Hi everyone, welcome back to my not-at-all regular series on tactics and strategies for the Conquest LCG. This is going to be a fairly short article about deployment guidelines that I like to follow regardless of which faction I'm playing.
Cato or Urien - these tips still apply
Deployment can be a tricky proposition. You want to get the right units on the table, at the right planets, without telegraphing all of your intentions to your opponent. I've found success with the following general rules -- but these are by no means the only strategies out there and you should take some time to ask other players how they go about deploying their cards.
Command -- One of the key objectives in any deployment plan is getting a solid command presence on the board. In my article on Opening Hands I talked about how you want to look for cheap units with command hammers to help you early-on. The 1-for-1 cards (1 resource for 1 command hammer, i.e. Rogue Traders, Void Pirates, Shoota Mobs, Splintered Path Acolytes, etc) are usually the first cards to hit the board, as each player tries to gauge what the other has planned.
One of the first tricks I learned was how to deploy the 2-for-2 units (2 resources for 2 command hammers). These units are still relatively cheap, but can have a huge impact on the ensuing command struggle. The best way to play these guys is to wait until your last moves in deployment, or until your opponent has passed. This gives you the best chance to out-command your opponent's 1-icon cards.
Say your first move was to deploy a Sanctioned Psyker. A great unit with 2 hammers. But now, your opponent can choose to either avoid it or save a Promotion for that unit. Speaking of Promotion, the same idea holds true: wait until your last move, if possible, to maximize the effectiveness of your command tactics. By playing these cards at the end you severely limit the ways in which your opponent can react.
This principle is why, when playing Eldar, I generally wait until the very end of deployment to send out my Biel-Tan Guardians (1 resource for 2 hammers). Those guys are a very humble unit, but are often the unsung heroes of my Eldar games. The same practice holds true for Tau and their Recon Drones.
Preparing for Battle -- Of course, deployment isn't all about command. You also need to set yourself up to fight. Generally it can be helpful to wait to deploy your command units until you can guess your opponent's plans, but intimidation can also be a valid tactic.
There are many games where I'll want to grab a planet right away. Early in the game both players still have some flexibility with their win conditions, so opponents may be less likely to commit to a bloody fight early-on when they think they can come back later in the game. That is why I'll often drop a beefy unit early in deployment, as a way of saying "Don't come here, or I'll mess you up."
They're here to mess you up
Likewise, you can force an opponent to over-commit to a battle by playing a cheap but tough unit at a planet 1 fight that your opponent needs. Great examples are Snakebite Thug and Warlock Destructor. Those units easily swing above their 2-cost, and can force your opponent to spend extra resources and use warlord commitment to deal with them, leaving your own warlord free to gobble command that turn.
As a side note: If I'm playing against Chaos, and I have initiative, I will try to get my big combat units out early, in case they drop a Slaanesh's Temptation later in deployment.
Stalling -- Quite simply, this means taking extra actions in deployment to get your opponent to pass before you do. Playing cheap deploy events, supports, and attachments all bring your opponent one step closer to ending their deployment, leaving you free to counter their units at the planets. Ammo Depot is one of the best cards for this, and Promise of Glory is another staple "stall" card.
Once your opponent passes, he can no longer react to your moves, which means you're dictating the flow of the game.
Tying It All Together -- The big deployment secret is that there isn't a secret: there is no one rule or guideline that will lead you to success every time. One of the great aspects of Conquest is the way in which every phase becomes a battle of wills, with opponents bluffing their strength, feigning vulnerability, and playing up their faction's deadly tricks.
Mostly you'll need to practice and see what works for you. But, if you follow some of my advice, I think you'll find a good amount of success. Thanks for reading! If you have anything you'd like to share then leave a comment below to get the conversation rolling!
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