Conquest: Post-Cancon Interviews

Cancon is Australia’s premier wargaming event, where hundreds of players from all over the country cram themselves shoulder to jowl into a barely airconditioned tin shed in temperatures that range from 30C to 40C. That is to say two things:

First, whoever triumphs at this event has demonstrated not just tactical skill and strategic acumen but raw physical endurance, and secondly, I was sad but not too sad when parental responsibilities kept me from attending. But at least I had the vindication of having the guy who kicks my ass every week take down the tournament. It’s nice to know I’ve been losing to the best.

On that note, for the full and best analysis of all the lists and wider meta going into this tournament, there’s no better source than this video by Robert Cantrell who went on to win the tournament, so get it from the horse’s mouth. But I caught up with the top three players to ask them about their experiences at the event.

(EDIT: Originally 2cnd and 3rd places were switched, this has been corrected)

2cnd Place: Ewan Bailey-Thiele, Nords

=== The Last Argument of Kings ===

Nords [2000/2000]
Nords

== (Warlord) Shaman [80]: Arcane 1

* Raiders (3) [120]: Captain
* Raiders (3) [110]:
* Sea Jotnar (1) [240]:
* Sea Jotnar (1) [240]:

== Vargyr Lord [140]: Rjóða, the Red Bringer

* Fenr Beastpack (3) [140]:
* Fenr Beastpack (3) [140]:
* Ugr (3) [150]:
* Ugr (3) [150]:

== Blooded [130]: Crow, The Horn of Hjoldgar, The Hunt’s Instinct

* Ugr (3) [150]:
* Bow-Chosen (3) [210]:

Congratulations on your placement! Please introduce yourself, and tell us your history with Conquest?

Hi I’m Ewan and I have been playing mini games since I was 8. I discovered Conquest about 18 months ago and have been building a community in Western Australia that’s been exploding and is full of positive and fun gamers!

What do you think are the great strengths of your faction in general, and your list specifically?

Nords excel in cheap access to Cleave and powerful offensive units. My list doesn’t shy away from this and try to include anvils which the factions can struggle to use effectively. Instead I steered into the skid focusing on activation control and strong offensive pressure both on objectives and threatening enemy units across the whole list

What was the hardest game you played over the weekend?

My first game was the hardest and ultimately my only loss! (Editor: Round 1 was against Robert Cantrell, who went on to win the event) As listed above my list does not try to be defensive, and uses strong activation control to force my opponent into my army when to give me clean charges and objective control. My round one opponent Robert was playing 1 of 2 lists at Cancon which carried more activation cards then mine, 13 for me, and 15 for them. This puts my list as an extreme disadvantage when coupled with spires powerful ranged units as I am forced to press into my opponent without tempo. It essentially negates the advantage my list has while not giving an advantage back! A tough matchup coupled with Roberts strong conservative play ultimately allowed him to win out after being neck and neck up until turn 7 after which he could run the board for the remaining turns. A very tight game!

What was the most memorable moment?

In game three against the wonderful Mark my Bow Chosen where above to score a fantastic double kill! after leaving a unit of Raptor Riders on one wound and having a week unit of hunters behind them my Bow Chosen charged the raptors and used their Bloodeds 2 Impact attacks to kill the raptors, before making an un-aimed volley to kill the Hunter regiment.

Looking back, how would you rate your performance? What lessons are you going to take back to your local community?

I am very happy with my performance! I knew going in that it was possible for my list to have some bad matchups! And I am glad that I could give them a run for their money when I came up against them! Heading back to WA I am mostly going to say I was wrong about Bow Chosen! As they are easily my favorite unit from the event and I have spent many months criticizing them up until now!


3rd Place: Ben Swallow, Old Dominion

In second place, we have Ben Swallow’s Old Dominion. Ben is on record as being a Fallen Divinity loyalist and his list frightens me in not only the terror of its composition but the discipline required to end it at 1995 points.

=== The Last Argument of Kings ===

Old Dominion [1995/2000]
The Old Dominion

== (Warlord) Fallen Divinity [370]: Aura of Malice, Eternal Discipline

* Kanephors (5) [350]:
* Kanephors (3) [210]:

== Hierodeacon [95]: Arcane 1

* Legionnaires (4) [160]:

== Xhiliarch [170]: Vexilla of the Lost, Aventine Armor, Regalia 1, Regalia 2

* Legionnaires (3) [145]: Icon Bearer, Optio
* Varangian Guard (5) [350]: Standard Bearer, Princeps
* Legionnaires (3) [145]: Icon Bearer, Optio

Congratulations on your placement! Please introduce yourself, and tell us your history with Conquest?

My name is Ben, Fanncyfox on the Discord, and I’ve been playing Conquest for the last 2.5 years, starting back in 1.51 and I’m one of the local Vanguards for Melbourne, Australia. I started with the Hundred Kingdoms, but The Old Dominion was my first love and what got me into the game in the first place

What do you think are the great strengths of your faction in general, and your list specifically?

The Old Dominion strengths? The obvious one is that they ignore resolve, a good 1/3rd of all melee damage. This makes them excellent at attrition, and combined with them getting stronger as they die, it makes them an excellent late game army. My list specifically focuses on the Fallen Divinity, which changes up the army significantly. Rather than the army getting stronger, it stays the same while she gets stronger, and I mean a LOT stronger. With both Aura of Malice and Untouchable, once the FD gets to Tier 3 she is nigh unkillable (Def 4, Hardened 2, Rerolling 6’s). So the focus of the list is two fold.

  1. Get the Fallen Divinity to Tier 3 as fast as possible.
  2. Have enough alternate threats to split my opponent’s focus.

The strengths of the list is a major focus on late game threats. Between the Fallen Divinity, the block of Varangians with Xhiliarch, and the large block of Kanephors, you have 3 major threats that your opponent must try and deal with. Focus on the Divinity, you lack resources to fight back against the other 2, and vice versa.

The 2 MSU Legionnaire regiments with Optios and Icon Bearers are key. They get up the field as quickly as possible, possibly score some points, but most importantly jam my opponents and force them to kill them.

The FD comes on turn 2 due to Flank. I never bring her on turn 1 as it allows your opponent to counter deploy with early pressure, and for the first half of the game she is very fragile. Turn 2 allows you to counter deploy her away from strong early pressure, and always on a flank. The Heirodeacon also comes on turn 2 so that they can get started on generating Power Tokens as soon as they can. Turn 3 you can bring both of your other major threats, the Varangian block with the Xhiliarch (Who with Regalia 1 and 2 gives the command stand +2 attacks, and gives the FD regen 1), and the large stand of the Kanephors. One of these should be deployed near the FD to support, while the other deployed on the other flank to put pressure there. From there you focus on whichever flank your opponent leaves less supported. Once you hit the late game you can really push back and score big.

What was the hardest game you played over the weekend?

Hardest game was most definitely against Robs Spires list. First time facing such a massive spam list, and my list really struggles due to a lack of resources and a large activation difference. 15 activations is a loooot more than I am used to facing, and since I only had 9 activations at most I really felt that difference. I did make some early placement mistakes due to the pressure, but it was definitely an uphill battle from the beginning, and Rob played it very well. Silver lining was that the Divinity went on an absolute tear late game and removed a good 1/3rd of the list at least.

What was the most memorable moment?

The most memorable moment of the tournament was during my 3rd game against Wadruhn. I was able to make a Tontorr REVERSE. It had deployed behind a block of Braves, which were between 2 pieces of impassable terrain. I then threw a unit of Legionnaires into combat with those said Braves, and now the Tontorr had nowhere to go, so it had to reverse and move around the impassable terrain, where the Fallen Divinity was waiting to eat it at Tier 3. Perfection.

Looking back, how would you rate your performance? What lessons are you going to take back to your local community?

Looking back at my performance, I would give ⅘ stars (very subtle i know :P). I made a few key placement issues during the games, especially during my game against Rob, but overall I think I made good use of my list and the options it has. Placement is one of the key things in this game, and it can be the difference between winning and losing, which is something I’m definitely going to be emphasizing to players in my community. One thing I really liked at the tournament was the wide variety of lists, both between Factions and within said Factions. It really shows you can be successful with different builds, which is excellent to see that people can play the way they want and still have success. Way to go Parabellum! Overall an excellent weekend, an excellent tournament, with excellent people


1st Place: Rob Cantrell, Underspires

Finally we have the event winner, Rob’s Underspires. Now while this list is fearsome I actually took a game from it in practice from the event, and I’m a Spires player myself so I’ve got a good feel for its strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, this list is looking to strike a balance between punishing people who can’t wipe one of its small units on a single clash – thus opening the door to Regeneration – and punishing people who put too much force into a single Clash – thus stalling out an expensive unit overkilling a pack of Force Grown Drones or Stryx. If you can hit exactly the right balance of force it can be unpicked, but that’s hard – this list deploys fast, deploys wide, and can concentrate a lot of force into a narrow surface area. I think it might be the best list in Spires, and definitely the best way to play Underspire, but it’s a lot to learn and maneuver.

=== The Last Argument of Kings ===

Underspires [2000/2000]
The Spires
The Under Spire

== (Warlord) Pheromancer [100]: Avatar Projection

* Stryx (3) [120]:
* Stryx (3) [120]:
* Brute Drones (3) [150]:
* Brute Drones (3) [150]:

== Pheromancer [90]:

* Force-Grown Drones (3) [90]:
* Onslaught Drones (3) [120]:
* Brute Drones (3) [150]:

== High Clone Executor [145]: Biotic Hive, Infiltrator Variant, Disperse, Additional Neural Receptors

* Force-Grown Drones (3) [90]:
* Vanguard Clone Infiltrators (3) [170]:

== High Clone Executor [115]: Cascading Degeneration

* Force-Grown Drones (8) [240]:
* Marksman Clones (3) [150]:

Congratulations on your placement! Please introduce yourself, and tell us your history with Conquest?

Like a lot of millennial wargamers on the distant side of thirty, I’ve been playing since my teenage years and have gone through a number of systems on my path to conquest. Probably the biggest influence and the game I played the longest was Warmachine, which I played for most of a decade before moving on to pick up Infinity and then A Song of Ice and Fire, both of which I still currently play.

I picked up Conquest late in version 1.5 and managed to find a growing local community as the game moved into 2.0. Really only a year and a half, all told, but it feels like longer!

What do you think are the great strengths of your faction in general, and your list specifically?

Spires is a faction with an absolute ton of versatility, which was showcased by the variety on display in the Spires lists at CanCon. My list’s genesis began with the 2023 game update that made adjustments to the Underspire and Pheromancer rules and profile, and while I set out to make absolute maximal use of the Underspire’s unique properties, it’s far from the only competition-capable Spires list.

The list’s theory of victory is to take full advantage of all the things the Underspire does amongst the best of any faction, starting with early game scoring potential. With two High Clone Executors embedded in light units, the list reliably starts scoring multiple zones in turn two (and can score scenarios like Maelstrom on turn one), which means that from the start of the game it typically has a scenario lead over the opposing force. This creates a situation where the status quo results in victory, which means the opposing force is pressured to act (to challenge that status quo, or else lose).

This pressure combines very well with the other strengths of the list – it plays wide, with numerous independent, capable fighting and scoring units and a lot of activations, but it also concentrates force extremely well thanks to the reach of pheromancies and powerful mobility and ranged units. The list uses activation advantage to wait out the opposition as they’re pressured to extend forward, then collapse with un-activated units on whatever the weakest part of the line is, supporting friendly units with pheromancies and debuffing enemy units with the Pheromancer’s Induce Lethargy action. If the list is already ahead on scenario, it only needs to win local victories to maintain a lead and ultimately win, but thanks to its ability to direct force so flexibly, local victories can often precipitate a failure cascade for the opposition that lets the spires run away to a major win.

What was the hardest game you played over the weekend?

Definitely round one, against Ewan and his Nords. Ewan’s list matches my own in scenario with extreme speed (combining natively fast units with the Shaman supremacy to effectively give almost the entire list vanguard). On top of that, I had the round one shakes off pretty much no sleep in a big way, and to be perfectly frank – Ewan is a better player than I am. He demolished my right flank, unpicked the Force Grown Drone unit as cleanly as I’ve ever seen it done and pushed on to secure a scenario zone on my side of the board which kept the score absolutely neck and neck for nearly eight consecutive turns.

I was carried through this game almost entirely off the back of the mechanical strengths of my list and some sheer dumb luck in the right places at the right times. Lethal demise Stryx were particularly decisive in the early game against Ewan’s Fenr (which I can’t otherwise efficiently shoot), and I was able to keep the Vanguard Clone Infiltrators alive into the late game where they were finally able to halt the rampage of Ewan’s Bow Chosen & Blooded unit that was cutting through my right flank. But Ewan played this masterfully and I hope Western Australia runs enough Worlds Qualifier events for him to secure an invitation, because I’d love to know he was representing Australia there if he can make it.

What was the most memorable moment?

https://www.goonhammer.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Phero_1.jpg

Outside of the games, it was definitely being able to put faces to so many different names and voices from the Australian community that I hadn’t had a chance to meet in person before.

In game, there were a lot of memorable moments, mostly heroic opposition to my villainous Spires – in round three we saw a unit of Hoplites holding against attacks from the front and both flanks like the Spartans at Thermopylae, with no help on the way and no hope in sight. Game two let me introduce my Spires opponent to what happens when a lethal demise unit fights a lethal demise unit, and we even managed to wrap up the entire interaction without forgetting whose turn it was. And of course, Ben’s Fallen Divinity reaching tier three and sweeping across the battlefield like General Radahn’s descent, killing something like eight units and characters by herself over the course of the game.

Looking back, how would you rate your performance? What lessons are you going to take back to your local community?

I mean, obviously I did pretty well, but it’s as true in Conquest as in any game that you don’t win an event without getting lucky in the right places at the right times over the course of an event. I did a lot of prep and a lot of practice with my list (including consulting with some very experienced Spires players from the US who helped round out the final touches), but just about every one of my games saw things going right for me at least once when I really needed them to. Even the matchups (after the absolute gauntlet that was round one) went in my favour, letting me dodge the scary Dweghom matchup entirely and avoid the dreaded Wadhrun mantle-Tontorr list until the very last round.

In terms of the locals, I am super proud of how the Canberra community performed at the event generally, particularly given how new we are as a community. Every one of our locals managed to win their first round and everyone played really well over both days. Great job, folks.

In terms of play, I want to see the February 9th update before I really decide what the takeaways are from the event, but I know I’m looking forward to getting back to Old Dominion for a bit. I really enjoyed my sojourn into Spires and will continue working on the army, but I can’t really feel alive (undead?) without occasionally putting like sixteen stands of heavy regiments on the field and just swinging for the win on turn ten.

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