“Hold.” Scout Telmarious croaked on his throat mike to his small insertion squad. Sent to Helmanus IV with a small regiment of Salamanders to seek and destroy a rumored Chaos uprising, Telmarious and his squad were the forward reach of the spearhead.
They were at the mouth of a small valley a short distance from the nearest hive city and the rumors of the populace pointed them this direction. A fog hovered around them, making it hard to see, but their optics sensed no heat signatures.
“Press forward.” Telmarious said to his squad. They moved silently forward and as soon as they were all in the mouth of the valley and the fog pressed in on them they felt it. A presence. Telmarious raised his bolter up and then a figure, or the hint of a figure formed in the corner of his eyesight.
Beauty. Slick. Lust. The form beckoned to him to come closer….closer. His foot shifted towards the figure, then his discipline cleared his mind and he went to pull the trigger.
A claw flashed through the fog and plunged into his chest, tearing through armor, cloth, and flesh in one swift motion. His appendages ceased to obey and he slowly cascaded to the ground. While falling, the forms of other beau…no not beautiful women, half women half beasts as repulsive as they were seductive fell upon his squad. In the span of a nanosecond, Telmarious and his men were laid low.
The Herald looked down upon Telmarious and smiled the way only a lover could towards its mate. “Come.” It said to its companions. “The hunt begins.”
Who is Slaanesh
The Dark Prince came into being from the decadence of the Aeldari, birthed by the eons of their pleasure filled ways. The Dark Prince came forth and laid waste to the Aeldari, killing their peoples and their gods in the process, only missing a couple, and was finally thwarted by none other than Nurgle himself. The Aeldari were laid low, with only certain Craftworlds missing the cargnage of their home worlds and the Harlequins, mad jesters of the webways, left alive to carry on the Aeldari legacy. Slaanesh continues to thirst for them, and now the Aeldari burn for their hatred of this thing they created and almost destroyed them.
Slaanesh has a few main strengths at their disposal. The first and foremost of them is speed. Slaanesh units move faster than most, with even their troops moving seven inches across the battlefield and their beasts and cavalry moving double that. They also get to charge after advancing when next to a character with a loci, giving many of their units a 32” threat range by assault. The average is more like 24”, but even that is the distance most armies are separated by in deployment. You have a chance of having your entire army in or next to their deployment zone in one turn. That is fast!
Another strength of this group is their abilities to debuff the opponent. You have many ways to make units and characters worse in the form of stratagems, psychic powers, relics, and warlord traits. You have a stratagem to give -1 to a units attack characteristic, a psychic power that gives -1 to hit, a warlord trait that also reduces attacks, and a relic that can shut down a character for an entire phase, rendering their wargear. Imagine shutting down Guilliman or Azrael on a critical turn, taking away their aura abilities as you rush in to their impending doom.
Next up is their innate ability to always strike first. Slaanesh has the special rule Quicksilver Swiftness, which allows them to always strike first in combat, even if they didn’t charge and then alternate with units with a similar ability. This always gives them a threat factor to other units in the charge phase.
They also have one of the better Loci’s with being able to advance and charge when within 6″ of a character that has that loci. Very powerful as it allows you to plow up the field and get into your opponent quick.
The last thing that Slaanesh has is a chance for additional AP on their units when they roll 6’s. Every unit in the Slaanesh range raised their AP value to -4 when they roll a six, and most have -1 as standard for their weapons. Against units with armor, this can be deadly. It can’t be counted on, but when you hit with a volume of attacks, even titans should quake a bit in their boots.
The main weakness of Slaanesh is that their toughness and save are rather low. They are extremely susceptible to any kind of weight of firepower, which most armies can dish out. They don’t care nearly as much against things like melta and lascannons for their troop units, but their multi wound models will be laid to waste if caught out in the open.
Another issue is their lack of ranged firepower. They have to reach assault to impact the enemy for the most part and have to claw across the table to do so. If terrain is weak, and the enemy has any kind of massed firepower, even things like lasguns from Imperial Guard can hurt a Slaanesh force.
I think another difficulty of the Slaanesh force is that they require a general with finesse to make them work right. You will need to be able to set up charges that pin down enemy forces and keep them from falling back. Positioning and model placement will be key factors.
- Daemonettes – The core troop choice of Slaanesh. The only choice! Daemonettes are fast at movement 7” and can move up to 13” and still charge in a turn when next to a loci. Their downsides is their low toughness of 3 and their invul save of 5+. Their save is a mixed bag as it is great to always have one, but not so great against high volume shooting.
- Fiends – This unit is so interesting. It has a rule found nowhere in any other codex, although a couple untis like wyches and Skarbrand have something similar. No unit can fall back unless they fly. This is the screen tying up unit. They can move up to 20” and still charge which has them flying across the field. Their downside is their expense. 46 points is a lot to swallow, but if you are running Slaanesh, I feel they are almost a must.
- Seekers – Very fast like the Fiends in moving up to 20”. Also a bit expensvie at 14 points per model. They do have two wounds though and can be taken in units of 9 to avoid the reaper.
- Heralds – Heralds are a great and cheap way to unlock the loci for your detachments, and if you are playing mono-Slaanesh you will need them. They can also unlock the Forbidden gem.
- Daemon Prince – Fast with wings, multiple attacks with Maelific Talons, and hard to hit being a character under ten wounds, the Daemon Prince will add a lot to your force allowing re-roll’s of 1 to hit. A great buff to large blocks of high attack units.
- Locus of Grace – This stratagem allows you to make an extra attack for any wound roll of 6+. You are going to use this for when you really want to ensure that a unit is dead. Better with a weight of attacks like a large Daemonette squad.
- Aura of Acquiescence – Reduces the attack characteristic by 1 for units within 3” of a selected Slaanesh unit. This will help stave off an attack from a high output unit like Khorne Berzerkers, Sternguard, or Flayed Ones. Cutting a units attacks in half can really help keep your unit alive.
- Rapturous Standard – Pick a unit with an icon to use this once per game and allow the unit to reroll all hits. Great with a large Daemonette squad hunting for 6’s to kill things dead. Could be combined with the Locus of Grace stratagem to generate even more attacks.
- Celerity of Slaanesh – Adds 3” to your movement characteristic. Could be good on a Herald of Slaanesh on Steed to really ensure loci placement.
- Quicksilver Duelist – Reroll hits and wounds against characters. Probably best for a Daemon Prince with Malefic Talons to ensure something dies.
- The Murderdance – Adds d3 attacks if the unit charges. This is the Masques Warlord Trait and perhaps good on the Keeper or Daemon Prince.
- Fatal Caress – Does a mortal wound on the roll of a 6+ when wounding. The Keeper, Daemon Prince, or Herald on Chariot all have high attack characteristics and with the Mark of Excess could gain even more.
- Savage Hedonist – Basic and adds 1 to your Warlords attack characteristic.
- Bewitching Aura – Models within 6” subtract 1 from their attacks characteristic. One of the better ones in my opinion since most of your characters will need to be up on the lines to help with their loci.
- Forbidden Gem – During a phase, pick an enemy character within 12” and roll 3d6. If you beat their leadership the model can do nothing that phase and cannot use aura abilities. Got Mortarion breathing down your neck? Shut him down in the fight phase so he can’t attack. Lots of uses and one of the better relics for Slaanesh. This could really keep a unit alive and kicking to fight again another day.
- The Mark of Excess – Adds an attack and adds an additional one every time the character kills a character or monster. Just imagine a Daemon Prince running around with 10+ attacks.
- Soulstealer – For models with a witstealer or hellforged sword, so a Keeper or Daemon Prince. Regains a wound every time a model is slain. This could be just the thing to help the Keeper or Daemon prince stay in the fight for maximum impact.
- Slothful Claw – For Heralds only. Basically a high power rending weapon. Rends on a 4+ and is +1 strength, -2 AP, and 2 Damage.
- Cacophonic Choir – A power that when you take a psychic test and roll a 6 or higher, you use the value your rolled on 2d6 and compare it to their leadership. Each point that exceeds their leadership causes a mortal wound. Given that the average is a 7 on 2d6, you will probably only take this against armies with very low leadership values.
- Symphony of Pain – Target within 18” takes -1 to all hit rolls. Great power and will be a staple of your force to keep their toughest unit from damaging you too much.
- Hysterical Frenzy – Select a unit that is within 18” and within 1” of an enemy, on an 8, they immediately fight again. This could be great to help finish off a unit so you can charge again. Hard to get off so don’t depend on it.
- Delightful Agonies – Gives a unit a 6+ feel no pain roll. I wish this was like the CSM variant with its 5+ but it could be good on big blocks of models.
- Pavane of Slaanesh – A great power against large blocks of enemies. Roll a d6 for every model in the unit and on a 6 they take a mortal wound. Will certainly help chunk 40 man cultists, 30 Bloodletters, 20 Conscripts, and other large units down a bit to a more manageable level.
- Phantasmorgia – An enemy unit takes -1 leadership within 12”. Could be a decent combo with units like Zerykanel, whom also gives leadership debuffs, and Night Lords from the CSM book, but you will probably be building a certain army list around a power like this if you are interested in using and not taking it willy nilly. There are better powers to take willy nilly.
I will be brutally honest here. In my opinion, to have a chance at using Slaanesh competitively, you will need a ton of practice. This will be especially true for the assault phases (charge and fight) as you will have to become an expert at setting up locks on screen units to keep the enemies shooting at bay.
I still think Fiends will be key here. The goal would be to put the Fiend unit in the middle of a screening unit. Say a unit of 10 Kabalite warriors. Try to get the first Fiend into the middle of the squad, then you’re your tail attack which takes you from 4 attacks to 1 attack. Keep the other Fiends 2 inches behind to keep them out of combat. This will help to ensure that the warriors are locked in combat and no other units can fire on them. Do the same with your other units like Daemonettes or Seekers in the same way to hit with minimal force on the first charge, but be sure to have as many of your other models just out of 1” to pile in on their turn to hope to wipe the unit out on the enemy turn.
Another strategy could be to overwhelm their screen and completely wipe it out, doing a maximum threat overload style of play and hope to weather the fire enough to then move forward again into the juicy part of the army.
Mono Slaanesh feels to be the weakest of the four gods, but I wouldn’t count it out. Comboing it with other Slaanesh CSM units to shore up their weakness of shooting, witch units like Obliterators, Noise Marines, and Cultist Blobs to take the pressure off of your low strength Slaanesh Daemon units. If you are looking to run Slaanesh, get good in the charging and fight phase to really get their full potential. It will probably take you a while to really master those phases and there is a good chance you will lose a lot at first. Keep at it and plug away until you are more comfortable in your premeasuring and placement to ensure maximum output.
Daemons Battalion – Slaanesh
- Daemon Prince with Wings – Maelific Talons/Forbidden Gem
- Daemon Prince with Wings – Soulstealer Blade
- Herald of Slaanesh
- 19 Daemonettes – Icon/Insrument
- 19 Daemonettes – Icon/Insrument
- 19 Daemonettes – Icon/Insrument
- 3 Fiends
- 3 Fiends
- Sorcerer In Terminator Armor – Mark of Slaanesh
- 19 Cultists – 2 Flamers Mark of Slaanesh
- 9 Noise Marines – 8 Sonic Blasters/Blastmaster
- 3 Obliterators – Mark of Slaanesh
- 3 Obliterators – Mark of Slaanesh
Lots of obsec rending ladies backed up with CSM Slaanesh Shooting. You have plenty of options to deep strike/infiltrate if need be. You could also go to a spearhead and get 3 units of 3 Obliterators instead.
While Slaanesh has some hurdles, especially in mono mode, a savvy general will be able to lock enemy units in combat to avoid getting shot up, and will use all the tricks at their disposal to weaken other units as well. They have a very unique play style, appearance, and can be a great themed army on the tabletop. What do you think? What role do you see Slaanesh working in.
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