With the units finally out of the way, we can move onto the last leg of this review with the secondary elements which help to define the Deepkin on the battlefield. Like most of the recent armies, the books have pushed to make them as diverse and varied as possible. At least in theory. Like a few others, the book does suffer from a few repeated ideas and reworked concepts from previous battletomes. You can expect those to be addressed as we go along.
Forgotten Nightmares: This is a rather useful one in many regards, as it only allows enemy missile weapons to target the nearest Deepkin units. This is obviously the closest one to the shooting unit in question, and it only applies to those with this specific battle trait. This can be used to force your opponent to only target the unit you want them to, however, and to maintain a level of protection that ensures the bulk of your army will get into battle. Well, unless you're facing someone like the Overlords who have enough firepower to wipe out units one at a time with a few good dice rolls. Overall, however, it's an interesting ability which does alter the dynamic of the game.
The others are linked into the Tides of Death table below:
1 - Low Tide: This allows all units with this trait to count as if they are in cover. It's good, but there are a few ways to disable or overcome this one, meaning against some armies its effect can be negligible.
2 - Flood Tide: This is a very interesting one as it allows all units present which run to shoot or charge in the same turn. They cannot do both, however, and this does mean it's likely to be on the receiving end of an errata at some point. I can see how this could be utilised to quickly maneuver an entire army.
3 - High Tide: Noticing a theme yet? This one is a bit more useful in many places, as it allows the Deepkin units with this trait to immediately go first in melee that turn. This overrides almost anything else, and you prioritize those with this benefit before moving onto the others. It's very situational, and it's not something you would want in the early turns, but in mid-to-late-game, this could be very beneficial to weakened forces or the much more lightly armoured units of the army.
4 - Ebb Tide: This is the other half of the Flood Tide, but it only grants the same effects to those in retreat. It's not a bad idea in question but it's so extremely situational and works with certain key moments, that you would be lucky for it to truly come up in a worthwhile way.
5+ - Repeat the above.
Overall,, not that great. We have seen better and while I do personally like the ideas behind a few of these, they seem as if they need more refinement and reworking to better use in games as a whole. It just needs to be less of something that only arises once in a while.
1 - Merciless Raider: The Command Traits are often where you see general bonuses and benefits arise, and they tend to be the one most repeated from book to book. As such, when this one introduces a re-roll run and charge option, it's not all that much of a surprise. I do like the fact that it covers run as well, so it's not useless with non-melee leaders, and it can work with a wide variety of choices. That said, I wish we had seen something a little more original.
2 - Hunter of Souls: Re-roll wounds of 1 for the general. Same comment as above, though I am left wondering if this stacks with other benefits to allowing multiple re-rolls. If not then it's something which is a superfluous addition to the leader in question.
3 - Unstoppable Fury: Far, far too situational again, as this only works a small faction of the time. The leader gains two attacks with any weapon in melee, but it only works on a round where High Tide is in effect. So you might be lucky to get this off once or perhaps twice in a game, and even then you might not be in melee at the time.
4 - Born From Agony: Increases the wounds of your leader by 2. Definitely much more useful and, while a little bland, enhanced survivability is nothing to ever look down on. Especially when it offsets the like of Mortal Wounds somewhat.
5 - Nightmare Legacy: Subtract 1 from the Bravery stat of anyone hostile within 12" of the leader. On the one hand, this is again something that the Deepkin have plenty of, and it's not entirely clear if this stacks with other abilities at work. On the other, so many of those come with a note that they do not work on Deepkin, whereas this one lacks that specific shortcoming. So, in some battles it might prove to be a very beneficial attribute in forcing troops to break in a fight.
6 - Lord of Storm and Sea: Add 2 to the Bravery stat of friendly Deepkin units within 12" of your leader. Definitely the best of the lot, given how fragile many of the Deepkin tend to be and how thin their numbers can become. Against a smaller but much better armoured force, this could be enough to truly turn the tide.
As above, there are one or two good ones in here, but a fair few are quite flawed. It definitely needed to be reworked somewhat for overall use in the game.
1 - Sanguine Pearl: This first one is a basic save, which allows your leader to shrug off blows with an additionally beneficial roll. Each time you take a wound or Mortal Wound in melee you roll a dice, and on a 5+ it's ignored. Given how many various units can easily inflict mortal Wounds, it's a good fall-back option to try and ensure your leader's survival.
2 - Potion of Hateful Frenzy: This is a one-shot item, which can only be utilised on the hero phase of a game. For the rest of that turn, your leader gains +1 to hits and wounds throughout the rest of the turn to all situations. However, your leader promptly suffers from a single Mortal Wound in the following turn, meaning that this is somewhat akin to the combat drugs typically used by the Dark Eldar.
3 - Ankusha Spur: A curious one to be sure, the spur adds an additional 3" to your leader's movement while also allowing them to re-roll 1s when his or her mount attacks a foe.
4 - Armour of Cythai: Going from previous works, you're probably guessing exactly what this one does from the outset. Well, you're not entirely right. This isn't a direct improvement to their save or even limiting them to taking only one wound per turn, but it instead forces enemy units targeting anyone with this armour to strike at a -1 result. This isn't a bad addition due to the fact it doesn't override your normal save or usual defenses of any kind. So, you can still have a heavily armoured nightmare of the deep but he's much more difficult to hit.
5 - Bio-Shock Shell: No, sadly, this doesn't turn your leader to fire bees from his hands, but it is a rather nice addition to the army as a whole. This carries the same usual bio-electric attack that the Deepkin mounts retain, inflicting D3 Mortal Wounds on any enemy unit within 3" of the person holding this, but it can also double up on that.
6 - Abyssal Blade: It's a weapon with +1 Rend, with the blade's stats sharing that of one weapon carried by the leader. Plus it has an additional point of damage to any unit which is aligned with Slaanesh (well, has that keyword anyway).
On the whole, this is more along the lines of what we should have had for the traits. It's a way of offsetting certain key weaknesses and giving them more of an edge in terms of their capabilities.
1 - Rune of the Surging Tide: This is another one-shot creation which can only be utilised on a single occasion per game. Once it is activated, you need to state whether you're creating a stream or riptide, as they have different effects. The former adds 1" to your movement and those of all friendly Deepkin models. The latter removes 1" from the movement to all enemy units. Not bad exactly, and it has a few uses, but it's one most will likely pass on for obvious reasons.
2 - Black Pearl: This is, unfortunately, a somewhat worse version of the Sanguine Pearl. While it isn't limited to melee, it offers only a 6+ save compared to a 5+ and only works for the bearer. It's worth skipping this in favour of most of the others.
3 - Lliandra's Last Lament: Try saying that three times as fast. This is another single-use option, and one which does actually have an odd benefit to it. This is activated during the Battleshock phase, and immediately prevents all friendly Deepkin units within 18" from having to take battleshock tests for that turn. As such, it requires planning, prediction, and timing to make use of it - and has the downside of requiring your spellcaster to stand close to the front lines - but it means you can keep engaged at close range and offset the downside of more than a few abrupt losses.
4 - Terrornight Venom: It's poison. You re-roll wounds which have a 1 result, and remove one from the Bravery stat of enemy units.
5 - Cloud of Midnight: Yet another one-shot creation, this prevents the figure which activates it from being targeted for spells. While I do think that this one, above all others, should have had a 6-8" radius to it, this is still an extremely powerful option. The downside is that the hero himself cannot do anything save move during this phase, but that's a small price to pay in some regards.
6 - Whorlshell: Once per battle (AGAIN!) you can have the bearer use this item. If they are within 9" of an enemy hero, then you roll 2D6 and see if it exceeds their Bravery stat. If it does, then all hits are at -1 for the rest of the turn for that hero. Not bad, and I do like the use of an additional mechanic to get it off, but this feels like it should have had more impact. There are more than a few which have similar effects but without that same risk of failure, and it seems weighted in favour of use against weaker targets.
I'll say simply this - I like one shot relics, as they require more skill to know when to use them. This was going a bit too far though.
Yes, there are more than two sheets of artefacts to keep track of in this book. Four actually, which is likely intended to give players more options to help cover all their bases for a fragile army and work to offer them a multitude of options.
1 - Steelshell Pearl: Welcome to another version of the Sanguine Pearl. It's 5+ once again and this time it only works with missile weapons. Given you want the Isharanns to mostly stay out of combat, that's hardly a bad thing.
2 - Mind Flare: At the start of a combat phase - once per battle - you can force a unit to strike at -1 to hit if they are within 3" of the bearer. Pass.
3 - Dritchleech: This is one of the better defensive options on here, despite one issue. It has an 18" range, and if an enemy wi
4 - Auric Lantern: At the start of a shooting phase, you can pick an enemy unit within 18" and for the rest of that turn they do not benefit from cover saves of any kind. This is a good one to have, especially if you can pair it up with a rapid assault of some kind.
5 - Disharmony Stones: Once per battle (How many more of these are there!?) you may activate this within the hero phase. This only works if you have one to two enemy heroes within 12" of the person carrying it. Interestingly though, it does offer a multitude of possible outcomes or options on how to proceed:
- Roll a D6 for each hero picked. If you get a 3+ result, then they immediately suffer a single Mortal Wound.
- Roll a dice for each hero picked, on a 5+ then they suffer D3 Mortal Wounds each.
- Each hero picked suffers D3 Mortal Wounds, then roll an additional dice. On a 4+ then the bearer suffers D3 wounds.
This could work well if you are facing down multiple melee based enemy heroes at close range.
6 - Brain Barnacles: At the start of your hero phase, you pick out a hero within 12" of the bearer and roll 2D6. If the roll is equal to or better than the range rolled, then the enemy hero is afflicted by this horrifying creation of the depths, and operates at -1 to hit in shooting, melee and casting spells. This is the best of the lot, as it works for the rest of the entire game.
1 - Arcane Pearl: Again, it's the Sanguine bloody Pearl, but it only works on Mortal Wounds at a 5+. Something tells me that the original one was the best.
2 - Sands of Infinity: Guess what? Yep, it's another once per battle option on here. In fairness there's a good reason why with this one, as if it were spammble then it would be broken. Before casting a spell where the effects normally last until your next hero phase, you declare that this is in play. If you get the spell off, then it lasts until the hero phase after next. Given how many buffs, benefits and effects spells offer, this is easily one of the most useful of the bunch.
3 - Coral Ring: Re-roll a failed casting roll for the bearer. This is only once per battle though. This can also be done for unbinding a spell if you failed the roll. Interestingly, the wording implies that it's once for each, meaning that it's a bit more useful than a few other options here.
4 - Bauble of Buoyancy: The bearer can fly, and the results of running are immediately doubled. Awesome.
5 - Kraken Tooth: This can be used within the shooting phase and has only a 12" range, so long as they are within sight of the caster. If this is possible, then roll a dice for the following results:
1 - The item backfires and the one using it suffers from D3 Mortal Wounds
2-5 - The enemy unit suffers D3 Mortal Wounds.
6 - Pick one model within the enemy unit. If they have less than 10 wounds then they are instantly slain, or 2D6 mortal wounds if they have ten or more.
6 - Augury Shells: So, want to guess what affect this has attached to it? Yep, it's another one-shot item. At the start of your hero phase, roll 1D6. You can then use that result as that of a casting roll for the bearer, or as the result of an unbinding roll for an enemy wizard when attempting to unbind the spell. You must specify which before enacting its effects though.
Spells (The Lore of the Deeps)
1 - Steed of Tides (Casting value 5): If cast then pick a hero within 6" which isn't monster. Remove that modle from the battlefield and teleport them 24" from its previous location, so long as they are 9" away from enemy models. This counts as their movement. It could be useful for teleporting someone powerful behind enemy lines, to cause havoc among artillery units.
2 - Abyssal Darkness (Casting value 5): All friendly Deepkin within 9" of the caster count as being hidden behind cover until the next hero phase.
3 - Vorpal Maelstrom (Casting value 6): Pick a point within 18" of the caster which is visible to the spellcaster. Roll a dice for every unit within 3" of that point, and if the roll is less than or equal to the number of models within it they suffer D3 wounds. Useful against blobs of Stormcast Eternals, and it has no fail result. Good on the whole
4 - Pressure of the Deep (Casting value 7): Pick an enemy model within 12" of the caster, then roll a dice. If the result is greater than the model's total wounds characteristic, then it is immediately slain. It's powerful, but thankfully difficult to pull off for obvious reasons.
5 - Tide of Fear (Casting value 6): Pick an enemy unit within 12" which is visible to them. If your spell is successful, then they suffer a -1 to hit and -1 Bravery until the next hero phase.
6 - Arcane Corrasion (Casting value 6): Pick the closest enemy unit within 48" of the caster. As you might guess from the extreme range, how close the opposing unit is to them influences the strength of the spell in question. however, it actually gets stronger the further away it is:
0-12" - Inflict 1 Mortal Wound.
12-24" - Inflict 2 Mortal Wounds.
24-36" - Inflict 3 Mortal Wounds.
36-48" - Inflict 4 Mortal Wounds.
This is the sort of creativity and mixed up workings that Age of Sigmar works best with, especially when they so frequently favour fast-paced skirmish games.
These are the prayers of the army, and they have a few interesting effects as a result of this.
Ritual of Erosion: This again removes the benefit of cover from enemy units, leaving them open to charges and ranged attacks.
Ritual of Rousing: The ritual in question is a fairly useful one, as it heals a wound on the local Eidolon, and allows you to re-roll their hit and casting rolls.
Ritual of the Tempest: Enemy models cannot fly for that turn. Yep, simple as that.
Whereas the spells are more useful as they serve as more direct methods of offsetting direct weaknesses, flaws and tactics which are most viable against this army.
There are a few steps back here and a few forward. The sheer volume of one-shot items and throw-away abilities is frustrating, as it means that there is no second chance for the player to attempt the same tactic twice. More irritatingly still, as mentioned above there are a few key rules are repeated multiple times throughout the book and have been put in place of something more creative. The Deepkin definitely show promise, and they will definitely be quite competitive against most armies, but they definitely need to be refined in the future.