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Idoneth Deepkin Army Guide & Review (Units, Tactics & Lore)

Here we will describe in detail the Idoneth Deepkin army starting from its lore, detailing the main units and their roles, how the army plays and finally our personal opinion of the army.

For a complete run-down of the different armies available in Age of Sigmar, consult our Age of Sigmar army overview article.

In this article we will refer often to Matched Play and other technical terms like allegiance abilities, command points, army roles in building a list, core battalions, Endless Spells/Invocations, etc. We assume the reader will be knowledgeable with those terms, otherwise please refer to the relevant guides for more details.

Idoneth versus Fyreslayers

Overview of Idoneth Deepkin Army

The Idoneth Deepkin are a race of deep-sea faring aelves with a dark past that are forced to raid mortal settlements to collect the souls they need to maintain their own race. They are followed by a host of deep-sea creatures, one more terrifying than the other (with the exception of Duinclaw, the little crab), that they use for hunting and defence.

If you have seen the movie Aquaman, and you “dig those vibes”, then you would definitely have a soft spot for this army as well. In gameplay, they are the best anti-shooting currently available, combining their background with fun mechanics.

They are a new army, first released in 2018, with a limited amount of warscrolls (16 as of December 2022), but this does not mean they are limited in options by any mean. All their units have a purpose and have plenty of heroes for every occasion making it a compact but versatile army with multiple lists viable.

In the competitive scene, they are definitely a good army, solidly in the middle as a consequence of an extremely balanced ratio of armies at this point of Age of Sigmar 3.0 existence.

The only thing missing from the army was a crab, and that was resolved with the release of the Warhammer Underworld warband Elathain’s Soulraid: Duinclaw, the award-winning crustacean.

Lore of Idoneth Deepkin Army

Before the Mortal Realms came to be, the elves lived in the World-that-Was and venerated different divinities including Mathlann, the Sea God. Once the world ended as a consequence of Archaon plans and the forces of Chaos combined effort, Slaanesh, the Chaos God of excess, took advantage to devour all elven souls he could claim, as they were the rarest delicacy to him.

When Sigmar awoke in the Mortal Realms and started forming his pantheon, he invited also the elven gods, Tyrion, Teclis, Malerion and Morathi. Since aelves (the new name of elves in the Mortal Realms) were few and sparse, these gods decided to set in motion a plan that will reshape forever the Mortal Realms.

They lured Slaanesh in a space between Ulgu and Hysh, imprisoned him and then literally extracted the eaten souls from his body through torture. Each of the gods obtained a portion of the souls to be reshaped as they preferred. Teclis then reformed as best as he could remember aelves: proud and noble. But something was amiss.

These new aelves grew secluded and resentful and when Teclis tried to dissipate the darkness within them, brought to them madness and death. The Idoneth ran away to find respite in the darkest seas across the realms, while Tyrion prevented Teclis from slaughtering them allowing their escape.

For a time all was well, the darkness of the deepest water elements allowed them to ignore the temptations and the horrors they witnessed while in Slaanesh’s belly. They were able to settle in various bodies of water across all Mortal Realms forming the first enclaves. However, soon they discovered that most new-born babies were born with broken souls and would die extremely young. In order to prevent the extinction of their race, they planned to raid the souls of mortals, so that they could extend the lives of those less lucky.

This creates even today a strict hierarchy, where the noblest souls are the spiritual (Isharann) and military leaders (Akhelian) of the enclaves, while the Namarti represent the majority of the population and workforce and have a much reduced lifespan.

When the Idoneth set out for battle, they do it by summoning the Ethersea, a manifestation of the deep sea magic that allows them to fight outside the waters as well as in the water. They also use their magic to hide their presence by deleting the memory of their raids from all survivors. Thus, they have been able to hide so long without anyone noticing them.

Until now. Volturnos, the High King of the Ionrach enclave, first convinced the Idoneth to pledge an alliance with the Stormcast Eternals, and then led the Idoneth to war against Morathi when she stole from the the Ocarian Lantern, the very instrument Teclis used to retrieve them from the belly of Slaanesh and that they have been hiding for so long to avoid it could be used against them.

However, Morathi proved to be a cunning and powerful adversary, and at the climax of the battle, she offered a truce, giving back the lantern to Volturnos and offering Cythai souls, the very souls of the first aelves still in Slaanesh’s belly, as a peace offer. In exchange the Idoneth secretly helped Morathi to conquer Anvilguard obtaining all mortal souls as a recompense and maintaining this fragile agreement until now.

Army rules for the Idoneth Deepkin

But how does a Idoneth Deepkin army play on a tabletop? First let’s go through the main rules for this army, and as always, please consider keeping an eye on the most recent set of FAQ. This FAQ is from October 2022.

The first important trait is Forgotten Nightmares that forces the enemy to always target the nearest opponent unit when choosing a target for the shooting attacks. This allows to consider which units are exposed and which are not, better protecting your most fragile heroes.

The second trait of the army reflects the aspect of the army that would be hitting like a tidal force before retreating once again. This is represented in game by the Tides of Death, a list of bonuses that you obtain depending on the game’s turn: from running and shooting or charging in the second battle round, to the coveted strike-first for all Idoneth units in the third battle round.

If your army enlists at least an Isharann (and you should definitely have one), then you can choose a ritual to influence the bonuses provided by the Tide effects. The power of this trait is that you choose the ritual not during the list building, but during the first round. So, if you are against a powerful shooting army like the Kharadron, you can choose to use the Ritual of the Creeping Mist, meaning that enemy units further than 12″ from your units cannot shoot in the first battle round.

The final aspect to choose is the Enclave or sub-faction. The Idoneth have six:

  • Ionrach (the oldest enclave, focus on Akhelian heroes)
  • Nautilar (some of the best coral-artisans, focus on Leviadons)
  • Mor’Phann (secretive enclave from Shyish, focus on healing Namarti)
  • Fuethán (the most aggressive, focus on Allopexes)
  • Dhom-hain (independent and fierce inhabitants of Ghyran, focus on Namarti)
  • Briomdar (master of stealth and ambush, focus on ambushing tactics)

Apart from these abilities, the Idoneth have also access to Command Traits, Artefacts of Power, Mount Traits and the Lore of the Deep.

A notable command trait is Unstoppable Fury, that transforms an Akhelian King in a veritable monster during the High Tide round (usually third round): +2 attacks for each enemy unit within 3″, in addition to their already strong profile and the ability to strike first (as part of the High Tide).

And if you need to ensure even more survivability to your Akhelian King, the Armour of the Cythai prevents any special effect from happening on an unmodified hit roll of a 6 from your opponent attacks. For example no extra mortal wounds or Nurgle disease points. But Isharann also have access to good artefacts like the Rune of Surging Gloomtide that allows to set up another Gloomtide Shipwreck deep within enemy lines if cast by a Soulscryer coming out of ambush.

The mount traits are available both to Leviadons, like Reverberating Carapace that increases the range of the Void Drum ability, and Deepmares, like Voidchill Darkness that reduces by -1 the hit rolls of enemies around your Akhelian King, once again increasing his survivability and offensiveness.

The spells available to the various wizards are collected in the Lore of the Deeps, like Arcane Corrasion that worsen an enemy rend characteristic by 1.

Units and their roles in the Idoneth Deepkin Army

Heroes in Idoneth Deepkin

Heroes can perform Heroic Actions, in addition to the other abilities they can perform. You do it in the hero phase and you can only do one heroic action. Here is the list:

  • Heroic Leadership: on a 4+ (or 2+ if your general has been slain) get a command point only that hero can use.
  • Heroic Willpower: one non-Wizard hero can attempt to dispel or unbind a spell for that phase like he was a wizard.
  • Their Finest Hour: can be used only once by each hero to improve save and wound rolls by 1 for that turn.
  • Heroic Recovery: a disengaged hero can heal D3 wounds if he rolls less or equal to his bravery with 2D6.

The Akhelian King model is probably one of the most majestic kits available in Age of Sigmar. In game, he is the veritable leader of your army with a scary profile and many options to improve it further. For example, if he is a general with the Unstoppable Fury command trait, he can get +2 attacks per enemy unit within 3″ when affected by the High Tide.

With his high flying movement, positioning him should not be a problem, and with his ability Lord of Tides, he can be affected by the High Tide twice in a single game instead of only once. If he is charging, his Bladed Polearm gets even better (and you should probably prefer this weapon loadout to the Greatsword), summed with the effects of the High Tide and is already embedded +1 to hit within 9″ (for Akhelians only), he can become easily 7+ attacks on 2+/2+, rend -3, 3 damage, strike-first on the round he charges 2+ different units (like a hero and his entourage). And that was only his polearm, you still need to calculate the Falchion and the Deepmare attacks.

And if you want to increase his survivability, the Armour of the Cythai prevents enemy special effects from activating on an unmodified 6 to hit, meaning no extra mortal wounds, Nurgle disease points, etc while the Voidchill Darkness mount trait reduces by -1 the hit rolls of enemies nearby.

This would mean lots of eggs in the same basket, but you can easily accompany him with some Eel riders for extra protection (and benefit from the +1 to hit bubble and abilities like the Lord of Tides).

From the same kit you can assemble Volturnos, High King of the Deep. While he is not a bad warscroll by any means, being a named character, it cannot be improved further so he struggles a bit in comparison with the more versatile Akhelian King. He has similar bonuses as his counterpart, in addition he is much more resilient to magic (ignore any spell or endless spell effect on a 3+) but is still not enough to dethrone the standard king.

Eidolon of Mathlann, Aspect of the Storm

The next hero in this list is another extremely intricate model with excellent quality of details representing the Eidolon of Mathlann, the Sea God. While the elven god has been long dead, in case of extreme danger, the Idoneth are able to summon this vengeful spirit made from the essence of all dead Idoneth to protect the reef. It comes in two different version, the Aspect of the Storm is the melee-focussed fighter.

His main trait is the ability to always retreat and charge, and to heal and improve his spear damage when charging. He is a good front-line fighter, and can also buff all friendly units +1 to wound (complementing the Akhelian King +1 to hit).

The other profile, the Aspect of the Sea, is instead a wizard, a double caster, with the ability to heal every time he successfully cast a spell. He could further improve this with the Endless Sea Storm command trait that allows him to cast an extra spell every time he successfully rolls 7 or more (healing himself in the process).

His signature spells are either a debuffer or a spell that can heal or inflict small damage to another unit. If you need to cast more spells to heal yourself, then this is good source of extra alternatives.

Both Eidolon, as all Isharann, have a 5+ after-save ward that makes them even more resistant and great choices to spice up your lists.

The Akhelian Thrallmaster is the latest hero to join the fray for the Idoneth. His role is to support the Namarti hordes, in particular in the combat phase where he is able to choose between 3 different fighting stances.

Of this, Way of the Riptide is, most of the time, mathematically better than Way of the Depths, so the choice really comes between this offensive ability or protecting a bit your Namarti with the other stance. You choose every combat phase, so you have time to decide.

In a Namarti-heavy list, the Thrallmaster is definitely a must-have.

The Isharann Soulrender is the more melee-oriented of all Isharann, but his main use is there to support Namarti units by resurrecting fallen comrades. He has better attacks than most other spiritual leaders.

In a Morphann army, he can resurrect 3 more Namarti per battleshock phase, making him even more palatable if you are focussing on Namarti and want to increase their survivability.

Elathain Ill-fated is a named Soulrender from the Warhammer Underworld warband that takes his name.

The Isharann Soulscryer is the only priest of the army and, while the army does not have a list of prayers he can choose from, he still has access to universal enhancements like Curse to increase the mortal wounds allocated to an enemy unit.

His specialization, however, is ambushing tactics. He allows to put Idoneth units in reserve, to be deployed at the end of a Movement phase within the battlefield borders. The Briomdar enclave can further improve this ability by raising the number of units in reserve to 3 and extending the area around the Soulscryer for deployment. Or you could use the Soulscryer to deploy a Gloomtide Shipwreck deep in enemy lines after he comes out from ambush.

The Isharann Tidecaster is the single caster wizard of the army. Simply enlisting one allows to choose 2 Isharann rituals instead of 1, to buff the tides abilities.

She is an ok support unit and the only alternative to the Eidolon if you need someone who casts a spell (otherwise you need to pick the Arcane Tome or an ally).

Lotann, Warden of the Soul Ledgers is a named character and one extremely contentious. In the second edition he was one of the worst warscrolls, so much that he was considered a meme. In the third edition, he learned from his mistakes and he is now a much better support unit.

To start with, he can add +1 to wound to all friendly fighters (and their mounts, meaning he is more powerful than an Eidolon and even better complements an Akhelian King +1 to hit). In addition he can allow once per game to give a ritual buff to a single unit, outside of the normal tide round.

Lotann concludes our list of Idoneth heroes, but is not by far the last you should consider in your list.

Monsters in Idoneth Deepkin

Monsters can perform special abilities called Monstrous Rampages at the end of the Charge phase. Each action can be performed only once per phase therefore only up to 4 monsters can perform one at a time. Here is the current list:

  • Roar: on a 3+ an engaged enemy unit cannot issue or receive orders in the following combat phase.
  • Stomp: on a 2+ do D3 mortal wounds to an engaged unit that is not a monster.
  • Titanic Duel: + 1 to hit rolls against another engaged Monster.
  • Smash to Rubble: on a 3+ demolish a close-by terrain feature, disabling its scenery rules.

The only monster available in this army is the gargantuan Akhelian Leviadon. It counts also as a Behemoth unless in a Nautilar army where it becomes Battleline.

If you are attracted by the Idoneth look and feel, I think that describing a giant flying turtle used as a living ram by a group of sea aelves on top of its carapace is enough to convince you about the importance of this piece in your army. But if you need more incentives: the Leviadon has shooting attacks, damage on charge and some scary melee profiles including -2 rend 3-damage jaws.

In addition, the drummer on its top increases the save rolls of most units within range and provides a +1 to hit bonus to Namarti units (remember the Akhelian King gives it only to other Akhelian units). If you are playing a Namarti-heavy list, a Leviadon is another tool in your arsenal. It is not as good as it was before, but it can be further improved with mount traits like Reverberating Carapace that increases the drum range.

Battlelines in Idoneth Deepkin

The Namarti Reavers are the archers of this army and one of the basic troops available. When considering their profile, you cannot omit all different buffs that they can receive, from supporting heroes (like the +1 to wound from Lotan and the +1 to hit from a Leviadon), from the tides ability (like strike-first on the third round) but also from spells or other elements (like the 5+ ward when nearby a Gloomtide Shipwreck). And while most of these buffs are melee, and this is a ranged unit, they still benefit from them.

They even have an incentive to get close to the combat with a hit buff when within charge distance of an enemy. Or you could keep them just at the edge as skirmishers ready to harass your enemy or garrison them in a Shipwreck. And they are both battleline and cheap, a great combination for a simple troop.

The Namarti Thralls are the great winners from this book. As explained above for the Reavers, they can benefit from many melee buffs and is easy to bring them to 2+/2+. To give you an idea, 20 of them, just with the simple presence of some heroes nearby, can do around 40 damage against a unit with a Wound characteristic of 3 or more and a 4+ save.

That is before considering that a Soulrender can potentially pop 3 back to life per battleshock phase, a Thrallmaster can give them exploding hits (+1 hit for unmodified roll of 6 to hit) or a Leviadon can give them +1 save. And the list goes on. And once a unit is lost, you should have anyway other units ready to replace them.

A balanced list should have a bit of everything, but the Namarti really absorb buffs well. Their only nemesis is units with a wound characteristic of 2, since they have no natural bonuses against them.

Conditional Battlelines in Idoneth Deepkin

The Akhelian Allopex is a scary unit, well it’s literally a flying shark! It comes with 2 different weapon profiles, both can shoot but one focuses more on the damage aspect (4 attacks for D3 damage each) the other in preventing pile in moves to their target (that can be deadly in certain situations).

They also get an attack bonus if they are close-by a unit that lost wounds or models in the same turn, meaning that they could use the Unleash Hell command ability when charged, just to get 1-2 wounds in and trigger their bonus during the combat phase.

A Fuethán army makes Allopexes battleline and allows to take three of them as a single Bloodthirsty Shiver unit. This gives one of the Allopexes in the group exploding 6s to hit (they even triple when close-by a wounded unit).

The Akhelian Leviadon becomes battleline in a Nautilar army. Note that this removes the Behemoth trait (with all its limitations).

The final unit is the infamous “eel riders” that so much scared the Age of Sigmar battlefield in their first iteration. The Akhelian Morrsarr Guard is the offensive one of the group. They add to the battlefield incredible speed (14″ of flying movement on a cavalry base) and decent attacks when charging. And don’t forget all various buffs they can inherit in this army.

You will often choose which unit to engage and at the right time you can unleash their special damage on charge that can be quite effective against horde units (D3 damage on a 5+ for each eel in this unit).

The only requirement to make them battleline is that your general is an Akhelian King, and we have already seen how good he is as the leader of your army, so you should have this covered in almost any list.

The Akhelian Ishlaen Guard is more defensive, with the equivalent of the ethereal trait where their save characteristic cannot be modified (in positive or negative) except when they charge which becomes a 3+. Not bad for an elite unit still able to dish some damage (remember the buffs from other supporting heroes in particular the Akhelian King).

They don’t hit as hard as the Morrsarr, but they are not there to do the damage, rather than to absorb it. As their offensive brothers, the only requirement to make them battleline is having your Akhelian King as a general.

Wizards and Priests in Idoneth Deepkin

Eidolon of Mathlann, Aspect of the Sea

The Idoneth Deepkin have only two Wizards in their roster: the Eidolon of Mathlann, Aspect of the Sea and the Isharann Tidecaster. The Eidolon is a double caster, while the Isharann is a single caster. They both have access to the Lore of the Deep, with some interesting spells like Arcane Corrasion that reduces an enemy weapon rend, or Steed of Tides that allows to tele-transport a hero.

The Isharann Soulscryer is the only Priest in the warband, but there is no list of prayers to choose from for the Idoneth. You can, however, still select a prayer as an universal enhancement.

Other units in Idoneth Deepkin

Elathain’s Soulraid

The last unit in this army is Elathain’s Soulraid. This is a warband from Warhammer Underworlds Season 4 Direchasm containing some cool proxies for a Soulrender, 2 Namarti champions and then… well Duinclaw is one of the most appreciated model in the game, as we have already seen. Unfortunately the good things to talk about in this unit end with their physical description.

Endless Spells, Terrain and Start Collecting in a Idoneth Deepkin Army

Idoneth Deepkin don’t have Endless Spells (this has been a meme for a long time as one of the few armies released for Age of Sigmar 2.0 without them). However they do have a terrain piece, and a big one too. The Gloomtide Shipwreck can be assembled as two separate small features or a big one that can occupy a decent portion of terrain slowing down non-flying armies. A small one can be garrisoned by up to 5 low-wounds units, a large one by 10, so the best use in that case would be 10 Namarti Reavers.

All Idoneth within 6″ of this terrain feature get also a 5+ ward that greatly increases their life expectancy. An Isharann can be equipped with a Rune of the Surging Gloomtide artefact for the ability to set up an extra Shipwreck during the game.

The Idoneth Start Collecting box was short-lived but was immediately replaced by the Vanguard box that contains a great deal of miniatures if you are thinking to start an Idoneth army: an Isharann Soulscryer leading 10 Namarti Thralls, an Akhelian Allopex and a unit of 3 eels that can be set up as a Morrsarr or as the more defensive Ishlaen. It’s a good core from where to start your collection.

Content of Vanguard: Idoneth Deepkin box

Tactics and Final Verdict on the Idoneth Deepkin Army

Summarizing, the Idoneth Deepkin are a fast and mobile army, able to control the board and hit where they prefer. Exactly this ability to choose the skirmishes they want to commit to and move away from those unfavourable, is not something all beginners will be able to benefit from.

It will take some time to learn to use them properly, but afterwards they are extremely satisfying. Their game is characterised by their main ability, the Tides of Death, where they hit and retreat as the ebb and flow of a tide.

In the first round they are protected by alpha-striking armies (those that commit their greatest firepower in the first turn), in the second turn they will start reducing the gap, even the slowest units they have, like the Namarti, will be able to get into the skirmish by running and charging or running and shooting.

In the third battle round, the climax. They will be able to strike-first, unless they encounter another strike-first army or someone who can disable their bonus. This is the round where everything will be decided, as being able to fight with every single unit before the enemy can retaliate will often decide the game.

And finally the fourth round they can retreat and charge again where is more important. Remember there are ways to alter the flow of the tide, like the Akhelian King ability to give the High Tide (strike-first) ability to up to 3 units in a different round, or the Isharann rituals that improve them.

Regarding list building, the Akhelian King is a great favourite as general and heavy hitter, accompanied by some Akhelian Guard, Morrsarr for attacking purposes and Ishlaen to guard objectives. The Namarti can form few big blocks that float around your support heroes to get the most out of the different bubbles and hit hard the enemy frontlines.

If you decide to invest heavily on Namarti, it is worth considering the Akhelian Leviadon, the Akhelian Thrallmaster and one or two Soulrenders to distribute the weight of the various buffs. You can mix and match adding Reavers, Allopexes and various support units as you prefer.

The bonuses the army gets will be extremely important for a good flow of the battle, meaning that beginner players may find it difficult to obtain some successes with them. Aesthetically they are some of the best looking units and are a cohesive force. They play as you would expect and there’s plenty of options available.

A highly recommended army.

Eidolon of Mathlann fighting off a horde of Nighthaunt

Other resources

Some excellent information that we often use from articles like this one comes from YouTube channels like Warhammer Weekly with Vince Venturella, AoS Coach and of course The Honest Wargamer.

If you are interested in the competitive standpoint, when we talk about statistics, a tremendous effort is done by Rob from the Honest Wargamer, Ziggy and Tsports Network! in the AoS Stat Centre with precious information, constantly kept up to date.

Really good informative material is also collected by Dan from AoS Shorts.