Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings and its skirmish spinoff Conquest: First Blood made serious waves when the games by Para Bellum first burst onto the wargaming scene. With a bold and exciting world of lore for all the factions of the franchise, and gorgeous model sculpts, everyone sat up and took notice - especially of Conquest: Last Argument. Billing itself as two different games using the same set of miniatures (Last Argument features masses of models on flank-and-rank stands, while First Blood uses models of their stand) the first edition of First Blood was thought by some to be too simplistic in its rules and gameplay. Now Para Bellum has listened to the fans (that, honestly, is what Para Bellum does best), and released First Blood 2.0, a new and updated version of the game. To coincide with this new ruleset, they also released a new two-player starter set, which they provided to us to check out! Read on for our first impressions, and a guide to what's included.
What's Included In The Conquest First Blood 2.0 Two-Player Starter Set?
With an MSRP of $149 USD, the Conquest First Blood 2.0 Two-Player Starter Set includes everything two players need to jump into the game (minus the tools to build the minis, which include snippers for the sprues, glue, and paints). Included in the box is the following:
- Old Dominion Miniatures:
- 1 Xhiliarch: 1 Plastic Miniature, 1 Base and 1 Command Card
- 12 Legionnaires/Praetorian Guard: 12 Plastic Miniatures, 3 Infantry Plastic Stands, 12 Bases and 2 Command Cards
- 12 Kheres/Moroi: 12 Plastic Miniatures, 3 Infantry Plastic Stands, 12 Bases and 2 Command Cards
- W'adrhun Miniatures:
- 1 Predator: 1 Plastic Miniature, 1 Base and 1 Command Card
- 12 Braves/Blooded: 12 Plastic Miniatures, 3 Infantry Plastic Stands, 12 Bases and 2 Command Cards
- 12 Hunters/Slingers: 12 Plastic Miniatures, 3 Infantry Plastic Stands, 12 Bases and 2 Command Cards
- 2 soft-cover First Blood Version 2 Rulebooks
- Quick Start Scenarios
- 1 "Conquest the Next Step" Guide
- Assembly Instructions
I have to say, though the miniatures in this two-player starter set are amazing looking, and I love that they include Infantry stands (which are only used in Conquest: Last Argument of Kings, proving these minis really can be used across both games), the most brilliant addition to this box is the inclusion of two copies of the Version 2 Rulebook. That's just so smart! Of course each player would want their own copy of the rules in a two-player set! It's incredible to me that other companies haven't done this with their starter sets. What a great idea.
What Are The Changes Made To Conquest First Blood 2.0?
There are several key changes between the first edition of First Blood and First Blood 2.0. Here are some of the biggest, quoted directly from the Para Bellum Website:
- Command Models are now called Officers, and bring their own Characteristics, Special Rules and innate abilities on the table.
- Retinue Models now have their own Characteristic Profiles and unique abilities! All these fantastic models are now accurately represented on the tabletop allowing you to further tailor your Character Regiments.
- Your Force now deploys at the beginning of each game rather than coming in from Reinforcements. Certain Regiments can still come in as Reinforcement with the appropriate Special Rules and Abilities.
- Faction Special Rules have been redesigned from the ground up to more accurately reflect how Factions would handle combat engagements of that scale.
- Models now interact via the Engagement Range rules. Each model projects a 1” aura in which they can Engage and attack Enemy Models. Furthermore, an “Attacking Through” mechanic has been added to allow models with longer Engagement Ranges, e.g. halberd wielding troops, to attack through models.
- Ad-hoc Formations: Being able to Attack Through models opens up space for thematic and tactically significant strategies. Place halberds behind shields or models with one handed weapons against spearmen. Every Regiment can be combined in different and interesting ways with one another, all working together to build a strong formation while disentangling the Opponent’s.
The biggest changes in this list is the way your forces deploy. Previously, First Blood, like its older brother Last Argument Of Kings, employed a unique system for deployment, where regiments have a specific "weight class," and smaller sized models could rush onto the battlefield turn 1, while it took bigger models and regiments longer to enter. Now, almost all regiments regardless of size start on the battlefield, which feels keeping on pace with the wider world of modern skirmish wargames.
The faction special rules also add a lot of flavor to the game, giving each faction thematic bonuses. For The Old Dominion, their main special rule "Animate Vessel" emphasizes the fact that this army is made up of animated undead. They can't be Inspired, but they also don't need to take morale tests when they've suffered losses. For the W'ardrhûn, an orc-like species striking out on their own, their special rules include bonuses to defense for their tough skin, can't be attacked through with their bulky size, and their keen hearing means they can receive commands from further away.
What Models Are Included In The Conquest First Blood 2.0 Two-Player Starter Set?
For the W'ardrhûn, there are a total of twenty-five models that can be built using multi-kits. First, there's the Predator model, which serves as the army's leader, hits hard, and grants bonuses to the army like the ability to march faster and disengage without receiving attacks of opportunity from the enemy. Then, you can build with a multi-kit either the Blooded or the Braves. These are both fairly offense-focused units, with the Braves sporting a weapon and shield for a bit of protection, while the Blooded have two weapons to hit the enemy harder. There are also kits to build either the Hunters - who have heavy throwing spears that pierce armor, or the Slingers, who launch torrents of rocks with their slings.
For the Old Dominion, the twenty-five models included start with their leader, the Xhillarch. The Xhillarch comes with a suit of commands they can issue (which matches their martial prowess as veteran warriors), including the ability to let other units fight more often, re-roll critical hit failures, and more. You can then, with a multi-kit, build either a unit of Kheres - who have some ranged abilities and incantations that can inflict madness on their foes - or a unit of Moroi, who attack twice and have incantations focused on targeting themselves to boost their ability to disengage among other benefits. You can also build with a multi-kit either the Legionnaires - who are a support squad that can contribute their attacks even if they're not engaged with a foe - or the Praetorian Guard, who can throw up a shield wall to help their fellow fighters in the thick of combat.
While we're still diving into the new rules and the game of Conquest First Blood itself, unboxing this Two-Player Starter Set has us so excited to dive into the game and start tweaking our forces. This is an absolutely stellar set for new players, and if you're looking for a game rich with lore that plays a bit differently from the other skirmish games you're used to, you should definitely check this out!