|Warhammer/Tactics/8th Edition/Vampire Counts
 Why Play Vampire Counts
Vampire Counts are a fairly effective force. They're fun to play, but they have several gimmicks that have to be accounted for to play at their best. First, note that there are no shooting options in this army, effectively eliminating an entire phase. Any ranged options in this army are purely magical. Second, you have no need to worry about the psychology of your units because they don't have any. You will be paying a lot of attention to the enemy's psychology because that's crucial to winning. Never forget to take a fear test or your troops lose any advantage they have. Third, magic is your bread and butter, your meat and drink, your bolter and chainsword. You are going to be heavily reliant on magic to refresh your units and get the most advantageous fights. If you're not utterly dominating the magic phase, you're doing it wrong. There are other things, but we'll get to them as they crop up.
As of the most recent edition of the Vampires rule book they are now less likely to fall apart after a bad magic phase or the loss of a general. The magic is some what less stupidly powerful(spamming invocation any one?) with the change to the lore attribute though the spells themselves received a buff. Also several units are better balanced(points wise) and some received slight buffs to their stat-lines. They, as an army, have been made more consistent on the table and less reliant on magic and generals. They are still one of the kings of tar pitting and Vampires are still one of the top combat heroes in the game.
The Dead March
Lots of ranked corpses slowly marching toward your opponent as his terrified troops struggle to fire more bullets and arrows at the hordes in a vain hope of stopping the endless tide. If this appeals to you, you are looking at the right army. Even in small games you will be fielding dozens of zombies and skeletons as well as some more exotic dead and undead creatures, few armies can field such numbers of fodder and only one other can field fodder that is so reluctant to stay dead. Get your brush hand ready and get comfortable as you are going to need a lot of models to field these hordes.
 Unit Analysis
 Lords & Heroes
 Named Characters
Note: Under the current edition, named characters tend to be overpriced; you can pretty easily emulate most named characters from scratch and save yourself some points. That said, a few named characters do have abilities and war gear combos unique to them, so if you absolutely need to have them, go ahead. Just make sure you're really getting your points worth.
- Vlad Von Carstein: The man that started it all. Look at this monster. You want to field him, but you never will. Why? He's 495 points. As strong as he is (powerful fighter that can comeback after getting killed), that is your entire lord budget in an otherwise balanced 2000 point army, and you don't have that kind of room for one model. For the points, you could load a normal Vampire Lord up on a fucking undead dragon and have points left over to spend on powers. So skip over Carstein unless you're going for the Vlad/Isabella combo.
- Count Mannfred: A superb and versatile caster with no less than 14 spells. However for optimum usage he needs to kill stuff, which he isn’t too good at for Vampire Lord aside from being fairly vulnerable.. This is the man you want fighting nothing but goblins and skaven slaves if you can possible help it. If you can manage this then this guy will generally rule both magic phases, especially if you're canny and snipe enemy wizards early on with Spirit Leech where you'll almost always have the superior LD.530 points worth it
- Heinrich Kemmler: Oh, you were never going to be playing this game in decent company anyway. He's a level four loremaster that is hard to kill and is ideal for filling a lord's' spot at 1500pts. If you're playing at that level, you may as well bring Krell to take advantage of their tag team abilities. 350 points worth it
- Mannfred the Acolyte: Much more fieldable and a solid choice since he provides Loremaster, which is what you take him for. Like his Lord Incarnation you want him fighting chaff and nothing but chaff, the weaker the better.
- Konrad von Carstein: Nothing short of Psychologically Damaging if your opponent happens to bring Monstrous Infantry. The combo of hatred, red fury and Sword of Waldenhof means he'll cut 5-6 ogres down...per combat! That being said it's all he really does well while being the uncle of all glass cannons. So be wary of using him... and be aware that Ogre players will die a little each time you field him.
- Isabella von Carstein: Now has the proper Vampire statline. A decent enough choice. Has beguile, but without any special combat equipment what's she going to do with it? Blood Chalice looks nice, but it's nothing Invocation of Nehek can't do (except it still works without having to cast) and it only works on vampires and even then only ones in the same squad as her (aka Vlad). Of course, there's always the fact that if she kicks it, Vlad goes nuts, with Frenzy and Hatred and whatnot... except that, as we discussed earlier, you're never going to take Vlad (Get your circular logic out of here. "don't take Vlad unless you also take Isabella, but don't take Isabella because you're not going to take Vlad". Bottom line is that neither one is really worth it on their own, but they have decent potential if taken together.)
- Krell: And he's back!. Krell is a wight king with a better statline who gets HKB (in challenges) if in the same unit as Kemmler. Which, obviously, means you should always have him in the same unit as Kemmler. Comes with Chaos Armour that nullifies magic weapons if he passes his 4+. His black axe is ok for whittling down monsters, most characters shouldn't survive against him long enough for it to matter. Oh, and having a T5 W4 hero for his meager cost is very, very good. And his model is fucking ace.
 Generic Characters
Note: While named characters are judged against their generic counterparts, generic characters are examined based on their role in your army.
- Vampire Lord: Brilliant stat line and a ton of upgrade options, and outside of the Chaos Lord is probably the most dangerous generic combat lord in the game (he probably would have been the best, since he can kill more models per round compare while the Chaos Lord is better at single combat, but there's the whole problem where your army starts crumbling if he dies). Naturally, characters are the first place spare points go in a Vampire Counts army, and this unit will likely soak up as many points as you can give. Properly kitted out they can stand toe to toe with chaos lords and rampage through elite units all while having excellent magical options. Remember, if your general dies very bad things happen to your army, so whatever you do, keep him in a unit at least until he is in combat: losing a game on turn one from a warmachine attack is not fun. Item selection and powers will be covered later.
- Master Necromancer: Cheap level 3 wizard that can be used to support a vampire lord who decided to take forbidden lore. You might be tempted to make him your general, and that would certainly spare points for the other great choices you have, but remember that your army would start crumbling as soon as he died.
[Apparantly, it's popular to forget the fact that your highest ld character needs to be your general and is /forced/ to take Lore of Vampires if he has the highest leadership if you play Vampires.] Master Necromancer can be a general if there are no Vampires around. Crumbling is very, very bad, even if it is not the game over screen it was on the previous edition. This is obviously a problem with vampire lords as well, but they can survive melee combat even if they are magic-oriented, assuming they are properly kited. You can place him in a bunker behind your front-lines, but remember that all it might take is a particularly bad roll in winds of magic, bad maneuver or combat rolls to have your necromancer eating lances/swords/whatever.
- To summarize: he is a very fine choice whether taken as a support caster or as a general, but if you use the latter route, know that a single mistake (or a few bad rolls) can cost you the game.
- Strigoi Ghoul King: Whereas the Vampire Lord is the ideal mix of magic and might and the Master Necromancer is the magic focused user, the Strigoi Ghoul King is the punch-sport champ...
or at least that is what he was supposed to be. His infinite hatred seems fun until you realize a vampire lord with Quickblood does the exact same thing, except against high elves (and even then he forces them to attack simultaneously). No. He also has poor defense: he can't take the Nightshroud, or any other armor for that matter, and you simply can't rely solely on a 5+ (or even 4+ with the mortis engine) regeneration save. Hell No. Poisoned attacks are good and synergize with the hatred, shame that if you take a magic weapon you lose that poison. Unfortunately True. Oh, his WS is also lower than that of a vampire lord, which might seem like little until you take into account that WS 7 means you would be hit on a 4+ instead of a 3+ by most combat lords. Hell No. No cavalry mount available either, so you can't have him join those black knights or blood knights. So? You could mount him on a terrorgheist if you want to spam them... and have your army crumble from a cannon ball on turn 1. Sadly, this clan is a strictly fluffy choice. ALL MANNER OF HELL NO!
ALTERNATIVE: WITH THE RIGHT BIULD, the Ghoul King is a champ that kills everything. I've defeated Archaon the Everchosen in 1 turn, and survived 9 turns just to kill Archaon in the 10th. Out of 20 duels, the Ghoul King won 17. A vampire lord with Quickblood IS NOT THE SAME as GK with infinite hatred. The Ghoul King can take Quickblood so that is ASF will cancel out with the high elves and the GK will get to re roll against high elves and the high elves WILL NOT be able to get rerolls against him, because even though their ASF cancel eachother out, forcing them to roll simultaneously, GK has infinite hatred to allow him those rerolls. You have to remember the GK gets the same vampire power limit (100 points worth) and the same magic items limit (100 points worth), as a vampire lord. He just can't take armour. (Which is for the best in my opinion...I make up for it) I will admit however... YOU WILL NEED A DEDICATED WIZARD... or two or three.
By the way. I field him on foot.
- Vampire: Cheaper Vampire Lord. The biggest problem here is the much more limited number of powers you can take, forcing you to choose wisely. Remember that neither this unit nor the Lord equivalent come with any equipment standard, so if you put all your points in magic don't send them into combat or they're going to get slaughtered. Can be upgraded to BSB.
- Wight King: Originally a poor choice because it used up a hero slot and wasn't a vampire, new force organisation rules give Wight Kings a place in your army; right at the front. There are few foes that can test a Vampire's WS of 6, and Wight Blade and toughness 5 makes the Wight King a more effective warrior than a standard Vampire. Stick him in a unit of Grave Guard with the Banner of the Barrows for an incredibly cheesy unit that will melt all variety of faces. Can be upgraded to BSB.
- Necromancer: As above, new organization rules make Necromancers more viable. 65 points for a level 1 wizard isn't bad. Use them to keep your armies at good strength, but don't expect too much from them. You get what you paid for. Necro's are good for supporting large units of infantry with a little extra LD and some magical support if they end up away from the general.
A less popular choice in high points games, but a fairly effective one at that if your opponent fields few magic weapons and/or magic is to take 5 in a unit of 5 wide anything (ghouls and skeletons being the popular choice at that) to deny an enemy unit the chance to hit your ethereal dude.
However, this will set you back 300 points for 5 and is not recommended unless you plan to use it in either a friendly game or when you're absolutely sure what you're up against.
- Cairn Wraith: Sadly not a good choice. Spirit hosts are cheaper for simple tarpits and the Cairn Wraiths unit is more cost-effective for cavalry/monster killing. Both are also more resistant to magic by virtue of having more wounds. Finally, wight kings are better at simply killing normal stuff by virtue of their killing blow and awesome (for points) stats.
- Tomb Banshee: Generally not the best investment for points. Any competitive army will have at least 9 leadership in important units, most will have 10, so the hysterical woman is unlikely to earn her points back (she will deal on average deal less than 0,5 casualties per turn). Useless in melee too. Never mind that the range of the shriek is small enough that a non-engaged unit (especially cavalry, against whom the shriek would in theory be more useful) will be able to just charge you unless you do some fancy maneuvering, which is hard without the general nearby.
EDIT# shriek can be used in combat making her a valuable addition to any unit needing a little more punch.
Leadership is almost meaningless to vampires as they cannot be broken. It is, however, what stops your army from falling apart if/when your general dies. If you have the points, adding a few basic heroes to your list to bump the leadership in a few key units can still be a worthwhile investment for the wounds they prevent when crumbling comes around.
- Skeletal steed:* The black knights basic mount, ignores terrain as they are treated as ethereal for movement and does not get the -1M for barding if you take it. Think about that for a moment, you can charge units on the other side of buildings if you can see them, never take a dangerous terrain test with these guys again!
- Barded nightmare:* Simple undead horse, best in a squad of blood knights
or wolves. [dire wolves are a different unit type so the rider would not get look out sir against cannons and such]. Never ever put with black knights unless there's no terrain, as they'll lose their ethereal movement. Ordinary in all regards. other then being S4 WS3 horses
- Hellsteed:* A flying nightmare, and overall a better horse. Not too expensive and still a great investment if you like running with fell bats or other silliness. Still, if used right it can be a scary model that's great for picking off warmachines or other small units, since arrows don't tend to have the killing power needed for a vampire.
- Abyssal Terror:* Not great by any standard of a monster. Can be given poison or armour piercing. Fairly cheap and it flies, but overall best served by the next two.
- Coven Throne:* This thing has a good number of abilities. The battle of wills is a fun way to mess with your opponent. 2(4 as there are 2 hand maidens) ASF attacks, 2d6 attacks from the ghosts that pull it, treats terrain as open ground, and does d6 s5 impacts. This thing is mean as hell. It costs almost as much as the dragon but is well worth it for the sheer destruction it can wreak on anything short of ranked ogres.
- Zombie Dragon:* Exactly what you think it is. It's got beefy stats, can be healed massively thanks to lore attribute plus invocation, his breath weapon has -3 to armour, and adds that extra fuck you to ogres in the form of terror. A great time if your vampire has the same stat line as the mount its on. Can really wreck heavy cavs day as well as rank and file, though it will die to massive amounts of S4. Still a wonderful kick ass model and is our only dragon.
EDIT# Can only be a mount for a vampire lord, it will be a fire magnet but if it makes it into combat... well lets just say you should grab your ankles.
 Core Units
- Zombie Horde: Zombies are pathetic, fortunately vampire magic phase is full of buffs, get some rerolls and that zombie unit can hold a bit longer. You might think to use them as a tar pit but combat res screws VCs... So why take them? The answer is they are very easy to raise back up and are cheap as chips. For 3 points a model(Giving you a total 70 points for a 20-strong horde plus standard bearer and musician) you get a cheap caster bunker that has a very small chance of being killed unless its charged. In addition, remember to keep a few models off the table since assuming you have raise dead because you'll be summoning a lot of these buggers for various reasons. They are incredibly versatile and fully expendable road block/charge redirecter you can raise them behind enemy front line to charge small chaff units like bow men or archers or warmachines.
- Skeleton Warriors: More durable than zombies due to having light armour and a shield. Should only be taken in large units to maximise the usefulness of Invocation of Nehek. Skellies are good but zombies tar pit way better than any unit in the army. One kitted out Chaos Lord, cavalry unit, etc will run through this unit like a minor speed bump unless you're fielding a block of 40-50. You won't be recovering wounds fast enough to cancel out what your opponent killed off along with the fact that unless you take the Master of the Dead upgrade, you can't push them past their starting size. On Skeleton Warriors (and infantry), Invocation of Nehek only heals back D6 Wounds+Caster Level but with the zombies' The Newly Dead rule, you get 2D6+Caster Level wounds AND push them past their starting size, effectively turning a 20-strong horde into a 60-strong horde in just 2 turns of magic (if the dice gods are with you and even then you'll still have more zombies than skellies).
- Ghouls: Ghouls eschew protection for automatic wounds on a six, which means of your three standard core units they're the ones most likely to get kills. They tie with skeleton warriors, depending on what you want out of your army; skeletons are more durable, while ghouls have more attacks and poison. Take them in a horde for a wall of attacks that your enemy will devote ridiculous amounts of firepower to take down before they can get into combat.
- Dire Wolves: They now count towards your minimum core requirements, meaning they are now a very fast moving alternative to the other core choices. As with most units of this type, use them for flanking if you want them. Due to having swift stride and M9 it is possible to charge from long range meaning most shooters need 6s to hit, in addition to this they gain +1S on the charge making them very good at dealing with small units of archers. However, any large unit of Dire Wolves will be shot down pretty instantly due to T3 and no saves. The instant they stray too far away from the army they can no longer use their march move either. They are actually best used in several small units of 5 as redirectors, helping your infantry blocks to get into combat on their own terms.
 Special Units
- Corpse Cart: Best used for its passive abilities. Don't make the mistake of thinking it's capable of holding its own in combat. Can be ridden by Necromancers.
- Alternative Opinion: Its passive bonuses are probably limited given how much dice are generally chucked after spells. If you can bear its slowness and is able to hit it consistently with augments then the ASF ability is a huge asset against High Elves and low-initiative armies
EDIT# the Bale-fire upgrade is a big advantage over the duration of a game as it will force the opposition to burn additional power dice each turn.
- Grave Guard: Now an infamous staple in VC armies along with their mounted counterparts, Grave Guard are essentially stronger, tougher and generally better skeletons. They don't pack it in as easily as regular skeletons due to having better armour, higher Ld/T/S and as nifty little bonus, have killing blow! Stuff a Wight King into this unit and take them in hordes. Great weapon is the more powerful and popular points, but Sword'n'Board Grave Guard are still powerful and can serve as a very respectable anvil/points denial unit. The latter choice is also slightly cheaper and benefits more from a corpse cart, if you take one.
- Black Knights: One of two heavy cavalry units in the army and the Grave Guard's mounted counterparts, as previously mentioned. DAMN good unit capable of moving over terrain like it wasn't even there and letting loose with a flurry of S4 (or higher, depending on weapon choice) killing blow attacks. All while possibly having a 2+ armor save. Delicious.
- Hexwraiths: New for 8th edition, weaker black knights with great weapons and an interesting advantage: they're ethereal! They will attract a TON of magic during your opponents turn and don't have any protection against that, so beware. Otherwise, they work exactly like Screamers of Tzeentch, allowing you to zig-zag them through unengaged units dishing out S5 flaming, magical attacks that ignore armour saves per hexwraith. Best used to ruin an expensive (preferably slow) unit's day. Just remember that in order for them to march you'll need your general nearby, so be careful with enemy reserves if you send them on their own: they'll likely die from combat resolution unless supported.
- Vargheists: Competes with Empire Outriders and Swordmasters for the title of premier glass cannons, these guys packs considerable punch at break-neck speed. They can hunt war machines if they must, but work better hitting flanks or hunting enemy support troops. Don’t ever think they'll last against even mediocre infantry unsupported though. Love them, and they will give you love in return, in the form of a raging opponent.
Be carefull, though, because they are flyers, they're also skirmishers, keep this in mind when you send them out into the juicy flanks as they cannot disrupt enemy units. They might not gain rank bonuses during combat, sending them headlong into a unit while flanking them with a 10 strong unit of black knights can mess up and disrupt any unit's day.
In either the flank or in the front, these babies are a force to be reckoned with and will RIP AND TEAR through nearly anything.
- Crypt Horrors: The other monstrous infantry unit, little more than super ghouls. Like ghouls, they have poisoned attacks, but also regeneration 5+. This unit is an anvil, pure and simple, but crumbling and a limited offensive capability does force you to take units of at least 6. A unit of 18 in a horde does have good punch however and is very hard to get rid of, but will be expensive for a unit that ultimately works best in a points denial role. Work best with a mortis engine, if the thing doesn't get blown up (or, more often, blows itself up).
- Bat Swarm:
The joke. They will be torn apart by crappy archers with S3 stick-shooters who may well be less expensive than the bats are. They cannot fly, only hover, so they will an extra turn (or more, depending on your general's movements) time getting there comparing to the Fell Bats too. If you do manage to get them into melee, then you will suffer the embarrassment of having your war-machine hunters die to a fat dwarf hitting them with a rock, unless you spend more points in them, in which case you are spending too many points. Avoid. If you send them off to hunt war machines then you're doing it wrong, and deserve to lose the unit. Bat Swarms are best used to support your close quarter combats due to their Cloud of Horror rule which gives Always Strikes Last to opposing units in base contact. Having a low initiative doesn't look so bad when you can force ASL on your opponents, and it will even mess up High Elves (or at least take away their re-rolls) since they only ignore ASL from their weapons since 8th edition update on high elves, their ASF is cancelled by great weapons, but since no 2 special rules stack makes it unnecessary versus those troops, unless you're facing other ASF troops. In addition, the hover-vs-fly thing isn't that huge of a drawback anyway, as the hover move (10") is more than enough to keep up with the rest of your infantry (4"/8"), and they wouldn't be able to get the full fly move anyway if they are outside of your general's march bubble.
EDIT# occasionally useful in conjunction with great weapons equipped grave guard
- Fell Bats: A better choice than Bat Swarms for war machine hunting. Compared to Bat Swarms for similar points, you lose two attacks but upgrade to strength 3, and, more importantly, go up to toughness 3 and gain fly (which is only a benefit if you're inside your general's march bubble). This means they are much more likely to reach their targets without dying to ranged fire (unless your opponent spends too much resources on them, which works to your advantage) or giving the enemy enough time to intercept them. They are also more likely to survive the following melee. Remember that due to how shooting works, you are usually better off getting a few small units rather a singly larger one, and then direct them to a single target if needed.
- Spirit Host: Ah, the spirit host. These guys are extremely cost-effective monster and cavalry tarpits (just make sure whatever you are facing does not have magic attacks: trying to attack chaos knights will not end well). They are best used to dissuade a flank charge than to actively hunt their targets, otherwise they may get too exposed to infantry (their bane) or outmaneuvered (their movement is good, but where they are going they will likely not be in the general's range). That said, don't mind losing a unit to magic or infantry if you have to: after all, they cost less than 50 points. Why give a damn?
 Rare Units
- Blood Knights: There are a lot things to remember about the Blood Knights: EVIL BRETONNIANS ON STEROIDS! They are as expensive as a Baneblade to purchase(and have a similar effect on enemy tactics), and they are one of the top heavy cavalry units in Warhammer Fantasy. Chaos Knights may have more longevity in prolonged fights and Grail Knights might be better at the charge, but blood knights are far more versatile than either.The Flag of Blood Keep gives them a +4 ward save against any ranged attacks that can get through their 2+ base armor save, and you don't even need to keep them in range of the general to get a March off. Having recently had their points cost lowered and their initiative raised, they are a fantastically lethal addition to an army of any size. It's still a good idea to keep a loaded-up barded vampire lord within the unit anyways, the unit is frenzied and gets some sweet ass upgrades if the vampire joins as well, and the lord serves as a medic whenever he casts invocation he can regain the vampire and the horse he rode in on.
- Tricks to Consider:
- 4-man unit with flaming banner makes a fantastic monster hunter, which will reliably take down even Hydras, sphinxes and hellpits on the charge.
- Add a Vampire on hellsteed with MR2 trinket to a unit with Flag of Blood Keep for a unit with 2+ ward against magic damage and a warmachine/wizard hunter which will be extremely hard to neutralise before you unleash him.
- Modeling note: If you are ok with conversions, don't buy their kit. No, really. You do don't want to spend 99$/61.50£/80€ for 5 guys. Buy a box of Bretonnian Knights Errant, High Elf Dragon Princes, or Chaos Knights and go wild with your imagination.
- Black Coach: An extremely expensive chariot. If you take a vampire lord with the Master of the Dark Arts, you will get on average 1.5 abilities per turn (only 1 otherwise, so best taken in a magic-focused army). That means that unless you do something really stupid to get charged by turn 2, for 200 points you will have 5 attacks at S5/6 with killing blow, plus impact hits. With T6, 3+ armor and 4+ ward (and ethereal later on) and its decent offensive potential, this bad boy is unlikely to suffer significant damage unless you do something really, really idiotic like charging ranked Tzeentch warriors, while light damage can easily be healed. It takes more time to be effective than the Terrorgheist (who takes the same roles: small, expensive unit/monster hunter), but at the same time it won't die to peasant bowmen with flaming arrows: it will take on average 3(!) direct hits with cannons to take it down, and only if you don't heal it in the meantime.
- Don't leave home without them if you're playing Storm of Magic. All those extra spell dice means they'll be picking up abilities faster, and there is even a decent chance (not highly probable, but still decent) that they could reach full power in a single turn. Enjoy.
- Terrorgheists: Not everyone likes them, but they remain one of our best choices especially owing to the fact that it is our most flexible unit. The nature of its scream makes it best suited to hunting monsters and lone characters as well as heavy cavalry. Its Thunderstomp also allows it to support (key word here: they will die to enough S3 attacks + combat resolution) combat against enemy infantry. It can actually do a pretty credible job at most tasks. Its weakness however is that its scream isn't terrible reliable especially since it requires close support from the General as well as continual healing to get the most from its abilities. This combined with their relative vulnerability in CC and their huge base size means they are tricky to actually move about. A specialist glass-canon(ish) if you feel like taking one.
- Varghulf: The vargheist's frenzon-addicted big brother. Sadly, not a better choice. For the same points the vargheists will get more easily into combat due to fly, deal more damage except against WS 4 enemies and, by virtue of numbers, are more resistant to damage (that is, it's harder to kill ALL of them, even considering the Varghulf's regeneration), and since lore of the vampires will easily heal any unit that isn't completely dead... well, you get the picture. The Varghulf is not a bad choice by any means, especially considering he lacks frenzy, so he won't jump into combat you don't want him to. He is simply not as good and, worse, steals points from your rare allowance.
EDIT# the big thing for the Vargulf is hatred, causing terror and THUNDERSTOMP. This means that he gets 5 S5 re-rollable attacks at 3+ against most troops (if they pass the terror and fear test)then if they don't kill it it gets another D6 S5 hits.
- Mortis Engine: At first glance, this seems like the ultimate support unit, especially with the blasphemous tome upgrade and in support of ghouls. Then you notice that it is a chariot. With T5 and only a 5+ armor save/6+ regen (actually 4+ as the unit has regen of its own), it will eat spells or high damage ranged attacks from turn 1, exploding and dealing damage to all your units. The only reliable way to take one would be to make an army lead by a lone character with as many monsters and chariots as you can, to spread enemy fire to those other targets. Of course, one would question the viability of the army itself in that case...
- EDIT This thing is a 5W T5 terror causing regeneration bubbled fire magnet that moves just as fast as the rest of the army and has a shooting attack(short ranged tho). It will be targeted from turn 1 but unless they really pour it on it will not die fast, even a direct hit from a cannon is not likely to kill it outright. Tho a 3D6 fireball can.
- EDIT Imagine this thing in a pair along a unit of grave guards, since the reliquary stacks, they now have regeneration 5+.
Add a hero with an obsidian lodestone for Magic resistance 3 and you have a 2+ ward vs all magic other than flaming attacks on the entire unit. A matter of preference, but a fairly effective one at that. [It's actually not very effective at all since magic resistance does not stack along with regeneration. You would only get a 5+ regen OR 4+ ward save against spells]
- Cairn Wraith: The expensive, damage-dealing alternative to the spirit hosts. They will still die to ranked infantry but, unlike the spirit hosts who function as a tarpit, these guys function as killers. 9 attacks at S5 or 3 attacks that ignore armor will put the hurt in whatever they strike. Sadly, they take rare choice points and unlike the spirit hosts you can't afford to just let them get killed by magic. It's usually better to pin enemies with spirit hosts and then flank later with another unit so, in essence, the Cairn Wraiths are to the Spirit Hosts as the Varghulfs are to the Vargheists. Oh, and never, ever upgrade one to a tomb banshee. The damage it deals to any significant target is terrible (most armies can easily have at least an L9 bubble in all important troops, and the others you can kill in melee) and it's weaker in close quarters.
EDIT# Wraiths are great weapon team hunters and can tie up a lot of troops by just being in charge range, use terrain to keep them from being charged and force a unit to either keep facing them or risk being flank/rear charged but 15 S5 attack from terror causing troops that they can not attack back.
 Building Your Army
 Buying Your Army
Go for the battalion box set as you are going to need a lot of skeletons, zombies and ghouls. The new battalion box dropped the zombies and replaced them with dire wolves - still a good buy. The army box is also good as it gives you a good selection of heavy hitters in addition to the core. You will want to invest in extra zombies/skeletons/dire wolves/dire bats/fell bats (depending on what you run) beyond what you plan on starting on the table. Several spells/abilities allow you to expand these units beyond their starting size (or flat out create new units), but only if you have the models to support it. This is one of the other great advantages the army, as those extra models are essentially free points. Boost a few units and all of a sudden what started off as a 2000pt game has suddenly turned in to a 2200 v 2000 game.
And burying enemy units in piles of zombies is a lot of fun.
If you don't care about GW run tournaments (or owning ugly miniatures) go Mantic you can get 60 zombies for $60 (vs GW's 40 for $70) and 40 skeletons for 45 (vs GW's 40 for 99). Also if you can source some more square bases, each mantic zombie frame is supposed to only make 3 of them, but can easily make 4!
 Army Composition
The first thing that is apparent in the VC army is just how balls out powerful a Vampire lord can be, the only other generic lords in the game that can go head to head with them and survive with any frequency are Chaos lords. The big draw back with this is the egg/basket problem, you can make the just about unkillable but it will cost you a huge number of points to do so. While tempting as this may be it is tactically unsound. In the current addition of the WHFB and VC rules numbers are more important them individual kill-power, that tricked out lord may win you one fight but if you spend those 400+ points on troops you can have 4 level 2 necromancer wizards raining spells down everywhere or a 60 skeleton hoard with command and a magic banner. With Vampires its about value for points, be it survivability, kill-power or irritation value.
troops, so many troops
Unless you are intentionally fielding a small high value force you will outnumber the other guy. This is because skeletons and zombies are cheap, spam-able and you can end up with more then you started with, if you don't you are doing it wrong. VC troops also tend so suck at killing anything with WS5+ or T4, unless they are ghouls, on the other hand a horde of troops can hold anything that's not packing some serious kill power in place until they have been whittled down to nothing or you bring something bigger to finish the job the bones started. Ghouls on the other hand are your hammer in the core selection, a unit of 20 will pack 16 poison attacks in a 5wide formation, unfortunately they are twice the cost of skeletons making a basic hoard (10x4) over 400 points.
 Magic Items
- Skabskath: An odd weapon. While its pretty unlikely you'll die from the end-of-game drawback the fact is that is that you'll be arming your general with a sword that means you'll have to overrun plus you won't be able to afford a ward save. Can be worth it on Strigoi Ghoul King (Curse of the Revenant and Aura of dark Majesty on a Terrorgheist and another careful in support, but be careful
- Nightshroud: Additional Armor your Necromancers can use! Any enemy in base contact with someone wearing a Nightshroud gains the Always Strikes Last rule and loses all bonuses to Strength from normal or magic weapons. Stick it on your Vampire Lord riding a Zombie Dragon and start laughing. A tip for the beardy here. High Elves have no response to this build apart from Death magic... All they can do is pray and throw themselves on your Lord's blade
Extra Cheese combine with quick blood or sword of striking
- Banner of Barrows If you are going to take a unit of more then 15 Grave guard (and why wouldn't you, as 15 GG aren't going to last you more than a round or two of close combat or good shooting) especially if you have a wight king in there, you will want this banner as the +1 to hit makes your relatively low WS (for elite infantry) far more destructive.
- The Screaming Banner If you want to troll take this banner and force 3D6 LD tests (remove the lowest) To any one in combat with the unit, this banner is cheap enough to give to a regular standard bearer. It can turn a unit of sword'n'board skeletons
(hard to move as it is) into an eternal tar-pit of undead at least until the enemy passes that LD test and your skellies become fart dust seeing as a 5+ Armour Save will make you holier than the pope as you're on your knees, praying to god for a good roll.
Extra Cheese Combine with the banner of barrows, wight king and hoard of grave guard for utter carnage as a failed test mean they will be hitting on 2+.
A Little More Cheese Add in a vampire with Fear Incarnate and, in the off-chance they pass their fear test, make them re-roll it.
 Lore of Vampires
Lore attribute allows you to allocate one healed wound to the caster or a model within 12. For great times cast it late game around your Coven Thrones to keep that rape train running and make your opponent cry as the ladies hit themselves.
- Invocation Of Nehek: The signature spell and the army's bread and butter. The spell that stands up all our terrible infantry to fight another round. Range is determined by the casting value you choose, up to 18 inches. At least 2 casters should have this at all times, no exceptions.
- Vanhel's Dance Macabre: Free march moves all around, wonderful for an otherwise slow army, and giving rerolls to hit. Wonderful since zombies can become terrifying when they hit first (see Corpse Cart) and reroll hits. Ghouls become almost broken when affected the same way.
- This spell can be used to push Hexwraiths across enemy units and trigger more hits from their Spectral Hunters rule. With some good positioning and multiple casters with access to this spell (Manfred and Kemler get it auto through loremaster, and it comes in a bound form on the Book of Arkhan) you can yo-yo a unit of hexwraiths back and forth across your opponent's line to devastating effect.
- Hellish Vigour: See above only with rerolls to wound. Our base infantry murders everything it touches if we get a magic phase all to ourselves. Put on grave guard for ultra lulz.
- Most players won't let you get both off but even Zombies can chew up units if you manage to stack Vanhel's and Hellish Vigour. Cast on a hoard of Ghouls you can take out most types of troop in huge numbers.
- Gaze of Nagash: Simple magic missile. 2d6 s4. Not huge or game changing but will ruin Beastmen and other light armour only armies. Also useful for picking off lone wizards
- Raise FUCKING Dead: A terrifying spell in which you can raise small squads (2d6 +3) of zombies or skeletons for slightly more. Amazing since it can be cast in combat. Get your main mob of 'bies or 'tons in combat and let the flank charges begin! May not add a whole lot but if you get it on less than fearless units the fear test alone can win the fight. If you roll it keep it, provided you have the models to support.
- Curse of years: A fun spell, not too competitive. but great at making your opponent waste dispel dice. It kills on a 6 when cast and for the following turns it gets a +1 to the roll. With a decent casting value of 12 your level 4 wizard will have no problems casting it. If the enemy values what you cast it at, they'll burn scrolls and dice to keep them from getting old as hell.
- This spell is great for killing off death-star units as it ignores armor and toughness.
- Wind of death: A magical vortex. gets d6 S3 hits for every rank in the unit and ignores armour. Great for thinning hordes that are better in combat than you (such as Orcs and Goblins); otherwise it's not generally good at much else. Aim at the chaff and watch the models melt away.
- This spell also works well on any T3 unit, Cast at High elf swordmasters or ANY spearmen for extra tears. Cast at huge blocks of skaven slaves and bring a bucket of dice.
Lore of Shadows:
This can be a useful lore on a vampire as it comes with several hexes and damage spells that increase the effectiveness of your own units by reducing the stats(WS,BS,S,T,I or M) of enemy units or firing off cannonball lines of pain or dropping nasty templates.
This lore will only really be seen in games over 1500points as Lore of vampires takes priority on at least 2 wizards.
- Melkoth's Mystifying Miasma: you will probably be going after your targets WS or BS as these will make the biggest difference in losses MOST of the time. sometimes reducing movement will help, ecpecialy if the target unit is try to get out of a blood forest or a wild wood
- Steed of Shadows: Not generally taken but can be a nice utility if you need to relocate a hero to the fighting or get a wizard out of harms way.
- The Enfeebling Foe: reducing a target units S but upto 3? hell yes, this can make even dragons harmless (compared to a un-hex dragon). Best used to reduce the pain of hard hitting charges or tarpitting
- The Withering: reduce target units T by upto 3? murder time! this is best for when something absolutely must die/you have to win combat
- The Penumbral Pendulum: a S10 6D6 long D3 wounding hate stick. only drawback is that it fails against anything with decent initiative.
- Pit of Shades: a slightly less horrifying version of purple sun. if you combo with Melkoth's Mystifying Miasma it even works on elves.(sorta)
- Okkam's Mindrazor:* normally an awesome spell, but due to the dead's generally shit Ld scores you will only get limmited mileage out of this. Cast this on a horde within 12" of your general and watch your opponents WoC, Brettonians or monsters being teared apart by S10 zombies!!!!
Lore of death:
short ranged sniper magic is a good way to describe most of this lore. With 3 'chose your target model, even a character in a unit' spells, a -S&T hex, -3LD hex and the nightmare of all lizard-men (or other low initiate armys)Purple Sun of Xereus.
- Spirit Leach: one of the best anti monster spells around as you will normally have at least 2 more Ld then your target and very few monsters have ward saves.
- Aspect of the Dreadknight: Makes your unit cause fear at the lower cast meaning you will only ever use the higher cast as undead. Causing terror on the other hand can be useful as it lets you cause fear in units that cause fear, great for slowing down ogres and other fear causing units.
- The Caress of Laniph: Easily cast spell thats great for taking out wizards and other low strength models, will cause 2 wounds on average to a S3 target and ignores armor.
- Soulblight: -1S&T to a target, good for helping you win a combat or you can hit all enemies in range and watch your opponent panic.
- Doom & Darkness: -3LD to a target, unfortunately this can't be combed with Spirit Leach but it will make those fear test lot more likely to be failed.
- The Fate of Bjuna: much like caress but instead targets toughness, and wounds on a 2+ instead of a 4+, another wizard hunting spell. averages 3 wounds to s T3 model
- Purple Sun of Xereus: a magical vortex of death. anything it touches takes an initiate test, if they pass they live, if they fail they die. NO saves of ANY kind, no matter how many wounds. This spell is quiet capable of ending games (and friendships) in a single cast and due to lore attributes giving you a lot more power dice to keep the magic rolling.
There are many ways to field VCs. Any of the old house builds are still viable in some ways, though Von Carstiens are the focus. Huge blocks of undying fodder and big monsters are the general idea. Led by a vampire; and his necromancer allies, or alone.
Blood Dragons are the least magical by vampire standards. at 2500 you can have a combat kitted lord that's a level 4 caster on a zombie dragon. All combat vampires on steeds, add blood and black knights to your heart's content and take preferred core. Wolves will keep up with the army while zombies and skeletons will give you the angles to get your knights into flanks. For added silliness add hexwraiths for a turn one charge into the biggest non magical unit and watch it burn!
Lahmians are the magic heavy build, still an all vampire list with a coven throne instead of a dragon and black coaches replacing blood knights. Add huge bricks of zombies and skeletons and push forward. Support with shadow magic from the non lord vampires and at lest 2 with LoV. See ogres reduced to T2 and be dragged down by drastically inferior infantry, watch dwarves kill themselves when a coven throne charges them, or as you chariot with killing blow and impact hits run through cavalry that can't touch them because of ethereal.
Vampire Heroes and Generals
You will want at least two characters that have lore of vampires in any game over 1000 points; this not only doubles your chance to channel but also gives you much needed redundancy in the army. A common tactic is to use zombies as a bunker for the general (if set up as a caster) as they are easily hoarded and resurrected at 2D6+wizard level level, add an iron-curse icon and an obsidian trinket and for 20 points, the unit becomes far more durable. If your general is set up for combat put him in with a unit of black knights, grave guard, or blood knights and either equip for hero bashing (high initiative/str/lots of re-rolls) or hoard murdering (lots of attacks).
Remember: never skimp on your hordes as they tarpit harder than most armies can handle. A block of Board 'n' Sword skeletons can hold most units in place for a few turns (read: forever) while causing moderate damage. With a lvl4 wizard in support, the attacking unit will have to kill an average of 7 more skeletons per turn, and the bones will reduce the enemy's numbers in a meaningful way.
- Other then the requirements to field an army you will want at least one more wizard with Lore of Vampires for when your general eats a cannonball/miscasts horribly and dies so that you only have to survive one round of crumbling. It can be a cheap necromancer in a zombie bunker or a combat vampire in a unit of black nights, as long as there is one on the field. This is not fool proof but it dose make it easier to prevent death by crumbling.
- if you have the points drop a naked necromancer into any hoards that you have not already planed to put a hero/lord into, this is mostly for more cast of IoN at minimum cast value. om average it will take 3-4 successful cast at average resurrection rates to pay for the necromancers cost, the real value come in that it lets you spam IoN on 1 or 2 dice, you opponent can ether let you rebuild your losses or risk running out of dispel dice and letting something nasty through. You also can end up with a shit load of channeling dice to role in big games. This works really well in blocks of zombies since the only time you stop adding models to the unit is when you run out of models.
- when deploying your army you want to set up nice and wide, big blocks of troops in the middle with clear marching lanes to get into combat as soon as possible, your general should be in command range of as many non-vampire units as possible to allow for marches. Vampire units (vargulf/ghiest, blood knights ect)should be in place to flank charge, hunt war-machines and general reap havoc across their lines. Remember it dose not matter if you don't get first turn most of the time correct placement of troops in more important with this slow army then getting into shooting range.
- If you are going to deploy a vampire lord on dragon try equipping him with shimmering scale for a total of -2 to be hit in CQC as WS3 troops cannot actually hit the lord and hit the dragon on 6+ (this tactic needs to be confirmed). Doesn´t work. Natural rolls of 6 hit always, according to the rulebook.