A Hive of Scum and Villainy--A Double-Take Review of Warhammer 40K: Conquest: The Great Devourer

Today on Theology of Games we're reviewing the first big-box expansion for Warhammer 40K: Conquest: The Great Devourer. This is all about the Tyranids--a hive race so single-mindedly intent on killing everything in sight that they can't ally with any other Faction in the game. Let's see how they play!

We're going to assume you're already familiar with the way the game plays. If you're not, you can read our review of the base game here

If it's one thing we've LOVED about Warhammer 40K: Conquest, it's that they're constantly adding new ideas to mix up the way the game plays. Not overwhelming new rules, but just enough to be intriguing and make you want to try them out. 

In the Tyranids, the big change--other than not being able to ally with any other Factions--is the introduction of Synapse units. When you choose a Warlord, you also choose a Synapse unit, which also goes to HQ. When you commit your Warlord to a planet, you also commit your Synapse unit, thanks to a special double command dial. It doesn't have to go to the same planet as your Warlord. Synapse units return to HQ each turn, just like Warlords. 

Firestone--Those Synapse units are a pain in the butt to play against. It's tough enough figuring out where the Warlord is going, but now I have to figure out where another heavy hitter is going, too. 

Another new addition is the ability to Infect a planet. Some cards let you Infect a planet, and then some give you abilities specifically on Infected planets. 

Firestone--This is a cool idea, but I wish they'd done a bit more with it. There are only a few cards that Infest, and they're expensive. So I felt like my resources would be better spent elsewhere. 

The Great Devourer comes with two Warlords.

Old One-Eye has a Reaction that lets you remove half of his damage after he readies.

The Swarmlord's Reaction is that after he commits to a planet, you put one Termagant token on each adjacent planet. 

In addition to a giant pile of Tyranid cards, each Faction gets a few new cards. 

The Verdict

Firestone--The Tyranids really feel like a horrifying bug race, spreading out everywhere they can in an effort to eat your face off. 

Jeremiah--Yes. It just goes to show how well thought out the game is. The Faction wheel in the base game has them on their own with no connected allies. You're on your own with them but the addition of the Synapse units and invasion tokens and Termagant tokens add some great depth to this ravenous faction!

Firestone--I appreciate that they included new cards for the other Factions. They're committed to giving you options with this game, and I'm having fun experimenting with it all.

Jeremiah--I pretty much play Conquest with just one of my gaming friends. And every time we play it, we like it more. There are a few nice cards for some of the other factions in this expansion as well. Because there are basically two of us that play the game I don't know how long it will before we get to really deeply use all of the factions, but I love that the game is so robust I definitely feel like I'm getting my money's worth!!

Firestone--Some people are saying the Tyranids are underpowered. I've looked at the data, and I agree that the Command cost is off--especially when you consider they can't even add in other Faction cards. And they're one of the most expensive Factions, too. But you know what? I don't play competitively. I play with friends. So I'm looking for fun, and the Tyranids are fun. And I hate playing against them, which is also a compliment. 

Jeremiah--For a deluxe expansion The Great Devourer really doesn't add any HUGE wrinkles to the base game. The biggest addition is the Synapse unit; beyond that there are a few tweaks here and there... I'm not saying this as a negative! I love that the game still "feels" completely like the base game with a few cool abilities for this new faction, I didn't have to chuck everything I knew about the game out the window! 

Firestone--Yeah, but those additions are thematic. The details make the Tyranids really feel like a hive mind: moving out, infesting, sending out small bugs, terrifying you with big bugs. Bone Sabres!

Jeremiah--It's hard to believe, but the Tyranids actually make the Warhammer 40K universe seem even more brutal and violent! Whoah. Just let that sink in for a minute...  

Firestone--They're bugs! What do you expect?!

Firestone's Final Verdict--I'm not a good enough player to care about the minutia of the Tyranids being slightly underpowered. All I know is I LOVE playing the Tyranids. They're brutal and thematic and a great, fun addition to this game. 

Jeremiah's Final Verdict--The Great Devourer is EXACTLY what I look for in an LCG expansion! More cards for my existing decks, and a pile of cards to start something new without breaking the game! They got the base game right, so they aren't trying to fix it with expansions, just make it better--and The Great Devourer does that!

Thanks for reading! Are you playing Warhammer 40K: Conquest? What do you like about it? And what is your favorite Faction??

Theology of Games would like to thank Fantasy Flight Games for providing review copies of The Great Devourer. This in no way affected our opinions of the game.