Welcome to the May 2023 patch notes and rules tweaks for Conquest: Last Argument of Kings! Para Bellum has been really on the ball with updating Conquest and First Blood, handing out small tweaks here and there to units where needed with fantastic transparency to community and taking feedback of all kinds on board from tournaments to casual players. As always these are free to download as PDF’s here for you to look over yourself and will be in the official army builder as well (it might be by the time this goes up even).
There’s been a bunch of tiny wording changes to make things clearer, so we’ll only hit the bigger stuff.
- The Eidolon and Mechanist’s Carrier of the Godflesh has been tweaked slightly so that Clockwork Hoplites become Mediums in the list building stage and remain that way regardless of if the Eidolon or Mechanist are alive or on the battlefield.
- The Mechanist has lost his ranged attack while gaining nothing in return, which kinda sucks, since he no longer has any real damage output.
- The Polemarch’s Army of Lions now only grants Tenacious to that unit, not units within 6”, and you only gain the +1 Clash while the Polemarch is on the battlefield.
- The Aristarch’s Battlefield Orders has now been split from the Polemarch’s Battlefield Tactics. Both gain cool names rather than “Order 1” and “Order 2”, and while the Polemarch’s remain largely the same the Aristarch can now offer his regiment Untouchable (reroll Defence rolls of 6) or Bravery (ignore Fearsome, Terrifying, and automatically remove Broken upon activation).
- Inscription of Lighter Alloys has gone up 5 points and clarified that you can’t enter Garrison Terrain even though you temporarily lost Phalanx, but is otherwise the same.
- Expert Scouts Tactical Mastery (granting Vanguard to non-Phalanx infantry units) now works regardless if the Character is on the battlefield or alive.
- The Dorilates officer went up 10 points to 25, which is entirely expected given how good granting Flurry was, and now grants Relentless Blows (1s to hit do an additional hit) to Hoplites, while still granting Flurry (reroll all misses) if he’s attached to a Phalangites unit, which is a nice way of differentiating and buffing.
Quick math diversion! For a unit with Clash 3 (so Hoplites or Phalangites accompanied by a Polemarch) you’re hitting half the time.:
- Rerolling 6s to hit is roughly 8% additional hits.
- Rerolling all misses is getting you twenty five percent more hits.
- 1s exploding is 17% additional hits (one third of your hits will give you another hit).
So while losing Flurry is sad, it’s not quite as sad as you might expect. These kind of rules will always grant bigger bonuses to worse units (a unit with Clash 4 and rerolling all misses is only getting a 22% bonus). Anyway, back to the changes!
- Phalangites gain a big buff via Pike Formation, so in addition to losing Impact, enemy units never gain Shock or Inspired, also if in the front arc. This is a huge buff, since now so many of those units that are nasty on the charge (Suffer, Kataphraktoi!) will lose most of what makes them powerful. Plus, they’ve gained an attack and gone down 5 points!
- The Sacred Band’s statline has been completely redone, losing a point of Movement, Attack, and two points of Evasion, while gaining a point of Resolve and Defence, which is… not great. They’d previously had the same stat line as the Selinoi Hunters, so this may be fixing a bug, but they’re not a horrifically expensive Phalanx unit that, while potentially tanky as hell, just… isn’t very exciting or interesting anymore.
- The Hephaestian is Heavy, which we all thought already, and both big monsters cast spells “as if they were a Character”. His Trident Strike spell now is Attunement 4, rather than 2, but only inflicts one hit per success rather than two. Crucible’s Fire has been wildly improved, also now Attunement 4 but having been buffed to Aura of Death (7), up from 5. This looks great, but is largely to counter the fact that Aura of Death no longer triggers Resolve checks.
- The Xypharchos makes clear that everyone in the Regiment, including Characters and Auxiliaries, gains Flurry.
- Lochagos has been tweaked so it’s a permanent effect, relaying both Battlefield Orders and Battlefield Tactics.
- Seer hasn’t changed (+1 Resolve, Indomitable, +1 to Priest), but it now stays forever, not just when the Officer is there.
Thoughts: This is a good set of little tweaks to make City States work smoother and a little more balanced. While both Mechanist and Sacred Band have suffered what I’d argue are fairly unnecessary nerfs, I will be honest that when a brand new faction with only three kits wins Adepticon, you kinda gotta expect some of these tweaks – Flurry on Hoplites in particular has been a lifesaver, but losing it is probably the right thing to do. On the other hand, Sacred Band aren’t even out yet and got gutted, so not clear what’s going on there. Overall this is still the newest faction and we don’t have all the kits for it yet with some very important Light units missing right now. It’ll take a bit of time for this army to come into its own and find some footing but is clearly very solid as-is already.
The Hundred Kingdoms
- Dynastic Alliances became free and baked-in, now Hundred Kingdoms are simply a two warlord faction. This makes the choice between Veterans and Relentless Drill primarily down to how much infantry you have in your list.
- The Crimson Tower picked up the reworked Wedge! to give them +1 cleave on their charge clashes. I still don’t love them, but I no longer feel bad about them being the only tournament legal pathway to the Knights of the Ashen Dawn, who are even more incredible now.
- The Imperial Officer’s Rapid Deployment continues to work even if he is dead or off the table.
- Mounted Squires picked up Opportunists
- Tip of the Lance added as a way to add Wedge! to a cavalry unit that doesn’t already have it. I suspect this might have a lot of play with a larger unit of Veteran Mounted Squires which’d give them a serious early game punch.
- Neophites are now Priest 1 for the purposes of interference. A Theist-heavy list is a situation where you’re unlikely to want to take a Chapter Mage, and this also helps disrupt enemy healing and buff spells.
- Most banners dropped in cost. Men at Arms and Militia now get 5 point banners, for instance, which is as close to free as it gets. This is a gentle buff across the board to Veterans who need to take both a banner and an attachment to get the benefit.
- The Sealed Temple went up to 170 points, and honestly fair enough.
- Militia dropped from 40 points per additional stand to 30. I hate this because they’re great now and I’ll need to paint like a hundred more of the little bastards.
- Armsmasters in Household Guard dropped 10 points.
- Court Squires got deleted.
Thoughts: All in all a series of gentle buffs for an underperforming faction. Individually they’re not much but together they feel like a 5-10% increase in performance. Some list types aren’t changed, but others open up a bit. In particular, it’ll feel a lot easier to write Veterans lists now, which in turn means it’ll be a lot easier to splash in a Mounted Noble Lord with a warband consisting entirely of Mounted Squires and Household Knights as a cavalry solution that doesn’t require half your points going into Order cavalry. Also Hundred Kingdoms ranged mostly stood still even as a bunch of other ranged units took a step back, which
I think that the big strategic question right now for the Hundred Kingdoms is the Light slot. With Mercenary Crossbowmen, Mounted Squires, and Militia all being cheap, useful, and in the latter two’s case good targets for Veterans then it feels like there’s a lot of potential in the early game that wasn’t quite the case before.
- Their army trait Blood of the Einherjar no longer works on Monsters. Still doesn’t work on Character stands, either, but the change to Monsters means that the Sea and Ice Jotnar are no longer gaining an extra attack or Flurry when they’ve lost half their wounds; the Mountain Jotnar specifically keeps the ability however.
- Call the Storm, the Shaman’s Supremacy Ability, is now always active whether the Shaman is on the table yet or has been killed already. This is huge, it means your Shaman’s Raider warband you took as tax can splash out 10 points for a Captain to become a Medium class unit and score objectives while not losing the Shaman’s ability!
- Rune of Shielding item for the Volva no longer affects attached Character stands, just the unit the Volva has joined. The character will still gain the benefit when the unit gets their draw event, just won’t get it when as a draw event for the Volva herself.
- With the changes we’re seeing generally to shooting this isn’t a surprise, but Bow Chosen are now D2 and E1 making them slightly weaker against attacks with Armour Piercing or Cleave, they’ve lost 2” of range now only firing at 14” but have also dropped down to 210 points base with 60 points extra per stand. It’s a very minimal decrease in points and only 2” less of shooting isn’t going to remove them from army lists: Barrage 5 and Precise Shot is still very good! Stalkers by comparison are untouched.
- Trolls see a big boost by gaining Oblivious (to only lose 1 wound per 2 failed resolve) and improving their Regeneration to 6. With 6 wound stands you’re more likely to bring a full stand back even while another is wounded, and less likely to suffer wounds as well with Oblivious. Add a Blooded with Tactical 1 to the unit and you’re taking even less wounds from those Resolve test by auto-passing 1 every time.
- The “biggest” change are Fenr Beastpack going up 20 points for the unit (but no increase on further stands) and gaining the Loose Formation rule. Now taking less shots from ranged weapons and less wounds from spells is pretty big, they can still get to the objective they want to easily and will be harder to remove with ranged attacks.
- The Jotnars see a few changes each. Ice is down to 250 points and goes up to 14 attacks without any other changes making it a great pick, always, still and helps make up for the loss of the army special rule. Sea drops to 230 points, goes up to 7” move and up to 13 attacks. The free ranged attack each turn still feels a bit short ranged, maybe, but it’s a free bonus attack if you’re in combat after already attacking so it’s hard to complain at! Mountain stays at 170 points, keeps the army ability for an extra attack when wounded and Flurry at half wounds, and goes up to a 7” move so is a straight buff here.
Thoughts: The Shaman is easily the best Warlord available to the army. Vanguard with 2 units per turn is crazy good for both objectives and positioning and that you get to keep this ability even before the Shaman has arrived and even after he’s died is strong. Consider: a Captain in the Shaman’s Raider unit and Sacrificial Lamb on the Shaman. This will create some very interesting counter play and choices for your opponent to make if they want to remove the squishy Raider unit that’s scoring you objectives early in the turn, then giving all of your units Blessed, or trying to hold off and kill it later while the rest of your units activate and in turn potentially do enough so your Shaman survives and they keep scoring!
The Jotnar changes are nice to see, losing the army ability isn’t great but the Ice and Sea at least gained attacks to make up for it while also coming down in cost, no Flurry is unfortunate but these are still very strong units for your army. Sea and Mountain Jotnars jumping up to 7” moves is also great to see, nice for them all to be consistent now and with a Shaman’s Vanguard move that’s 21” onto the table from reinforcements!
- The Tempered Creed army-wide special rule now only applies to Defence, Clash and Morale test dice (losing the ability to boost Ranged attacks) as well as a cap of five tokens spent per single action. In addition, you now can’t spend a marker to pass a Defence roll that you couldn’t normally pass (for example when hit by a Smite or sufficiently high Cleave attack), meaning that real can-opener units can’t be endlessly no-sold by the Tempered Creed.
- The Hold Raegh supremacy ability now gives all command stands +2 Attacks for the duration of the battle (but does still turn off if or when he dies).
- The Ardent Kweragh gained +1 Movement and their Embolden spell now also grants Inspired for the remainder of the turn. This is a sneaky buff in a Tempered Creed army, making it clear that the Kweragh can cast this spell any time for some extra tokens (which was questionable before).
- The Cthonic Flame relic has been clarified as forcing re-rolls for successful resolve checks against all wounds from the character stand, including spellcasting. This makes for a potentially terrifying juiced-out Tempered Sorcerer warlord.
- The Hellbringer Sorcerer mastery has increased to 25pts, and the Hellbringer Drake Overcharge ability is now capped at Armor Piercing (2). This significantly reduces the once per game nuke potential the Hellbringer had, as well as increasing the overall cost enough that doubling down on Hellbringer Sorcerors might be less attractive in future, although I’d still expect to see plenty of double Sorceror lists given how powerful Dweghom spellcasting is.
- Flame Berserkers increased to March 6 and increased their Aura of Death to (2), as well as seeing a reduction in their Standard Bearer cost to 10pts. This is a nice glow-up for an already quite good Light combat regiment.
- Several units saw small base unit cost points changes:Hold Warriors increased to 130pts
- Dragonslayers increased to 210pts
- Magmaforged increased 200pts
- Inferno Automata increased to 190pts
- Steelforged increased to 210pts and a reduction in Evasion to 1.
Thoughts: Dweghom were one of the boogeymen of the meta at the start of Conquest 2.0 thanks to a combination of general good value pieces in basically all regiment roles, and these changes serve to rein in some of their highest value elements by a small amount. No individual change here is massive, but there are a lot of them, which will force some adaptation from Dweghom players that should probably be fairly tolerable and still leave the faction in an overall very strong place.
Probably the biggest overall change is the change to the Tempered Creed army ability. The presence of some mechanical counter-play against the Tempered Creed special rule in the form of rules like precise shot, flawless strikes or even just sufficiently high cleave offers players of other factions some increased ability to build against them if they continue to be meta-dominant.
- The Mimetic Assassin is good now. I cannot express how excited I am by this.
- Vanguard Clone Infiltrators lost a point of Barrage and Volley. I’m pleasantly surprised how proportionate this is – they’re still very good like this, but it takes the edge off.
- Torrential Fire is now a 1.5X multiplier rather than a 2X multiplier, relevant for Desolation Beast/Drones
- Onslaught Drones got Burnout back. This may look like a buff but, mark my words, there will come a day where you look down at your Decay dice and realize that this was secretly a nerf.
- Desolation Beast went up to 170 points.
- Centaur Avatara went down to 190 points
Thoughts: An extremely minimal set of changes, which I appreciate – the Spires felt extremely well balanced, Vanguard Clone Infiltrators aside, and them getting touched down gives more oxygen to alternative builds. Above all, though, I’m wildly excited about the Mimetic Assassin – her ability finally working right means she represents a unique threat across the entire battlefield, which helps the Spires a lot when it comes to keeping their precious Biomancers safe from duels. This was the one piece of the faction that felt broken, and now that it’s been changed the Spires feel like a well oiled machine.
- The Matriarch Queen can now clearly use two Draw Events per activation if she’s your Warlord, and the Chieftain now just grants Shock to every unit in the army, no longer granting Flurry to charging units that already had Shock.
- Tontorrs are now Restricted for Chieftains, and Drum Beasts are Restricted for Scions of Conquest.
- Hide of the Silent Predator doesn’t grant Bastion (1) to attached Characters, only the Regiment.
- If you take Brood of Omgorah you can’t take Tontorr Rider Mastery.
- Elder Brontoskalp is a new item a Chieftain can take for 40 points, and is basically a mount. He becomes Cavalry, gains +1 March, Brutal (2), Impact (4), Linebreaker and Trample (2), and can no longer take Retinue models, or the Tontorr Rider Mastery.
- Veterans have dropped from 200 to 180 points, with additional stands dropping from 70 to 60.
- Continuing our story of “maybe range is just a little too good”, Slingers lose 4” of range down to 18”, while their rule inflicting Morale Tests at range remains, but you take one test for every two wounds, rather than the usual one. Slingers have been hit by the Torrential Fire change as well, now causing an additional hit for every two hits you score, not just every one.
- Hunting Packs go down from 140 points to 125, gain Loose Formation (halve your Barrage when shooting at them and half hits from magic attacks), and now always count as Size 1, so much easier to shoot over.
- Quatls, Apex Predators and Tontorrs gain Bellowing Roar (counting as Cult of Conquest and using the War Chant army rule), while Apex Predators gain two wounds, up to 14.
- Flint Knapper Command Models now ignore Hardened against target Characters in Regiments, not just the Regiment itself.
- Skirmisher Command Models grant their ability to attached Characters, not just the Regiment.
- Two new special rules for the army, Bellowing Roar (mentioned above) and Tontorr Rider, which lets a character ride a Tontorr and is thus awesome. Scions of Conquest mounted in such a way gain Drum Beast as Draw Event (gain a Chant Marker), and Chieftains Way of War now affects a unit within 8” since he can’t effect the Regiment he’s in.
- Fanatic is now capped at three Chant Markers, rather than four. There’s now a useful example in here too. Yay for good rules writing!
- Drum Beasts and Tontorrs are listed as “Redacted” in the document, since we were going to have rules revealed over time. Leandros in the Discord has stated that these units are meant to have Oblivious, which is awesome. Even better, they both now have March of the Giants, so always count as inspired! Their entire suite of special rules has been changed a little, so make sure you’re using the most up to date ruleset.
Thoughts: More dinosaurs more good. Most of these are quality of life changes, so absolutely nothing to worry me here, other than the impact on my wallet from wanting to buy even more giant dinos. We’re very interested to see how the Tontorr and Drum Beasts shape the game and meta moving forwards once they’re properly out and many more people are playing with these rules. Oblivious and March of the Giants on such big beasts is massive and will help keep them on the table buffing your army even longer. Apex Predators being slightly tankier is big as well, joining the likes of Jotnar with now 14 wounds will help them take a hit before just ripping the unit they’re facing to shreds.
We haven’t seen the W’adrhŭn making a splash quite the same size as their big beasties yet – partly because a couple of said monsters haven’t been out yet, but also because this is probably the most complex faction in the game. When the designers of the game are warning you at Adepticon that this is a high skill faction, they ain’t joking around. These changes should largely help that – even the little quality of life tweaks might reduce the mental burden of running this army just enough to start punching at its proper weight.
- Some general clarifications around how Dark Power tiers and Supremacies work, mostly for consistency. Notable is that losing a Xiliarch or Strategos warlord doesn’t stop you from reaching or retaining Tier 4 of Dark Power, and an increase in how much power is needed to reach each tier, which would be a fairly harsh nerf, except…
- Blasphemous Soma is now an army-wide special rule attached to the warlord. If the Old Dominion warlord is on the table during the supremacy phase, dark power will tick up.
- Kheres have had a glow-up, gaining Loose Formation and Insanity moving to Attunement 3. This slots them much more firmly into the role of counter-skirmisher skirmisher with a strong role as a late-game support spellcaster. They’re still dependent on Dark Power tiers to turn Insanity into a powerful offensive option, but the payoff is actually there now.
- Moroi and Bone Golems both had their Aura of Death increase from 2 to 3 to compensate for the removal of Resolve checks from casualties caused by Aura of Death. This puts them just about where they were before – they’ll be a bit more consistent against high resolve enemies, but less able to blow out low resolve chaff.
- Profane Reliquary and the Legio Primogenia banner both had their Aura of Death increase from 1 to 2, and the Profane Reliquary is now confirmed to also benefit attached characters. This is proportionally a bigger increase than the change to our units with the rule, but both these options were arguably overcosted before and are now more appealing.
- Varangian Guard base unit cost increased from 180 to 200pts. This is a blow, but Varangians were very efficient before. They’re now more comparable to our other heavies.
- Kataphraktoi additional stand cost decreased from 70 to 65pts. This is a small change overall, and pales in comparison to the change to the Shock rule introduced in the core rules update. Kataphraktoi are now very strong shock cavalry.
- The Profane Sepulchre’s omega-nuke draw event capped the number of wounds it could cause to itself (and therefore hits it could deal to the enemy) at 12, meaning it can’t just one-shot most things in the game if it’s willing to explode itself doing so.
- The Princeps regiment officer now grants the inspired effect to any attached characters, in addition to the regiment itself.
Thoughts: While the Blasphemous Soma change needs to be read in the context of the additional dark power needed to reach higher tiers (so it isn’t strictly an upgrade to the army) it’s a lovely bit of design to shift it to an army-wide rule. Basically any time something is a true auto-include on a profile or in a list (and Blasphemous Soma was), that’s a really good case for just baking it into either the model or army as applicable. Your average Dominion army is now going to be slower hitting higher tiers (because, they were taking the Soma already back when it cost 40pts but the points per tier of the power pools was lower) but will have an extra legionnaire stand or similar to compensate. Overall, it adds a bit of flexibility into lists, and will be particularly beneficial for the Fallen Divinity (who can arrive early) and Archimandrite warlords (down the line when cultists finally exist).
On the flipside, I’m personally a little disappointed in the Varangian Guard change, not because I think the cost increase isn’t warranted (it was) but because there’s now little to differentiate Varangians from other Heavy regiments in the faction. They cost very, very similar amounts for very, very similar performance, which means less texture and differentiation in list construction. I’d have been happier to see them reduced in capability (losing wounds, or some of their cleave, for example) while staying a cheaper option compared to Bone Golems and Kanephors. That’s a personal complaint, though, and I can definitely still see including Varangians in lists, and sometimes still en masse.
Overall and otherwise, internal faction balance is undeniably better now, with a great deal of very close competition between a lot of units across the Old Dominion. Kataphraktoi have been elevated from fun meme to totally viable build-around, and Kheres in particular will finally be able to see the light of day again. The Kheres glow-up adds a very useful capability to the faction, as well as having significant knock-on effects to how you can structure an Archimandrite warbands thanks to being a mainstay unit that can be taken effectively as both a minimum and reinforced unit.
Finally, I think we might actually expect to see more Aura of Death out of Old Dominion armies than before. The cost of splashing it into a regiment relative to what you get is quite tolerable, and being able to generate eight to ten free hits on an enemy each turn will help swing slow grindy fights our way. The option even exists to get Aura of Death (4) on a regiment of Praetorians with an embedded Xiliarch or Strategos, which is potentially very spicy.
These are all pretty solid and good changes we think. While some people may look at just their faction and see straight downsides in some cases, please try to remember that a lot has just changed and that we won’t know the full effects of all of these changes until we’re able to play more than just a handful of games. So get out and get gaming!