I've been playing a lot of Conquest lately and I still feel that it is a good game despite one or two minor niggles. One is the usual issue with Fantasy Flight's living card games in that you do need to buy two or three starters, preferably three, in order to get three of every card. It really isn't necessary to do that to players. Thankfully a friend bought me my third starter as a late birthday present so at last I have all three starters.
The other niggle is far more annoying. Normally you alternate doing things between yourself and your opponent, but in the combat phase you can play an action and make an attack with a unit. After many games I find this to be the closest to broken that the game gets. It makes some factions - Dark Eldar I'm looking at you - far too strong. It really needs to be reduced to you get either an action or an attack. Then it would be balanced.
Ok, there is actually a third as I think about it. One of the victory conditions is to bloody and then kill the opponents War Lord. Unfortunately it is a bit of a dick move as it just ensures that one player doesn't get a good game. It's far too easy to do when you build a deck around it, and the Space Wolves war lord Ragnar Blackmane is all about war lord hunting. Other than that, I'm really enjoying it.
So, how do the factions play now? That is what I want to cover here today.
Space Marines in Conquest feel very much like a jack of all trades but master of none. They have some great units that cover the range from very cheap to just too expensive to field. Their event cards however are rather naff for the most part. They have some handy ones but most either have yet to fill a role for me or seem to be there for just the use of shield icons only.
Cato Sicarius. Cato is the Ultramarines war lord that comes with the starter set. I think he is one of the better war lords as in the right situation he generates resources when enemy units are destroyed. His signature units are about right in cost and strength as well.
Ragnar Blackmane. Ragnar is the Space Wolves war lord. He is built around hunting down and killing the enemy war lord. Coupled with his signature unit he is the primary reason for my dislike of that victory condition in the game. But even so I cannot fault how good he is as a war lord.
Corporal Straken. Straken is the war lord who comes from the starter set and is the best of the current Astra Militarum war lords. His ability boosts many of the units you'll play which is always handy. His signature cards are reasonable but, again, I'd have liked better.
Torquemada Corteaz. The inquisition enters the game with an AM war lord. Corteaz isn't bad as a war lord but he starts with 0 attack and needs to sacrifice one of his units to get a +3 attack. Thematic but I'm not keen on the ability. His signature cards are ok with the exception of The Glovodan Eagle which I cannot see the use for except for it's three shield ability. I'm not sure about how well he will do based on his war lord ability.
The Eldar in Conquest resemble their Warhammer 40K counterparts in being annoyingly powerful. They tend to be highly mobile and with an ability to control the battlefield. They are very frustrating to play against. The units themselves are cheap, balanced in regards to attack and wounds, but they work really well together. The Eldar events are very strong not to mention cheap and are what allow them to control the game.
Eldorath Starbane. The first war lord for the Eldar and at the moment the best of the two available. Eldorath has ability to exhaust a unit when he commits to a planet. This is a strong ability that does tend to give the edge to the Eldar in engagements. Couple this with Starbane's Council, one of his signature units, who get more powerful when attacking exhausted units.
Baharroth. The newest war lord for the Eldar is the Phoenix Lord of the Swooping Hawks. By himself I don't think he's great as his own ability is to move from one planet to another. Mobility is a good ability but as a war lord's only ability and the stats being average, I'm not rating him great yet. Maybe once I have had opportunity to play him. However, his signature cards are very handy and worthwhile which may make up for Baharroth himself.
The Tau are another powerful and well designed faction. They Tau are good at mobility and are real masters of combat with plenty of ranged opportunities. The units are the masters of shooting but are weak in the wounds department to make up for it but are nicely balanced points wise to compensate. The Tau are good at winning the command struggle as most units of at least one icon and are cheap enough to deploy a fair number to win a planet. I do enjoy playing against the Tau as they make for good games.
Commander Shadowsun. Shadowsun is my favourite Tau war lord as he is balanced (unlike his current counterpart) and comes with some nice thematic signature cards. I think he has become less popular since we received a second Tau war lord but that may be because Aun'shi plays better for a more competitive game. Shadowsun is good for a casual game.
Aun'shi. This new war lord quite frankly is broken and overpowered in my opinion. Aun'shi gives all your Tau units at his location armourbane which prevents the opponent from using shields to resist against damage. This only goes away once he attacks as he then retreats back to the HQ area. My experience of playing against him is simply that he's not fun to have as an opposing war lord.
The forces of Chaos in Conquest are probably the staple for power level against which the others are compared. I think so anyway. They have some extremely powerful units, cards and combinations at their disposal. Some of which are ridiculous in the right situation. The standard units and cards are fairly balanced but those which come as signature cards are the ones to watch out for, especially when combinations are concerned.
Zarathur. This Thousand Sons sorcerer is the war lord from the starter set and is probably the best of the two we currently have. The amount of damage that can be put out because of him and his Flamer's is really rather scary. He is the Chaos war lord for the competitive player.
Ku'gath Plaguefather. This greater daemon of Nurgle is my preferred war lord for Chaos. He and his signature cards are great for bouncing damage onto the opponent's units. It is very thematic representing the spread of Nurgle's foul diseases. Unfortunately however, there isn't a lot of damage prevention in the game right now so it is very easy for an opponent to overload him with damage, and boom, you've lost your war lord.
The greenskins are a faction that I don't think live up to their potential. They are a faction that should be built around getting loads of small units in play to swarm and overrun the opponent's units. Instead the Ork units tend to be larger expensive units so that you don't get quite as many out in play as you would like. I really want to see this adjusted as I think the game is missing a swarm faction but maybe Tyranids will cover this aspect instead. Eitherway, right now I don't find Orks very playable.
Nazdreg. The default war lord for the orks and again, arguably the best of the two. He gives his ork units present where he is the brutal ability so that they get better attack for being wounded. If played right, you have a lot of damage potential from your army but in my experience it just makes him an obvious choice for war lord hunting.
Old Zogwort. In Warhammer 40K Zogwort is all about venomous snakes and poison, but to avoid messing about too much FFG have instead tied him into the snotling generation mechanic. The problem is that he is terrible for it as at the end of your turn all snotlings on your side get discarded! They give you a handy dandy ability with one hand and snatch it away with the other. Unlikely to ever play him because of it.
This faction drives me up the wall. I hate playing against them with a passion. If you know Magic the Gathering, these guys are black. The units are weak and should be easily killed but they have good damage and some nice abilities. The non-unit cards however are designed to just screw you over. They force discards from your hand, destroys your units and basically controls the game so that you can't do anything. All of which makes for another very dull game.
Packmaster Kith. The starter box war lord and not too bad by herself. She works by bringing Khymera tokens into play when she deploys.Of the two we currently have she is perhaps the fairer of the two to play as her ability isn't too bad. Neither war lord actually impacts things too much instead relying on the regualr cards to screw the opponent over.
Urien Rakarth. The latest warlord is a bit odd. I need to see him played to get an idea of how he works. Events you play with the Torture keyword are cheaper but non-Torture cards are more expensive. I am guessing that he is a war lord who will come into his own as more cards are released for the Dark Eldar faction.