Lead the Charge

Preview Combat in Warhammer 40,000: Conquest


The servants of Khorne stood from horizon to horizon, filling the air with their barks, gibbers, and howls. Their battle banners, straining in the coppery wind that blew through their ranks, were of the deepest red, bearing a single rune and a legend of simple devotion: Blood for the Blood God.
The Tome of Blood

In the grim darkness of Warhammer 40,000: Conquest, there can never be peace. The only way to achieve total conquest is to utterly vanquish your enemies with fire and sword.

In past previews of Warhammer 40,000: Conquest, we’ve looked at methods for deploying units to planets across the Traxis sector. We’ve also explored the command struggle, a strategic battle for resources and influence that takes place at every planet, granting you the card draw and extra resources to maintain your assault. Today, however, we’ll move into combat, exploring the battles that occur every round.

The Clash of Arms

During the combat phase, battles rage throughout the sector, but the presence of opposing units at one planet is not necessarily enough to trigger a battle there. Sometimes, your units work against your opponent on a strategic scale, illustrated by the command struggle. In the combat phase, however, tactics take the fore as battles erupt, taking place each round at the first planet and at planets where you or your opponent have committed a warlord.

Combat in Warhammer 40,000: Conquest is conducted over a series of merciless rounds. Combat begins at a planet when the player with initiative chooses one of his ready units to strike. Every unit has two numbers on the lower left border of its card. The upper number is that unit’s attack value, while the bottom number is its hit points. When you exhaust one of your units to strike, it deals damage equal to its attack value to an enemy unit chosen by you. If a unit ever has damage on it equal to or greater than its hit points, it is destroyed.

After you strike with one of your units, it’s your opponent’s turn to strike with a unit, after which the combat turn transfers back to you. The battle rages on until all units at the planet are exhausted, at which point every unit at the planet refreshes, preparing for another round of combat. If defeat seems imminent, or if staying at the planet would not accomplish your goals, you and your opponent have the chance to retreat any number of units before a new combat round begins. Any army units that remain behind will engage in a new round of combat, battling for ultimate victory. The battle only ends once one player retreats all of his forces, or one player has slain every opposing unit at the planet!

After a battle ends at any planet, the victor has the opportunity to trigger that planet’s Battle ability, which offers a powerful bonus. The planet Atrox Prime, for example, possesses a Battle ability that reads, “Deal 1 damage to each enemy unit at a target HQ or adjacent planet,” granting you a potent strike against the heart of your opponent’s strength. Although the Battle ability of a planet can be resolved after any battle, only the first planet is claimed by the victor and placed in his victory display, bringing him one step closer to dominion of the sector. After the first planet has been claimed, your victorious units there return to your headquarters with your warlord, awaiting new conquests in the next round.

A Stalwart Shield

Your warlord has a critical role in combat as the leader of your forces in the Traxis sector. Part of that warlord’s role is potentially claiming initiative for you. Typically, the player holding the initiative token strikes first in a battle, but if your warlord is present, you can steal the opportunity to strike first in the battle. If your opponent’s warlord is at the same planet, however, initiative reverts to the player with the initiative token.

In addition, every warlord has a powerful special ability, but your warlord’s presence at a planet puts him in danger of attack. Whenever your warlord takes damage equal to his hit points, his card is flipped over, leaving him bloodied, without his special ability, and in danger of being defeated again. If a bloodied warlord is defeated again, that player immediately loses the game. Although both warlords must commit to a planet each round, there are measures you can take to reduce your opponent’s chances to harm your warlord. Once combat begins, instead of exhausting a unit to strike, you can use your combat turn to exhaust your warlord and retreat him to your headquarters.

Fortunately, you have more ways to avoid combat damage than strategic retreats. Attachment and event cards have a number of shield icons on the upper left border of the card. For example, the card Drop Pod Assault (Core Set, 24) holds two shield icons. When one of your units would take damage, you may discard one card with shield icons from your hand to reduce the damage by the number of shields on the card.

Use Your Skills

Although the foundation of combat rests on attacking with units to deal damage, there are a wealth of keywords introduced in Warhammer 40,000: Conquest that add depth to your battles, allowing you to win seemingly impossible fights. For example, a unit like the Enraged Ork (Core Set, 63) has the Brutal keyword, meaning that he gains one attack power for each damage on him. Before he takes damage, the Enraged Ork has no attack power, but if an enemy dares to strike him, he’s more than ready to strike back just as hard.

Another keyword can be found on the Daring Assault Squad (Core Set, 16). This unit has the Area Effect (2) keyword, meaning that whenever it attacks, instead of dealing its normal attack of three damage to one unit, it may deal its Area Effect of two damage to every enemy unit at the planet! Other keywords can be found on the Black Legion Heldrake (Core Set, 87). This unit has the No Wargear Attachments keyword, keeping it from receiving that type of attachment. It also holds the Flying keyword, meaning that it takes half damage from non-Flying units. With the ability to evade damage in that way, this unit will have a long-lasting influence on your battles.

War Is Coming

Warhammer 40,000: Conquest casts you directly into the futuristic battles for the planets of the Traxis sector, matching your strategy and battlefield tactics against your opponent in a struggle for the stars. In our next preview, we’ll look at a detailed example of a battle. Check back for more previews and preorder Warhammer 40,000: Conquest at your local retailer today!

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