Conquest of the Nords – the Spires Strike Back
As I look outdoors, the snow is absolutely ripping down. Soft sheets of white cover the ground and sidewalks. The weather outside perfectly fits the theme of the Nords. And it makes it all that much sweeter to sit at home, assembling, painting, and playing with miniatures. The final boxes of miniatures have arrived and I can now complete the final milestones of the Path of Conquest. Since the previous milestone saw me use what miniatures I had on hand to build a list at 1500 points, this month will see me go back and add the second Mountain Jotnar as well as the fourth and final regiment of Raiders. The milestone itself calls for two regiments of Raiders, inviting us to add more trays to our current regiments. Our collection now matches Milestone five exactly.
Painting and Assembly at this point should be straight-forward. Note that the Mountain Jotnar comes with three different heads, giving you the option to make them both unique. You’re also welcome to angle the arms slightly differently to give each a unique pose. The Mountain Jotnar also comes with different accessories. For my first Jotnar, I applied the huge stone wall as a shoulder covering, but for the second Jotnar, I opted for the collection of shields and wooden fences. The options are purely cosmetic and ensure that each of your Jotnars tells their own story.
Reevaluating the state of the game
The recent TTS tournament has brought us some new scenarios from Para Bellum. These have not yet made it to the website because they wanted us to test them out through the tournament. I’ve also used them in my test games in the Path of Conquest. Two of them focus on a 44×44 table map. Two of them play a 60×44 broadly while two play it narrowly. I’ve enjoyed playing them in the tournament and here. Without taking a lot of time to explain each one, I’m going to focus in broad brush strokes what they mean for the Nords, as it is clear that these table sizes are intended as a standard going forward.
First, I expect these changes to help the Nords considerably. In the past, the community has gravitated to larger tables, and one weakness of this is that your units spread out, helping ranged units find line-of-sight, while weakening low defense units like the Nords that prefer a more enclosed space in which to force a clash. Instead, you’ll have to be much more careful about what ranged units you bring and where you position them. Second, there is more of a mash-up in the middle of the map. You should worry less about the loss of your light units, and that’s an important benefit to Nord units with high offense and low defense. Your Raiders exist to be disruptive, but ultimately die. Their death then creates space or even screens directly for stronger units that strike behind them. Finally, I expect the value of Stalkers to go up. Anything with both Flank and/or Vanguard can contribute greatly to your overall plan simply by existing, especially when you play a 60×44 down the full length of the board.
The sum effect of all of these scenarios is that Nords are in much better shape than previously thought. One Nord player has already won their pod and made the finals in the TTS tournament. It is also much more challenging and competitive when the Nords are playing to points on objectives than in a straight kill mash-up. Nords have tools to establish dominance on objectives quickly and then force the opponent to come to you on your terms.
Milestone Five Game Overview
For this game, I elected to use new version of Breakthrough. The game is played on a 44×60 lengthwise. First, you don’t quite as easily cross the field and claim your own objectives on turn-1 in this scenario. The objective is more than the 11 inch march away from your edge. Furthermore, you only score if you control BOTH objectives on your side of the map. This means that you would need a very specific list in order to score on turn-1. These very specific lists aside, most of the time you will only trigger this victory point on turn-2 or 3 when your medium regiments come onto the table and can assist you in securing objectives. Given the length of the table, you’re also incentivized having long range units that can sit on an objective and fire across the field. Marksmen Clones should be good here. Many light units with a medium character would be good in this role. From there, you start stacking up the points if you can get across the board and start contesting or claiming objectives on the other side of the field. The game ends at six victory points.
Nords – 1750/1750
Jarl : Select as Warlord
– Raiders (6) : Standard Bearer, Shield Biter
– Ugr (3) : Standard Bearer
– Ugr (3) : Standard Bearer
Blooded : Wolf
– Stalkers (3) : Leader, Standard Bearer
– Mountain Jotnar (1) 
– Stalkers (3) : Leader
– Mountain Jotnar (1) 
Shaman : Blurred Vision, Mist Weave
– Raiders (3) : Standard Bearer
The purpose of the Path of Conquest is to provide both a buying path for players to slowly increase their forces as well as a representative force for them to explore the game. The Blooded is kept light because I find that his regiment of Stalkers will go down easily in every game. Wolf Aspect ensures that he doesn’t slow them down. Otherwise, he adds to the punch that they deliver. Beyond that, I become pressed for points and opted for more regiments rather than more upgrades. In Nord list-building, I’ve become skeptical of dumping too many points into a hero who may not stay alive.
The Spires – 1740/1750
Biomancer : Tier 2, Tier 1, Tier 3, Fleshcarver, Sensory Augmentation, Grant Virulence, Harvest Essence
– Force-Grown Drones (5) 
– Force-Grown Drones (3) : Catabolic Node
– Abomination (1) 
– Abomination (1) 
Lineage Highborne : Select as Warlord, Expose Weakness, Redundant Biomantic Structure, Venom, Pheromantic Override, Degenerative Aura, Ablative Flesh
– Avatara (6) : Standard Bearer, Leader
– Avatara (6) : Standard Bearer, Leader
One of my favorite Spires concepts mixes a Linneage Highborne with a Biomancer. This unfortunately costs the entire list access to ranged units in the present releases. I’ve adapted a 2000 point list downward by removing a Biomancer and his war band. I’m also starting to experiment with Grant Virulence, which on an expensive Tier-3 Mastery of the Flesh Biomancer, allows for two separate regiments to activate from a single Biomancer’s activation. As more multi-wound models get released into the game, expect the value of Grant Virulence to go up, even if it may not seem amazing at the moment. The Linneage Highborne is absolutely kitted out for battle, with four upgrades making him a superb duelist, and two upgrades helping him push units off objectives.
On turn 1, the Spires had 2 successful rolls out of 2, and the Nords brought both Stalkers via Flank, but failed both rolls on the Raiders. This significantly slowed the Jarl’s use of his supremacy ability. This exact circumstance gives me pause on a Jarl Warlord, since he almost requires a turn-1 entry, turn-2 supremacy, which affects the turn-3 Reinforcement phase. Turn-2 meanwhile saw no new Spires units, and a single additional light out of the Nords. The Nords, thankfully, stepped on the two objectives on their side of the field. The Raiders marched in behind the Stalkers from a flank and could reach the objective from the side, allowing the medium Jarl and Blooded to score 1-0.
Turn-3 saw the Spires bring all remaining units onto the table, while the Nords again brought on their automatic light and a single Jotnar. In fact, we can see from this turn that if the Jarl had entered turn-1 and had used his supremacy, then both Abominations would have stayed off the table. Here, I made two mistakes. First, I accidentally stepped off the objectives and only caught it too late. Thus, the Spires evened the score at 1-1. I secondly pushed the Stalkers too far forward when the Nords should have fought a defensive game on their own objectives. This left them more exposed and susceptible to being eliminated. I also wonder if a third unit of Raiders to increase the chances that the Jarl enters turn-1 might have been better than having larger regiments of Raiders. After all, if the Jarl enters and the objectives are played well, then we’re looking at a 2-0 score for the Nords at the end of round-3. On turn-4, the Nords brought both Ugr and the remaining Jotnar, but the Abominations were already on a tear and pounced up the middle. Meanwhile, the Avatara capped both of their objectives, resulting in a 2-2 tie. One regiment of Force Grown Drones left the table, as did the regiment of Stalkers with the Blooded. The earlier advance toward the enemy came back to haunt those Stalkers.
Turn-5 opened with the Nords in possession of 8 cards, and the Spires in possession of 7. Both Abominations stood exposed in the center of the map, with whoever achieved first player getting a good powerful attack off. Luck would favor the Spires, allowing one Abomination to clear off the Shaman and Raiders. Noteworthy in this round was that a charging Jotnar destroyed one of the Abominations. This was fun to see on the table, because it was a duel between two large monsters. Again, the score ended in a 3-3 tie. Turn-6 saw the Nords dip to 5 cards against 6 Spires cards. Despite the advantage in cards, the Spires won the initiative and were able to wipe out the Ugr on the right side of the map. This left the Nord units in that section of the map precariously thin. In retrospect, the Avatara stayed on their objectives too long, and probably should have come up on the previous turn. Nevertheless, they came forward finally, stepping off their own objectives and ceding a 4-3 score to the Nords, a frail lead that would prove short-lived.
Turn-7 opened with the Nords possessing a thin 5 cards, though the Spires had dipped to a single Abomination, both sets of Avatara and their Lineage Highborne. Both sides clashed on the Nord objectives without much change in circumstances. The 4-3 score of the previous turn carried over to this round. Turns 8, 9 and 10 saw the battle slowly turn toward the Spires. On turn-8, the Spires evened it up by claiming a single objective on the Nord side. They did the same on turn 9, before shooting to victory 8-5 on turn-10. A single Jotnar remained on the map, basically getting away from any clash from the Avatara.
In retrospect, the battle could have been played better both ways. The Spires should have come forward much more quickly and challenged the Nords on their own objectives before the Nords could get set up. I also note that the Nords could have stayed on their own objectives turn-2. A defensive battle with the Stalkers fighting more of a delaying action and retreating would have done as much damage as possible while giving the remaining Nord units time to enter the fray and make an impact. As it was, the Blooded and Stalker regiment was lost a little too early, and the second Stalkers regiment also suffered from a charge by Abomination in the early middle-game.
Next month, we have our final milestone and game in the Path of Conquest. Two regiments of Huscarls arrive to provide much more defensive stability to the Nord force. See you then, and in the meantime, light a warm fire to keep warm!