Vanguard Path of Conquest: Nords Part II
Welcome to our second month’s journey of four Conquest Vanguards on our way through the #PathofConquest. If you’ve not read my first month’s article (https://www.underspire.net/factions/nords/a-tale-of-four-gamers-nords/), now would be a great time. You can find further information about Para Bellum’s program here (https://images.beastsofwar.com/2020/09/Nords_StepByStep_ArmyList.pdf). At this point, we’ve purchased the Nord “Start” kit and assembled the miniatures. Twenty-four screaming Raiders are ready to go. Three deadly Ugr dare to charge into battle. And our fearless Jarl longs for more plunder and the glory of the coastal raids. This purchase allowed us to start the game with army of around 600 points. It is time to expand that.
The second goal of the #PathofConquest calls for a Blooded, a regiment of Stalkers, and a Mountain Jotnar. The best way to acquire these units is through the second Start-Playing kit, releasing October 19th. I recommend you do so. Getting a large miniature like the Mountain Jotnar in this package makes it a huge deal. The official goal of this milestone is to get you an army of 900 points, but if you choose to use the Ugr from the second Start-Playing kit, or if you choose to experiment with upgrades on your units, you can easily play at 1000-1250 points. This is getting to be a good sized army. Furthermore, your games of Conquest will suddenly feel much fuller and richer than any exploration game that you attempted at 600-650 points at the first milestone.
Painting the “Start Playing Kit”
My favorite unit to paint so far is Ugr. They feature good contrast on the model between metal, leather, flesh, and an oaken brown for the handle of the weapons. You may already be familiar with the dark blue skin that Para Bellum uses in their Ugr display. I elected to go with three colors, to give them variety, while maintaining an exotic feel to the unit. First, I used Army Painter’s Ultramarine Blue. This produces a model reasonably close to those of Para Bellum. Second, I used Sulfide Ochre, which gives a very dull yellow color, and seems perfect for a hardened hide. Finally, I used a Castle Grey to produce a faded white skin tone. After base-coating with a generic leather brown, I used Chaotic Red to produce a very deep reddish hue to the leather, and added steel color over it.
I opted for keeping the Chaotic Red as one of my central colors on my Blooded units, so it shows up significantly in the Stalkers, along with some deep forest-like greens. Perhaps after Ugr, I enjoyed painting the Mountain Jotnar. While I’ve still got a ways to go, I hope to have the whole force painted and ready by the time we reach Milestone 3.
Game Report: 1000 points of Nords against 1000 points of 100 Kingdoms
I admit that I started Conquest in July of 2019, having first seen the game on display at Adepticon in Chicago earlier that year. I was cautiously intrigued about the Nords, but from the start, we had simply the 100 Kingdoms and Spires, and I was eager to dig into the game. A natural opponent for the first game was a sample army of the 100 Kingdoms.
Although the milestone offers you a game at 900 points, it largely uses the regiments you have with no upgrades. I opted to include a few of the minor leaders and items, without greatly attempting to deck out the characters and regiments. In my opinion, Standards are great on Raiders (and anything that needs to charge). I’m also fond of putting banners on units that want to move quickly to the engagement or who are setting reinforcement lines, such as Stalkers. And at 10 points for the Leader and a high volley score of 3, the leader is a strong choice on the Stalkers. Here are the lists:
Nords Starter list: 995/1000
Blooded : Wolf
– Stalkers (3) : Leader, Standard Bearer
– Mountain Jotnar (1) 
Jarl : Select as Warlord, The Broken Blade, Dragon
– Raiders (3) : Standard Bearer
– Raiders (3) : Standard Bearer
– Ugr (3) : Standard Bearer
The Hundred Kingdoms Starter list: – 995/1000
Noble Lord (Cavalry) : Select as Warlord, Arms Master
– Household Knights (5) : Leader, Standard Bearer
– Men at Arms (6) : Seasoned Veteran
Imperial Officer : Double Time
– Steel Legion (3) 
– Mercenary Crossbowmen (3) 
I played a generic Head-to-Head contest using secondary objectives for both sides on a 4×4 board. Even at 1000 points, you start to feel how limited the space is, and as you’ll discover from the community, larger point games are best played on the full 6×4 board. When I was counting the score on turn-5, I noted that the 100 Kingdoms had achieved their 8 points and won, but the Nords had still scored 7 points and had a very strong chance of picking up 2 more if the game had gone another round.
The game, I suspect, highlights some typical experiences you will find while playing Nords. The Nords got off to a strong start by putting all three light regiments onto the board on turn-1. The Stalkers, in particular, zoomed across the map and prepared to assault the meager regiment of Crossbowmen opposing them. Raiders simply screamed up the board the best they could. Turn-2 saw only one successful medium roll from the 100 Kingdoms, ultimately opting for the Knights as the best chance to get at the approaching Raiders on a first strike. The Crossbows and Stalkers started shooting at each other. Here, you start to feel the difference between the two units. At Armor Piercing 1, Crossbow hits are automatic wounds against Stalkers. This isn’t a huge difference to what the Stalkers do back, however, as the Volley-3 results in more hits, and armor-1 simply doesn’t save very often. The Stalkers will be good as a light harassment unit that helps set your reinforcement line, but which will take some casualties when return fire strikes back at them. Even better for the Nords on turn-2, the Ugr made their reinforcement roll and got a good jump on the board behind the Stalkers.
Turn 3 saw the Jarl show off his supremacy. Although it kept the Jotnar off the table, it also kept the Steel Legion off the table, and reduced the roll of the remaining Men-at-Arms to 5-6, which they failed. This meant a turn where the Nord army was at its strongest, doing what it was designed to do: isolate the enemy forces and eliminate them before they can support each other. It was honestly looking really bleak for the 100 Kingdoms at this point and I fully expected them to lose at this stage. The Knights got off their charge and dropped a regiment of Raiders. They were in turn charged by the remaining Raiders and its Jarl, losing a stand and taking two wounds on the remaining stand. While Flurry is a tough upgrade, hits aren’t the end-all, be-all, of this game. You still have to contend with armor, which they are ill-equipped to do. Thankfully, six dice from a Cleave-1 Jarl (thank you Broken Blade) gave the Raiders the push they needed. The Stalkers meanwhile destroyed the Crossbows.
At this point, the battle was being fought close to the 100Kingdom reinforcement line, but with enough room that they could still deploy. The Nords won initiative and struck first at the Knights, this time striking much harder and eliminating 3 trays, for a break. First, I’d recommend you look carefully at the Turn-the-Tide Draw event, because your Warlord will likely want to use it as a 1-2 punch, regardless of your faction. It helps with flexibility when you are unclear what regiment to activate and allows you to respond to many things the opponent could do. This enabled the Jarl to strike with his Raiders and then turn to duel the Noble Lord, eventually killing him (though getting killed in the process). Note, this was bound to happen anyway in this game, and it worked out better to initiate it than to wait for it. The turn concluded with the remaining 100 Kingdoms units marching onto the table and facing off against the Raiders and Stalkers.
As turn-5 dawned and the mighty Jotnar hit the table, the reinforcement line drawn by the Ugr gave him a lot of space to enter. The Men-at-Arms ended up dropping the overexposed Blooded/Stalkers. This has me rethinking either how many trays I put with the Stalkers or whether a Blooded really wants to stay with the Stalkers over the length of the game. Nord characters are powerful, but you don’t really want to lose them simply because you lost your regiment. The loss of the Blooded and Stalkers gave up two command cards, which ended up being the difference in the game. It is clear that the decisive point in the game was really their overextension, because if they’d stayed on the table one more round, the Ugr and Jotnar together were likely to drop the Steel Legion and accompanying Imperial Officer. Despite what people regularly say about different units or factions being over or underpowered, I am repeatedly struck by how often a game turns on a single activation decision or a single overexposed unit.
The next milestone aims at 1100 points and the #PathofConquest recommends a Shaman and Stalkers. I’ll aim to do another game, perhaps at 1250 points to see how the new Nord force fares and should have the entire force painted by then. See you mid-November with the next update!