Posted on January 17 2022
Being a wargame of fantastic battles with infantry blocks, cavalry and monstrosities of all kinds, there are certain similarities to Warhammer or Kings of War. Not in vain, it is designed by a certain Alessio Cavatore, which may ring a bell. And no doubt this is evident in the rules. You can see mechanisms of games like Warmaster or the aforementioned Kings of War, but with many other singularities.
To mention some of the aspects that make Conquest Para-Bellum rules stand out, we can mention an unusual deployment phase since Units are not deployed! These are coming in waves from the first turn, pulling a die and following certain criteria to represent the clash between two armies in an open field.
Therefore, the pre-battle preparations and the first shifts (while the troops arrive) pass very quickly, but they are fundamental since you think twice when designing the army list or drawing up a battle plan.
Another example would be the alternating activation logic between players, where each activated unit can choose two actions from a handful of options. The order of activation of units must be chosen by each player at the beginning of each turn, represented by an "Orders Deck" (each unit has a profile card that the player handles, such as a deck).
It is a fluid, easy to learn and very active game system as you don’t spend a whole turn watching your opponent move their figurines. The resolution of the fighting itself is quick and violent: the attacker tries to "impact" (Clash), the defender tries to "resist" (Defense), and ready for the inescapable moral check (Resolve). Obviously, there are also modifiers of all kinds. As a war game with rows and complex interactions, troop movement takes on a special relevance and is (probably) most important.
Para Bellum itself is very interested in spreading its creation. All rules, army lists and even a beautiful army builder are available for free on the web. I think this is an important point in favor, because we should not be constantly buying books that are obsolete after a few years or are full of typos.
An illustrative example of this would be the game’s inaugural release, the Starter Box pitting the Spires ("pseudo-elves" rather sinister extraterrestrials) and the Hundred Kingdoms (medieval humans with some seeps). I’ll try to dedicate a detailed article to this box in the future, it’s worth it.
Well, they accompanied this release with several PDFs and videos that narrate from the point of view of a young nobleman the events that eventually triggered the conflict between the Spires and Hundred Kingdoms, and what consequences it will have on the world of Eä. But this does not necessarily extend beyond what the characters in the story know, as there are no external narrators or grand chronologies about the history of the world. It was basically the background available at the time.
I find it an interesting approach, because loose ends leave you wanting to know more and promotes immersion by adopting the point of view of a simple human. Spires themselves appear distant and mysterious in the narrative, well suited to an extraterrestrial race.
Precisely these will precipitate the introduction of other factions, such as the Dweghom (impetuous dwarfs enslaving dragons) or the Nords (Nordic half-giants), all with their internal logic.
If there’s one thing that stands out about Conquest, it’s the hard work and the artistic background. Just put a HOJO on the web, illustrations and so on to realize it.
The overall tone is quite dark and medieval, without many heroic flourishes. There is an emphasis on narrative from the point of view of the typical private who goes to war without understanding very well what is happening, all in a chaotic and dirty plan. It can be said that the world of Eä is earthy and gloomy, but with its fantastic touch as its inhabitants gradually appear.
The latter is seen in the progressive introduction of the background, with stories that intertwine and reveal step by step the different races and events.
Bellum has so far introduced four factions. They have already announced that in the future there will be more. In principle, they intend to complete the four current factions (with 20+ units each) over the next 3 years, in addition to adding new ones throughout this period (in May and October they introduce two new ones for example).
A brief introduction to the factions available at the moment:
One Hundred Kingdoms: They are medieval human classics. But something more currao that that of the medieval fantasy of turn, represented with many internal conflicts and politicking to several bands between the Nobles (the feudal ones), the Church (warriors a little fanatical) and the Orders (mysterious gentlemen who seem "more" than mere humans...), among other things. A real mess these men have going on.
Spires: The twisted version of elves by Para Bellum, which actually have little elves. They are extraterrestrials that landed in the world of Eä by some cosmic accident (or was it gambled?) and that are characterized by consuming all the biomass that they find in their path and then manipulate it at will with truculent experiments.
Therefore, their armies are mainly composed of clones and monstrosities typical of nightmares. The Spires themselves fight each other, with one group wanting to return to their planet while the other prefers to colonize Eä.
Dweghom: The Dwarves Version For Bellum. Initially created as slaves by the Dragons, they rebelled to exchange roles and use them as tortured beasts of war. They use magic to animate rock and iron constructions or spit fire. They’re usually mad about their obsession with war.
Nords: Certain parallels with Norse mythology, the Nords are half-giants allied with other equally large critters like trolls, giants, etc... They are descended from the Gods, who shed their blood on the world in a bygone era (in Conquest, the Ragnarök already happened but with different consequences). Now they move south, pushed against their will for some evil reason....
Finally, a few comments on the Conquest miniatures. First of all, they are somewhat larger in scale than other similar games. It’s about 36 mm. To put a reference, in the image below we see a soldier of the Empire (from Warhammer 6th edition) compared to a Man of Arms on the right, a Feromante on the left and a Noble on horseback. The empire stays small.
Being a set of regiments, the miniatures go on individual round stands that are then placed on square moving trays. Ring War type. For infantry, there are 4 miniatures per tray but for the rest it is only one miniature per tray. The size of the regiment varies depending on the number of trays you want to add.
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