Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings sets the standard

City States

If you were to call me out for saying I wasn't going to buy into another tabletop game, you'd absolutely be within your right. But you'd also be crazy to think I wouldn't be all into this game after watching 1 Para Bellum community stream, and seeing the City States Anniversary set on the same day. Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings is a tabletop miniatures wargame from Para Bellum Games that transports you to the fantasy realm of Eä. Players assemble armies from 1 of 8 (currently) factions, engage in tactical battles, and vie for dominance on the tabletop.

The Hundred Kingdoms vs. Nords

Unboxing the Core Set

The Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings 1 and 2 player boxes set you up nicely to embark on your wargaming journey into Eä . It includes plastic miniatures, comprehensive rule books and all the resources you need to learn about your forces including a link to the Para Bellum discord (which is amazing). You will need to pick up some dice and potentially a few things like a wheeling tool or maneuver templates. I was also really surprised and happy with the amount of extra bits left over from my City States set. New to hobbying in general, I'm really looking forward to using those bits for kitbashing with later expansions. In my best Billy Mays voice - “But wait, there's more!”. The core set doubles as a gateway to Conquest: First Blood, a fast-paced skirmish version of The Last Argument of Kings that utilizes similar core mechanics and the same miniatures, perfect for honing your skills before escalating to larger rank and flank battles. One of the really cool features of the game is that there are multiple 2 player sets in addition to a wide variety of one player sets based on the 8 different factions. This gives you tremendous flexibility when deciding how you're going to invest into the game. There are also smaller boxes specifically made for First Blood, if you're really looking to ease into the game with a smaller budget. It's a fantastic introduction to the game's core concepts, catapulting you into the world of Conquest. Recently Para Bellum released the Two Player Starter Set: W’adrhŭn Vs The Old Dominion for First Blood.

City States

Conquest vs Warhammer: A Tale of Two Titans

If you’re a frequent customer of The Gamer’s Haven, then you know how difficult it is to avoid the industry giant: Games Workshop. Personally, GW (Games Workshop) makes some absolutely beautiful sculpts and games showcased monthly by our amazing community of artists. However, for a variety of reasons, I find it extremely difficult to support GW, and have been waiting for a company to invest in. BattleTech by Catalyst seemed to scratch that interest, and I love the game. But the scale and fantasy setting of Conquest really piqued my interest. With some recent updates to the rank and flank game Old World by GW, and high quality sculpts from games like 40k, Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings frequently draws comparisons to GW titles and sets. Even though Old World is more similar in mechanics than 40k, the 40k release schedule for expansions is more inline with consumer interests, so I'll be using Warhammer 40k for the purpose of comparison below. In a perfect world tabletop gamers would have ample resources and time to buy, assemble, paint, and play both games. Everyone’s situation is different, along with their priorities. Heck, my priorities and perspective have rapidly changed now that I have twin toddlers at home. So I curated some points of interest for comparison in case you feel the need to choose and help explain why I preferred to invest into Conquest, but most importantly Para Bellum.

Sorcerer Kings

Setting: Conquest boasts a high fantasy setting brimming with valiant warriors, monstrous creatures, and arcane magic. In contrast, Warhammer 40k plunges you into a grim, dystopian sci-fi future filled with cyborgs, colossal war machines, and psychic powers. Both have great settings, perfect for translating epic wars and battles onto the tabletop. I’d be a fool if I tried to tell anyone that the lore and written material of Conquest compares to the legacy of Warhammer and its collection of stories and source material. Even though the setting isn’t as interesting to me as Conquests, I can't argue that the Warhammer universe is deeper and more flushed out. It is arguably some of the best Grimdark writing as well. I think Conquest could definitely benefit from more lore and content to consume. 


Price Point: Conquest is generally considered more budget-friendly than Warhammer 40k. This is particularly true considering the Conquest core set grants access to both Conquest: The Last Argument of Kings and Conquest: First Blood, offering more bang for your buck. 40k typically takes the approach of offering their sets at a premium level price, due to their mini’s and sculpts being high detail and an industry standard for quality. Sure, it's hard to compare 1 mini to another as it is considered art, and perception is a large factor, and both have great miniatures to showcase. But at the end of the day GW has the longer and more consistent history of top tier miniatures at multiple scales. 

Rulebooks and Army Building: Conquest presents its core rules in a single, easy-to-follow rulebook. Army building is facilitated through free online tools, or the free app and the free core rulebook itself. Conversely, Warhammer 40k utilizes multiple rulebooks, which can be expensive to acquire and keep up-to-date. Warhammer 40k also utilizes a separate app for army building, which may incur additional costs. Personally this one is a no brainer, and really showcases each publishers approach on how to curate a community by making it easy to get into a game, play it, and get others to play as well. Usually the saying “you get what you pay for” kicks in here, and the premium company really shines due to the pain points and experience associated the “free” choice. However, this is really an exception to the saying, and it really showcases how a company can approach a tabletop game with consumers and community in mind, and still achieve profits.

Old Dominion

Miniatures: Both Conquest and Warhammer 40k boast high-quality miniatures sculpted with intricate details. However, in general, some subtle distinctions exist such as scale, setting, and manufacturing, etc. Conquest is a rank and flank game so often times details are covered up during play. However, the front lines of regiments, and larger based minis like the Minotaurs and Gods of the City States faction, really showcase the detail because of the slightly larger scale incorporated. Personally the fantasy setting allows for more detail as well, vs the grimdark sci-fi setting dulled by gothic like features to create the overall cohesive theme in 40k. This is strictly a matter of taste, but the war torn, gritty details of the 40k models seemed to blend together even when compared to the copy paste ranked soldiers of the city states. The cleaner, more heroic style representation of the Conquest minis allows you to really see the distinct characteristics of each army, almost as if they don’t even belong in the same world due to the lack of a cohesive visual theme. One example of this is the mummified living dead of the Old Dominion, really giving the aesthetic of a zombie Byzantine army compared to the Athenian style ancient Greek mythology focus of the city states, with cyborg arms. I guess it’s part sci-fi too? Guess you'll have to read the free lore to find out haha. Some may find the inconsistencies unappealing and I can definitely understand why, but I'm willing to accept the plot armor because of the unique vibe the Conquest models give on the table. One thing I did find interesting while assembling the conquest miniatures though is the lack of production consistency and model cleanliness. In the core box, 1 of my 40 ish minis was resin, the others being hard-ish plastic. The companion cavalry I put together later was also resin, but drastically different packaged quality compared to the core set resin mini. Granted it was more pieces, but I spent a considerable amount of time more on cleanup before I was comfortable putting the model together. In the end it looked fantastic, but as someone who puts the hobbying secondary to playing the game, I did find it a bit frustrating and tedious. 


Community: There’s no doubt in anyone’s community that 40k and the rest of GW’s current lineup of supported games is larger than Conquest. Next weekend The Gamer’s Haven is even hosting a US Open tournament for 40k alongside a badass narrative 30k experience and an AOS tournament, which if you aren't planning on attending to compete, I highly recommend stopping by to witness the scale of this event and the world class armies competing. Entire festivals and a legacy fandom of memes, art, cosplay have been created around the Warhammer universe. Chances are if you ask anyone younger than your parents, they have heard of the tabletop or video games. Amazon is even exploring content for it. There are plenty of tournaments on various scales to join, with many FLGS’s basing their entire foundation on GW products. The people are much friendlier than you hear, the community is diverse, and the events are spectacular. By contrast Conquest hides in GW’s shadow. Locally, you’ll likely wind up building your play group and cultivating a community. I’m extremely fortunate as The Gamer’s Haven already has a community, but as I understand that isn't the norm. That's not to say the community isn't growing though, it just needs time and your engagement. One of the cool ways Para Bellum is helping you cultivate a community is by putting models of upcoming factions (that were voted for by the community) in OP kits. I acknowledge that Para Bellum is trying, but it would be extremely difficult to compete with the Warhammer community or even grow one as large by its side. If you are getting into Conquest, expect to hobby alongside the  Warhammer community and see why it's grown to the size it is today. But don't expect Conquest tournaments as frequent as Warhammer tournaments, or their scale.  


Company Focus: Para Bellum Games, the publisher behind Conquest, is known for its community-oriented approach, fostering a welcoming environment for new players, typically at a low cost entry. The amount of community engagement that Para Bellum commits to isn't a ton, but it's definitely enough. Their Twitch announcement streams are loaded with info and they often answer questions and concerns straight from the chat. Their Discord channel is popular with chatting, and theory crafting. Their website is easy to use, and their products are easy to find. Games Workshop, the publisher of Warhammer 40k, has a more commercially-driven reputation. The company is often described as being commanded by shareholders to find new ways to make money off of players. Their entry point is typically much higher ( although they do have more budget friendly games like kill team), and their recently redone website is sometimes infuriating to use. Access to their product is really driven by FOMO, and can sometimes be limited or unavailable. That's not to say they aren't community oriented though. GW sponsors loads of creators and even have their own convention in the UK called warhammer fest where they host community activities. From a player perspective Para Bellum seems to be more genuine in curating a community of Conquest players and hobbyists, although there is speculation that they will last as long as GW has. Maybe one of the few ways we get to play Conquest for years to come is to follow the business practices of GW. I sure hope that Para Bellum is able to continue practicing business with the ethics they have so far though, but only time and your support will tell. 


So Which One is Best?

I'll start with the obligatory generic blog answer “play both and see for yourself which one you like best”. Hopefully, you're able to really experience the best of both games and their amazing worlds. But I have opinions, and that's why you clicked the link to this. Para Bellum is my favorite argument as to why GW is an awful company to their consumers. Pair that with games like BattleTech and you’ll really make Warhammer players double down on the cult like buying habits and defense of unethical business practices, or feel bad about the overpriced minis, terrain and dice they bought. But that isn't my intention. I want you to buy into a game with confidence that you 1) get value from your investment, 2) will play the game often, 3) like the community, 4) are supporting a company that supports you. Personally Conquest wins every time before you even play the game. "Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, your opinion, man"- probably Bob after reading this. 

If you're new to the tabletop world, this is the perfect opportunity to start your hobby and gaming career with a consumer oriented company ( looking at my giant collection of AMG games that have been abandoned) without breaking the bank.

Old Dominion

If you're a seasoned 40k player, or play any of the Warhammer games, Conquest still has a lot to offer. It delivers a strategic and tactical game play experience that you're used to, within a unique fantasy setting providing a fresh aesthetic. The core set's value proposition, including both Conquest and First Blood, make it an attractive choice for cost-conscious war gamer's and an easier entry to enjoying both worlds. Conquest's free streamlined rule books, free app, and free army-building tools further offer value and really showcase the accessibility of the game. Let’s be honest; you really do need another game.