Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Noob Review of Warhammer 40k: Conquest

  Recently my order for the 40k LCG, Warhammer 40,000: Conquest arrived, and I've had a chance to build several decks, and to get a few trial games in.  I'm calling this a "Noob Review" because I do not have a ton of experience under my belt, these are mostly initial impressions, and I'm not going too deep into the game, mostly just skimming the surface for those who may have been on the fence about the game and just want to know more.  Below is my quick review of the basic game with just the core sets...

In Warhammer 40k:Conquest, players take on the role of some of 40k's iconic characters and factions as they fight over control of a series of planets.  10 planets come with the core set, of those 10, 7 are dealt, and 5 are face up to fight over.  As the game progresses, the final 2 eventually become revealed.  The overall game design is interesting.  Personally I find the "magic style" of games where you play a resource, spend those regenerating resources each turn to play cards, then attack, too simplistic in their decision making strategies.  (MTG and Hearthstone are good examples) The 40k LCG, as with the Star Wars LCG, goes a completely different route, creating interesting tactical decisions throughout the game.  I've mentioned in the past that one of my favorite aspects of Star Wars, is that I just cannot predict the game, and have a hard time wrapping my head around all but the basic strategies, and I can foresee 40k being the same, but in a radically different way.  There are two ways to win, either by capturing 3 different planets with matching resource icons, or by killing the enemy Warlord. (Main character). Do I fight over control of the 1st planet (only the first can be scored), do I spread out more for the mid/late game, or do I try and predict the enemy Warlord's movements in order to go for the kill?  Those are all the basic questions you ask yourself through the game.

An initial concern people I talked to had was whether or not this would be a clone sabertooth game's 40k CCG from long ago, and while I played that game way back in the day, the details are hazy, but in general, I'd say NO.  While I barely remember that game, outside of the theme, and planetary location battles, I don't think it has a whole lot in common.  The game does an amazing job of representing the "... There is only war" slogan, and in general it feels like a game of 40k or a 40k novel, only played out in card form!

Another question people have is how playable is the game with a single core set, vs 2 sets, or 3.  The 40k LCG uses an "ally wheel" similar to allies in the tabletop game, essentially any faction can also use elements from two other factions next to it on those wheel, with the exception of Warlord specific cards, and cards with the "loyal" bug.  (More thoughts on this later). So, with a single core set, two decks can easily be built, as long they are different factions, by utilizing the ally wheel and/or generic cards.  Also many of the cards, only come with a single copy, while some come in pairs, and only a few full sets.  Two core sets means you can play each faction without resorting to heavy use of the ally wheel, but you may need to use a generic card or two.  Three sets will give you a full play set  of each card, which will allow you to play each faction without the need to mix or use generics, and will also allow you to tailor you deck a little bit. (Albeit, in a very limited fashion). Currently, I've got two core sets, and I'm definitely planning on getting a 3rd.

Art wise, the game is beautiful imo.  FFG has done amazing things art wise for their 40k licenses, and this game is no exception.  If you like the art of 40k and FFG's past artwork, then you will not be disappointed!

- Interesting mechanics
- Price point (it is an LCG after all)
- Theme (if you like 40k)
- Visuals (if you like 40k)
- Number of playable factions with varied tactics, strategies, and themes.

- The ally wheel.
- Inability to create true "theme decks" with the current limited card pool available.

Pro/con thoughts:
I've already discussed the pros in my overview above, so I'll share my thoughts on the cons.  The ally wheel.  I'm not a big fan of how the allies work on the tabletop either,  it can be cool depending on which allies you've chosen, but in general it just gets abused and often makes little sense in the overall story.  Portions of the ally wheel make sense, same seem just to be included for the sake of allowing each faction to be mixed with 2 others.  Hopefully FFG can keep an eye on balance and won't let broken combos into the game via the ally wheel.  Personally, I would have rather seen some tighter restrictions of the allies.

In regards to the limited "theme decks" in the current card pool, let me explain it like this.  Let's say I want to play Space Marines, and have an entire deck that uses only the Ultramines.  Or say I want to create a Tzeentch specific deck for my chaos to match the chaos warlord, well unfortunately I cannot.  The Space Marines faction, while having lots of Ultramarines specific cards, you are still forced to use cards from other chapters.  Same with chaos, not enough Tzeentch-specific sub faction cards to make an all Tzeentch deck.  While this may be a pro for some, I.e. Non Ultramarines fans, it's still something I would have enjoyed seeing in the core sets.  Not to say my dreams of an all Ultramarines deck, or in case of chaos, an all Khorne deck won't come to fruition at some point down the line, right now at the time of writing this, that type of theme deck cannot be done.

Final thoughts:
All in all, my overall feeling towards the game is a positive one.  The game really captures the overall feeling of constant battle that is so woven into the 40k lore.  It feels like a 40k story played out in card form!  The gameplay is interesting, so if you are looking for something that plays different from the other games on the market, then you'll be pleased with this one too.  If you are a 40k fan, then this is one you won't want to miss, even if only to collect the gorgeous art work.

What do you guys think?  Have you tried the game, do you plan to?

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