Updated 11 July 2023
“A common misconception amongst modern historians and their students is that the title of Dominion refers to the Dominion of Man. It most certainly does not. The original inhabitants referred instead to the Dominion of Hazlia, the Pantokrator, God of Mankind. And with his Fall the Dominion ended – but did not die…”
The Old Dominion are Conquest’s Undead faction, modelled aesthetically on the Eastern Roman and Byzantine empires. No shambling zombie hordes, the animate vessels of the Old Dominion are an elite, durable force with an emphasis on resilient infantry supported by strange and macabre constructs of the priesthood.
Playing the Old Dominion is typically an exercise in patience. This is not an army of sweeping manoeuvre or cataclysmic long-ranged fire; the Dominion moves carefully but inexorably, weathering the early game, building its strength, and crushing their opposition in the late game. As an Old Dominion player, time is on your side, and your force is resilient enough to make the most of it.
- Highly durable, as they ignore resolve checks
- Powerful characters, both in terms of offensive output and ability to support units
- Some of the best magic in the game
- Gets stronger as the game progresses
- Generally well balanced roster with many ways to play and only a small number of units below the general power curve
- Generally expensive, smaller units and lower activation counts
- Not particularly mobile
- Vulnerable to enemy ranged attacks
- Weak early game, as your army needs to take casualties to power up
The Old Dominion are characterised by three notable special rules, the Animate Vessel and Memories of Old rules shared by (almost) all their units, and the Dark Power army-wide special rule.
Animate Vessels are the undead animated by Hazlia’s power. This rule prevents your troops from performing the inspire action (which coupled with generally low clash values makes it hard for Old Dominion to land a lot of hits in melee) but makes all units with the rule Terrifying (1).
Additionally, Animate Vessels have a resolve characteristic of ‘-‘ and always pass all resolve characteristic tests. This is the source of the Dominion’s resilience – while every other faction can potentially get their resolve characteristics quite high, they always run the risk of suffering some resolve damage, and a sufficiently unlucky roll can turn a bad enemy attack into a catastrophic one. Not so for the Old Dominion; your animate vessels will never take damage from resolve, meaning they’ll never get unlucky and see your opponent’s increase hugely at a stroke due to a series of resolve failures.
Memories of Old
All Animate Vessels pair that rule with their Memories of Old. A unit’s memories will provide some boost that augments the unit (like Bastion, Cleave, Brutal Impact, additional Impact hits, etc) but which are initially only available by spending one of the unit’s actions. As you accumulate Dark Power, these will first become a draw event (instead of an action), and then later be useable as both a draw event and an action. Only a small number of regiments will try to stack their Memories this way, but it can be powerful when they do.
The value of their memories will vary from unit to unit; for some, it’s a nice boost, but for others it’s an essential part of their role, meaning they don’t come fully online until you’ve generated enough Dark Power. Which brings us to…
At the start of any turn when your warlord is on the table, and whenever one of your stands with the Animate Vessel rule dies, you add a point to the Dark Power pool. By default, there’s only one power pool in any given army (with the exception being an army led by a Fallen Divinity – see below), and as power gets added to the pool, your army becomes more powerful.
Once you reach the second tier (typically at nine tokens, which is quite a few dead stands of troops even if your warlord has been around to generate power for a few turns) your Memories of Old unlock as draw events, and at the third tier (at seventeen tokens – a considerable number of casualties) your whole army becomes inspired without having to perform the inspire action (which animate vessels cannot do anyway). Certain commanders also unlock a fourth tier, which makes your army inflict greater resolve damage on enemies.
This mechanic is what makes the Old Dominion such a late-game powerhouse. Although their troops generally start out making the trade-offs of cost, speed and lethality in exchange for their impressive durability, as the game passes those weaknesses begin to fall away. This means, almost unique amongst Conquest factions, the Old Dominon has an in-built rubber band mechanic, which helps you come back if you fall behind. The more casualties you sustain, the more dangerous your remaining troops become. Managing this, and in particular keeping a handle on the feeling that you’re behind and therefore losing (you might not be!) is key to playing the Dominion. Keep your eye on the late-game, and remember – time is on your side.
Putting it together – Dark Power in practice
With the basic principles of the Old Dominion’s special rules established, it’s worth taking a moment to discuss how to make best use of these abilities.
How you’ll interact with Dark Power is something you need to think about at the list construction step. Once you’re actually in a game, you’ll want to put your plan into action (and deal with the many curveballs your opponent attempts to throw your way).
Here are some basic things to consider when building a list for the Old Dominion:
How much do you need Dark Power?
Not all lists need the same amount of Dark Power at the same time. Some units can get by without access to their Memories of Old, or don’t have Memories of Old strong enough to justify chasing higher tiers quickly (for example, Legionnaires), whereas other units need access to higher tiers to unlock their full effectiveness.
An army with Kataphraktoi, for example, needs a way to have their memories of old available as a draw event before the Kataphraktoi make any charges, so needs access to Tier 2 of Dark Power early. On the other hand, an army built around Legionnaires and lots of our Heavy units will eventually want to reach Tier 3 for inspired clashes, but is happy getting there in its own time and doesn’t need to rush to Tier 2 to unlock memories.
Do you have any Dark Power pay-off?
Related to the first question, does your list have any particular pay-offs for getting Dark Power to a high tier? Every unit benefits to some extent, but not equally. A unit of Karyatids has almost no dark power payoff after Tier 2, for example, but units like Kheres, Archimandrites and Heirodeacons all scale up in ways beyond the basic benefits of the higher tiers. Not every list needs pay-off for Dark Power, but if you’ve included some, it will help inform how aggressively you need to be able to pursue the higher tiers.
How are you going to gather your Dark Power?
Having established your appetite for Dark Power, you need to make sure your list can generate it at the right times. Will you just rely on casualties and your warlord being present to generate power? Will you take a Heirodeacon to help generate tokens more quickly? Or, if you need to get to Tier 2 early but don’t need to rush Tier 3 or beyond, should you instead bring Archimandrites or a Strategos Warlord to give you boosts to your tier just on the turns you need it to be at a certain level?
We’ll cover the details of all these regiments and characters in detail below, but these basic concepts are things you want to think about when you’re writing your lists, thinking about our special rules, and choosing what units to include.
One of the most powerful spellcasters in the game, an Archimandrite comes in the original Old Dominion starter box and will feature in many lists. Although they can’t reach the pure destructive potential of a Dweghom tempered fire sorcerer, or heal quite as much as a 100 Kingdoms Water Mage, no other spellcaster in the game combines such high spellcasting values with such a variety of offensive, buffing and healing spells to select from. No matter where they go in your initiative stack or what’s going on around them, an Archimandrite will always have something powerful to do with their spellcasting.
Archimandrites are also a primary source of payoff for reaching higher Dark Power tiers. Two of their four spells scale directly with the tier of Dark Power, and become very powerful as the game progresses. At their most extreme, an Archimandrite might be able to give an entire unit Aura of Death 3 or 4, or heal 4 or 5 wounds on an easily-cast spell. These are big payoffs, if you can carry your fragile priest into the late-game.
Sample Loadout #1:
Archimandrite, Unholy Mastery, Devoted to Hazlia, Consecrated Mitre, Arcane Retinue 1: Weighing in at a pricey 195 points, this Archimandrite is premier spellcasting support. Able to reach a godlike Priest (10) or even Priest (11) in the right army, his spells will almost always succeed and he will usually be able to cast two spells per activation. Can be optionally made your Warlord for three spells a round, but this is usually overkill (you won’t always have three good spells to cast).
Sample Loadout #2:
Archimandrite Warlord, Unholy Sacrament, Arcane Retinue 1: A more support-oriented Archimandrite, this Archimandrite uses the powerful Unholy Sacrament to offer true battlefield-wide support. If you want to go full priest, he actually pairs very well with the first Archimandrite build above, as you can concentrate all your magical force on one part of the battlefield. Just make sure to take a full warband with him so you can maximise the power of the Sacrament.
Our other spellcasting character, Heirodeacons are support spellcasters. Their Dark Supplication spell is one of only two ways in the entire faction to add Dark Power to the pool without sustaining casualties, and for this reason a Heirodeacon is almost always present in an Old Dominion list. The effect of this basic, no-frills Heirodeacon loadout can’t be understated – so long as it’s present, you will slowly be gaining more of the power that makes your army more powerful, which puts your opponent on a clock. You will be getting more powerful as time passes; they won’t.
One unique note about Heirodeacons is their second spell, Blackflame Coruscation, which is a passable offensive spell that doubles as a surprisingly strong payoff for getting Dark Power high (thanks to scoring additional hits equal to your Dark Power tier). This means Heirodeacons come with their own payoff, and it’s quite possible to run two moderately equipped Deacons in a list, functioning as their own setup and payoff – aiming to get you to the higher tiers quickly and become competent blasters when they do.
Finally, Heirodeacons have the Dark Shepherd ability, which lets you kill your own troops. In any other army this would be a bit of a head scratcher, but in Old Dominion it adds a potential additional source of Dark Power. Use it sparingly, but remember it exists – it can be especially useful in an early game if there’s an Archimandrite nearby to heal back a stand (albeit wounded) that a Heirodeacon destroyed. In a pinch, some games have even been won by a Heirodeacon topping their own unit (and themselves) at a pivotal moment to push the dark power pool a tier higher.
Heirodeacon, Arcane Retinue 1: A simple and effective early game power battery and late-game blaster, the Arcane Retinue both helps guarantee the early power tokens and makes sure you get the late game Blackflame off.
Strategos (Mounted and on Foot)
Our first martial character, the Foot strategos typically plays a poor second fiddle to the Xiliarch, with the mounted Strategos being more uniquely useful due to his improved attributes but more specifically his ability to force-multiply our cavalry units. The artifacts and dark blessings available to Old Dominion characters are very strong, and the mounted Strategos is the only way to layer these into a unit like Kataphraktoi.
If you’re a fan of the idea of Athanatoi regiments, they’re also mainstay for a Strategos, so a foot Strategos can find a home there. Otherwise, for only 5pts more, a Xiliarch is generally the much more attractive infantry character for your armies.
As a warlord, the Strategos’ supremacy ability is army-wide and can be used at a variety of stages through the game, but can function very powerfully as part of an alpha strike plan. The free reforms can be used to rotate your regiments to move their corners much closer to the enemy, effectively giving you a significant charge extender. Although centaur prodromoi aren’t released yet, one of the few potential early-game alpha strike lists of the Old Dominion will combine a Strategos warlord with multiple mid-size Prodromoi units for extremely long range, quite dangerous alpha strikes.
Sample Loadout #1:
Mounted Strategos, Eternal Discipline, Aventine Armour, Skofnung: this Strategos turns a unit of Kataphraktoi into an astonishing anvil, provided they aren’t being targeted by extremely high cleave or armour piercing attacks. It’s also an ideal place for the very impressive Skofnung sword, with the goal being to bring the Kataphracts on late into a matchup where they can leverage its full power and win the game.
Sample Loadout #2:
Foot Strategos, Cuirass of Hazlia’s Shadow, Skofnung, Eternal Discipline, Regalia 1: this Strategos exists to combine with Athanatoi, who are a medium blender unit available as mainstay troops in a Strategos warband. Athanatoi have a high volume of attacks and flurry, but have no native cleave and are fragile by Old Dominion standards. This Strategos boosts their Evasion to 2 which gives them a chance of weathering some attacks and adds linebreaker to complement the high number of hits they generate.
A dedicated Foot character, a Xiliarch sacrifices some of a Foot Strategos’ inconsistently useful resilience for more attacks and native cleave, at a small additional cost. This makes them the starting point for a character who can vary from ‘dangerous’ to ‘extremely, stupidly dangerous’, capable of adding significant lethality to our units that might otherwise try to wear down their enemy through attrition alone.
Where a Strategos’ supremacy ability is army wide, a Xiliarch’s focuses on their warband, giving every regiment in that warband an extra free clash action that round. Although this requires setup (you need to be able to get your units to combat and not have them die or be stalled out), it’s an intensely powerful effect, as the Xiliarch has a high quality warband and will be adding his own offensive power to one of those regiments. Even if it’s just him that gets to attack twice a turn, this can be a powerful effect.
Worth remembering is that this ability doesn’t just let you perform two clashes. It can also let you perform two other actions, then clash. In a pinch this means a unit could march + charge + clash for cavalry-level threat ranges from our infantry formations.
A Xiliarch’s warband is also the sole place to find our only non-brute heavy unit, the outstanding Varangian Guard, who are due for release in March.
Sample Loadout #1:
Xiliarch, Calamitas, Blade of the Caelsor, Gladiator, Combat Retinue 3: clocking in at 195pts (plus extra if you want to give him a second artifact), this Xiliarch the high watermark for ridiculous blending in Old Dominion. With 7 attacks at clash 4, cleave 3, and terror 1 with deadly blades and flurry, this Xiliarch can be parked in any unit to turn them into an existential threat to most enemies. You may hear me refer to this as a ‘Fanncy Xiliarch’, so named for an Australian player who runs them extensively. It’s a beast and will kill whole enemy units by himself.
Sample Loadout #2:
Xiliarch, Legio I ‘Primigenia’, Aventine Armour, Regalia 1: although this Xiliarch lacks offensive output of his own, placed in a unit of Praetorian Guard with a Profane Sepulchre, he creates a passive damage anvil that can reliably March + Charge into enemies and still inflict good damage. Although Aura of Death inflicts no resolve checks (and so has no interaction with the Terrifying 1 attribute all Old Dominion undead have), stacking up to Aura of Death (4) can still pack a wallop, and being able to March + Charge gives you a regiment with some surprising threat range and power against lighter enemy units, and the ability to grind down even tough enemy units over time. This Xiliarch also fits well in a Fallen Divinity list if you increase his retinue to Regalia 2, giving the Divinity the Regeneration (1) draw event.
An incarnation of a fallen member of Hazlia’s Pantheon, the Fallen Divinities are horrifying dark gods – and effectively embody an entire variant to our usual army-wide special rules. As mentioned above, Dark Power normally gathers in a single dark power pool that then boosts the surviving models in the army (wherever they might be on the battlefield). When a Fallen Divinity is present, it instead gathers in her own Fallen Divinity pool. Rather than empowering the army, it instead empowers and heals her, boosting her own stats and allowing her to boost troops within a radius around her.
This radically changes how the army plays; firstly, it means your power is all concentrated in one place, and secondly, it means that if she dies, all that accumulated power is lost. A Fallen Divinity can be an intensely powerful element, but she’s not totally invincible, and sufficiently powerful attacks or sheer weight of fire can bring her down.
When building lists around a Fallen Divinity, bear in mind that your army will almost never unlock memories of old as a draw event, and will certainly never reach the tier of dark power that makes them inspired all the time. As such, look for troops that don’t necessarily need their memories as much or are comfortable using their memories as actions, like Kanephora and Varangian Guard.
It almost goes without saying that there isn’t a more powerful model in the army in terms of payoff for generating a lot of Dark Power. A Tier 3 Fallen Divinity is the most powerful single unit in the game (exceeded only by particularly colossal massed rank regiments or the very biggest monsters with riders, and often not even then) – ferociously resilient, hugely dangerous, and a signal that the game is about to end one way or another.
Fallen Divinity, Aura of Dread, Eternal Discipline: a Fallen Divinity can’t take equipment and doesn’t really need much boosting, but the Aura of Dread when taken by her will also boost units around her, which is very powerful. Eternal Discipline adds a layer of defence against Magic and Ranged attacks, which you can’t use the Divinity’s Blessed rule on.
One of our two light ghost units, Kheres are a hybrid ranged/spellcaster unit who appear as a mainstay in the Archimandrite warband. They cannot have a character join them (so cannot be used to get the Archimandrite onto the field early) but supplement their light ranged poke with two unique spells; Insanity (an offensive spell that causes defence rolls to be made against the lowest resolve in the target regiment) and Drain Will (a debuff which reduces an enemy regiment’s defence by 1 until round end).
Kheres are a fascinating unit that offer some unique capabilities that make them very attractive. Firstly, although their ranged attack is among the weakest in the game, it’s still capable of causing some damage to light enemy units, and combined with their reasonable March of 6 and the excellent Loose Formation rule they make capable counter-skirmisher skirmishers. They certainly aren’t going to win a ranged duel with an enemy unit like Vanguard Clone Infiltrators or Slingers, but they can hold their own against Stalkers or Mercenary Crossbowmen just fine and even against elite ranged forces will at least go down slowly enough to absorb fire that might otherwise be directed to more vulnerable units.
Secondly, Kheres are one of the rare units in Old Dominion that natively offer significant payoff for getting your Dark Power high, because their spellcasting power scales as your Dark Power pool reaches higher tiers. A unit of four stands of Kheres is a pricy 210 points, but when they reach Dark Power 2 they’re rolling as a Priest (8) for spellcasting, and when they reach Dark Power 3 they open the option to spend a second action to get up to Priest (12). Combine that with the power of the Insanity spell, which has a low range but potentially high damage against the right target and which also scales in lethality as Dark Power tiers increase, and you get a unit that rewards a player who can keep them alive until Dark Power is high.
In combination, this makes Kheres a valuable unit that can shift between roles as the game progresses, offering all the utility of a light skirmisher unit in the early game before transitioning to some real spell support punch in the late game.
Our second ghost unit, Moroi are likewise available only in an Archimandrite warband, but unlike Kheres are a restricted choice, and are a fast, fragile, dangerous melee unit rather than a ranged one. Combining high attacks, cleave (through memories of old), and aura of death, Moroi put out a lot of hits and are one of the more dangerous light units that exist in the game. They’re also fast; march 6 is high by Old Dominion infantry standards, but more importantly they have the fluid formation rule, which can hugely extend their charge threat range, especially on larger units (by swinging their corner toward the enemy they want to charge, artificially closing the gap and turning long charges into much shorter ones).
The biggest roadblock to fielding Moroi is that as a restricted unit in the Archimandrite’s warband, they compete heavily with Bone Golems, who are bigger, tougher, almost as fast, and a little more dangerous. However, this is something of a false dichotomy, as Bone Golems (as good as they are) are heavy units, always appearing two to four turns later in the game.
This is particularly important not just in terms of table presence (Old Dominion can play through an absence of models in the early game if needed, but having some elements present to keep the enemy honest is valuable), but in terms of what I’d call your ‘available support’ in any given turn. Since Moroi will be in an army with an Archimandrite, you’ll have powerful magical support and healing on tap, but that support needs a target to be worthwhile. Moroi give you something to do with it on those two to four turns they’re on the board and fighting but the Bone Golems aren’t. Eventually, yes, the Golems will make it to melee and do their work, but despite being far more fragile the Moroi do look attractive when you consider they’re likely to be the sole beneficiary of your Archimandrite’s support during those early turns of the game.
As an unreleased unit, Cultists aren’t yet available either as models or to play in official events. Once released, they promise to be a rare living unit, which means they do not contribute dark power when they die (which is normally generated by the death of animate vessels) but do represent a light unit that our infantry characters like Archimandrites and Heirodeacons can join (both of whom they are a mainstay regiment for). They’re also cheap, and that cost makes their ranged attacks (which are otherwise almost identical to Kheres) surprisingly tolerable. On top of that, especially with a character embedded to provide Terrifying (1), they’re surprisingly annoying in melee, thanks to their lethal demise hits causing wounds to enemies that attack them.
Typically, cultists will come in regiments of 3-4 as an escort to a spellcasting character to get them on the field early, and are very useful in this capacity. Additionally, although it’s a bit of a meme pick, they can be used in big blocks thanks to their very low additional cost per stand (a mere 30pts). Beyond a certain point you’re never getting to make ranged attacks with those extra models, but a huge brick of them is not that expensive and surprisingly effective in melee thanks to lethal demise. A lot of units simply don’t trade effectively into them, costing more points in casualties to themselves than it takes to kill a commensurate value of cultists.
Ultimately, you can’t take too many of them – your army needs animate vessels for the special rules to function – but they’ll be a surprisingly useful unit in multiple configurations when they arrive.
Our final light unit and also unreleased, Centaur Prodromoi are light melee cavalry. I say ‘light’, but they’re surprisingly able fighters at Defence 2 with a shield and cleave 1 and terrifying 1 in melee. They also get a passable set of impact hits once memories of old unlocks as a draw event, letting them engage quite a lot of units in their weight class and even contribute well to a fight against some medium and heavy regiments. They’re also the fastest native unit in the army, being our sole March 8 regiment.
Prodromoi also have the significant advantage of being a mainstay regiment in both Xiliarch and Strategos warbands. At 50pts per stand, this makes them viable as cheap(ish), useful, mainstay regiments to unlock more unique restricted elements, or even as relatively large units by themselves. They combine well with Xiliarch or Strategos supremacy abilities too, which will make them another popular choice when they arrive.
Legionnaires are our most common mainstay regiment (equivalent to Bound Clones, Men at Arms, Hold Warriors etc), present in nearly every warband except the Fallen Divinity and often the easiest way to bring a scoring unit that unlocks restricted options for your army.
Legionnaires are, in general, a unit that you take because of these qualities, not because they possess any great personal merit. They’re amongst our least durable units, don’t do much damage, and are overall a generally mediocre unit. They look like they should fit into the holding or pinning role or maybe be able to fight in large numbers if additional stands are added to the unit, but they would be generally poor choices for both these roles if we didn’t need to take them due to mainstay restrictions in the first place. As a bit of a study in design, though, it’s worth looking at why.
Firstly, as an Animate Vessel, they have the usual restriction of not being able to inspire, but being Terrifying (1). However, Terrifying is a second-order multiplier on combat damage (its effect is contingent on how many resolve checks you cause, which means it’s always less effective at dealing damage than abilities that do wounds in the first place, like high Attacks, Clash or Cleave), meaning their melee offensive output sits somewhere just above Militia but notably below any comparable regiment, like Force Grown Drones, Men-At-Arms, or Hold Warriors.
This is a phenomenon that’s pretty common across the entire faction, but where Animate Vessels typically make up the difference is by being very durable. Even with typically modest defensive stats (most models in Old Dominion sit around Defence 3 or less, with only a couple of exceptions), not taking resolve checks tends to make a unit quite durable. This would also be true for Legionnaires, except a large portion of their durability is tied to their Memory of Old, Phalanx.
As a defensive draw event (or action), the Memory of Old therefore functions as a much worse version of Bastion, and has all of Bastion’s drawbacks. It’s worth noting Bastion can be very powerful on some units, but because it doesn’t activate until the unit does, it puts significant constraints on how you order your command deck and activate your forces in order to get use out of it. This means, for example, that you’ll never see a well-constructed force trying to make use of large numbers of units with Bastion (because they simply all cannot activate before they’re attacked, making Bastion useless when taken en masse), and generally you’re most likely to see Bastion on units that are powerful or valuable enough to be given choice positions in the command stack (activating early in a turn when in combat to maximise the chance that Bastion triggers before they’re attacked).
These limitations have terrible consequences for legionnaires. They just aren’t a unit you can prioritise activating over other more powerful or valuable elements, meaning the majority of the time they’ll be using their base Defence of 1 plus their shield. Although Animate Vessel still gives them some relative stickiness in melee, against incoming ranged volleys, they’re usually no harder to whittle down or kill than Force Grown Drones or Militia.
This leaves Legionnaires in a rough spot. They’re not particularly dangerous, and by the standards of Old Dominion units they’re not durable either. Without access to force multiplication that might justify a larger unit, this means Legionnaires are left in as a tax we pay to unlock higher-quality restricted regiments, expendable melee support, and character bunkers for characters who can’t slot into better units.
In these roles, however, they find inevitable use, meaning that even if they aren’t the greatest unit for their cost, you can expect to run them in many lists. Typically, you’ll see Legionnaires in one of three basic configurations:
Option 1: 3 legionnaires with either an Icon Bearer, an Optio, or both. The icon bearer means the regiment will generate one extra dark power when totally destroyed, and getting it totally destroyed is your goal, which the Optio helps with by getting them further up the board faster. Park them somewhere they’re in the enemy’s way and use them as a blocking regiment or cheap scoring element that needs to be answered. 130-145 points for a ‘go and die’ unit that other factions might pay as little as 90 or even 75pts for is a bit stiff, you can consider the premium as a cost you’re paying for dark power to make your other, better units into their best selves.
Option 2: 3-4 legionnaires with no attachments, but an attached character. For when you have literally no other legal place to put an important character, who you don’t want to die. Until cultists arrive, and probably even after, this is a natural home of characters like an Archimandrite or a Heirodeacon. And thanks to stuff like the late-game blasting power of the Heirodeacon, this isn’t a bad little unit for the cost. Just for Hazlia’s sake keep them away from anything that looks dangerous until it’s fully engaged with your actually good units.
Option 3: 5-6 legionnaires with a profane reliquary and attached Character. The profane reliquary doesn’t fix the durability problem of the Legionnaires but it does tune up their offensive output a little, and because attached Characters benefit too, you can get an ok combat unit out of your mainstay slot by spending 105-145pts over the base unit. Even with the extra stands this unit won’t hold up against ranged attacks or any well-statted enemy melee regiment, but it will fight ok while bunkering up a character, scoring zones and unlocking restricted units.
Ultimately, although they’re hard to recommend on their own merits, Legionnaires remain an excellent purchase for new players, because at minimum you’ll always need some, if only because someone has to do the dying so your better units can reach peak performance.
Elite versions of legionnaires (and built from the same kit), Praetorians give up Support (2) and cost a bit extra to otherwise improve on legionnaires in every way. They’re very marginally more dangerous in most unit sizes, but more importantly they’re much more durable, serving as perfect character bunkers for any character that wants a tough escort.
Although they look similar on paper to legionnaires, the extra wound and extra defence go a huge way in making the unit able to perform as a very serviceable anvil, and although they clock in at a relatively pricey 160pts for a base unit, at only 45pts per additional stand, they scale up reasonably well. You’re paying for durability, but durability at that cost is efficient, and sets up a big, useful unit that can anchor a battle line, or serve as a home to a powerful character. In essence, Praetorian Guard do everything you might want Legionnaires to do, but better. In addition, because they’re a natural home to a powerful combat character like a Xiliarch, they’re also a unit that you’re often willing to activate early during a turn when the lines have met, maximising the chance that they’ll be able to make use of their Bastion.
The biggest impediment to fielding Praetorians is that they’re only a mainstay regiment for the Xiliarch, meaning that’s where you’ll most commonly see them. Easily the most common configuration for them is in a 4-6 strong unit as an escort for either a combat capable or Legio Primigenia Xilliarch, who provides killing power of some description to complement the Praetorian’s durability. It’s an expensive combination, probably coming in at close to a quarter of your army much of the time, but it’s a potent concentration of force, and concentration of force destroys armies.
In a pinch, an Archimandrite might also give up a restricted slot for some Praetorians to hide in, hoping to make use of his presence in a more aggressive front line regiment. A warlord Archimandrite for example can get his Praetorians into melee and use Dark Immolation (sometimes a challenging spell to cast due to low range, but no issue at all if the Archimandrite is embedded in the unit) to inflict a staggering number of aura of death hits when the enemy regiment activates. You can perform the same manoeuvre with Legionnaires, of course, but without the resilience of Praetorians, they’re riskier to approach the front lines with while sheltering your Archimandrite.
The Old Dominion’s shock heavy cavalry (they even have the ‘shock’ rule), Kataphraktoi are some of the game’s pre-eminent impact attack regiments, packing a high number of impact attacks, brutal impact, terror and a serviceable clash value on the charge.
On paper, Kataphraktoi are tougher but less dangerous equivalents to the Hundred Kingdom signature Crimson Tower heavy cavalry, with highly similar attributes across the board. Crimson Tower outperform Kataphrakts offensively both on the charge thanks to their Wedge! rule and in a sustained fight thanks to their higher native clash value, but are less resilient thanks to taking resolve checks (albeit at a high native resolve of 4).
You would think that the bias toward offensive power in an assault cavalry unit would make Crimson Tower the better of the two units, but the real difference between the two units emerges when you consider the context of their faction. Assault cavalry regiments in in Conquest rarely want to be first into the fray, hitting the enemy square and in the front of a prepared defence with a counter-assault waiting in the wings. Instead, cavalry like Crimson Tower and Kataphrakts are second-wave units, appearing to counter-charge enemies pinned in place by durable or expendable infantry elements.
And this is where Kataphraktoi shine – as the hammer to the rest of the faction’s anvil. Old Dominion are nothing but anvils, with every unit in the army always liable to take just a little longer to kill than your opponent plans, always a little too durable to blow through easily and engineer a breakthrough against. And in that environment, despite being less optimised profiles than Crimson Tower, Kataphraktoi shine.
On top of that, should they need to fight in a sustained melee, the durability of Kataphraktoi means they still have fundamentally solid stats for force multiplication by both a mounted Strategos and support spellcasting from an Archimandrite. Skofnung is strong as they have a solid volume of attacks; Eternal Discipline and Aventine Armour are great on them as they are our only natively Defence 4 unit. And because they get their resilience from their defence rather than their wound count, healing from an Archimandrite is comparably more efficient than trying to heal a unit with more wounds but worse defense.
(I realise here that what I’ve said is “if you give this regiment Linebreaker, Untouchable and Hardened, they’re really good”, which is a statement that can be made of any Infantry or Cavalry unit in the Old Dominion roster, but they are still a solid if pricey vehicle for attaching a character to.)
Ultimately, you don’t want Kataphrakts bogged down in a sustained melee, and you especially don’t want them going multiple rounds against anything with even moderate cleave values, but like any old dominion unit, if you need to grind, they can.
Our premium ranged unit, Karyatids are brutes wielding greatbows in the style of Byzantine Ushabti. Although they don’t outrange the longest-ranged ranged units in the game (longbows and marksman clones can fire further, for example), they have the longest range of any Armour Piercing 2 unit and an impressive Barrage of 4 per unit once their memories of old are active as a draw event. They also serve as an able counter-battery unit thanks to their defence of 3, which is high enough to offer some protection against more regular enemy ranged units armed with bows or crossbows. As a brute unit, they’re also tall enough to shoot over our infantry, making them very flexible in terms of the support fire they can provide.
Ultimately, the only reason not to include Karyatids in most lists (apart from the fact that they are often a restricted unit) is that as a ranged unit they fundamentally fill a support role, not a mainline combat one. In Conquest as with most wargames, you don’t want to build your armies with too many support elements and not enough units to do the actual heavy lifting. And because our characters are so strong, we often spend a lot of our nominal ‘support budget’ on them. A Karyatid presence in your lists will almost always be good, but make sure to balance them against your characters and ensure you still have enough meat and potatoes in the list to do the fighting and the dying on the front lines.
As Praetorians are more expensive, much tougher Legionnaires, Athanatoi are more expensive, much blendier ones. About as durable as regular legionnaires at native Defence 2 but far, far more dangerous on a per-stand basis thanks to a whopping 6 attacks with flurry, Athanatoi are a unit only available to Xiliarchs and Strategos but are an interesting choice in both.
Ultimately, personally, the fragility of Athanatoi keeps me from wholeheartedly recommending them. But at 170pts + 50pts per additional stand, they’re cost effective even with their relative fragility (and remember, no Old Dominion unit is truly fragile) and can comfortably be run either as independent small blocks that will do some good damage, or as a larger unit being aggressively force-multiplied by a foot Strategos or Xiliarch (but probably a Strategos, who they’re Mainstay with). If your embedded character has Cuirass of Hazlia’s Shadow they go up to Evasion 2, which lets them risk facing down some units we would otherwise have to just take our licks from, like the Hellbringer Drake, who will shoot one of your units to death on the turn it spends all its overcharge counters unless you’re both resilient to its armour penetration and have a deep enough wound pool to shrug the hits.
An unreleased unit that we haven’t seen concept art for yet but which will almost certainly share a dual kit with Prodromoi, Centaur Kerykes are very similar to Karyatids and even appear in the same warbands (albeit as mainstay with a Heirodeacon). They’re faster but with lower range, about as dangerous per shot but with fewer shots, just as tough, and with access to the very situational but sometimes very useful Sureshoot rule. They are, however, cheaper than Karyatids, and I recommend them in particular in Fallen Divinity lists, where neither unit can rely on its memories of old, which hurts the Karyatids much more than the Kerykes.
Otherwise, everything I said about the Karyatids applies to the Kerykes – they’re a little different, and a little cheaper, but appear in the same warbands and fulfill the same role.
Another unreleased unit and one likely to share a dual kit with Cultists, Hashashin are the second of only two living regiments in the Old Dominion. This means all the standard rules don’t apply – they do take resolve checks, they aren’t surprisingly durable, they can inspire and they don’t generate dark power. This makes them non-trivial to include in a list as you can’t afford that many stands that don’t generate dark power, and they’re only available as restricted choices in Heirodeacon warbands.
They are, however, fast, light blenders. With a whopping attack score of 7 with cleave 1 and access to deadly blades (generally a better upgrade than going to cleave 2 most of the time, just for comparison), they’re real can openers if you can afford them and they don’t get splattered.
This is a regiment I’d generally advise not thinking too much about until it’s due for release. They’re probably good, but they’re a bit niche, a bit weird, and don’t play into our usual game plan. You’ll need to practice a bit with them to get a feel for if you like them, which is something that will be more worth doing when we know they’re actually on the horizon.
When I first reviewed the Profane Sepulchre following its 2.0 rules update, I made the claim that there was no way the model was balanced, but that I had no idea if it was too powerful, or not powerful enough. Since then, a balance pass has removed the ability of the Sepulchre to theoretically trade its entire wound stack for one omega nuke, and I’ve had the opportunity to to actually sit down and play a game with it (the only model I had never fielded or proxied since the 2.0 update to the game) and honestly – I’m still not quite sure how I feel. But I have a better understanding of the profile.
How the Sepulchre works at a fundamental level is as a big, chunky, but offensively anaemic model trades its massive wounds pool for a variety of effects. The challenge here is that the effect of the Exhortations of Eternal Faith will almost always do fewer wounds to the enemy than they do to the Sepulchre, but Sepulchre is built specifically to trade wounds inequitably like this – for its cost, it’s has a huge wound pool, and is among the chunkiest unit in the entire game (even a Tontorr is less durable).
Ultimately, however, despite having paragraphs and paragraphs of rules to trade on, the biggest challenge posed to the Sepulchre is that most of its effects are not actually particularly compelling, particularly given the ‘cost’ they represent. Since the Profane Sepulchre costs 270pts and has 36 wounds, each wound costs 7.5 points. Since it can’t be healed, those wounds are all you get, meaning you can accurately cost every use of its abilities. Giving another regiment Dark Power 3, or boosting its own melee, costs you 45pts. Increasing the attacks of nearby command stands costs you 30pts. And dropping the big bomb costs you up to 90pts.
When you break it down this way, it’s hard not to conclude that these are steep costs for single-use effects. Compare spending 30pts to give +2 attacks to command stands within 12”, to the Dweghom Remembrance of the Core, a single-use item which gives +1 attack to every command stand in the army regardless of range for one round, and costs only 10pts.
In the one game I’ve played with the Sepulchre, I built the army to try to be able to use all of the possible Exhortations over the course of the game, but instead spent thirty-five wounds causing hits to the enemy over three rounds, then running off to an objective (well, waddling off to an objective) for the last few rounds. It took some lining up but I was able to land very close to ideal hits on all three bombs, and… it was pretty ok? It almost certainly did less sustained damage over the course of a game than a unit of Karyatids would, and it also didn’t ‘pay’ for itself (but this is a bad metric by which to measure the success of a unit) – but it dealt some big bursts of explosive power in specific places at times that really mattered, contributing to the shattering of an enemy unit in one case and blowing out an enemy aura of death unit before one of my units had to engage in another. These were high impact effects that were less susceptible to the vagaries of dice, range or line of fire than a normal ranged attack would be, and which can’t be stopped by just running to engage a unit like Karyatids would be.
At a hunch, I don’t think this was the experience the designers were going for. It’s an interesting effect, and a powerful one (albeit at a premium, given the points cost), but there are so many sentences of rules that can mostly be glossed over in terms of actual use case. The Sepulchre isn’t bad, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if we see another rules pass on it before it sees model release.
Let me open this section by saying: the Old Dominion has no bad heavy units. All our heavies are good, and the way Old Dominion plays with an emphasis on getting stronger over time and keeping our eye on the late game means that heavy regiments play perfectly into our game plan. Not every list can or should be ‘all heavies all the time’ (if nothing else, the scenario challenges posed to such a list are very real), but our heavies – Bone Golems included – are good.
Bone Golems are strong, fast, and durable. The closest thing they have to a drawback is the degree of randomness in their attacks (being Clash 2 with Relentless Blows is mathematically equivalent to being Clash 3, but in practice it means you’ll have a lot more peaks and valleys in your attacks), but they make up for that by being consistently durable, able to reroll charges, and having a powerful Aura of Death.
The Aura of Death in particular makes them very useful into almost all targets, since it means they’re layering their Cleave 2 primary attacks with both Impact Hits and Aura of Death hits. This means they’re able to deal with both heavily armoured regiments and lightly armoured regiments you want a lot of hits to chew through. You’ll never go wrong including Bone Golems, and they’re the main reason the restricted slots in an Archimandrite warband are so heavily contested.
Our second currently released melee heavy Brute, Kanephors combine a series of rules (blessed, flawless strikes, hardened + good evasion and generally good stats across the board) to produce a unit that has no enemy it particularly excels into but also no enemy that particularly excels into them. Within reason, they can be relied upon to plug almost any gap in your lines, and engage and do ok against almost any enemy.
Since they’re heavy and will arrive later in the game, this makes them a perfect emergency response unit. If your opponent is directing overwhelming force at some part of your line, Kanephors can move in to hold that position and will probably account well for themselves in a way that Bone Golems for example might not if confronted by, say, Cleave 3 Fiend Hunting Dragonslayers.
As with every Blessed unit, the biggest weakness of Kanephors is being exposed to multiple high quality attacks per round. Watch out for particularly dangerous ranged attacks being directed at them in the same turn as you send them into the breach against a high-powered enemy melee unit. Even they have limits, and that much force split across multiple attacks will test it.
Our only non-brute Heavy regiment, Varangian Guard are elite can-opener infantry. Only available in a Xiliarch warband, they alone would be payoff for his inclusion if a Xiliarch didn’t already, you know, absolutely slap.
Defensively they’re no slouch, being animate vessels with six wounds, Defence 3 and Hardened 1. That’s robust. On top of that they have a respectable Clash 3 and with their memories of old are able to climb as Cleave 4 with Linebreaker. Nothing without evasion shrugs that off – even Steelforged are saving on 1s. And while they might only have four attacks per stand and cost an expensive 200pts for the initial regiment, being relatively cheap to add stands to means that a regiment of four Varangian guard stands dishes out 17 attacks per clash and ‘only’ comes in at an expensive but affordable 265pts if you pay for a standard (which you should).
On top of that, being in the Xiliarch’s warband makes them eligible for the Xiliarch’s supremacy ability, making them the ultimate payoff for a Xiliarch warlord. Varangian Guard are very nearly Dragonslayers (albeit cheaper and usually a little less dangerous most of the time), but when they can clash twice in a turn, they’re just about the high watermark for offensive damage out of a single melee unit in the game.
Our third and final heavy Brute regiment, Buccephaloi are undead minotaurs and are the most offensively oriented of our brute units. With good clash and native access to Cleave 3, they’re effectively more expensive Varangian Guard who trade out survivability for March 6 and some moderate impact attacks, making them a strong payoff if you can line up a charge + clash.
In play, Buccephaloi are a unit you won’t usually want to take in great numbers, because for their cost they’re too fragile to form a main battle line element; a bit like Kataphraktoi, they want other elements to pin the enemy in place and create an opportunity for a hammer blow. They’re still animate vessels, of course, so they’re tough enough to survive to finish a brawl against an enemy they’ve run over with their initial charge, but they can’t be positioned where the enemy might get the jump on them. This makes them ideal units to arrive last onto the battlefield, and they could fit well either supporting a list with a durable infantry presence in need of offensive output, or a list with a higher than usual complement of heavy elements that needs a designated ‘last onto the battlefield’ piece that is happy to just contribute reinforcement dice until the time comes to arrive.
Their models are also absolute bangers, which makes including at least one regiment an attractive choice in the literal sense.
Starter Army – 1,000pts:
=== The Last Argument of Kings ===
== (Warlord) Archimandrite : Arcane 1
* Kheres (3) :
* Moroi (3) :
* Legionnaires (3) :
* Bone Golems (3) :
== Hierodeacon : Arcane 1
* Legionnaires (3) :
This is a simple starter army built from the models you’ll get in the original Old Dominion, starter box plus some Bone Golems and a Heirodeacon. This force combines a lot of good basic Old Dominion concepts, with units in all weight categories, multiple spellcasters, and especially quite a lot of payoff pieces for your dark power, which you’ll generate with the Archimandrite and Heirodeacon.
This list can expand in a lot of different ways, but some more ghosts (even just to expand both units up to 4-5 stands) and a restricted brute regiment of your choice for the Heirodeacon warband will start you on the journey to 2,000pts.
Cavalry Expansion – 1,500pts:
=== The Last Argument of Kings ===
== (Warlord) Mounted Strategos : Aventine Armor, Skofnung
* Kataphraktoi (3) : Standard Bearer
* Legionnaires (3) : Optio
== Archimandrite : Arcane 1
* Kheres (3) :
* Moroi (3) :
* Legionnaires (3) :
* Bone Golems (3) :
== Hierodeacon : Arcane 1
* Legionnaires (3) :
This list takes the starter army and expands it in another possible direction by adding a mounted Strategos and Kataphraktoi (plus the extra Legionnaires we need to unlock the Kataphraktoi). Adding the Strategos lets us play around with using him as a Warlord, although the Archimandrite remains a perfectly solid choice if you want to continue using him.
The mounted Strategos also adds a serious force concentration unit into play that can take and dish out damage. As noted in the section on Kataphraktoi above, Kataphraktoi give you a shock cavalry unit that’s powerful enough to sweep in and take advantage of any enemy unit pinned in place by your Legionnaires or Kheres and Moroi, as well as starting to play around with a combat-oriented character.
This is a lot of characters, but Old Dominion characters are good (and get you a lot of points on the table for your hobby time and dollars), and you’ll still have your ghosts to play with as an alternate configuration using otherwise the same models. You’ll be well on your way to a reasonably well-rounded 2,000 point force.
Heavy Infantry Addition – 2,000pts:
=== The Last Argument of Kings ===
== Archimandrite :
* Kheres (3) :
* Moroi (3) :
* Legionnaires (3) :
* Bone Golems (3) :
== Hierodeacon : Arcane 1
* Legionnaires (3) :
== (Warlord) Mounted Strategos : Calamitas, Blade of the Caelesor, Gladiator
* Kataphraktoi (3) : Standard Bearer
* Legionnaires (3) : Optio
== Xhiliarch : Legio I ‘Primigenia’, Eleutherea, Giver of Mercy, Regalia 1
* Praetorian Guard (3) : Profane Reliquary
* Varangian Guard (3) : Standard Bearer
This final version of the list rounds us out to 2,000pts with the addition of three more boxes – a Xiliarch, Praetorians and Varangian Guard. With the Xiliarch added we’re up to four characters, but this army gives you basically everything you need to expand your army in other directions you might want. You have every character you can use as a Warlord (except the Fallen Divinity, who is more of a build-around and a significant financial investment in her own right) and a lot of options for future additions.
Something different we’re trying here is changing the performance of our melee characters. In this configuration, the Strategos is built for quite good clash damage output, which gives the Kataphraktoi a lot more power in sustained engagements, while the Xiliarch is configured for heavy Aura of Death damage by combining the Legio I Primigenia banner with the Profane Reliquary in his Praetorian Guard. We had 10pts spare, so I also gave him Eleuthera just to make him a bit scarier for enemies to challenge to a duel and make his offensive output just a tiny bit stronger.
From here, for future purchases, you can add Brutes to the Heirodeacon warband, or just expand your existing regiments. A Hetarios would get your Kataphrakts up to four stands, and boxes of Kheres/Moroi and Legionnaires/Praetorian Guard would unlock larger unit sizes for both – Kheres, Moroi and Praetorians in particular are good choices to scale up to four or five stands.
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