Looking at the Dweghom Artifacts
The goal of this article is to discuss the Dweghom artifacts. First, I play several games that include a huge number of upgrade options, and it is common to rate the upgrades. Players love diving into upgrades to see what combinations are possible. Conquest’s upgrade system is much more subdued, allowing unit choices and tactical movement to determine the outcome of the battle. Part of the joy comes in rating those upgrades. For Conquest, I’ve selected three tiers. The first tier consists of exceptional upgrades. If you’re playing a competitive game, these should be the core set of upgrades from which you select. Given how diverse Conquest is, I’ve not saw fit to further divide this group, because I believe the current state of the game leaves very few if any “always takes.” The second tier are just good. You can select from upgrades in this list, but they may be overshadowed by an A tier upgrade without being bad, or they may simply require a number of working parts to get to work correctly. The third tier I’ve classified as narrative upgrades. They simply do not offer enough bang-for-the-buck, or are significantly overshadowed by other upgrades.
A Tier: Is either generically good in all situations, or absolutely amazing in a very niche role.
Banner, ‘Until we have to”: For 15 points, you add 2 armor while at least half your trays are on zonal terrain. If your gaming community loves terrain, this becomes an “always take.” If they like to play with more open terrain, which is probably more fair to cavalry units, then you need to take Magmatic Seep on your Sorcerer in order to trigger this spell. That’s probably the best way to play this spell, and there’s much in the combination that synergizes well. You’ll need Tactical 1 retinue, which adds to the synergy though you’re now limited to the non-Steelshaper characters. You’ve got a variety of units where this upgrade is meaningful, whether an Ardent carries the banner with his Bezerkers or a Hold Raegh does so with his Hold Warriors.
Armor, Champions Horns: For 15 points, you give your character two more attacks. But it has a key limitation: 4 or more stands. One of the best upgrades for the Hold Raegh in a group of Hold Warriors. Your Raegh then becomes your damage, and it isn’t unusual for your Raegh’s hits to account for over half of the regiment’s total and around three quarters of the final damage tally. These attacks also apply to a duel. I’d recommend a 6 tray with your Hold Raegh being the 7th tray.
Weapon, Draegbhrud: You gain Cleave-3. Note that if you take this on a Hold Raegh, it does not stack with your native Cleave-1. Armor is powerful in this game, and Cleave is powerful to deal with it. As a powerful upgrade, this will help ensure that you win the duel in the first exchange of blows, but it also helps when you swing at higher armor enemy units guarding objectives. All of the non-Sorcerer characters can get good utility out of it. Don’t forget that a Steelshaper has 4 armor, the same as a Hold Raegh, and might benefit from a weapon in melee combat. The Kerawegh is almost certainly going to see melee combat, and Cleave-3 is likely to make more of his hits stick. A solid upgrade if you have the points.
Weapon, Flaming Weapon: The description suggests very naturally that this weapon would be nice on a Kerawegh leading Bezerkers. You pay 15 points, five less than Perfectly Balanced, which adds Flurry, but you’re gaining a point of Clash and adding Cleave-1. Since your Bezerkers won’t natively have Cleave-1, this is a subtle benefit to your Kerawegh, while raising his clash value to match the Bezerkers. Overall, I suspect you’ll just get more mileage out of Flaming Weapon than Perfectly Balanced, so it makes the A-tier as a weapon that gets the job done cheaply and without needing other combinations to succeed.
Weapon, Obsidian Grafts: A cheap item at 15 points. It is in an odd place, competing with Steel Enhancements and Memory Stone as upgrades that keep your character alive in some way. They all work in slightly different situations. If your opponent’s cleave has already reduced your armor, rerolls are just going to produce more hits. So this is best if you’re combining it with a high armor character and armor upgrades such as Exemplar and Herald of Stone. As a weapon, however, your Steelshaper and Sorcerer can take it.
Arcane, Heart of the Mountain: The new FAQ has changed this ability to “Once per game, this character ignores enemy Interference and adds 1 to the Casting Difficulty for Spells cast this turn (Difficulty 3 becomes Difficulty 4).” This upgrade is most useful on a Fire Sorcerer Warlord built for piling on dice and direct damage. Since Sorcerers struggle with good items, this is a welcome addition to the list and should see regular use. Not that if you’re not piling on direct damage with fire spells, it starts to fall into the nice, but not necessary (B-class) column.
Armor, Crown of Ushkelodth: My knee-jerk reaction when I first saw this upgrade was, too much cost and not enough benefit. But then I gave it an honest shake and put it on the board. How do you make this upgrade work and why is it in the A-tier? First, Conquest is built around the idea “Do damage now.” If you activate and charge/attack, you’re the one doing damage. If +2 March is enough to connect that charge, you’re playing the game as designed. Second, you want to use it on an extremely powerful unit that changes game state. Go back to the much discussed “heavy” problem. If you get your unit of Dragonslayers into the mix one turn earlier, and the combined might of 3 trays plus your Hold Raegh eliminate a key unit on the objective, which you now claim, then you’ve got a huge amount of utility out of the upgrade. Note that your Hold Raegh and Dragonslayers become Clash 6 (+1 from the Burnout event, and +1 from the inspire on the charge), so you’re also multiplying the efficacy of that cleave-4. If the enemy is dead, then losing a tray to decay is not a huge drawback. I’ll admit, that this upgrade probably requires that specific combination. I played two games with 2 regiments of Thanes and 2 regiments of Dragonslayers, with the idea of moving my character around as units decayed. In practice, you might find it useful to move him once.
B Tier: An upgrade that brings a solid benefit
Armor, Memory of Stone: The benefit isn’t amazing, but the cost is low too. As armor, this means your Hold Raegh or Kerawegh. Still, Dweghom characters love to duel. One of the keys to dueling is to have just enough from your bonuses (health or defense) to outlast the opponent. This can either be a situation where you have killed them, but are on a single life point. Or you know you’re going to die eventually, but you last two activations instead of one. Either situation gets utility out of a 10 point upgrade. Since it is cheap, combining it with a mastery like Expose Weakness, costing your opponent their much more expensive item might just keep you alive and allow you to trade up for the points.
Armor, Steel Enhancements: The same reasoning applies with Memory of Stone. You’re either taking a Kerawegh to armor 4, or a Raegh to armor 5. You can combine it with any of a number of upgrades that boost armor on a character to an extent that can keep your armor in the 4-5 range against an opponent’s high cleave unit (Blooded with Combat-3, for example). Out of the two, this is probably my preferred upgrade, keeping a potentially weaker Kerawegh alive against a critical opponent. This may even be more important if you’re running your Kerawegh as warlord, and works very well when you can take multiple items through Tactics-2 Retinue and/or the Long Lineage Mastery.
Weapon, Perfectly Balanced: A solid upgrade. It will work both in duels and in your attacks against enemy regiments. Thematically, it works well on a Kerawegh paired with Bezerkers, as now everyone has Flurry. It just feels trapped in an odd place where you could take other upgrades and accomplish more, but still a great secondary pick if you only have 20 points left, or if you’ve already taken one of the better items on a different character.
Arcane, Graft of Fire: Cheap, but granting its benefit at a cost. First, you could end up killing yourself on the fourth cast, but at a 50% roll, the average is 8 casts. I’m estimating that most games, you’re going to see about 4 turns with critical combat. At that point, you should easily see half of your games where the penalty doesn’t factor into the game. So you’re basically safe on a non-warlord Sorcerer, Kerawegh, or Steelshaper. I’d rather try to accomplish the same thing with retinues or masteries. If you’re playing a bunch of Sorcerers, perhaps putting it on a secondary Fireball Sorcerer would help with greatly increasing his damage over the course of the game. To me, that makes this a “nice but not strictly necessary upgrade.”
Arcane, Tempered Goad: This is another specific niche upgrade. At the moment, you are looking at applying it to Inferno Automata. Eventually, you can apply it to the two Dragons and to Steelforged. Automata are the best candidate. They already have Aura of Death, and Tempered Goad has a provision for doubling their total number of hits. Aura of Death is significantly better against early game units that have low armor, and Automata are optimized for killing units like Militia, Force-Grown-Drones, and early-game range units, but start to struggle against mid-tier units. So you’re now niche limited to a Sorcerer list with Automata. You’re also looking at 1, maybe 2 critical turns where it matters. Your best bet might be to include a Steelshaper, who might not have a spell target on the turn you activate this spell. A Sorcerer Warlord who is behind the Automata, but who does not yet have range for their damage spells is a second candidate. Overall, I’ll try it. It isn’t that bad, but I’m not really expecting it to jump to the A-tier.
C Tier: An A or B tier might do the same thing better, or these upgrades might not synergize well with what the faction brings to the table, or they might require a different meta or release of units.
Armor, Arena Champion: Generally, if you’re building a character to duel, you likely want another upgrade entirely. Note that you can also pay 20 points for Perfectly Balanced, which will do the same thing during duels, while also providing you the benefit of rerolls during regular clash actions.
Tailsman, Remembered: For 15 points, you gain Fearsome. This seems appropriate for the cost. It simply runs into the problem of feeling niche and situational.
Talisman, Remembrance of the Core. For 15 points, you gain a critical turn of ignoring one point of Cleave. Cleave is a powerful ability, and by ignoring a point of cleave, you’re giving your Dweghom regiments more time to do their own damage. Since this upgrade applies to anything in contact, it could reduce a character about to duel your character (making it defensive for your own character), both that character and his or her regiment’s cleave value against your own regiments. As time progresses, expect more and more opponents to be sporting some variety of cleave against your Dweghom army. If you would take 12 hits on a particular round, then you’re saving between 2-3 of that with this ability. Depending upon your positioning, you may be able to lend this ability to a second regiment that is also in contact. I think 15 points for 4-6 saved ones on Dweghom units is pretty meaningful. However, at the moment, it isn’t clear that you’ll be facing cleave every game, or even if the circumstances on the board will enable you to line up and trigger this ability meaningfully. So watch this upgrade carefully. Depending upon your meta, it may jump a tier in the future.
Arcane, Invocation of the Shattering: You pay a heavy price for this ability, but you gain a nice Supremacy ability. I really want to rate this upgrade in the B-column, but because it is limited to the Kerawegh, who must be your warlord, and because its usefulness depends upon the situation on the map (they have evade units? I guess our reduced defense value isn’t going to matter this game). As with Remembrance of the Core, you have to set it up well if you want to affect more than one regiment. It would seem to lend itself best to Bezerkers (and eventually Wardens), whose Flurry rolls increase the chances that they roll 1s. Look for it to jump to the B column in the future as more units release.
Arcane, Memory of Breath: For ten points, your character picks up Aura of Death. By itself, this upgrade does very little. Its main intent seems to be to pair an Ardent Kerawegh with his Flame Bezerkers, so that everyone has the Aura of Death special rule. You might therefore give your opponent four hits, rather than 3. The real difficulty is the opportunity cost on your character, but if you are sporting a non-warlord Kerawegh who has taken Tactics-2, then perhaps this serves as candidate for a second item.
Banner, Mnemancer’s Eye: You pay 50 points to get a single resolve bonus and fearless. If you look elsewhere in the game, adding a point to resolve is worth about 15 points. At the present, few units come with Fearless. While the full gameplay experience might eventually make Fearless more valuable, it is still a hard sell to see both of these abilities together as worth 50 points. Leave this upgrade at home unless you’ve got a specific story you’re planning on telling.
Tailisman, Gifted in Fire: For twenty points, you get Aura of Death and +1 Evasion. If you compare it to other upgrades, these on the surface seem like a good buy. I’m rating it as more of a narrative upgrade because +1 Evasion is niche on your character. You’re not doing more damage, and it only matters if you’re taking damage in a duel. +1 Evasion is nice by itself, and it is better to have some defense than no defense. It simply won’t save you if your opponent has dedicated himself to killing your character, which is certainly true if he already has the cleave to reduce your armor to 0. If you’re really trying to stay alive, there are better upgrades, and better combinations.
Talisman, Slayer’s Brand: At the moment, this is not a useful upgrade. The Fiend Hunter special rule gives bonuses to fighting monsters, with only a few released models. You can also get the equivalent by taking a Magic-1 retinue, which gives Blessed to three of your characters.
Talisman, The Flame Flickers: You gain +2 evasion, and you can automatically activate it during one duel in the game. That seems eminently more useful than Gifted in Fire, but it runs into the same problem. If your opponent took enough cleave to reduce your armor to the point where this is meaningful, they probably built their character to duel and kill you. While saving 1/3rd of their attacks will be nice, it still might not save you unless you’re combining several different items and abilities.