Scintillating seductive seekers of Slaanesh surface in the Direchasm.
Welcome to another warband review, this time of the Dread Pageant. This warband makes up 2 of the teams found in the Warhammer Underworlds Direchasm core set. As always thanks to Games Workshop for providing these to review for free. Still, I always aim to be impartial and honest. With that all out-of-the-way, back to the article at hand.
As an extra note, this warband review is part of my main review of the Warhammer Underworlds Direchasm core set which you can find here.
The Dread Pagaent, part of the Godseeker host, first entered the Beastgrave due to visions giving them hope of finding their lost patron Slaanesh. While lost in the depths of the Beastgrave, the Dread Pagaent found that while torturing their foes to near death instead of killing them, their prisoners’ death throes triggered great despair within the Beastgrave itself as it yearned for the sensations of death. The deeper they go into the Beastgrave, the more these emotions intensify where they are at their peak within the centre at the Direchasm. Here, such acts of torture grant the Dread Pageant ecstatic euphoria.
These warriors of Slaanesh delve ever deeper into the Direchasm. They seek Shadespire and the realm of Uhl-Gysh it lies in for there lies Slaanesh. They stride forever onwards, surviving in sensation and euphoria as they do so.
The Dread Pageant are a 4 fighter warband consisting of: Vasillac the Gifted, Slakeslash, Glissete and Hadzu. Each miniature is a highly detailed mortal warrior of Slaanesh featuring all the extravagant and twisted features which that entails. They perfectly fit their story of being a roving Slaanesh performing group, especially Glissete and Hadzu. My favourite fighter from the warband still has to be Vasillac the Gifted. He perfectly fits the design of a corrupt warrior of Slaanesh. His detail is perfection, from his skin tattoos, jewels and even having his cape hooked into his skin. Slakeslash is a close second but Vasillac is my favourite Warhammer Underworlds miniature.
The miniatures come in a deep purple coloured plastic. It’s unique and not as jarring as we got with Morgwaeth’s Blade-Coven. The fighters go together remarkably easily with minimal parts while still packing lots of detail. A lot of the miniatures are still quite fragile so always care is needed to be taken when assembling them. The bases aren’t moulded into the fighters’ feet so painting as subassemblies without the bases will be more than easy.
The Dread Pageant are a 4 fighter warband which puts them closer towards the elite spectrum of warband size. As a 4 fighter warband, the Dread Pageant occupies a great space in terms of defensive and offensive deployment while also helping you use your activations more efficiently (1 activation per fighter each round). The warband shares a movement characteristic of 4 which increases to 5 upon inspiring.
Speaking of, their inspire mechanic is when 6 or more wound counters are on surviving fighters. This applies to friend and foe. While it seems difficult to do at first and is very warband-dependent, inspiring this way is very thematic for followers of Slaanesh and also requires the warband to play slightly differently in comparison to other warbands. I love it, personally, but I can see why other players may not. Still, inspiring the warband takes planning and the warband doesn’t need to inspire to perform at full effectiveness.
Vasillac the Gifted
Vasillac is the leader of the Dread Pageant. He is equipped with the Agonising Spear which is a range 2, 2 smash, 2 damage. He also shares a very unique and Slaanesh reaction which, after the deal damage step of his attack action allows you to either deal 1 damage to Vasillac or Heal (1) him. This is great for making the ability for the warband to inspire easier or to heal Vasillac and keep him going. Notably this reaction works with any attack action Vasillac makes, such as with attack action upgrades.
Vasillac Inspired has his Agonising Spear go up to 3 damage and gain Cleave. Outside of that he remains mostly unchanged. While inspired Vasillac becomes a super reliable killing machine. A single +1 damage upgrade puts him to 4 damage with Cleave and having a threat range of 7!
Slakeslash is the Slaangor of the group, having both the Hunter and Quarry keyword which makes it the first fighter in the game to share both keywords natively. Slakeslash is armed with Lethal Flurry which is range 1, 3 fury and 2 damage while sharing the same unique reaction as Vasillac. Slakeslash also has an impressive wounds characteristic of 5. It’s basically a fast tank, dishing out reliable but low damage while tanking damage from the opponent which helps with inspiration.
Slakeslash Inspired has it’s Lethal Flurry increase to 4 fury. Outside of that it gains very little from inspiring outside of the movement 5 boost too. It’s not necessary but a nice boost.
Glissete is the nimble deadly dancer of the group. She is armed with her Dazzling Glaive which is range 2, 2 fury and 2 damage. Glissete also has a dodge characteristic of 2 and has the Guard keyword. She does only have a wounds characteristic of 2 but those defensive stats make her quite the glass cannon. She craves support but has an impressive ability to “poke” fighters into a wounded state or death.
Glissete Inspired has her Dazzling Glaive increase to 3 fury. She also gains the attack action the Whirling Glaive which is range 1, 3 fury and 1 damage with Scything. This makes her more reliable at dispatching enemy fighters. Give her a +1 damage upgrade to make her into a Beyblade of death against horde warbands.
Hadzu is the archer of the warband and is a Hunter. He is armed with the Arrows of Desire which are range 3, 3 fury and 1 damage. These have a unique reaction which allows Hadzu to push the fighter instead of driving back. This is amazingly good for positioning play and gets around fighters who are on Guard. This also triggers regardless of whether the attack is successful or not, making it even more useful. He only has 1 dodge with 2 wounds but he should be attacking from safely out of reach while your opponents focus on Vasillac and Slakeslash.
Hadzu Inspired has his Arrows of Desire go up to range 4 and he gains a dodge characteristic of 2. These are really nice additions but, once again, not hugely necessary to make Hadzu work.
Now we’re at the card part of the review! As always faction cards then universals.
Cavalcade of Madness is another Dual end phase objective which gives you 2 glory if there are 3 or more surviving friendly fighters and they’re all inspired. It’s a nice reward but the Dread Pageant’s inspire mechanic is situational and not easy to do. It’s also not necessary to inspire the warband in the first place. If you’re dead-set on always being inspired then this is the objective for you.
Scintillating Sadism gives you 2 glory if each surviving enemy fighter has 1 or more wound counters. Like, if you’re entirely focusing on inspiring then this is really good but it takes a lot of work and scales worse the more common horde warbands are. It’s a combination of meta picking and locking yourself into focussing on inspiring, both which aren’t really great choices when it comes to competitive play. Great for thematic/casual builds.
Faction Objectives – Top Picks
Beautiful Deaths is a high-scoring Dual end phase objective which grants you a delicious 6 glory in any end phase is you have 3 or more surviving friendly fighters and 3 or more enemy fighters are out of action. Pretty tough against elite warbands but score it with ease against horde warbands. It’s still not easy to score but at 6 glory, I’d happily build my game plan around it.
Endless Revel is a Surge objective which grants 1 glory after an activation for each surviving fighter with a move and/or charge token. It’s amazing. Score it with just 1 fighter left. So flexible and easy to score.
Excess of Avidity is an end phase objective which grants 2 glory if your warband holds more objectives than any other warband. Amazing. Super flexible like Nexus of Terror for Lady Harrow’s Mournflight. You can even run it in aggro builds to catch opponents by surprise.
Excess of Carnality is another Surge objective which grants 1 glory for having 2 or more friendly fighters adjacent to the same enemy fighter. I really like it, especially for aggro builds, as it adds another way to score quickly without killing and can be scored while sending in Slakeslash to absorb damage.
Excess of Gluttony is a Surge which1 glory after an activation for a having a friendly fighter next to 2 or more enemy fighters. Once again Slakeslash knows its destiny. Same points as Excess of Carnality apply here. Very nice.
Excess of Indolency is a Hybrid objective that gives you 2 glory for either the opponent have no move or charge tokens or your warband holds 2 or more objectives. The second part is what you’re generally always going to be scoring and it’s a solid choice for people playing more into hold objectives.
Excess of Paramountcy is a strange but unique Hybrid objective. Score 1 glory in the end phase for having your leader hold an objective or have an enemy leader hold an objective in your territory. For flex builds teching into hold objectives, this is amazing and good for aggro builds too. You can even have your opponent score it for you for those commonly seen aggressive hold objective builds.
Excess of Vainglory is a Surge and Hybrid which gives 1 glory after a friendly attack action for either taking an enemy fighter out of action with 2 or more upgrades or a friendly fighter having 3 or more upgrades. The first part isn’t too easy to score but the second option is quite reliable from round 2 onwards.
Godseekers is great for aggro builds. Score 2 glory for having all your surviving friendly fighters in enemy territory. Swift Capture on steroids and can be scored with a single friendly fighter! Dedicated aggro builds can score this easily in round 1 but at the likely cost of Glissete and Hadzu.
Grisly Tableau is a Surge which grants you 1 glory for taking an enemy fighter out of action who is holding an objective. It can be a little difficult due to the Dread Pageant’s general 2 damage output at first but as long as hold objectives are in vogue, it is a great choice for objective decks.
Bonded Bodyguard is a reaction that triggers after a friendly fighter’s move action when not adjacent to Slakeslash. You can then push Slakeslash 2 hexes as long as it ends its push within 2 hexes of Vasillac. It’s alright and lets you flexibly push Slakeslash into position to support your leader, even when another friendly fighter moves. It’s flexible but situational.
Deadly Embrace is a reaction that lets one of your fighters, during an enemy range 1 or 2 attack action, make an attack action before being taken out of action on the roll of a channel on a magic dice. It’s fine but it’s a 50/50 card that can be negated by range 3 attack actions.
Rush of Sensation triggers as a reaction off of a friendly fighter taking an enemy fighter out of action with an attack action. You can then make a move action with the friendly fighter. Great for making a kill then bouncing off somewhere else but it’s still situational in use and isn’t too great against elite warbands as you need to be inspired first generally to get the kill. Still if you can make it work, Rush of Sensation is a good card.
Faction Gambits – Top Picks
Cruel Pangs is basically Lethal Ward. It has to be a fighter holding an objective to Deal 1 damage but works on enemy and friendly fighters! Perfect for sneaky damage application to speed up inspire by damaging enemy fighters or your own.
Dark Desires chooses an enemy fighter and then the controller either chooses to give that fighter a move token or you get to push them 1 hex. Think of Toxic Gasses but a bit more toned down. Still both choices can be equally disastrous to the opponent whether it’s on an aggro fighter or a fighter waiting to get onto an objective.
Enervating Perfume cause a -1 damage modifier to the first attack action in the next activation to a minimum of 1 as long as Vasillac is alive. It takes some prediction, as always, but that -1 damage is huge when played correctly. You can even use it on your own attacks, for some reason, if you want to wound an enemy fighter and not kill.
Fuelled by Sensation is amazing and totally fits followers of Slaanesh. Choose a friendly fighter and either Heal (1) or Deal (1) damage. Great to speed up inspiring or to keep Slakeslash and Vasillac on full wounds.
Lure of Slaanesh is an interesting push card. You can choose any fighter then push them 1 hex or up to 1 hex for each surviving friendly fighter with wound counters. Super flexible and ranges for a single hex push all the way up to a 4 hex push. Destroy your opponent’s positioning of a key fighter or send your own rocketing into the fray!
Shared Pain is awesome at keeping a key fighter alive, the damage negation it provides is the best in the game. It works as a reaction during the deal damage step by choosing another friendly fighter within 3 hexes, they get dealt the damage instead. 3 to 4 damage on Vasillac? Nope, all on Slakeslash now. Use to even keep Glissete and Hazdu alive too. It ends the attack sequence as well which basically kill and drivebacks and reactions related to attack actions. Shared Pain turns this weirdly fragile warband into some of the best damage negation in all of Warhammer Underworlds.
Vicious Barbs chooses and enemy fighter adjacent to a friendly fighter and un-inspires them till the end of the round or when they’re taken out of action. The chosen fighter does inspire again once the effect of Vicious Barbs ends but it’s a great way to shutdown and kill inspired fighters like Mollog, Hrothgorn and Thundrik.
Dance Without End lets you push Glissete 1 hex after a friendly fighter’s move action, or 2 hexes if you deal 1 damage to her first. It’s a shame its limited to her and with movement 4/5 and range 2 it’s not that necessary. Duellist’s Speed is better.
Soporific Musk makes enemy fighters within 2 hexes have -1 movement. It’s alright but if you’re that close then it’s kind of moot. It combines decently with Slakeslash for some interesting enemy movement impeding but that’s quite niche and movement values today are high enough where -1 movement isn’t too big of a deal.
Sword-Shatterer triggers after an enemy range 1 or 2 attack action. On the roll of a Smash you discard one of the enemy fighter’s attack action. It’s really random upgrade removal but at least it blocks reaction windows for your opponent. Still, I wouldn’t really run it generally.
Faction Upgrades – Top Picks
Cruel Volley is restricted to Hadzu but it allows him to make a second range 3+ attack action immediately after his first range 3+ attack action this round. Works once per round but also on any range 3+ attack action, however unlikely that may be. Using this to push 1 fighter 2 hexes or 2 fighters 1 hex each is incredibly powerful.
Distracting Ostentation grants a -1 dice modifier to attack actions made by adjacent enemy fighters. Amazing, just like Lady Harrow’s Mournlight’s Debilitating Aura. Stick it on Slakeslash or Vasillac and laugh with glee.
Mark of the Dark Prince is limited to Slakeslash but it’s so good. Before the attack roll, deal 1 damage to Slakeslash to give it Cleave or Ensare. While Slakeslash is accurate enough on 3 fury, being able to gain either attack action keyword as well as helping to inspire yourself (then potentially healed with Slakeslash’s unique reaction) makes it a truly flexible tank that can’t be ignored.
Sadistic Goad is a range 2, 3 fury attack action upgrade with a damage characteristic of 1 plus the number of wound counters on the target’s fighter card. It doesn’t seem too great at first but, with enough wound counters, it can be used to take down any fighter. If you’re playing around inspiring, this a great pick. Even then Sadistic Goad is great for a surprise kill from Glissete or Hadzu.
Sickening Resilience lets you roll a dice when a friendly fighter is dealt damage, on the roll of a block you only take 1 damage. It may seem unreliable at first with only a 33.33% chance but it works every time that fighter is dealt damage. Put it on Slakeslash to have it become even more of an annoying tank for your opponent to deal with. It does work on Vasillac and the other 2 fighters but it’s the most annoying (for your opponent) with your Slaangor.
Strength from Pain grants +1 damage to range 1 and 2 attack actions if the fighter has 1 or more wound counters. Extra damage faction cards are always nice and, while you need to be wounded to get usage out of it, this helps with inspiring while allowing fighters like Vasillac to easily reach 4 damage with additional upgrades like Great Strength and Savage Strength.
Swift as Desire grants +1 move, +2 instead if the equipped friendly fighter has 1 or more wound counters. Reach astonishing speeds of up to movement 7 for ridiculous board movement. The scintillating speed of Slaanesh.
Now to the deck section! Once again these are sample decks to get you going and build off of. They’re not super competitive but designed to be optimal and fun, a great way to get you going with games if you don’t want to run faction card only decks. First I’ll do a deck with only Direchasm cards (Vanguard Format) and then a deck for Championship Format which contains all the currently available universal cards.
Playstyle: Flex (Aggro and Hold Objectives)
This deck is a weak flex deck honestly. It’s primarily aggro with the ability to tech into hold objectives but by mainly just holding 1 more objective than your opponent. You double up on Excess of Avidity and Dominating Display to score 4 glory for holding more objectives than your opponent. Even then you’ve got a lot of aggro objectives due to the damage the Dread Pageant can pump out as well as a Primacy objective to unlock Primacy for you. Vasillac should be getting kills reliably which makes Savage Exemplar a thematic and competitive choice.
Gambits once again play to the strength of the Dread Pageant thanks to their amazing faction cards. Universal cards like Slickrock keep opponents off objectives, Hungry Advance keeps you on them, Ferocious Blow grants extra damage and even Cleave while Thrill of the Hunt is another way to get Primacy against wounded targets.
Upgrades feature offensive damage upgrades along with the defensive options granted by their faction cards. Savage Strength is amazing for them along with Strength from Pain to easily reach 4 damage un-inspired with a single fighter. Savage Speed and Swift as Desire mean you could have a movement 8/9 fighter, go super sonic! This actually makes Winged Death really reliable to score. Then Fearsome Trappings for some more defensive play with Glisette and Hadzu.
Playstyle: Flex (Aggro and Hold Objectives)
The Championship format deck builds on the strengths of the Vanguard format deck. Cover Ground and Gathered Momentum provide easy Surge glory to score without killing. Team Effort is some nice easy end phase glory which compliments Endless Revel. Sidestep replaces Hungry Advance for more freedom of pushing while Spectral Wings makes your speed even more consistent. Then you have Mischievous Spirits to ensure you control all the objectives. Upgrades just see Great Strength and Great Fortitude added. This allows a 5 wound Vasillac or 6 wound Slakeslash! Great Strength means you now have 3 sources of +1 damage, all the pain for Slaanesh!
The Dread Pageant are a very interesting warband, almost like Ylthari’s Guardians. They are fairly elite but also kind of fragile. They’re fast and have a fairly tough inspire mechanic which results in them playing differently when compared with other warbands. However, they are fairly accurate while not inspired and dispatch horde warbands with ease. Slakeslash also occupies an excellent role as a tank that can heal itself to take the attention of the opponent while the rest of your warband moves into position. Their faction cards are also exceedingly good and can disrupt your opponent’s positioning while spreading around damage and/or healing.
- Fast, movement 4 that increases to 5 when inspired
- Consistent 2 damage output
- Slakeslash is a fast and regenerative tank
- Very strong faction cards
- Disrupts your opponent’s positioning
- Don’t need to inspire to perform well
- Difficult inspire mechanic that requires you playing differently than normal in order to inspire
- Requires inspiration to get access to damage 3 via Vasillac
- Half of the warband has only 2 wounds
In summary the Dread Pageant are a good warband with quite a high skill ceiling. This makes them quite difficult to use as a starter warband if you’re brand new to Warhammer Underworlds but you do have Slakeslash to absorb damage and Vasillac is a strong fighter himself. Still I really like the Dread Pagaent and how they play. They don’t need to inspire but even then, I find they best play as an aggro warband that softens up the enemy warband during round 1 then goes in for the kill during rounds 2 and 3. Hadzu is great at disrupting the opponent’s positioning and Glissete is still a threat inspired or un-inspired. Remember she is still 2 dodge with permanent Guard.
So would I recommend getting the Dread Pagaent? Well if you’ve bought the Warhammer Underworlds Direchasm core set then you technically already have them. Still, I would recommend them overall. The Dread Pageant take a while to get used to and basically play in a style suited to the warband. However, they have strong faction cards, mobility and effects as well as being amazing models to paint too. Tough for new players but rewarding once the effort has been put in.
If you want to buy the Dread Pageant you can get them in the Warhammer Underworlds Direchasm core set via the direct link to Games Workshop here or via my affiliate link to Element Games here which will net you a minimum 15% discount (20% during pre-order week) while helping to support my content, all at no additional cost to you.
Now we come to the end of this warband review of the Dread Pageant, our first look at what Direchasm has to offer us. Time will tell how well the Dread Pagaent ages once the whole Direchasm card set has been released but thankfully they have consistently powerful faction cards to rely on. They’re different but one of the most thematic warbands yet released for Warhammer Underworlds. I hope you enjoyed the review, don’t forget to check out my Warhammer Underworlds Direchasm core set review to get the full picture of the new core set and Myari’s Purifiers.
Until we delve deeper into the Direchasm, beware and embrace the seductive sensations of Slaanesh! Crits for pain or pleasure!