First, if you're the video watchin' type and you're interested in Conquest, you can do no better than watching their excellent tutorial video. Seriously, watch this:
The game is two player, with no (current) ability for multiplayer battles. Each player takes a deck of at least 50 cards plus one Warlord. Each Warlord always comes with 8 signature cards that must be included in the deck (and may not be included in any decks not featuring that Warlord).
7 Planets are randomly drawn (from a set of 10), and placed in a line in the center of the table, with the last 2 being played face down. The first revealed planet (and farthest from the face down planets) is marked as the "First Planet" at the beginning of the game.
Players alternate playing cards until both have passed, at which point the game passes out of the deploy phase and into the Command phase. Before discussing the phases in depth in Part 2, let's look at the different types of cards.
Warlords are two-sided cards. On their front side, they feature a unique ability. On the reverse is their "bloodied" side which usually loses any special abilities and has fewer hitpoints.
The numbers in the black and white circles on the bottom left represent ATTACK and HIT POINTS values respectively. The black and yellow numbers on the bottom represent starting hand size and starting resources.
Army units represent your rank and file, boots on the ground. These can represent individuals, squads, vehicles, etc.
Like a Warlord, the numbers in the black and white circles on the bottom left represent ATTACK and HIT POINTS. The number in the top left is the resource cost to play the unit from your hand. The text box will feature any special rules the unit has. See the little white circle on a blue background on the right side of the card just above the Space Marines faction icon? That means that card is "loyal". When building a deck, loyal cards can only be in the deck where the warlord matches the faction. More on deckbuilding later!
Finally, the 4 "warhammer" icons in the center left are "command icons", representing a unit's ability to control a planet. More on that when we get to the Command Phase!
Event cards are played for a "one-off" effect. They usually specify what phase they can be played in, or other conditions that have to be met before they enter play. These cards have a cost in the top left which, again, is the amount of resources that must be spent to bring the card into play. You'll note again that this card is "loyal" (darn Space Marines hoarding the drop pods!). You will now see in the top left two "skull icons". Those represent ARMOR (in case you noticed armor missing from army cards!) which you can discard in response to an attack to temporarily boost a unit's armor. Not all cards have armor, but many do (any card can have armor on it, not just events).
Attachment cards are permanent upgrades to other cards. Weapons, armor, etc. Again the cost is in the top left, and again you see this example featuring 1 point of armor. You will notice, however, that the Godwyn Pattern Bolter is NOT loyal meaning you could use this card in a non Space Marine deck (Though your options are limited to Imperial Guard and Tau).
Support cards are permanent cards put into play, but placed at your HQ (as opposed to deployed to a planet like army units). These do not leave play except by card effects.
Planets are not included in any player's deck, and are instead setup in the center of the table. The core set includes 10 planet cards, 7 of which are drawn and placed.
The icons in the top left are for victory purposes. There are 3 different icons: Red, Blue, Green representing the different resources (Material, Stronghold, and Tech). To win the game, a player needs to either destroy the opponent's Warlord or capture three planets with the same symbol.
The number on the bottom left is the number of cards that can be drawn after winning a Command struggle at a planet, while the number on the bottom right is the number of resources gained when winning a command struggle. The "Battle:" text in the center is an ability you can perform when you win a battle at the planet.
In the next article, we will take a look at the Command, Battle, and HQ phases, so you can get a feel for how the game actually plays!