For those of you who still meet up and play Conquest with the actual cards, and for what’s otherwise left of the Conquest community who might be interested, please take a moment to consider the following.
I’ve been considering several new ways to play Conquest for some time now, and among the various more interesting game modes I’ve come up with, I would like to discuss the four-player variant in detail below. If anything, it might serve as a fun event for a get-together of old friends and former Conquest buddies-in-arms
The Four-Player Game Mode
This is a game mode where four players duel in a two vs. two co-operative theatre of war. The game is played almost similar to a regular match of Conquest, i.e. two sides vie for command dominance and victory conditions. The latter are the same two or three victory conditions as the standard game by the way, with the one addition that one side must now assassinate both opposing warlords to win by bludgeoning (if they don’t achieve a victory by planet symbols, or if an opponent draws their last card). Here’s how I imagine this game mode would play out.
There are two sides, let’s call them sides A and B.
Side A is comprised of players #1 and #3 and side B comprises players #2 and #4.
Each side each has two distinct headquarter play-areas, decks, and discard piles, but ‘share’ the planet-play-area side of each planet with the ally-player, recommended in a left-right order similar to the seating arrangements.
Planet selection and line-up follow standard Conquest rules.
Each player starts with resources and cards as indicated on their chosen warlord card.
Each player has their own, single Relic-slot as well as their own once-per-game round Limited-slot.
Ally-players cannot play with identical warlords.
Any reference to the word “you” on cards refers to the owner of the card alone, not side A or B, in the match. Likewise, any reference to the word “opponent” refers to one of the two opposing players, with the player initiating an effect choosing which opponent is affected, e.g. P1 deploys Murder of Razorwings and opts to discard a random card from either P2 or P4’s hand.
P1 goes first (gains the initiative marker) followed by P2, P3, and P4 in that order. In the next game-round P2 goes first followed by P3, P4, and P1 etc.
Each side can discuss strategy and tactics at any time, and may confer on where to commit their warlords prior to selecting a number on the planet dial. (Though the opposite can of course be agreed upon before the start of the game.)
Actions and reactions proceed according to initiative turn-order, e.g. if P2 plays Deception and targets P1’s Follower of Gork then P3 has the first opportunity to react by playing Nullify (and P4 can then react first to that by nullifying P3’s Nullify etc.)
General Card Restrictions: For all intended purposes a player only controls their own units from their own deck and not the whole side’s units, e.g. P3 cannot attach an Imperial Power Fist (“Attach to an army unit you control”) to P1’s Recon Drone, but P3 can attach an Ion Rifle (“Attach to an army unit”) to P1’s Recon Drone. Likewise, P2’s Crushface (“When you deploy …”) does not reduce the cost of P4’s Squiggoth Brute.
Attachment cards with the loyal- or signature icon cannot interact with an ally player’s loyal- or signature icon cards - out-of-faction or otherwise - for any reason, e.g. P2 cannot put Gun Drones on P4’s Honored Librarian. (Though P1’s The Shining Blade can still be attached to P2’s Vash’ya Trailblazer to prevent P2 from having an STC Fragment, wink wink…)
A player’s signature attachment cannot be attached to an ally player’s units.
Concordantly, non-loyal cards cannot interact with an ally player’s cards, out-of-faction or otherwise, in a manner that violates the alignment wheel mechanism, e.g. P1 can attach his Banshee Power Sword to P3’s Grav Inhibitor Drone, but not to P3’s The Emperor’s Champion; similarly, P2 cannot use their Clearcut Refuge to target P4’s Burrowing Trygon.
Each player has their own resource pool and ally players can neither share nor lend each other resources from their own resource pool.
Each player has their own sets of token units and ally player can neither share nor lend each other token units from their own token unit sets.
Command Struggles. Winning a command struggle follows standard rules with few additions described in the following. Either side ( A or B ) may win a command struggle at a planet, but only one single player may claim the card- and/or resource bonus from that planet. Ally players contribute towards each other’s total number of command icons when determining the winning side in a command struggle. Similarly, if both warlords from one side are present at the same planet, but only one warlord from the other side is present, the side with the highest number of warlords present automatically wins that command struggle, with the player from that winning side with the highest number of command icons among units present at that planet claiming the card- and/or resource bonus. In the event of both winning players being tied for number of command icons and/or warlords present, the player with initiative marker, or next in line to receive the initiative marker may claim the card- and/or resource bonus.
Combat initiative. Initiative is resolved in the same manner of a command struggle, i.e. the player holding the initiative marker automatically assumes the combat initiative unless one or more warlords are present at the planet; if any number of warlords are present, the side with warlord majority assumes the combat initiative for that battle; in the event of a tie, then the player holding the round initiative marker assumes combat initiative as well; if that player has no presence on that planet, then the player next in line to receive the initiative marker present on the planet assumes combat initiative.
Triggering battle abilities. After a battle on a planet ends, when determining winner and loser, unless the battle ends in a draw, the side ( A or B ) is considered to have won or lost that battle. Upon winning a battle, a player with a warlord present may trigger the battle ability; if both, or neither warlords from the winning side are present, then the player holding the initiative marker with any number of units present on that planet may trigger the battle ability; if neither winning player holds the initiative marker, the winning player next in line to gain the initiative marker with any number of units present at that planet may trigger the planet’s battle ability. If the battle in question is the first planet, then that side claims that planet; Players share planets with their ally player for purpose of victory conditions.
Everything described here is based solely on the official card pool (including the four Champion-cards) and the 31 official warlords, as I have no experience playing with fan-made or otherwise unofficially made cards.
Have I missed anything? I expect the wording in the above may be rather poor and slightly confusing. Regrettably, I’m not a native speaker (nor writer) of English. I think the four-player game mode can make way for interesting new tactics and compel players to fold their minds in a different way than to ‘standard’ Conquest. For instance, we might see that this game mode opens an interesting avenue for neutral units, because ally players can more easily interact with each other’s neutral army units via attachments. Likewise, event and support cards, perhaps especially the signature variety, may affect ally units and create new stratagems which are difficult for opponents to predict. (As if vanilla Conquest wasn’t complicated enough..)
I’m a little unsure whether to allow ally players to play with primary factions that are alien to each other as per the alignment wheel. It's probably a good idea to restrict allying player’s primary factions to the alignment wheel mechanism, if not for anything else then to avoid a Striking Ravener with the Ymgarl Factor, Rokkit Launcha, Clearcut Refuge-buffed, wielding the Huge Chain-Choppa-situations. (Or the Shrieking Exarch equipped with the Heavy Venom Cannon and Regeneration.)
Problems with this game mode can certainly arise, especially with (developer-wise) unintended interactions between player’s cards and abilities, which could potentially break the game. To avoid this, it is essential for all players to use their common sense and refrain from trying to exploit loopholes in this somewhat experimental game mode.
I think perhaps overly-tuned hunt setups might have an unintended yet decisive advantage in this way of playing. However, since a player can hardly be assassinated entirely turn 1, it might be a question of the opposition adjusting their approach accordingly if faced with a hunter prime team on the other side of the table. There are too many variables for me to calculate, but I think the four-player variant could be an interesting addition to an already challenging game.
Let me know if I missed anything, or if you have any suggestions for additional rules, different wording etc.. I may post other game modes in this thread in the future as well. Feel free to do the same.