Review: Dungeons & Dragons Conquest of Nerath – empire torn by war
Battle of four armies lasted ten years already. Kaolin, general of League of Nerath is already tired out of the bloodshed and good soldiers lost in battle. Whenever his army gains some territory, it is attacked from behind by another enemy and lose another position. He feels old and helpless. All the injuries caught up with him and he knew, that he would not remain long on this world. And right now, he is sitting in his tent alone with a map of the battle and thinking about his successor. His son Kieslin can kill troll with one hand, but it is not a good man for command post. It would become too bloody out there, if he possessed such power.
Tent door unexpectedly opened. Kaolin looked up angrily, but immediately found out, it is a spy. He invited him in to listen to some more bad news. There was no doubt about it, a great battle is coming up, and he is unable to lead his men. It was time to stand up and choose man, able to lead whole army to victory.
And believe it or not, eventually that honor fell on you, the player. Come with us into the world of Nerath, which belongs to a large universe of Dungeons & Dragons and play battles, that Kaolin could live through. But you can also choose other parties of the conflict over League of Nerath – Vailin, or dark Iron Circle and Karkoth. Everyone is fighting for himself and trying to get as much territory as possible.
And as it usually happens in games in D&D environment, Conquest of Nerath is no exception and its a really tom-cat. Box is holding with its height lower to the ground, but it makes up for everything by its length. Its similar for example to Claustrophobia, but wider. It is quite impressive, but also very well justified. Inside awaits you a huge map of the entire Nerath empire. Most of the space is devoted to areas bounded by colored lines of their actual masters. On the left winds a track for your victory points gathered through conquering.
For each realm, you get one card serving as player board, with specific starting instructions on one side, and also a place to store the cards on the other. Unfortunately your income is stated on the wrong side, so you will be turning it around from time to time. And we have not by far finish with the cards, because there are still unique actions (20 for each of the four empires) and thirty with treasures in the plundered dungeon.
After punching out, you get lots of round domination tokens, but also tiles in the shape of the doors, which have monsters living in the darkness of caves displayed on one side. Last component is the cardboard tokens of gold in the two values.
Through range of over sixteen dice in different shapes and values, we finally come to thing, which makes Nerath THE Nerath. We are talking about 252 (!) plastic miniatures. Each side will have exactly 63 pieces in nine different species. The most precious among all men are castles and dragons. Only fifty stands for marking larger groups of troops of the same type remain to be mentioned.
In the box, you will find tray where everything fits back easily. And you can rest in peace, because all pieces are safe and will not wage war without you, because each realm has its own compartment. Box remains still pretty heavy, so it is not entirely suitable for carrying. Definitely do not count, that it would fit into a backpack or suitcase. Nerath needs some space inside the box, but also on the table.
Conquest of Nerath is designed primarily for game of four opposing players, who each chooses one empire. Then it depends only on their decision, if they want to compete all against all, or in an alliances of good and evil. Yet turn order is fixed as well as composition of the alliances. This is because allies should be sitting opposite to each other and never play two consecutive turns. In such a situation, it is interesting that goblins in Iron Circle are allies with evil Karkoth against elves of Vailin and Kingdom of humans and dwarves from League of Nerath, standing on the good side.
In two player, each participant gets in charge of the two factions of the battle (and will play either for good or bad side), while with three players two will remain on the side of evil, while good will be controlled by remaining one. Small differences for the alliance are described in the rules and mean mostly movement and battle options.
Each player chooses his side of conflict and agree on how to play (deathmatch or alliances). From the color assigned to, he gets all pieces package units and twenty action cards, you shuffle them and draw two into your hand to start with. They take also reference card, which contains initial deployment of their troops. Each area on map has colored border clearly under whose initial control is which territory. There are also small icons specifying type and number of troops present there.
At the beginning, they get also all their tokens of domination, that will be used during the game to mark conquered areas. Each side fills its treasury by gold from common stocks according to their position in the turn – each receives amount to compensate his disadvantages from later actions.
Common deck of cards for all players are treasures, which are shuffled and place on common card of quick help. This card also contains space for tiles of caves. Most of the guards should be scattered randomly on the board face down, in places marked with the cave entrance in the shape of the door. Only the remaining monsters are put aside on a card for now.
Game has clearly given course of a turn, in which the first action goes to Karkoth, then Vailin, orc Iron Circle, and at the end League of Nerath. In this order players will perform all six of their activities. Among them is mandatory drawing of new cards from your own action deck, that added to your hand. Some of them have to be played immediately, if you find text saying so on them. The second, equally pleasant duty ends your turn with collection of taxes. Treasury will flow into your treasury according to number of controlled areas.
Then there are four actions, all of which are optional and include movement (twice) and purchase of new combat units. First up in a fixed sequence of actions is option to move your units around the map. Each character has clearly given speed, which determines number of crossable areas for one round and ranges from one up to three (dragon only).
When traveling with the soldiers, you can move freely into any friendly areas (or those in your alliance). Your march ends immediately, when you enter enemy territory or when you reach maximum moves of unit. Units in enemy territory will be involved in a fight soon. There are also special places with caves on the map, which may only be entered by heroes – warriors and wizards. You have also boats in your army and they can transported two land units between continents of Nerath.
This, however, brings us to the main spice of the game – battles. You guessed it correctly, this is moment, when you really take advantage of all the different dice. Each side rolls dice corresponding to strength of his army, for example, infantrymen have d6 (sixsided). And you hit only, when you reach at least number six, so it is clear, that these mentioned troops are weakest unit, with low chances on success.
Adversaries roll dice at the same time, resulting in kills of some units on both sided. There are of course different rules for specific types of units – for example dragons and ships – but there is also conquering castle or exploration of dungeons. But that does not differ substantially – there is always rolling the dice and dividing the losses on both sides. After each round, attacker has a chance to back away from a fight. For each conquested territory, that belongs initially to enemy, you immediately get victory points and even, when you capture it for second or third time. Therefore its not beneficial to reconquer your own land and you should focus your strength in another place.
After battle is done, you have once more a chance to move some units, but only a limited involving drawing of troops from a cave. Now you can recruit new troops into your army. Soldiers have each their specified cost in gold and you can place them to one of your castles.
Each player round ends with tax collection. You will get gold at an amount, that corresponds to your actually controlled area. But you do not have to always count all positions, because you have clearly given initial state. So just calculate how much have you gained and lost and combine it with the beginning value.
Game ends, when one player (or some alliance) meets its target. Usually it will be a certain number of victory points, which also determines the length of the battle itself.
Conquest of Nerath offers real conquest and battle in a fantasy world full of dragons, ents and other magical creatures. And what are our impressions of trip to this world? The experience is not different from the excellent look of the game – it’s great, but assumes one fundamental point: you must not mind completely random and dice-driven combat. However, battle itself is not so random, if you can operate well with units.
System of tax collection in Conquest of Nerath reminds us of popular family Small World (review). Here you receive income only at the end of your turn, so you must wait for next turn to use them for reinforcements. But unlike the aforementioned game, gold does not serve as victory points, but it only provides way to them.
It is probably even closer to popular Risk, in which players also challenge each other and fight for territories. The biggest parable is the combat system, which is very similar. Fortunately adding cards, heroes and especially the use of pure fantasy environment differs Conquest of Nerath from its competitors (leaving aside the numerous Risk variants).
But what about game time? In such a big world, we can not just spend an hour after all, but it will certainly take longer.. But that’s not quite true. Players can set length by number of victory points required for the game to end. So you can easily get to ending in ninety minutes, which is nice.
Because you get points for conquering enemy territories, game brings constant rivalry, hacking and tricks. You must be truly ready for those, if you wish to play this game. With its simple rules game actually extends boundaries and allows players to maneuver between them according to their abilities. On the other hand, you get income at end of the turn, just after purchase of units. Thanks to this, you can not just flood game board with new miniatures, but will be forced to work with your treasury contents much more cautiously and look for sources of finance elsewhere.
Fixed initial setup seems like a pro, when looking at setup time, but in reality, preparation is quite long. It also looks like a limitation in light of replayability, but due to the massiveness of the experience and presence of cards, its not this case either. Game is constantly advancing and branches on every other action, so no two matches will be the same.
Big advantage is the ability to play the game either as uncompromising deathmatch or in join alliances. But even in first option, some short, mutually beneficial agreement, are not excluded from the game. On the contrary, it directly encourages negotiating.
In two or three players, one of the parties will control multiple colors. It is more demanding, but it still remains a fun and balanced game. At the same time using the same number of participating armies game time stays on similar values.
Each party is truly unique and has its own deck of cards. In addition, game is balanced with strictly given turn order. So you do not have to worry, that your party would be in some distinct disadvantage. Here you can get a little behind only by drawing worse cards at the beginning, than others. But you will catch up later.
Nerath could be an ordinary game to look at, if it were not for its pieces. Together with beautifully drawn game board, everything forms beautiful spectacle creating from it muhc more enjoyable experience, than what you would get with groups of tokens and dice. This decision certainly payed off for Wizards of the Coast, because the game looks extremely tempting.
If you are looking for a game, where you will fight with dragons, orcs and humans, all of it should have in your opinion real momentum and tension, then look no further. Conquest of Nerath is here. The authors even threw in a blender and caves and rewards after their conquest, which further extend the capabilities of the game and support an amazing experience, it brings. Yes, it’s a festival of fortune, when it comes to combat, but who cares, when it’s so much fun?
Review: Dungeons & Dragons Conquest of Nerath – empire torn by war
Conquest of Nerath invites you again into the world of Dungeons & Dragons and spreads out a huge map of the world in front of us. Every area is simply withing reach, all you have to do is reach with your hand. And almost as easy is it also in the game, where you need take soldiers and conquer it. Everything in the game is about recruiting and moving your units, resulting very ofthen into battle solved with dice. The better the unit, the stronger dice with higher chance of success it provides to its controller. Every wound means death of one unit and return into the reserve. Players are replenishing their numbers based on income, counted from number of controlled territories. The most interesting thing you get for conquered enemy area is one victory point, which moves you towards winning in the game and it can be done even repeatedly. Alliances play interesting part in the game, if you let them, but you can also play game in a deathmatch manner. But in three players, one has to always control two sides of conflict, and this makes it impossible to play the game in three without alliances. Every race is unique and above all in cards, which are used to assist you in battle and outside of it. Several caves are spread throughout the world of Nerath with scary monsters inside. If you beat them, you get some reward. Gameplay is really simple and you will learn it in no time. And everything looks marvellous thanks to all those miniatures. Conquest of Nerath is a dream come true for every war general with inextinguishable eager to fight..