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AoS Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome review - delicious excess

With three subfactions and a huge roster of units, the Hedonites of Slaanesh are as extravagant on the tabletop as they are in the lore

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome review - photo by Games Workshop of the Lord of Hubris

Our Verdict

This battletome absolutely nails the lore for the decadent Chaos god Slaanesh. Army-wide rules let you play the corrupter with your opponent, then drive your own forces to excesses of violence. We don't recommend this for inexperienced players though - the sheer wealth of content risks overwhelming the unprepared.

The new Age of Sigmar Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome brings updated rules and lore for the worshippers of the Chaos god Slaanesh – aka the Prince of Pleasure, the Dark Prince, Lord of Excess, the first in and last out at the cosmic dessert buffet.

Our review focuses on the key points to consider if you’re thinking of getting this book – but if you’re not tempted by the dark delights on offer here, why not peruse our guide to the other Age of Sigmar armies?

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome review - illustration by Games Workshop of a Lord of Pain

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome lore

The Hedonites of Slaanesh are a corrupting force across the Mortal Realms, sometimes subtly infiltrating the Free Cities with promises of supernatural delight, sometimes brazenly riding forth in great processions of war, always ruinous.

When the Age of Sigmar game first launched, Slaanesh was absent from the world. The Chaos god was recovering from a huge soul-feast he’d consumed at the destruction of the Warhammer: The Old World universe, when the aelven gods beat him up, stole his lunch money (aelf souls), and imprisoned him in a dimensional rift.

Supplement books have advanced the story for the whole AoS universe since then, and at each point Slaanesh has wriggled in his chains a little more. The battletome gives a good recap of those events, up to the birth of the Twins, two daemons formed from Slaanesh’s soul-stuff that escaped into the Mortal Realms. It’s a solid induction into the cult of excess.

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome review - photo by Games Workshop of the Lord of Hubris

Hedonites of Slaanesh army rules

Hedonites are a relatively complex army to build, in a game that has been accreting expansions and variant play modes for several years. The battletome authors have recognised this and include a helpful two-page spread explaining where to look for information, and in what order, when you build a list.

The main, army-wide feature of the Hedonites army is Depravity Points, which you can earn in two ways. First, up to six times per battle round, whenever an opponent fails a hit, wound, or save roll, you can offer them a Temptation Dice. If they resist the temptation then the model that failed the roll takes d3 mortal wounds: if they succumb to temptation the failed roll is replaced with a six, a guaranteed pass, but you gain d6 depravity points.

This is a superbly satisfying mechanic from a lore perspective. The Warhammer Chaos gods all have sacred numbers, and Slaanesh’s number is six. Offering your opponent a devil’s bargain – and punishing them if they don’t accept – is a great way to get into the shoes of the arch-tempter, and will generate a lot of tricky decisions for both you and your opponent.

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome review - photo by Games Workshop of Myrmadesh warriors

You can also pick one of your units and one enemy unit each combat. However many wounds and mortal wounds you allocate to the enemy unit that turn, you’ll earn in Depravity Points. As you can allocate more wounds to a unit than it can survive, you’re incentivised to pump up a single unit with as many buffs as possible and violently overkill your target. Suitably excessive.

As your Depravity Points build up to different levels you’ll unlock new abilities for your army, making them harder to hit, more deadly, and more survivable. If you’re willing to – ahem – blow your load, you can spend those points to summon new daemon units to the battlefield.

If you played Hedonites before, you’ll recognise that this is quite the overhaul for the system. Your options to gain Depravity points are narrower than they were before, but the buffs you receive are better. Not that they were bad before, per se, but the very first buff gives enemies -1 to hit your entire army in every phase. It makes spending depravity points on summoning units a much bigger sacrifice – a good thing on the whole, as difficult decisions are the basis of interesting games.

Two other army-wide buffs for the Hedonites are gone. Locus of Diversion allowed daemon heroes to force enemy units to strike last in combat. That’s gone, and now your best bet to force enemies to strike last is the Dreadful Visage endless spell, or the Scepter of Domination relic for the Pretenders subfaction.

Euphoric Killers used to turn to-hit rolls of six into two hits, but that’s gone, the name now given to one of the methods for generating Depravity Points. You probably won’t miss it as your warscrolls are deadlier than they were before.

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome review - photo by Games Workshop, exalted chariot and lord of pain

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome subfactions

The Hedonites of Slaanesh subfaction you pick will shape your army and how you command it. Each has been tweaked from the previous battletome, retaining their flavour but using different mechanics.

The leaders of the Pretenders think they’re good enough to be the next Slaanesh. They’re all about a single, ego-driven hero, who receives three command points at the start of the Hero phase and can give the same command to three units for just one command point.

Every Invaders hero counts as a Warlord, and whenever one uses a heroic action, another can attempt to use the same action on a dice roll of 2+, potentially cascading throughout your whole force. This includes a unique action that allows Invaders to temporarily gain one of their subfaction’s command traits.

The Godseekers are devoted to finding their god by going really, really fast. Each battle-round d3 units get a d6” move before command points are generated, and units that are close to a Godseeker hero can reroll charge rolls.

All the subfactions have uniques lists of command traits, artefacts of power, and spells. Though these lists are shorter than they were before, they still represent a substantial trove of Slaaneshi riches that may dazzle and confound new players.

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome review - photo by Games Workshop of Sigvald the Magnificent

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome warscrolls

As a whole the Hedonites of Slaanesh army focuses on speed, combat prowess, and spells that debuff or befuddle your foes. With the defensive powers unlocked through Depravity points, or the superior ability version of the Rally command that Daemonettes gain from their Icon Bearer command upgrade, it’s not strictly a glass cannon army either.

Many of the warscrolls have been simplified from the last Hedonites battletome, but none are simple. Curtailing the excesses was frankly necessary, as distasteful as that will be to a true Hedonite.

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome review - illustration by Games Workshop of Glutos Orscollion, a huge warrior pulled by monsters in a vast palanquin

Take the warscroll for Glutos Orscollion, Lord of Gluttony. Glutos is an obese princeling carried in a wheeled pavillion along with his entourage, and he has a whole court of abilities. In the last battletome some of his powers and attacks disappeared as he lost wounds and his flunkies were killed, or came back if he managed to heal up.

Those abilities and attacks are all static now, but Glutos is still laden with special abilities, weapons for each of his cronies, spells, and a tasting menu that grants him new abilities each turn. He remains an intimidating prospect for a new player to try and pilot – as do the multitude of other centrepiece and special character models in the army.

Everything has a little more combat oomph, mostly to make up for the loss of exploding sixes to hit. The Slaangor Fiendbloods are notably improved, with a stack of extra attacks and the ability to fight twice in combat once per battle.

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome review - photo by Games Workshop, Keeper of Secrets and army

Keepers of Secrets are imposing greater daemons with lethal combat clout and spellcasting ability. Their potent Excess of Violence ability allows another nearby Hedonite unit to fight again at the end of a combat phase. This used to be a command ability, but now it’s a once-per-game effect. That’s a massive debuff, but the Keeper still feels like an absolute brute.

Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome – final thoughts

The latest Hedonites of Slaanesh battletome is full to bursting with obscene riches. The rules for the army as a whole and individual units are rich with narrative and identity, perfectly capturing the spirit of this capricious, cruel, cunning faction. However the sheer wealth of options, both when building an army and when determining your choices for the turn, is almost too much. The Dark Prince is pleased, but new players may not be.