While the sea-weed may indeed always be greener in someone else’s lake, you would be making a mistake to think Deepkin don’t have a couple tricks up their sleeves. What works about these fishy fellows, and what just stinks.
Being an early book in a new edition is a difficult proposition. Either units or mechanics sneak past designers unsure of how the community will adjust to new game rules, or misunderstandings result in non-viable units or options that now stick around for far too long. The Idoneth Deepkin are very much a drop of column A and a swimming pool’s worth of column B.
The result of a book supposedly designed with 2.0 rules in mind (yet not reflecting that at all), Deepkin feature a clever tide mechanic that is largely undermined by also having far too many woefully inadequate units. Amidst this, however, are a few winners who surprisingly, have a capacity to carry the army and win games when piloted by skilled players.
Over-Performer: Ishlaen and Morrsarr Guard
To those who have played or played against Idoneth Deepkin, it is abundantly clear that it is the eels which keep the book relevant and even somewhat competitive in the hands of the right player. Morrsarr, despite being the slightly pricier option, are a proper scalpel in an army that absolutely must be played with precision. Though only better on the charge, a Deepkin player will never, EVER, get into combats they cannot immediately dominate. Used correctly, this unit is always charging, and generally decimating whatever they hit, and then repositioning outside of other threat ranges.
This unit is a quirky one, however. They are durable enough to be a barrier and grind when they absolutely must, but are also priced in a way that makes them somewhat disposable once they have fired off their Biovoltaic charges, and likely traded well with opponents after just one combat.
This unit, and army, are light-years away from being an Easy-Button, but these units are so single-handedly solid that they funnel the entire book into one playstyle. For good or ill, success with this book means getting very familiar with these guys.
I absolutely hate when a gorgeous, centerpiece model doesn’t have rules that reflect how cool it is. This would not be why I granted these two options the distinction of Under-Performer, rather the insult to injury.
At a whopping 380 and 360pts respectively, the Eidolons do not match-up favorably to most similarly priced large heroes in the game. While not the worst, these models are shockingly frail for their costs, and exist in an edition of the game where later books would often heap defensive tricks and healing opportunities onto such significant investments.
I will say that the combat spec’d Eidolon Mathlaan can be used in a similar capacity to eels, and is likely to do work, but is simply far too fragile to earn back his points. As is sadly the case with many mono-builds, you’re likely just better off taking six more eels for similar offense, and more urgently needed bodies.
It should be said that Deepkin are in a weird spot. It feels as if their design-space is being infringed on by the better written Lumineth whose book similarly rewards precision in placement, dictating combats, etc. I suspect future books may even look to Living-City-esque sharing among these units without counting as allies. The books feel strangely complementary and also pair well in the elemental-aelves, Captain Planet, sense. That said, Deepkin feel very much due for a wild reworking.
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