Hedonites of Slaanesh Battletome: The Goonhammer Review

Hedonites of Slaanesh have been a difficult faction for Games Workshop to tackle. From the get-go with the release of their first battletome, players quickly realized how broken the faction’s summoning mechanic was, and how every ability the army had favored heroes. Then they  realized how damaging those heroes could be when they could all swing twice, with exploding hit rolls. And how deadly Keepers could be, doing mortals on 6s to wound. Most armies didn’t stand a chance if Hedonites made it into combat, and Godseeker host gave the army the buff it needed to do just that, with an army-wide +1 to charge.

The result was complete and utter domination: While you saw the occaisional outliers, Slaanesh armies were holding three of the top 5 spots at almost every major tournament, with the exception of one GT where no Slaanesh armies were played. Again this wasn’t a surprise – the Summoning mechanic was so good that for every Keeper of Secret your opponent killed, you could generate enough Depravity Points to summon another one, or 30 Daemonettes, if you were somehow losing on objectives.

Shortly after launch, a Tome Celestial White Dwarf subfaction was released – Syll’Esske’s own subfaction, which allowed you to double your accumulation of Depravity points. Now players were summoning an extra 2,000+ points to the table. For every Keeper killed, two more would take its place.

Is it any wonder they were nerfed through multiple FAQs and the Wrath of the Everchosen Supplement?

Since then, the army has been more stable, but has gone majorly unnoticed on the competitive scene – popping up here and there with Lurid Haze-Invader Hosts with Archaeon or Chaos Warrior blocks and ambushing Marauder bombs, but its summoning has been reigned in and its become more of a “regular combat army.” Hedonites have gone from being a tier zero dominant force to regular 3-2 or 4-1 play or 5-0 with the right matchups and play.

So with the new battletome on the horizon, how is this set to change?

Credit: Liebot – https://instagram.com/liebot_pics

The New Battletome

The prospect of a new Battletome for Hedonites of Slaanesh is an interesting one – they’re certainly at a pivotal point in the lore thanks to events in Broken Realms: Morathi, and conceptually they need a bit of a ground-up reworking when it comes to how Depravity Points work, to ameliorate the mess that the last book ended up being after several patches. This new book does some of that, but will look very familiar to Hedonites players. There are some big changes to how you accumulate Depravity Points and new units, but much of the book is returning content. So is this a ground-up reworking of the faction or an evolution from the adjustments made in the FAQ and Wrath? We’ll come back to that later. Let’s dive into what’s here.

Before we dive in, note that we won’t be covering everything – stay tuned for an upcoming Start Competing: Hedonism for more depth. Additionally we owe a “thanks” to Games Workshop for providing us with a preview copy of the book.

The Major Changes

Let’s run through some of the major army-wide changes in this book.

Locus of Diversion: The Locus of Diversion has changed, no longer having opponents within 6” fight last but now has a 1” range and prevents Pile-in moves until the next combat phase. This makes it look like a really short range Alopex T-shirt/Net cannon. It doesn’t seem that great at first glance, but given how fragile some heroes and units are, this can definitely help survive prolonged combats with horde units. 

Now the bigger question is “What horde units should Slaanesh armies be worried about?” and that’s fair. Maybe Daughters? Are Mortek hordes still around?

Depravity Points: Another big rule that was all but guaranteed to change. The general breakdown here is:

  • Summoning happens at the end of the Movement phase
  • You can only summon one unit per turn
  • Each summon costs you a number of Depravity Points
  • Depravity Points are generated at the end of any Battleshock phase, at a rate of 1 point for each unit that was dealt a wound or mortal wound and not negated, or ended up with fewer models in it than it started the turn with in which, during the turn
  • Summoned units are placed wholly within 12” of any hero or your Fane fo Slaanesh and more than 9” away from enemy models.

This is a MASSIVE change – basically, instead of heroes required for all of the work, every unit on the table is a potential Depravity Point waiting to happen on every player turn. And the most anything costs to summon is 12… for 30 Daemonettes or a Keeper of Secrets.

This seems… pretty good.

One of the big changes however is that Depravity Points are harder to come by in some respects – many effects that used to give D3/D6 points now give 1/D3 instead, flattening out the curve a bit.

One Faction, Three Ways to Build

As was teased on Warhammer-Community this week, there are three different ways to build Hedonites armies now. Lore-wise, these are a bit weird, since they seem to hint at a Hedonites faction that is still hunting for Slaanesh as opposed to one that has actively seen its god return to the fold. Many of these are pulled forward from the last Hedonites book, and a lot of this will be familiar ground to veterans. Still there have been some slight tweaks that we’ll point out where we see them, and we’ll still be calling out some of our favorite rules from the book for those of you new to the faction.

Invaders

Those dedicated to spreading excess to the far corners of the Mortal Realms, the key gimmick of Invaders is giving you three generals to play with, but only one can be given a Command Trait. Plus the first time each one dies you get a Command point. The catch is that they can’t use Command Abilities within 12” of other generals. You’re also rewarded with Depravity Points for having your generals in enemy territory (1 point for one general, D3 for all three).

For Command Traits, most of these are unchanged: Best of the Best lets you re-roll wounds while you’re near another Hero and goes great on Keepers. Glory Hog gives you a command point at the end of the Combat phase for Destroying an enemy unit, which can be good if you’re going to be starved for Command Points (though this may be unlikely in Invaders). And Skin-Taker lets your general heal D3 wounds at the end of any phase where they kill a model, which is also great on Keepers. Territorial has changed a bit however – now it gives you re-rolls on melee attacks while your general is wholly within your territory. Delusions of Infallibility gives you two wounds now as well, making it a bit more competitive.


On the Artefacts side, these haven’t changed much – the Rod of Misrule gives you a chance to score more Command Points every Hero phase (1 and your opp gets one, 2-5 and you get one, 6 and you get D3), which can also help generate more Command Points. The Icon of Infinite Excess gives you a once-per battle activation ability that grants a 12” aura giving friendly Hedonite units +1 to hit, which is always good even if you only get it once (note that this does not affect the Euphoric Killers ability). Fallacious Gift lets you curse a Hero’s weapon before the game starts, and at the end each battle round they take a mortal wound if they attacked with it – this can be good if you plan on fighting someone but not killing them every turn and may be good against Morathi. And the Beguiling Gem lets you pick an enemy Hero within 3”, roll 3D6, and if you score over the Hero’s Bravery, you reduce their Attacks by one, potentially to zero. Alright, then.

Pretenders

Pretenders are led by powerful, charismatic individuals who fancied themselves worthy of becoming the next Slaanesh. Their special battle trait – Magnificence Made Flesh – gives your general two battle traits instead of one. Also, while your general is on the table, Pretenders units with 10+ models re-roll hit rolls of 1 with melee weapons. You’ll score bonus Depravity Points for having your general within 3” of an enemy unit at the end of the battleshock phase (1) or within 2+ units (D3), rewarding you for having them get stuck in.

The Pretenders have a few interesting Command Traits – Monarch of Lies gives you an inbuilt -1 to hit in combat against an enemy Hero within 3”. Craving Stare forces units to lose an additional D3 models when they fail a Battleshock test within 6”, which can be really nasty if you can force them to do so. Strongest Alone gives you re-rolls on hits while there are no other friendly models within 6”, so you use that to throw a combat hero down a flank and see what happens, or have a shooting hero picking off key targets from afar. And Hunter of Godbeasts gives you +1 damage against monsters, which is great for helping you kill Teclis, Archaon, Nagash, or other Keepers of Secrets. Remember you get two of these, which can make for some nasty combos.

On the Artefacts front, the Crown of Dark Secrets let you pick an enemy Hero at the start of the first battle round and then for the rest of the game you can re-roll hit rolls and unbinding attempts made against them by the bearer. Re-rolling hit rolls is nice, but the ability to re-roll unbinding attempts is pretty juicy right now. Pendant of Slaanesh heals you D3 wound each Hero phase, good on Keepers. Sceptre of Domination lets you steal a command point from an opponent on a 4+ if they have a Hero within 12”. Breathtaker gives you re-rolls on your Locus of Diversion rolls, which is pretty cute. And Mask of Spiteful Beauty lets you pick an enemy unit each Hero phase within 6” and give them -2 Bravery for a turn. This is an underrated ability that increases your opponent’s need to spend Command Points to not battleshock, or making battleshock even more devastating. It also combos well with Craving Stare.

 

Godseekers

Godseekers are out there hunting for any trace of the Dark Prince’s whereabouts, which seems odd given the recent story developments around Morathi. But here we are. Their big trait is that they get +1 to charge rolls. In army construction they’re compelled to take Seekers, and they score Depravity points (D3) when their general makes a charge, plus one more if another Godseekers unit does as well. This is easier to score but much less loaded than before.

On the Command Traits side, there have been some changes – Thrillseeker has been replaced by Sweeping Slash, which has you roll for each enemy unit that ends up within 1” after your general makes a charge; on a 2+, they take D3 mortal wounds. Generating Depravity Points when charging multiple units you don’t plan on killing? Yes, please. Symphoniac also shifted a bit – now it deals mortal wounds on a 3+. But the big winner here is still Speed-Chaser, which gives your general the ability to retreat and charge in the same turn.

Godseekers’ artefacts are largely the same as before, though Cameo of the Dark Prince now only gives you a command point once per game. The Lash of Despair has you roll for each enemy unit within 6” at the start of the Shooting phase and dealing a mortal wound to them on a 4+. And Girdle of the Realm-Racer lets you trade 1 wound for the ability to Fly.

Credit: RichyP

Spell Lore

There are still three lores for Hedonites, though only one major change to the Lore of Slaanesh, and both are worth mentioning here.

Phantasmagoria still has a Casting Value of 7 and has you roll 6D6 for an enemy unit within 18”. For each 5+ you roll, reduce their Bravery by 1. This can be an interesting combo with Craving Stare and Soulslice Shards. Soulslice Shards also returns, having you roll 2D6 and dealing 1 mortal wound for each number you beat the target unit’s Bravery by. Born of Damnation saw its Casting Value drop to 4, making it easier than ever to heal a model within 6” but it lost the rider giving it D6 wounds on a 10+.

The Forbidden Sorceries of Slaanesh is the Lore open to Greater Daemons and has one major change – Song of Secrets is gone, now replaced with Paths of the Dark Prince, which gives the caster the ability to Fly for a turn, basically turning you into Naruto. Progeny of Damnation is back but dropped to Casting Value 5(!!) and so healing is absolutely still on the menu boiiiis. Slothful Stupor saw a similar drop, to Casting Value 7. Still 12” to pick a Hero who cannot use command abilities, run, or charge. Still amazing.

The Lore of Pain and Pleasure is for mortals. It’s still… pretty bad. Battle Rapture lets units auto-pass battleshock tests, Dark Delusions is back, giving +1 to hit against a unit if you can roll equal to or above its Bravery on 2D6. And Hellshriek is gone, replaced by Judgment of Excess (Casting Value 5), which has you pick a unit within 12” and it takes 1 mortal wound for every five models it has (minimum 1).

Battalions

On to the Battalions! The Hedonite Host is basically unchanged, and there’s still a question as to whether it can be played in 2k games. The Supreme Sybarites are also the same as before, and still good. The Epicurean Revellers are unchanged. The Seeker Calvacade kept the same rules but added some of the new Seekers units, letting you mix things up a bit more with Blisbarb and Slickblade Seekers.

There are some new Battalions as well – the Depraved Carnival is Slaanesh’s “Wytchfire Coven” stolen right from Tzeentch’s playbook (and I GUESS Kunnin’ruk… silly Orruks). It consists of three Lords of Pain or Shardspeakers in any combination plus 3 units of Blissbarb archers and gives you an extra round of shooting for a Blissbarb archers unit each Hero phase.

The Nobles of Excess focuses on the new Myrmidesh Painbringers and Symbaresh Twinsouls and gives you the ability to re-roll wound rolls if you charged that turn. And the Exalted Speed Knights calls for 6-9 units of various Seeker units and lets D6 of them get a pre-game scout move of 6”. I love this ability – if the new knights end up being worth their points, this could be incredible.

Points-wise, the Battalions either stayed the same or saw a 10-point drop.

Credit: Svbfloorvg

The Units

So what’s new here, and for the old stuff are there any big changes?

The Old Stuff

Most units whose points changed got more expensive, giving the faction a bit of a nerf points-wise.

If you were worried about the Keeper of Secrets, breathe easy – they’re largely the same and got blessed with a sizeable price drop. Though it comes with a a catch, the change is small enough you might miss it. The command ability, Excess of Violence now states its boon to attack a second time can be used on other units, so it can no longer buff itself. This is a nasty hit, as Keeper of Secrets would frequently want to grant themselves this boon. It’s not a complete deal breaker though, it just requires you to think smarter to find a better target for the ability. Syll’Esske on the other hand lost their in-built ability to fight twice per turn (once with each weapon), but now adds 1 to their attacks if they have even numbers of Daemons and Mortal Slaanesh units within 18”, and if an attacker rolls a 1 to hit them, they get +1 to hit for the rest of the phase. Not bad. Shalaxi on the other hand… well, I’m not sure why you would ever take them over a normal Keeper, honestly.

The Contorted Epitome lost its ability to re-roll unbinding attempts… which is a bummer. The new Horrible Fascination rules for it are pretty spicy however – it’s no longer forcing opponents to “swing last” but rather on a 4+ preventing units from being able to attack it until the Epitome has made attacks. So if the Epitome is the only unit your opponent is stuck in combat with, they might be wasting full activations doing nothing to the Epitome. That’s super solid.

The Infernal Enrapturess lost her +1 Depravity every turn…lame. Fiends on the other hand kept their Disruptive Song ability which gives Wizards within 12” -1 to cast. They also do decent damage and now that non-Hero units can generate Depravity Points, they might see real play.

The New Stuff


Glutos! The new Big Baddie n Co, Glutos Orscollion has a full page of rules. Glues himself doesn’t attack in combat; only his steeds and companions fight. He comes with a built in +1 to cast, dispel and unbind – nice. Like Katakros from the Ossiarchs, his companions die first before he dies. While he’s on his top bracket wound profile he has all of his companions and at that point his priestess provides a 2+ prayer that gives him a 5+ roll to prevent damage – pretty good on an 18-wound model. His Painbringer friend and Steeds are actually pretty scary, and the painbringer is the last companion to die; the steeds only lose attacks as he dies (going from 6 to 3, not bad, given they’re 3 damage a swing). Glutos’ command ability allows a friendly unit within 12” to, if they overkill a unit, heal by the amount of wounds that they overkilled the target by. So. much. Healing. In this book. Can’t experience eternity if you’re not around for it, I guess.
His spell also halves the target’s: move value, run rolls, AND charge rolls they make.
How rude of him. With a Casting Value of 7 (6 on dice for him), it’s pretty easy to throw out. Gross.

As you might expect, Sigvald is a man-sized murder machine. He has a built-in +3 to charge. He’s not locked to a faction, so, in Godseekers, he has +4 to charge, naturally. His Attacks characteristic is also interesting – it’s either: 5, OR whatever his UNMODIFIED charge roll is (note that the average result on 2D6 is 7). And he attacks first if he made a charge move that turn, giving him juice in the pseudo activation war, and Keepers can make him attack twice. If he charged on a natural box-cars… That’s potentially 24 attacks for that turn. Oooof.

There are also new Seeker flavors – Slickblade Seekers and Blissbarb Seekers, plus the foot-slogging Myrmidesh Painbringers. Do you like unmodified 6s to wound causing mortals in addition to normal damage? Well so do they! Also: Each of the new Seeker variants has 4 wounds per model. Slaanesh eels, I guess?

The walking Blissbarb Archers are interesting as well, with the ability to move 6”, run and shoot, and they have 2 attacks each at 18” with -1 rend and 1 damage – not bad, though note that they don’t have the additional mortals that their Seeker-mounted kin do. Also they come in units of 11 for some reason.

Twinsouls are interesting – you pick one of two abilities for them on turn 1 and they alternate between that and their other ability each round throughout the game. The first of these lets you re-roll hit rolls for melee attacks and the other is a 5+ damage prevention roll, which can make them a little tanky with the right timing. At two wounds apiece, it might be OK but they come at a pretty high cost – 170 points for a unit of 5.

And then there’s Slaangor Fiendbloods. Oddly, they don’t have any relevant gor or Bullgor keyword, though they DO have the Beasts of Chaos Keyword. So they can be put into that faction, they just get zero benefits… sure. They have 3 attacks with claws at a 2” range with -1 rend and 1 damage each, and the unit champion gets an extra two attacks at 1” that do 2 damage. The whole unit gets +1 Attacks on all their profiles if they charge and after combat you have a chance to do mortal wounds for each Slaangor in the unit. 

Losers

They can’t all be winners – there are some losers in the book as well. 

Unfortunately Slaangor Fiendbloods fall into this category. They really could have been cool. But they cost the same as regular Bullgor, which are probably/definitely better and they don’t even get exploding 6s to hit any more. They also lack the Gor or Warherd keywords, which is just obnoxious, making them a Beast of Chaos with no support… Well, that scans. Welcome to Beasts of Chaos since forever, I guess.

The Twinsouls and Painbringers also seem way overcosted. The Twinsouls being tanky every other turn is cute, but it likely won’t save them in the long run. The Painbringers can do mortals in combat, but so can their mounted counterparts and so can Keepers, making these less valuable. And Keepers can pile in and attack twice and make others do the same. PIck your poison there.

Some Lists

Finally, let’s talk about some lists – heres an idea I’m kicking around for lists based on the new battletome.

Godseekers
Realm of beasts:

Keeper of secrets:
-General
-Sinistrous Hand: Heal d3 after combat if you killed any model.
-Speed-Chaser: can retreat and charge.
-Predators Torc: Reroll charging attempts. (remember they are +1 to charge.)
-Spell: Slothful Stupor (once they are in your opponents face, shut down any counter threat.)

Epitome of Slaanesh:
-Cameo of the Dark Prince: once per game relic to gain another command point. (to spite those lumineth players and their filthy “total eclipse” spell nonsense.)
-Spell: Hysterical Frenzy.

Glutos, the boss himself: 
-Spell: Dark delusions

Sigvald, The Other Boss Himself

Battleline:

X20 Daemonettes
X10 Daemonettes
X10 Daemonettes

Battalions:
Supreme Sybarites

Endless spells:
Geminds (It’s Geminids, and, Turn 1 Long range depravity grab.)
Mesmerizing mirror (For early and late game Depravity generation.)
Chronomatic Cogs (Rerolling saves of +3 to charge, with god seekers buff, +6 to charge for sigvald is.. spicy.)


X4 drops
X85 wounds
X1 extra command point (plus the relic for another +1 and the battalion for a potential 3rd.


Generates a ton of depravity quickly, by turn 2 you should have a new keeper, no sweat.

Odds and Ends

Finally, there are a few questions that the book leaves us with, namely:

  • Do units that were fully wiped out count toward Depravity Points as “a unit on the battlefield that has fewer models in it than it did at the start of the turn?” That “on the battlefield” bit seems to indicate that they don’t count, which may be an OK failsafe for preventing players from gaining too many CP as they destroy enemy units.
  • Do the Lucid Haze, Scarlet Cavalcade, or Faultless Blade forms of the Invader, Godseeker, or Pretender hosts from Wrath of the Everchosen still apply to the army? If so, it’s peculiar to not include them here.
  • Is the Syll’Esskian Host from the Tome Celestial still playable? RagnarokAngel Note: This one should still be playable – GW made a clear statement that White Dwarf rules would still be allowed past a certain date. Though given that the costs are now so much lower this might be FAQ’d.
Credit: Svbfloorvg

So How Good Is This Book?

All in all, the new Battletome looks really good. The new Depravity Point rules look great, allowing more than just heroes to participate in the army’s special fun times, i.e. summoning free blocks of daemonettes or keepers or whatever. But the big concern is whether the required Depravity values are, as with last time, too low – the right list may not even need its opponent to do anything in order to generate a keeper or 30 daemonettes every turn, which in turn, generate more Depravity points. 

Combat-wise, the faction only got better with the addition of Glutos and Sigvald and now the faction has shooting to boot, plus mortal wound shooting and a ton of healing options. It definitely feels like being back in 2019 when the first book dropped. Let’s hope that it’s not quite that bad but… well, I’ve got a bad feeling about this one.

If you’re a Hedonites player, you’ve got good reason to be excited about this new tome – the new range looks great, some of the units are really strong, and there’s good reason to believe that this new version of the army will return the faction to its place among the game’s top-tier armies. 

What are you most excited about for the new book? Mortals are definitely going to revolutionize how the faction works, but daemons aren’t left in the lurch either. There are some intriguing new ways to approach this faction and we can’t wait to see how that happens. Are you going to continue tradition or embrace the new flesh? Let us know on social media or at contact@goonhammer.com