I had my first experience with Conquest last Saturday. We had 5 players (all new to the game) and ran a full game in 5+ hours (not including set up or rules walk through).
Due to bone headedness we had to do influence set up twice. On our first try we did not know that we were supposed to be placing our influence tokens and not the generic influence tokens on the map. Ooops. After a re-do I ended up with two influence in Egypt and one in Numidia and two in Sicily. There was also two unclaimed influence in Egypt and one belonging to an enemy with a weak presence. The senate cards included a Sicily City card and an Egypt merchant card. So I adopted a strategy of domination in Egypt-Sicily-Numidia.
After the first Campaign I had built a city in Sicily, taken total control of Numidia and had 5 influence and a Merchant in Egypt. I was earning close to 60 gold from influence and 50 from Egypt. Not too shabby. Unfortunately I was not generating many victory points.
Campaign II is a definite blur. I am fairly sure I just consolidated my hold in Africa/Sicily. I remember ending the campaign with about 60 unspent gold. Not too bad.
Campaign III was when I decided I had better start loosing this game. For some reason I obsessed on the fact that the player who controlled Italia was getting to grab a vote card after every vote. So I decided to build an army and march into Italia and claim the glory of Rome for myself. I built an army with 2 generals, Caesar, 2 catapults, 2 cavalry and like 16 infantry and three Triremes. First I took Southern Italy, then tried to march into the north. Unfortunately, at this point my opponent had built a city in Italia and a good sized army. I marched up north and began my assault. I did win, driving his leaders and killing most of his army, but at a great cost. Also, I lost Sicily with a city on it because I left it un-guarded. On my next turn I bought influence in Italia instead of rebuilding my army. Stupid. My opponent counter attacked and took it back. So, after an entire campaign spent on Italia I had nothing to show for it except two influence in Italia.
Campaign IV was similarly wasted on Italia. Fortunately I had enough income to rebuild a massive army and re-take it. Unfortunately one of my allies snuck in and leapfrogged to a lead and I couldn’t stop them. The game was eventually won by a guy that laid back and sniped up influence while armies pounded each other in Italy. I ended up with a solid second.
Always leave a city fully garrisoned. Unlike a regular province, it requires a massive effort to retake these, even from smaller forces.
Don’t obsess on the Italian voting engine. If I had relied on Bribed Senators and taking vote cards I could have taken away his advantage cheap.
Be sure to position yourself for some cheap Campaign Season IV points.
I look forward to my next game.