Continuing on with our series of Conquest The Last Argument of Kings we’ll be looking at the best way to get started with your army and get playing as quickly as possible.
If you’re new to the game and didn’t see our first article, we covered what the game is. If you missed it, here’s the short version: Conquest is a rank-and-flank fantasy game with alternating activations that plays faster than most tabletop games. Today we’re looking at the starter sets available for The Last Argument of Kings and how to start playing.
The Basics of Army Building
We’ll be going into further depth later on about how to build an army and many of the options around that but there are some basics that are very useful to know about.
First off is that Para Bellum has a free army builder that is kept up to date and gives you all of your unit’s stats and rules and now a mobile app, too, where you can save your lists more easily. When I put a list together I’ll print off the PDF and use it as a quick reference or reference back to on the app.
Second is that the only upgrade to really think about right now are banners and leaders. You can take 1 of both in just about every unit. Leaders, when available, come with the unit automatically and generally add an extra attack to the unit’s command stand. Banners give 1″ extra move on the second march a unit makes each turn as well as a re-roll on all charges, it’s worth taking almost always. Even then, if you want to give each unit of 3 stands a banner and later decide to run them together in a larger no one should bat an eyelid at it; just kill off the spare banner model first, it will die.
To make an army you first take a Character and have to take 1 unit and up to 4 units in its warband – if you’ve played 40K, think of these as detachments. Each Character has a list of Mainstay and Restricted units available to them, this list will be different for each Character. That means that not all units are available to all Characters. You must take at least 1 Mainstay unit and can only take 1 Restricted for each Mainstay.
One of your Characters must be the army’s Warlord and comes with a Supremacy Ability which is either a one-use ability or an “always active” type ability that buffs your army. Only your Warlord gets to make use of their Supremacy Ability so if you have multiple Characters think about which you’d like to use.
Two Player Starter Set
The main, and most obvious, way of getting into Conquest is with the Two Player Starter set. It’s a great set to have two factions for yourself or to split with a friend, it even comes with two printed rulebooks so if you do split it there’s no awkward “who gets the rulebook?” like with many other games. This set comes with the beginnings of a Nords army and a City States army with units that you’ll always make use of, not just for getting started; there’s really no waste in this set. Before delving into upgrades this set gives you 555 points of City States and 660 points of Nords. For your first couple games don’t worry about this discrepancy or try and right it too much with upgrades! Just learn the basics and add those in later.
If you’re brand new to Conquest and there’s not much of a local scene then this is going to be the best way to get started, it comes with a lot of miniatures for its cost and gives you two playable factions to start roping friends in to play with. If you were to buy these kits separately it’d come to €339.92 but the box set only costs €179.99 giving about a 52% saving. For the experienced wargamer a sizable saving is expected in a starter set and if either of these factions are one you want, then it’s a no brainer.
One thing to note here is that the two heroes included are specific to this box. While you can buy a Konungyr and Polemarch as separate models, those are different sculpts to these; you can only get these sculpts in this box set.
City States Half
In this half you get:
- Polemarch (the hero leading the force)
- 24 Hoplites/Phalangites (dual kit)
- 3 Minotaur Thyreans/Haspists (dual kit)
One thing you’ll notice if you read on is that I’ll continue to recommend building one each of the units available from the dual kits. So in this case you’ll be making up 12 Hoplites and 12 Phalangites so that you get 1 unit of each to use. The Minotaurs are either better armoured or better at hitting things, realistically though the difference is minor enough where you can build either unit depending on how you think they look: neither is bad by any means!
Up next adding a second hero like an Aristarch means you can take more units as they’re released. Adding more Hoplites and Phalangites won’t be a bad choice, ever, and taking some Minotaurs as auxiliaries in existing units will add some more punch to your otherwise defensive units. Or, to add more punch to your army pick up a Mechanist hero and a Hephaestian/Promethean dual kit; both are solid options and will add some support and damage to your army.
For the other side you get:
- Konungyr (a King of the Nords)
- 12 Bow Chosen
- 12 Huskarls
- 1 Mountain Jotnar
This side is simpler in that you really do not get any choices, at all, these are straight up single purpose kits that only make up these units. Very solid units that you’ll definitely always be using in a Nord army too!
For your next buy the One Player Starter is a great pick-up, we go into depth about it below. Otherwise, the next thing you’ll want to pick up will be a second hero. The Jarl will let you add more human units to your army, a Shaman adds some magic forces and lets you field a Sea Jotnar, or the Blooded which adds the more mythical units to your force such as Trolls, Ugr, and Fenr Beastpacks. None are a bad choice but personally I like the Blooded best as a second character in a unit of Trolls with a unit of Ugr backing them up. Adds a lot more punch to your army with quite a lot of Cleave attacks and regenerating Trolls making them hard to take off the table.
One Player Starter Sets
Para Bellum have also made single player starter sets which are good for both new and experienced players. You save a bit of money as opposed to buying all the kits separately and get a printed version of the rulebook but it is best to use the rulebook online as it can change. If you’re not interested at all in either the City States or Nords then starting an army with one of these works great. Remember that all faction rules and core game rules are free to download and reference. Be mindful that there are rules for units and characters that don’t have models yet but that will be released in future.
Adding one of the City States or Noreds One Player box sets to a two player starter gives you an extremely solid base of an army to expand from at a good price, which is especially appreciated because both factions can put a lot of bodies on the table.
In each box you get 1 Character and 4 units which can be in that hero’s warband giving you a playable army straight out the box. These boxes all have a €149.99 RRP that come with a saving over buying the kits separately; if you were to buy the kits for these units separately, they would cost you somewhere between €199.95 and €214.95 depending on the army.
This really is the jack of all trades army; and that’s not a bad thing either as it means no two armies will really look the same. You get to build it around your own playstyle and make it work for you – there really isn’t a “must-have” unit that you need multiples of to do well. In this set you get:
- Noble Lord (mounted)
- 3 Household Knights
- 3 Mounted Squires
- 12 Men at Arms
- 12 Household Guard / Gilded Legion
The only dual kit here are the Household Guard/Gilded Legion models making the rest of the box very easy to build leaving the question: which unit of these two to build? If you’re not picking up any other Hundred Kingdoms heroes soon then you’ll want to build Household Guard since Gilded Legion are not a choice for the Noble Lord to field.
What to add next?
You’ll need to grab a second hero before you add more units to your army. An Imperial Officer offers many more unit choices in their warband and lets you take Gilded Legion as well, so recommend this as your next buy. After that grabbing some ranged support in the way of Mercenary Crossbowmen will offer some pretty hard hitting damage to start laying down-field from early in the game.
While you are able to build a Spires army to be very elite with Highborns and Avatar and Abominations the bulk of the army usually relies on lots of clones and drones; it’s definitely the horde army in this game and the starter set reflects that. The army relies heavily on combinations between characters and units to work at full potential and makes them trickier to pilot, not the best army for a new player.
- High Clone Executioner
- 3 Brute Drones
- 12 Bound Clones / Onslaught Drones
- 12 Vanguard Clones / Vanguard Infiltrators
- 12 Marksmen Clones
The High Clone Executioner is exactly what it sounds like – a duelling/combat beast. His supremacy ability is a once per game effect that allows you to play the top 3 cards from your command deck one after another before your opponent plays any. Having 3 of your units activate without your opponent intervening can cause an incredible amount of damage without fear of losing models or units between; learning to time this right will take some practice but is extremely powerful.
With this box you should build the Bound Clones and Vanguard Clones with the dual kits so that you can field a playable army immediately by having 2 Mainstay and 2 Restricted units in the Executioner’s warband. They’re both solid unit choices as well and you won’t be upset for having them after expanding to a larger army.
What to add next?
You can go a few different routes next: big scary monsters or massed infantry. And both are solid choices, too, while playing distinctly differently from each other. To go with larger scarier models you’ll want a Lineage Highborne and fill out their warband with Avatara (the only Mainstay option) and Incarnate Sentinels etc. For massed infantry Pheromancers and Biomancers with many Force Grown Drones, Bound Clones, Onslaught Drones, etc etc etc. Lots of infantry.
Nords are a more aggressive and more glass cannon type army, generally eschewing armour for attacks. With access to heavier non-human units like Trolls, Ugr, and Jotnars (giants) as well as beast packs like Fenr the roster isn’t lacking for options. The goal is always the same for the Nords: get on the table before your opponent, take control of the battlefield, pick your fights and overwhelm units.
- 3 Ugr
- 3 Fenr Beastpack
- 12 Stalkers
- 12 Trolls
The Blooded’s warband is chock full of beasts and monsters, with only himself and Stalkers benign near-human. Both Ugr and Trolls pack a hard punch in melee with the latter able to heal turn after turn, reviving models to the unit and sticking around for fights longer. Fenr Beastpacks are great for skirmishing and moving around the table freely – charging into the flanks and rear of enemy units to cause the most havoc. Stalkers give your force a ranged threat that can pick off models before you charge in with the rest. All very solid units that you can expect to keep using as you expand your army out.
Also a great box to pick up if you started with the Two Player Starter and want to expand the Nord half of the box.
What to add next?
From here you can go a few different ways: another Blooded for more non-human beasts or a Jarl, Konungyr, Shaman, or Volva for a more human-centred force and that’ll come down to what you want in their warband as well. For some solid hitting infantry and Jotnars get a Konungyr or Jarl, both solid hero choices with a wide selection in their warbands. For a more defensive playstyle you can go with a Volva and Valkyries, but her warband is extremely limiting so is a better addition as a third hero.
The dwarfs of Conquest. They play how you expect a dwarf race to play in a game: they’re more heavily armoured so arrive at the table a bit slower than other armies and have an assortment of close and long ranged weapons. What can be a bit surprsing is that they don’t really have a slow move characteristic and with certain heroes can even increase that to be fairly quick moving across the table and into combat (where they largely want to be). Given their toughness the units tend to be a bit more expensive to take making this army more elite with high defence and resolve stats. This makes a great first army for new players as it can be very forgiving if you make mistakes or have a hard time manoeuvring well.
- Hold Raegh
- 12 Hold Warriors / Hold Ballistae
- 12 Dragonslayers / Hold Thanes
- 12 Fireforged
- 12 Initiates/Wardens
A Hold Raegh is an absolute beatstick of a character. Great in combat with attacks that will slice right through armour and high Defence, like most of this army, he’s a great pick for any Dweghom force. His supremacy ability gives all command stands across your army +1 attack, all of the time, making your melee units hit that much harder.
To build a legal warband you can go with Hold Warriors or Hold Ballistae since they’re both Mainstay units. Then you can choose between Dragonslayers or Hold Thanes; Dragonslayers are a much tougher unit that hits even harder, but are a Restricted choice so if you go with Dragonslayers (which you absolutely should) then you’ll need to build Initiates with their massive shields so that you have enough Mainstay units. Fireforged aren’t a choice but are very good anyways, laying down an incredible amount of short ranged firepower and not bad in combat either.
What to add next?
It’s a real toss up between the Tempered Sorcerer or Ardent Kerawegh here. The former give you access to the incredibly cool Hellbringer Drake and can even be mounted on top of it, as well as giving you access to Inferno Automata (one of the army’s few Light units) which can cause some early game havoc; Fireforged are also a Mainstay choice for the Sorcerer giving freeing up space in your Hold Raegh’s warband. Or, go with the Kerawegh to be able to access Flame Berzerkers and more infantry with a Supremacy ability that adds extra movement to all of your units.
As far as Orc factions in games go this actually tends towards a more elite fighting force with elite hard-hitting infantry as a base supported by fast flanking cavalry units and massive dinosaurs. Not a good pick for a new wargamer as the army relies heavily on activating units in specific orders and pulling off complex combo plays. It is not a forgiving army if you make mistakes but when you do pull it off it is incredibly satisfying.
- 12 Slingers / Hunters
- 12 Blooded / Braves
- 3 Hunting Pack
- 3 Raptor Riders
You can build this box however you like. The only option that is not a Mainstay unit are the Slingers. You really can’t make a mistake here, pick the units you like the look of and go with them. If you want to be told which units to build I’d go for Hunters and Blooded with the dual kits for very hard hitting shooting and melee respectively.
As a Warlord the Predator gives a once per game charge bonus to all units and is a solid character at range with a crossbow that can deal serious damage. Join with a unit of Slingers to sit back and rain down death on your enemy while your Blooded and Braves close in for melee attacks. Blooded are better at charging in and dealing a large amount of damage in one hit while Braves with their shields will survive a few more rounds of combat while dealing damage back to enemy units.
What to add next?
The answer is of course a large dinosaur. No Wadhrun army is truly complete without an Apex Predator stomping around removing any enemy unit that gets in its way. All you need to add is a second hero, in this case likely a Matriarch Queen to ride on the Apex Predator, and move one of the Mainstay units from your Predator’s warband across. Or, you could mount your Predator on the Apex Predator and pick up a Chieftan, which expands your unit options a bit more to take some Veterans and Warbred, both solid melee units.
The undead faction of the game that’s really good at…staying alive. Old Dominion units are much tougher than other units because they never take morale or suffer wounds from it, so to make up for that they’re more expensive in points making them a pretty hefty elite force, even when you’re taking as much infantry as you can. They do require a little book keeping and the use of some abilities at the right time but making a few mistakes won’t lose you a game outright; they’re a middle tier army in terms of difficulty for new players, not the worst but not the most straightforward.
- 1 Strategos
- 12 Athanatoi
- 24 Legionnaires / Praetorian Guard
- 3 Kataphraktoi
You’ll be needing to build one set of those Legionnaires…as Legionnaires for a legal warband under the Strategos. The second unit is entirely your choice; I like variety so would go for Praetorian guard for the second unit of 12 models but if you just want seemingly endless hordes of Legionnaires I can’t fault you either.
Kataphraktoi are one of the army’s fastest units, and they can hit pretty hard with a hefty number of impact hits and Brutal Impact causing enemy armour to be almost meaningless when they charge in.
Athanatoi hit with a high number of attacks with Flurry to re-roll all missed hits in combat and protect the Strategos when he’s in their unit, not breaking if he refuses a duel; he’s not exactly there to be fighting other heroes so it’s a fantastic ability to be able to avoid death and not suffer any consequences for the decision.
What to add next?
Add a Hierodeacon for some magic in your army and to open up your list building for a variety of units such as Kanephors and Karyatids, animated statues that can add ranged attacks or solid melee threats to your army. An Archimandrite on the other hand is a stronger Priest with a wide breadth of spells to cast each turn and lets you take Bone Golems, one of the coolest looking and also hardest hitting units you have access to.
It’s very hard to ignore the literal Monster of the army too: The Fallen Divinity. This unit adds an incredible amount to your army and is a Light unit so even turns up to the battle early – turn 1 if you really want it to (you probably do!). That said it’s also a bit tricky to use and going for a large resin model won’t be for everyone just starting out.
More Legionnaires will always do you well!
The other army that’s in the Two Player Starter, which if you’ve already got then this set is a great addition; if you don’t have any at all then it’s still a good place to start! City States are a pretty elite army with very solid infantry, brutal brutes, and fantastic monsters that buff your units and deal an incredible amount of damage to enemy units.
- 1 Aristarch
- 12 Agema / Thorakites
- 3 Minotaur Haspists / Thyreans
- 24 Phalangites / Hoplites
Other than the hero of course, all of the sets you get here are dual kits allowing you a lot of choices; I’d recommend you build 24 Hoplites, 3 Minotaur Thyreans, and 12 Thorakites. The reason for that is that Hoplites are a very solid shieldwall, able to move onto and hold objectives well while your Thyreans and Thorakites both have Cleave on their attack profiles meaning they hit hard in combat and can move enemies off of objectives with relative ease. If you’d rather player more defensively over all then you can instead build the Minotaur Haspists and Thorakites but you will definitely feel a lack of general killing power.
What to add next?
Giants! You can very seamlessly simply add a Promethean to your force without needing any heroes either if you just run your Hoplites as one big unit of 6 stands, which isn’t that bad of an idea to begin with either! But if you wanted to add the other variant, which is less of a buff piece and more of an outright murder machine in its own right, then you’ll need to grab a Mechanist and parse your units out.
Adding more minotaurs is very solid, and grabbing a box to use solely as Auxiliaries is a good idea too; City States have a unique ability for some units to add an auxiliary stand of a different unit. Throwing a minotaur into a unit of Hoplites or Phalangites can add some very solid killing power to otherwise defensive units and with all the support attacks you can run these as rather narrow units, too, of just 2 stands wide to try and minimise the number of attacks coming back at you.
This is still a very new army, having just come out the start of this year (2023) so it’s a bit limiting as to what you can add so far but none of the units are bad and you can pretty easily just pick up what you like and put an army together with.
Where to go from here…
The next few articles will involve deeper discussion of the game itself, as well as detailed reviews of some of the models!
Remember too that you can get 10% off from the Para Bellum webstore when you use this link for USA/Canada or this link for EU/rest of world and use code “goonhammer” at checkout. You need to click the right link for your location AND use the code for it to work.
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