What does the Expansion Include?
The Depths, designed by Kevin Riley, introduces three new Breach Mages to the game: Nym, Reeve and Z'hana. Each mage comes with its own unique spell or gem, as well as it's own playstyle. Nym's ability to discard cards directly from the Nemesis deck can be a blessing or a curse, depending on which Nemesis you face: Discarding a card and shortening the clock feels great, but using the ability at the wrong time can be catastrophic, potentially opening the door to level two and three Nemesis cards earlier than anticipated. Her 'Cinder' gives the ability to deal damage or gain Aether, a nice variable ability allowing her to hit minions when needed or boost her resources to purchase better spells and open breaches. A solid mage for a beginner, but not one that I expect to interest players beyond that.
Z'hana looks like a support mage at first glance with eight crystals and a Gravehold-healing ability. However, her 'Eternal Ember' grants the ability to cast any of your prepped spells without discarding it. This effectively grants you a free copy of your best spell at any period in the game, and stands out to me as potentially one of the best starting cards in the game. That, combined with her ability to open her fourth breach on turn one means that she is a standout damage-dealer able to clear out hordes of enemies provided she gets the right support.
Finally, Reeve gives us access to a potent minion-destroying ability, combined with her 'Obsidian Shard' to support quick access to five-cost spells or breach opening depending on the situation, albeit at the cost of some life. She can easily be the first mage exhausted in a game, but if she remains active expect her to cleave through minions. The main concern is that her ability is essentially blank if the minions have been vanquished already. A fine inclusion.
In addition, we have a new Nemesis, the Horde-Crone. His flavour reminds me a lot of the Carapace Queen from the base game: Instead of a horde of swarming insects, she controls a menagerie of Troggs, whose abilities are amplified the more copies of the same Trogg are in play. At difficulty six she represents the higher end of a challenge for seasoned players, though the constant shuffling of the Trogg deck with her Unleash ability can become tedious, especially in a deck builder which prides itself on having a lack of shuffling mechanics. Still, a fun inclusion.
Finally, The Depths includes eight sets of market cards ready to enhance your options from the base game. Extra inclusions like this are always welcome in expansions to deck-builders, and though eight cards doesn't seem like a lot, the options here are generally good. 'Devouring Shadow' offers a repeatable way to exile your weaker cards, while acting as a decent damage card when necessary. Similarly, 'Banishing Topaz' offers a way for support mages to cycle their spells away to afford more expensive cards, charging their abilities or buying off Nemesis Power cards.
Is The Depths Worth Purchasing?
As a deck-builder aficionado, I always relish the ability to add more to my collection for variety's sake. In terms of content, I believe these draw the most comparisons with the Marvel Legendary mini-packs, granting you a similar allotment of hero and mastermind cards to mix into your games.
The Depths offers quite a bit of content at a relatively low price point, making it an attractive buy for anyone new to the series. Combining this with either base set gives you 11 mages and five Nemeses to work with which is plenty for starting out. The mages will feel more basic when compared to their counterparts in War Eternal, but they more than make up for this in power level. I don't believe anyone new to the series will have any issues understanding the playstyles of each mage as long as they have played the base game previously. There is nothing groundbreaking here, it doesn't change the metrics of how the game is played, but the inclusion here is solid.
Do keep in mind that there are two print runs of the first three releases of Aeon's End (Base game, The Depths and The Nameless), and there are significant shifts in presentation between first and second edition copies of these. Each expansion printed now will be in the new border style, so ensure that you check with your supplier before making a purchase if you are unsure.