The game mode Conquest revolves around the control of uplinks on the map. The objective is to control a majority of uplinks and defend them from enemy attack until the timer expires.
In contrast to assault or siege, conquest forces the player to spread out somewhat if they want to ensure that the enemy can't flank them and steal uplinks. This makes it a very fluid gametype, as the game can swing from one player's favor to another as quickly as an uplink can be captured, especially on maps with few uplinks like Dukovany, which has only three.
Canonically, this game mode arises from the need to circumvent the SLAMS system in orbit. The attacking faction first uses electronic warfare to disable the satellite overlooking the region, giving them a window of opportunity to send in their special forces to secure and reboot the uplink system. They must hold the uplinks long enough for the SLAMS system to come back online in their favor, whereupon their faction's high command will vector in heavy support to secure the area without danger of being intercepted by the missile shield.
A match of Conquest can end in one of three ways:
- One side captures and holds a majority of the uplinks on the map for 5 minutes
- All uplinks on the map are held by a single player, ending the game immediately
- One player has no remaining combat-effective units on the map for 10 seconds (annihilation)
The player might choose either of these goals as their objective, depending on their style of play.
The uplinks themselves are resilient, but not indestructible. Any unit can be ordered to attack and destroy an uplink. This will disable whatever mission support it was providing for the opposing player, which can be devastating. Typically, artillery will be ordered to shell an uplink from a distance. This is because the enemy will have more trouble finding and disabling the artillery to stop the attack, plus the shelling will cause heavy damage to any infantry who might try to access the uplink, often shutting down any attempt at capture and slowing down the enemy advance. Contrarily, WMDs will destroy any uplink within their blast radius instantly, as well as any unit taking cover in them.
Destroying an uplink does not remove it from the map, nor from the number of uplinks a player controls. Uplinks that have been destroyed can still be secured by infantry, and will still provide the captor with 4 command points upon capture. On maps like Grissom AFB, where most of the uplinks are destroyed at the start of the game, all the uplinks are still vitally important for their command point bonus and their count towards the majority needed to win.
The game will enter DEFCON once either side captures a majority of the uplinks or starts running out of reserves. Since the losing side gets the use of WMDs first, and the ability to crash an uplink and remove it from the map completely, it becomes a viable defensive tactic to wait until the enemy captures the majority to enter DEFCON 1, then crash an important uplink. This works especially well on maps with an odd number of uplinks, where crashing an uplink will immediately bring the opposing player back to only half of the uplinks controlled, halting the countdown. Experienced players will prepare for this tactic, however, and simultaneously attack two uplinks in such situations.
Due to the importance of capturing a majority of uplinks, once DEFCON is reached, the player holding the majority would be well-advised to wait until the enemy begins capturing an uplink to tip the balance back in their favor. Dropping the WMD on that uplink will automatically disable the unit attempting to capture, buying precious minutes while the enemy mounts another attempt, as the timer still runs down.
When in dire straits, and especially in DEFCON where units cost half as many points to deploy, Deep Strike can be a valuable tool in capturing uplinks behind enemy lines. Since securing an uplink grants 4 points, this could lead to a chain of Deep Strikes and subsequent uplink captures, depending on how many points are reserved. When Deep Striking, try to focus on uplinks that have been protected by combat drones (indicated by a white lining around the uplink icon on the map), as it hints that there might be an engineer garrison (riflemen can successfully engage combat drones and engineers, especially if they get into cover quickly). If the Deep Strike is against an uplink that has riflemen defending it, chances of success are low. Bear in mind that if the enemy has a large number of units on the frontline, chances are low that any individual uplink will have any units defending it, making him more vulnerable to this tactic.
Force recon will also prove useful as a defensive ploy in this mode, especially if the player has access to levels 2 or 3, where tank units are present. This is effective prevention for deep striking, since regular army units can be positioned well behind the frontline in vulnerable areas. For the Spetsnaz, force recon is an especially useful tactic as it provides insurance against a fast JSF/EFEC flanking attack by distributing firepower around the map. Since force recon can only be used in one area and cannot be ordered to move to a new location, it is less effective on maps with many uplinks, and extremely effective on maps with few.
Flanking the enemy will be most effective if it is done at least in part with infantry, as the battle will most likely be concentrated around a single line on the map, enabling a sneaky assault around the side with infantry to capture unguarded uplinks. Since the conquest game mode is predicated on capturing the uplinks rather than destroying hostiles, this can crush a more powerful enemy, especially if it consists of engineers who can get into cover and prepare for a counterattack.