Para Bellum released an update to Conquest The Last Argument of Kings on the 18th of Sept and is bound to shake up people’s lists, the competitive meta, and overall state of the game. Goonhammer’s Conquest team naturally have ideas about all of these changes…
There’s a lot of changes here so let’s unpack it piece by piece. Nords have had just one army ability for a long time and while it has changed there are also 2 brand new abilities too:
Ice and Blood – Medium and Heavy Regiments (yes, any) still count as Inspired after charging through Hindering terrain; remember that Light units already ignore this in the core rules. Also, all units in the army ignore penalties when at least half the unit is in water and suffer half wounds from zonal terrain rules.
This only comes into play with Broken Ground, Dangerous Terrain, and Perilous Terrain. These cause wounds to units charging through them on certain dice rolls and taking half as much damage as you normally would puts you in a great spot to suffer some damage to benefit from the next ability while not losing full stands (probably). It also gives you an advantage where your opponent probably won’t want to charge through that terrain to get to you either.
Blood of the Einherjar – Infantry and Brute regiments gain +1A characteristic if they have any allocated wounds or missing stands (except for characters). Also if your Character stand kills an enemy in a duel then their regiment becomes Broken, or if already was then they Shatter.
The change here is no longer effecting Cavalry (like beastpacks) and Mountain Jotnars along with Flurry no longer being added when a unit got to half strength. The former part is gonna hurt a small amount since Mountain Jotnars won’t get an extra attack or re-rolls on attacks as they get weaker. The latter part didn’t come into play nearly enough and was too often too-little-too-late for a unit to actually gain anything from being so weakened.
Prophecy Unfulfilled – When you charge an enemy unit that’s already engaged in combat you gain an extra 2” move to that roll. This is fantastic. Closing the gap, hitting hard, and not leaving anything to hit you back is how Nords deal damage and win games.
Nords are well and truly a glass cannon army right now. With a roster full of Cleave 2 Medium and Heavy units backed up Bow Chosen to rain down damage as you close the gap and the Shaman’s supremacy ability to Vanguard 2 units per turn your army will be in the enemy’s face from the start.
Nord Unit Changes
Jarl’s Supremacy Ability – All your infantry gains Opportunists and +1A when Clashing the flank or rear of enemy units. Light regiments also get to seize territory.
This is huge if you want to run an army of infantry units. The best way would be to run a few units of Raiders to come on early and start seizing territory to score very early and rush them up the table with heavier Bearsarks coming in later to dish out the damage you need. This type of army will take a lot of practice and good positioning to play effectively, but line things up well and you’ll end up removing unit after unit from your opponent’s army.
Huskarls – This should-be shieldwall of a unit gained Untouchable which lets them re-roll Defence rolls of 6. They sit at D2 with shields and, often, Bastion with the right officer upgrade so effective D4 re-rolling 6’s can be an incredibly difficult unit to remove. The issue is that there are just harder-hitting units you can take for the same or similar cost. Nords are a glass cannon army and this unit just doesn’t hit hard at all.
Fenr – these little beasts went up in cost but also increase Evasion to 2 and gained Terrifying (1). With flank, move 7, and fluid formation they can easily get into a position they want, charge a unit in the flank and cause a high amount of damage with now-reduced enemy resolve. You won’t notice this against Old Dominion, but that’s a whole other issue…
Trolls – this unit has been fighting for a place in the Nord roster for a little while now. With only Cleave 1 their output is lower than Ugr while their defence and healing can be outclassed by a Volva/Valkyrie unit as an anvil. Gaining Evasion 1 however makes them slightly more interesting since they can go up to Evasion 2 via Shaman magic, Vovla Supremacy, or Coils of the Serpent with an attached character.
Ulfhendar – seeing a small reduction in cost makes them a little more of an for the Jarl’s Mainstay unit to unlock their harder-hitting Bearsark brethren. Still hard to justify in that slot than their much-cheaper rival: Ugr.
Mountain Jotnar – with the core army abilities changing this guy no longer receives +1A when wounded or Flurry when at half damage. And that’s ok. Now he stays inspired when charging through Hindering and generally doesn’t care much about other terrain pieces. Now he also went up in points to 190 and that’s a more appropriate place for what this hulking beast can do anyways. With a 7” move (and easy access to Vanguard via Shaman) and a lot of Cleave 2 attacks, plus Terrifying for when you’re not playing into Old Dominion, he can get where he likes to do the most damage. Don’t just throw it into the middle of the table expecting him to shrug off damage and remove just anything on the table, be smart about placement using the monster base’s shorter edge to go where your 3-wide infantry can’t.
The Spires changes do two things: Firstly, they unpick the awful listbuilding gravity of the Sovereign Lineage, secondly they directly buff the Underspire.
The Sovereign Lineage has been a troublesome army ability; if you took it, you wanted it on a Lineage Highborn’s Incarnate Sentinels. Taking a Cleave 2 unit from Clash 2 to 3 was such a huge improvement that anything else you did with the army rule felt like leaving money on the table; taking models like Centaur Avatara and Siegebreaker Behemoths was a suboptimal luxury compared to the overwhelming synergy of more Incarnates. This circle was squared in a very satisfying way: Incarnates are just Clash 3 baseline and 10 points more per stand than their old form Lineage profile, but they don’t take an army rule to get there.
This is a massive win for listbuilding variety. The Lineage’s warband has a huge number of extremely cool profiles but now it’s only really the Mainstay Avatara who benefit from Sovereign Lineage at all (and who incidentally got a 5pps cut for larger units). You can accordingly fit a wider variety of colourful specialist pieces.
The other little note is that Sovereign Lineage is no longer warband linked (though it seems currently broken in the army builder) – a Lineage army can apply its bonuses to the warband of any High Clone, Lineage Highborn or Mimetic Assassin. This is actually really impactful and flexible; I’ve recently become sincerely enamoured with large Bound Clone units with Sovereign Lineage and this means it’s possible to build those without having the Mimetic Assassin have to show up in some weird pleb unit.
The other big changes are to the Underspires. The headline is that Brute Drones get Regeneration. This is incredible because the Brute Drone experience is 1) Get juiced by a Pheromancer 2) Decay to death; this’ll keep them on the table much longer.
But the Pheromancer also got a targeted upgrade: A new Action that lets him reduce a unit’s defense by -1 within 10. Disclaimer, Flesh 2 doesn’t let him do this twice. This is incredibly spicy, not just for Underspires lists which’ll finally have some built in armour breaking power, but for the concept of splashing in a Pheromancer in other lists. Using a Pheromancer to tag a unit that’s about to get shredded by a Marksman Clone or Vanguard Clone unit gives the Spires some early-game anti-armour ability. It sets the Pheromancer in a very different role from a Biomancer – the Biomancer still can pump a lot more healing than a Pheromancer, but the Pheromancer now represents a scary offensive option that can slot into a variety of lists.
Vanguard Clone Infiltrators also came down ten points. Pair them with a neo Pheromancer, double Volley, throw a cool 36 dice with effective armour piercing 1.
Dweghom have seen major reworks of a number of elements of their army, ranging from points changes to significant mechanical adjustments. As with Spires, these overall serve to unlock Dweghom from their existing optimised lists, although it’s likely that the Tempered Creed Sorcerer Warlord lists will remain overall the most popular and powerful. Alongside some minor changes to items and abilities, the major changes to Dweghom are:
Ardent Kerewaghs had their supremacy ability changed, adopting the Raegh’s old ability of giving every command stand +2 attacks for the entire battle, but now persisting after the Ardent’s death. In addition, once per game you can trigger the ability to let all regiments gain +2” of charge distance when charging an enemy objective on an objective zone.
The old Raegh supremacy was powerful all by itself as a small but consistent and meaningful offensive buff to your army, and combining it with an alright army-wide (the Ardent Creed) and small additional bonus might make the Ardent Kerewagh compete with a tempered character as warlord. The tempered creed is still hugely attractive because any mechanic that lets you automatically succeed rolls is about as powerful as it gets in a wargame, but this is a pretty spicy supremacy now.
Tempered Steelshapers have increased to 100pts but have a suite of buffs, letting them automatically cast a lot of their spells, ignore enemy interference when they aren’t auto-succeeding, and ignoring enemy duels. They no longer have a resolve attribute (which is actually a downside, as they can’t grant it to the regiment they join) and can’t take retinues. Their spells are unchanged, but their supremacy has also been reworked, and is now an ongoing passive where spending elemental potency tokens heals the regiment spending them (up to a maximum of three wounds per action you spend tokens on).
This is another slow burn value supremacy, and unlike the Ardent, doesn’t come at the expense of the Tempered Creed. This has serious potential, and is often going to create situations where a Dweghom unit comes out of being attacked stronger than they went in. Like the Ardent, the Steelshaper probably won’t consistently displace the Sorcerer as the Dweghom army warlord, but they’re certainly a lot more attractive than they were before.
Hold Raeghs have perhaps the strangest reworked supremacy. They now let you take a Mnemancer apprentice for free (effectively a free 25pts, a far cry from something like a Spires Highborn warlord’s free kit), and whenever they’re in a medium or heavy regiment they always size any objective zone they’re currently in, period.
While we haven’t seen the new scenario packs, this is potentially pretty serious business. You can build some very tough Thane regiments to put a Raegh in now, and just parking them with a corner touching an objective sone secures it for as long as the regiment lives regardless of the enemy contesting power. My impression is that this ability is going to be overlooked in favour of more active warlord options, but the potential here for a list with a battle plan built around a Raegh alone on one flank and the rest of the Dweghom army concentrating on the other to secure a significant scenario advantage is very interesting.
(To note, beware of trying this in scenarios like Breakout where objectives must be destroyed before a zone can be seized – the Raegh won’t help you there, which might limit this tactic for a tourney-focused list.)
Tempered Sorcerers had a major rework to all three types of sorcerer. Fire sorcerers have had their offensive output toned down by reducing the damage of Wall of Fire massively, reducing the range of Coruscation, and only being able to reroll dice from a spell using the Focused mastery once per turn. Magma sorcerers have been totally reworked, with more consistent damage output and effects centred around turning terrain into ‘erupting’ terrain (which has no specific effect, but interacts with their spells), and Earth sorcerers have had some broad clarifications around how they work but retained their strong defensive focus.
On top of this, every Sorcerer now has special interactions with the associated Heralds. For example, a Fire sorcerer can cast their spells at any enemy regiment engaged with a Fire Herald’s regiment, regardless of range or line of sight. Magma Heralds turn terrain into erupting terrain to interact with a Magma Sorcerer’s spells, and Stone heralds (in addition to now granting their regiment Hardened rather than Bastion, a massive increase to their usefulness) now boost the Rock Shaping spell if cast on their unit.
While the sheer destructive power of the Fire Sorcerer has been toned down (a bit), the new interactions with heralds and general overall power of the tempered creed will mean Sorcerers almost certainly remain the overall most popular Dweghom character. Although Fire is probably still the most powerful, Magma sorcerers have a very powerful mix of utility and damage, and can now ride Hellbringers, which probably makes them a strong choice for non-warlord sorcerers in your list.
Dweghom Regiments have also seen a number of changes, mostly upward points adjustments for the most powerful regiments like Thanes and Dragonslayers, and small buffs for underperforming units like Wardens and Initiates, but nothing that will colossally change the role of any of these choices. Notable however are changes to Inferno Automata which have received a small points decrease but a reduction to both their March and Clash for an overall fairly notable nerf, and Steelforged who have lost a whole point of Defence, down to 4. They’re still massively strong, but much more in line now with what you’d expect from an extremely premium medium unit. Very good, but manageable for most opposing forces.
Finally, the Ironclad Drake has been mildly reworked. It can now be ridden by a Hold Raegh Warlord and gives all characters and command stands within 8” the very powerful Flurry rule, but has lost a little offensive output and survivability (gaining 3 wounds but dropping from Defence 4 to 3). There’s a definite place for a blender Raegh Warlord riding one of these, if you’re up for taking a Raegh Warlord in the first place. You might also do an Ardent Warlord + Raleigh warband built around two Ironclads and some really dangerous command stands, for an interesting if challenging to execute list theme.
Strategic Stack – Language has been tweaked to state that if you empty your Command Stack of cards and only have a Strategic Stack card remaining, you can activate it at the beginning of your Draw Command Cards step – you aren’t forced to activate it the moment you resolve the final card in your Command Stack.
Satyroi (formerly Selenoi Hunters) gained shields, assumdely just to match what they decided on for the models.
Promethean – Attunement for both spells raised from 3 to 4 making them easier and more likely to cast. Since they need 4 successes and need to cause damage to get these off it’s nice to make them a little more likely.
There’s a lot of other bits of red text in here but it all appears to have been carried over from the previous rules change and not been updated back to black text. Fear not!
The Archimandrite supremacy has been changed to turn the ‘extra’ spell into a Free Additional spellcasting action, meaning the Archimandrite can combine it with a regular character action (like rallying his broken regiment before casting Hazlia’s Touch to heal them). This is a nice quality of life change, and also opens up list builds that expect the Archimandrite to Seek New Escort during the game a little more.
The Apostate attachment to Hassassins and Cultists has also gained a rule that means it contributes 1 Dark Power to the power pool when the unit is completely destroyed. These troops still don’t generate power normally (as they’re living, not undead) but its a nice little change – noting that these regiments aren’t released yet, and aren’t on the current release schedule either.
Otherwise, like 100 Kingdoms and Wardruhn, Old Dominion are mostly affected by the changes (or lack thereof) to other factions.
Focused – as with other factions, focused has changed. 100 Kingdoms are a major beneficiary of this change, as they don’t have any casters that can cast two spells anyway, but appreciate not needing to take Arcane Retinue 3 to unlock it. This opens up some very dangerous Theist Priest or Fire Mage spellcasting at a quite budget price.
Wadrhun saw effectively no changes from the update, with only the Focused mastery change affecting them – and with fewer spellcasters than even the 100 Kingdoms, this makes Wadruhn the least affected army by the update.
This lack of changes is excellent news for Wadrhun players, though, with both Thunder Riders and the Tontorr arriving on the scene as we speak and unchanged from their last update. Representing the deepest possible concentration of force available in Conquest at time of writing (the only competition being a Fallen Divinity with half her army dead some time in the fourth quarter), the Tontorr is one of the game’s major current apex predators*, and there’s a fair chance thunder lizard Wadhrun will be either serious contenders or even the faction to beat at events in coming months.
(*comfortably outperforming an actual apex predator, who like many regiments will get one-shot from downtown by a Chieftain riding a Tontorr.)