Conquest: the Board Game

I recently did a mini-review of Talisman & Relic, two board games from Fantasy Flight that are based in the GW IP.  Again, I use the term loosely because it’s not a detailed review per se, just what I thought of the games.

Well, for Christmas, Brandon got a copy of Conquest, which isn’t so much a board game, but a “living card game,” again by Fantasy Flight and set in the 40k universe.  The difference between an LCG and a board game is simple in that you don’t have a set board, and the vast majority of the game is based around cards.  It’s different from a collectable card game (CCG), such as Magic: the Gathering, in that you can just buy one box and have every card.  In contrast, CCG’s generally require you to buy randomized packs of cards with which to build your collection.  To get continued revenue, LCG’s, like Conquest, generally produce regular expansions that encourage you to buy more.  To my knowledge, this hasn’t happened yet for Conquest, but then again, it’s only been out for a couple of months, so I’m sure that it will soon enough…  (EDIT: apparently I’m mistaken, as they have three expansions out already)

FFConquest2Anywho, the game plays out by dealing out seven battleground worlds to fight over.  Initially, only four of them are eligible, but a new one is flipped over each turn.  The game is won by conquering enough worlds with match resource values.

Each player earns a number of credits each turn, which are the primary resource by which cards are brought into play.  You also have a fixed amount of draws per turn but, as you probably predicted, there are ways to affect that number as well.

Initially, we started with the two suggested decks: Ultramarines vs. Orks (though I guess, technically it was Space Marines, my deck was lead by Sicarius, so it was pretty obvious that it was Ultramar-themed.  I believe it did have representatives from both the Crimson Fists & Blood Angels chapters inside it though).  I let Brandon choose the decks, and he opted with the Orks, presumably because he plays them in 40k, and I play Bloo?

The game very quickly overwhelmed me with complexity and options.  First, there are the obvious problems of having a limited number of cards and resources to cast them.  That much was easy to wrap my head around.  Some of the options included:

  1. Understanding how fights happen and where.  By default, fights happen on the first planet, and every other planet with a warlord.  So, just because you have troops at a planet, doesn’t mean that they’ll necessarily fight.
  2. Each planet also has a specific fight effect that happens when you win a combat there, which can drastically affect the rest of the board state.  Some examples include: removing a unit from the board completely, healing a unit completely, etc.
  3. Understanding when you can capture a planet.  This is apparently only true of the first planet every turn–which is pretty basic, but it took me a little while to grasp that.
  4. Figuring out the command phase of the game.  Regardless of whether there is combat at a given planet, each in turn will undergo a command struggle–which happen before combat.  These struggles can result in additional credits and or cards.  These additional resources can help out tremendously in a fight.

FFConquest1None of these seem particularly complicated on their own, but the way they intertwined was fairly brilliant, and a little overwhelming at first.  After two games, I don’t think I’ve mastered it by any means, but I have enough of a grasp on it to say that I think I get it.

The game also has a fair bit of replay ability.  The base game comes with seven (7) decks to start with, and each one seems to have different underlying themes/mechanics.  For instance, the Tau seemed to deal more with equipment, the orks with brute force, and the Marines with the command phase.  Plus, the decks all have the same backs, so it gives you the ability to mix and match–so you could make a “chaos renegade” deck by combining parts from the IG and Daemon decks.

Of course, they’re also releasing lots of expansion content as well.  Personally, I haven’t played any of them, but it’d be easy to see how they could expand upon the premise.  In addition to making new faction decks, they can do some simple additions to make drastic changes to the game.  For example, the game has the mechanic to allow each race to start with different amounts of life and resources, but very few races make any use of this.  So, adding new warlords for each race with different starting totals (and special abilities) could make a big improvement.   Also, there are a very limited number of battlefields available (10, I believe) with the base game, so expanding upon that would go a long way to making the game seem more dynamic.

Overall, I think it was a pretty great game.  It holds true to the theme well, and there doesn’t seem to be one clear strategy to win (although I did win both games by focusing on the command phase for additional card draw).  I’d happily play it again.

If you’re interested in learning more about the game, you can find detailed info at the Fantasy Flight website, and you can purchase it from my preferred online retailer: the War Store.

Image Credit: Fantasy Flight Games

 

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11 comments on “Conquest: the Board Game

  1. Actually only two expansions have come out so far (Space wolves and Nurgle) but they have announce more. They typically come out on a monthly basis. Each pack includes a new warlord and a couple card for each of the other races. It is also worth noting that the “starter” decks aren’t actually legal decks. The rulebook contains all the rules but once you get past the starters, decks are 50 cards and limited to two adjacent factions on the faction wheel (SM->IG->orks->chais->DE->Eldar->tau->SM) and there are rules about which cards can be used by the allied faction.

    I am a huge supporter of the game. The two “fight” phases really make a good dynamic. My only issue is that the core set doesn’t make great decks due to the number of 1 of’s in it. This means you need 3 core sets if you want to make good decks. Of course I would rather have this problem than seeing a 40k universe with only 4 factions. From 3 core sets you should be able to get 5-7 full decks (neutral cards become limiting factor as most decks will want void pirates or rogue traders).

    P.S. Also note that “rout” is send to HQ, not remove from board for the planet ability.

    • That’s good insight. Perhaps you can answer a few questions:

      Why are the individual races not valid decks? I don’t own the game, nor did I read the rules. Are you saying that they’re not at least 50 cards? Or is it because the rules have some sort of stipulation stating that there must be a combination of multiple races?

      What do you mean when you say they don’t make good decks because “of the number of 1s?” Are there too many or not enough? In my experience, the decks seemed relatively comparable and balanced as they were.

      You say you need “three core sets” to make good decks. Does that mean you’re suggesting someone buy the base game three times and make decks out of that? That seems counter-intuitive to me. I like the idea that I have somewhat limited options, buying all of those decks would make it seem more like magic in creating the ultimate combo decks, no?

      As for routing: yes, we played it correctly, but your HQ is effectively off the board. Granted, they can come back in later turns, but they don’t have any real effect on the game from the HQ. Or am I missing something there as well?

      On Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 6:14 AM, Warhammer 39,9999 wrote:

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      • There aren’t enough cards for a single race in one core set. Once you get the three you can go single race, but the other minor ding I have on the game is that there is no reason to do so, even if you are just splashing in a single event from a friendly faction.

        The core set is very balanced. Imp Guard are probably a bit weak but they are close enough. They did a good job in that respect. What I meant is that most Eldar decks for example will want 3 Biel Tan Guardians (1 cost, 2 command icons) but only 1 is in the core set. If it is just you and your friend playing one core set will do fine but if you expand to a larger group you will be at a disadvantage because you don’t have a playset of the “commons”. It will also make the expansion a lot better because the cards there do come with full playsets.

        As to making it more combo centric like Magic, a little, but it is really making it more consistent. Fantasy Flight tends to minimize combo decks in there other card games and I don’t see that changing with Conquest. The various win conditions are all conditions that take multiple turns to accomplish. It is 100% impossible to accomplish any of them in 1 turn (you can only win 1 planet per turn, if you bloody the opposing warlord they retreat and you have to kill them again next turn, there isn’t the card draw to deck yourself). But I do view this game (and other LCG’s) as card games and not board games, so the comparison to Magic isn’t out of place. The big difference being that you get full playsets in your boosters rather than fishing for cards.

        There are some things that can be done from HQ (such as exhausting your warlord to cast nullify) or get Doom’ed into nothingness. There are also cards in expansions that let certain move from HQ to planet during a battle.

  2. Hmm, interesting…

    I’ve thought the game looked interesting, but having got out of MtG an awful long time ago (and never having been a big fan of it) I’ve decided to steer clear of yet more games and expenditure!

    • Based upon the games we played, I’d recommend it. It’s relatively cheap and you don’t need to buy anything outside of the base game. The game itself cost $25 or so, so that’s basically cheaper than any squad of models you can buy from GW. It’s also easier to teach/learn, so you should be able to play it with more people.

      All in all, I don’t see how you can go wrong with this. The down side is that you might get sucked in and be tempted to buy every expansion pack that comes out, but that’s what… $10 per month? Given the costs of 40k in general, that’s a pittance.

      On Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 8:57 AM, Warhammer 39,9999 wrote:

      >

  3. It is a really good game. Just give in and buy it. 🙂 It also plays much faster than 40k (1/2 hour or so) so you can get multiple games in or get a game in before/after a 40k game.

  4. These FFG living card games are becoming very popular at my FLGS. There’s a league for their Game of Thrones version, as well as the Lord of the Rings version. Their Netrunner LCG seems to have a very strong following as well. FFG is apparently really good at providing tournament and/or league support.

    • I haven’t played any of their other LCGs, but Fantasy Flight games in general are quite good. I can’t imagine these being an exception.

      On Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 6:04 AM, Warhammer 39,9999 wrote:

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