Some of the Goonhammer authors were fortunate enough to have attended CanCon 2023 in Canberra, Australia this weekend and catch up with some of the guys from Para Bellum, who in addition to promoting the game were making available to convention-goers some copies of rulebooks for the game’s 2nd Edition. These are soon to be followed by updated points and army rules for Conquest’s different factions, and as with every edition of Conquest, will be available free online.
We’ve spent the last couple of days looking over the new rules and have some opinions on the new edition – pending the aforementioned army and list updates, which will be coming soon.
GENERAL RULES CHANGES
Across the entire rulebook, there have been a lot of small wording tweaks or explanations inserted in response to questions that have been asked and answered by the player base. There have also been some specific changes made to how certain parts of the game work, outlined below.
These are just changes to the core rules and the army lists haven’t been released yet. It’s very obvious that there are bound to be some major changes to army lists and we’ll be covering how the new lists look when they’re out as well. This is just a piece of the larger puzzle!
Before rolling for reinforcement, players select one eligible unit to arrive automatically (do not roll for this regiment, it just arrives automatically). Then, roll as normal for remaining eligible regiments.
Rob: Para Bellum are on record as wanting to reduce the randomness of reinforcement rolls a little, and this seems to be how they’ve done it. Among other things this is going to incentivise a mixed unit spread – you’ll always be able to get one light unit on the table turn one, one medium unit on turn two, one heavy unit on turn three – if you want to.
From my local perspective, this can also be considered the Tom From Canberra’s Reinforcement Dice Rule Adjustment. No longer will our entire community be able to rely on his dragonslayers arriving no earlier than turn five, ever, under any circumstance.
Thanqol: This fundamentally alters certain listbuilding pressures. I was previously constructing lists with cheap, low cost medium and heavy units to pair with the expensive primary bricks just so there’d be extra reinforcement dice in the pool to raise the chance of a core unit coming on at the right time. Now there are ways to guarantee certain results – if you put a character with Flank in one heavy unit, and bring on another with your free slot, you can guarantee two powerful units arriving on turn three which might be your entire compliment in the case of big Gilded Legion bricks.
I also think it raises the value of archers. Archers have two problems: Not coming on early enough, thus meaning they’ll miss volleys, or coming on too early while their meatshields are delayed, meaning they’ll get eaten by hungry ghosts. Now both of those things can be more easily controlled for, letting you put your formation core reliably where it needs to be while your mobile adaptive threats come in to shore up flanks.
Bair: Anything I wanted to say has basically been said really. I’m glad that this will mean the game scales down better to smaller games of 1000-1250 points. My Nords are also quite pleased to be able to get that Ice Jotnar only the table quicker, more reliably, too!
Overall a positive change, relying less on dice rolls to win games and being able to reliably get your scoring units out onto the table while also keeping one of the core parts that I like about Conquest intact.
Infantry now have characteristics like all other types of stand, e.g. 4 attacks, 4 wounds, and are removed the same way.
Rob: I love this change. This opens up much more granular profiles for infantry – for example, an infantry unit could have three, or five, or seven attacks, rather than always having four or eight as baseline. The consolidated wounds also means single rank infantry units attrit slightly better, which is nice.
Thanqol: I agree, this change is great. From a hobby perspective, it also gives you the option to do kings of war style diorama bases – not necessarily easily given the fairly cramped conditions of most stands, but if you wanted to glue the models permanently into their stands for ease of transport and mark casualties with tokens it’s now a legit choice.
Bair: I’m actually of mixed feelings over this. Removing the models individually and that impacting attacks/wounds on your stand was one thing that made me get into this over other multi-basing fantasy games. However, it is a bit simpler and you can still remove models as a way of counting wounds (which is my plan).
I think some people will jump in to gluing models into stands and doing multi basing, which seems like it’s definitely an option now, just keep in mind that if you do you won’t be able to play First Blood and that if the rules change in future again to removing models it will be tricker.
Healing now only returns stands to play if there’s enough healing left over to restore a stand with at least half health.
Rob: This is a small but relevant nerf to healing (which was very powerful). For practical purposes, it usually means you’ll sometimes waste one point of healing, since most regiments have four wounds per stand. But for chunky units like bone golems or the order of the ashen dawn, it makes healing them harder, unless they’re Thanqol’s Ashen Dawn being healed by his Water Mage, who averages approximately twelve wounds restored per spellcast.
Thanqol: Princess Aquastar is a tiny goddess. Never lost a game with her, never won a game without her.
Bair: My trolls aren’t super happy but I think it’s a positive change really for the game. With how infantry stands work now it makes sense too.
Being broken is now significantly worse than before. It now has the following effects;
- can’t charge
- can’t heal
- can’t be inspired
- can’t have characters refuse duels
- always use unmodified resolve (i.e no size bonuses to resolve, but technically this means you also ignore terror which may be unintentional)
- doesn’t contest or control objectives
Rob: Being broken now sucks. A lot. Which is as it should be – a lot of the time, the broken status just didn’t matter that much, especially for small three-stand regiments. Now you’ll really feel it. Probably the biggest changes are to scoring and healing – this might be a bigger change to healing than the actual rules above, and being able to secure an objective by breaking the unit holding it is tactically very significant.
Thanqol: This raises the value of combat or tactics lords who often don’t have anything to do with their action other than maybe dueling someone. Making someone choose between their expensive wizard or the laundry list of broken problems is now a much harder choice, and having someone who can unbreak their associated unit with their action is likewise a big positive.
I think in particular this is a big hit to the Spires. Having a fragile spellcaster character as the lynchpin of a large unit is a common tactic, and if a Biomancer’s unit breaks then not only can it not heal them with its draw event, it’d have to use its action to unbreak them rather than healing them.
Bair: I am so happy about this really. When I first started playing I assumed being Broken was an awful thing to happen to your units and you absolutely had to avoid as much as you can. In reality it was often just a minor inconvenience. I’ve said from the start that I wanted being Broken to mean more and this really does it.
Regiments performing a volley now roll full dice at long range and gain +1 barrage at half range. Additionally, stands in any rank other than the first no longer contribute attacks to volleys.
Rob: don’t think we’ll know the full effect of this until we see the unit profile updates for 2.0. I assume most regiments will have reduced barrage characteristics, but if they don’t, we’ll be looking at an age of the gunline. I expect Para Bellum has accounted and tested for that, though – I’d be surprised if we didn’t see reduced barrage across the board to reach a more or less similar ranged meta to what we have now, with perhaps slightly better average barrage at long range and fairly similar barrage at short range, or thereabouts.
Thanqol: For current Barrage 3 brute archers like Leonine Avatara there is no change to their shot throughput – two goes to three right now. I suspect most ranged infantry will be Barrage 3 base, making them 50% more effective at long range. The big question is what will happen to things that are currently Barrage 2 like Marksman Clones – my guess is they might get the new Torrential Fire rule to represent their prodigious shot output because Barrage 7 at 28’ range might be a Bit Much.
Bair: This is one of those changes where I think we really will see a massive change in the army lists. I doubt Bow Chosen will be keeping Barrage 2 with how deadly they are with this core change. I wouldn’t be mad about it! But I would be surprised. I am hesitant about this because I don’t like too much shooting in my fantasy combat games and depending on how army lists look, this might be a move towards shooting heavy lists being even better. Might not. Need to see those army lists.
Spells now need 2 successes for a spell to succeed. Additionally, scaling now has slightly different values where it kicks in (it applies from the 5th stand onward rather than the 4th stand onward, for example – but with the 2 successes needed per spell, slightly reduced scaling impact on spells still means harder spellcasting overall).
Rob: This is overall a very small change, but it might incentivise really juicing up your wizards by pushing toward higher tiers of the arcane retinue (which weren’t previously that cost-effective).
Honestly, I was sort of expecting more changes to magic, based on rumours circulating before the new rules dropped. These are pretty low-key. I wonder what changes were considered and rejected? A counterspell mechanic was something I wondered if we’d see rather than the current interference rules, for example.
Thanqol: This is a big hit to the low end spellcasters, especially those Priest/Wizard 4’s, or to non-character spellcasters like ice giants. Some of these figures will fail their spells half of the time now. I do like the quality of life change that a wizard in a minimum unit doesn’t immediately run into spell scaling penalties.
Bair: A positive change to spell casting. I’ve actually never seen a spell fail to cast because of just how easy it has been to do, so I’m a big fan of these being less automatic. During the last live event they mentioned that spells were being overhauled too so I’m eager to see how.
SPECIAL RULES CHANGES
There are a lot of changes in the ‘Special Rules’ annex. Important to note is that this section is referred to as a comprehensive list of special rules in conquest, which means that rules removed from this section are actually gone rather than just uniquely available to some regiments now.
The following changes have been made to the Special Rules section:
- fiend hunter applies vs brutes and monsters, rather than just brutes
- the ‘blessed’ special rule now requires that you decide to use it before rolling dice, rather than after
- ‘feral’ renamed ‘irregular’
- fearless X is now just fearless and works vs all levels of terror (i.e. a fearless regiment ignores terror 1, 2, X whatever)
- the ‘first in, last out’ rule no longer exists
- the ‘forward deploy’ rule no longer exists
- the ‘forward operations’ rule no longer exists
- the ‘inspired’ rule no longer exists as a special rule in the special rules section (now it’s covered in the Inspire action section)
- the ‘inspiring presence’ special rule no longer exists
- ‘impact attacks X’ are now their own rule rather than being an automatic part of medium or heavy brute, cavalry and monster regiments
- ‘lethal demise’ now inflicts hits to the enemy for failed defence rolls the regiment rolls (i.e. shooting into a lethal demise regiment will trigger lethal demise if they are engaged). Lethal demise regiments can now be healed.
- the ‘obscured’ special rule no longer exists (although terrain with the rule still exists)
- the ‘overcharge’ special rule no longer exists
- the ‘rake attack’ special rule no longer exists
- ‘overrun’ is hugely simplified (but functions mostly the same)
- ‘phalanx’ now works against all hits but comes with downsides (a regiment with phalanx cannot be inspired and has a maximum successful charge distance of its march +3″ and cannot occupy garrison terrain)
- the ‘strong arm’ rule no longer exists (but no longer needed to with the change to volleys)
- the ‘resist decay’ rule no longer exists (but is referenced in passing on Page 10)
- the ‘rebellious’ rule no longer exists
- the ‘resolute’ rule no longer exists
- the ‘rider’ rule no longer exists
- the ‘snap fire’ rule no longer exists
- the ‘spearhead’ rule no longer exists
- ‘torrential fire’ now just straight doubles the number of hits inflicted within half range
- ‘terrifying’ now only inflicts a penalty on resolve rolls against wounds caused by that regiment against enemies engaged with it (i.e. no effect on attacks external to the engagement like spells, and no longer interferes with attempts to rally broken units etc)
- ‘throwing weapons’ rule no longer exists (but see ‘impact attacks’ above – light regiments can now have the impact attacks rule)
- ‘untouchable’ no longer prevents being targeted by support attacks and instead now rerolls defence rolls of a 6
- the ‘vantage point’ rule no longer exists
- the ‘character’ special rule technically no longer exists (but wasn’t really needed)
Rob: this is the meat of the changes. The removed rules are especially relevant. Although they can potentially always be added in as unique rules on units in army lists, the removal of things like Overcharge might mean big changes to models like the Dweghom Hellbringer Drake in 2.0. What will it look like after the update? We’ll have to see.
Otherwise, I’m a fan of the changes here. A lot of superfluous rules have been removed, a lot of slightly technical interactions have been simplified while retaining the basic function.
As an Old Dominion enjoyer, I’ll definitely have my eyes on units like Cultists, Kheres and Kanephors to see how their rules changing has changed their battlefield role. Being able to heal Cultists, for example, opens up an entirely new and explosive kind of attrition play, assuming they’re mostly unchanged. And I’m sure Thanqol is happy to see the end of the sharp rock-paper-scissors of Kanephors vs big 100 Kingdoms support-based infantry bricks.
Thanqol: The moment Rob first described the Untouchable rule to me I stopped and said, ‘oh, so I just lose the game then’. It was the most incredible hard counter to the pike brick that can possibly be imagined. Its death will not be mourned.
I am also extremely keen for the impact attacks changes. On things not specialized for it it was a pain to remember and had low effectiveness. But on the other side of things, unengaged stands contribute their full impact attacks! This means that cavalry charges represent serious force concentration. Right now it felt like it was either a 100Kingdoms flying lance formation or a unit of three but this means that a big cavalry unit can blast through fragile formations like they’re not even there.
Bair: The guys above really hit the main points here. Otherwise it really just feels like clean up into the new edition.
DRAW EVENTS CHANGES
As above, the Draw Events list has had changes. Like Special Rules, this is referred to as a comprehensive list, meaning rules that no longer exist are presumably gone for good:
- ‘Burnout’ has been clarified slightly but works the same (the option to have ‘nothing happen’ has been removed, but remember that resolving draw events is always optional)
- ‘Double Time’ now works more simply and can be a draw event on a regiment in addition to an officer’s order
- ‘Fire and Advance’ is now much more simply worded as a draw event on a regiment (but due to a slight wording difference compared to Double Time, no longer works as an officer’s order – this may be unintentional)
- ‘Murderous Volley’ is a new rule that now exists (a regiment with murderous volley that aims now causes resolve checks as part of volley attacks against enemy regiments within 12” – Imperial Officers had this before, and will presumably still have it, but it never listed in the 1.5.1 rulebook)
- ‘Fury X’ no longer exists
- ‘Redress Rank’ no longer exists
- ‘To The Last Breath’ no longer exists
- ‘True Shot’ no longer exists
Rob: the big change here to me is the streamlining of all the draw events that previously only worked as commands issued by officers. This opens up design space without reducing any complexity. However, I think they missed opportunities in both Fire and Advance and Double Time by leaving out the words ‘until the end of the round…’ at the beginning. I might be misunderstanding some of this, or we might see extra context when the army updates arrive, but I expect a lot of player questions about this and maybe an FAQ.
I’d note that while it seems very significant that Fury no longer exists, with the changes to how infantry characteristics work, it shouldn’t be needed – they can just write this as a special rule like ‘When a nord regiment has suffered wounds, it gains +1 attack per stand’.
Thanqol: There was some jank around Double Time and other orders previously that’s been cleared up. I’m also surprised to see Fury go – if nothing else, it means a rewrite of the First Blessing supremacy ability is coming, which is honestly appreciated because it never quite got there as a rule.
Bair: The standout to me is the Murderous Volley draw event and it worries me again a little about shooting heavy lists coming in and becoming much stronger. Except against Old Dominion, of course, being able to potentially double the number of casualties from a volley is massive. With how Broken works now too breaking a unit at range seems much easier to do.
Rob: overall, this is probably the softest landing 2.0 of a game I’ve ever seen. Just apart from the rules changes themselves – which are mostly small tweaks to simplify, clarify, and smooth out certain game experiences while opening up design space – the actual update has dropped to limited fanfare and especially limited advance notice. Oh, the player base has known a 2.0 has been coming for a while, with hints here and there as to what would be included, but Para Bellum has otherwise been pretty quiet about it all, and I suspect they’re presenting the new edition this way as a very intentional fait accompli. No need to wait, no need to spend months marinating in uncertainty over how future change is scary – here it is, right now, ready to read. And I’m optimistic. Very optimistic, actually. Conquest has that good ‘new game, new community’ energy, and this update hits the right note for a good second edition. Bring on the 2.0 army updates later this week, so I can get straight to gaming. I’m keen.
Thanqol: Something that I respect a lot about the Conquest rules writing is how thoughtful and deliberate the changes are. Every tweak I’ve seen from Para Bellum has shown that they understand which parts of their game are causing problems and why. There have been several times with 1.0 that I’ve thought that something was just kind of busted but each time they’ve made a careful tweak to bring it down a notch. Some games have massive, sweeping updates that upend how everything works but I’ve greeted all of PB’s decisions so far with an ‘oh, that makes sense!’
There’s only one thing I think was a missed opportunity, and that’s that flank/rear attacks still have very little bite. It’s always felt a bit strange to me how getting off a dramatic flank or rear charge almost doesn’t mean anything against a high resolve unit without shields. It’s purely a personal taste thing but the biggest move in a rank and flank game is to flank their ranks and against the wrong target that might mean 1 extra resolve casualty. Still though, that would be a big change in a new edition that is focused on refining existing ideas.
Bair: Very excited to get stuck in with the new army lists and started playing the new edition as soon as I can. This weekend, maybe? Once we have those army lists we’ll have a much better picture of how the game is evolving and going but these generally seem like good changes.
Shooting is still my only concern until we start to see the Barrage and Volley values of ranged units. It’s always something difficult to balance in a fantasy setting, I just hope this doesn’t make it too strong! I was a big fan of halving the number of shots previously instead of effecting hit modifiers, but if all units simple have less shots to begin with I think this will still be fine.
I do wonder about my Nords too if the army will still have the capacity to Flank. With the change to reinforcements I doubt that they’ll have as many ways to access and gain Flank across the army which would probably be a good thing!
Overall very excited to get stuck in and play more games.