Faction Pack Overview: Hedonites Of Slaanesh – Age of Sigmar 4th Edition

Thanks to Games Workshop for sending us these rules and the Skaventide box set for review. Over the coming weeks, we will be having experts provide insight into how they are building and running lists with each faction in Age of Sigmar. For this overview, we’re looking at what stands out for each faction, how much has changed, and how we might approach some key challenges on the tabletop.

I’m not a Hedonites player but the reaction to the army abilities has been mixed to say the least. I’m sensitive to people that are worried about change and don’t want to handwave or dismiss the concerns they have. After reading through the faction pack I think there are A LOT of fun warscrolls and abilities that will take some time to figure out. Part of me had thought that there would be several abilities on warscrolls that provided synergy or enhanced Hedonites units based on the army rules. There are not. Temptation dice are not referenced by any of the other rules directly but many of the units are set up to take advantage of an overeager opponent.

What is sprinkled throughout the warscrolls are a lot of abilities that involve the Control, giving the army bonuses while fighting units contesting objectives. 

Michigan GT display board with Haxonites of Slaanesh. Credit: Michael O “Mugginns”

Army Rules

There are two battle traits here – Euphoric Killers gives Euphoric keyworded units the passive ability that gives weapons Crit (2 Hits) and allows the unit to use a run and still use shoot and charge abilities later in the turn. The second, An Excess of Depravity, feels like two or more abilities mashed together. It triggers at the start of the battle round and the affects are:

Pick up to three Hedonites units to have Euphoric for the rest of the battle round.

In addition, for each friendly unit you pick you give a temptation dice to your opponent. They can use 1 dice to replace a wound, save, ward, or run roll with a 6. They can use 2 dice to replace the dice in a charge roll with 2 6s.

When your opponent uses a temptation dice they must roll it. On a 1-2 inflict D3 mortal damage on the unit after the ability has been resolved.

In the prior edition the focus of the temptation dice was your opponent. They were offered dice, and had to make a choice if they would accept them or not. The focus of the temptation was your opponent, who would suffer one of two bad outcomes. This edition the target of the excess appears to be the Slaanesh player who needs to resist the urge to provide your opponent an automatic charge. Being able to run, and then shoot and charge, is an extremely strong ability and getting additional hits is even more powerful. However, the ability to guarantee a charge is even stronger and not activating enough units to let your opponent accomplish this is a temptation that the Slaanesh player needs to resist. I’ll let the experts play this faction and figure out the optimal play style; I think that Excess of Depravity is something that should be used sparingly by the player. I’m not saying this is a good thing, or trying to convince people that this is a “great ruleset” but I see the thematic thread and after looking over the rest of the rules I think this army has a lot of fun.

Battle Formations

All of these are passive abilities and all of them have some specific uses that I could see an army being built around them. Reckless Haste or The Ecstatic Throngs, if you’re building around infantry or cavalry, are extremely strong but Godly Ambitions pushes the control scores of your units.

  • Depraved Carnival: Add 1 to hit rolls for Sybarite Infantry while they are damaged or if they had any models slain in the same turn.
  • Seeker Cavalcade: Friendly Hedonites Cavalry units can retreat without taking mortals and charge in the same turn.
  • Epicurean Revellers : Non-hero daemon units roll 3 additional dice when using the rally command.
  • Supreme Sybarites: Add 3 to the control scores of friendly non-hero Hedonites when they are within the combat ranges of any friendly Hedonites of Slaanesh.

Heroic Traits

Any hero can take one of the following, just not Unique heroes, as is standard and doesn’t have to be your General. Once again, all of the abilities are passive making them easy to use. 

Glory Hog

If an enemy Hero is destroyed by this unit, for the rest of the battle it has the Euphoric keyword. This is one of the two abilities that reference Euphoric and is highly dependent on your opponents positioning.

Strongest Alone

Add 1 to hit and wound rolls for this unit’s attacks while it is more than 6” from all other friendly units. This is extremely good on a strong unit like the Keeper of Secrets but also with any Hero that you’re not relying on tight-aura buffs from like the Contorted Epitome or Bladebringer Herald on Exalted Chariot; the latter hands out a wholly-within 12″ buff but with some careful placement you could get the best of both worlds. 

Into the Fray

If this unit charged this turn with an unmodified 8+ this unit has strike-first for the rest of the turn. Across one game you’re only making a handful, or fewer, charge rolls and needing an 8+ is a bit of an ask for First Strike. Will it be incredibly amusing when you get it on a Counter Charge and get to attack first with a Keeper of Secrets? Absolutely! But your game plan shouldn’t hinge on that. 

Seekers of Slaanesh – Credit Beanith

Coveted Treasures 

Like most armies a couple of these are once-per-battle effects, but the Pendant is a nice passive that any larger hero (chariot or Keeper) would love to have.

Icon of Infinite Excess

Once per battle, any combat phase: pick a non-hero unit wholly within 12” of this unit and add 1 to the attacks characteristic of melee weapons for the rest of the turn. Extra attacks are just always good. Slaanesh typically plays as an alpha strike, glass cannon, army so punching harder, early, will help. 

Threnody Voicebox

Once per battle, any combat phase: for the rest of the turn subtract 1 from the Attacks Characteristic of melee weapons used by enemy units that are in combat with this unit. You get this through the current season’s rules anyways with a little setting up, so having two places of it could be nice but either of the others will typically be better picks. 

Pendant of Slaanesh

End of any turn: if any damage points were allocated, heal (3) on this unit. Easy to achieve with most of your melee heroes and helps keep them going. Being any turn means that’s easily 6 health healed each battle round, too, no small amount!

Lore of Extravagance

Sadistic Spite (6 – Unlimited)

A Friendly Euphoric unit’s melee weapons has Crit (Mortal) instead of Crit (2 hits) for the rest of the battle round. This is the second and last ability that references Euphoric. Only impacting Melee weapons is expected with the elimination of mortal wound shooting in the game.

Overwhelming Acquiescence (7)

Pick a visible enemy unit within 18” and add 1 to wound rolls unit your next turn. Simple. Easy. This is a very good spell since many of the units wound on a 4+ and it affects both shooting and melee attacks. There aren’t a huge number of other bonuses to wound in the army and the 18″ range is generous enough that you should be able to use it every turn. 

Phantasmagoria (5)

Not just a dope FMV game, this is an incredible spell. Your wizard picks an enemy unit within 12″. Until your next turn, each time the target is picked to use a fight ability you can pick a friendly unit in combat and move 2D3” – it can pass through the combat ranges of enemy units and can end that move in combat. This is one of the few ways you can move out of combat. Getting an enemy unit further away from your buff pieces will be big. Because the trigger is the enemy unit picking a fight ability and the movement is not a “pile in” using this with the Lord of Hubris can completely disrupt an opponents fight phase. 

Manifestations of Depravity

The Mesmerising Mirror is definitely something that can help control a battlefield and the two other manifestations are very good against hordes/lower health units. The Morbid Conjuration lore with the Purple Sun also feels like it would pair well with the faction. 

Mesmerising Mirror (Summoning 6/ Banishment 7+)

How this performs on the battlefield is going to be very interesting. If an opponent declares a move wholly within 12” and does not move closer to this manifestation you inflict D3 mortal damage to your opponent. Secondly, in any movement phase you can inflict D3 mortals to an enemy and add 1 to hit rolls for that unit (essentially a buff) for the rest of the turn. The mirror doesn’t move and how the Hedonite player positions it to counter opponents movement is going to take some time to figure out. A lot of actions, like charges and retreats, are moves.

Wheels of Excruciation (Summoning 6 / Banishment 7+)

With an 8” move and a combat profile of (2D6 attacks 4/4/0/1) this manifestation is good for cutting down on larger groups of models. If it passes over enemy units you can pick up to 3 and roll 6 dice for each target. Each roll that is less than the target’s save inflicts 1 mortal damage.

Dreadful Visage (Summoning 7/ Banishment 7+)

This manifestation has an average attack profile (8 attacks 3/4/1/1) but the real power comes in the combat phase where it picks an enemy unit and rolls 6 dice. For each 4+ inflict 1 mortal damage and if any models are slain the target has Strike Last for the rest of the turn.

Fane Of Slaanesh

This terrain has 10 wounds and a 4+ save. In your hero phase you can pick a Hedonites unit wholly within 12” and inflict D3 mortal wounds. Then, you can give that unit +1 to wound rolls, +1 to run and charge rolls, or add 1 to casting or unbinding rolls. Being able to get a bonus to casting or unbinding rolls is rare in this edition and the ability to buff your Euphoric units shouldn’t be underestimated.

Warscroll Showcase

Daemonettes of Slaanesh
Daemonettes of Slaanesh. Credit: Richyp

First, I want to highlight “The Masque” with a deployment phase ability that allows you to be set up more than 3” from all enemy units. This model is incredibly small and with the right mix of terrain can be completely hidden if you want to give your opponent first turn. With a 4+ ward and the ability to Heal (3) it feels like it can be one of the most fun units to give Euphoric Killers to in the first round. Allowing this unit to Run and Charge means you can redeploy and countercharge in your opponent’s turn.

Sigvald once again returns with a passive ability that doesn’t allow wards to be made for damage points inflicted with combat attacks. Now, with the ability to countercharge in your opponents turn, his strike first and profile of (5 attacks 2/3/2/2) makes him another disruptive unit.

On the other hand, if you’ve given two temptation dice to your opponent you can position them behind the Symbaresh Twinsouls. This Sybarite unit subtracts 1 from the melee weapons used by enemy units while they are in combat range if they did not charge and they get a 5+ ward. With careful positioning two of these units can blanket the rest of your army even if an enemy can only receive the attacks reduction once.

Depraved Battle Tactics 

The speed and ability to get charges off make both of the chaos battle tactics easily achievable. With all of the strike-last abilities Do Not Waver can be easily picked up after the second round on. With the ability to run and charge with units that move 12” Take Their Land and Seize the Center are achievable in the first round on almost every map.

Euphoria or the Dregs

I don’t know how the Depraved followers of Slaanesh will feel when they get to look at everything that they’ve been given. This army feels like it will take more than a few builds to work out how all of the abilities are best used with the new core rules and I’ll likely still be asking “What does that do” for the first few games against them.  

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