Antimatter Games' DeepWars follows on from their surface wargame ShadowSea, but takes game play to the bottom of a hidden ocean deep beneath the frozen wastes of the north.
We will talk about the game more in a separate article, but to try and set the tone for you, we've found DeepWars to sit somewhere alongside Lovecraft, Bioshock, Joules Verne, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Moby Dick - does that help?
In DeepWars the chance discovery of this lost and forgotten undersea Realm has given mankind (well certain select few) access to technology and equipment far ahead of its time, and exposed them to a grave world ripe for plundering for its forgotten wealth. Unfortunately for these Fortune Hunters, this new world is many fathoms deep and inhabited by several other foes all with their own agenda to be there.
The rule book supplied to us by Antimatter games is not their desired final version, but a Print on Demand copy till such times as their lavish hard back is available. Thus it would be unfair to point out any material flaws or defect, of which thankfully there is none.
We did find some modest print quality issues, which Antimatter Games inform us are being addressed before the hard back copies are printed. Minor stuff - we felt the images, though wonderful and evocative, had a certain softness in quality, almost faded a little, making them a tad unclear in some cases. Also there were a couple of areas where text faded away around images as if an overlay had obscured the writing rather than an actual error in printing. We only mention it as the mistakes are there, but we expect them to be smoothed out in the end.
The Print on Demand DeepWars rulebook is a large format book with a glued spine, that looks like its going to be fairly durable. Good thing too, as we're punishing it something shocking already. The cover art is nice, but given the scope of the game world not the image I'd have chosen to convey the contents, it's not a 'oh what's that about' cover, I felt it was more of a 'that's pretty' cover. A shame, since there's some fantastic fluff in the book and many more art pieces which could have drawn the eye and thus the hand to lifting this off a shelf for a look. But that is just one opinion.
On the point of art work, there is a broad range of styles within the book. Our opinion is split on this, some liked the continuity of one artistic style within a publication, while others felt it reflected different things about the background. The works vary from items better than concept level drawings to very well executed paintings. We where put in mind of Megalith Games Godslayer art work or early Chaosium Call of Cthulhu books.
When you open the book, you are greeted with a comprehensive and useful table of contents, breaking the book down very well which makes finding what your after so much easier. We get a short introduction, informing us of the games intent and heritage and acknowledging its based on the Songs of Blades and Heroes from Ganesha Games. A popular, simple and versatile rules set applied to a great many game settings.
Then we are treated to some background fluff presented as notes or journal entries of an expedition member. This is surprisingly easy on the reader and covers a great deal of ground with sufficient detail and style as to both inform you and capture the imagination too. Vivid scenes are soon conjured up in the minds eye.
At page 14 we arrive at the faction descriptions and are in turn introduced to FORTUNE HUNTERS (human), DARK MARINERS (mutated descendants of elder beings), Ancients of Atalan (advanced beings of the underworld) and finally SCALY HORDE (Denizens of the deep bent of ruling the surface world)
And BANG!! just like that we're into the rules.
Now obviously, here, we have the details of race weapons, troop types from scientists to machines, etc. - everything you need to design your war band. We also have extensive advice on table set ups, terrain types, (oh by the way, even the terrain can kill), scenarios and campaign play. Good spacious roster sheets and tables aplenty, all the right ingredients are here and as an added bonus seem to flow logically and coherently.
Yes there is some errata to be downloaded and printed off, but that's fair enough and common to all such rule books.
As I write, Wee Andy is setting minis up on the table, while pencils and dice await our play through. Sometimes there is always a trepidation about starting a new system, but I can say this, based as it is on Songs of Blades and Heroes there's little to question with the rules, bar perhaps the issue of depth....yes, you read correctly, Depth! Your warband can swim (you did know this is underwater, right!?) up, down and round and this has its own effects on the game. Also, don't forget that it's pitch black down there, bar luminous rocks and fish and lanterns, so ranges are effected by light and sight.
The water can have different qualities for vision too and movement can be effected by having your light shot out, or moving to far away from your party....every efforts been made to tailor the rules to the environment so we want to see that work, cause it reads well enough and sounds good. So these are things we need to play to comment on better. But so far we seem to have a good book, well put together that conveys the mood of the game world.
We have good fluff, we would like more as it fires the imagination for adventures and table designs. It all seems to flow well and is easy enough to read, an important bonus. Yes, there are some flaws, never seen a game without them, but it seems, thus far, to be limited to presentation and a few omissions all of which have promises to be remedied.
Combined with lovely minis I feel we are off to a good start. A definite thumbs up!
Stay tuned for our Unboxing videos, further blog articles and game play videos and don't forget to keep an eye on The Hairy Painter who will be doing some painting guides on the minis too and he also has some more news up his sleeve..... :-)