Conquest: Nords – Stalkers

When an FLGS (Torchlight) says “Hey, we’re looking at getting this game in to the store, new stuff, rules designed by Alessio Cavatore, you wanna take a bo-peep at some of the minis?”, the only reasonable response is “Surely, guv, that’d be crackin’!”. Cavatore’s resume includes plenty work for GW including the LOTR strategy game and Mordheim, Bolt Action for Warlord games, and a number of titles for River Horse including the Labyrinth board game, and the My Little Pony Tails of Equestria RPG. He’s a talented game designer with a solid stable of titles under his belt, so is stands to reason that Conquest: Last Argument of Kings should be worthy of a look.

The full rules for the game are available as a downloadable PDF on the official website, but today we’re focusing on some of the minis. There are four factions in the game – the Hundred Kingdoms (Noble humanity), the Spires (Fleshshapers), the Nords (Wilder humanity) and the Dweghom (Dwarves). The setting has a few standard fantasy setting tropes, and the Nords caught my eye with their savage nature. Think the Wildlings from Game of Thrones if  you’re looking for an approximate corollary. A knock on my door later in that evening, and a box of Nords Stalkers made their way into the Gdaycave.

First thing to note, the boxes for this thing are impressive. For comparison, side by side with Marvel Crisis Protocol’s Star-Lord box. The unit boxes for Conquest are rather hefty.

Within we find a selection of sprues, a bag of bases, and a card. The sprues are sized to match the box, taking advantage of the available real estate.

Each of the basic sprues has components for four Stalkers. There’s some dead space on the sprues, but not a lot. Material-wise these are styrene plastic so glue together with standard plastic cement.

The additional sprue contains unit contains components for a standard bearer. The card didn’t have any actual stats on it, just a QR code, which I’ll admit was a tad disappointing. I’ll also note that as of the time of writing the QR code did not lead to a working website, Stalkers stats or otherwise. I’m sure they’ll have that fixed shortly.

The bases for Conquest are smaller than I’d have expected given the scale of the models (there’s a size comparison later in this post), but they all pop into handy little movement trays. Given the game’s focus on rank and file, movement trays are a thing.

There are assembly instructions available on the official website, but the need-to-be-matched components are also labelled with letters A-D so you can pair each front to each back. Note that the torsos are hollow…

… and the pieces don’t have connection points all the way through, as shown by the gaps in the arm sockets. I was moderately perturbed as I assembled these that the connection points weren’t more solid. In some points it’s only a thin ridge, and there are no keyed sockets on the torsos to assist with alignment. Still, they went together, so we’re good to proceed.

As with the torsos, the legs have identifiers A-D, and each pair of legs joins at a two-peg connection through the waist/crotch. Each has different sized pegs so you can’t incorrectly pair the legs.

Torso A pairs with Legs A, Torso B wih Legs B (Lunges!), so on and so forth.

The bow designs are interesting, and two of them have potential use for sawing lumber. The left arms are all interchangeable, though I do find it interesting that all Nords Stalkers are left-handed, holding their bows in their right hands. Maybe there’s something about growing up in the frozen North that encourages everyone to be a Southpaw.

As mentioned earlier, there are four Stalkers on each sprue. There’s also eight heads, so you can get some variety in there. Variety is always appreciated, and additional options are approved.

The last components are the quivers, and I have a quibble  here. Each quiver is detailed on one side only, the back side each being bare (see the one on the bottom right), indicating that it should be postioned flush against the body somewhere. According to the assembly diagram, that somewhere it the back of the model. However, each torso has a fully detailed back, with nowhere designated to receive the quiver. While  you can definitely glue the quivers on, placement is awkward, and contact points are minimal at best. I decided to get funky with mine.

Four quivers, four different arrangements. I’m pretty happy with how each worked out aesthetically, though not so happy that I stopped shaking my fist at the lack of foresight in model design. You can, of course, just leave the quivers off, but they were in the kit, dammit, so they needed to get attached.

The last challenge I had assembling these models was that the heads, by and large, are only comfortable fits facing directly forward. This, combined with the fact that the arms are all built for best-fit conditions sticking directly in line across the torso, means the models – especially if assembled as they appear on the box – all seem to be posing and yelling “Come at me, bro!”. I got a little more creative in the interest of coming up with some more natural poses. Well, as natural as I could swing.

In the end I’m pretty happy with the four assembled test Stalkers, and how they fit together on their movement tray. For full units of these goons they only differences in each block of four will be which heads you use, and which bows you pair with which bodies, but these are rank and file after all. They’re suitably wild looking fellows with a penchant for fancy padded shoulders. I’ll be curious to see how they fit in with the rest of the Nords.

Oh, and the promised size comparison, with a handful of models that were on my table at the time. From left to right – one of the Grymwatch ghouls (Age of Sigmar/Beastgrave), Star-Lord (Marvel Crisis Protocol), Nords Stalker (Conques), Chuck Dogwood (Riot Quest/Hordes), and a Mollock Berserker (Monsterpocalpse). In terms of stature the Stalkers are about the same larger scale as Marvel Crisis Protocol, but the basing is the same size as Age of Sigmar’s smallest bases.

I will note that while the enhanced scale gives opportunity for extra detail, the casting doesn’t have the crispness of a Marvel Crisis Protocol or Age of Sigmar model. Softer details may make for a more natural looking model – real life isn’t all hard edges, after all – but we’ll see how they look after some paint’s been slapped on.

For now, Conquest: Last Argument of Kings is moving through distribution channels and pushing for a focused rank-and-file tabletop wargaming experience. If you’re local to the Gdaycave, hit up the crew at Torchlight for a demo once the doors are open for gaming, or check it out online for yourself.