Total War Warhammer/Tactics/Vampire Counts
This is the tactica for the Total War: Warhammer version of the Vampire Counts.
Why Play Vampire Counts?
- Because you want the realms of the living to drown in the night as the dark creatures consume their souls and bodies.
- Because you really, REALLY wanted Dracula to win in the novel.
- The enemy can't dive your backline if you have no backline!
- Because you aren't quite sick of zombies yet.
- God Tier Lords: Every Lord in your army is a caster of the Lore of Vampires, the strongest lore of magic in the entire game. Combine that with impressive melee stats and incredible mount options across the board, and Vampire Lords are among the most powerful in the entire game. Plus, with all the Bloodlines being playable you have plenty of even more powerful lords to choose from.
- Fantastic Heroes: Vampire Counts also have amazing heroes on both the battlefield and the campaign map. Vampires are casters that can fight almost everything and win using their high melee stats and regen. Wight Kings are superb tanks with high HP, a silver shield, and a nifty anti-infantry bonus. Necromancers are essential both on and off the battlefield, granting AoE regen to allies — improved further and adding a few buffs with a corpse cart mount. Outside of fights, have a group of ten Necromancers with the "Lore Keeper" trait run amongst your cities, granting 100% off construction costs, 100% research rate, and a massive "Boost Income" bonus. Banshees are great agents that have access to "Assassinate", "Damage Walls", and "Block Army". The "Devious" trait gives a stacking boost to action success chance and a lower action cost.
- Healing: Other factions have healing, but you are one of very few that can bring back dead models. This means that casualties aren't the biggest concern in the world for you as you can always just bring them back with a good Invocation of Nehek cast. Pro tip: Don't click that "end battle" button; instead, spend your remaining winds of magic to revive everyone and win the fight with zero casualties.
- Cavalry: Blood Knights are among the best cav in the entire game, and, combined with the ability to revive models, can be oppressive. Even Black Knights are pretty damn good for what they do.
- Air Power: With cheap expendable options like Fell Bats and crazy damage creatures like Vargheists and Terrorgheists, getting control of the sky as the Vampires is pretty easy. Just watch out for missiles and vortexes like tempest designed to kill fliers.
- Monsters: You got plenty of large damage dealing monsters for numerous occasions. From fliers to ground monsters to bats and dogs to harass skirmishers, you got a beast for nearly every occasion.
- Inexpensive: Most of your infantry choices are pretty cheap, which allows you to really lean into your more expensive troops and still have enough cash left over to get frontline to hold them in place. You can expect to outnumber your enemy in most battles, so be sure to use that. An early technology renders zombies and skeletons completely free of upkeep.
- High Infantry Models: The zombie and skeleton units boast one of the highest model counts in the game. Pair that fact with your ability to bring back dead models and you have a blob to reckon with.
- No Ranged Units: None whatsoever in the first game, meaning you are always forced to go all-in; otherwise, the enemy will just pick you apart. You do have plenty of tools to deal with enemy ranged, but you can still feel the inability to put out reliable damage from a distance. It also makes your siege defenses an absolute joke.The second game allows the recruitment of a small number of Sylvanian crossbowmen and handgunners after you unlock a Von Carstein Bloodline lord but they honestly aren't worth it unless you're going up against Drycha and her roided up treemen + treekin. Generally the lack of ranged is for game balance reasons, as VC already have brilliant cavalry, Lords, monsters and excellent high teir infantry. Don't be tempted to download mods like Radious which give you cheap access to ranged as it makes the counts unstoppable and the game dull. Or do it, I'm not your mother.
- Flimsy Infantry: Believe it or not, literal walking corpses animated like puppets don't make the best fighters. While Zombies and Skeletons can hold the line, don't expect them to win without help. Your cav, monsters, heroes, and lords will be doing most of the work in winning the battle while infantry hold the enemy in place. Grave guard are not flimsy at all, but they are a lot more expensive.
- Reliance on Lords: Lords are important in all armies, but yours literally keep your shambling mounds moving and fighting during the battle. If they die, the rest of the army is sure to follow.
- Lack of Anti-Large: Aside from Blood Knights and Skeleton Spearmen, you'll be hard pressed to find anything in your Roster with Anti-Large damage. Facing off against heavy cavalry and monsters is not something you particularly enjoy.
- DLC: Yes, a weakness pretty much everyone has but still worth mentioning. Mortis Engines and Corpse Carts are very useful in your average battle – almost essential – and sadly you need to fork over dough if you want to get these key units.
- Slow Infantry: Zombies, walking skeletons, and possessed suits of armor are slow. Who knew?
- PC Killer: Large number of units with high model counts combined with vampire-focused maps specializing in fog and your frame rate can easily take a dive, even on beefy rigs. The campaign map isn't safe as vampire corruption covers the land in fog and particle effects. Lowering or outright disabling volumetric fog is a must.
- Outdated: A problem that plagues all of the Game 1 factions is that the development of game 2 kind of left them behind. Hopefully we will still see a rework or at least a DLC that fixes some of the worst problems (especially your lack of Anti-Large units). That might be a while though, especially since you are the only game one base race to not get a DLC or FLC and game three will probably prioritize its main factions first.
- Predictability: A very similar weakness to the Dwarfs, but in the opposite direction. Where as the lack of mobility or offensive infantry means the Dwarfs can never play offense, your lack of ranged units, artillery or solid defensive infantry means you can never play defense. Experienced players will likely know what you're bringing and be able to counter.
- Undead: Everything you have is undead. Duh. Refer to the general tactics page as to what that means.
- The Hunger: The Hunger gives the unit with it a small regeneration buff as long as it is in melee. All Vampiric units (Your Lords, Vargheists, Blood Knights etc.) have this.
- Vampiric Corruption: One of the core features your faction is based around in the campaign and is spread by a combination of your lords/heroes and buildings you construct in settlements you own. Vampiric Corruption is what keeps your armies stitched together and your people...pacified while your armies march on the lands of the living. Speaking of the land of the living, your armies will suffer attrition while striking out into low corruption provinces that you don't control, meaning you need to move quickly to capture neighboring settlements. You'll also need to remain on site until you can establish yourself; you must endure public order penalties in settlements with low Vampiric Corruption which can quickly lead to revolts should you turn a blind eye. Fortunately, once you have established sufficient Vampiric Corruption in a province, it becomes considerably harder for the living to reclaim it; they suffer attrition when venturing onto your lands and must spend a considerable amount of time purifying your corruption lest they have to deal with Vampiric rebellions of their own. Additionally, once Vampiric Corruption reaches high enough levels, it can begin to bleed into neighboring regions, hastening how quickly you can move in.
- The Dead rise again!: After each battle, any unit that is completely wiped out has a fairly high chance to come back to life. It can be a bit random and frustrating at times , but it can't be denied that it nullifies a lot of the attrition Armies far away from your cities suffer over the course of a campaign. Combine this with your free skeletons and Raise Dead and your armies will operate at full strength a lot more often than most other factions armies will. This ability is also unique to the Vampire Counts and no other of the undead factions.
- Causes Fear/Causes Terror: Every single one of your units causes fear, and your monstrous ones as well as your Lords all cause Terror.
Legendary Lords and Subfactions
Mannfred von Carstein: the Legendy vampire Caster Lord himself, having the blender power of an already impressive normal vampire lord plus the full selection of Lore of Vampire and Death. Manfred is the epitomy of a Hybrid Lord; he already starts with a discount Arcane Conduit, and the additional magic power from this alone makes him easily on par with Teclis and Morathi. Unlike these two though, he also is a terrific melee combatant, especially when mounted on a zombie dragon.
- Mannfred starts in Sylvania proper with Castle Drakenhof. Starting as him can be a bit tedious, as your close proximity to no less than 4 different major order factions that really hate your guts (Reikland, Karaz-a-Karak, Karak Kadrin and The Golden Order) and the shit economy of the VC combined with ludicrous amounts of money your high tier buildings cost, make sure that you have a pretty bad time on Mortal Empires. Try not to push too aggressively into the Elector Counts that surround you, sow your Corruption and you should be fine, but always try to play it safe.
Heinrich Kemmler: Would be the worst legendary lord if not for the fact that he can summon Krell. not much to say in MP except he is a necromancer that summon a strong Wight King and if you pay more, can your side win an engagement and not immediately die.
- more interesting in campaigns as he is far removed from the vampiric cluster of Sylvania to spread mayhem to Britannia and Reikland from Castle Drakenfell in the Gray mountains. he starts with two ghost units, has a good relationship with chaos, doesn't need to roll out the corruption carpet to move and improve recruitment of necromancers heros.
Helman Ghorst (DLC): He would have been the game's first legendary hero if CA had figured out earlier on how that would work, but he is an alternative starting lord for Sylvania. Despite Kemmler's street cred, Ghorst is actually the best and only necromancer lord you should consider in MP. Has Regen for protection and Should always be on his special Lodestone corpses cart to give out his buffs to his troops and passive DPS. what makes him even more worth the cost is summoning a unit of Grave guard or a Wight king instead of regular undead. All this and his price tag make him the best cost-effective caster choice if your trying to save money on a lord.
- In the campaign, Ghorst is about playing the necromancer, Granting high Replenish and Research rates, bonuses to corpses Carts and Mortics Engines, like them having a bound zombie summon. Helman's own army also gives armor to zombies and all units are given poison attacks, turning your cheap undead into scary bricks early game.
Vlad von Carstein (FLC): Vlad is perhaps the best melee lord in the entire game, across all factions. He combines a terrific statline with a decent mobility, even on foot, an absurd amount of ward saves that total up to the possible maximum of 90% The Hunger, Regeneration and a massive self-heal plus the Lore of Vampires on top of that. Is there anything that he is weak to? Frankly, fire damage will put a significant dent into his defense line once his abilities are on cooldown as well as being tarpitted (although tarpitting isn't as effective against him as other lords, since he is easily able to slaughter any unit that gets thrown his way) or monstrous creatures, which can keep him busy for a considerable amount of time. Picking Vlad often means for your opponent to play around him and this is something you can and should exploit.
- In the campaign, he and Isabella will be almost as inseparable as the Sisters of Twilight due to their combat buffs when reinforcing each other. he leads one of the opposed VC factions next door to Mannfred's Sylvania. As your starting lord, he Gives improved campaign movement and gives his personal army Siege attacker and army-wide Vanguard to not give the enemies time to mess with you.
Isabella von Carstein (FLC): the Alternative starting lord for the Von Carstein campaign, Giving big bonuses for vampire heroes. In MP She is A Vampire lord with supportive ability Giving out improved Offence and Regeneration to herself and other units. Comes with numerous buffs to monster units. She gives way better campaign bonus than vlad and you get him for free anyway so ALWAYS start with her.
The Red Duke (FLC, MP only): he is in the campaign but you have to confederate with Mousillon to use him. in MP he is more of a duelist lord then the Blood Dragon lord, with his El Syf hex making a target easy picking and cut though its Physical resistance in comparison to the Blood Dragon that is all in on only melee damage.
Vampire Lord: like most of VC, the army is held together by a few strong units with the rest being expendable support. Already a Strong melee fighter, able to blow through most infantry. All that plus he is a caster of the lore of Vampire. In MP, He is already Expensive and paints a big target on his back to get shot down, so only buy what you need on and tray to distribute more of your funds spread across your army
Master Necromancer: If you were to look up the word "Redundant" in a dictionary you'd find a picture of this dude's face. As a caster lord he's rather pointless because literally, EVERY lord in the Vampire roster comes with the Lore of Vampires, which is about all he brings to the table. I mean I guess he's cheap compared to a vampire but the bonus you get with them more than makeup for the price increase. Worse yet he has to compete with the hero version of the Necromancer, who literally does the exact same thing this dude does but for cheaper and you can have more than one of them in an army if you want. The Master Necromancer either needs a serious buff/rework to give us a reason to pick him over any Vampire or even the hero version, or he needs to just be removed from the game because honestly, I don't think anyone will miss him.
Strigoi Ghoul King (DLC): Your single entity hunter compared to the infantry muncher that its a Vampire Lord. Is buck naked for defense except for having Regeneration in addition to the Hunger. Has Poison attacks in addition to High AP plus an ability to a Burst of Even more AP for himself and allies, making him Prime as a Hunter of armored single entities. its Magic setup is a mix of Vampires and Death to help in his leader and hunter role, including a unique spell to summon crypt Ghouls/Horrors for a poisonous goon squad. Can be mounted on a Terrorgheist which Improves his survivability, mobility, and is ready a single entity hunter.
You can pretty much ignore the generic lords above because in both campaign and MP there's no reason to take them over these guys.
Lahmian Vampire Lord: Focused on Debuffing, and being hard to hurt in melee. She has a mixed caster of Shadow and Vampire. Her role is using her high speed to jump on enemies and use Seduction to slow them down as they take punishment.
Von Carstein Vampire Lord: a mix caster of Vampire and beast, and summons a Varghulf instead of a manticore. His Storm of the Night will grant you an edge in the Air superiority matchups.
Blood Dragon Vampire Lord: Around one of the best melee characters in-game with all the stats that matter (attack, defense, Ap damage, is a wizard, monstrous mount option). The weakest of the Bloodlines in terms of magic (Meaning he just has the pure Lore of Vampires instead of a mixed lore, and no access to Arcane Conduit, so take "weak" with a MASSIVE grain of salt.)
Necrarch Vampire Lord: Your caster vampire but not as good in melee as even a normal Vampire Lord. His focus is how good a wizard he is getting a mix of Death/Vampire/ and Beast's Buff and debuff spell, very good at keeping your magic tanks full enough to sustain you, wizard assault.
Strigoi Vampire Lord: Upgrade to Ghoul King, granting greater Melee attack and defense. Their AP burst ability is only affected themselves, and get another way to give them a burst of HP.
Wight King: Your standard melee hero and right-hand wight. Overall killy and tough. High melee defense and armour make him exceptionally tanky, and seating him on a barded nightmare makes him a very mobile threat. He works best as a mage hunter or single-entity tarpit for anything nasty with a low model count.
Necromancer: Your main source of additional undead, magic support and staying power so that your forces don't crumble. Can be put on one of the three Corpse Cart mounts for additional boons. Competent caster but keep him away from melee.
Vampire: A strong fighter caster hybrid like the lord version. Takes up Shadow and Death, lores not fully covered by other units. Generally speaking, a bit of a glass cannon, although her massive regeneration buffs make her much more durable than equivalent heroes from the elven factions. They also have access to zombie pegassi, so their mobility is exceptional, even for a VC hero.
Banshee: A terror causing Ghost goon with High AP. She defiantly needs to stay away from magic, but good a gooning.
Krell (Kemmler Only): A Wight King with better base stats but, as a summon, cannot equip any items at all and will degrade over time (unless you fill his dedicated line in Kemmler's skill tree). Use him as a quick stop-gaps in your flanks or to wreck havoc in the middle of a blob, but don't expect him to last long.
- Zombies: Dirt-cheap fodder to tie up your enemy, and you better hope that they do that job right, because they have the lowest stats of any unit in the game to the point where Betonnian Peasant Mobs can defeat them. They got two things going for them, large unit size and hitpoint pool. Skeleton Warriors do their job better for only marginally more money and can even hope to kill some weaker enemies, so it's best to skip them.
MP tier: S. Most competitive builds utilize zombies in some way, either as a super cost efficient frontline/tar-pit, or as a summon to block charges/tangle up ranged units.
- The Tithe (RoR): Zombies with slightly worse stats who replace Expandable with Meat Shields and have 30 more models.
MP tier: A. For the cost some prefer the extra unit of zombies but they still perform well as tar-pit.
- Skeleton Warriors: Spooky scary skeletons with Swords and shields. A more numerous variant of Empire Swordsmen, basically. Doesn't hit as hard, but is undead and comes with 160 models in one regiment. Comes with a shield for good measure.
MP tier:B. 3x the costs of zombies for slightly more staying power. Useful against missile heavy builds thanks to shields. Can trade fairly against other chaff.
- The Konigstein Stalkers (RoR): Mostly same stats as above except for having better armor. That and having Poisoned, which makes them a step up compared to normal skellies.
MP tier: C. For the price you might as well get Grave Guard, unless you're doing some weird poison centric list.
- Skeleton Spearmen: Basically identical to normal Skeleton Warriors except that they come with Spears and actually are the only infantry unit you have with a Bonus vs. Large. Not that this matters though, their performance is too bad against anything stronger than Mounted Yeomen. If you need a line of chaff, take Spearmen over Warriors or Zombies.
MP tier: B. Slightly sturdier skeletons with anti-large.
- Crypt Ghouls: Cheap counter-infantry that works well against other low-level infantry. Have high damage, poisoned attacks, but their low armor makes them fragile (especially against units that can reliably fight them). Use them against units like Skaven Slaves, Goblins and other low-tier infantry. Don't pit them against better units like Chaos Warriors for these will turn them into minced meat.
MP tier: C. Has interesting capabilities, but is in an odd place price wise. Is it really worth 5 zombies/2/3s a Grave Guard?
- The Feasters in the Dusk (RoR): Same as above, but with Stalk and Vanguard. This makes them perfect for flanking and war machine hunting.
MP tier: C. Basically a sneaky/killy/slower version of bats/dire pack. Slightly more survivable.
- Grave Guard: Spookier, scarier Skeletons. A straight,if a bit expensive upgrade from Skeleton Warriors and your go to choice for your main line in the late game. Their bonus vs. Infantry combined with decent armour and a shield make them formidable opponents that have little trouble with handling most other standard infantry.
MP tier: A. If you're looking for a sturdier frontline, this is it. Fares well against most low-armor infantry, can hold the line for quite some time.
- The Sternsmen (RoR): Beefed-up Grave Guard with additional Regeneration and Charge Defence Against All. Put them as the core of your force the moment you get them.
MP tier: S. Worth every penny. With support will usually last the whole fight.
- Grave Guard with Greatweapons: It's in the name. Your dedicated can openers for dealing with armored infantry and anything in between. lack luster source of armor piercing, having worse stats than the shielded version. get your AP somewhere else usually.
MP tier: A. Vulnerable to missiles and a bit pricey, but allows your frontline to grind down most enemy forces. Can provide good support against armored monsters/cav, just don't use them to soak up a charge.
- Cairn Wraiths: High phys resist and high armor piercing damage makes them your goto infantry for dealing with heavy armor piercing infantry like black orks who will eat grave guards for breakfast. They're completely terrible in every other way, trade terribly vs chaff units, and evaporate the moment anything that deals magic damage looks at them funny.
MP tier: B. Good mobile tarpit, can chip away at most armored foes. Don't expect high damage output, and if the enemy has any magic damage (as is common in MP) be prepared to watch them dissolve.
Cavalry & Beasts
- Dire Wolves: CA sure love their Wolf units. The archetypical wolf pack which all the others are modeled after. High speed, strider, vanguard deployment and a decent charge bonus make them your very flexible and reliable backline harrasser unit. At least against backlines that don't like being harassed, anything above the level of Empire Crossbowmen or Skavenslaves eats them for breakfast if left unsupervised. Can be a force to reckoned with if handled properly, but if you don't like microing around a lot, you're better off going for real cavalry later in the campaign.
MP Tier: B. In a slow faction with no ranged threats, a fast vanguard threat is invaluable for backline harassment. Useful for chasing off routing units as well.
- The Direpack (RoR): Same as above but with additional anti-large. It's not significant, but can make a difference when assaulting low-tier cavalry.
MP Tier: C. Anti-large is nice, but lack of AP and high price tag make this a more situational pick.
- Fell Bats: Dire Wolves, but flying! Fell Bats don't really kill anything on their own, but their high mass means that anything they catch will be occupied with them for quite some time. Can be irritating as fuck when used right, but don't get attached to any one unit of them, because they lose against everything.
MP tier: A. Flying tar-pit. Surprisingly survivable in melee due to high MD, fantastic price for how much disruption they cause, a must take against certain factions.
- Black Knights: Now we're getting into the good stuff. Standard Black Knights have the interesting distinction that they are the only proper cavalry in the game that focuses on dealing damage against infantry. Decent armour, melee defense and a bonus against footsoldiers mean that they will execute this job very well, and to make the package complete, they are also very nimble.
MP tier: B. A heavily armored dire wolves. Good for backline harassment, and flank/rear charges. Not a lot of killing power for head on engagements, but is sturdy enough to tangle up more expensive enemy cav/monsters due to it's high armor/mass.
- Barded Black Knights: have extra armor with the much higher charger because of the lance. Naturally a between the high damage potential but expensive Blood Knights and the cheapness of Black Knights.
MP tier: C. Charge damage is potent, but lack of AP and shield as well as higher price tag make this unit tricky to use efficiently.
- Verek's Reavers (RoR): Same as above, but with Regeneration, thus giving this RoR extra survivability.
MP tier: B. Regen is nice.
- Hexwraiths mounted Cairn Wraiths with blistering 94 speed, flaming attacks, and vanguard. like all ghosts, they are very offensive with High ap damage and Terror but crumble quickly with their only defense being a 75% Resist Physical. Useful at cutting up knights without magic attacks.
MP tier: Situational A. In most situations this unit would be B tier, due to price and prevalence of magic in MP, as well as middling killing power. However Hexwraiths are actually surprisingly effective elite cav hunter, and can even defeat dedicated anti-large cav like demigryphs!
- Blood Knights: Widely considered to be one of the best Cav unit in the game in terms of cost efficiency. It already has meaty stats with a massive charge bonus and anti large, making it a perfect anti cav/monster tool, but add on top of that Frenzy and it will maul anything it charges. They also have a great for of self sustain in The Hunger. The best part about them by far is the ability to bring back dead models so while they will lose one on one to Grail Knights and Demigryphs, you can always bring back casualties. Their only big weakness is their lack of AP.
MP tier: A. Only reason they aren't S tier is lack of AP. Has a home in many competitive lists.
- Corpse Cart (DLC): Says Chariots but actually a slow-moving buffing unit. Usually, only see base or with Unholy Lodestone for cheap base melee buff or additional regeneration. there is also Balefire to also nerf enemies ability to cast but that's often hard to get much value from that.
- Black Coach: An unstoppable engine of destruction if you're into cycle charging. Extremely quick, fire, magic and AP damage at once and to top it off, also causes fear and terror. It has a bunch of passive abilities that make it much better at leaving unfavorable encounters, however, it is quite susceptible to being intercepted by other heavy cav, utterly useless against big monsters and also quite expensive. Bringing one is quite the gamble, but at least a fun one.
- Mortis Engine (DLC): The biggest gun the counts have on offer and a downright terrifying one. Mortis Engines are basically upgraded, ethereal corpse carts that not only buff up your undead minions to unholy strength, but also sap the HP of the enemies frontline. They might be slow, but are scary and big targets, and them being ethereal also means that it is quite the hassle for your opponent to get rid of it.
- The Claw of Nagash (RoR): Everything that makes the Mortis Engine great, but with the addition of a Chilling Aura that slows enemies around it to make it more difficult to escape its AoE damage aura.
- Vargheists: They don't might look like much, but are actually one of the most cost-effective monstrous infantry in the game. For a meager cost of 700 gold, you get a flying, fairly fast regiment of creatures with Frenzy and The Hunger, that also delivers a tremendous beating with 80 weapon strength, decent melee attack and AP damage. Vargheists will carry your early game armies well into the lategame. Their flight allows them to only pick encounters of your choosing and they certainly have little trouble shutting down enemy flyers that might come your way.
- The Devils of Swartzhafen (RoR): Vargheists with Terror and Vanguard, which makes them into even more useful shock troops.
- Crypt Horrors: Vargheists, but with poison, and on the ground. Actually not half bad. They retain a good weapon strength and still get AP damage. If you can't win the air battle, Crypt Horrors aren't that bad of a choice, actually.
- Varghulf: This is an iffy one. On campaign, they're absurdly hard to get for a unit with such low survivability. On the other hand, they can reliably engage all infantry in the game and come out on top. Needs good micro and some attention. When they are exposed to things with bonuses against large, they just melt away.
- Terrorgheist: If a ranged unit starts attacking them, the breath attack is ready and the said unit is not immune to Terror then burn them, sometimes those two alone are enough to make the ranged unit rout. a specialized, regenerating anti large ap monster, ok vs infantry but really best used on large targets/monsters. breath is wasted on infantry, hit single entities with it.
- Sylvanian Crossbowmen: Identical to Empire Crossbowmen, providing you with much-needed ranged fire. Running out of morale makes them rout, which will affect the morale of undead units as well.
- Sylvanian Handgunners: Identical to Empire Handgunners, providing you with much-needed ranged fire. Running out of morale makes them rout, which will affect the morale of undead units as well.
- Chaos Warriors: This matchup has all the complexity of a 6-year old smacking Bionicles into each other in his room. Ethereal units are risky here, as most chaos players worth their salt bring lore of fire. The trick is gooning out high value targets like Lords, casters, and big monsters. Just bog down their infantry with your chaff/infantry, don't get your high value stuff stuck fighting chaos warriors, it's just bot efficient. A powerful air-force is especially potent in this matchup as Chaos typical struggles to fight in the air.
- Dark Elves: Ironically, all that AP damage actually works out in your favor, since most of your units are pretty lightly armored. What you're really going to have to worry about are their monsters and anti-large. Their army is quite squishy, and your monstrous infantry and cavalry will have a grand old time stomping on most of their infantry options (though watch out for Black Guard, which can take out your cav and monsters, and still have time for coffee at the end). You can absorb a lot of their missile play with chaff, or use summons to take their Darkshards and Shades out quickly. Make sure to do so before they can get their shots in to your lord or monsters though! Crypt Horrors or Vargheists can also be good for taking them out. Scourgerunners will kite most of your monsters to kingdom come, so bog them down with bats or wolves as soon as you get the chance. Your cavalry can easily outmatch theirs most of the time, but Doomfire Warlocks can be a problem with their bound doombolt spell. The worst units to deal with are their monsters. Kharybdiss can spell doom for many of your better units, but is pretty slow and easy to tarpit. Black Dragons can also be a problem in the air, and many of their lords have them as a mount option. Murderous Prowess also means you can't get the Dark Elves to rout as easily as most of the other factions, so make sure you're playing a longer game, and pay attention when it procs.
- High Elves:
- Lizardmen: Good news, you don't care about their big, scary monsters because your undead soldiers will never run away from them. In fact, you're one of the best armies in the game when it comes to tarpitting them. Bad news, their big, scary monsters will generally slaughter most of your forces without a care in the world if you don't focus them down once they're in battle. Having said that, your first and biggest concern when facing a Lizardmen army will be their casters. Fire and Light Slann, in addition to Heavens Skink Priests, will utterly decimate your lines with their myriad of vortex spells. Slann in particular, due to having Banishment as a bound spell, will be your biggest concern. To this end, the first effective counter is to spread your forces out. Additionally, (Ancient) Salamanders and (Sacred) Kroxigors will be secondary targets due to their flaming/magical attacks being tailor made to ruin your day. If you can take out most of the Lizard magic, Hexwraiths will actually get some solid work done against their armored frontlines and cavalry. Skeleton Spears will be your desired chaff infantry; though more expensive than regular zombies, their spears will enable them to get not-inconsequential chip damage against the monsters they're tying down and their shields give them a bit more staying power against skink skirmishers and even Salamander Hunting Packs.
- Norsca: This is a rough one. Their skirmish cav will drive you to insanity if you don't manage to shut them down with bats or wolves, their infantry (and monstrous infantry) can go toe-to-toe with yours, and their monsters simply counter yours in most cases. Mammoths in particular are an absolute nightmare for your battle lines to deal with, and you don't have many ways to shut them down quickly. Skin Wolves and Marauder Javelins can take the fight out of your monsters in an instant, and they usually have an easy time positioning their anti-large units to take down your elite cavalry since you can't apply pressure at range. Your best bet is to try and leverage your magic to get their monsters to rout early; perhaps with a death wizard that has spells like spirit leech or doom & darkness. You can typically outfight them in the skies (with the Frost-wyrm being expensive and rather squishy) so use that advantage to the fullest to shut down their ranged (if they bring any) or pick off their skirmish cav. It's a hard matchup for sure, but not impossible. Still, avoid it when you can.
- Skaven: This matchup kind of sucks, but you do have a few tools to make it work in your favor. Skaven have a ludicrous number of guns built to suit virtually every battlefield need, many of which are either magical, armor-piercing, shield breaking or some unholy combination of the above. They also have artillery and missile units (Warplock Jezzails) that excel at sniping single entities, like the lord holding your shambling forces together. Fortunately, Skaven are rather skittish and have a relative lack of cavalry. Black/Blood Knights and Vargheists can quickly tie down artillery and gunlines while your fear and terror causing wall of meat and bone close in. In fact, their complete lack of an aerial presence will give your flying forces effectively free reign to pick their engagements.
- Tomb Kings: The Counts have an edge over their Nehekaran brethren. Since the Counts are likely the best rush faction in the game, shutting down their artillery and missiles should be second nature. Fliers really matter in this matchup, since all the Tomb Kings have in the skies is the piss-weak Carrion. The Vampires are far superior in the infantry grind (Although Tomb Kings Monstrous infantry is a different story, with Sepulchral Stalkers and Ushabti being a huge pain in the undead behind to deal with), and have an edge in the cavalry matchup (though Necropolis Knights can threaten). The biggest stumbling block is the Tomb Kings constructs, which can be seriously tough if not dealt with effectively. Luckily, you do have a few armor piercing options like Hexwraiths or Blood Knights to counter, or failing that, you can usually shut them down with your lords or hero units. However, watch out for the Necrosphinx with it's ludicrous bonus vs. large. You really just want to lean into the rush element of the VC army, since if the Tomb Kings can withstand your initial assault, things can turn very bad for you.
- Vampire Coast: Once you close the distance, the coast turns into mush. The trick is getting there without getting shot half to hell. In this matchup, a more mobile build will be to your advantage. Make sure you're using your environment, and don't feed too much into their skirmish game. Trees are helpful to keep your big monsters from getting shot, and you can usually outmatch them in the skies and with cavalry. If there was ever a time to drop that extra money on a unit of Black Knights or Blood Knights, it's this matchup. Also, Ethereal units don't tend to work out great because the coast has a good few units with magical attacks.
- Vampire Counts:
- Wood Elves: You know the "We have more bodies than they have ammunition" quote? Well, the wood elves have more ammunition than you have bodies and they're fast enough to stay three steps away from your rotting soldiers at all times, so don't try your usual Infantry blob + Wind of Death combo. Bring some Dire Wolves and/or Fell Bats to run down Glade Guard and Waywatchers and bring out the heavy hitters; Black Knights and Blood Knights are likely going to be your go-to core; they're fast enough to catch up to and slaughter any wood elven infantry while Blood Knights can actually tangle quite well with Wild Riders/Great Stag Knights, so long as they're not the ones getting hit by the initial charge. This is also one of the matchups a Black Coach can actually get some solid work done, if the Wood Elven player has any Dryads/Tree Kin on the field. You'll want to shy away from bringing any ethereal units against them; Tree units don't give a shit and several of their ranged units happen to be packing magical arrows.
- You don't have any artillery or ranged units, so be ready for sieges to take longer, & for siege assaults to have more casualties as you scale walls & storm gates.
- Create a fortified Northern boundary for the inevitable Chaos/Norsca invasion.
- Establishing good diplomatic relations with anyone will be a challenge. Don't expect trade agreements with anyone besides Mousillon, if anyone.
- On the other hand Vlad now has an easier time with the Empire due to one of his new skills giving him a whooping +40 to relationship with Franz and co, so at least this part will be less of a harrow.
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