Conquest Feb 2024 Update: the Goonhammer Hot Take

As is their wont, Para Bellum INSIST on continuing to improve Conquest: the Last Argument of Kings and have just dropped a new rules update for the game. There’s a few big pieces here, a few smaller ones, and, as is Goonhammer’s style, a lot of Strong Opinions. 

To note, we don’t intend to cover every change in depth here. These are our opinions on the most important ones – you can find a full explainer penned by the developers at

Now, let’s dig in. Today, you’ll be hearing from Thanqol, Bair, Magos Sockbert, and Rob. 

General rules updates 

Rob: There are a number of changes, large and small, in the general rules. Retinues have been removed, the rules for reforming have been tidied up so that the manoeuvres shown in the rulebook diagrams are finally legal, characters need to share the front and centre of a regiment with the command stand, and an enemy declining a duel now inflicts an effect that’s a lot like broken but isn’t broke which means it can’t be trivially removed by rallying but also won’t lead to you shattering if you aren’t in position to rally.

These are all generally good, solid, useful changes with the duelling change really straddling the line between a small change and a big one. Duelling now has a guaranteed impact during a round but only during that round (as the effect goes away at end of round after scoring) but can potentially set up some significant plays. It’ll be a fun space to explore, although we don’t expect to see any degenerate strategies to arise from it (although I’ll be doing my best to find something and have at least one fun lead I’m waiting on a ruling on). 

Beyond the small and medium general changes, there are two big ones. Firstly, characters can now chain activations with their (non-monster) regiment, provided their regiment is in place in the command stack to act immediately after them. This opens up a lot of potential plays, especially in terms of combining defensive technology that you couldn’t really justify spending back to back activations on (like combining a Biomancer’s Harvest Essence with Bastion, which could lead to Defence 5 Bound Clones, provided you could survive the hammering you took setting it all up). The incoming Sorcerer Kings have a number of pieces especially well suited to taking advantage of this, but almost every faction has some ways they can use it. 

Secondly, and probably the most significant change by a wide margin, characters now inherit the weight class of the regiment they join. This puts an end to medium and heavy characters in light units, which has a massive impact on a significant number of (previously) tourney-optimised lists built around maximising early scoring. Hundred Kingdoms, Spires, Wadhrun, Dweghom, City States and Nords all had access to these combinations and used them routinely and that’s now gone. It should be noted that while a falling tide lowers all boats, so far every faction’s players have concluded that this hurts them most of all. Except Old Dominion, for whom Prodromoi and Cultists haven’t been released and frankly whose cups runneth so over by this update that they may not have even noticed the change yet and are assuming that suddenly not having to contest an massive opposing scenario lead every single game is just proof that Hazlia loves them. 



Thanqol: Last month, Robert Cantrell took the Underspire to first place victory at Australia’s CanCon. This week every part of his winning list has been dismantled, replaced with a massive internal rebalancing away from the Underspire and towards the Directorate. As a Directorate loyalist myself this is fantastic news – the Biomancer has been buffed heavily and her awful Supremacy ability has been completely reworked.

The Biomancer, then. First and foremost the Biomancer is a huge winner from the changes to Duels, as declining a duel no longer disables healing for the regiment. She’s also a huge winner from the changes to retinues, because Master of Flesh is a huge discount over the old Flesh 3 – and while this does lock her out from also taking Fleshcarver, it’s a huge net positive. 

As a Warlord the Biomancer now comes with a package of two new Biomancies for all Biomancers in your army – a push to take a Master Biomancer and then an Avatar Projection Biomancer. Adrenal Surge is a way to emergency Rally a unit, usually so you can then immediately heal it – an absolutely essential tool for the Biomancer’s kit. Subdermal Ketamine Induction makes a light unit Medium until the end of the round which backstops the Spires losing the ability to get early scoring with Vanguard Clone Infiltrators and makes spare units of Mainstay tax drones – or even Stryx! – have utility all game long. Insanely based set of abilities, all the more so for the Supremacy ability allowing you to use them on any friendly unit in range of an objective zone.

Incredible stuff. It’s like an entire third of the army has unfolded, all from this one character. I couldn’t be more excited.

Elsewhere, the High Clone Executor gets two tactics by default and you no longer need to kick yourself for constantly forgetting Indomitable, which is a double buff in my opinion. Notably she can’t stack Burrowing Parasites and Biotic Hive which honestly whatever. You can just take Adaptive Evolution instead for 5 points more and the +1 volley/reroll 6s will give you about as much firepower as before in slightly different situations (though also Infiltrator Variant lost a shot, so this is a gentle step down for the Marksman Executor). 

The Mimetic Assassin is now liberated from the concept of having to have a warband and is now just a 90 point attachment that adds Flank, 5 auto hits, and extremely good duels to any infantry unit. This is a huge buff – a big part of the Assassin’s lack of use was the 90-120 points it cost to bring her escort that wasn’t also unlocking restricted units. She’s the only unit in the game now who can Seek New Escort (now Right Place Right Time) but you’ll realistically almost never use it – without being able to move other characters around then there’s not as much chance to open up places for her to castle into. But as a package of abilities for 90 points she’s unspeakably good – consider putting her in a unit of Vanguard Clone Infiltrators, giving her Infiltrator Variant and Adaptive Evolution, and having her decamp the skirmishers to go for a character’s throat once the lines hit. 

The Underspires caught two nerfs – Brute Drones went up 20 points for a unit, which adds up when you’re taking 4+ minimum units as recent Underspires players have been doing. Induce Lethargy now doesn’t stack, which is a gentle toning down of the Underspires’ ability to concentrate force.

Finally, the Siegebreaker Behemoth got an improved statline. Two more attacks, two more wounds, minus one resolve, plus ten points. I think this is a buff overall, though it’s very close to neutral – those two attacks are extremely likely to be +4 wounds, and this just barely pushes the Siegebreaker over the line where it can be reliably expected to annihilate a unit of basic infantry in a single attack. 

What does this all mean?

Invest In Biomancer. This is a huge buff to the Directorate and opens up an entirely new side of the Spires. Many small changes have come together to cover all of the Biomancer’s weaknesses and transform her into an absolute cornerstone of the faction. The Underspires got gently put in their place but they too will benefit from the discount of Master of Flesh and the added utility of the Mimetic Assassin.



Wadrhun Warbred Conquest Last Argument of Kings Credit: Magos Sockbert
Wadrhun Warbred Conquest Last Argument of Kings Credit: Magos Sockbert

Sockbert & Rob: W’adrhŭn have had some significant changes in this patch, obviously focused around disrupting existing mono-builds. From a design perspective this is pretty essential; solved states, perceived or actual, are a major impediment to a healthy player experience – and the W’adrhun list meta probably was pretty close to actually solved with only minor local variations that came down to how much of you hated the idea of having to pick up and roll a single reserve die at any point the entire game. When even the notoriously dark horse-chasing Australians are sticking pretty universally true to a fairly similar tack, you know a faction has settled into stagnancy.

This generally means a few significant but highly disruptive nerfs (with small buffs sprinkled in here and there), with the intention to break up meta builds being especially obvious with the changes to the almost universally chosen Chieftain Warlord. The Chieftain supremacy ability Shock Assault now only benefits Infantry and Monsters, while the Thunder Chieftain now has his own version, Thunderous Assault, which benefits Brutes and Cavalry, forcing players to choose a lane if they want to gain full benefit of the still-powerful supremacy.

Other nerfs include the restriction of Mantle of the Devoted to infantry regiments only (there was disagreement between communities over whether the mantle was strongest providing a linear but significant power increase to Cult of War Thunder Riders, or an exponential and transformative power increase to the Cult of Conquest Tontorr, but both options are now off the table, leaving the Mantle mostly relegated to buffing big blocks of braves), and to the Tontorr Riding Chieftain generally, who no longer gains Untouchable and categorically cannot give his Tontorr flurry, along with some other small changes including nerfs to the Tontorr itself. Given these pieces were overwhelmingly popular across high-placing Wadhrun tourney lists, these changes are significant and important, but they’ve left something of a void in their wake as Wadhrun players try to figure out what their faction does now. 

There are some small but notable buffs sprinkled in that open a number of potential windows now these doors have closed. Significantly, Veteran regiments in Chieftain warbands gain the very powerful Flurry rule, making them extremely effective, scalable mainstays. The Apex Predator got some small stat boosts, gaining a wound and going up to the frankly zippy March 8, making it the one of the fastest monsters in the game, especially if you can set up a Conquest chant on the turn it arrives. The Scion is now a thoroughly credible spellcaster with a suite of utility spells, and Hunters and Warbred both got changes, with the Hunters being the writers’ pick of the two most likely to see their battlefield role significantly expanded (thanks to Wadhrun chants, Hunters are now a genuine and interesting multi-role unit provided you keep them from being clashed by your opponent).

What does this all mean?

Collectively, the Wadhrun changes are the most disruptive of any faction. Despite being a mix of nerfs and buffs, they’ve forced a major re-think to what competitive Wadhrun looks like, and the Wadhrun player base seems to still be working through the stages of grief. Sockbert in particular kind of wonders why they didn’t just fix Fanatic of Conquest or the Fanatic rule generally if it’s too powerful to be allowed into the wild in an uncontrolled manner. 

To get editorial for a moment (more editorial, perhaps), there is a design danger with seriously and intentionally disrupting what we would call ‘building block synergies’ in a list (where two units work in a relatively clear and harmonious way, which then invites you to find units that work well with them in turn, and so on). If you break up synergies too regularly, it can strip all the texture out of a faction, leaving you with a featureless melange without anything for players to gravitate toward as the foundation of a list from which to explore. This update to Wadhrun clearly seeks to avoid that with things like the buffs to Veterans and Warbred, but at best it looks like it will take the Wadhrun community a little while to find some new footholds, and Wadhrun might be warranted a little bit of compensatory love in six to eight months time.



Credit: Harbinger from the Conquest Discord

Bair: Dweghom were a heavy recipient of changes in the last update and so their changes here are on the more moderate side, but what has changed is important – focused on enabling new builds rather than significantly changing existing ones. 

The Hellbringer Drake is increased to 200pts, but now gets Overcharge as a draw event natively without needing a Sorcerer to ride it. To compensate, the Hellbringer rider master is now only 5pts. This opens up the Drake as a viable option solo, although the height benefit alone makes a Hellbringer Rider still well worthwhile for an offensive spellcaster.

The Ardent Kerewagh can now take up to two units of Flame Berserkers as mainstays. Happy days, as these were his natural home. The Kerewagh has also had Dismay adjusted to reduce enemy resolve, making it much less feast or famine, and gained two new spells that help or hinder seizing objective zones. The Kerewagh should now always have something to do with his spellcasting, and can form part of a very scenario-focused Dwegh list. 

Your Hold Raegh can now be your Warlord and feel worthwhile being one! The Ironclad Drake might not still be the best unit for him to join (by mounting it) but it’s incredibly cool so at least you’re not taking a straight-up bad choice. However, in the same update the Thane gained the ability to give Flank to any unit of Hold Thanes he joins, so keep that in mind. 

The only significant nerf to the Dweghom is small but notable, with the Fireforged going down from 4 resolve to 3. Fireforged were always a combination absolute premier anvil and ranged hammer, and this makes them a bit less willing to suck up a melee fight (although they can still endure there plenty long, and with the changes to duelling, a Sorcerer is fairly safe in them as his bunker).

What does this all mean?

With the Hold Raegh as your Warlord and Ardent Kerawegh’s spells you can actively play for objectives instead of just needing to blast your opponent off the board. This is incredibly cool and allows for much more variety in both list building and play style. I’m a huge fan of this overall and am eyeing up that Ironclad Bergont Raegh paired with a Hellbringer Sorcerer-Drake with an elite army of Fireforged, Initiates, Flamer Berzerkers, and Thanes that can sit on objectives and win games. 

Much more importantly? These buffs mean that Light units are able to contest and control objective zones. Expect every list to have a Kerawegh with a brick of Flame Berzerkers taking objectives early and just generally being a menace.

Old Dominion 

Rob: the Old Dominion’s changes have been transformative, easily the biggest glow-up of the entire update and putting Old Dominion at a strong chance of breaking clear of their current position firmly in the middle of the pack. 

There’s only a single (well-deserved) nerf in this update, with Varangian Guard going from 6 wounds down to a still-respectable 5. Everything else are either minor or major positive changes, which collectively add up to a lot but also need to be read in combination with the changes to the general rules updates above, which also almost exclusively benefit Old Dominion as it was the only faction without the reliable early scoring that defined much of the competitive meta since the last tourney update. 

While there’s a lot to cover, the biggest notable changes are threefold. Firstly, the army-wide special rule Blasphemous soma now always works (from turn one, regardless of if your warlord is dead – meaning a little more power in any given game, and you aren’t forced to rush your warlord onto the field early to take advantage), and a whopping army-wide +1 to reinforcement rolls bonus, which is transformative in ways that will take some time to play out.  It makes every step of an Old Dominion’s deployment onto the field, from light to heavy more consistent, and opens up strategies that focus on any of the weight classes in depth. An Old Dominion army built around excessive weight of Heavy regiments was a bit of a meme that felt crushing when it rolled hotter than expected for it’s reinforcement rolls, for example – well, now more than half those units will usually arrive on the first available turn.

Secondly, the universally required but deeply mediocre legionnaires are now costed aggressively at just 100pts in their minimum unit size, and get a free banner, and the banner lets them move faster. All they needed to give up was their relatively useless Phalanx memory of old – exchanging it for a memory to make their command stand weigh more for seizing objectives, which is actually going to be a little more useful than it looks, because it keys into the new role of legionnaires: forcing a disproportionate response. The developer updates discuss this and I think their take on the unit is thoroughly on point; the role of legionnaires is now to cost you 100pts to draw the attention of a significantly weightier enemy response, because you’ll need to either kill them quickly or devote a lot of stands to out-scoring this meagre unit. And if you do kill them, they’re the cheapest unit for generating dark power and rubber-banding the rest of the Old Dominion army to their full power.

Finally, the Foot Strategos has received the mother of all glow-ups. No significant stat changes, but the Lead From the Front ability lets their regiment arrive on the battlefield as if they were a light unit, without any change to their scoring weight. Remember how Old Dominion were the only army that couldn’t score easily and often from round two onwards? Now they’re one of the few armies that can. This is nothing short of transformative, especially with the new Dark Cenotaph, which I don’t actually think is that good at 20-25pts but if it’s ever going to be worthwhile it’ll be on a unit that can seize a zone on round two reliably. 

What does this all mean?

Of all the factions, only City States compete with Old Dominion for the coveted most blessed by update status this update. There’s no other way to put it; they’ve benefited from almost every change in ways that significantly alter the balance of power for the game’s dark byzantines. Multiple widely varied approaches now present themselves as not just playable but potentially highly competitively viable. The changes to the Strategos open up a strong early game play; the changes to character weight and Blasphemous Soma’s impact on reserves opens up a heavy-centric force in a way that’s always been possible but highly risky against an early-game centric opposing force. Even the Fallen Divinity has never been in a better position, which is news that will provoke doubt from some and abject terror from others.


Hundred Kingdoms 

Thanqol: The Hundred Kingdoms came out of this update in a bad place. They’re on the wrong side of a few small nerfs, which I do not think they needed, and core rules changes that hurt them more than they help.

The Noble Lord got a few buffs. Best of Men now has an 8’ aura, which was initially exciting because getting two units into a 6’ bubble was very difficult. It stopped being excited when I realized it was paired with a new core rule that forces characters into the centre of the regiment, meaning you can’t extend a Noble Lord onto the flank to take advantage of the new aura size. This is a consolation prize that leaves her in almost the same place she was in to begin with. She *can* now take a banner and Eccentric Fighting Style without paying 20 points for Tactical 1, which is nice, and got a second Weapon Art which means +2 attacks from before, which is a gentle improvement, so now she can potentially hit fairly hard for not much investment. However she’s still 4 wounds and Defense 3 so she’ll still reliably get killed by any other faction’s martial character in a duel.

The Imperial Officer gets a cap of two units per turn for Rapid Deployment, a similar hit to the one taken by the Nord shaman. I think this was unnecessary and narrows the faction’s range significantly. Does pick up Flank baseline but now doesn’t have any ability to make light units score. Speaking of, the Order of the Sealed Temple gets another points debuff – climbing all the way up to 190. I think that makes them profoundly mediocre. 190 points gets you a unit of Veteran Household Knights with a banner and tourney champion, and while that’s not a good or efficient way to spend points, it is a sidegrade to the Sealed Temple – and the Knights only get more efficient from there. 

Silver linings. The Crimson Tower got a fifth wound, that’s enough to finally make them okay, and the Water Mage now heals +2 wounds when she casts her spell – which is legit good – and got a couple of extra spells that you might sometimes want to use. The timing on Elysian Fragment is a little easier to use with the new character activations.

What does this all mean?

I am very down on Hundred Kingdoms right now. The Spires and Old Dominion changes felt like an extremely thoughtful, exciting transformation of an underperforming aspect of the factions, opening the door to an implicit playstyle with a variety of opportunities. The Hundred Kingdoms feel like the designers thought ‘well, we nerfed the Shaman, so we might as well nerf the Imperial Officer to be fair about it’. I don’t know, maybe I’m not seeing things clearly, but it feels like there are fewer Hundred Kingdoms lists than before after these changes. 



Bow Chosen – Credit Ewan T.

Bair: Honestly? This was almost only buffs for the Nords. These guys have come out looking stronger than ever:

  • All Jotnars have 2 more wounds and don’t cost more to take, the Shaman gains a damage-dealing spell and one higher Wizard level. Jarls and Blooded both give the unit they join Flank with a small points increase and nearly all characters gain an extra attack. 
  • The Jarl now has access to the Sea Jotnar as a Restricted unit and Volva now can take Huskarls and Raiders as Mainstay. 
  • Trolls and Ulfhednar both got a little cheaper, both on their base cost and adding more stands to their units. Ulfhednar gained 1” of movement and Trolls gained 1 point of Evasion. 

There is one nerf however: Shaman’s Supremacy Ability no longer gives Monsters Vanguard. Honestly? That’s fine. It was very good being able to stomp a Jotnar 21” up the table. 

What does this all mean?


Trolls and Ulfhednar, both units that haven’t been seeing quite as much play, gain a couple buffs here and go down in cost. Trolls when joined with a character giving an additional +1 Evasion up to E2 is very strong for a unit with 6 wounds and heals every turn. Ulfhednar gain a bit of speed while getting cheaper helping them get into combat quicker to dole out damage. They’re only C2 but really that’s fine for a unit with that number of attacks each and lethal demise. 

All Jotnars gaining an extra 2 wounds with no other changes is just wonderful. It makes these units a bit tougher without costing any extra while they hit as hard as ever. They can’t vanguard any more but that’s also fine, you’ll just have to make sure you have a strong reinforcement line!

And just one nerf…I was fully expecting that the Shaman’s Supremacy would just not exist any more. Losing this extra move on Jotnars is fair enough, really, and being able to Vanguard and charge with Bearsarks after flanking on with a Jarl is still very good. Gett that damage dealing spell though on a Shaman is huge! It’s short ranged at 12” but can do an insane amount of damage. Most of the time you felt like you had to activate a Shaman early to cast a buff spell, now you can just hit with your units early and dole out damage later in the turn instead. 

City States 

Conquest City States Credit: Tom
Conquest City States Credit: Tom B.

Rob: alongside the Old Dominion, the City States have come out of this update in a good place, which is well-deserved as they’ve been struggling to break out of the lower brackets since just after release (when one of the best players in the world won Adepticon and immediately got the faction nerfed). 

There are a series of changes that are fully covered on the developer update page, including changes to their common and army-wide special rules like the strategic stack (which now grants the old Standard of Last Oration effect to any unit that comes off the strategic stack). In comparison to Old Dominion, however, it’s not the army-wide changes that are most significant here, it’s the cumulative mechanical and attribute buffs to their units. No City States unit was nerfed, and Aristarchs, Ipparchos, Mechanists, Inquisitors, Solenoi, Thorakites, Agema, Minotaur Haspists, Minotaur Thyreans, all Auxiliary Stands, Phalangites, Companion Cavalry, Prometheans and Hephaestians (deep breath) have all been buffed. Not all these buffs are significant, but this is a massive collection of small but notable increases to faction power. The closest thing to a nerf in the the update was that Atalanta’s Spear is now a bit more expensive, which is more than made up for by the Blades of Eakides now providing an outstanding alternate magical weapon selection (although in many lists you’ll take both on different characters).

Finally, War Chariots have entered their final form to match the models developed for them and they are awesome. Hosting a suite of new rules, they’re highly mobile, decently offensive Size 2 weapons platforms, capable of fast independent scoring, supporting City States melee infantry, and most importantly they can significantly bulk out a City States command stack, since they count as up to three independent regiments depending on how many you take. Not every faction wants to play deep on activates, but the Strategic Stack has always been a mechanic that asks you to give up a bit of early momentum to play the middle and later parts of a turn, and City States now have a unit that lets them really go there.

What does this all mean?

Unlike the Old Dominion, the City States updates aren’t transformative in the sense that the faction looks completely different to how it did before. But they’re wide-ranging and significant. City States were a conservative faction release (not unreasonable, you can always make players happy by buffing their models after release, but nerfing something someone just bought can lose you a customer) and this signals them starting to find their footing in terms of power level to meaningfully compete with multiple potential builds. With the war chariots arriving in the first half of this year, it’s now going to be down to City States players to find their builds and learn how to play them, because the “just wait for Clockwork Hoplites guys, they’ll save us” copium should by any reasonable rights now be a thing of the past.

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