The Deepkin are another in the line of armies which emphasises speed and mobility over taking hits. We have had a fair few of these now, but to the credit of Games Workshop, few of them play in the same way. Afterall, everything from the Sylvaneth to the Overlords can count as this playstyle, and yet both of them have vastly different ways of winning their battles. That and one has arrows while the other has guns.
The Deepkin here maintains more of an emphasis upon mounted attacks backed by light infantry. This is largely evident thanks to the presence of flying sharks, moray eels, and the odd turtle, but it manages to avoid falling into the same niche as other armies. In broad strokes, it's akin to fielding a jetbike centric Craftworld Eldar army, with light infantry moving alongside them. There is much more of an emphasis placed on keeping the right unit in generally the right place in a formation over fast-moving assault lines or swarming individual squads one after the other. So, let's get into the nitty-gritty behind these models then.
Eidolon of Mathlann
The Eidolon serves as the single big gun of the army, the massive monster which can shrug off multiple blows and still dish them out. For the most part it does live up to this requirement, with a 3+ save and 12 Wounds granting it some much-needed durability, while Bravery 10 means it can serve as an essential gathering point for an assault. Plus, there's the added benefit of the fact it can fly. However, what is interesting is that there are two entirely different variants of the Eidolon present within the list, one emphasising melee (Aspect of the Storm) while the other places a greater emphasis on magic and support (Aspect of the Sea). Both are still capable of dishing out plenty of damage by direct means, with plenty of 3 attack weapons hitting on a 3+ and wounding on 2+ and 3+, but their abilities are notably different.
The Aspect of the Storm benefits from a notably stronger set of basic weapons with Fuathtar (a 2" spear) and the Crulhook (a 1" melee weapon) offer four attacks each. They hit at 3+ and 2+ respectively, with 2+ and 3+ to wound as well. Combine that with a rend value of -2 and -1 and you're going to be chewing through most things. Crashing Down Upon the Foe also grants the ability to re-roll results of 1 when you're trying to hit a target, and an extra point of damage to Fuathtar. This isn't noted to already be accounted for in the stats line, so until the errata you can be causing 3 damage with each strike. The ability to heal D3 wounds following a charge also means that you can keep it in the thick of battle.
Drench of Hate also allows it to grant its same re-roll rule to all friendly Deepkin units within 9" of it, while Pulled into the Depths means that it can subtract 1 from hit rolls against a single declared enemy hero within 3".
The Aspect of the Sea, meanwhile, swaps out Fuathtar and Crulhook for a Psi-trident and Deep-sea Sceptre. They fulfil the same overall role, but are notably weaker in terms of basic stats. Atop of this, however, it also gains the ability to use Blasts of Abyassal Energy. This is a 15" attack which can use D3 attacks, with 3+ to hit and wound, with -2 Rend and 2 Damage. So, it's going to inflict a fair bit of harm at range before you close in for fights. Meanwhile, Tranquility of the Abyss allows it to add 3 Bravery to every friendly Deepkin unit within 9" of the Eidolon.
In terms of its magic capabilities, you also have the benefit of Dormant Energies, where you can re-roll one casting roll for the model in each hero phase. Oh, and if you choose not to, then you can heal D3 wounds on the Eidolon. In terms of abilities, it can cast two spells in the hero phase and attempt to unbind two during the enemy hero phase.
Cloying Sea Mists is one of two unique spells to this model, which has a casting value of 6. This one is useful as it's a multi-purpose spell which can be targeted on both enemies and allies. On an allied Deepkin unit, it heals D3 wounds, while against any other force it inflict D3 Mortal Wounds. It's a nice general purpose option, and the 12" range means that you can use it to easily support anything close by. The second of the two spells is Tsunami of Terror, which has a casting value of 7. This promptly then hits every single enemy unit within 12" of the caster, and you then promptly remove 1 from their Bravery score and rolls to hit.
Oh, and atop of all of this, both have Stormshoal, which is a 3" attack which has 2D6 hits and a 4+ on hits and wounds.
Overall, this model is much better at crowd control and support over all else. It's by no means a poor choice when it comes to being a hero killer or behemoth slayer, and it can cover a broad range of roles at once. However, it seems to benefit most when it comes to quickly inflicting a vast amount of damage across multiple units, weakening them and leaving them open to follow-up attacks from friendly options.
Volturnos, High King of the Deep
This is the only named character of the book, and he's a curious one to be sure. This is a figure with a 14" move value, 8 wounds, 8 bravery and a 3+ save. So, overall, he's going to be fast-moving and can still take a good number of hits. Better yet, his sword the Astra Solus inflicts 5 attacks in a 1" range, with 3+ to both hit and wound, and D3 damage atop of that. Oh, and this is further enhanced by its own special rule, which allows rends to strike at -5 rending instead of -1. So, most bigger multi-wound units are going to quickly fold once he gets within range.
Even if you ignore this, he also has his mount's attacks to fall back on, with 2" ranges each and 3 attacks. Not to mention 3+ attacks and wounds, with 1 and 2 damage respectively as well. Overall, no matter what you are using, he will certainly still harm anything he gets into contact with.
His special rules also cover a wide range of buffs and modifiers, with Crest of the High King granting +1 Bravery to all units within 18" of him and Cealith, the High King's Shield, allowing him a 3+ save against all spells. This alone would be enough to make him stand out, but he also comes with the same re-roll 1s buff that the Eidolon's offered to other units, but this time with an 18" range. Oh, and he has a good chance to immediately inflict D3 Mortal Wounds if he ends up within 1" of an enemy unit at the end of a charge, provided you roll a 2+ on a dice first.
He doesn't stand out nearly so much as many other options in this game, but he's a good overall choice for a smaller and swifter melee option than most. Plus it helps that he flies.
These are the leaders of the small Deepkin kingdoms and they retain a stats line very close to that of Volturnos himself. Save for one less wound, the two are more or less identical and they retain access to a wide range of weapons as well, from polearms and falchions.
They retain the same D3 Mortal Wounds on a charge ability as the High King, the Deepmare Horn, and Akhelian Paragon is a 12" version of First Among Arkhelians, offering re-rolls to allies. Storm of Blows, meanwhile, is a simply counts as drawing its falchion while ditching its shield. As a result, it loses a point from save rolls while making these attacks in this turn. Equally, Wave Rider counts for drawing a polearm in combat, as it counts its Damage characteristic as 3 if the model charged on the same turn.
Honestly, i'm not a fan of this one. There are a few too many direct parallels with Volturnos which simply reduces him to a slightly more effective version of them over a legendary warrior. Furthermore, the variety of weaponry they carry is a good idea, but far too many special rules tie directly into them. They're not broken or poorly constructed by any means, but their design is notably uninspired in many regards. I can't imagine many will find this model ineffective by any means, but it could have been far better.
The Tidecaster here is the magic master of the army, and the best option for a high magic output behind the Eidolon. While they, unfortunately, lack the flight and higher stats benefitted of their mounted superiors, they can still offer more than a few notable benefits to any force with them in. The foremost among these is the Spirit Guardians ability, which allows them to pull an Apothecary I.E. ignore the first effective wound directed to them each turn. While they only have a 6+ save, they make up for it somewhat with 5 Wounds and a Pelagic Staff. This is a melee weapon with 2 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, and D3 damage.
Oh, and then there is their unique magical ability of Riptide, which has a casting value of 7. This has an 18" range and needs to be visible to them, but it allows you to immediately subtract hit rolls by 1 when it comes to them. Oh, and the unit suffers D3 Mortal Wounds atop of this in the next hero phase, regardless of whether or not the Tidecaster is alive it seems.
With only one spell which can be cast and one they can bind, not to mention a very limited range of options for spells, this isn't the Farseer some might hope for. Instead, it's closer to a Warlock in nature, where they can hold their own in close support, but cannot relentlessly debuff and modify the abilities of units wholesale across the board. Overall, it's a good choice for the style of play Deepkin favour, but a model you will want to keep heavily protected at all times.
The Soulscryer here is a navigator of sorts within their lore, allowing them to highlight targets and guide troops to their destinations. They share the same basic stats line as the Tidecasters, but instead they have the benefit of a ranged weapon - the Scryfish Shoal. This is a potentially devastating power with an 18" range and 8 attacks, but it is limited by a 5+ to hit and wound with no rending capability. Furthermore, in melee they have a finger-claw which offers 3 attacks along with 3+ to hit and 4+ to wound. As such, they are very much a glass cannon but can still seriously hurt an opponent when the dice are on the player's side.
As you would expect from their role, Finder of Ways allows them to teleport units about the battlefield with up to two units joining them as they disappear off of one side of the board and can arrive on another. They need to be within 6" of the board edge and 9" away from enemy units, but it's an effective way of withdrawing damaged units from an engagement. In addition to this as well. Their Seeker of Souls ability allows them to pick out an enemy unit within 24" of them. You can then immediately add 3 to all charge rolls from friendly Deepkin units within 12" of the Soulscryer, with the added issue of the first model finishing within 1/2" of the target unit.
Overall, the Soulscryer are the much more useful magic option on here and a better supporting figure as a whole. While they lack the same direct methods of firepower as others, their teleportation capabilities and bonuses to charges makes them worth their weight in gold. Especially given this army's need to quickly engage in melee.
The Souldrender here is a much more of a durable option than the past two additions, with a 4+ Save and Bravery 8, along with5 Wounds. Furthermore, while they're not mounted, they do have a pair of fairly effective weapons to back this up as well. The Talunhook has a 2" radius and 2 attacks, along with hitting at 3+ to hit and wound. Furthermore, it has 2 damage and a -1 to rend. Their second weapon, the Rakerdart's Serrated Bill is a slightly different one, with 3" range, D3 Attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, -1 to rend, and 1 damage. So, you have a pair of decent damaging options no matter how you try to approach slaying foes.
Its unique abilities are tied mostly into supporting troops while serving as a speed bump/Hero killer option for the army. Lurelight allows them to bring D3 Namarti back to life from a unit within 12", and in addition to this it is further buffed by the model's own damage output. Every model killed by its Talunhook in that same turn adds another point to that D3 result.
The Hangman's Knot, meanwhile, is an ensnaring option which retains a 3" range in battles. On the result of a 4+ (or 2+ if the hero in question is a monster) then you have the option to re-roll Talunhook attacks in that combat phase.
It speaks for itself really, and it's overall a decent option for the most part. While this isn't the sort of figure I would throw headlong into a fight against another full hero, they are a good choice for keeping an enemy tied up in melee and slowing them down until the big guns get into combat. It's certainly a worthwhile option an will definitely prove its worth in the right place, but it's one best left as an additional purchase if you still have room in your army toward the end.
This is the first of the beast mob found within the book, and they're probably the one most players will end up using as their vanguard choice. They're the sort you throw in at the forefront of the army to either soak up damage or rip apart a few initial units, as they have the stats to back up that role. As with the majority of beasts/riders in this army, the Allopex has a 12" movement value while also counting as a flying model. Furthermore, it has a 4+ save and 8 wound to back this up, with Bravery of 6 to ensure that it stays in the fight. Given how the Kings or Eidolon can easily buff that last stat, this means that they will rarely be running away in most armies.
The model itself comes equipped with a wide range of weapons, as it has a trio of melee weapons (well, teeth and barbed fins) while also two ranged attacks to inflict damage as it closes in. While the latter might seem like a concession or even a one-shot option they are actually remarkably effective for what they are. One is a Razorshell Harpoon Launcher which has a range of 24", 3 attacks and counts as 3+ to hit and wound, and with a damage of 1. The other is a net launcher, which has an 18" range, 1 attack, 3+ to hit and wound but a damage value of 3. Sadly that latter one is not noted to ensnare or pin down units as they close in.
In melee meanwhile, you have a series of 1" attacks, which offer a variety of benefits and can be used against a multitude of targets. Barbed Hooks and Blaes has 5 attacks, 3+ to hit, 4+ to wound and a single point of damage. Allopex's Ferocious Bite (yes, really) has only a single attack, but 3+ to hit and wound, a -2 to rend and a damage of 3. Then there's the scythed fins, which have 4 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, -1 rend and one damage. Then, if that weren't enough, they also have their Bloodthirsty Predators rule, which allows them to re-roll charges if they are within 12" of any unit which has taken wounds. Obviously it has to be toward that unit, but there we go.
The main downside of the Allopexes, and the one thing which helps keep them balanced, is that they are somewhat surprisingly fragile Their size makes them an easy target during most battles, and despite their ranged weapons, a barrage of attacks from devoted heavy damage weapons can inflict some serious harm at long range. Overall though, they are likely something we will see appearing a fair few times in the years to come as a mainstray of this army.
The Lotann here is about as far from the previous model as it is possible to get, as they are not mounted, have only a 6" movement, a 6+ save, Bravery 7 and 5 wounds. They are relatively fragile, and their main benefit is Catalogue of Souls - which grants +1 bravery and re-rolls to hit for Deepkin and Nnamarti within 12" of it respectively - but they also have a surprisingly large number of weapons to fall back on. Along with the Bone Quill (cue pen is mightier than the sword jokes) which offers 1 attack, hits at 3+, wounds at +5 and does 1 damage, they also have several bonuses thanks to their guardian celephopod.
Ochtar's Cudgel has a 3" range, 1 attack, 4+ to hit, 3+ to wound, -1 rend and 2 damage. Ochtar's Blade meanwhile has a 3" range again, 1 attack, a 3+ to hit, 4+ to wound and -1 rend along with 1 damage. Then its tentacles have the same range again but 6 attacks, 4+ to hit and wound and 1 damage each. Why that wasn't buffed to 8 given its usual number of limbs is a bit of a mystery, but balance is likely the reason here.
The Lotann isn't a bad option and in lower points value games or where you just need something cheap to offer quick buffs it does its job quite nicely. While like the Soulrender, it's admittedly a fall-back choice it does still fill out an important role within the army. So, overall, it's one well worth considering when building an army.
This is the big one which tends to draw eyes on the tabletop and in the promotional materials, the gigantic killer turtle which has ballistae mounted on its shell. As a result of that, as you might imagine, it's difficult to bring down and can soak up no end of damage. Along with a 3+ save, there's also the 16 wounds it has and the Bravery score of 7 to keep it going. You might think that the big bow weapon on its back means it's a slouch in melee, but it still has plenty of ways to hurt creatures in combat.
The model's movement value is dependant on how many wounds it suffers, starting at 12" and going down to 7" as it gradually takes more and more hits. Furthermore, this same issue applies to its attacks, with the hitting value of its Crushing Jaws and damage of its Scythed Fins gets steadily worse as it slowly dies in battle. Nevertheless, it thankfully takes more than a single wound for it to start losing its total effectiveness and it remains fairly effective even after taking nine wounds.
Its main methods of attack are a Razorshell Harpoon Launcher (see the Allopexes for the stats of that) and also a set of Razorshell Harpoons. This has a 1" range along with 4 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, and 1 damage each. The Crushing Jws have the same close range, 1 attack, a changing hit value, 2+ to wound, -2 rend and D6 damage. The Scythed Fins have a 2" range, 4 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, and 2 damage. Then there's the twin-pronged spear, which has 1" a range, 4 attacks 3+ to hit and wound and 1 damage. So, you have no end of options to inflict serious damage with, although Crushing Jaws tend to be a good go-to option in most engagements. There's a good reason for that atop of the great stats, as its Jaws of Death special rule means that any roll of a 6 means that it inflicts 6 Mortal Wounds on its target.
The Void Drum special rule also helps to cover one of the big weaknesses of the army, in that it hides many of the nearby units. All Deepkin units (friendly ones, mind you) within 12" of the Leviadon count as being in cover while being shot at and attacked. This, unfortunately, makes the Leviadon a bigger target, but it does mean that your light armoured infantry won't be shot to bits while getting into close range.
Akhelian Morrsarr Guard
Besides sounding like the result of a drunken bet on who can throw the most syllables into a unit without resorting to Lovecraftian means, the Morrsarr Guard are another cavalry option, but much lighter and faster than those previously discussed. For one thing, they have a 14" movement value, while also retaining a 4+ save and have only 4 wounds each. This is also another unit with Bravery 6, so keep that in mind when fielding them.
Their attacks are once more divided between what the rider wields and what their ocean-going mount is capable of, with the Voltspear counting as a 2", 2 attack weapon with a 3+ value to hits and wounds. It only does 1 damage, but that's made up for by the Fangmora (their shark steed) with its own abilities. The Fanged Maw is a melee only ability again with a 1" range, but it offers 1 attack, 3+ to hit and wound and D3 damage. The Lashing Tail, meanwhile, then offers a 2" Range, D3 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, and 1 damage. That might not sound much on its own, but keep in mind that unlike the previous riders, these units tend to travel in groups of 3 or more. They also have the benefit of hitting much harder when charging into combat thanks to their Wave Riders Special rule, which grants the Voltspears a -2 rend and 2 damage value in the turn that they charge.
Their final special rule, that of Biovoltaic Blast, allows the eels to discharge energy into battle and do a bit more damage as a result. This needs to be done at the start of the combat phase, and requires the roll of a 3+ to pull off. However, if you accomplish this, it allows them to inflict a Mortal Wound on a enemy unit within 3", or D3 Mortal Wounds if you rolled a 6 at the time.
As you might have guessed from that little outline, the Morrsarr Guard are a force which works best when moving in and delivering a couple of rounds of serious damage. They can take hits, better than some of the other unit options in the Deepkin roster, but their main benefit is being used as a jousting cavalry of moving in, hitting hard and then withdrawing for a brief moment. Do this right, and they can seriously hurt or quickly finish off most things they run into battle against.
Akhelian Ishlaen Guard
This is another counterpart option, as they ride the same Fangmora Eels as the above unit, have most of the same stats and benefit from the Fangmora's own attacks. However, the rider's weapon and how their abilities work has been notably changed, with the Helsabre being the most obvious among these. While it's an inch shorter in range than the Voltspear, it benefits from 1 more attack than that weapon while sharing the same overall stats line. Furthermore, their ability of Biovoltaic Barrier allows them to ignore Rend attacks against them when making saves. Plus it boosts their save to a 3+ while charging, which robs them of some of their immediate damage, but means that they can withstand the worst of a powerful unit's counter-attacks.
The Ishlaen Guard is a unit which is going to be less useful overall than the Morrsarr Guard, but they do still retain benefits and a place in this army. The Helsabre means that they are more viable as a unit when it comes to sticking it out for a couple of turns longer in combat, while their benefit of a Barrier means that they can charge in, take the brunt of an attack or perhaps take down a potentially dangerous foe, and then allow weaker units to take over with fewer risks to themselves. They're not bad as a whole, simply not great.
Namarti ThrallsThe Thralls here are the first of the two big mob units of light infantry which will likely be the backbone of most armies. They're the sorts which will die more readily than the mounted choices, but will be able to absorb those casualties without quite so much of a negative effect on their capabilities. The fact that they move in units of ten and up certainly helps in this regard. With a stats line of 6" movement, 1 wound, Bravery 6 and a 5+ save, you know what you are getting into here. What separates them from pure arrow fodder is a respectable damage output, with their Lenmari Blades. This has a range of 1", 2 attacks, 3+ to hit and wound, a rend of -1 and 1 damage. With ten of these hitting at a time, it's going to seriously hurt in most situations.
This is also backed by a good special rule, specifically Sweeping Blows, which adds 1 attack when targeting units with models retaining a single wound. If the unit or model they are fighting has four wounds or more, then it means that they gain an extra point of Damage in melee. I personally quite like this overall, and it gives them a bit of overall versatility against multiple targets and offsets their usual weaknesses without erasing them. They will almost certainly still die, but it means that they will rarely not go down without hurting something first.
So, with the melee options done, now we have the ranged versions here. It's the same overall stats line with a movement of 8" over 6" and they have a variety of missile and melee weapons. Their Whisperbow (ranged weapon) retains two methods of firing on targets with Aimed Fire and Storm Fire as options, which is the difference between greater range and having more attacks. Aimed Fire offers each model an 18" range, 1 attack, and a 4+ hit and attack value with 1 damage each. Storm Fire has half of that range buy 3 attacks each. Keening Blade is a melee attack of 1" which has 2 attacks, 3+ to hit, 4+ to wound and 1 damage. The fact that the melee options are not a throw-away or truly poor alternative to their ranged fire.
The unit has two special rules to further benefit them. Well, one and something which is more of a throw-away line. With Swift Tide allows them to re-roll running (a good option for any squad with limited numbers and armour), while Fluid Firing Style just allows them to switch between Aimed Fire and Storm Fire. Yeah, that's it, and it seems like a trick was missed here.
Still, for the most part, it's an alright unit option, and a good way of laying down supporting fire while keeping up with the cavalry.
The basic units for the Deepkin are pretty good on the whole. As with more than a few Age of Sigmar armies covered on here, they're functional, capable and well balanced internally. That said, it does seem like something more exciting could have been done with them in a few places in regards to their basic units in terms of equipment or power. They're a marked improvement over the Daughters of Khaine however, and it's enough to fill a specific niche within the game. As such it's difficult to truly complain about in this first step, but they do need something more done to them in the next army book. So, that was this lot done. We'll be finishing them off tomorrow with the remainder of the army's rules.