After the rather tumultuous events of Broken Realms: Morathi, it’s hardly a surprise that the Hedonites of Slaanesh are now squarely in the spotlight for Age of Sigmar. Dancing graciously and eerily on center-stage, let’s gander through this update of the Hedonites and what it means for Slaanesh followers.
Despite that fact that it feels like only recently we got our hands on the first Hedonites battletome, it was actually almost 2 years ago. Thus, the new battletome landing now feels about right, especially alongside some of the changes Age of Sigmar and the armies within have seen in that time. The regular rotation of Chaos battletomes will thus continue as it has done for some time now, likely with Khorne or Nurgle getting the next update. Coming in at 128 pages, compared to the old Hedonites battletome of 96 pages, this feels to be a substantial bump-up in content.
Setting Up for Depravity
The first chunk of Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh is devoted to the lore and intricate setting of Slaanesh and all of the Dark Prince’s followers. It’s almost the entire first third of the book dedicated to delving into the many distinguished depravities associated with the Hedonites. It also goes into good detail explaining the newest units for the army which all seem to blend in flawlessly with the existing units. The rapid expansion of units available to the army also feels fitting in light of the major developments occurring for Slaanesh within the Age of Sigmar narrative. The inclusion of new mortal units for the Hedonites feels like a very welcome addition, if a little late behind the other Chaos gods and their followers.
Focusing on the new units, there is a myriad of them! The old Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh book featured 18 warscrolls, but the new book comes to a total of 30! That’s excluding endless spells, scenery and battalions. This feels like a tremendous bolster in giving the Hedonites a better sense of identity and presence on the table, rather than feeling somewhat undercooked next to their fellow Chaos followers.
In typical Slaanesh fashion, a number of these new units are an assault on the senses. One of the most notable additions is Glutos Orscollion, a hulking Lord of Gluttony with a court of followers, feeders and Painbringers. The model acts as the centerpiece of a Hedonites army. The warscroll is, almost fittingly, gluttonous in itself. Taking up an entire page with numerous abilities and rules, it borders on the complex. With different abilities triggering depending on the battle round and Glutos’ companions dropping from the warscroll as wounds are taken, it feels a little cumbersome to note these rules and remember them in the middle of your games. It may be due to my recent head-scratching from the Plague Marine datasheet from the Codex: Plague Marines book, but this is a direction that I can’t say I’m overly sold on. Still, on major characters/wizards like Glutos, it does make a little more sense than making your bread and butter troops’ loadout overbearingly intricate.
All things considered, his rules sounds quite impressive. Getting stronger as the rounds progress, he goes from improving bravery of nearby Hedonites to running and charging in one phase, negating battleshock for nearby Hedonites and even swapping known spells mid-battle. With a 3+ save and 18 wounds, it’ll take a lot to bring down Glutos, especially if he has support from other friendly spellcasters nearby.
Putting Mortals back into Mortal Realms
Other new units include the mortal followers of Myrmidesh Painbringers and Hellstriders, adding further breadth to the army, allowing Slaanesh players to take a twist with their army to help them standout from what was once quite an ironically uniform and drab unit selection. My personal favourites of the new units are the Slaangor Fiendbloods, the new Slaanesh beastmen. Resplendent in finery and as alluring as they are gruesome, the level of detail and duality of these models feel almost second to none. The rules don’t quite match-up to the models, with them seeming fairly on par with their points cost. The trick seems to be to charge them into combat as quickly as possible and wreak as much havoc as possible before they’re brought down, especially at minimum size.
In terms of how the army plays as a whole, Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh actually gives you the option to pick from three different “hosts”. Choosing from Invaders, Pretenders and Godseekers, each provides unique abilities and provides yet another opportunity to build a Hedonites army with a certain flavour. They could focus on speed on the hunt to free Slaanesh. Alternatively, they could simply be yearning to engage in the perilous dance of battle. With the sheer selection of new units, it doesn’t feel foolish to say there’ll be a lot of synergy throughout Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh. We’ll learn more as players get the battletome and units to hand, but it feels like there could be something here for any style of play. This feels like a positive move as previously the Hedonites felt rather one-dimensional, so all-in-all this is definitely a positive. The battletome does well to feel irrefutably Slaanesh, but not limiting itself too much, either.
Slaanesh Daemons are still something of a staple in this book, with the inclusion of Depravity Points. Thematically-sound, Depravity Points are attained by wounding (but not outright destroying) enemy units or even suffering from your own units. The more Depravity Points you attain, the more Daemons you may summon at the end of your movement phase. This doesn’t feel dissimilar from the Blood Tithe points seen in Khorne Bloodbound. However, but the Depravity Points have their own spin which fits and works for the Hedonites army.
Depending on the Host of Slaanesh chosen, you can accrue a number of Depravity Points by meeting certain conditions. These include such as being in enemy territory or charging into close combat with the enemy. With this in mind, it reads as though you could be summoning Daemons as soon as turn 2. Particularly tactful players could possibly be summoning Greater Daemons in turn 3! I’m excited to see how this plays out in the hands of players more tactically skilled than myself. Let’s see how balanced the Depravity Points are when it comes to larger games. I foresee wounds flying out like sparks, whilst adhering the risk of many units spread thin across the board.
Lavish, Luxurious, Laborious?
I am sure I’m not alone when I say that if there was anything stopping me from starting a full army of Hedonites, it’s the painting. The paint jobs seen on many of the models appear stupendously exquisite. They’re often to a level of skill that I’d struggle to get to anytime soon. Fortunately, the book does include a small painting section for painting your Hedonites units. Admittedly, it’s not the most comprehensive guide. However, it’s enough to tempt me to grab a handful of Fiends and put brush to paint after years of apprehension.
Generally, Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh ticks all of the boxes. It takes an army that was starting to show its age and injects it with fresh life, bringing it into the fray with the other armies within Age of Sigmar. Although, it’s a shame it’s taken so long when the other Chaos Gods have had this for quite some time. Nevertheless, the amount of new warscrolls is nothing but a good thing along with the beefed-up size of the codex in both rules and background. My biggest issue with Battletome: Hedonites of Slaanesh was that it feels as though it should have come sooner, with the army languishing somewhat up to now. Well, I suppose that means there’s some lost time to make up for now.