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HERESY! Challenging the status quo in Warhammer 40k: Conquest

Heresy asklepios warhammer 40k

Pick a card, any card. Now work out how to make it work, in a useful and competitive way.

That's the premise of Heresy, looking at the cards which aren't well recognised 5/5 super-cards, but the ones that usually don't make the cut.

Read on...

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So we all know that Conquest, like all collectable and living card games has great cards and bad cards.

There's cards which are great and which will probably always be great: Biel-Tan Guardians, Klaivex Warleader, Promotion...
It's not so much that you include these cards without thinking, more that you have to think very hard before you take them out of a deck.

Then there's cards which really are terrible. Uber Grotesque, Blacksun Filter, Guardian Mesh Armor...These cards are so universally regarded as bad that you have to be truly eccentric to include them in your deck. You can play around with them all you like, but sooner or later you have to concede they're awful.

In fact, when it comes down to it, the best picks that are somewhere between 1/5 and 5/5 are pretty well recognised anyway. If you want an Eldar unit, you use Warlock Destructor, not Black Guardians. If you want an Ork unit, you play Snakebite Thug, not Rokkitboyz. If you want a Space Marine event, you use Drop Pod Assault not Rally The Charge.

Or do you?

This is what this article is about: taking cards that don't normally make it into competitive decks, and re-examining them to see if we can make them work.

This is something that happens in Living Card Games: a card can be rejected as weak, and then find its niche. Enginseer Augur went unplayed for a long time, because the card pool couldn't support it. Then, he became an MVP for Worr. Smasha Gun Battery was widely derided as being too expensive, too hard to use, but now is the central component in a very successful and solid Nazdreg build.

The pieces fall into place, and what was once overlooked suddenly becomes worthwhile.

So let's begin with...!

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Infantry Conscripts

Trash, right?

Let's take a look at comments back in the day:

"This is a pretty weak unit IMO. You need 3+ supports for it to really be justifiable, and it's not even a Warrior or Soldier for Straken's ability. Compare to the Assault Valkyrie, which is 4 for a 1/4/4 with a very strong ability." - Kingsley

"A bad unit indeed. The worst in the AM. With 3 supports is powerful, but you can use Valkiries or another Ork or Space Marine unit for the Cost without needing supports. Maybe in the future with cards that buff Conscript trait... 2/5 at the moment I agree." - Atrus

"Well... I don't disagree that its a bad unit, though I'd say the moment when we play an AM deck with 20 Supports is pretty much arriving, as of the Zogwort pack.
Thing is, even if we run a deck that is 40% supports, we're still looking at a unit that costs 4 and does nothing but be a big bruiser. I wonder if such a card will ever be viable at tourney level." - Asklepios

Who are these opinionated fools, eh?

Well, that was the initial assessment, back in late 2014 and early 2015. But hell, the last comment on there was (at time of writing) just three months old, still calling it a 2/5 card.

Ok, let's challenge that! What we got?

Supports are Pretty Good, Actually

Back in the day, no-one really rated supports. Archon's Palace was the first to really shake things up, but for the most part the wisdom was that you mostly ran Events. Events have shields. Events are untelegraphed. Events had better effects.

But that's changed, especially for Astra Militarum, who have truly amazing cards like...:

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Any of these cards equal the best of events for strength. Plus, we've got support for supports too:

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Then there's the stuff from factions that can ally into and out of Astra Militarum, and the neutral cards. You might have encountered a little card called STC Fragment. You may have seen Ammo Depot once or twice.

So the cardpool has changed: assessments we made in Core and the first Cycle no longer hold true.

The cardpool in this cycle is exciting and diverse, and Emperor willing, if we still have Conquest in a year's time, the game will continue to diversify from there.

Who Needs 10 attack Anyway?

You know what else has changed? The whole shape of the game.

For a long time, Elites weren't really a thing. Chaos packed a big daemon or three, and Space Marines sometimes threw in a couple of Land Raiders (or later, Firedrake Terminators) to top off their cost curve.

In that meta, any attack bigger than 4 was pretty much overkill. Yes, you could scare off a warlord, but that was it.

The discounters changed all that. Now it's not uncommon to see three or four big Eldar flying elites on the table at the same time, or a huge ass squiggoth with 9HP.

Suddenly, big attack values became worthwhile. This card...

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....was previously a quirky choice, but now it's become a solid centrepiece of Elite decks that ally into chaos. It's non-loyal, it can be discounted with Splintered Path Acolyte and Promise to Glory, it synergises beautifully with Corrupted Teleportarium. Suddenly, its cool to play Possessed.

So Why No Conscripts?

There's a lot of things Infantry Conscripts isn't.

It isn't an Elite, so it can't benefit from discounting, and it can't be protected by Backlash.

It isn't a command play. A lot of playable big guys now have 3 or 4 command, which mitigates the lack of wide command spread by putting lots of command in one place. Conscripts ain't that.

It isn't a card that works in isolation. It's still dependent on the combos - you need lots of supports to make it work.

It isn't very mobile. Eldar have direct mobility, Chaos have teleportarium: it seems like everyone is zipping around the place these days.

Most importantly, it isn't a card that is that hard to answer. Eldorath pushes it over, Archon's Terror scares it off, Klaivex kills it, Suppressive Fire suppresses it.

But what DOES it have?

It has potentially a bigger attack value than anything else in the game. Those big Eldar flying Elites? Even Possessed has trouble taking them down in one hit, if the Eldar player has shields (and he always has shields). Conscripts can potentially smackdown so hard that nothing except Indomitable will save you.

It has durability. Sure, 5HP, but its always had 5HP. But now you've also got Clearcut Refuge in the mix, and that makes it mighty. Possessed tends to be quite fragile when you hit it with actual attacks: the Conscripts, for one cost less, are in a cardpool context that can make them a lot tougher.

It is cheaper. 4 vs 5 or 6 doesn't seem like a big thing, but don't forget that those big cost units only became viable when we got discounters. Infantry Conscripts you can pay for the traditional way, so long as youve got a good command base. A more traditional economy structure has a lot of benefits - you free up the card slots that were occupied by discounters, you get better consistency of draw, and so on.

It can take Wargear. Sure, a lot of fighting units can take Wargear, but not many Elites can.

So let's make some decks!

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Deck One:
Valar Dohorkis - All Men Must Worrk

Let's lead off with something straightforward: a support heavy AM deck featuring...


Unless you were playing as him, you all learnt to hate him, with his utter dominance of the meta only ending when the Age Of The Elite began. You might be wondering why, when running a Support-based AM deck I didn't pick out Maksim. Simple answer: Maksim is a bit sucky. Between having just 1 attack, and not having enough high-firepower low-mid cost tanks, Maksim doesn't give you much more than turning support cards into shields, and with Conscripts we want those supports in play, not in the discard.
Plus Worr gives immunity to routing on green planets - a nice counter to at least one soft control problem.

Let's break it down:

Total Cards: (51)
Wait, 51 cards? Well, this IS a column called Heresy, you know. I'm going to stick with 51 cards throughout, just as a gentle reminder that this column is for people who like to mess around with deckbuilding, rather than just copy the tried and tested proven tourney deck out there. 51 cards is enough to say "yeah, you might be right that this deck isn't perfectly tuned, but it's still perfectly playable, dawg."

1x Broderick Worr (Decree of Ruin)

Army Unit: (26)
4x Anxious Infantry Platoon (Decree of Ruin)
3x Infantry Conscripts (Core Set)
3x Enginseer Augur (Core Set)
2x Firstborn Battalion (Unforgiven)
3x Ratling Deadeye (Core Set)
3x Sacaellum Shrine Guard (Boundless Hate)
2x Skrap Nabba (What Lurks Below)
3x Void Pirate (Core Set)
3x Rogue Trader (Core Set)

26 is the new 30 when it comes to unit counts. We've got the solid 1-for-1 command base at the bottom end, making sure that our command phase isn't too embarrassing, and the cost curve is designed to accomodate affording our 4 costers, who top out the deck's costs.

Attachment: (2)
1x Commissarial Bolt Pistol (Decree of Ruin)
1x Rokkit Launcha (Core Set)

A single cheeky Rokkit Launcha can help deal with those turns when you want Conscripts to be an immediate threat, but lack initiative. In a pinch, its pretty useful on your signature squad too.

Event: (7)
2x Summary Execution (Decree of Ruin)
3x Preemptive Barrage (Core Set)
2x Bolster the Defense (The Final Gambit)

You can't get away from Preemptive Barrage still, I'm afraid. But who doesn't like a surprised ranged attack of 36 damage? Not likely, but lets dream.
Bolster The Defence is a great tempo card, and is very friendly to Ammo Depot as well.

Support: (16)
1x Forward Barracks (Decree of Ruin)
3x Ammo Depot (Gift of the Ethereals)
3x Clearcut Refuge (Unforgiven)
2x Rockcrete Bunker (Core Set)
3x Troop Transport (Boundless Hate)
2x Inquisitorial Fortress (The Scourge)
2x Catachan Outpost (Core Set)

Here's where the hard picks start. On the one hand, there's a natural mild anergy between Supports that sacrifice for effect and Infantry Conscripts. On the other, those are some of the best supports. We're striking a balance here, with Ammo Depot helping drive the decks mild command deficiencies, and Rockcrete Bunker and Clearcut Refuge helping mitigate lack of shields.

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Deck Two:
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Cadian XVIII Regiment Whiteshields, be advised you are to proceed to the Damocles Gulf, where you will be reinforcing the battle involving the Tau leader "Starblaze". May the Emperor be with you.

On arrival, the Conscripts find that there are no Imperial Guard forces in the area, just an empty base with suspicious pulse-weaponry burns around the area. Happily, the Water Caste diplomats of the Tau are happy to convince the Conscripts that their orders are in fact to support Starblaze....

Total Cards: (51)

1x Commander Starblaze (Decree of Ruin)

Army Unit: (31)
4x Ardent Auxiliaries (Decree of Ruin)
3x Infantry Conscripts (Core Set)
3x Iron Guard Recruits (The Scourge)
3x Sanctioned Psyker (Core Set)
3x Stalwart Ogryn (Core Set)
3x Sacaellum Shrine Guard (Boundless Hate)
3x Ratling Deadeye (Core Set)
3x Recon Drone (Core Set)
3x Standard Bearer (Legions of Death)
3x Vash'ya Trailblazer (Core Set)

So at the other end from the Worr deck, we have a command heavy deck that can field no less than 6 2-for-2s, but which needs some hitting power. Someone fetch the Conscripts!
The obvious play here is Conscripts to planet 1 or 2, then commit Starblaze to the other.
Standard Bearer is there mostly for the dilemma of what you do once Conscripts is committing exhausted from your HQ. For The Tau'va would be the other option, but that requires more commitment to attachments than we have room for.

Attachment: (4)
1x Searing Burst Cannon (Decree of Ruin)
3x Hostile Environment Gear (Core Set)

What's better than a big attack value and 5 HP? A big attack value and 8 HP, that's what.

Event: (5)
2x Bond of Brotherhood (Decree of Ruin)
3x Deception (Core Set)

If you're going to be dominating command, you may as well have something to spend it on. Also, its a fun irony to have one of Infantry Conscripts worse enemies in YOUR deck.

Support: (11)
1x Starblaze’s Outpost (Decree of Ruin)
3x Clearcut Refuge (Unforgiven)
2x Sae’lum Enclave (Deadly Salvage)
3x Catachan Outpost (Core Set)
2x Staging Ground (Zogwort's Curse)

Fewer supports than the Worr version, as there's less choice. Tau's best attachment - Ambush Platform - doesn't really fit here. Critically, Staging Ground helps add some surprise back into a very telegraphed deck.

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Deck Three:
Dead Men Walking aka "I'll Play Conscripts From My Discard Again"

We could end on a Space Marine or Ork deck with AM allies, but I'll leave that to you, dear readers. Instead, here's the best Necron Warlord, doing something different to normal.

By now you've probably tried the version of Anrakyr that cycles out swarms of Necron units with Resurrection Orb and a Lychguard Sentinel. That deck is great, no doubt, but it doesn't much like having non-Necron units in it. This one's a bit simpler: set your Enslavement dial to AM, then use Anrakyr's high deck-turnover to get those Conscripts into play. If they die, Eternity Gate can top-pile them, and you can use them again.

Total Cards: (51)

1x Anrakyr (Legions of Death)

Army Unit: (33)
5x Pyrrhian Eternals (Legions of Death)
3x Infantry Conscripts (Core Set)
3x Sanctioned Psyker (Core Set)
3x Sacaellum Shrine Guard (Boundless Hate)
2x Ratling Deadeye (Core Set)
3x Standard Bearer (Legions of Death)
3x Rogue Trader (Core Set)
2x Void Pirate (Core Set)
3x Elysian Assault Team (Core Set)
3x Decaying Warrior Squad (Legions of Death)
3x Flayed Ones Pack (Legions of Death)

Going into AM gives us a great 1-for-1 command base for the conventional command game. Plus, Elysian Assault Team is something of a surprise play from Anrakyr decks.

Attachment: (4)
1x Pyrrhian Warscythe (Legions of Death)
3x Promotion (Core Set)

Yeah, I've been pretty heretical in running no Promotions in decks presented so far, but here we embrace orthodoxy a little.

Event: (4)
1x Awake The Sleepers (Legions of Death)
3x Recycle (Legions of Death)

Recycle lets you dump excess command late game, and get to those conscripts.

Support: (10)
1x Slumbering Tomb (Legions of Death)
3x Eternity Gate (Legions of Death)
2x Particle Whip (Legions of Death)
1x Time-worn Stasis Crypt (Legions of Death)
3x Weight of Aeons (Legions of Death)

With these supports, you should be able to get a healthy discard arranged as you please in very little time.

Are these the most amazing meta-shaking decks that you've ever seen? No, they're not. They're probably not going to make the final cut of a major tournament without a load of testing and fine tuning. They've all got deficiencies in one place or another, but to some extent, so does every deck.

What I hope I've shown, however, is that sometimes a card that people rate badly can be used in decent and effective decks. Using cards that we normally reject lets us play Conquest in different ways, and that helps extend the life of our favourite LCG.

I hope you've enjoyed this article... any suggestions for the next card to cover would be welcome!

  • SenhorDeTodoOMal, VonWibble, Lemonbrick and 17 others like this


Very well written!

Thank you Asklepios, reading your comments and posts is always a joy!

    • joeactually likes this

Give a go to Turbulent rift!

Sep 02 2016 03:27 PM
A fun read, and I'm already using Conscripts as the hard hitters in my Straken deck for the look of surprise on their face when you say Yup, they have 10 attack.
Sep 02 2016 03:27 PM
A fun read, and I'm already using Conscripts as the hard hitters in my Straken deck for the look of surprise on their face when you say Yup, they have 10 attack.
    • Flash likes this
Sep 02 2016 03:28 PM
How did that post in two different places... any idea how I delete comments on this? :)
Interesting, I have seen Conscripts used in perfectly effective decks before the elite meta was a thing (hard hitter esily going above 10 atkused in a Worr deck).

I really like the premise of the article, and there certainly are cards that have fallen out of favour (or never were in favour) that people are using more nowadays. See the Shadowsnu thread for Dire Avengers for example.

A card I really want to make work that I'm still not sure is quite there yet is Craftworld Gate, would like to see thoughts on effective decks with this card. That wuold be my suggestion for the next one.

I loved this article, hopefully we can see more!

Loved this article I'm gonna play that starblaze tonight
Sep 02 2016 08:35 PM

Colony Field Generator could also be played in Starblaze as a free way to both buff Conscripts while also to serve as protecting the more important investments

Great Article, I have put together a few "standard decks" but have just recently started to build some using my own ideas - untested so far - Morn and Worr can provide some very interesting builds.  I am trying to build without Pirates and traders which is not easy!

thanks, Asklepios for the article. Always a pleasure to read your posts.

Suggestions for the next ones - Throne of Vainglory/Warpsmith/Ork Landa

Give a go to Turbulent rift!


Ah, I like that suggestion a lot!


Weirdly though, this was a card that I think was best suited to the previous meta: it was a great way for decks already running Elites to keep swarms in check. Of course, it being a chaos card, it existed in a card pool with a lot of options of this sort, so was seen as unnecessary.


Will think hard though, and see if there's any innovative ways to make it work.

    • Lemonbrick and Szatom like this

thanks, Asklepios for the article. Always a pleasure to read your posts.

Suggestions for the next ones - Throne of Vainglory/Warpsmith/Ork Landa


Ork Landa might be workable, but I worry there's not much interesting to say - just pick the best options you can for the effect, while doing as little damage as possible to deck integrity.


Throne and Warpsmith I think have been covered and explored a lot in the forum. This is definitely one to think about for the Slaaneshi warlord Vha'shaellur, and the Ku'gath version is already known. Interesting though, and will think on it.

    • xRAVEx likes this

great article , cards should come out of the binder!

Ah, I like that suggestion a lot!


Weirdly though, this was a card that I think was best suited to the previous meta: it was a great way for decks already running Elites to keep swarms in check. Of course, it being a chaos card, it existed in a card pool with a lot of options of this sort, so was seen as unnecessary.


Will think hard though, and see if there's any innovative ways to make it work.

I agree, that it was stronger in the previous meta, but there are still interesting plays combined with smasha or with Nazdreg's brutal effects - e.g: Flesh Hounds get the extra punch, and after hitting they heal.