Sick of those squares following the other 3 Chaos gods dragging you down? Want to move fast as hell and slice your opponent into a million pieces like your favorite anime? Strike out on your own as the Hedonites of Slaanesh and forge your own path of revelry and decadence as servants (or usurpers!) of the Prince of Pleasure, Slaanesh
Slaanesh is largely focused on speed. Their units force their enemy to attack last, they have above average movement and a ton of attacks. While Khorne might defeat his foes with overwhelming strength, Slaanesh prefers death by a thousand cuts, ideally before your opponent gets a chance to strike back. Unlike Khorne, Slaanesh has access to a solid suite of spells that allow their followers to hold their own against other wizards. Your units also have access to some interesting mechanics, such as your greater daemons being able to challenge enemy heroes to a duel, with deadly results. While your standard units aren’t bad by any means, your Heroes are where the action happens and you’ll be using them a lot more than most armies.
- Fast as hell – As has already been alluded to a few times by this point, Slaanesh is fast. In most matchups you will have the advantage in speed and seizing objectives
- Strong – You’re not just fast but also strong. Most Slaanesh units have an absurd number of attacks and can catch opponents off guard.
- Pain makes you stronger – Similar but different to Khorne, dealing or taking wounds (that dont kill) builds up a counter that lets you summon new units in, allowing you to keep the party going.
- Flexibility in build options – Slaanesh has 3 different subfactions with radically different playstyles. You can adjust to whatever style you play.
- Bravery isn’t an issue – This faction is almost all Daemons, meaning they come with the standard Bravery 10.
- Lack of model variety – When the Slaanesh book came out GW released a ton of new models including the long coveted Keeper of Secrets in plastic (With a named variant). Most were new characters but aside from new fiends there wasn’t a replacement for old units and an almost complete lack of mortal options that other chaos gods get. So while your subfactions are diverse the actual models you get to choose are limited.
- Lack of ranged – Outside of your Heroes you basically have no ranged attacks, meaning you have to focus on getting up close and personal or using spells to hit opponents from far away.
- Has been nerfed heavily – Slaanesh has been hit with a double whammy with fairly recent updates that both weakened its core mechanics and also raised the point cost. It has yet to be seen just how much this hurts.
- Your friends will hate you – Due to the previous reason, Slaanesh can have a bad reputation in the meta scene. I wouldn’t worry too much here though, they’re just not any fun.
It’s hard to ascertain exactly how badly Slaanesh has been hit by the relatively recent nerfs its been slapped with. For those who missed Slaanesh during its peak, Slaanesh reigned supreme as the best army in the game when the new book came out in March of 2019, and managed to hold that title almost to the end of the year. It’s was fast, strong and the Depravity point faction ability, which allowed wounds that injured but did not kill to be cashed in for new units. The cost of new units was a little too on the cheap side which led to chain summoning Greater Daemons, no matter how much you tried to put them down.
Back at Christmas 2019 they received a huge debuff to their primary abilities Feast of Depravities and Locus of Diversion. Then in the General’s Handbook 2020 they received several point increases. With Covid occuring there hasn’t been time to see how much the Christmas debuff hurt them, let alone the point hike. After the change to mechanics from Christmas we’ve seen Slaanesh crop up less often in tournaments as meta-chasers went elsewhere and the lists that do appear sometimes do great and sometimes somewhere in the middle.
These are generic allegiance abilities available to all Hedonites of Slaanesh players.
Feast of Depravities
One of two mechanics which gave Slaanesh its position as the most powerful force in Age of Sigmar. Feast of Depravities turns non-lethal wounds into points that can be exchanged for prizes! Anytime a Slaanesh HERO deals a wound or takes a wound and it does not kill a model, you generates 1 point. Even if you do enough damage to kill an enemy model, everything but the kill shot will count. So if you kill a 3 wound model with a 3 Damage attack, the first 2 points of damage generate Depravity and the final one does not. Once you have generated enough points to summon a new unit, you can summon them within 12″ of a Hero (but more than 9″ from the enemy) at the end of the movement phase.
In practice what this means is that facing multi-wound models are very good for you, while multiple 1 Wound models are bad news. You cant harvest pain from someone who dies at a stiff breeze after all. You’ll wanna stack your army with a lot of Heroes in order to maximize Depravity Points you can generate, particularly Keeper of Secrets.
The point costs of most everything has been changed so don’t rely on the battletome. The cheap stuff remains the same while other stuff gets vastly more costly to summon. The updated version is below:
|Unit||Depravity Point Cost|
|Keeper of Secrets||45|
|3 Seeker Chariots||35|
|1 Contorted Epitome||23|
|1 Bladebringer on Exalted Chariot||23|
|1 Bladebringer on Hellflayer||20|
|1 Exalted Chariot||20|
|1 Infernal Rapturess||17|
|1 Bladebringer on Seeker Chariot||17|
|1 Seeker Chariot||15|
Locus of Diversion
Your other unique ability and another reason to stock up on Heroes. At the end of the charge phase, each Slaanesh Hero can pick one enemy unit within 6″. As of the latest errata you roll a die and on a 5+ (a 3+ if it is a Greater Daemon) and if you succeed, that enemy unit will always go last in the fight phase. This will let you get the upper hand on the enemy as you can probably charge further than they can and then rub salt in the wound by gaining a first strike against them as well. If you fail the roll, you can’t try again on that unit, even with another Hero.
A notable exception to the “always goes last” however. Ironjawz have an ability called Smashing and Bashing which allows a unit to immediately attack if a nearby friendly unit destroyed a unit. This is applied after the Locus of Diversion which allows it to ovewrite the “go last” part. This means you need to be careful who you target when going after orruk players because with some clever positioning they might be able to overwrite one of your best abilities!
Basically exploding 6s. If you roll an unmodified 6 to hit with any of your units, you get 2 hits. You still need to make wound and save rolls for them as normal.
Another nice bonus is if youre targetting a unit of 20 or more models, the 6 counts as 3 hits. Good for cleaning up those pesky hordes!
Hosts of Slaanesh
These are your subfactions: The Invaders, the Pretenders and the Godseekers. Were going to explore these a bit different than we usually do as the subfactions work very differently from other books from Age of Sigmar. In most books with subfactions you gain a new allegiance ability and command ability but are required to take a specific warlord trait and relic when possible. For Slaanesh you have 3 subfactions, these are not optional. Each one grants its own set of Allegiance Abilities, Command Traits and Artefacts. So rather than breaking down Command Traits and Artefacts into separate groups like usual, I’m going to divide the guide into the 3 different factions instead to keep things coherent. Remember they all get to keep Feast of Depravities, Locus of Diversion and Euphoric Killers.
In the AoS lore, Slaanesh is missing and their followers are fragmented. The invaders are the more anarchic remainders of Slaanesh’s followers. The fact that Slaanesh is missing doesn’t seem to be a good reason to stop having a good time so they are largely focused on invading realms and defiling the land before moving on for greener pastures (which they can also corrupt).
For a time Invaders were a popular choice in the meta, though since then Syll’Esske’s Host and Godseekers gained some traction as well. They get to have 3 generals to represent their more anarchic nature and given how dependent you are on your Heroes, you will not be short of candidates.
Figureheads of the Dark Prince
You get 3 generals, kind of. Only one gets a command trait, which you get to choose, but you treat all 3 as Generals for the sake of Command abilities, which often gives better range if delivered from a General. This comes with a catch: you have to keep them split up. If 2 Generals are within 12″ of each other they cease to be able to use Command Traits or abilities until they split up again, Invaders are a jealous lot. So keep them as spread out as possible and utilize the expanded range of command abilities to grant yourself better board coverage.
As a “perk”, if on of your Generals dies you get a free command point. Not something to strive toward but makes the most of a bad situation.
At the start of your Hero Phase, if any of your units are wholly within enemy territory, gain D3 depravity points. If 3 or more units are, gain D6 instead. This is worth milking and given your excellent movement potential you can almost always keep at least one unit within enemy territory. 3 might be difficult but if you can do it, go for it.
Invader Hedonite Host
Changes the requirements for units in the Super Battalion. Not worth commenting on as, as usual, you will never use the Battalion in the first place. Every subfaction has its slightly different version of this and it doesn’t get better.
- Best of the Best – Reroll wound rolls of 1 while this General is within 6″ of a friendly Slaanesh Hero. A good trait, save for not being allowed to be within 12″ of one of the “secondary” Generals meaning you have to have a fourth Hero around. In many other armies this would be a big ask but in Slaanesh it’s a lot more reasonable B+
- Glory Hog – At the end of the Combat Phase if any enemy units were destroyed and your General is on the battlefield, earn 1 CP. Likely something you can do consistently as Slaanesh and a good bonus B+
- Hurler of Obscenties – At the start of the combat phase, pick an enemy Hero within 6″ of this General. The enemy Hero gains +1 to hit your General but -1 on its saves. Bit of a risky proposition, but if you hit it with the Locus of Diversion (Which thankfully you’ll know before you use this Trait) then you can potentially kill it before it gets a chance to attack anyway. B
- Territorial – Add 1 to the depravity points you recieve for the Escalating Havoc trait if your General is wholly within enemy territory. Great on some deployment maps, not so good on others. It also requires you to possibly over extend your General and is a bit too risky for what it does C
- Delusions of Infallibility – Add 1 to wound characteristics of General. Meh. C
- The Rod of Misrule – Roll a die in your Hero phase, on a 1 your opponent gets a CP, on a 2-5 you gain a CP and on a 6 gain D3 CP. Interesting item, the benefits outweigh the downsides unless youre a very cautious sort. B
- Rapier of Ecstatic Conquest – Pick a melee weapon, on a 6 deal a mortal wound to the target. This is on top of the exploding 6s from Euphoric Killers and given you often have a high volume of attacks, to begin with this isnt a bad choice, but you have better. C+
- Whip of Subversion – At the end of the combat phase pick an enemy HERO within 6″ of the bearer. Pick one weapon this HERO has and deal a number of mortal wounds equal to that weapon’s characteristics to that HERO. Heroes often have weapons with a lot of attacks so you won’t be lacking in options. Good way to tap off a Hero who gets too close. B+
- Icon of Infinite Excess – Once per battle you can pop this, add 1 to hit rolls for friendly units within 12″. Not bad, though I’m not a huge fan of once per battle artefacts. B-
- Fallacious Gift – After setup, pick an enemy HERO‘s weapon. Any turn the HERO attacks with that weapon, deal a mortal wound to it. Nasty way of shutting down a powerful General, set this up on your opponent’s Artefact to throw them off. B+
- The Beguiling Gem – At the start of the combat phase pick an enemy HERO within 3″ of the bearer and roll 3D6. If you beat their bravery score, subtract 1 from attack characteristics of all their melee weapons. Odds of this working are pretty good and the effect is best on an Hero with a lot of different weapons B
Pretenders are the followers of Slaanesh who’ve decided that in the Prince’s absence, they will attempt to take their throne instead. As such its functions almost as a mirror to Invaders in playstyle. Instead of having multiple generals you get one superior one.
While more neglected than the other factions, Pretenders are still pretty good. Doubling up on Command Traits is not to be taken for granted.
Heir to the Throne
Grant your General 2 command traits. If for some reason you rolled and got doubles, you can reroll the second until it doesn’t match the first. Nice ability of course, and the benefits are obvious. As a bonus, any unit with 10 or more models you can reroll hit rolls of 1. Unfortunately you won’t see much use in this part as you are rarely using units of 10, let alone more than one.
Similar to Escalating Havoc, except you gain D3 depravity points if your General is within 3″ of an enemy unit and D6 if within 3″ of 3 enemy units. This is a bit better than Escalating Havoc because your General is probably a Keeper of Secrets and they are awesome in combat.
Pretender Hedonite Host
Again, changes the Hedonite Host Super Battalion. This one changes it to only require one Hero instead of 3-6. Better, I suppose but you still won’t be using it.
As most of these are pretty underwhelming it’s worth keeping in mind you do get to pick 2 of these instead of 1.
- Strength of Godhood – Once per combat phase, add D3 to the damage of one attack by this general. Not bad but not great B-
- Monarch of Lies – At the start of the combat phase, target an enemy Hero within 3″. That Hero takes -1 to hit rolls. You’re already well equipped to take on Heroes so this just makes it better. B
- True Child of Slaanesh – Each Hero phase roll 6 dice, gain a DP for each 5+. That’s roughly 2 each turn which isn’t a lot especially as the price inflation made it even less useful than before. C
- Strongest Alone – Reroll all hits when no friendly units are within 6″. I wouldn’t advocate sending your general completely alone in most situations but your Keeper of Secrets certainly can. B-
- Hunter of Godbeasts – Add 1 to the damage inflicted against Monsters. I generally don’t like things targetting Monsters because you don’t know when its most useful but at least it can be paired with something else here. C+
- Inspirer – Do not take Battleshock tests for friendly units within 9″ of the General. Your army is almost completely Daemons in small groups, Battleshock tests are not your problem. C
- Crown of Dark Secrets – During the first battle round pick an enemy Hero, for the rest of the game the bearer gets to reroll hits against that Hero and reroll unbinding rolls when unbinding spells by that Hero. Put this on a Keeper of Secrets and make your opponent’s biggest Hero afraid to fight it. B+
- Pendant of Slaanesh – Heal D3 wounds each Hero phase for the bearer. Not a bad pick. B
- Sliverslash – Add 2 to the attack characteristic of a bearer’s weapon. Very nice, Keeper of Secrets can always use more attacks. A-
- Sceptre of Domination – At the start of any Hero phase, if the bearer is within 12″ of an enemy Heroes, roll a die. On a 4+ they lose a command point and you gain one. Artefacts that generate CP are common but this goes one step further. Very nice. B
- Breathtaker – Reroll the Locus of Diversion roll for an enemy unit within 3″. This is better after the Locus nerf but one of the few artifacts that’s less useful on a Keeper of Secrets because the odds are still pretty high. It’s still not the worst artefact B-
- Mask of Spiteful Beauty – Pick an enemy unit each Hero Phase, subtract 2 from their bravery. Bleh. C-
Last of the Battletome’s factions. Godseekers are the ones hoping to find Slaanesh and liberate them, so they can return them to their throne. On the table, these guys move fast even by Slaanesh standards and can almost guarantee a first turn charge. Gaining Seeker Chariots as a battleline is actually a decent perk in a list that is built around them.
Godseekers have popped up more now since the changes, the ability to use Seeker Chariots as battleline is a powerful bonus if used correctly, as it’s an almost guaranteed charge and unlike Daemonettes have extra wounds to generate DP.
Add 1 to charge rolls. Short and sweet and if you have a bunch of chariots, as you probably do it has obvious uses.
Much like their cousins, this one also generates Depravity points for doing the Hosts “thing”. In this case, after charging you gain D3 command points if one unit made a charge move in this phase and D6 if 3 did. This is probably the worst variant of the 3 because you can only do so many charge moves a turn and this is going to dry up once the armies are locked down.
Godseeker Hedonite Host
Last one of these. Has you take more chariots, less daemonettes. As always, who cares?
- Hunter Supreme – Reroll hit and wound rolls of 1 if your general made a charge roll this turn. Well, you’re Slaanesh so that’s probably just happening by default. B+
- Thrill-seeker – Your general can run and charge in the same turn. If they can already do that they can add 3 to their charge rolls. One of the two most popular choices and it’s easy to see why. Guarantee those turn one charges! A
- Into the Fray – Your first attack roll each combat round counts as an unmodified 6. Many relics and warscrolls give bonuses for getting unmodified 6s, such as the Keeper of Secrets, so this isn’t a bad call B+
- Trail-Sniffer – At the start of the Hero phase, if your general is wholly within enemy territory, roll a die. On a 3+ add 1 to the attack characteristics of their weapon. This requires a bit too much setup for one bonus attack, and you have such stiff competition. C+
- Symphoniac – Roll a die for each unit within 3″ at the start of the combat phase. On a 2+ deal one mortal wound. Unlikely to really do a ton of wounds over the game C
- Speed-chaser – Your general can retreat and charge in the same turn. The other most popular choice. Plays well into Godseeker’s DP gain mechanic, you have no excuse for not retreating and charging just all the time. A
This is a unique host that was added in White Dwarf of October 2019 it’s a unique subfaction focusing on Syll’Esske, one of your named characters. The host comes with no Command Traits or Relics, because youre intended to use Syll’Esske as your leader. As a named character she cannot take either, so nothing lost. Your other Heroes will need an artefact though, so pull from the realm artefacts. Remember that the Malign Sorcery ones are now invalid and you have to go off of the General’s Handbook.
Despite that, it holds its own. It’s gained a lot of popularity due to its ability to generate depravity points at a ridiculously fast rate.
At the start of the battle, if your Daemon and Mortal units are equal to each other gain D3 command points. If they are equal and you have more than 12 units, gain D6 Syll’Esskan counts as 2 units. While you probably won’t hit 12 units, particularly with the price hike, this is pretty nuts.
This is why this is so good. Essentially, when you would recieve Depravity points (but only from Damage dealt and taken not other sources), double it. Especially since the price inflation for DP, you’ll need this.
Spells are divided into 3 schools. One for any Wizard, one for Greater Daemons and one for Mortals (How nice of GW to think of them)
Lore of Slaanesh (All Wizards)
- Lash of Slaanesh – Casting Value 5. Pick a point within 12″. Draw a line through it and for each enemy model it crosses, on a 4+ deal 1 mortal wound. Takes a lot to set up and doesn’t deal enough to be worth it. C
- Pavane of Slaanesh – Casting Value 7. Pick an enemy Hero within 6″ and roll a number of die equal to the target’s movement characteristic. For each 5+ deal a mortal wound. Actually quite good, many Heroes have decent movement characteristics and you can use this againt them. B-
- Hysterical Frenzy – Casting Value 7. Pick an enemy unit wholly within 18″ and roll a die for each model, on a 6 deal D3 mortal wounds. A popular pick, good way of clearing out hordes and generating a handful of depravity points if theyre multi wound models. B+
- Soulslice Shard – Casting Value 5. Pick an enemy unit within 18″. Roll 2d6 and deal a mortal wound equal to the difference of that number and the unit’s bravery characteristic. On average you’ll roll a 7 so unless youre fighting something like Gloomspite Gitz it’s not enough wounds to be worth it. C
- Phantasmagoria – Casting Value 7. Roll 6 dice, for each die that rolls a 5+ subtract -1 bravery. On average that’s -2 Bravery which isn’t terrible. C
- Born of Damnation – Casting Value 5. Heal 1 wound on a friendly Hero, D3 on a 10+ casting roll. A budget Progeny of Damnation from the Greater Daemon lore, still not bad to pack. B
Forbidden Sorceries (Greater Daemons)
- Song of Secrets – Casting Value 7. Pick an enemy unit wholly within 18″ and roll a die for each model in the unit. On a 6 generate one depravity point. While this doesn’t hurt them, it’s more DP and is especially valuable if you got put up against an army with a lot of 1 wound cannon fodder. At least you can take advantage of whats normally a bad situation. A-
- Progeny of Damnation – Casting Value 7. Heals D3 wounds to a hero within 6″ of the caster, D6 if casting roll is a 10+. Practical use of this is obvious, your Keeper of Secrets takes wounds to generate DP, so you patch it up so it can take some more. Don’t leave home without this spell A
- Slothful Stupor – Casting Value 8. Pick an enemy hero within 12″ of the caster, until your next Hero phase they cannot use command abilities, cannot run or attempt to charge. This is a nice spell but due to the high casting value and short range its pretty hard to set up. Combine it with Keeper of Secrets having access to two other powerful spells in this school in addition to the generic Lore of Slaanesh this is hard to justify B
Lore of Pain and Pleasure (Mortal Wizards)
- Battle Rapture – Casting Value 5. Pick a MORTAL unit wholly within 18″ of the caster and they ignore Battleshock tests. If you roll a 10+, 3 units can ignore battleshock tests. I can see some niche utility in this in a Syll’Esskan Host list, but its limit to just Mortals, and the fact you’ll basically never have large enough units to worry about this really narrows its use down. D
- Dark Delusions – Casting Value 5. Pick an enemy unit within 18″ and roll 2D6. If you roll equal to or over their bravery, all your units gain +1 to hit that unit. Not bad, especially if you’re fighting low bravery army like Gloomspite Gitz but probably worth keeping at home when fighting Daemons or Death. B-
- Hellshriek – Roll a die for each enemy unit within 6″. On a 5+ deal one mortal wound. Way too low damage to be worth it and requires you to get awfully close. D
- Wheel of Excrutiation – Casting Value 5. Predatory endless spell that moves 12″, whenever it passes over an enemy unit roll 6 dice, and deal a mortal wound for each roll under the targets save characteristic. Not bad against more squishy targets, particularly Heroes.
- Mesmerizing Mirror – Casting Value 6. Predatory endless spell that moves 6″. Does a few things, first, if a unit begins its move 12″ or closer, they must end their move closer than they started, or take D3 mortal wounds. Second, after this model moves, roll 6 dice for each model within 6″ of this model. In one of the most bizzare damage calculations I’ve seen, multiple the number of 6s by itself and deal that many mortal wounds. (e.g. if you roll one 6, deal 1 x 1 = 1 mortal wounds, if you roll two 6s, deal 2 x 2 = 4 mortal wounds etc.) Neither of these affect Chaos Slaanesh Heroes. Interesting choice, helps draw the enemy where you want them (or away from you) and then punish them for doing so. It’s comparatively very expensive though.
- Dreadful Visage – Casting Value 7. Predatory endless spell that moves 8″. After moving, select the closest unit and roll 6 dice. For each 4+ deal a mortal wound, also subtract 1 from bravery of enemy units within 12″, and add 1 to Slaanesh units within 12″. Unlike Mesermizing Mirror this can affect your own guys so make sure it ends closest to an enemy unit. Not bad otherwise.
As of the General’s Handbook 2020, it appears the battalions that came with the Syll’eskan Host in White Dwarf are invalid for pitched battle so they won’t be included here. That’s fine, they weren’t terribly popular or great anyway.
1-3 Supreme Sybarites, 1-3 Epicurean Revellers, 1-3 Seeker Cavalcades
Do note that each subfaction except for the Syll’Esskan Host modifies the exact number of units. It’s a super battalion, and while in the past it might have been reachable, especially as a pretender, it really wasn’t feasible anyway. All it did was add 1 to bravery characteristics (For an army of mostly Daemons which have a 10 anyway) and D3 depravity points per turn. Meh.
3-6 Chaos Slaanesh Heroes
At the start of your Hero phase, roll a die. If it is equal to or less than the number of units in this battalion on the field gain 1 CP. A nice little perk but the cost has since gone up, as has the cost of your best Heroes. Probably too expensive now.
2-6 units of Daemonettes, 0-4 Hellflayers, Exalted Chariots or Fiends in any combination.
If a daemonette rolls an unmodified 6 on a wound roll, deal a mortal wound instead. Not bad, if you fill your battleline with daemonettes and you have the points maybe worth considering but probably costs too much now for the occasional mortal wound.
2-6 units of Seekers or Hellstriders and 0-4 Seeker Chariots
Essentially models in this unit can pile-in 6″ instead of 3″. This used to be reasonably popular for lists using lots of Seekers (of course) but again due to the combined price hikes for the best Heroes, corners need to be cut elsewhere.
Similar to the other mono-Chaos gods, you can include units marked with Slaanesh even if they’re not in the battletome. This actually comes up a little bit more often in Slaanesh than other gods because Slaanesh has almost no Mortal units, consisting almost entirely of Daemons. In most cases, this isn’t a problem. Its less variety but they mostly hit all the bullet points you wanted anyway. However due to the restraints around a Syll’Esskan Host list, you might need to branch out a bit. Common choices for Mortals from Slaves to Darkness are Chaos Warriors and Sorcerer Lords of Slaanesh.
Keeper of Secrets
Let’s get this one out of the way first because it’s going to be a recurring theme on your lists. For a 2000 point list you will likely use 3 of them (possibly 2 and the named variant Shalaxi) because these things are the workhorse of your army, so we’re going to talk about them a lot. To start they have a great stat block, 14 wounds and a 4+ save makes them decently tankie with a blindly fast 14″ movement at full health.
Lets talk weapon options: No matter what your Keepers get an Elegant Greatblade and Impaling claws. The Greatblade is a solid weapon all around, with a 3+/3+ profile and -1 Rend. 4 attacks to start but diminish as the keeper gets damaged. The claws only get 2 attacks but at -2 Rend and 5 Damage at max health, you can impale many Heroes who try and fight it in one round.
After that you have 4 options, for the most part you’re good to stick to the Ritual Knife or Sinistrous hand. Both have the same really good attack profile but grant different abilities, both with redeeming qualities. The Ritual Knife lets you pick one enemy unit within 1″ (As of FAQ the target needs to have suffered at least one wound first) at the end of the combat phase and on a 2-5 deal a mortal wound, on a 6 deal D3 mortal wounds. Great way of generating a few more depravity points or finishing off a stubborn unit who didn’t die to your first volley. The Sinistrous Hand lets you heal D3 wounds if it slayed any models this turn, D6 if it was HERO. Good for keeping your Keeper of Secrets in the highest damage bracket it can for as long as possible, because your opponent will try and beat this thing down.
The Aegis is a 6+ feel no pain which is still a solid option to keep them alive a bit longer. The whip is technically your only ranged weapon and while it is great against MONSTERs but youre unlikely to know youre fighting one until after the list is set up, so it’s probably just not worth it. At 6″ the word “missile weapon” is really stretching its definition.
Finally there’s a lot of powerful abilities to keep track of. An unmodified 6 with a melee weapon will trigger Delicate Precision which will let you do mortal wounds instead of normal wounds. Dark Temptations is a signature ability of the Keeper, letting you taunt an enemy Hero you’re engaged with to fight them. If they refuse they deal D3 mortal wounds, if they accept the bargain the enemy Hero gets +1 to hit for the turn. At the start of the next combat phase, they must roll a die. On a 1-3 the bonus simply goes away, on a 4-6 the Hero is slain! The odds on this are pretty good but naturally, open you up to potentially having your KoS slaughtered so don’t try and taunt someone who’s too powerful lest it backfire. Make sure youre willing to take the risk before committing.
To wrap it up their personal spell is not great, you can pretty safely overlook it. You get 2 castings so between your Battletome’s lore spell and other options you might use it but don’t make it a priority. The command ability, Excess of Violence however is fantastic. You can prompt a unit that’s engaged with an enemy unit to fight a second time. Feel free to use it on your Keeper of Secrets them-self to really do some damage!
Ultimately your goal with Keepers is pretty straight forward, they are powerful in melee, outfitted with many attacks and a decent save. They will be your workhorse so keep them alive long enough to deal the most wounds you can (And generate more depravity points). Trust them to do some damage but never take be granted that any monster can be felled with enough hits. In the past it was relatively easy to utilize Keepers to deal (and take) enough DP to just summon another in. While not as easy as it was before, it’s still the goal to shoot for.
The named variant of the Keeper. As you’d expect, Shalaxi is like a side-grade and unlike a lot of greater daemons, actually cheaper than their unnamed counterpart. They have an Aegis and Whip instead of choosing a weapon, which otherwise work the same. So while it’s not the ideal weapon loadout, they have other things going for them. Cloak of Constriction gives them a +1 to saves for melee weapons, totaling a 3+ save.Combined with Shalaxi’s unique spell Refine Senses which lets them reroll all hit rolls and saves and Shalaxi is pretty hardy.
Their version of Dark Temptations works very different, called Irresistable Challenge it keeps the D3 mortal wounds on a refusal to fight but you can target a Hero 12″ away instead of 3. Instead of getting a bonus they must charge and attack Shalaxi, if possible. Do this to pick on Heroes you know Shalaxi can take on (which is admittedly a lot of them!), and as a tool to pull weak mages and ranged Heroes out of the crowd of bodyguards who would try and protect them. This can be further amplified by Shalaxi’s unique ability The Killing Stroke which forces you to target an enemy Hero within 3″ with all of Shalaxi’s attacks but their Soulpiercer sword does 6 damage instead of D6! With Rend -3 you will chew through anything in the game pretty consistently, so draw them in and then just slaughter them. Woe to any who gets too close and isn’t ready to take them down.
Be aware that Shalaxi cannot be summoned by depravity points so be more careful with them than you would a vanilla Keeper. They can take more of a beating but once they’re dead, they’re not coming back.
Syll’Esske has gained a lot of popularity due to their unique legion. Syll’Esske is the only model both daemon and mortal, given they are in fact 2 individuals. Syll’esske is more of a buff bot than a frontline combatant but they’re quite competent at that. Their attacking is rather odd but lets you functionally nominate the model to attack twice, using a different weapon each time while the latter weapon gets to reroll hit rolls. I recommend saving the axe for second for bigger targets and the whip for larger units with 1 wound models.
The unique spell, Subvert, is great. Targetting a Hero within 18″ you can shut down their command ability for one turn, use this on a particularly dangerous Hero. Finally their swiss army knife of a command ability lets them either grant rerolls to hit within 18″ or ignore battleshock depending on which phase. Syll’Esske can handle their own if they get into combat, just don’t get cocky.
Mostly a dedicated caster, this weird model is popular in a lot of lists. Some even bring 2 if they can. First it gets to reroll all casting, unbind and dispel rolls, and absorbs mortal wounds on a 2+ which will frustrate your opponent’s magic users to no end. If it gets close to the enemy its Horrible Fascination lets you roll a die for each enemy unit within 6″ and on a 4+ they have to attack last. This escaped the FAQ change of Locus of Diversion, making it even better now, and can be targetted at an enemy where Locus of Diversion failed. It has 2 spells, with its unique spell Overwhelming Acquiesance being the Herald of Slaaneshs spell but better in every way, allowing you to reroll hit rolls of 1 for D3 units within 24″. Fragile on its own, keep it shielded from attacks as you would most wizards, it still needs to get fairly close to the enemy to be most effective, so be cautious with your placement, it isn’t very hardy.
Your Herald on foot, pretty decent. Has a 5+ Feel no pain save and 6 attacks but youre better off keeping them in the back. Their unique spell which grants rerolls of 1 is pretty good, or would be if the Contorted Epitome didn’t have a much, much better version.
A named Herald on Foot, and a glass cannon. The Masque loses its spell but can dish out a lot of melee damage but isn’t liable to survive a solid assault. It has a dizzying 6 attacks and can reroll all hits when targeting an enemy unit with movement 10″ or less and all wounds with movement 5″ or less, which lets them take on most infantry pretty handily. They only have 5 wounds and a 5+ save though, and even with a 4+ Feel No Pain you have to pick your targets wisely. If nothing else they are a cheap inclusion if strapped for points.
Another named Herald on foot and your only real ranged option and anti-magic the Rapturess isn’t great. It has 2 firing modes: one for groups and one for bigger targets and a really long range to boot. It gives one free depravity point per turn for each of them, and lets you screw with wizards 18″ away but cost a lot for what they do. It’s a niche you otherwise don’t really have so it’s worth considering if you can fit them in.
Bladebringer (On Seeker Chariot/Hellflayer/Exalted Chariot)
Three different mount options for the same Herald. Theres not much point into going into them individually because they functionally play the same role it’s just a question of how strong you want them to be and how many points youre willing to play to do it. Hellflayer can sprinkle in some mortal wounds and extra attacks, the seeker chariot moves fast and does damage on the charge and the exalted chariot combines the two. If you use any, the Exalted Chariot is excellent if you can afford the hefty point cost, with Seekers being a nice discount choice while Hellflayers sit in the middle.
These are mostly popular with Godseeker lists due to wanting to try and char an opponent as fast as possible and don’t see quite so much use in other types of lists.
Daemonettes aren’t…bad. As a Battleline option theyre quite good actually. At 2 attacks base with 4+/4+ to hit and wound and -1 rend and the ability to advance and charge in the same turn, most armies would love to have them. Their big issue is that slaanesh is very Hero orientated, as that’s what gets you your DP. As so much of your army is built around this, mostly everything that can’t pay in DP is basically dead weight. As a result, most lists are going to take 3 squads of 10 to fill their necessary slots and focus their points elsewhere.
Hellstriders with Claw-Spears/Hellscourges
Weapons aside, these are identical. Both count as Battleline in a Slaanesh army. They’re pretty boilerplate cavalry, banner letting you reroll charge rolls and icon adds 2 to bravery, while the instrument lets you reroll bravery of 1. They do have a unique feature where they gain an extra attack until the next turn if they kill a model, highly pushing for ping-ponging around the field to keep this bonus up.
The only weapon worth taking is the clawspears, which give an additional rend. Hellscourges have 3″ range but you’ll almost never be in a situation where that’s helpful over rend. Hellstriders have 2 clear uses: The first is in Syll’Esskan Host lists, as one of the few mortals present in the book it can help balance out all the daemon characters you took. The second is in Godseeker lists, as cavalry is the name of the game for a faction that wants to charge in as quickly as possible.
Battleline in a Godseeker’s Host Army, they actually do see some use in those lists as they play to the strengths of that army’s bonus that allows them to generate extra points while in the enemy zone. Other than the unique spell it’s basically what we’ve already seen with the herald riding it, just in a pack of 3. They can retreat and charge in the same turn (granting additional DP), and deals D3 mortal wounds on the charge. If you’re playing Godseeker Host, heavily consider this. Otherwise though, daemonettes are a most cost effective buffer of wounds while your Heroes do the heavy lifting.
Seekers without the chariots, duh. Seekers are like the daemon version of Hellstriders, packing a lot of the same bonuses. They do get to run 2D6″ instead of D6″ AND charge in the same turn making them really fast. Theyre really not bad and worth considering as an alternative to hellstriders as they do much of the same tasks.
Suped up chariots. These guys also get to do mortal wounds on a charge, and continue to do so while stuck in combat, potentially gaining an extra attack as well. Unfortunately the ability to retreat and charge like seeker chariots do is stronger. Exalted chariots are simply one model, they cost too much for what they do. I reccomend other chariots first, or put a Bladebringer on top.
The final chariot, Hellflayers have a weird niche. They have no bonuses to charging but do mortal wounds and gain an extra attack like exalted chariots while stuck in. Simply not worth it, stick with Seeker Chariots.
Occupy a strange niche. They do have a unique ability, Deadly Venom, where their Barbed Stinger attack’s damage scales with the wounds of their target which is a pretty interesting ability. At least, it would be if Age of Sigmar didn’t have damage roll over, making higher damage attacks better. This would be better if granted more attacks with large groups, but sadly it does not. They do subtract 1 from hit rolls (and wound rolls if the unit has 4 or more models) making them a little tougher, and can disrupt wizards, but you already have Contorted Epitome to do that.
All in all they dont really do anything particularly well and more exist as a novelty.
Fane of Slaanesh
This does 2 things. First, if you spend Depravity points and the summoned unit shows up within 12″, you get D3 DP back. Not bad. Second, if a Slaanesh Hero within 6″ of the Fane willingly takes a mortal wound you roll a die and on a 2+ that Hero can reroll all hit rolls until the next turn. It’s a small price to pay for an almost guaranteed success. You also have the option to chuck an Artefact in beforehand, instead of taking the wound. If you do so, you lose the artefact but the bonus is permanent for the game. An FAQ clarifies you can do this to a one time use artefact that’s already been spent so if you picked one of those, no reason not to do so.
I usually like utilizing semi-recent tournament lists but that’s not really possible. There still aren’t a ton of major tournament happening and lists from months ago are mostly invalid due to the point hikes and removal of Malign Sorcery artefacts from Generals Handbook 2020. So I’ll be using tournament lists as reference point and giving credit where credit is due, trying to trim some of the fat off.
“Erling”‘s Pretender List
This list uses the Pretenders which isn’t very common, but utilizes a lot of the same components of your standard Slaanesh list, making it a good building block for different builds. The original list had the Epicurean Revellers battalion but due to price increases in the Keeper of Secrets, which had to stay, I dropped that in favor of some Hellstriders as extra bodies. The base of this was a player by the name of “Erling” who placed 4th in the Norwegian Masters in February 2020.
Leaders Keeper of Secrets (380) General Command Trait - Strength of Godhood Second Command Trait - Strongest Alone Shining Aegis Artefact - Silverslash Spell - Song of Secrets Keeper of Secrets (380) Sinistrious Hand Spell - Progeny of Damnation Keeper of Secrets (380) Shining Aegis Spell - Slothful Stupor The Contorted Epitome (210) Lore of Slaanesh - Hysterical Frenzy Infernal Enrapturess, Herald of Slaanesh (140) Battleline 10 x Daemonettes (110) 10 x Daemonettes (110) 10 x Daemonettes (110) 5 x Hellstriders with Claw-Spears (110) Command Point Extra Command Point (50) Total: 2000/2000
Chris Bergman’s Syll’Eskan Host
As the Syll’Eskan host has gained a lot of popularity I thought it’d be worth looking into what makes this so good. I used Chris Bergman from LVO 2020’s list and tweaked it to be compliant with current rules.
Tweaking Syll’Eskan host lists is a little harder since you can’t remove units without disrupting the balance of mortal to daemon. that makes this whole thing worth it in the first place. So the list originally had the Seeker Cavalcade which has been removed. With the increase in points for the Keepers, Shalaxi and the Contorted Epitome that left 30 points leftover so I added Ravenak’s Gnashing Jaws with the remaining points. The artefacts from Malign Sorcery are gone so I gave one of the Keeper of Secrets the Trickster’s Foil from the Realm of Metal, letting them reroll 1s to wound.
As Daemon Heroes are the bread and butter of Slaanesh, this is often how these lists work. Load up with Daemon Leaders and then counter-balance it with mortal heroes in the Battleline.
Realm of Battle: Chamon Leaders Syll'Esske, the Vengeful Allegiance (200) - General - Lore of Slaanesh: Born of Damnation Keeper of Secrets (380) - Sinistrous Hand - Artefact: Trickster's Foil - Spell: Hysterical Frenzy Keeper of Secrets (380) - Sinistrous Hand - Spell: Progeny of Damnation Shalaxi Helbane (360) - Living Whip - Spell: Slothful Stupor The Contorted Epitome (210) - Lore of Slaanesh: Soulslice Shards Battleline 5 x Hellstriders with Claw-spears (110) 5 x Hellstriders with Claw-spears (110) 5 x Hellstriders with Claw-spears (110) 5 x Hellstriders with Hellscourges (110) Endless Spells Ravenak's Gnashing Jaws (30) Battalions Total: 2000 / 2000
So what did we learn? Hopefully that even with nerfs, Keeper of Secrets are awesome. Let them lead you to victory in the battle against boredom and if you have any list building advice I might have missed please let us know on social media or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!