Sunday 11 November 2012

Review - Deep Wars Rulebook by Antimatter Games

While deciding on the direction I wanted to take this blog, I started looking at Deep Wars byAntimatter Games.
I mentioned to Antimatter that I wanted to cover the game and they very kindly sent me a PDF copy of the rulebook to take a look at and review.
Happy Badger!
I spent the next couple of days going over the book and was very impressed.

The Game and Setting

Deep Wars is a 'heroic' 28mm scenario based skirmish level game. But what makes it different to any other games? Well, It's set completely under water at the bottom of the sea!
A standard 4x4 table and some underwater terrain (fish tank plant work) is all you need to play on but you can get as adventurous as you like.
Sides are roughly 4-5 models for a one off game. This is where the starter sets are perfect!
The game is set in the 17th century in the underwater world of Shadow Sea, miles under ice and snow. An area full of ancient tech which is then used by some to fund almost 'steampunk' style diving suits and vehicles. Deep Wars uses some of the same forces and rules from the Shadow Sea game but expands on both.

A sample of the artwork showing the realm of Shadow Sea in the book
I think the setting for the game is a great idea. I don't know of any other games on the market that are played under the water so no matter what you play, this will be a very different style and feel of game.
It will also appeal to anybody out there that has an interest in sea creatures, pirates, diving and all manner of other water related subjects.

The Forces

There are 4 forces to start with in Deep Wars. All of which have their stats and artwork in the book. You can see the models for each >HERE<

The Fortune Hunters are your human faction. A selection of scientists, war veterans and mercenaries all out to explore the Shadow Sea. All of them wear heavy armoured dive suits made of leather and bronze, powered by altered ancient tech to supply air and aid movement. Their weapons are mainly steel harpoons fired using crystals instead of gun powder and a mix of explosives although some have started to work out how to use the ancient weapons discovered on the sea floor.
These explorations into the Shadow Sea are not for science though. They want to gather as much ancient tech as possible for themselves, their funding bodies and Dr Wormwood - creator of most of the tech they use.

The Dark Mariners seem to be the evil side. Degenerated descendants of the ancient race that ruled the Shadow Sea. The scientists of this race tore away from the others and chose to experiment with dark and twisted underwater beings. Turning themselves into a mix of the two.
They use a mix of tech but use a lot of sonic weaponry. Some even attached to their bodies in a mix of flesh, metal and crystal.
They are also accompanied by strange tentacled creatures in hard shells that are able to call upon dark beings from another place.

The Ancients of Atalan  are the other side of the ancients descendants. Highly advanced in every way.
Thought to have left to explore other seas they have now reappeared. Able to breathe in the water they have females that can control the water around them, some that can focus beams of crystal light and warriors wearing water purification and heat suits.
A peaceful race that only enter combat when they have to explains their relatively weak armour and combat skills. This is countered by their control of 'ether' technology. Dangerous weapons that can cut through armour and ether powered mechs that reassemble giant sea creatures.

The last of the four main forces is the Scaly Horde.
A cross of legendary dragons and ancient creatures thought to only be found in museums. They are savage creatures but posses a high intellect compared to other beasts found in the area.
Some Draconids have the ability to control gigantic undersea beasts and use them to fight against any invaders. They are also joined by the Clal-Chk. Vicious beings that turn living creatures into usable weapons
The humanoid monsters, Dagathonan fish-men and Abyssal Garks, have also joined the ranks of the Scaly Horde.

I'm not quite sure what this is, but I know I want one!
The Book 

The Deep Wars rulebook is a stunning thing in itself. 160 pages of very detailed full colour information and artwork.
In fact the artwork is one of the first this that grabbed my attention when I started to read. The pictures spread throughout this post are also spread throughout the book. I would say that roughly a third of the pages had some very nice pictures.
The book covers everything you need to know about the world of Deep wars and how to play, as you would expect. Starting with a decent sized section of background and fluff, then core rules, abilities and weapons, then campaign and environment rules. At the end you have some very comprehensive force lists with the stats you need for anything in the sea. Each entry also has its own piece of artwork so its easy to work out what is what.
A nice addition is the very detailed 4 page contents list at the beginning of the book. Any rule, weapon or character you want to look up is right there.
Here is a sample of a couple of rules pages to give you an idea of the layout of the book.

As you can see, the rules also contain a selection of diagrams to explaining some of the key rules and reference tables throughout to make game play faster and easier.
There are also section explaining anything need to play like game cards that come with the models themselves.

Game play / Rules

The core rules of Deep Wars are based on the Songs of Blades and Heros rules by Ganesha Games. This means that anybody that has used those rules before (and that's almost every gamer in my area) should be able to pick up the basics straight away.
Each model comes with a game card as shown above that includes their stats, weapons and abilities. On the reverse of the card is a damage chart for different sections of the model. You can choose to target one of these areas but there is a to hit penalty. That's countered by being able to damage or destroy the most dangerous parts of your opponent in one hit.

With Deep Wars being played completely under the water you have the ability to do something in the game that you cant in most others. Full three dimensional movement. Models can swim or dive to different height levels which really mixes up the game play and gives 'another dimension' to the game. (sorry, couldn't help myself). It isn't always a good idea to move between levels too quickly though. There is the chance to depressurising or drowning!

Another interesting part is illumination. Being on the sea floor, the sun doesn't light the area very much, if at all. Some crystals or sea life illuminate the areas but at times, your models will need lamps, torches or other ways to make the opponent visible. A model that ends up alone in the dark can get disorientated and confused so its a good idea to make sure your models can all see each other.

When playing, one side is the attacker and one is the defender. The defender gets to set up the terrain in any way they please so as the attacker you don't always know what your letting yourself in for. The attacker does get the advantage of being able to enter the board from any side they wish though.

Sample of the helpful rules diagrams

One of my favourite parts of the rules is the fact that you can salvage weapons and equipment from any dead models. This doesn't always mean you will be able to work out how to use it!
Along side all of the tech there is also the ability to use water based magic. Some call in evil horrors, others can boil the water surrounding their enemies.

I don't want to give away all of the rules. Just give you a taste of whats in there and point out some of the more interesting and fun mechanics.

Game play Extras

The rules are great for using one of the four forces in a one-off battle. But what if that's no what you want?

Deep Wars contains full rules for a campaign system. By the look of things this makes the game even better as it adds in experience, advances, new tech, giant ancient weapon systems, magical scenery and more.

The area of the sea you play a battle in can have big effects on the game. The rules in the back of the book give a full explanation of a few different ares and the creatures that inhabit them.
The Shallow Shelf, Abyssal Zone, Deep Seas Outposts and even massive living underwater submersible can able be played on/around/in.

In several games you hear people saying 'I wish the game had ____'
That's possible in Deep Wars. At the very end of the book are full rules for designing additional models for the four forces or you could even create your own.
This is perfectly balanced with the pre-made characters in the book as that is exactly how they were made in the first place!

Final Thoughts

Right, time for my thoughts. I will go over this section by section like I have above.

Game and setting - I am a big fan of anything water based so I had an interest in this games as soon as I heard about it. I think antimatter have created an amazing and in-depth world for this game with lots of opportunities for expansion.
Skirmish level games are also good with me. (can you tell by the blog title?). This game has a very different feel to other game on the market so I think it will appeal to several gamers as it isn't just another clone.
Badger Points - 9 out of 10

Forces- The forces give a really nice selection. You have the human good, twisted bad, advanced tech and savage beasts. Something for everybody!
The design of each is different enough to make them stand out but somehow they all fit into the theme together perfectly.
If I  had anything bad to say, its just a personal opinion. I would have liked to have seen another force of some sort. But then the game is brand new and as I said, has lots of possible expansion options.
Badger Points - 9 out of 10

Book- I only have access to the PDF so I cant really comment on the physical quality of the book but I am VERY impressed with the layouts, design, artwork, explanations and general quality of the PDF. The fact that every bit is in full colour is wonderful and draws you back to the book again and again.
Not a single bad thing to say.
Badger Points - 10 out of 10

Game play- as the core rules are base on the Songs of Blades and Heroes it is very easy to pick up. Even easier if you have used SoBaH before. The additional rules really add the flavour to the game. 3D movement, illumination and precise targeting mean there is so much for you to do and keep you interested.
I haven't been able to try the game out fully yet but when I do I will report on this section in a bit more detail
Badger Points - 9 out of 10

Extras- The extra rules make this game foe me. The ability to add your own characters, create your own forces and then have them gain advances and tech or even die means the game has a way to keep you playing without getting bored of replaying the same game again and again.
Badger Points - 10 out of 10

Overall- If you couldn't tell already, I'm loving Deep Wars. The setting, forces, campaign system and water rules are things that I either love in a game or have always wanted.
Its a quick and easy game to pick up and play but there is so much more there to keep players interesting, learning and testing out.
I'm going to try and get a couple of starter sets as soon as I can. Cant wait to try this game fully. Really looking forward to it.
When I do I will make sure I report back and let you know more about it. Including a decent look at the minis.

Overall Badger Points - 9 out of 10
Well done Antimatter. You have created something wonderful. And thank you once again for giving me the chance to look over it.

I highly recommend you check out Deep Wars. You can find out more and order your own goodies  directly from the Antimatter Games Website (link)

I will leave you with a some pics of the stunning models you can get for Deep Wars

Hendybadger awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!


  1. Wow, high praise without a few games being played.

    What is the price point? Those mnis look sizeable.

  2. Seeing its based on the Songs of Blades and Heros I already have a feel for how that works and have played it a couple of times. I am just really impressed with what they have done on top of that. The game seems to have everything I enjoy.

    The price of the rulebook ranges from $15 to $55 depending on if you want PDF, sortback or hardback.
    Minis range from $8 to $40.
    I didnt touch on the prices though as I didnt pay for the PDF. Didnt feel right commenting on the price

  3. There's a Kickstarter project, to update ShadowSeas to make it compatible with DeepWars. Some (many) forces cross between the games. On the Kickstarter project you can get minis/books from both games, it's a bargin. ShadowSeas look just a gorgeous!

    1. I did spot that. I want to chip in a get some Deep Wars minis.
      Just hope it gets funded

  4. Replies
    1. No worries.
      I will go more in depth when I have the minis in hand


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