Vana'diel is a land torn by conflict. Concealed within its enchanting forests, arid deserts, and lush tropical jungles lies a threat too powerful for any one nation to combat alone. The Crystal War has ended, but the beastmen still wander the many regions of Vana'diel, posing a threat to travelers. The three main nations of Vana'diel seek to secure these regions, not just from wandering beastmen, but from each other, as well. Although technically allies, it is no secret that these nations seek to expand their own borders to grow in power and wealth. However, involving their respective armies in such a conflict could lead to a full blown-out war between these nations. Luckily, the nations have found a way to expand their borders and make it seem as nothing more than civil competition between their citizens. This is where you come in. Seeking to secure these regions without involving their own military forces, the three main nations of Vana'diel have enlisted the aid of adventurers to keep the beastmen population in check, and help them achieve ultimate conquest.
The conquest system is a system as old as FFXI itself. It may seem strange to talk about it, especially if you're a veteran player and know that this system is no longer as "popular" as it once was. However, the core importance of the system has not been lost, and an overview of the system may seem helpful, especially to newer players. The conquest system involves four "factions:" The beastmen, Windurst, Bastok, and San d'Oria. These factions struggle to seize control over the many regions of Vana'diel. Whenever a player defeats a monster that provides experience points, that player's nation will also receive a certain amount of influence in that region. The more experience points you gain, the more influence your nation will have over that region. Conversely, if a player is defeated by a monster, the beastmen will start to gain influence in that region. Calling the beastmen a "faction" may be misleading, as they do not actively take part in the conquest system by hunting players. More often than not, beastmen control over a region does not indicate monsters' success in defeating players, but players neglecting that particular area completely.
When will a nation be able to see the fruits of their labor? When will a specific region finally come under their control? Every Monday at midnight(Japan time), the server will start calculating all the nations' influence in every region on the conquest map. After a few minutes, the results will be tallied. At this point, you can go to "Region Info." on your main menu, click on "Conquest" and be able to see your nation's current standing in the balance of power, as well as check to see which regions your nation now controls. If your nation had the most influence in a region, it will come under their control. Now your nation controls the Zulkheim region. Congratulations! So what do you get from all this?
There are several benefits to having a region under your nation's control. For starters, your nation will place several guards in the region. They're merely decorative, but they do have some functions. However, don't expect them to help if you find yourself suddenly overwhelmed by a massive horde of furious crabs or rabid vermin. Each region has an outpost. These outposts house a couple of NPCs that provide special services based on your nation's influence in the region. For example, there will be a guard there that will cast signet on players belonging to the nation that has control over the area, and will also allow you to set your homepoint in that zone for free. If your nation does not control that region, you will still be able to set your homepoint there, but it will cost you an amount of gil determined by your current rank. As well as the guard, there will be a curious-looking fellow standing nearby who will offer additional services. If your nation controls that particular region, he will be able to sell you items, and buy from you. If your nation does not control that region, you can trade him equipment in exchange for giving your nation a little more influence in that area. This NPC has one last function: teleporting you to your home nation. In order to be able to use this service, however, you must first deliver some supplies to the outpost in question. To obtain these supplies speak to one of the guards in your nation while your nation holds control over that specific region. Note that you only have to do this "supply run" once per region. The only time you may have to repeat these supply runs is if you change your allegiance to another nation. Once you have completed this supply run, you will be able to teleport from your home nation and back to these outposts for an amount of gil determined by whether or not your nation controls the area. The last benefit provided by your nation owning a region is being able to import goods from that region. NPCs in your home nation will sell goods from regions your nation has under its control.
Now that we've discussed what benefits you receive if your nation controls a single region, let's take a look at the bigger picture. What if your nation controls more regions than every other nation participating in the conquest? This brings a whole set of benefits, as well. For starters: bragging rights. If your friends picked Bastok as their nation because they don't like elves or trees, then you can laugh at them for almost always being in third place. This alone is enough of a benefit. What? You want to know the other benefits? Fine. If you've been doing some missions, and have obtained a rank or two then by now you probably know you can purchase items from the guards in your nation(or Jeuno). Each nation has gear that is unique to them available through these guards. However, if your nation ranks above another one, you can visit their guards to purchase some of their unique items. If your nation ranks above all others in the balance of power, then you are able to purchase items from guards of all the other nations. If two or all nations tie in the conquest, they are not able to purchase these items from each other.
By now you're probably ready to get out there and start conquering in the name of your nation, but I haven't told you how to do that yet. It's actually very simple. To take part in the conquest, you must first obtain a signet. Signet can be obtained from guards belonging to your nation, or the guards in Jeuno. There is only one exception to this rule: when a nation becomes too powerful and controls more than half the regions in Vana'diel, the remaining two nations will form an alliance. Allied nations will be able to obtain signet from guards of either nation. How long your signet lasts depends on your rank, but even at Rank 1, your signet lasts for a pretty long time. Once your signet's on, all you really have to do is get out there and start hunting monsters. You can do so in a party, or you can do this on your own. As long as the target monsters provide experience, you will be adding your nation's influence to that region. You will also obtain conquest points. Conquest points will allow you to purchase the afore mentioned items. If you fight in a region not controlled by your nation, you will receive more conquest points than if you fought in one that is controlled by your nation. In addition to conquest points, having a signet enables you to receive crystals from fallen foes in regions controlled by any nation. If a region is under beastmen control, you cannot obtain crystals, even if your signet is on.
Lastly, there is something else that you should know about the conquest system at this point in time: it is often completely random. A nation's main source of influence in a region is experience. Most people do not level solo, however, and as such you'll usually be in groups with people that have a different allegiance. This means that in most cases, whether a specific region will come under your nation's control or not is out of your control. Unless you were to gather groups of same-nation adventurers to fight in a specific area that grants them high amounts of experience, and had them hunt there for hours, it will usually come down to chance. It would be difficult to try to gather these same-nation adventurers, as well, seeing as the rewards are usually not worth the effort. Most people currently playing, if they care about regional control at all, it's only so that they can do a supply run there and be able to teleport to and from that outpost. It is my hope that what I have written will be of some help to newer players who may have questions about the conquest system. Most people these days take that knowledge for granted, and questions about it are rare. Still, if you are a new player and have some questions about the conquest system, there is certainly more information here than on the manual. Additionally, you should know what to expect from the system. It can help you get some items without having to spend gil on them, and it is a handy way to get around Vana'diel, if nothing more.