In reading your "on Initiative = attack" and "Off initiative = defense" ideas...how do you account for the fact that if only one player has a Warlord in a certain battle then that player has initiative regardless of whoever has the initiative token?
Do you still consider yourself on the defense because you're assuming their Warlord will go to the same planet as your Warlord? Are you assuming that your Warlord will NOT go to planet 1 on your "defender" turn because you wouldn't have initiative?
I haven't ignored your questions, sir. It's just a very complicated answer that deserves to be the next article in this thread. But here is the preview gist anyway.
In Go, there exists the concepts of "sente" (aggressive, dictating the game), "gote" (defensive, reacting to opponent's threats) and "ko threats" (a stratagem by which, while gote, you establish some counter threat that exceeds the opponent's threat, thereby seizing sente). It's a subtle, skilful, ancient game and there are parallels to Conquest's design.
When you have initiative, you have sente for battles whilst your opponent has gote in battles. However, because deploying later allows trumping in the command struggle, when you have initiative you have taken gote in the economic development game whilst your opponent has sente.
Now the opponent's warlord can always interfere and switch the advantage at one planet if not contested by the opposing warlord, both in command struggle and initiative. Although there is greater inherent risk in committing to attempt to reverse initiative in battles than in reversing command struggle outcomes.
However, it is easier to wrest sente during deployment by stalling (promotion, raid, promise of glory, detonate flamer, hellhound eats cultist, spend resources into comm-link or tormentor to stall, use laboratory), usually with cheaper cards, than it is to wrest sente in battles (via ranged and brutal) when your opponent has initiative.
In many ways, deployment is a classic example of "zugzwang" in Chess and other games where you just want to pass so that you can react to opponent's placements or not telegraph intentions. Cards like Coreworld Gate empower you to make cheap feints of interest with a 2 icon Guardian to hopefully force the opponent to overcommit to a planet then recall to cheaply change focus or to undo the outmanoeuvring of the enemy's later placement. Dark Eldar have an inherent advantage, the fear of Raid, which forces opponents to eschew stalling and overcommit spend early. A new Eldar warlord that read "action: ready or exhaust this warlord (limit 1 per phase)" may be too strong, such is the value of zugzwang during deployment. So the advantage of deploying second should not be undervalued, even though it can be easily wrested away from you with canny card/action sequencing.
Thus whilst there is an elegant alternating symmetry in the game design, one player having the edge in battles and the other the edge in economic development, then next turn switching edges, with any uncontested warlord interference muddying this in both cases, the fact that deployment stalling is easier to achieve than reversal of initiative advantage in battle (and the risks involved in warlord forced retreat if confronted by opposing warlord) has led me to conclude that having initiative is a greater edge in battle than deploying second as an advantage in the command struggle. Hence my "on-initiative aggression" and "off-initiative defence" over-simplification.
The truth, as you highlight, is a lot more complicated but the rule of thumb remains true. The first article was long enough already. I plan to cover this topic in the next instalment when I find time but, meantime, please do not think I have ducked your questions. It's just that answering it requires deeper analysis of this game where we are all still neophytes, learning its subtleties.
Let's not forget every warlord presence has an opportunity cost of the benefits of committing to an alternate planet. To end up facing your opponent's warlord and end up losing the battle or command struggle anyway has paid a significant opportunity cost, let alone damage inflicted on the warlord before he flees.
There is a definite ebb and flow to the game which, whilst you can reverse in localised planets with unopposed warlord interference, creates an intriguing constant reversal of advantages. Constantly making the most of your advantages while minimising the benefits of your opponent's advantages should show the path to victory.