The Forms of Battle
An Example of Battle in Warhammer 40,000: Conquest
Amidst the grim darkness of the future and crushing chill of outer space, mankind still stands against the waves of xenos, heretics, and traitors that attempt to bear them to the ground. Every day, the battle is fought anew on a thousand planets spread across the far flung reaches of the galaxy. In Warhammer 40,000: Conquest, you take your rightful place in that story, commanding the armies of your faction as you strive for ultimate control of the Traxis sector.
In past previews, we’ve examined separate aspects of the game round. In our first preview, we explored deployment and the strategy behind placing your armies at different planets. Our next preview expanded the command struggle, in which you and your opponent gain resources and draw cards based on your armies’ influence on the planets of the Traxis sector. Most recently, we took a closer look at combat, exploring the broad picture of battles, including how they happen, how units fight, and some of the keywords that can come into play.
In today’s preview, we’ll see the flow of combat firsthand by looking at an example of a battle for just one planet in the Traxis sector.
The beginning of the combat phase finds the armies of Chaos and the Astra Militarum clashing at this round’s first planet: Osus IV. Jack has three units present: his warlord, Zarathur, High Sorcerer (Core Set, 4); an Umbral Preacher (Core Set, 86); and an Alpha Legion Infiltrator (Core Set, 81) with the Mark of Chaos (Core Set, 80) attachment. On the other side of the battlefield, Kate’s forces consist of her warlord, Colonel Straken (Core Set, 2) fighting alongside a Ratling Deadeye (Core Set, 35) and a Leman Russ Battle Tank (Core Set, 38). In addition, Kate has a Catachan Outpost (Core Set, 53) support in her headquarters.
Battle begins by determining which player has initiative. If only one warlord were present, that player would automatically win initiative, but since both warlords are present, Jack will strike first, since he holds the initiative token this round. After initiative is determined, the ranged skirmish occurs, allowing any units with the Ranged keyword to fire upon the opposing army from afar. Since Jack has no units with Ranged, he must forgo the opportunity to strike in favor of Kate.
Kate exhausts the Ratling Deadeye to strike at the Alpha Legion Infiltrator in order to negate this unit’s high attack power before it has a chance to strike. The Ratling Deadeye deals one damage to the Alpha Legion Infiltrator. If a unit has damage on it equal to or more than its hit points, it is destroyed, and one damage is enough to destroy the Alpha Legion Infiltrator.
The vanquished Alpha Legion Infiltrator leaves play, but this triggers the Mark of Chaos attachment, dealing one damage to each enemy unit at the planet. This damage is increased by the Chaos warlord’s Interrupt ability, which reads, “When damage is dealt to an enemy unit at this planet, increase that damage by 1.” Each of Kate’s units at the planet take two damage, destroying the Ratling Deadeye. Since there are no more ready units with the Ranged keyword, the ranged skirmish is complete.
Chainswords and Lasguns
As normal combat begins, Jack has the chance to strike first with either of his ready units, because he has initiative. He chooses to strike with the Umbral Preacher against Colonel Straken, dealing one damage, plus an additional damage from Zarathur’s Interrupt, to Straken. This damage, combined with the two damage Straken took from the Mark of Chaos, means that the Astra Militarum warlord can only take two more damage before he is bloodied.
It is now Kate’s combat turn and she decides to remove the threat of the Umbral Preacher, whose ability prevents units from retreating. Before she strikes, Kate also exhausts the Catachan Outpost support card, granting her next attacker a higher attack value. Colonel Straken exhausts to strike, dealing four damage with the aid of Catachan Outpost. Four total damage is more than the Umbral Preacher’s hit points, and that unit is destroyed.
On Jack’s next combat turn, he has only one unit remaining: Zarathur, High Sorcerer. He chooses to strike at Colonel Straken, hoping to deal the last damage necessary to bloody Straken. However, Kate has a card in her hand that can be discarded to shield damage! Promotion (Core Set, 174) has one shield icon, blocking part of the damage from Zarathur’s attack. Straken is dealt one damage, leaving him able to take one more hit point of damage.
Finally, Kate strikes with her remaining ready unit, the Leman Russ Battle Tank, dealing four damage to Zarathur. At this point, all units are exhausted and the combat round is over. All units ready, and both players have the opportunity to retreat any number of units back to their headquarters. Jack examines the board, and determines that, while he would most likely be able to bloody Straken, his own warlord would be bloodied by the Leman Russ Battle Tank, and Kate would still win the battle at the planet. Not desiring this outcome, Jack chooses to retreat Zarathur back to his headquarters, leaving Osus IV to the Astra Militarum!
The Fruits of Victory
As the victor of a battle, Kate chooses to trigger the Battle ability of Osus IV, allowing her to take a resource from her opponent. After taking the resource, Osus IV is placed in Kate’s victory display because it was the first planet, and her units are returned to her headquarters.
Since this was the only battle in this combat phase, the headquarters phase now begins. The first planet token is moved forward to the next planet in line, indicating that this planet will be contested and added to one player’s victory display in the next round. Next, if there are any facedown planets at the end of the row, the next one in line is revealed, offering a new location for players to deploy units. Both players draw two cards, receive four resources, ready all units, and the initiative token is passed to Kate, beginning a new round!
Thus far, our previews have focused on the gameplay of Warhammer 40,000: Conquest, but in our next preview, we’ll begin an exploration of each of the factions you’ll find in this game, beginning with the most loyal servants of the Emperor, the Space Marines. Check back for more previews, and preorder Warhammer 40,000: Conquest at your local retailer today!