Wednesday, February 24, 2021

REVIEW: Hedonites of Slaanesh Battletome

The new Hedonites of Slaanesh book is here, and with it a fully updated mortal section to the faction! This is nice to see since so much of the previous book only focused on the demons. So what delights does this new book hold? Let's find out!

To kick things off, we have brand new cover for this book. Just like with the Daughters of Khaine book, I think this is a big improvement over the previous cover. Not only do I find the mortals of the faction to be more interesting, I also like the art style more. The previous one had a bit of a sketchy vibe to it, while this new one feels much more finished and polished. It also pulls in a lot more of the traditional Slaanesh colors with the pinks and purples in the background. 

The lore section also follows a similar path as the Daughters of Khaine book. Understandably, a lot of the lore is pretty similar to what we had in the original Hedonites Battletome. We get a brief overview of the whole army, before diving into Slaanesh themselves and what it means to be a follower of the Chaos god. We then go through the description of how Slaanesh was imprisoned by the aelf gods, and how his domain within the Realm of Chaos is structured. As far as I can tell this is all pretty similar to how it was portrayed previously. The first truly new section is a cool little illustrated section talking a bit about the Sybarites, or mortal followers of Slaanesh. We'll come back to them more later, as they will provide most of the new content to the lore. I do like how they have their own name within the faction, like the Rotbringers in Nurgle, Bloodbound in Khorne, and Arcanites in Tzeentch. The next section goes over the three main factions of Slaanesh in more detail, the Invaders, Pretenders, and Godseekers, which seems fairly similar to their descriptions previously.

Now we start getting to some of the newer lore for the faction. The previous book covered a bit about how Slaanesh was starting to secretly destroy the magical chains binding him, and then quickly replacing them with a fake one. Each of these chains can only be destroyed by an event that the aelfs thought unlikely to happen. At the end of the last battletome Slaanesh had destroyed two through their own machinations, and a third had been destroyed due to the magical energy unleashed by the Necroquake. Since then, they have destroyed another one through the help of Archaon. The Everchosen found the prison of the god of excess and was fighting to free them. Unfortunately, he had to return to the Eightpoints to deal with the invasion of the Bonereapers, but not before he had Dorghar destroy a chain that only a demon of Khorne could break. With their power slowly returning they were able to spread their influence out into the realms further than before, hence the rise of the Sybarites. When Morathi arrived to steal some of the most potent aelven souls for her own ascension to godhood the chain of Stolen Apotheosis was broken. Though it wasn't enough to free the god entirely, they were able to send out a shard of themselves which the armies of Slaanesh began to rally around.

The timeline section has some cool bits in it, like the freeing of Sigvald who then starts taking his revenge on the troggoth herds. There's also mentions of Beastgrave as well as Morathi's ascension to godhood. The timeline ends with the shard of Slaanesh beginning its rise to prominence in Ulgu itself. 

The unit section is where we really get to dive into the new mortal followers of Slaanesh. Sigvald gets almost a full two pages all to himself. This covers how he survived his death at the end of the world-that-was. Cast aside by his god as a failure, it was Nagash who scooped up his soul and trapped him within a Shadeglass mirror. It was the Kharadron who first found it, and then it fell into the hands of a Slaanesh warband who shattered it. Slaanesh found his interest in Sigvald reignited and granted him a sliver of his power. Since then Sigvald has been seeking revenge on both the troggoths and the servants of Nagash for both of their parts in his original death, as well as his imprisonment. Though he appears flawless, he actually has a single scar on his body to remind him of his failure and drive him into a rage. The Myrmidesh were also quite interesting, being part of a specific cult that learns that art of the blade. They're the elite of the Sybarites and are given the best armor and weapons accordingly. The Slaangors are probably my favorite of the new units though, and their section goes over several of the creation myths behind them.

The gallery section shows off all of the 'Eavy Metal models, with a particular emphasis on all of the new mortal stuff. The painting guides in it are a combination of the ones from the previous book, the ones from the Wrath of the Everchosen book, and new ones to cover some of the new models, such as Slaangor skin and Myrmidesh armor.

Now we move onto the rules section. They have three main allegiance abilities, with Euphoric Killers staying the same. This grants you 2 hits on the roll of a 6, or 3 hits, if the unit has 20 or more models. The other two have both changed though. Locus of Diversion activates in much the same way, but now if you're successful it prevents your opponent from piling in instead of making them fight last. I think this feels much more balanced and won't give as many feel bad experiences. Feast of Depravities is still the way you summon on new models. You gain 1 depravity point for each unit on the battlefield that had 1 or more wound suffered that was not negated, or has fewer models in it that at the start of the turn. This is checked at the end of the battleshock phase. This means it's a max of one depravity point per unit. Accordingly, the cost of summoning demons has dropped, with a Keeper of Secrets only costing 12 points now. The other big change is that you can only summon on one unit per turn. Both of these changes will help limit the overwhelming swarm feeling people got when playing slaanesh in the past.

The rest of the army rules are broken down between Invades, Pretenders, or Godseekers. You have to pick which of these three your army will be. The Invaders traits have stayed pretty much the same, except the Escalating Havoc rules generates less depravity points to fit in with how those work now. The command traits have stayed the same with the exception of Territorial, which now lets you re-roll hits instead of generating depravity points, and Delusions of Infallibility, which now gives you +2 wounds instead. All of the artifacts are the same. Just like the Invaders, the Pretender's abilities are the same as before, but with a reduction on depravity generation. Their command traits have gotten toned down a bit, with True Child of Slaanesh replaced with Craving Stare, which makes more models flee from battleshock instead of generating depravity. Strength of Godhood and Inspirer also both got toned down slightly. The artifacts are also the same, but with Silverslash only adding 1 extra attacks instead of 2. The Godseekers have seen Manical Hunters tweaked slightly. You now generate D3 depravity only if your general charged that turn, but you get +1 to that roll of any other units charged as well. Their command traits only got toned down slightly in spots, but Thrill-Seeker got replaced entirely with Sweeping Slash, which does impact hits when you charge on a 2+. Their artifacts are the same as well, but with Enrapturing Circlet, Cameo of the Dark Prince, and Bindings of Slaanesh all getting toned down a little bit.

The spell section is broken up into six spells for demon wizards, 3 for greater demons, and 3 for mortals. The demon spells are all exactly the same with the exception of Born of Damnation which now casts on a 4+ instead of a 5+, and just heals a flat D3 wounds instead of only 1 with the potential for more. For the greater demon spells, Song of Secrets has been replaced with Paths of the Dark Prince, which lets the caster fly on a 7+. The other two spells are the same, except both of them have become easier to cast. The mortal spells are the same as well, but also with one replaced, and one easier to cast.

The Fane of Slaanesh works in much the same way, except it no longer generates depravity when you summon units off of it, and the Damned Conduit now adds +1 to hit instead of re-rolls. This is followed by a narrative battleplan and the Path to Glory section.

There are six warscroll battalions, and one mega battalion. The mega battalion and three demon base battalions are unchanged from the last book. We also get three mortal based battalions though as well. Out of these three I think I like Exalted Speed-Knights the most. This battalions is all Seekers and lets D6 units from it make a pre-game 6" move.

Looking through some of the warscrolls for the existing demon units, it looks like they're pretty much identical, though some have lost abilities that generate extra depravity. I'm sure there are some changes I probably missed, but you can find the warscrolls for free on the App. The big additions are all of the new mortal units. I really like Sigvald's warscroll. I know some are disappointed, but he seems like quite the combat monster to me. He fights at the start of the combat phase when he charges, wounds inflicted by him cannot be negated, and he either has 5 attacks, or the number of the charge roll if it's greater; meaning he can have up to 12 attacks doing D3 wounds each! 

Overall this book seems pretty similar to the previous one, but with the new units and lore for them added in. All of the stuff that seemed too over the top in the last book has been toned down and I think they'll be a lot more fun to play against. The fact that there's a lot that's the same makes sense, since if it's not broke then there's no need to fix it. I definitely like all of the mortal units more than the demon ones, but that's a personally preference for me. The sculpts are definitely amazing though.

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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