All Conquering

The resource pack behind the best medieval builds!

“I’m a big sucker for medieval things,” says Stefan ‘Monsterfish’ Krein. He’s responsible for the Conquest resource pack - and part of the team behind the related Conquest Reforged mod - which transform the textures of Minecraft to create a world of ancient beauty. It’s been used in a number of the builds we’ve featured on this site - allowing builders an expanded palette of naturalistic landscape textures and manmade structures that offer a rustic, old-world charm.

“The inspiration I had for this style was the game Stronghold,” says Stefan. “It was a medieval RTS developed by Firefly Studios. I played that for way too large a part of my life, and I really fell in love with the aesthetics. It had the realistic touch of how the world really was back then, but had a comedic factor to it - a mixture of the romantic and the funny - to soften it up around the edges so you didn’t feel totally disgusted by what happened actually in medieval times. Those are all aspects of the Conquest pack. We have a realistic approach, but it’s also stylised - it just looks ‘better’ than reality, to a degree.”

Perhaps one of the most striking demonstrations of the pack’s naturalism were these comparison shots Stefan created, in which he recreated beautiful photos using the Conquest textures.

Stefan’s recreation of Blaise Cottage in Somerset is particularly impressive, showing off Conquest’s capabilities in creating vegetation and stone work.

The photo is by Reddit user Maezel of one of the waterfalls to be found on the Milford Track in New Zealand. Conquest allows a pretty close recreation!

In fact, most of the builds I’ve seen using the pack position themselves as things to look at, rather than play, but the pack supports rejigged mobs for the purposes of survival mode, too. That’s where the humour comes in, as Stefan explains: “It’s not everywhere but - how to put this? - some portions of the pack, don’t quite play into reality. You have the Villagers, which have these giant noses, like balloons almost.”

It’s an injection of caricature into the otherwise bucolic landscape that feels like perfect comic foil for something that might otherwise be too self-serious. But these mobs do also have the purpose of making the game “as Survival-friendly as possible”. In fact, it’s a surprisingly adaptable pack, used by the community in various ways which Stefan didn’t necessarily predict:

“Someone has actually made some science fiction things with the pack which are extremely astonishing,” says Stefan. “I was blown away when I saw them at first; I was really not prepared to see my textures being used in that way, but it was fantastic! It’s not just the intention that people go for what the texture was made for. I myself have built steampunk with the Conquest pack - I’ve built Asian-themed worlds – just like with default Minecraft, it’s really about how you use the textures to work for you in certain situations.”

Builds that focus on landscape often use Conquest for its huge range of naturalistic foliage. It does dense, untamed woodland very well indeed!

Interior detail is also a speciality of the pack - from rustic cabins to castles, with roaring fires, hanging herbs, wine cellars and well-stocked scroll rooms!

Conquest as it was conceived to be used: making medieval mega-builds! Additional texture variations are enabled by using the clever Optifine mod.

Stefan’s own Japanese-themed build shows some of the versatility that Conquest allows - still medievalism, but non-culturally specific medievalism!

Stefan also started work on a Steampunk build which made use of the texture pack - but alas had to be abandoned due to changes in 1.8. Sorry!

Stranger uses of the Conquest texture pack include this giant levitating whale, made by Helenabe. Look closely - it’s made from all sorts of stone.

PatrixCraft has also used the Conquest pack to unusual effect in a number of science fiction builds - including this range of elaborate mechs and vehicles.

However, one of my favourite builds using Conquest does indeed use the textures as originally intended: to explore the medieval world. It’s called A Castle: Rise and Fall, and it’s one of Stefan’s own projects. It tracks the construction of a medieval castle across time in meticulous detail - before seeing it under siege, destroyed, left derelict and then, much later, a ruin in the modern day.

It’s a rather brilliant and informative build, that uses Minecraft to demonstrate at least three or four separately fascinating things. First you see first-hand the practicalities of building such an ambitious structure in the days before forklift trucks and motorised cranes. And then you understand the purpose behind the castle’s design - its forbidding presence; its defensive capabilities - before witnessing its failure and how the remaining structures slowly collapsed. Oh, and it looks pretty, too. It’s worth taking a look at Stefan’s full gallery, here.

Currently the texture pack only works with the 1.7 build of Minecraft - for technical reasons, later builds of the game forced us to remove the junk data values which the pack had been exploiting to create custom textures. Since then Conquest has flourished as a mod, Conquest Reforged, which, supported by many contributors, is able to extend the number of blocks available to the player without limitation.

Expect to see many more builds powered by Conquest on these pages! In the meantime, feast like a tubby medieval king on some more juicy screenshots!