy the layering on his coat, and some of the colour choices.

That said, I think my overall favourite unit is the Traitor Guardsmen. Besides being far quicker to paint than I expected (14 seems an awful lot when the next biggest unit is 4), I’m really happy with how the three brown tones all stand out and look distinct from each other. I pretty much duplicated the method I used to paint these guys on my Beastmen, Rogue Psykers and Chaos Space Marines, so it’s only fair those minis get the credit.

So, what’s next on the painting table for you? Any expansions planned?

Definitely! I’m going to enjoy the Core Set for as long as I can first, but I’m sure I’ll have The Dreaded Ambull and Traitor Command on the way by the time I’ve gotten a couple games under my belt.

In the short term, I’ve got a bunch of Middle-earth projects on the go. My main focus right now is a Barrels out of Bond diorama for Golden Daemon in May, and I’ve got some Azog’s Legion to paint for an event in June.

Looking forward to seeing that when you finish it up. Check out more of Michael’s painting over at If you have a unique and interesting army you have been working on and would like to share it with the wider community, then you can contact me via twitter @MTGTengu and maybe yours will be the next army featured in our showcase. If you have enjoyed todays article, please like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics. You want to support the site directly; you can join our Patreon for as little as a $1 a month. Until next time though remember, “Even a man who has nothing can still offer his life.”

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