It’s High Tide For The Trident Realms: New Rules, New Models

G’day Goonhammer readers! The Trident Realms of Neritica, a vast subnautical empire of numerous aquatic races (and monsters), are the next to be receiving mid-year updates in Kings of War. Similar to the mid-year updates of the Nightstalkers and Northern Alliance in 2023, the Trident Realms’ army list has been revised to accompany a helping of new model kits in both plastic and resin.

Whether you’re an avid Trident Realms collector, or regularly face the fishy folk in battle and want to know what you’re up against, we present some casual insight and (mostly) opinions regarding the models and rules, covering the major changes to the Trident Realms army list. If a unit isn’t mentioned here, it was either unchanged or the change just wasn’t exciting for us to mention.

Now, let’s dive right in!

The Trident Realms are back with new menu items; we hope you like Cuisses de grenouille! Credit: Mantic Games

Licking the Poison Frogs

The special upgrade unique to the Trident Realms is a single-use item that gives Brutal. Previously it had to be used prior to rolling damage in combat, but now it can be used after damage, before the Nerve test. 

This very subtle change increases the usefulness a bit. It’s still cheaper than the Pipes of Terror (a generic magic item that gives a unit Brutal), and allows the player to see just how helpful Brutal will be after rolling for damage. Rolled fantastic? Keep the frog for later. Rolled poorly? Brutal might just get you over the line.

Is it an auto-equip for every unit that can take it? Certainly not, but it’s better. And now more units can take it.

Riverguard: Now in Plastic!

The Riverguard infantry were a dynamic set of models full of anthropomorphic, amphibious charm, yet suffered from being in metal. Their thin limbs and multipart nature made assembly and maintenance difficult. Enter now the new plastics – same look but without the frustration.

Plastic Riverguard with added cheer! They’re so happy! Credit: Mantic Games

The units – the close combat Riverguard Treeleapers and the ranged Riverguard – have been combined into a single Riverguard unit that can either have Crushing Strength (1) or Ranged 5+, Piercing (1), Steady Aim javelins with 12” range. The real upgrade here is that the troop and regiment has been bumped up to 12 and 15 attacks, respectively. They can also now take Poison Frogs.

The standard melee loadout of Riverguard has benefited most from this, capable of jumping over units with the Leaper, Fly and Nimble special rules; they are designed for getting into flanks in the thick of battle. The troop sized unit will work best for this, sneaking into gaps in the enemy lines like a slippery frog should. They are also somewhere between thick and regular chaff – Defense 4+ with Ensnare is not easy to get through.

Placoderms: The Forgotten Children

The Placoderms are the armoured fish-folk of the Trident Realms, but currently the only model available is that of their champion, Eckter. This was perhaps the greatest disappointment of the Trident Realms refresh, as it was hoped that this unit would finally have some models. Alas, they continue to be neglected, but there’s some silver lining in the minor glow-up they have received regarding their rules.

Eckter; the only Placoderm model. Imagine a unit of these! Credit: Mantic Games

Both troops and regiments of Placoderms have increased in Nerve by +1/+1, putting them at the same standard as Dwarf Ironguard. In addition, two regiments have the option to become Guards of the Trident King, which increases their Unit Strength to 4 for a price cheaper than the Orb of Towering Presence. These improvements simply double down on what Placoderms do well, making them stick around a little longer, and if they last until the end of the game (which they tend to do), they will help win the scenario.

Oceanborne Naiad Wyrmriders: A Little More Bite

The Oceanborne Naiad Wyrmriders are a tricky unit to use, they’re the speed of typical cavalry (if not slightly faster with Nimble), but hit only with Crushing Strength (1). They beg for magical items to improve their damage output, but this quickly makes them too expensive, and their defensive stats do not enable them to take much punishment in return. 

Naiad Wyrmriders are slightly better – and better yet, they’re coming to the Vault. Credit: Mantic Games

To address this, they have received a minor touch up – 10 and 20 attacks for the regiment and horde of Wyrmriders, and access to the Poison Frog. Mathematically, this increases the damage the unit does on average by 1, while a Brew of Strength increases the damage by 2. Considering this changed profile has come at no extra cost to the unit, it’s nothing to scoff at, and at least Cytoplasm will be taking the Wyrmriders more often than before. What’s more, they will be available in the Mantic Vault during the month of April, so at least it will be pretty easy to try them out.

Riverguard Dambusters: A Big Splash

The true victors of the Trident Realms update, the Riverguard Dambusters have finally got models beyond a single hero (the Dambuster Sentinel). They’re plastic models, they have all the detail the hero does, and just look exactly how they should – like big nasty toads that will wreck the enemy.

Behold the plastic frogs – multiple poses, different heads! Riverguard Dambusters are looking good. Credit: Mantic Games

The rules profile of the Riverguard Dambusters has been tweaked, and this is where the update is a bit lacklustre. Their previous iteration was far too expensive, and so to reduce their cost special rules such as Regeneration (6+), Nimble and Enthrall have been removed. They’re not as agile as they used to be, but at least now the addition of magical items is more feasible. These magic items will be needed because at Melee 4+ their incredible Crushing Strength (1) and Thunderous Charge (2) with Strider begs for a Brew of Sharpness. At least, unlike Trolls, they will rarely be Hindered.

Like the Wyrmriders before, and a lot of the Trident Realms army list, the Riverguard Dambusters will take practice to get right. They will either need items or supporting units to help push the damage over the line, but at least their reduced cost will make investing in all of that possible. When things do go right, the Dambusters will be deleting units. Coupled with the fact that Dambusters are now readily available in plastic, expect an exponential rise in Dambuster hordes on the tabletop.

Treeleaper Dambusters: Spitting Distance

One of the rules stripped from the Riverguard Dambusters was the Enthrall spell, which was pretty terrible as it had reduced range but at least did damage. Rather than dispense with this expensive attack altogether, Mantic has added options to the Dambuster sprue to have the giant toads spitting giant gobs of something nasty. The Treeleaper Dambusters are thus the shooting variant of the Riverguard Dambusters.

The Riverguard Dambuster kit is a multikit, so both can be made. Credit: Mantic Games

Only available in regiments, the shooting attack is formidable; 12 shots at Piercing (1) with 14” range hitting on 4+ will obliterate chaff and put a dent in most units. At Speed 8 with Nimble and Fly, they will get where they need to do it. 

The only trick will be getting them to their targets without being shot to pieces themselves. Defense 3+ with 12/14 Nerve on a Height 4 Large Cavalry regiment is the perfect target for any one of the 24” range shooting units (Gladestalkers, Ice Kin Hunters, etc.), all of which outrange these giant toads. The only thing these units can hide behind are other Dambusters, but that is perhaps where they will shine.

Tidal Swarm: Don’t Knock the Nokken

The Tidal Swarm is almost the perfect chaff unit; it’s fearless, it’s cheap, and it’s even surprisingly resilient in combat thanks to Ensnare. The only downside to the Tidal Swarm is it’s Speed 5, but Scout helps a little. 

A swarm of sea critters scuttling in the beach foam. Credit: Mantic Games

The almost identical unit in old Trident Realms was the Nokken, which has now been removed from the army list and made an upgrade to the Tidal Swarm; Nokken Shepherd. Previously Nokken were good for their shooting, but nothing else; in every other way they were inferior to the Tidal Swarm. Now we get both! A shooting Tidal Swarm, and only for a small price. These shots are a few (6 for a regiment, 12 for a horde) Piercing (1) shots at 12” range, hitting on 5+ with Steady Aim. It’s not going to wipe out units, but it might remove enemy chaff and soften up the enemy! If there’s a few points leftover, this might be the perfect upgrade rather than a Blade of Slashing on a Mythican.

Greater Water Elemental: Catch That Wave

The Greater Water Elemental is quite the durable monster, being fearless (-/18 Nerve), Defense 5+ with Regeneration (4+), but in an army of plenty of different anvils, it was just one that took up an unlock. This situation hasn’t changed, but it now has Radiance of Life (Naiad only). This can help hordes of Naiad Ensnarers last a little longer, but it can also be paired with the Naiad Wyrmriders, although it will struggle to keep up. It’s a free upgrade at least that might see the Greater Water Elemental in a few more Trident Realms lists.

The Great Wave – except its sentient. Credit: Mantic Games

Dambuster Arbalest: Toad-Mounted Ballistics

Like the Salamander’s Lekelidon and the Riftforged Orcs’ Ambarox, the Riverguard Arbalest is a monster shooting platform. This means it has Unit Strength 1, which is good for scenarios, and a shooting attack; 5 shots with Piercing (1) at Ranged 4+. What differentiates the Riverguard Arbalest from its counterparts is its maneuverability; only Speed 6, but is Nimble and can Fly. It’s certainly not a bad little unit, the only downside is it is in the Trident Realms army list, which has more sea monsters than Greek mythology. It’s competing for the same spots as the ever-useful Knucker, but might see use in shooting heavy lists.

The Riverguard Arbalest is really chuffed! Credit: Mantic Games

The resin model is really fun! The kit consists of a plastic Dambuster and a resin upgrade kit which includes saddle-mounted ballista and the most ecstatic Riverguard ever in possession of lethal ranged weaponry. Where this unit might have a place is in Dambuster-themed armies; there’s certainly a build there, which will become more apparent when we get to the heroes and the new formation…

Coral Giant: Fists and Chips

The Coral Giant is one of the best giants in the game (which everyone says about their chosen giant), yet with Ensnare and Iron Resolve, it’s definitely a contender. Mantic has finally released a model, a real chunk of resin that is literally a coral reef stomping around in a vaguely gorilla-esque form. The model is festooned with all kinds of evidence of sea life, from various corals and barnacles, to lurking morays, crustaceans and even an octopus that may or may not be controlling the entity. For Kings of War veterans, the pose will be their main gripe, as it is once again a hulking humanoid with a fist on the ground. It joins the Snow Trolls, Ice Elementals, Cavern Dweller, Earth Elementals, and Greater Earth Elemental in the ever expanding meme. Apart from that, the model truly matches the name.

The number of models with fists on the ground is too damn high! Credit: Mantic Games

Kraken: Rising Tides Lift All Ships

The quintessential Kraken typifies the Trident Realms’. Both the model and it’s rules embody the very nature of the army. Like many units in the army, usage of the Kraken isn’t straightforward. It can do a bit of damage, but with only 12-15 attacks at Melee 4+, it’s unlikely to route any regiments or hordes. With Regeneration (4+) and high nerve, it can take a beating, but the damage can quickly accumulate with only Defense 4+. In every regard the Kraken has to be employed carefully, which contrasts starkly to the much easier to use Coral Giant.

K’thtur has come from the depths a Trident Realms army list near you. Credit: Mantic Games

The Trident Realms’ updates have brought two changes to the Kraken; firstly, it now has Slayer (3), rather than Rampage (D3), which always felt rather ineffectual (and typically Cytoplasm would roll 1!). Now the Kraken is slightly better at taking on other monsters, as it should be. Most excitingly, it can take a brand new unique upgrade, becoming K’thtur the Tidebringer. For a nominal fee of 15 points, the Kraken gains Inspiring and an Aura of Thunderous Charge (1) for units with the Deep One keyword in their profile. Previously the Deep One keyword was found only on Depth Horrors, but it has also been added to Thuul units and the Kraken itself. Sticking Kthtur amidst Thuul and Depth Horrors will increase their damage output considerably, just need to ensure those charges are not Hindered

This still doesn’t tip the Kraken as better than the Coral Giant, but it helps. If a Deep One army is of interest, the new Kthtur Kraken is a perfect choice, and would combine well with a Thuul Aquamage with the Rising Tides for a reasonably fast and punchy battle group.

Riverguard Sentinel: Fury of the Frogs

The Trident Realms perhaps suffer not only from too many monsters, but also too many heroes. There’s one to three heroes for each type of infantry, which is crazy when there’s four kinds of infantry units in the army! Low on the list of choices was the Riverguard Sentinel. A slightly shooty, slightly punchy little frog man, the Riverguard Sentinel was completely overshadowed by the more popular choices; the Thuul Mythican, Naiad Centurion and Thuul Aquamage.

Riverguard Sentinels, long neglected, is coming back something vicious. Credit: Mantic Games

Yet if there is one thing that can completely change the usefulness of a unit overnight, it is the Aura. It worked for the Army Standard Bearer units, so why not the Riverguard Sentinel. With Aura (Vicious – Amphibian only), this frog man brings the Amphibian units to a new level. Most obvious is the fact that Dambusters with Vicious will effectively have complete conversion of their successful Hit rolls to Damage rolls – rerolling 1s when damaging on 2+ is just a fantastic feeling. The Dambusters are suddenly capable of removing a unit on the charge quite easily, especially if they have Brew of Sharpness for Melee 3+.

The not so obvious synergy is with the ranged Amphibian units. Any kind of bonuses to ranged attacks are hard to come by, so getting Vicious on all those Piercing (1) shots from the Riverguard infantry and Riverguard Arbalests will start making a dent pretty quickly. In addition, unlike other battle groups of ranged units, the Riverguard are not only more agile but not terrible in combat, especially with the aforementioned Vicious from the Sentinel.

Hippity hoppity, get off my property – Kings of War edition!

Riverguard Dambuster Sentinel: A Heavy Burden

The overall reaction to the Trident Realms’ new model range has been positive. One thing that all can agree on however is that the chonky Pond Warden, the upgrade for the Dambyster Sentinel, is a bit too big for its Dambuster mount. How this thing can leap around the battlefield stretches the imagination, but if we are willing to accept that any wingspan is sufficient for dragonflight, then this must be allowed as well.

The Dambuster Sentinel is a typical Large Cavalry hero that matches the Dambuster profile, but with Crushing Strength (2) and Thunderous Charge (1). It’s a solid unit that will add some hurt, and opponents definitely don’t want it in the flanks. It can become a Pond Warden, in which case the unit gains Iron Resolve and one point of Nerve. Unlike the Riverguard Sentinel, the Riverguard Pond Warden doesn’t quite compete with all the other hero choices. And if you want a flanking monster, the Knucker is always the best choice.

Siren: A Whole New World

Of all the heroes already described, the Siren was the least popular. It had to take the Enthrall spell (at least until Clash of Kings 2024), lacked Inspiring, and had a lackluster selection of spells to choose from compared to the synergistic Thuul Aquamage or the punchy Thuul Mythican. This prompted a complete redesign of the unit, to something that truly is unique.

The Siren, a master battlefield manipulator, her song influencing units in different ways. Credit: Mantic Games

The Siren is still a spellcaster hero with no major combat credentials, but now with her Living Legend status, her spellcasting ability has skyrocketed. She now comes stock with Enthrall (7), Hex (3), Mind Fog (2), and Weakness (3). Normally such a stack of spells would be useless, but not with the new Siren, who can cast each spell at the same or different target until all have been cast. None of these spells directly cause damage, so this ability isn’t game breaking; they just enable the Siren to subtly modulate the battlefield. A Nerve test here, shut down a spellcaster there. Having actually used this new Siren, it is very satisfying slinging off a stream of spells. Enthrall is still kind of useless, but now that three other spells can all be cast as well, it’s not nearly as annoying to have. This is all for a very low budget price of 100 points. We highly recommend at least giving the Siren a try.

Trident King: Royalty Improved

The Trident King was another unit that players hoped would receive a bespoke model during this update, but alas no such model was released. In good news, however, the Trident King received some much deserved attention because his royal highness’ rules were quite mediocre.

First and foremost, the King now has Melee 3+! Why the Masked Monarch of a vast undersea empire was hitting as accurately as a simple soldier was beyond comprehension, but now they can at least hit with the majority of their attacks. And these attacks are improved yet further with Thunderous Charge (2) on top of the Crushing Strength (1). Finally, the short ranged attack referred to as Tidespray has gained Shattering, making the Trident King overall a much more intimidating figure on the battlefield than he ever was.

Medu’Syth Infiltrators: Long Live the Hidden Ones Formation

For Kings of War veterans, it is well known that formations can be fleeting. When the Hidden Ones formation was introduced back in Clash of Kings 2022, it quickly became a staple in Trident Realms army lists. It brought Thuul to the forefront, and the Hidden Ones’ Thuul Mythican was considered one of the best heroes in the army. Alas, formations wax and wane with the editions of the game, and a new formation is here, and like many of the new formations, it uses the contents of the new Trident Realms Ambush Box.

The Ambush Box of the Trident Realms are also the Medu’Syth Infiltrators. Credit: Mantic Games

The Medu’Syth Infiltrators consist of two troops of Riverguard and a regiment of Dambusters. Every unit in the formation gets a Nerve bump, which is not particularly exciting. The interesting bit is that the regiment of Dambusters gains Aura (Stealthy – Amphibian only). Amphibian units are already reasonably defensive, ranging from Defense 4-5+. Add in some Stealthy, and their survivability increases dramatically in the early phases of the game.

The combination of Medu’Syth Infiltrators and the Riverguard Sentinel’s Aura (Vicious – Amphibian only) opens up a whole new type of Trident Realms army – a frog heavy army with many heavy frogs. This type of army simply didn’t exist before, and Amphibian units were taken rarely, if at all. There could be Dambuster heavy armies fully focussed on crushing the army in a single hop, but a mixed arms approach could be equally viable filled with both close combat and ranged Amphibian units that all take advantage of the unique Auras they have available.

High Hops for the Kings of War Meta

The Trident Realms mid-year update demonstrates a conservative effort to bring something new to the army, without removing what makes the Trident Realms unique; the fact that they are unlike every other army. It would have been nice to get a classic hammer unit out of the Riverguard Dambusters, something that can be pointed at the enemy with impunity – but what many Trident Realms players enjoy is that all the units rely on player skill to work their best, rather than being good irrespective (except for the Coral Giant, of course!).

If anything, this mid-year update allays some of the concerns among community members that Kings of War might be falling into a all-too-quick release cycle of new rules. The Northern Alliance and Nightstalker releases changed up their respective armies, but in the end these armies did not shatter the meta and Kings of War maintained its balance. This is where the Trident Realms release sits; changing up the army without pushing it too far.

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