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Subject: Magic: The Conquest rss

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Kelsey Rinella
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I am proud to have opposed those who describe all who oppose them as "Tender Flowers" and "Special Snowflakes".
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Disclaimer: I seem to recall that a friend of mine found something like this on the internet at one point, or possibly in a magazine, but my attempts to track it down have led to other things instead. Perhaps it's buried in the search results somewhere, but in any case, these rules are highly adulterated to suit my own preferences.

Conquest is a way of making Magic a multi-session experience, in some ways like an epic wargame. The basic idea is very simple: assign Magic cards to each space on a large hexmap, have each player build a deck from the cards on hexes they control, and allow players to attack one another for control of the hexes, with each attack being played out as an entire duel between their decks, using standard Magic rules. This basic outline allows for very many incremental increases in complexity, however.

I've only ever started play by drafting hexes until all were gone, but other methods are possible. The simplest way to assign cards to hexes would be randomly, with one card per hex. More cards per hex make the board smaller and the game progress faster. Also, one of the players might make the board ahead of time, trying to maintain appropriate thematic continuity and a rough balance of power. One could also open sealed packs and assign them to hexes right away, thus avoiding any need for the person/people choosing the cardset to choose wisely for balance purposes.

There are many more interesting options for the attacks. The simplest option is to simply take turns, allowing each player to declare one attack per round. Another option would be simultaneous attack declarations (perhaps of more than one attack per player), with cards only changing hands between rounds. It is also possible to allow the situation in high-level strategy game to change the normal rules of the Magic game. One possibility is to allow a player a sort of annex to his/her hand, which includes one card from each hex s/he controls which neighbors the contested hex. Another would be to allow players to announce, not only attacks, but also areas of special defense, which provide some bonus during the duel if that hex is contested. The options here are really very open; please post replies with further suggestions!

I've only ever played with a static map which was fully partitioned at the beginning, but this is also alterable. One might allow an area to begin unexplored, or allow for board-changing events (the rise of a new species, or loss of the magical knowledge necessary to learn a particular spell). Similarly, the board could be only one source of cards--each player might have cards they keep no matter what, or each time a battle is won, a trophy is awarded, or players might simply play for ante.

Some advice on logistics: I have found it best if one player fronts all of the cards to be used, often someone with a large collection including many cards which would not normally see play. Just as with sealed deck and booster draft events, the power level of decks in Conquest is dramatically lower than in constructed Magic, so these cards have new life. For the initial setup, it seems to help to actually lay out the physical cards on a very large flat surface (usually the floor), in such a way that they correlate with their positions on the hexmap. In addition, some electronic file with the positions of all the cards should be emailed around ahead of time, so that the person who puts the map together has no great advantage, but having the cards laid out at first really does seem to help players make reasonable decisions about which hexes to draft. To keep the size of the map manageable, 3-5 cards should go with each hex.

When a player no longer has 40 cards available, or concedes the game, it seems best to redraft that player's hexes. Another alternative would be to leave them undefended, but this benefits the players bordering the defeated player to an unbalancing extent in my experience.
 
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Tony Piemonte
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I've done something similar to this...

We had 2 players and a 36 hex map. On each map was a random assortment of 3-5 cards. Each player started the league with the same deck of 100 cards to make 40 card decks. Then player A chose a map space, and a duel ensued. The winner of the duel won the cards in the space to add to his card pool. Then player B

Was tempted to run it with whole booster packs... but I was too cheap.
 
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Mark McEvoy
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I may be missing something here but... what purpose does the HEX MAP serve? With the exception of the "One possibility is to allow a player a sort of annex to his/her hand, which includes one card from each hex s/he controls which neighbors the contested hex" text (which seems more like an option than a central rule), I really don't see any reason for a 'spatial' representation of this power struggle at all.

The basic concept seems indistinguishable from a selected-ante campaign (where you just handpick the card(s) from your opponent that you choose to be at stake that match). Even if there's multiple-cards-per-"hex", you could work that by just writing the 'groupings' line by line on a sheet of paper and play with any given 'grouping' as ante.
 
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Byron Gehrig
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I like the concept of a magic game that is an epic campaign of two wizards dueling over vast stretches of territory. But, I don't think these rules quite capture it yet. I wish the hexes on the map (which they don't have to be hexes, they could be any shape - like risk territories if you so pleased) were some how connected to the players basic lands... This is the life blood of any wizard, their source of power. Perhaps each land corresponds to a territory on the board (There could be neutral territories as well, but I don't have rules for those). But, a player loose lands, it begins to erode away his mana base, and forces him to set aside cards from his deck. Maybe this campaign style could have a special rule for mana in your deck because mana problems would be more likely to occur is you are always loosing and gaining lands from your deck. Here is my suggestion:

Land Creation:
before the game begins, each player must have up to five basic lands set aside in a special pile. Any player on his turn, if he has not played a land this turn, may remove one card from his hand from the game (face down), and take any one basic land from this special pile, and put it into play. Next time a player wishes to do this, it costs him two cards from his hand to be removed from the game to "make" a basic land. And if the player wishes to do it a third time, it will cost three cards from his hand to be removed from the game. Or these costs could be payed with life, pay two life for each card you do not wish to remove from your hand face down.

The trouble with this whole system is... the player who keeps getting beat, keeps losing land and power. They will eventually loose. So how do you give a slight advantage to the guy who keeps loosing? Maybe give him and extra point of life to his life total each time he looses a territory (a hex). So, the closer you get to defeating your enemy, the stronger and stronger he gets (as far as health is concerned), but the less powerful his deck becomes. Obviously, each time you gain a land, you lose 1 point of your life total as well, but your life total can never go below 20 (this rules is if you start to recapture territory). This might work well.
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Aaron Tubb
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Fuquay Varina
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BAG BRO 2 wrote:
I like the concept of a magic game that is an epic campaign of two wizards dueling over vast stretches of territory. But, I don't think these rules quite capture it yet. I wish the hexes on the map (which they don't have to be hexes, they could be any shape - like risk territories if you so pleased) were some how connected to the players basic lands... This is the life blood of any wizard, their source of power. Perhaps each land corresponds to a territory on the board (There could be neutral territories as well, but I don't have rules for those).
I like this idea. Maybe each space could be a terrain type, most of the spaces being a basic land, but some territories being special lands (like Quicksand, Fairy Conclave, Treetop Village, etc.).

At the beginning of the game, players draft cards using some draft format (like Winston, or similar, but possibly using more than 45 cards per player), and then players choose starting territories to claim (like in RISK). Players then put the land for each space they control into their deck. Decks can be as large or small as players want, but their deck must contain all their lands; they can add as many spells from their draft pile as desired.

When a player conqueres a space, he takes the corresponding land card from the other player. Players can tweak their decks between matches (probably removing spells if they lost land or adding spells if they gained land).

Possible win conditions are:
a) Conquering a set number of spaces, like 75% of the board.
b) Conquering the opponent's "Capital" space. Each player could have a space designated as his "Capital" or "Wizard's Tower" or something.

Other ideas:
-A Wizard's Tower must be placed on a basic land space. That space counts as 5 lands instead of 1 for their deck. This can give players more control over what type of basic land dominates their deck. When a player is defending his "Wizard's Tower" in a match, one of his lands corresponding to the space starts in play (the defending player has an advantage in his own Tower).

-Optionally, players can choose not to use all their land at once. If using this rule, decks must have at least 40 cards. (should probably use this with the Wizard's Tower rule)

-During a match, the specific land being fought over is placed in play at the start of the match, and it usable by both players. It is also untapped at the beginning of both players' turns. This could give players slight advantages when fighting on their "preferred terrain type" and could make land destruction, cursed land, landwalk, and creatures restricted to attacking players with specific lands more interesting. (of course, the land recovers after the match if it is destroyed/cursed during the match). Optionally, only basic lands follow this rule; special lands stay in the owner's deck until the space is conquered.

-After every several rounds, players will draft a small number of cards. For example, every couple games, a player draws 4 new cards, chooses 1 to keep, the other player picks 2 to keep and the first player keeps the last card. This way, the war slowly escelates and both players' decks slightly grow in power over time.

Just some thoughts. Sounds pretty cool.
 
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