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Naughty Abbess...

Heralds of  Slaanesh have always held an intriguing position, both new and old codex. In 5th edition Heralds of Slaanesh had cheap tricks to be useful, in the new codex the tricks are gone, replaced by Loci and new abilities to manipulate your opponent and drag them to their destruction.

Even with different tricks, does the Herald of Slaanesh have a place beyond the armies dedicated to the God of Pleasure? Part of the answer starts by comparing the old and new Herald, and how those changes make for a better all around unit.

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Herald of Slannesh Rules 2013


Herald of Slaanesh Rules 2008

Compare &  Contrast

  • Point Decrease from 50 to 45 points
  • Increases Stats
  • Psyker
  • Gifts replaced by Daemonic Rewards
  • Daemonic Loci

--Paying less for Pain--

The Herald of Slaanesh like the other Heralds got some price reduction love; unlike other Heralds, they really didn't lose anything in the process. Unless you count not having Assault Grenades like everything else in this bloody codex!

--Faster & Harder--

Heralds of Slaanesh got some bonuses to their profile; namely S4 and WS7, other than that, everything is pretty much in line with what they had previously. Heralds of Slaanesh are still fragile and without a reliable way to get extra wounds you still have a unit relying on traveling companions for protection. Not to mention, having T3 makes for easy Instant Death.

--Let me see your heart's desire--

Heralds of Slaanesh can become Psykers with access to Telepathy and the paltry Discipline of Excess. Telepathy is a great offensive Discipline, even if you only invest in one Mastery Level, you can get powers like Psychic Shriek, Puppet Master, and Terrify.

--New Tricks--

I know it is sad, but no more moving your opponent's models around. The biggest removal though is the lack of Grenades, so in many situations Slaanesh high Initiative is negated. As for Daemonic Rewards, very few things really benefit a Herald of Slaanesh, unless you can get lucky with Corpulescence. 

--Spreading the Pain and Gain--

Herald of Slaanesh Daemonic Loci are some of the best. You can go cheap and get the always useful Move Through Cover one or get the amazing Exalted Locus of Beguilement. Exalted Locus of Beguilement can force opponents into tough situations where they cannot hide squishy Characters. In addition, your unit will be re-rolling all hits in Assault.

Even with different tricks, does the Herald of Slaanesh have a place beyond the armies dedicated to the God of Pleasure?

Putting it all Together...

For the Herald of Slaanesh finding the right amount of utility can be difficult. In a world of Death Stars, the Herald of Slaanesh just cannot stand up to the multitude of abuses currently brazenly bandied about. It leaves the Herald of Slaanesh as a mid-range option providing some extra punch to dedicated assault units or psychic support.

Heralds of Slaanesh shouldn't ever be the focal point of your army; as their low toughness and two wounds make it all too easy for your opponent single out. This doesn't mean Heralds of Slaanesh are a poor choice, they are just one you have to use correctly, with a bit of subterfuge.

There are two primary ways to use a Herald of Slaanesh. The first is leading assaults, especially against scoring units. The second is using Telepathy to manipulate or keep your opponent off-balance. Deciding on the right units for your Herald of Slaanesh to join thus becomes paramount. 

The simplest deployment for a Herald of Slaanesh is joined to a blob of Daemonettes, and if you plan on keeping things cheap this is the way to go. Take a 65 point Herald of Slaanesh, with Lesser Locus of Grace and Etherblade; now your Daemonettes have Move Through Cover and a AP2 wielding Character. Since, there are no rules for refusing challenges, you can still have your Herald sit back avoid a fight, and let your Daemonettes do all the work. If you take the Herald up to 80 points you can give him a Steed of Slaanesh and the ability to Outflank your Daemonettes. Having multiple lines of deployment can keep your opponent on edge wondering where the unit will show up.

The mounted Herald of Slaanesh can be added to any Slaanesh unit and prove very effective. Unlike the Herald of Nurgle a mounted Herald of Slaanesh can keep up with any unit its joined to. You should drop the Lesser Locus of Grace, replacing it with the Exalted Locus of Beguilement making your Herald of Slaanesh 100 points. Both Fiends and Seekers have less attacks then before, so re-rolling to hit can be a critical difference in many Assaults. A Herald of Slaanesh joined to a unit of Seekers makes cinematic sense, but is often more effective leading a unit of Fiends. Especially, if you have two Heralds. Fiends can make good use of Scout getting them that much closer to their prey. Fiends also don't have any Characters to challenge, so having a Herald or two can remove unwanted Characters from dealing damage. This is important for Daemonic Instability because Instant Death attacks can have a devastating effect on Fiends, making sacrificing a Herald often more preferable.

These are the relatively cheap uses for Heralds of Slaanesh. If you go the Psychic route expect to dedicate more points to the cause. You can still keep a Herald cheap (70 points) if you just want a Psychic Shriek slinger. Typically, you will want to stay at Mastery Level 1 --it leaves you better odds for Puppet Master or Terrify. Now, you can go for Mastery Level 2 and make a play for Invisibility or Hallucination, but with only LD8 every psychic test won't be a sure thing. Regardless of the power generating chances, having a unit instantly in psychic power range (Scout) really puts the onus on your opponent to do something about it.

Making sure not too double on Daemonic Loci or Daemonic Rewards is critical when running multiple Heralds of Slaanesh. Never underestimate the damage output of four Psychic Shrieks going off for under 400 points.

Even with this potential you're still dealing with a T3 W2 model, that is what really keeps Heralds of Slaanesh back. A Herald of Slaanesh cannot take on tough characters and are easily picked off without an escort. It makes investing a ton of points very inefficient. You have to pick a role and stick with it when it comes these Heralds. If it is Outflanking surprise, Psychic Alpha Strike, or Challenge Master; knowing what you want with the unit before you deploy it is the best advice.

Like many units, getting bogged down in too many tricks can be fatal, with the Herald of Slaanesh it is also very wasteful. When making an army list consider using points left over for a Herald of Slaanesh, instead of building one at the start, take into account the army you're building and see what is missing, then make the Herald of Slaanesh that works best to fill in the gaps.

-- Herald of Slaanesh Sample Lists--

Herald of Slaanesh Sample List 1

Herald of Slaanesh Sample List 2

Herald of Slaanesh Sample List 3

Herald of Slaanesh Sample List 4

A Word about Allies

The Herald of Slaanesh isn't a terrible ally, as it is cheap and can support any Slaanesh unit it leads. Always take a Steed of Slaanesh giving you flexibly in deployment-- which most Daemon allies lack. A Herald of Slaanesh can also fill in as a secondary Psyker in a pinch.

Remember unlike other Battle Brothers Daemons ICs cannot join with Chaos Space Marine units under any circumstance.

Final Thoughts...

Overall, Heralds of Slaanesh would be five stars if it wasn't for the current meta. Between Death Stars and Shooty armies, Heralds of Slaanesh are easy pickings for any dedicated opponent. If your goal though is hunt down pesky buff characters or hidden scoring units having a Herald of Slaanesh can be beneficial, giving something else your opponent has to deal without costing you an arm and leg. 


It's Like Tactics is rated theory hammer because these are general observations and assumptions based on only few tested games.