The Hundred Kingdoms are in one sense an extremely middle of the road faction. They’re baseline humans, with average human stats, average human armour, and average human force organisation. There are no surprises here, no weird units that you’ll struggle to figure out or make work.
In another sense they’re an extremely coherent faction. Their subfactions are immediately distinguishable and legible. Their characters have extremely clear gameplans. Their force organisation structure is readily apparent and the balance of units you’ll want with them makes intuitive sense. And behind that straightforwardness is a fierce strength: this is the faction with Knights, and anything that Knights charge they will wreck. I felt like they struggled somewhat in first edition but my perception now is that they have mostly stood still while the world took a step back in power all around them; their natural predators have been weakened and their natural strengths are all the more relevant.
This faction feels good to play. Knights are intimidating and control the battlefield from afar. Your high tier units feel like heroes. You usually get the first few ranged volleys with good light archers. The pace of the game is usually very much in your control.
– Immensely powerful impact attacks
– Cheap, practical and focused units
– Extremely mobile army
– Unimpressive resolve stats
– Limited ranged firepower
– Very vulnerable to Cleave
These are all entirely unlocked, requiring no particular warlord picks or combinations.
Relentless Drill is the simplest and most effective rule for any infantry-based Hundred Kingdoms formation. Going to Support 3 with all of your spear infantry is a huge deal and turns things like the Gilded Legion and Household Guard into world beaters.
You have to go so far and work so hard to scrape value out of this. It favours large unit sizes due to the increase in flat costs, but you know what else gets a lot of value out of large unit sizes? Moving everything to support 3. Prime options for Veteran buffs are Men at Arms (no Support), Militia and Militia Archers (not intrinsically worthy of a vast commitment even with the buff), Household Guard (expensive and with an armsmaster they’re already close to the clash 4 breakpoint where you go to rerolling 6’s rather than +1 clash, which reduces the value a lot), mounted squires (legit good), and household knights (going to clash 3 is good but it’s 25 points cost added to a marginal 25 point attachment on a unit that already wants to be of small size).
The best use case seems to be if you’re doing a Mounted Lord/Household Knights heavy list, but even then it’s hard to justify.
There are a lot of supremacy abilities in the Hundred Kingdoms but the only one that matters for this is the Chapter Mage’s Protective Glyphs. Protective Glyphs is a phenomenal ability; it shields your entire army against offensive magic and, in conjunction with its most likely partner, the Water Mage, gives you a powerful healing asset. There are other combinations but the value in them is likely much more marginal than this.
In terms of broad organizational structure, the Hundred Kingdoms generally doesn’t want to take more characters than they have to. Most of them are fragile humans who do better at buffing the fragile humans around them rather than getting into fights and wrecking stuff personality. Most army lists consolidate around 2-3 warbands, though that can go higher if you are building extremely heavily towards mounted lords/household knights.
Role: Cheap Options, army buffs
The Noble Lord is a discount character leading a warband of discount troops. As a character he’s nothing to write home about; a mediocre statline that won’t get any less mediocre no matter how many points you spend on it. Usually the only upgrade you will want for him is the Armour of Dominion if he happens to be leading a big unit of Household Guard. There’s frankly not a lot going on here and not a lot you can do to change that so keep him cheap.
The biggest reason to bring him is the Supremacy Ability which got the clutch buff in the new edition of no longer applying only to his warband. There are very few sources of rerolls in Conquest, and getting that for clash and defense is great – especially against armies heavy on Deadly Shot. The second biggest reason is his restricted slots: A minimum sized unit of Household Knights is steeply discounted and you want as many of them as you can take.
Mounted Noble Lord
Role: Cavalry Commitment
Included here because they share the same warband with the switch of Mounted Squires being mainstay with Foot Squires – which is a solid upgrade – and a vastly better statline than the foot lord will ever get. The Mounted Lord contributes directly in battle and can reliably win duels against cheap enemy characters and spellcasters. The Supremacy Ability is extremely specific though: Household Knights will be better, but knights don’t scale well into larger units. So to get the most out of it you’ll likely find yourself bringing multiple mounted noble lords with multiple cheap Knight units. Adding +4 stands to an existing unit of Household Knights costs the same as getting an entire additional Noble Lord and a 3 stand minimum sized unit of knights.
Frankly, a baffling unit that is worse than Household Guard in every way – worse clash, resolve, defense, support and they cost more. They also don’t have models so giving them a pass is easy.
The core of the Noble Lord’s warband. With an Armsmaster and the Noble Lord’s presence they’re almost the peers of the Gilded Legion. Almost is the operative word, though – for 5 points a stand premium (and a one-off discount of 10 points by replacing the Armsmaster with a Drillmaster) and shift to Heavy you can get a variety of stat buffs, including Double Time which takes the edge off being Heavy. It’s an interesting question if you want to keep the Noble Lord in Household Guard or have him leave to join a Gilded Legion brick instead. Which you prefer will depend on the presence of an Imperial Officer in your list.
Men at Arms
Cheap and tough, Men at Arms are great minimum sized objective holders who can brawl with other low cost units. A big sized block isn’t really recommended; the ability to give them Bastion can push them up to a respectable defense 4 but you generally won’t want to be activating them early enough to take advantage of it.
Absolute core ranged unit, their ranged attack is extremely effective against a variety of targets and they’re cheap as chips. Don’t expect them to win a ranged duel against Marksmen Clones or anything, but they’re the bare minimum in terms of cost while also being good at their jobs. If you need to fill out some mainstay slots to support household knights, seriously consider Crossbowmen.
If you need to fill out some mainstay slots to support household knights but don’t care if the unit gets literally nothing done turn to the Bowmen. They’re the cheapest unit with the worst statline in the game; they’ll maybe plink a wound off here and there, will eat a single charge, and will go away. That does not mean they’re useless, quite the contrary – never underestimate the power of ‘takes a turn to kill’ – just understand they’re there to be a screen for the knights.
A tricky unit, I suspect they’re priced taking into account all the buffs you can stack on them. With Veterans, a standard bearer, and a servite you can get a shockingly robustly statted unit; Clash 3, Support 2, Resolve 3. At 9 stands that’s 315 points. That translates into 6 Household Guard stands have about the same stats but with defense 3 and cleave 1. And theoretically the Militia blob can just keep getting bigger and more cost effective, though there is a point where you must ask yourself how many points you want to put into a massive brick that can’t score points.
(There also comes a point where you must ask yourself exactly how many militia you want to paint and transport.)
A minimum size of these is extremely aggressively priced; a larger sized unit is extremely cost ineffective. Para Bellum has decided to pull back on the massive alpha strike potential of huge lance cavalry formations in the new edition; with their costs scaling like this, Knights will land a punch but not break a jaw.
The main thing with these is to absolutely banish any idea of these as as flanking units in your head. They’re speed 7 with no mobility tricks and that’s it. They move and handle like mildly faster infantry with a free banner, and a tourney champion is a big investment in a unit that wants to be small. Their only real movement trick is the ability to effectively move+charge and land their impact hits. Their job is to deploy in the centre of your army and hit the centre of the enemy line.
After that, though, they’re an entirely fine meat and potatoes unit with a good statline, five attacks and four defense from the front. A minimum sized of Household Knights will blow through most things at the same price point. Take as many as you have restricted slots for.
Cursed to be competing for slots with Household Knights, Longbowmen further face stiff competition from mercenary crossbowmen. Ten points a stand for +6’ range and arcing fire does not feel worth it compared to planning out some firing lines in advance. If you’re going deep on Longbowmen you’ll likely want to pair them with an Air Mage – the force concentration of having that many ranged shots going exactly where it needs to be can be a key part of your plan, but that’s a huge investment you need to be absolutely sure isn’t going to get into melee.
Only relevant with the Mounted Noble Lord, they’re solid. 10 points per stand to give men at arms movement 9, these can give you early map control and harass ranged units or spellcasters who come on too early. It’s hard to know how effective these will be but they can shut down some army configurations hard which makes them worth filling up on if you’ve got a mounted noble lord.
Role: Elite Infantry support
The Imperial Officer, it must be clear, fights like a spellcaster. He doesn’t want to do it, he’s not good at it, don’t be getting in duels if you can help it. There are two configurations possible; melee or ranged. Melee you want the Bastion draw event and, if practical, to be the Warlord so he can pair activating it with using Turn the Tide so you don’t have to have a dead activation powering up the units defenses. Then you usually want Tactics 1, the Standard of Steel, and to place him in the biggest Gilded Legion brick you can afford.
The ranged configuration is weirder and less obviously good. It involves a larger outlay of points – The Kiss Farewell and Marksmanship will run you 45 points, but then you can add Murderous Volley to force morale checks on your short distance ranged attacks. It’s a lot of points to set up and then a lot of work to engineer on the table and then your ranged unit will probably get move-charged in response and that will be the end of that.
Genuinely good light archers; they’re much more mobile than Crossbowmen and Volley 3 compensates for losing AP. Their short range presents a danger because they’re worthless in melee so I suggest being restrained with them even if that means missing a chance to take a shot.
The backbone of the Hundred Kingdoms, Relentless Drill Gilded Legion arguably scale better than any other unit in the game. A brick of 9 will blow through lesser units like they’re not even there. Iron Discipline makes them strategically autonomous; you can opt to leave their flanks unsupported and they’ll do fine. You have the choice of two excellent officers, though it will mostly be the Drillmaster because they can source Bastion from the Imperial Officer who leads them. If the Officer has the Standard of Steel the big Gilded Legion brick can cost effectively fight anything in the game. Double Time makes them weirdly mobile too, they’re just a fantastic all round unit.
A bundle of really good stats and special rules. These guys are just chonkers, and with the Drillmaster they go up to a respectable 6 cleave 2 attacks. The natural size for these feels like 5 or 6; enough frontage to envelop a 3-front unit and demolish it while taking advantage of the flat costs of the drillmaster and initial regiment cost. One big Gilded Legion block and one Steel Legion block is a fantastic army core.
This is a rough unit to recommend. +15 points per stand to make mercenary crossbowmen capable of fighting in melee, and also they’re competing for a slot with your Legionnaires. Fiend Hunter is a good ability but I’d still usually prefer more crossbowmen. I’d write them off entirely if it wasn’t for the presence of the Null Mage. A Null Mage is a phenomenal add – she stands a fair chance of just outright killing the average spellcaster who dares to do magic inside her bubble on their first spell, and will likely get them on the second. The Cadre, then, find their best value in acting as Null Mage mules.
Role: Utility Spellcasting
The Chapter Mage is most frequently seen in conjunction with Dynastic Alliances because Protective Glyphs is an amazing ability. Not only is your entire army magically warded but the Mage can throw her spells at a distance, which is incredibly important. She can be built in a number of extremely different roles.
Note that her warband is usually the bare minimum required to cart her onto the table, at which point she abandons it to join a different unit.
Water Mage: The mighty have fallen far. Still, an Arcane 3/Focused spellcaster will average 4-5 wounds healed per turn, which is a lot and it only runs you 140 points. That can essentially immunize a regiment against chip damage from ranged harassment and help win a close combat. If she casts this spell three times on a Legion brick she’s paid for herself.
Fire Mage: The bearer of a surprisingly good offensive spell, she adds a lot of punch to a ranged unit. 210 points for a crossbow unit with a fire mage is twice the cost and three times as dangerous than its equivalent in just more crossbows. The catch is that she doesn’t add any resiliency to the unit, and it’s not nearly the same effectiveness if she castles to a more durable infantry brick.
Earth Mage: The anti-cavalry mage, this one can turn off impact attacks and negate the option for long range charges. It’s very situational but if your local meta is heavy on lance cavalry then she becomes a star.
Air Mage: The Chapter Mage makes an extremely good multiplier on a ranged unit. With Seeking Winds and the Eye of Akelus you’ll have Barrage+1 and rerolling 6’s, both things that are exceptional on a big line of Longbowmen. Longbowmen are expensive and marginal but with the utility bought by the Air Mage they become serious contenders.
Role: Power Spellcasting
If you’re not using Dynastic Alliances then the Theist Priest is your spellcaster of choice. Not only does she have a combat-capable statline but she’s finally Devout which grants a success when buffing her own unit, which makes her very reliable. She also has a much wider variety of much more practically useful spells than most versions of the chapter mage: a solid offense spell, two solid defence spells, a spell to unbreak a regiment which is situationally clutch, and a weird duelling spell that is occasionally clutch.
Do not be tempted by the supremacy ability; it’s a huge amount of setup to cast Blessed on a couple of Men at Arms regiments once per game. It’s much more worthwhile at low points values where the Mantle of St. Nicholas heirloom can go on a character in one of your few big units, likely of Legionnaires.
The best medium infantry in faction, Sicarii have a solid offensive punch, are extremely good at fighting weird monsters with evasion and fearless, and always claw some value back with lethal demise. They’re a core unit and formations of 5 can be the heart of the Hundred Kingdoms midgame.
Role: High mobility duellist
A very good character assassin attached to a highly mobile unit, the Sealed Temple commander launches 6 attacks with quicksilver strike and has 6 wounds in exchange – she’ll win fights against anyone but the most dedicated combat monsters. She’s also a vector to taking really good discount cavalry. If you want a core combat monster character in the 100Kingdoms, you want a Sealed Temple prioriy commander.
She’s also the cheapest way to effectively add cavalry into an otherwise infantry heavy list. A commitment to a Mounted Lord means paying a minimum 150 point archer tax, but the Sealed Temple Commander can get you superior cavalry and a superior duelist at almost the same price point. She pairs with everything, either as a splash or as the army core.
Role: Superheavy Cav
Weirdly the weakest of the priory commanders, brings less impact hits than a regular crimson tower stand. It’s hard to find an upside here other than I suppose putting Terrifying into a unit of Ashen Dawn.
The one priory commander capable of taking heirlooms and a retinue, the Order of the Sword priory commander can be built to be a top tier combat monster. Alternatively he presents a path to put a banner on an expensive swordmasters. You can also pair her with a Theist priest and take the Mantle of St Nicholas to put Devout on a high value unit of St. Lazarus.
Order of the Sealed Temple
There are a lot of cavalry choices in the Hundred Kingdoms, but these are your only true flanking cavalry. Their high speed, Fluid Formation, and independently good statline means that you can afford multiple small units of these to maneuver through gaps in the opponents lines. They’ll wreck most backfield objective holders and they’re a phenomenal delivery mechanism for a Sealed Temple Commander duelist. They’re a unique capability in terms of how they move and are an important part of any army.
Kind of an ugly unit now. For a 60 point premium over a unit of household knights you get +1 clash, resolve, terrifying, +1 impact and brutal impact. And the banner isn’t free so it’s an 80 point gap for fundamentally the same capabilities; that’s more than a 50% cost increase and a weight class shift into Heavy for a mild increase in damage.
Order of the Sword
Expensive but it’s not as bad as it looks – 5 wounds per stand means that you’re getting 15 wounds worth of meat compared to 20 in points equivalent of men at arms, and that comes with cleave and counterattack, +2 clash, +2 resolve, defense that doesn’t need a shield and evasion 2. They’re solid frontline medium units and you won’t regret having them.
Order of St. Lazarus
This is a fascinating unit. A phenomenal base statline and then 35 points per additional stand? Their defence is low but their resolve is sky high, they hit like trucks and they’re five wounds each. A block of 6 is 255 points compares to a block of 7 men at arms while hitting harder and being tougher.
They’re also fantastic at controlling territory and represent board control and objective pushers in Order lists. They really, really hate getting shot at by archers though.
Order of the Ashen Dawn
Absolute units, endgame superheavy cav who are basically all about having extremely good numbers. A unit of five with a full connection will perform better than the equivalent in Gilded Legionnaires – though that full connection is the sticking point. Legionnaires can take weird engagements at odd angles between Iron Discipline and Support; if the Ashen Dawn gets engaged in the flank they’re very vulnerable in comparison. If you’re running these then do your best to ensure that they engage on their own terms, ideally in a 1v1 situation. If they’re flanked and surrounded then not only do they risk falling apart but they’ll also be forced to spread their Blessed ability too thinly.
Still, these are my favourite profiles in the game and I can’t wait for them to get models.
1250 Points – Veterans
Mounted Lord – Laurelon Lance
– Mounted Squires (3) – Count Palatine (Veterans)
– Mounted Squires (3) – Count Palatine (Veterans)
– Household Knights (3)
– Household Knights (3)
– Militia Archers (3)
– Militia Archers (3)
– Household Knights (3)
– Household Knights (3)
This list knows what it’s about: Maximizing those Impact hits. The Militia Archers are there primarily as charge bait to lock down a unit for the Household Knights to countersweep. You’ll have a lot of board presence with long range rerollable charges, but your opponents will be tempted to move+charge your knights just to spare themselves the Impact hits. Multiple supporting Knights in close proximity can bait this out and then retaliate with flank charges, making this a perilous army to move closer to.
1250 Points – Relentless Drill
Imperial Officer – Tactical 1, Drill 1, Standard of Steel
– Men at Arms (3)
– Mercenary Crossbowmen (3)
– Steel Legion (5) Drillmaster
– Gilded Legion (8) Drillmaster
Theist Priest – Arcane 3, Focused
– Militia Archers (3)
This list is just two massive takes-all-comers infantry blocks. The legionnaires are extremely quick, though Vanguard and Double Time sadly don’t stack (the Officer needs to be the warlord anyway to combine Bastion and Turn the Tide). They are also extremely capable of concentrating force with their high number of attacks and support stats. If they’re not unlucky enough to run into anything with evasion they’ll blow right through it.
The Theist Priest’s job is to join either of the Legion blocks the moment they come onto the table – usually the Steel Legion, but she’s a good enough caster to reliably buff even the larger Gilded Legion unit (one autosuccess from Devout, one from Arcane 3). The Men at Arms look like they could be crossbowmen, but they have the necessary role of standing on an objective, freeing up the legionnaires to continue to maneuver and engage across the table.
The Hundred Kingdoms one-player starter comes with two militia/militia archer dual kits, three household knights, one set of gilded legion/household guard. From here you’ve got two easy paths to expand your collection but they do go in different directions: Into Knights, or into the Legions.
To go towards Knights then your next purchases are another unit of Household Knights and a Mounted Lord. Paired with your Militia Bowmen from the starter you’ve got a self-contained 540+ point warband. It does prompt you down the path of getting even more knights and court squires to make something like the double Mounted Lord list above. Adding another unit of Household Guard gives your foot Noble Lord a powerful unit to fill out your list.
The Legion path is probably more widely useful, though it involves a lot more building and painting. Here you want the Faction Taster, two more boxes of Gilded Legion and one box of Steel Legion. Even just adding that to the two militia archers from the core box you’ll be able to field nearly a thousand points in two massive Legion units, and from there a Water Mage and unit of Crossbowmen gets you to an extremely solid 1250.