Warhammer Army Project/Vampire Counts
- 1 Vampire Counts: Warhammer Army Project, 9th Edition Tactica
- 2 Why Play WAP Vampire Counts
- 3 Notable Changes from 8e
- 4 Special rules
- 5 The Lore of Necromancy
- 6 Vampiric Powers
- 7 Artefacts of Death
- 8 Army Units
- 9 Building Your Army
- 10 Tactica
- 11 External Links
Vampire Counts: Warhammer Army Project, 9th Edition Tactica
Created by Mathias Eliasson, this project was a homebrew attempt at giving many of the units, nations, and factions that never got Armybooks of their own (and those left behind and never got one in 8th Edition) such a thing.
It should also be noted that Eliasson is constantly updating his work, so don't expect this page to stay current forever. If anyone wishes to actually update this page and the items that need it, later on, go ahead.
Why Play WAP Vampire Counts
Vampire Counts are a fun army to play but boy are they hard to play. This army is not recommended for beginners. They lack obviously OP options that other armies have and thus aren't as subject to public shaming for playing them. They're focused on getting straight to the killing tactically, don't have to worry about demoralized troops, and their army replenishes itself fairly quickly leading to wars of attrition. 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 mostly no shooting options in this army, effectively eliminating an entire phase. Any ranged options in this army are purely magical. Second, while you have no need to worry about the psychology of your own units you will be paying a lot of attention to the enemy's psychology. Never forget the fear penalty. Third, magic is your bread and butter, your meat and drink, your crossbow and hammer. You are going to be heavily reliant on magic to replenish 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 to remember as well, but we'll get to them as they crop up. 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 entire game.
As for looks and lore? 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. Shrieking spirits of the damned whirling about the battlefield consuming the warm flesh of living and adding their poor souls to their ranks. Nigh unstoppable undead beings with nightmares of feasting and world conquest, supernatural witches and tainted beings, and insane power mad mages commanding the powers of hell to do their bidding as they charge into the fray behind their minions. Absolute independence from the Ruinous Powers. 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.
- You have a massive level of customization equaled only by the Warriors of Chaos.
- You need Necromancers. If they all die, there goes the majority of your army.
Notable Changes from 8e
- Extra options for ranged weapons.
- An incredibly vast variety of builds and powers for any vampire lineage, not just the Von Carsteins.
- The revisions to Undead grant your forces quite the list of resistances and immunities.
- The revisions to casting make it much easier to build an optimal Necromancer.
- Cheaper powers.
- Fear was changed to a pure ld debuff. without the CC debuff, your lines will die extra quicker.
- Vampire powers now come out of magic item allowance, and total customization allowance is halved.
- the fear changes also greatly reduce the effectiveness of zombies and skeleton blobs as wining combat is gear toward damage dealing and will lose even more models from unstable
- Being classifed as Mostly alive, Undead (including the Unbreakable and Unstable rules, and the parts that defined animated constructs) has been removed from a lot of units such as Vampires, Necromancers, Crypt Ghouls, Crypt Horrors, etc... These units also don't crumble with the loss of your Necromancers. Whether this helps or harms you is too broad a question to answer.
- Undead: These aren't any different than the Tomb Kings undead, Animated Construct with Fear, Immunity to Poison, and Unstable. They can't march or charge unless within 12" of the General, which is a step up from the Tomb Kings as you don't need a babysitter for every unit in your main blob while your half-alive guys can march to Hammer. They can never flee from combat, which might matter depending on what you use. Fortunately, none of your vampires are Undead and thus can operate without worry.
- Vampiric: Vampire rule part 1. Grants Fear and Immunity to Psychology. In addition, all enemies must re-roll to wound them (unless it's magical, flaming, or a Killing Blow). Your no longer considered Undead so necromance no longer works on you, Also still counts as a living creature. Unfortunately, also because of 9th Unstable rule they can't join most units, so no cheap bunkers (still 9th has been kind for buffing lone foot characters).
- The Red Thirst: Vampire rule part 2. Whenever a model with this rule kills, they recover a wound on a 5+ on a d6. Unfortunately, this is useless against other Animated Construct, Daemonic, Forest Spirits, and other non-living things.
- The Generals of Undeath: Now less restrictive. You only required one character that knows the lore of Necromancy to make a valid list, but then grab a few more in case he becomes like his minions. If you lose your general and all necromancers, the undead parts of the army need to make an Ld test each turn or lose as many models as the test was failed by.
The Lore of Necromancy
Lore Attribute: Curse of Undeath: After casting a spell, one undead unit within 6" can restore a wound. Really, this is to bolster any monsters or characters that need the pick-me-up.
- Signature: Invocation of Nehek: (CV 6/12/18) Always, always, always take this, especially on your Lords. If you're surrounded by undead units, they all recover 1d6+Level wounds worth of models (and that's before factoring in the various items that amplify this spell's effects). Even characters and monsters recover a wound, and if you really need it you can spend the attribute on them.
- Vanhel's Danse Macabre: (CV 5/10) Tomb Kings have a similar spell that lets their undead move as a Signature Spell, lets you make a move if not engaged. Usually, the general and necromancer are in the undead blob, so covering 12" a turn. If you have a backup caster, also helps get those Undead Beasts, Ghosts, and Black Knigths cover more ground while 12" away from the general.
- Hellish Vigour: (CV 8/16) Lets an undead unit ASF and re-roll to wound in cc.
- Gaze of Nagash: (CV 9/12) Basic magic missile. You don't need it because you're more worried about your toys and because Curse of Years does more damage. At the least, it can pick off stragglers.
- Raise Dead: (CV 9/14) Instantly summon a horde of zombies 2d6+3 corpses strong, no upgrades included. If you augment, you can instead raise skellies. The best part of this is that they can't be dispelled and they never award VP for dying.
- Curse of Years: (CV 12+) Your deadliest spell. Each magic phase, the targeted unit needs to roll a d6 with an increasing likelihood of taking wounds without being allowed to take armour saves.
- Wind of Death: (CV 15+) Magical Vortex. Yours has a bit of an edge since it immediately deals d6 S3 hits for each rank of a unit it crosses over, allowing you to possibly wipe out mobs of State Troopers.
Upgrades Vampire Lords and Vampires can take out of their Magic Item allowance. The former can take 100 points, the latter 50.
- Red Fury: 35pts. Blood Dragon or Strigoi only. This allows them to make an additional attack for each model they kill to a max of +5, which can lead to an entire unit being flattened with the proper rolls and a well-kitted hero. The downside is that this is expensive.
- Fear Incarnate: 20pts. Von Carstein, Necrarch, Blood Dragon, or Strigoi only. Models in b2b with this vampire need to test Ld or be forced to only hit on 6s. You WILL want this for any killy lord.
- Supernatural Horror: 15pts. Von Carstein, Necrarch, or Strigoi only. Grants Terror in the event that you don't want to ride a monster. Don't forget that this also counteracts any fear-causing units your enemy may take.
- Curse of the Revenant: 30pts. Necrarch or Strigoi only. Gives a 4+ regen, which is helpful since these guys lack good armour.
- Flying Horror: 20pts. Von Carstein, Necrarch, Strigoi, or Lahmia only. Model
on foot only. Gives a pair of wings to fly with. Way to make the Abyssal Terror feel even sillier.
- Transfix: 15pts. Von Carstein or Lahmia only. One model in b2b must test Ld (presumably, Mathias forgot to write that in) or be unable to attack them that turn.
- Unbending Willpower: 10pts. Von Carstein or Necrarch only. This allows a unit of undead within 6" suffering from Unstable or a dead general to lose one less wound. This only stacks with a BSB, so you have a slight security blanket, but it's not having a necromancer.
- Hounour or Death: 5pts. Von Carstein or Blood Dragon only. During each round of a challenge, the enemy must test Ld or be reduced to WS1. While you won't expect much against an equal hero or general, this can let you sweep aside lesser champions.
- Aura of Dark Majesty: 20pts. When you're gambling on Fear/Terror, abilities like Beguile or the effects of the Coven Throne, each be amped up with Aura. One of the better non-blender lord abilities. Combine with the Coven Throne, Banshees, Terrorgheists, or Screaming Banner to really fuck with your opponents.
- Walking Death: 20pts. enemy units in base contact must reroll successful Leadership tests. This has no effect on models with Immunity (Psychology).
- Call Winds: 10pts. Innate bound PL5 spell. Enemies or targeted friendly units within 24" of this model now suffer -1 to hit with missiles.
- Summon Creatures of the Night: 10pts. If you plan on using Dire Wolves, Bat Swarms, and Fell Bats then this is good as those are expensive options point-wise, so increasing their numbers past starting size with Invocation of Nehek is a good choice.
- Wolf Form: 10pts. Have a need to make a footslogging vampire but hate M4? Buy this and now they're faster than even ponies with M9 and Swiftsrtride!
- Wolf Lord: 10pts. Dire Wolves within 24" can now march or flee from a charge.
- Master of the Black Arts: 55pts. Not terrible, but not great either- it's extremely expensive, taking it prevents you from taking some other really good powers, and it doesn't guarantee you anything despite the high cost. It's nice when you turn a 1 into a 6, but so very annoying when you turn a 2 or 3 into a 1. Taking it on two vampires is a complete waste since at that point, you're spending almost the points cost as a varghulf. That said, Necrarchs are caster-lords, so it's at least worth considering.
- Spectral Form: 40pts. Grants a foot-slogging Necrarch Ethereal, but bars it from joining non-ethereal units or buying magic items.
- Forbidden Lore: 20pts. You are now a Loremaster. This is a pretty neat grab for your General since you now have every Necromancy spell on tap, while others can take it or leave it as they wish since they have a broad list to pick from (Including Zacharias the turbo-nerd).
- Dark Acolyte: 20pts. Adds +d3 extra wounds healed from casting Invocation of Nehek. Whoever you have managing your hordes will want this.
- Nehekhara's Noble Blood: 20pts. +1 to all casting rolls. Again, Necrarchs are good at a lot of lores, so this just shoves it more in your face
- Unholy Cynosure: 10pts. Lets you re-roll a single casting die, which could be helpful in saving your ass from a miscast.
- Doomrider: 25pts. Lets a Blood Dragon on a Nightmare and any attached cavalry re-roll charges. You'll be thanking yourself if you manage it.
- Dread Knight: 20pts. +1 to hit and wound during a challenge. Not bad really, a Blood Dragon can benefit from this as they'll always be challenging and any way to end it faster means you can reach your next enemy sooner.
- Heart Strike: 20pts. Lets you re-roll to wound in combat.
- Master Strike: 20pts. While this looks like it can be worth it if you go through the percentages, in almost all cases this is shit. Killing Blow and Heroic Killing Blow are generally only good when you have a lot of things with them all taking a chance at killing.
- Might of Arms: 20pts. Re-roll to hit in combat. You'll be doing it plenty in combat, though you have a pretty good WS to begin with.
- Warrior Pride: 20pts. Re-roll armour saves. Considering how plated you are, you'll definitely appreciate this though it's not a Ward Save.
- Strength in Steel: 10pts. You're a Blood Dragon, your job is to charge. This just makes you get Devastating Charge and strength Bonus (1).
- Blademaster: 10pts. In the event that you bought a different weapon but want to keep the shield's parry save, you can net this.
- Massive Monstrosity: 15pts. Strigoi, being the bare-naked freaks they are, need all the wounds they can get.
- Iron Sinews: 15pts. Extra strength is also welcome on a monster that needs to rely on brute strength to prevail.
- Hunter in the Dark: 15pts. Gives a footslogging Strigoi scout.
- Ghoulkin: 10pts. A pack of Crypt Ghouls can be scouts.
- Infinite Hatred: 10pts. A Strigoi's got no use if he can't hit, so having Hatred that lasts every turn makes them better likely to kill things.
- Summon Ghouls: 10pts. Up to 3 packs of Crypt Ghouls can be ambushers.
- Seduction: 25pts. On top of all the Leadership fuckery already present, you have one more. One model in b2b must take a Ld check at -1, failure letting you manipulate the model and make them attack their own unit (or be useless if they're solo).
- Lightning Reflexes: 25pts. Enemies in combat must re-roll to hit against this model.
- Night Creature: 20pts. In the bizarre instance that you took a footslogging Lahmian and didn't put them in a unit, this gives enemies a 50/50 chance to be unable to charge the loner.
- Quickblood: 20pts. Lahmians so fast they get a Dodge 5++.
- Innocence Lost: 20pts. In case you want to style on all the living fools and beat out Elves without question, this gives you ASF.
- Beguile: 10pts. Enemies in b2b must test Ld at -3 or else be forced to re-roll all successful hits. Much cheaper than Lightning Reflexes, but more subject to Immunity (Psychology). Useful in one on one challenges, which you normally don't want to be doing, but if you're up against Chaos Warriors it can be very useful.
- Swiftness: 5pts. Grants swiftstride in the event that you didn't bother to buy a mount and run solo (Night Creature is also recommended).
Artefacts of Death
- Frostblade: 65pts. Want an instant-killing weapon without bothering with Killing Blow? Here's your overpriced option!
- Skabscrath: 50pts.This has been reworked to NOT be lethal to your user. It still has Flaming Attacks, Frenzy, and Devastating Charge, but it's now no longer bound to kill them and instead lets the user use the Banshee's Ghostly Howl attack.
- Nightshroud: 40pts. VERY useful no matter where you want to put it. If you need help justifying the points, remember that it also takes the place of the Bat Swarm on the flank. Vampire Lord on Zombie Dragon with Quickblood and Sword of Striking buttfucks the enemy. Master Necromancer in a Skelly bunker may make it literally impossible for your opponent to deplete your forces before you wipe his out to the last.
- Black Periapt: 45pts. Not a must-have item but it can be great for a dedicated spellcaster option if you get a bad magic phase or if you're facing an army where you have spells you NEED to dispel.
- Staff of Damnation: 45pts. A fantastic item, best used for Ghouls or more powerful options in the offensive category.
- The Cursed Book: 35pts. This item is a gamble where you can't really lose. The only thing that's wrong with it is your primary spell is Invocation and in almost all possible circumstances you want to cast it AT LEAST once per turn, and this book can take that away. But that being said, you can pull off these spells (all of which are good) for what's probably less than their casting value without the risk of any miscast.
- Book of Arkhan: 30pts. VERY good item. Even if you make all attempts to cast that spell using all your capable Necromancy casters you can still at least count on whipping out one more attempt. Also can be taken by the Strigoi Ghoul King, making it fan-fucking-tastic in low-magic lists.
- Rod of Flaming Death: 35pts. The pretty good item even for its price and very good for controlling the movement phase. If your enemy DOES move (possibly due to taking a Fear test!) then you have the chance to disintegrate the whole group. This can actually be taken by a Wight King, freeing up points on your casters.
- Banner of Barrows: 40pts. If you are going to take a unit of more then 15 Grave Guard (and why wouldn't you?) and/or 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. This doesn't work on the Black Knights' steeds.
- The Screaming Banner: 25pts. If you want to troll, take this banner. It will make low LD armies suffer, and give you a small chance to drive away even high LD armies. The flag gets better with Terror though, as then even enemies who take options like the Shrieking Blade or those pesky Phoenix Guard still have to take the test. For the ultimate cheese special, take a horde of Grave Guard with this flag then put a Wight King BSB carrying Banner of Barrows into the same Unit along with a Vampire Lord with Aura of Dark Majesty, Supernatural Horror, and Fear Incarnate for utter carnage as a failed test means they'll be hitting on 2+.
Expansion Magic Items
- Dreadlance: 35pts. Blood Dragon or von Carstein only. This lance auto-hits, which is especially devastating on the charge.
- Sword of Kings: 15pts. Wight Kings only. Killing Blow now triggers on 5+.
- The Balefire Spike: Blood Dragon or von Carstein only. This lance is now on fire. That is all.
- Helm of Commandment: 30pts. If not in combat, one undead unit within 12" can use your WS. So, remember how Tomb Kings can let an attached unit share their WS? You can now do that AND share it with a unit you're not having them babysit!
- Armour of Night: 25pts. Models on foot only. This heavy plate deals -2 to hit with missiles, which you'll need since you lack any good mobility.
- The Cursed Shield of Mousillon: 25pts. Blood Dragon only. This shield takes one attack from one model in base contact. However, all Bretonnians have Hatred against you.
- Wailing Helm: 25pts. This helm grants Terror, which can help when you're unable to grab it with powers.
- The Flayed Hauberk: 25pts. This confers a 2+ save that can't be improved. This doesn't, however, help with anything that reduces it like AP.
- The Accursed Armour: 15pts. This heavy armor grants +1T but -1 WS and Initiative. If you plan on tanking over killing, you'd be satisfied with this.
- Armour of Bone: 15pts. This is medium armor that even necromancers can pick up, but it'll break the moment they suffer a wound by any means. Do consider its merits carefully.
- The Cadaverous Cuirass: 15pts. Vampires only. This heavy armor grants immunity to Killing Blow.
- Crown of the Damned: 35pts. This grants a 4++ Ward save, but also forces you to contend with Stupidity. Fortunately, vampires tend to rock in Ld.
- Wristbands of Black Gold: 30pts. This grants a 3++ Ward against all missile attacks. While strong, it won't do much against anything in melee.
- The Gem of Blood: 25pts. Whenever the bearer suffers a wound for the very first time, you can roll a d6; on a 2+, it instead bounces back on the person who dealt it and even punches past their armor.
- Ring of The Night: 25pts. Only confers a -1 to hit from missiles.
- Skull Staff: 40pts. Adds +1 to all casting and dispel attempts.
- Sceptre De Noirot: 25pts. Adds +d6 zombies when you cast Animate Dead. Fairly nice since you'll be wanting more zombos any time you cast them. Especially if you also throw in everything that boosts Invocation of Nehek.
- Crimson Gem of Lahmia:15pts. Lahmian only. This lets you sacrifice a wound in order to add another power die. While this makes Lahmians quite strong casters, it also makes them more glass-cannon than the Necrarchs.
- The Hand of Dust:35pts. This PL5 Bound Spell forces an enemy in base contact to make a Strength check or suffer 2d6 S5 hits, a decent way to soften up an enemy before the melee flurry.
- Talon of Death: 35pts. This item deals an S5 hit to all enemy models in base contact at the beginning of the combat phase, making it a potential deterrent to combat.
- Talisman of the Lycni: 15pts. Vampires on foot only. The Vamps gain +4" to their movement and Swiftstride, which can be quite the gift if you know how to position them.
- The Drakenhof Banner: 75pts. Very useful for an skelly bunker, this grants the attached undead unit with 4+ regen.
- Hell Banner: 50pts. This forces anyone within sight that isn't Immune to Psychology to take -1 to Leadership, which can compound with Fear and the like.
- Banner of Doom: 25pts. This flag grants a 5+ regen against missiles, which is okay, boosted by the fact that it applies to anyone - including those units without Undead.
- Banner of the Dead Legion: 25pts. Using this banner makes your unit of undead count as double its unit strength in melee. Unfortunately, it's not of any use against Animated Constructs like other skellies.
- Banner of the Endless Nightmare: 25pts. This banner makes your unit count as having one more rank in regards for Combat Resolution (To a max Rank Bonus of +4), though it's meaningless unless you have a rank of 5+ models.
- Icon of Vengeance: 25pts. The unit with this flag will never suffer Instability if all your necromancers die, which is pretty keen if you're relying on some Black Knights and don't have your any Necromancy casters there.
- Cursed Pennant of Mousillon: 25pts. When in base contact with a unit using this banner, the enemy unit must re-roll any 6s they roll to hit, wound, or on any armor saves. Sadly, it does nothing for Wards or Regen.
- Royal Standard of Strigos: 25pts. The unit gains Hatred.
- Standard of Hellish Vigour: 15pts. The unit using this banner can march despite being Animated Constructs.
- Standard of Everlasting Death: 15pts. When dealing with Unstable, this banner counts the damage suffered as one wound less. Again, good for Black Knights or Blood Dragons, not so much for plain skellies.
- Banner of Hellfire: 10pts. Grants Flaming Attacks.
Lords & Heros
- Vlad von Carstein: The man that started it all, and one of the few special characters who are completely justified in their points cost. You want to field him, but most people never will. Why? Because he's a staggering 465 points. As strong as he is, that is your entire Lord budget in an otherwise balanced 2000 point army, and below 2500 you most likely you don't have that kind of room for just one model. He's fairly good but the price is what stops him from being great, but most players prefer a combo of a level 3 caster of some kind along with a damage option blender lord Strigoi Ghoul King or Master Vampire. That being said, at the 2500 point level and above (ESPECIALLY above 3500) he's fucking amazing. If you're taking him, you want to bring Isabella as well although unlike her he can be good on his own.
- Mannfred von Carstein: The Franz of the VC. He is a Vampire lord kitted for spell casting. His previous editions' ability to be one of two forms has been condensed into him only being an obscenely expensive Lord level character, 560 pts. He's a superb caster with one major flaw: for optimum usage, he needs to kill stuff, which he isn’t too good at for a Vampire Lord since he's kitted out so much for magic. This is the man you want fighting nothing but Goblins and Skavenslaves if you can possibly help it (if you're facing Ogres, you're in for a world of hurt). If you can manage to make kills then this guy will generally rule both magic phases, make sure to snipe enemy wizards early on with Spirit Leech, while he adds a free usage of Invocation of Nehek to emergency-heal any units. He's worth it, but once again you're looking at a lord who is absolutely impossible to use in any game below 3000 points.
- Unlike most other named characters in this army, you can have Mannfred ride a mount. His options are Barded Nightmare, Hellsteed, Abyssal Terror, and Zombie Dragon. Of those choices, only the Barded Nightmare is of any value for the most part and only to put him in a unit of Black Knights or Blood Knights. The other three will make him even more of an artillery and shooting target than he already is.
- Queen Neferata: Makes a fabulous return by turning her handmaidens into Special choices and being the mandatory general for 530 points. She's also a powerful caster (with her own special spell that expends wounds to cast a deadly magic missile), a massive boost to all magic missiles by adding extra damage, and a special "gift" that curses a unit to re-roll all good armour saves. While equally as flimsy in combat as Manny, she benefits from immediately recovering wounds each round as well as several defensive powers. Her ability to inflict -2 Ld to units in b2b, in particular, make her perfect for a Coven Throne if you can afford such a massive drain on your army. Seduction lets her stand a chance while on foot, riding a Hellsteed, or a Nightmare.
- Melkhior the Ancient: 530pts. Fallen king of the Necrarchs. Unlike Zacharias, he's got the misfortune of being on an Abyssal Terror and is only a level 4 loremaster in Necromancy. Fortunately, he's immune to all mundane shooting, so he can laugh at the gunlines while using his free-ish Invocation of Nehek (After each casting with the item offering it, he needs to roll a d6 and loses it on a 1).
- Zacharias The Everliving: If the Necrarchs are the bookish nerds of the Vampire Counts, then this guy is their super-king. While he's stuck on a zombie dragon, he can be a Loremaster in ANY CRB lore except Life (or just grab Necromancy) while also possessing Gaze of Nagash as a bound item and carries a bag of dispel scrolls. Invocation of Nehek, in particular, is given a major boost by using one of Nagash's books to make its casting value go sky high so it can have a big range. As expected such unmitigated power comes with a horrific price tag; 755 points go down the drain if he dies, so keep him as far away from artillery as possible.
- Walach Harkon: Grand Master of the Blood Knights for 490pts. He's a flat-out Nightmare in combat (heheh, 'Nightmare'. Because he rides one), joining the Blood Knights he now makes Special if you don't buy the dragon. While only a level 2 Necromancy wizard, he's got Initiative Elves dream of, his sword always wounds on a 2+ on top of dealing a variety of special effects, and Hatred (The Empire) while his Battle Standard (Yeah, he's a BSB too) gives units within 12" Hatred (ALL). His last gift is the Blood Chalice, which gives either a recovered wound, a free attack for the turn, or makes his sword flaming while re-rolling 1's to hit and wound (meaning i.e. he will always fucking hit). If anything, his weakness lies in how many roles he tries to pull together, and if he dies, there goes all your stuff.
- Prince Vhordrai Lord of Crimson keep: 595pts. a Blood Dragon Lord on Zombie Dragon from AOS. his mount has an upgraded version of Pestilential Breath and he gives Blood Knights around him rerolls to charge. Kitted with Might of Arms, Heart Piercing, and a Multiple Wounds (D3) Lance.
- The Red Duke: A lower-tier Blood Dragon with a hate-boner for Bretonnia at 385pts. He's just as deadly as Walach with his +1 to hit and +1 S in cc, while his blade lets him heal for every wound he inflicts, all useful when considering he has Red Fury (aka the blenderlord's power).
- Gashnag the Black Prince: Your named Strigoi at 325pts. He's just as frightening to face as the others while also having a degree of protection from a 5++ ward and a -1 to hit him in cc.
- Heinrich Kemmler: Oh, you were never going to be playing this game in decent company anyway. He's a Loremaster in Necromancy ideal for filling a lord's spot at 1500+ point games and If you're playing at that level, you may as well bring Krell to take advantage of their tag team abilities. 340 points? Worth it.
- Dieter Helsnicht: The other master necromancer at 425pts. While he lacks Loremaster, he's got himself a manticore that never suffers from berserk fury. While he has a magic weapon, you shouldn't be relying on it when you have the manticore. Instead, use Dieter as the wizard he is, since he has Burning Head as a bound spell and has a single-use ability to auto-cast any spell he wants.
- Krell, Lord of Undeath: Krell is a Wight King with a better statline who gets Heroic Killing Blow (in challenges) if in the same unit as Kemmler (which obviously means he should always be in the same unit as Kemmler). He has regular Killing Blow otherwise, but the drawback is that he MUST issue a challenge whenever possible, Oh, and having a T5 W4 hero for his meager 205 point cost (not to mention his other rules) is very very good. New to this edition is his Crown of the Damned, which finally gives him a 4++ Ward Save, but also inflicts Stupidity (at Ld9, he can manage). By the way, his model is fucking ace.
- Alternate take: Krell is significantly more expensive then a normal Wight King and only marginally better offensively, defensively he is inferior. His special rules are fairly situational and only holds up against medium to weak enemy heroes (a strength 7 lord/hero will completely ignore his armor). A mundane Wight King will almost always be a better option over Krell because they can be kitted out specifically for your needs. His model IS pretty amazing though.
- Konrad von Carstein: Nothing short of psychologically damaging if your opponent happens to bring Monstrous Infantry (to him, not his models) for 180pts. That being said, combat is all he really does well (though he does it VERY well) while being the uncle of all glass cannons. His stats are on-par with am ordinary Hero level Vampire, and he only has Heavy Armor, so it's his special rules you want to take him for. He rings in at 160 points.
- His insanity is reflected by a special rule called "One Bat Short of a Belfry" which has you roll for his current mental state. At the start of the turn you roll a D6, with a result of 1-3 granting him Stupidity and a result of 4-6 giving him Frenzy.
- So be wary of using him... and be aware that Ogre Kingdoms players will die a little inside each time you field him.
- Isabella von Carstein: As it stands for 110pts, she's not a caster (being only a level 1 Wizard in Lore of Vampires) or a fighter (being that she only has the vanilla Vampire stats with Beguile and her only equipment is Heavy Armor and a Hand Weapon). The most she can do is support other vampires using the Blood Chalice to make sure they don't die.
- Of course, there's always the fact that if she kicks it, Vlad goes nuts, with Frenzy and Hatred and whatnot. It's also possible that he'll die first (not as likely) and she will get Frenzy and Hatred, but as previously mentioned she's not really geared for fighting. She isn't worth it on her own but put her with Vlad and they have great potential.
- Sethep the Merciless: Another Necrarch who plotted world domination with a horde of zombies, only to be rekt by Konrad von Carstein, 190pts. In truth, he's a pretty weak L2 necromancer. His only item lets him cast Hellish Vigour as a bound spell, though it can be exhausted, and forces -1 to hit him in combat.
- Helman Ghorst: Remember the part where he got in Total War: Warhammer? That's how he landed here. He can only ride his corpse cart as a level 2 necromancer who adds even more bodies to raise from using Raise Dead or Invocation wich is to his benefit as he is the only Hero character to be able to grow a Skeleton Warriors unit beyond its starting size (a bigger deal now you can give them expensive Crossbows or Medium armour and Halberds to grow a small into a big unit).
- Gunther Spengler: 135pts. a Necromancer that gives 3d6 drop lowest for Skeletons or Zombies he is with when they make Leadership tests to march near enemies, restrain from pursuit and reform. Cheap Necromancer with a ward save and minorly improves the mobility control of a unit of chaff.
- Lady Olynder, Mortarch of Grief: 400pts. Ruler of Ghost from AOS. Is a Banshee lord with more killing power. Is an Lv3 Necromancy or Death wizard that knows a Unique spell that makes one enemy easier to hit in combat while they have a harder time hitting back. Has a Psychology test debuff aura, in addition to her Ghostly Howl, She shoots many armour negating Killing blow shoots that would against the initiative and can either once per game Heal herself of inflicting additional damage to an unlikely Hero that tries to fight her. When using a necromancy spell, she heals D3 wound on Ethereal with Invocating of Nehek. Synergizes greatly with a list that relies on ghosts as a necromancer or wants a lord that specialize in taking out high-value targets from range.
- Kurdoss Valentian, The Craven King: 225pts. Formally an ambitious King that is forcefully Lady Olynder's subservient husband as a practical joke by Nagash. Assisted by two Cairn Wraith, he is supposedly a melee ghost lord. Chance to turn off the opposing general's Inspiring Presence which is a boon for a unit that has Terror. He hit hard with his Great weapon that course muli-wound(D3) or D6 on a wound roll of 6. Gets a reroll to hit agienst Army General but Despite how much he seems he wants to kill other characters, he is not the best at it. As a ghost with a Great weapon, he is asking to be killed by that fat nobleman with an enchanted butterknife while Kurdoss tries to lift his heavy mace. Like most ghosts, he should stay away from wizards and magic weapons, then engage what can't hurt him. He can be decent at winning against the Monsterous ilk.
- Reikenor The Grimhailer: 210pts. a Lv2 Cairn Wraith Death wizard on Nightmare. Very killing in and out of combat. Kills a guy each your magic phase to give himself +1 to his first spell. has a spell that makes Classcannon units kill themselves with their own great weapons. Can even brawl with nonmagical hoards with getting 7 attacks against units with 3 ranks.
- Von Carstein Vampire/Lord: The von Carsteins, being the flagship vampires, offer a rather balanced take for a vampire, the horrific monstrosities of the Warhammer World not named Chaos Lords. They have a solid statline capable of holding their own in a fight and has the best Generic Character leadership (M6 S5 T4/5 A4/5 LD 9/10) as well as being wizards of Shadow/Death/Necromancy in Heavy armor and can select a large list of items and powers to give them a fixed role. They also have Good synergy with Dire Wolves, Bat Swarms and Fell Bats.
- Necrarch Vampire/Lord: The Necrarchs are the vampires you want for a casting-heavy army, other bloodlines are only part wizards that can get up to at most level 3, Necrarchs are full caters and their powers make them even better at it. Each of these wizards can take all the lores most vampires have, but can also take Heavens or Metal to mess with a wider list of foes. These guys lose out on any mundane weaponry, so consider more arcane items and talismans.
- Lahmian Vampire/Lady: Lahmians have the advantage of a high Initiative score, allowing them to punch into an enemy hero before they can strike back, while their powers let even that last bit fall into question. If you want a brawler vampier, pick Blood Dragon, but Lahmians are full casters while still being untouchable in combat.
- Blood Dragon Vampire/Lord: With WS scores above their kindred, the Blood Dragons can definitely handle themselves in a battle, especially in challenges since they're forced to accept challenges. In exchange, they become the poorest wizards of the lot. Each of them already comes with full plate, so you are already plenty protected if all you get is a shield and a ward save.
- Strigoi Vampire/Lord: A Strigoi may not look like much, having a lord with a slightly inferior statline to a Von Carstein for 105/240 points, not being able to take magical armor or weapons, being stuck as a caster on par with Blood Dragons. What it gets for these tradeoffs is a Lore of beast caster and the offense near equal to a Blood Dragons with other tricks from powers. It can also be mounted on a Terrorgheist and scout with Crypt Ghouls, and let 3 ambushes. No matter how you're planning to use him, just make sure you have a plan for him else go Blood Dragon.
- Master Necromancer/Necromancer: Cheap level wizards (L3/4 for lords, L1/2 for heroes) in either Lore of Death or Lore of Necromancy and can Raise Skeleton warriors beyond the starting size, that can be used to support a fighty Vampire Lord and the hordes, or to be the main caster and general should you decide to bring a slew of ordinary Vampires. If you are considering making him your general, that certainly frees points for the other great choices you have, but remember that your army may start crumbling as soon as he dies. If you assign the other Vampires to Lore of Necromancy then at least one of them can take over as general (although with such a weakened magic phase you better be planning on bringing the rape train quickly).
- The Master Necromancer can be mounted on Barded Nightmares, Hellsteeds, Abyssal Terrors, and something Vampires can't ride: Corpse Carts. a buffing shrine that makes Skeliontons and zombies more deadly.
- Liche Lord: The undead necromancer lords, a beefier (Toughness 5, 4 Wounds), combat-oriented Master Necromancer(but vampires have weapons and even the Necrarchs are better fighters than you), and 275pts is almost double the cost of a Master Necromancers or as much Lv3 Necrarch Lord. Their only option is to ride a Mortis Engine, which would lock him out of combat even harder. You are undead, so unlike vampires, abilities will now work on you for all their positives and detriments.
- Alternative take: Liche Lord is meant to be harder to kill lv4 wizards. They are harder to kill from sniping, not for fighting.
- Wight King: 85 points. Pretty much the same statline as a Vampire, with the S and T swapped around with WS4 and 3 wounds. It can be upgraded to BSB. Can mount up on a Skeletal Steed with barding as an option and take a lance if you want him with Black Knights, otherwise stick him in a unit of Grave Guard with the Banner of the Barrows for an incredibly cheesy unit that will meet all variety of faces. Gets Killing Blow. Can take 50 points worth of magic items if he's NOT the BSB. Oh, and like Krell, this guy has a fucking beautiful model. So other than you BSB, He is your most reliable and cheap for dueling or protecting your necromancers.
- Cairn Wraith: 60 points. Ethereal, Terror, Undead. Has a special ability called Chill Grasp, allowing it to trade in its 3 Attacks for one Attack that automatically wounds if it hits and ignores armour. Only S3 and a great weapon, T3, and 2 Wounds with a low as fuck 2 Initiative. It can take a horse and magic items. Spirit hosts are cheaper for simple tarpits and the Cairn Wraiths unit from the Rare section 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. It's possible to use them to nail characters, but chances are good that whatever you're aiming to kill has a magic attack which renders the Cairn Wraith's only defense moot, and at 5 LD, don't expect him to prevent anything from crumbling (in fact, he's more susceptible to it truth be told).
- 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!
- Nightmare: Simple undead horse, best in a squad of Blood Knights, and never put in a unit of Black Knights unless there's no terrain, as they'll lose their Ethereal movement. Ordinary in all regards other than being a S4 horse.
- Hellsteed: A flying Barded 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.
- Barrow Chariot: Your basic chariot pulled by skeletal steeds for your weight King. Fortunately, it has the Spectral Steeds rule remain intact and now you have all those Impact Hits to deal. The drawback is that there aren't any chariot units to stick him with.
- Abyssal Terror: Cheapest of the monster mounts. Not great by any standard of a monster. Can be given Poison Attacks or Armour Piercing. Fairly cheap and it flies so it's not exactly bad, but it's just beaten out by the next two usually.
- Terrogheist: Your bigass scary mofo exclusive to Strigoi. While it's still beefy as hell, it remains a large magnet that only has a 6+ Regen for protection between it self and Strigoi rider.
- Zombie Dragon: Exactly what you think it is. It's got beefy stats, can be healed massively thanks to lore attribute plus Invocation, his Pestilential Breath attack causes -3 to armour as well as causing a S2 hit and it adds that extra "fuck you" to Ogres in the form of terror. Has Swarm of Flies (ew!) which causes -1 to WS for enemy in base contact. A great time if your Vampire has the same stat line as the mount its on. Can really wreck heavy cavalries day as well as rank and file, though it will die to cannons or Heroic Killing Blow. Still, a wonderful kick-ass model and is our only dragon, but like most fun things, it's a magnet for artillery and mass shooting.
- Coven Throne: Lahmian Lady and Neferata only. Hot motherfucking damn (also damnably hot if you know what I mean), this ghost pulled chariot is heavily defensive. In addition to what your lord has, your also getting 5+/4++ save and S5 impact hits, 2d6 ghost and 4 vampire attacks, a bound spell that gives itself rerolls to hit or wound, and The Battle of Wills were each attacking enemy must make a contested LD roll or else be bad at hitting you or attacks itself if it really losses. Your paying a minimum of 445 points + other gear. Though not as effective against high Ld units (Elfs, Dwarfs), a Coven Throne makes a Lahmian the toughest battering ram to deal with.
- Skeletorn Warriors: More durable than Zombies,a pinch better at killing and less likely to crumble, they cost 5 points a model, and should only be taken in large units to maximize the usefulness of Invocation of Nehek. Skellies are good but the Zombie tar pit works way better than any unit in the army for the role, since the Invocation of Nehek only heals back D6 Wounds+caster level (compared to the 2D6+caster level that Zombies get) and unless it's a master necromancer or liche lord they cannot be pushed past their starting size.
- That being said, Skeleton Warriors are by no means bad. They have an option for a full command unit, a musician for swift reforms and a standard bearer for a +1 combat res score for extra survivability, and they come with Shields and hand weapons giving them a neat 6+ parry save in close combat. You can exchange their hand weapons for spears, sacrificing the 6++ parry save, but it lets you attack in 3 ranks. Similarly, you can eschew their entire loadout and buy everyone bows so you can have an army of disposable BS2 arrows. Since skeletons still suck, they aren't going to hit much, not with WS 2. Generally, Skeletons are a better carrier unit for your footslogging killy Vampire Lord.
- Zombies: Zombies are pathetic. The lore goes to silly lengths to tell you how living opponents fear engaging zombies and being torn apart, and on the game, they are a bloody joke. They couldn't kill a sickly, blind, crippled, mentally disabled, orphaned Skaven Slave in a fair fight. It has M4, WS2, S3, T3, 1I, and fucking 2LD. It is so bad that decreasing their offensive stats would only make them worse in the abstract. So why in ever take them? Because they are only three points. In addition, the Vampire Counts magic phase is full of buffs, get yourself some rerolls and that Zombie unit can hold a bit longer. Thanks to the Newly Dead rule, they recover an extra D6 Wounds worth of models per casting of Invocation (meaning 2D6 Zombies) and can increase their unit size beyond what you started the game with; this means you can, with luck, turn a 20-strong horde into a 60-strong horde in just 2 turns of magic.
- Crypt Ghouls: one of the rare living units and most expensive core Infantry option available at 6 points. They are a relatively speedy core option(not undead and count towards core) that's Toughness of 4, exceeding both zombies and skellies by one point. Highest (still terrible) Initiative of 3. Two Attacks per Ghoul, and the highest Leadership score of the core options at 5 (they will likely flee when beaten without leadership buffs in comparison to Zombies which can all vanish off the board when they lose). Poisoned Attacks (let them trade excellent vs low armor) are the default, but Ghouls cannot have a musician or Standard bearer. Less likely to die like the skeletons, but much harder to get more of, and still a good bunker for a footslogging Vampire Lord - especially when skirmishing.
- Sylvanian Peasant Levy: In the event that you thought that we were being too mean to the poor zombies (what is wrong with you?), you have this unit of pitiful farmers who are also expendable Ld 5 and only accessible to an army with a Von Carstein as a general. They are just as useless, and even more so since you can't use Invocation of Nehek to swell their ranks. Revivable Skeleton Warriors often are better holders of Ranged weapons than Peasants
- Pretonion Pessents still have usefulness especially with how swingy unstable is on losing undead. They are faster-moving Troops being able to march and at latest Peasants will not Imedielty collapse from a massive combat score difference and can use the Von Carstein's Leadership of 10/9 to stay in a fight. Still have a problem were you have to take a non-expendable core unit for every core expendable unit.
- Dire Wolves: A very fast-moving alternative to the other core choices. They ring in at 6 points per model, with a cavalry-speed Movement of 9 (compared to the M4 of the rest of the core) and Swiftstride. They have similar toughness, meaning they'll crumble as fast as Skeleton Warriors in unfavorable conficts. They have one point higher WS and I so combat will have more kills, but otherwise share a stat line with Skeleton Warriors. They have the Slavering Charge (+1S on the charge) and Vanguard (after both armies deploy everything, but before the first turn, they may move 12").
- Fell Bats: Your go-to for Warmachine hunting. Cost 14 points each and must be fielded in Units of 2 or more. Count as War Beasts meaning they have Fly as well as Swiftstride (roll 3d6 when charging, discard lowest and add 12" to the Move and do the same when fleeing). Stated like two humans sharing a par of wings (likely to crumble), which is pretty meh, but with multiple models and Fly they'll probably reach what war machines they need to get to unless your opponent spends some time shooting them, which will buy you time to get into melee so either way, it's a win/win.
- Bat swarms: 35 points each, but they have 5 Wounds and 5 Attacks. They are a Swarm: meaning they are Skirmishers, they are Unbreakable, and are Unstable (like the rest of your army). They have WS3, S2, T2, and I4, coupled with being Unstable most likely will be the first thing to crumble after Zombies. Their Hover and Cloud of Horror disrupts all enemies they flank, which is awesome considering most of your army has terrible Initiative.
- Grave Guard: Coming in at 10 points, these supercharged Skeleton Warriors boast Heavy Armor optional Shields, have Killing Blow, can swap their Shields for Great Weapons for one point a piece (do this for killing, S'n'B for anvil), and can take a Magic Standard. Their statline is superior to weak skellies as well. With a toughness of 4, and a 4+/6++ save, they are a lot more resilient then Skeletons and just as easy to raise. Stuff a Wight King into this unit and take them in a block for a hard-hitting anvil force. These skellies are a nightmare for any high T non-monstrous troops.
- Black Knights: Same statline as Grave Guard at 22 points, but on Skeletal Steeds which grant them an M8 and Spectral Steeds which lets them count as Ethereal for Movement and they don't get a penalty for Barding. Said Barding comes at 2 points per model and can come default with lances. Like their footplodding counterparts, they can take a Magic Standard. They are one of two heavy Cavalry units in the army. They are a DAMN good unit capable of moving over terrain like it wasn't even there and letting loose with a flurry of S4 (S6 on the charge) Killing Blow attacks. All while possibly having a 2+ armor save. Delicious. Just don't put anybody in with them that doesn't have a spectral steed or they get much slower, and you want them to be constantly charging.
- Hexwraiths: Ghost rider at 27 points each. They are Fast Cavalry with a metric fuckload of ghost rules to mess with the enemy. They are Ethereal, move through unengaged Units, have Terror, and flaming Greatweapons that Ignores armour. As a result, they will attract a TON of magic during your opponents turn as he desperately tries to fry them before they reach him and they don't have any protection against that other than you trying to dispel, so beware. Being Fast Cavalry grants them Vanguard (get to make a 12" Move before the game starts) and a Free Reform unless it charges. They lose most of this if they are joined by a character without Ethereal+5+orbetterArmour. You should leave the Hexes to do their thing alone. If left alive Hexwraiths will swing fights in your favor.
- Crypt Horrors: The other Monstrous but living Infantry unit, little more than super Ghouls, and more like (slightly more) intelligent Trolls. 37 points a pop so big units are hard to field, Unit size 3+. Like Ghouls, they have Poisoned Attacks, but also Regeneration 5+. Stats are M6, WS3, S4, T5, W3, I2, A3, LD5. This unit is an anvil with a bite, pure and simple, with the chance of them breaking 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 hard to get rid of, but will be expensive (666 points, 676 with the upgrade to champion) for a unit that ultimately works best in a point denial role. Work best with a Mortis Engine (if the thing doesn't get blown up). Don't skip them over, but they aren't something to drool over either.
- Alternative Take- While Crypt horrors may not be the most offensively powerful unit on this list, they can be made into one of the most powerful units in the game with some magical buffs. Unlike Grave Guard, they are monstrous infantry, and therefore gain all of the additional attacks of the second rank. With three attacks each, at S4 and poisoned, they can make a Very mean hammer. Buff them with the right spells, however, and the effect can be multiplied hugely. This is not always viable, but for those gamblers looking for a death star unit, look no further. Buff them effectively with the lore of Beasts, and they will SHRED everything.
- Corpse Cart: A 90 point Chariot and mount for your necromancers. The thing itself is a 6+ Armor Save Shrine option with 4 Wounds, but don't let that trick you. It's just as useful as zombies in combat with 2d6 WS2 S3 attacks from the Zombies hitched to it as beasts of burden, as well as an attack from the rider who is a WS3 S3 I2 Corpsemaster. It has Regeneration, which may keep it alive for a pinch. All skelly and zombie units within 6" of the Corpse Cart get a bonus attack and 6+ regen, a distant cry from the ASF of yore, But still gives the Chaff hords build some viablity. Of the 2 upgrades, Balefire is ok as enemy wizards have a harder time casting when in 24". The lodestone is a solid choice as it makes the Invocation of Nehek more reliable at rebuilding your army.
- Vargheists: seeing the destructive power of a Crypt Horror, now what if a vampire goes Faral? The first of three designated hammers, representing the jack of all trades which has the speed of the Terrorgheist without being as flimsy. 50 point Monstrous Infantry with Fly and Frenzy. M6, WS4, S5, T4, W3, I4, 3 Attacks, and a Leadership score of 7. They are Vampiric, so they cannot crumble. They compete with Empire Outriders and High Elf Swordmasters for the title of premier glass cannons; these guys do pack a considerable punch at break-neck speed. They can hunt War Machines if they must, but they really work better-hitting flanks and hunting enemy support troops. Don’t ever think they'll last against even mediocre infantry unsupported though as that T4 is all they have keeping them alive despite their 3 Wounds, and that low Initiative (4I is low?) will let even humans with pointy sticks get a jab in before they move. Be careful 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.
- Spirit Host:Ah, the Spirit Host. 45 points per Swarm and They are also Ethereal. Sadly, as a Swarm, they also die from Combat Resolution like everything else in the army. They have M6, WS3, S3, T3, I1, A4, and a Leadership of 4. These guys are extremely cost-effective Monster and Cavalry tarpits while they last (just make sure whatever you are facing does not have magic attacks), and can also be used to dissuade a flank charge by something nasty than to actively hunt their targets, otherwise, they may get too exposed to infantry (their bane thanks to that Combat Resolution damage) or outmaneuvered. 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?
- Blood Knights: There are a lot things to remember about the Blood Knights. They are as expensive at 42 points a model (coincidentally, they also have a similar effect on enemy tactics) and they are one of the top-heavy cavalry units in Warhammer Fantasy. So here's what we're looking at; Full Plate, Barding, Shield, Lance. They have Vampiric. They can take The Flag of Blood Keep as an upgrade instead of another magic standard for 50 points, which grants them a 4+ Ward Save against Ranged Attacks. That Ward Save comes into effect once something gets through their 2+ Armor Save, namely war machines. They come in at WS5, S5, T4, W1, I5, A2, and LD 7 overall. You can take them in Units of 4 or more.
- They are a fantastically lethal addition to an army of any size, and It's a good idea to keep a loaded-up Barded Vampire/Vampire Lord within the Unit, to help them keep their minds focused and overcome the Frenzy urge to go fuck something despite being in the line of sights of a Warmachine or something similarly undesirable, and Taking a 4-man unit with Banner of Eternal Flame makes them fantastic monster hunters who will reliably take down even Hydras, Sphinxes, and Hellpit Abominations on the charge.
- However, don't forget that they have a big weakness - due to being Vampiric, they can't recover wounds, which, combined with their cost makes them inferior to Black Knights in the eyes of many players.
- Lahmian Handmaidens: They are a pack of lesser but still deadly Vampires. Though not as geared up as a Blood Knight, they still hit harder than Crypt Horrors with thier M6 with three S5 attacks thanks to dual-wielding. They are surprisingly cheap for their offense and being in the Rare slot for only 21 ppm. You can fit them in as another Hammering option for undead anvil.
- Black Coach: A 195 point Chariot. Has one crew member, a Cairn Wraith (with Chill Grasp and a Great Weapon), and two Nightmares as drivers. Causes Terror, counts as Vampiric so there's no fear of Crumble, has a 4+ Ward Save on top of the 3+ Armor Save. It has 5 Strength when trying to figure out its d6 Impact Hits. The real fun part though, is the special ability "Evocation of Death", which combines fantastically if you have a lot of wizards (both with or against you), giving you (very quickly) +1 to the Impact Hits on the Charge then gaining +1 Strength to the Wraith and the Nightmares, then gaining Killing Blow and Flaming Attacks for its Impact Hits and regular Close Combat attacks, then gaining Magic Resistance (2) and Strider, then becoming Ethereal, and finally gaining Fly at 6 points. For just 195 points and a little patience, you can get one of the most amazing fucking models crunch-wise in the entire game.
- Varghulf: The Vargheist's meth addict big brother, and the only hammer you really want to meet anything head-on. In comparison to the 'gheist you lose Fly and Frenzy but gain Terror, Hatred, Bestial Fury (immunity to flanking or rear attacks), and Regeneration. You have 3 more points of M, 1 more point of WS, one more point of Toughness, one more Wound each, two more attacks each, but 3 points less Leadership (though it's Vampiric). It's a Monster, so it also has Thunderstomp.
- All in all, the Varghulf is a decent choice, as it's statline is pretty nice and it's decently killy in addition to that Regen and Terror, especially considering he lacks Frenzy so he won't jump into combat without being given the order, he's also harder to kill, and sucks up less points than a Terrorgheist so a lucky cannonball won't eat up a large chunk of your points. His main detriment is that he eats up Rare points, if that doesn't bother you then go right ahead, otherwise a properly built Terrorgheist can do the job just fine (though will cost more).
- Mortis Engine: 220 points Chariot with an Armour Save of 5+ on top of its 5 Toughness and 5 Wounds, but this isn't a Black Coach that you want to run your enemy down with. It's purely a support unit. Its offensive abilities are abysmal (unless you charge it into a flank) despite it getting a lot of little bird peck attacks, but it has decent survivability. Here's where you factor in its abilities. The Reliquary ability gives your undead a nice regeneration boost to make them live longer/tarpit better and can hit a good amount of enemy units at decently high strength, making it one of the few good ranged units available to you, and with the number of wounds it has you don't even need to worry about taking a hit from doubles, and even if it does get a little hurt, you can just heal it up yourself.
- You can/should also upgrade it with Blasphemous Tome for 20 points, which lets all Wizards within 12" of the Mortis Engine have +2 to casting attempts from the Lore of Necromancy, and if anything within 12" of the Mortis Engine miscasts (both friend and foe) then the player rolls twice on the miscast table and his opponent choose which result applies. Both of these mean you want it with the front, supporting everything else making enemy wizards nervous about 4/5/6 dicing anything, and drawing lots of fire away from your actual nastiest units. That said, this thing is a magic and artillery MAGNET LIKE NO OTHER. It looks awesome, the crunch seems awesome, then you put it on the field and a Dwarf with a flaming cannonball blows it to hell before it can move. If you want to use it effectively, you NEED some distraction units, either war machine hunters or faster melee units to take the artillery off of you, or you actually want it to get shot so that your hammers don't get shot by those same cannons.
- Cairn Wraiths: The expensive, damage-dealing alternative to the spirit hosts. Must be fielded in units of 3 minimum, 10 maximum. 50 points per model, providing a bulk discount by taking them in the Rare section, as well as saving points for more Vampires, Necros, or Wights in the Hero slot. What's not to love?
- They will still die to ranked infantry as they're Undead but, unlike the Spirit Hosts who function as a sacrificial tarpit/ball and chain for a Monster, these guys function as killers as well for 105 more points. 9+ attacks (-2I, remember) at S5 or 3+ attacks that ignore armor will put the hurt in whatever they strike. That being said, they DO take Rare choice points and unlike the Spirit Hosts, you can't afford to just let them get killed by a magic missile and forget about it. 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.
- If you really get in a good, you can take advantage of the fact these little Ethereal buggers can go straight through terrain to stay in Charge distance of the enemy while staying safe from being Charged, which can tie up a lot of troops by forcing the enemy to either continue facing them or just bite the bullet and say goodbye to everyone on the side or back of the Unit.
- Tomb Banshee: 80 points. Ethereal, Terror, and Undead. Crap stats and two Wounds. Her only attack is Ghostly Howl, a short-ranged attack that's resolved during the Shooting Phase and can be used in b2b. Roll 2D6+2, for each point you beat the enemy's LD score they take one Wound with no armor saves against it. Any competitive army will have at least 9 Leadership in important units, so the hysterical woman is unlikely to earn her points back (she will deal on average deal less than 0.5 casualties per turn in those cases). She can take out a low LD unit very quickly, however (seeing 10 Skaven Slaves drop-dead bleeding from the ears from one single attack can be fucking hilarious). As a result, she's best used to wipe out ranks of anvils and let you wash over everything that was supposed to flank charge you, though thanks to the range of the scream she's not very good at that, and at LD 5 has the same problem as the Cairn Wraith.
- Mourngul: Forge World's large monster that's half a torso. It's an S5 T5 undead with 4 wounds, Killing Blow, ice attacks. Their lone protection is a 4++ Ward against non-magical attacks, but considering that he deals ASL to anyone he's in b2b with, you can give him a good place with mobs. Especially when you see that he heals a wound for each model he kills, he can very easily take care of a mob of pikemen or spearelves.
- Terrorgheist: A 225 point Monster (so you get stomps) with M6, WS3, S5, T6, 6 Wounds, 3I, four Attacks, and a Leadership of 4 (it's not Vampiric so the death of the General may cause it to crumble, which at that point level can be painful). It has Fly, is a Large Target, causes Terror, has Regeneration (6+), and has a special ability called "Death Shriek" which counts as a Shooting Attack that you get to make regardless of your previous actions that turn. Death Shriek has an 8" range that requires Line of Sight (oddly enough) and can target something regardless of if you or it are in Close Combat. You roll 2d6 and add the Wounds the Terrorgheist has, and for each point that the result exceeds the target Unit's Leadership they suffer 1 Wound with no Armor Save and it counts as a Magical Attack, which isn't that great against LD high armies, a Strigoi Ghoul King can help somewhat, but that makes it a cannonball magnet. It can also be upgraded for 10 points to be Infested (ew!) with bats (wut?) that, upon death, cause 3D6 Strength 2 hits to anything in base contact with the Terrorgheist. It can also take Rancid Maw for 15 points which grant it Poisoned Attacks (not for its Thunderstomp though).
- Its main weakness, however, is that it is fairly flimsy, especially if your opponent brought some nasty ranged options, this combined with their relative vulnerability in Close Combat and their huge base size means they are tricky to actually move about. Not everyone likes them, but they remain one of the best choices (tied with the Black Coach) available to Vampire Counts owing to the fact that it is the army's most flexible option. It's ready for battle from the beginning unlike the Coach, allowing you to go on the offensive in a prompt manner.
- Zombie Dragon: Your particular dragon, while on tier with most, is let down by its 5+ natural armour. To make up for this, its breath weapon can obliterate armour (if it ever wounds) and makes enemies engaged with it take -1 to hit.
- Necrofex Colossus: This unholy behemoth is essentially a legit undead giant mixed with magic support. Indeed, alongside its magical attacks and 4+ regen, it adds +1 to all casting of Death or Necromancy spells within 12". It's offensively like a Giant with its randomized rules - though none of them are lethal, all of them are very dangerous if they land. It's decked with some very unique upgrades (Re-roll stomps and random attacks, deal d6 S2 hits in b2b, gain Regen 3+ and Frenzy, become a level 1 wizard of Death/Necromancy).
Building Your Army
The counts' army are the epitome of super hammers and immortal anvils.
Your core will be filled with holding lines of zombie units that can grow faster than killed (may not be true anymore) and Skeleton that can fight back and use armor to brick longer if the enemy has blenders. The core is also filled with the fast beasts chaff to distract enemy hammers and archers. You also have ghosts to anvil and chaff more against non-magical soldiers.
your front line can also have a little more bite with buffed Graveguard or Crypt Ghoul or Crypt Horrors on the wings of the zombies.
then your left with many options for hammers from cheap, big brutes, monsters, to vampires.
Then finally for heroes, your left with a choice between trying to go hero hammer with vampires, magic supremacy with wizard spam or double down on hammer and anvil with two cheap necromancy casters.
Either way, always have one or two necromancers in a bunker or out of enemy reach.
The vampire with their Clans, powers, plus magic weapons can create many different characters.
- Von Carstein: They are a balance bloodline between martial skills and spell casting. this blend and the VAMPIRE LORD having a Ld of 10 make them candidates for generals. they get the biggest selection of powers,(most focused on fear-based debuffs, and making your bats and wolfs better). Just spec into a little of everything and you have a general that can fight, duel, cast spells, and hold the army together.
- Von Carstein Quagmire: Fear Incarnate makes enemy only hit on 6s, Supernatural Horror gives terror, Transfix makes a big monster not fight, and Aura of Dark Majesty is a - 1 ld. Mix in Lore of Death/shadows plus standard Warrior Gear you have a vampire that's hard to attack while causing them to flee with a charge or a few wounds.
- Necrarch Caster: pure casting with all vampire lore + Metal and Heavens, and casting based powers. They are Necromancers+ more versatility, casting, and a better fighter despite being a dedicated wizard. The only defense is Regeneration (4+) from Curse of The Revenant or other magic item wards.
- Master of the Black Arts, Forbidden Lore, Nehekhara's Noble Blood is pure Ulta caster and Dark Acolyte adds more resurrection if your a necromancer.
- for mounts, unless your list needs a zombie dragon, keeping it down to a Hellstead, Barded Nighmare, or the Flying Horror power is enough.
- Blood Dragon Fighter: no arguing that they are the best default vampire fighters. already with Full plate and buy a shield and other Mondaine weapons if you don't need magic items.
- Strigoi: Although they can't take weapons and armour with the only their T5/4 and Curse of the Revenant power or a talisman for protection, they are cheaper fighters and have the lore of beasts and deployment tricks with the crypt ghouls like an ambush. They have hatred so good at hitting.
- Strigoi In the face: take him with Hunter in the Dark, Ghoulkin or on Terrorgheist, and other combat powers. now have a Super beast turn one in enemy's potential flank (can's charge first turn with scout so needs to be placed in cover).
- Lahmian Shadow dualist: Although Blood Dragons specialize in melee and armour, Lahmias are a better caster/dualist hybrid. Should take additional hand weapon, light armour, and Poisoned Attacks upgrades for duals. They have several powers that help with killing and not killed by heroes, Innocence Lost(ASF, and rolling hits because your faster), Lightning Reflexes and Quickblood is your defense.
- Transfix could make heroes sitting ducks, but need a bad roll.
- for magic items consider something to boost your strength past a mere 5 and/or more attacks. add Glittering scales or Nightshroud and you have a hard to kill duelist and caster.
- Lahmian siege engine: Lahmians are no joke on a Coven Throne, Ton of attacks and lots of protection, and a bound spell that for our purposes lets her reroll wounds. Stacking more things: Poisoned Attacks, Nightshroud, Innocence Lost, Lore of Shadows. It will run you 515pts with 40 left for other gear.
- Your enemy will have to overcome T5 4+/4++, ASL, pass a contested roll or may not hit, rerolling wounds, and be stripped of all their strength bonuses.
- On your side your extra slippery with Shadows giving you 12" movement with every cast and debuffing enemies more. Mountains of attacks ontop of Rerolling hits from ASF, Rerolling and +1 to wound, plus other gear.
- Shadow: with everything being so weak it's easier to drag the enemy below, than rise above them. Lots of debuffing and each casting grants 12" on your Vampires movement.
- Death: A good choice, with buffs and debuffs inaction of generating more dice, though you've got to be pretty close to an enemy for some spells. Doom and Darkness synergize well with your Fear and Terror causing units. Soulblight makes hitting things easer. Purple Sun may not be good if it hits more of your own Low Initiative units then the enemy.
- Necromancy: The necessary magic that keeps units at the proper size and makes undead less weak. good to always take at least two lv1 wizards with this.
- Beasts: only available to STRIGOI and Zacharias. with the STRIGOI Lord can only reach lv2. Shame he can't The Savage Beast of Horro, he has access to all the spell he needs. Adds buffing versatility as not many lores can boost your strength and toughness. S&T4 zombies or skeletons with spears is a pain to deal with using Wyssan's Wildform, then remember that blood knights give you a +1 to cast because they are cavalry.
- Metal: Necharch only. the anti plate mail option. also, make your Undead blobs (preferably Grave guard) more durable and dangerous.
- Heavens: Necharch only. a mixed Magic Missle lore, letting your Zombies hit first for once with Iceshard Blizzard or Disintegrating knights with Higher-level Lighting spells.
- Fire: Zacharias only. more magic missiles and +1 to wound. You have better use of a named vampire.
- Light: Zacharias only. zombies now hit first, and counter other undead and deamon famous.
Von Carsteins are the main focus, leading undead armies and using their magic to keep them up to steam-roll whatever they come across, and this is the idea behind Vampire Counts in general, but it does have many variations. The Von Carstein's powers lend to Fear-based debuffs, and synergy with your animals, especially Dire Wolves. armies lead by them can also take Peasant units, which make for better-ranged units, and be better cheap holders than zombies (get to use that Von Carstein lord's 10 ld).
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!
Other Thoughts on Blood Dragons: Vargheists are your friend if you like blitzkrieg tactics. The Hellsteed is often overlooked (although it's not difficult to kitbash a model out of a Pegasus Knight and an appropriately vampiric head), but a Vampire hero with a lance and his magical allowance spent on defensive items (looking at you, 4+ ward save and 2+ armor save. Enchanted Shield + Talisman of Pres is my go-to setup) goes very well with a Vargheist escort. Vargheists provide the kind of blitzkrieg you need to neutralize unpleasant tricks your opponent might have like heavy chariots (Stegadons, for example) and caster bunkers on the first or second turn of the game. You probably shouldn't rush them into enemy lines if you can help it, but sometimes it's vital to do in order to retain control of the course of the game. If you're antsy about their Frenzy rule, take a 5-strong unit of Dire Wolves. Run the wolves in front of the Vargheists to screen them so they don't charge anything you don't want them to. Keep in mind that the Vargheists, being flyers, are also skirmishers, which means they can freely reform at any time. They're much more straightforward to get into the combat you want them to be in than blood knights. It is extremely satisfying to kill or tarpit a kitted out combat lord riding a monster with a well-placed charge of Vargheists + flying hero early in the game (Add Beguile and Quickblood for extra amusement. Don't take Dread Knight for this setup, or else your Vargheists will get to stand around uselessly. Might be obvious, but bears mentioning).
Blood Dragons-style armies rely very heavily on combat resolution. Vampiric units are hugely expensive, but also very effective. Pick your battles carefully, because a failed combat resolution can be very unpleasant, and an overwhelmingly successful combat resolution can cause your opponent's army to rout. Being able to read how combat is going to resolve is a very important skill to learn for these armies. Against units that are Immune to Psychology or that have very sturdy morale (like Lizardmen), you have to adopt tactics based on inflicting the largest possible amount of casualties rather than tarpitting.
For Vampire-heavy armies in general, you want 4+ ward saves on your Vampire Lord and at least one Hero (who should also be a level 2 caster). The amount of damage that this ward save will prevent is sickening, especially combined with 1+ and 2+ armor saves. You can sometimes get by with a Banner of the Blood Keep on some Blood Knights and adjacent Vampire characters, but usually, you want the 4+ heavy armor or the 4+ talisman. Yes, they're expensive, but having your Vampires die on you is way more inconvenient than losing a bit of killing power (which your Vampires already have in spades with their statline and Quickblood. Incidentally, you should also be taking Quickblood on every combat Vampire period). All the ward save has to do is keep them from losing that last wound until you can cast more Lore of the Vampires spells or trigger The Hunger and heal them back to full Wounds again. In my experience, it's very effective at doing this and has quite literally decided several of my games in my favor by very slim margins. Anecdotal, I know, but give it a shot.
Lahmians are the Gish heavy build with Laminan's also having not as strong dualist powers as Blood Dragons but still have access to magic. 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 least 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. If Neferata is your general, Handmaiden becomes special, Foot slogging vampires.
Necrarchs Reclaimed their collective thunder. Gaining many powers to boost their magic, getting two additional lores To field a Necrarch army, you'll want just as many Necromancers as you have Vampires, and it is both fluffy and very crunchy to include Mannfred (after all, who better to learn the ways of Vampiric magic from than the mad scientists of Sylvania?). if not in a 3000pts game, A Lord on Zombie Dragon would be perfectly fine if you wanted to call him Zachariah, but you're not Lahmian, so give Coven Thrones a miss. Instead, use the bits and bobs in that kit to build a Mortis Engine. You'll also want lots of Zombies, Skeletons, at least one Corpse Cart, and even a Black Coach wouldn't go amiss, what with all the power dice you'll be throwing around. Go for physical Undead (Black Knights, Grave Guard, Vargheists/ghulfs, Horrors)over other stuff like Spirit Hosts and Hexwraiths. Then you should take as many casting items and Powers as you can cram in and drink your opponent's tears and blood when they kill your General, only to find that those who crumbled stand back up again as your exactly four bajillions other Wizards wave their hands and yell "I never liked him anyway".
- including Helman Ghorst makes a great maintainer of your armies, Summoning more bodies with Necromancy and ignoring the max Skeleton limit without being a lord.
Magic Build Advice: If you're taking Kemmler or a very magic-heavy Lord, consider taking a dirt cheap level 1 Necromancer with an MR 3 talisman to join the same unit as your Lord. Your Necromancer's sole function is to prevent enemy magic and miscast explosions for your Lord and his bunker (though the extra die of channeling is a nice perk). If you have the hundred-odd points to spare, this is a very effective way of ensuring your Lord's continued survival. Yes, I'm a huge fan of Ward saves. They work exceptionally well, and in this case, a 4+ (or higher, if you have a secondary Ward save from something else) Ward for your entire bunker + Lord and Hero will keep you alive. The theme of the Vampire Counts is 'lose your general, lose the game', so taking extra precautions to keep your General alive will always pay off. Yes, crumbling isn't Game Over, but you lose a huge amount of point investment and tactical options when you lose your General. Speaking of ward saves, if any of your Lords or Heroes have a free Talisman slot, also consider a Dragonsbane Gem. 5 points for a situational 2+ ward save is an incredible value because it means that only 1 in 6 flaming attacks that would otherwise wound your character actually get through.
Vampire Heroes and Generals You will want at least two characters that have the 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, 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 an 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 than 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 foolproof but it does 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 planned 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 a 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, etc)should be in place to flank charge, hunt war machines, and general reap havoc across their lines. Remember it does not matter if you don't get the first turn most of the time correct placement of troops is more important with this slow army than getting into shooting range.
- If you are going to deploy a vampire lord on a dragon try equipping him with a 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). It doesn´t work. Natural rolls of 6 hit always, according to the rulebook.
Other Strategems and List-Building Analysis: Vampire Lords on Zombie Dragons are the best possible use of a combined Night Shroud and The Other Trickster's Shard. Their huge bases mean that the combination of Strength loss, Always Strikes Last, and forcing rerolls of successful Ward saves means that it's very difficult to go toe to toe with them for just about anyone in the game (Breath Weapon, Thunderstomp, and 10-15 high strength attacks is a lot of damage). Expect your opponents to target the Zombie Dragon with everything they've got. Consider an MR 3 talisman on your Lord to give your zombie dragon that 4+ ward save. Remember, MR works against all magic, and all magical weapons (even the cheap 5 point generic ones) can be defended against using MR. So your Zombie Dragon will have a 4+ ward save against the vast majority of Lords and Heroes, in addition to angry mages. (The above is not true, magic resist only works against damage caused by spells, not magic items). Yes, your Lord won't have perma-Strength 7 and be a zomgwtf death machine. He'll also outlive just about every other model on the table, which is more important considering how many points you're investing in him. Quick blood, Beguile, and Red Fury is my typical set up for Vampire Powers on such a character, with the reasoning that Quickblood's rerolls and Red Fury plus Strength 5 (7 with a lance on the charge) will provide all the offensive might you need to be effective. Beguile doesn't always work, but when it does it can be decisive for that extra bit of "fuck you, roll that 6 again", especially against big monsters that have low Leadership. For smaller games, chop Red Fury and the lance (this should put you under for 2,500 point games) before any of the magic items. Keeping your Zombie Dragon alive retains way more damage output and overall effectiveness than Red Fury provides otherwise. Wizard level 1 is all you really need for this setup unless you're playing a game at 3,000 points. Take Invocation and several supporting casters.
Vampires that focus on manipulating moral /can/ be very effective. Taking Fear Incarnate and Aura of Dark Majesty on a Vampire and using it in conjunction with a Terror-causing unit or hero is great unless your opponent is Immune to Psychology. A fun gimmick against things like the Empire and Bretonnia, but it's wasted if your enemies are immune. A lot of things are, sadly.
If you haven't caught on by now, your army is very top-heavy. The majority of your points will be invested in just a few models. Your entire strategy revolves around utilizing these models and keeping them alive. Used correctly, they will win the game. Used poorly, they'll get killed and then you're out half of your firepower. Herohammer, in other words, is still your bread and butter.
Crypt ghouls have a MUCH higher offensive capacity than any other core unit you can field. Personally I never leave home without a 20-strong block of them and a corpse cart. Corpse carts are excellent force multipliers and you can inflict absolutely sick amounts of Wounds in close combat with a good Dance Macabre and Always Strikes First on a horde of Crypt Ghouls with adjacent Cart. Opponents who're expecting Vampire Count's infantry to suck in close combat will be obliterated by their carelessness against Crypt Ghouls. In addition, even though Crypt Ghouls don't have an armor save, their Toughness 4 means that they're actually approximately 15% less likely to die than zombies and skeletons against stronger attackers. Yes, they're twice as expensive as skeletons and can't be raised over the unit cap by Invocation. But you can't put a price on your opponent conceding the game after you annihilate his primary block of infantry in one overwhelming phase of combat.
Take a Level 4 Wizard Lord in any game you can't afford a Zombie Dragon if you're serious about building a 'Take All-Comers' list. Master Necromancers under 1,500, Kemmler between 1,500 and 2,000, Master Necromancer and Vampire Lord on steed (or just more Kemmler) for 2,001 to 2,400, and Zombie Dragon for 2450 and up are your best choices. Are they the only choices? No, obviously. But in each of those point ranges, Vampire Counts is a completely different beast due to various list-building options that become available or obsolete. Finding the lists that work for your style of play can be difficult, given that every 500 points or so the demands your army is placed under are radically altered.
In low point games, you're mostly going to be dealing with block infantry and approximately two or three nasty units. Your Master Necromancer is by far one of the cheapest level 4 wizards available to any faction, and using him to your advantage is crucial to pick up the slack in your limited damage-dealing options at that point range. Bump it up to the 1,500-2k range, and suddenly Lord-level wizards are more common. In games where your opponent doesn't field one, a Level 4 Lord is still a huge advantage, but you have to be prepared to have your spells contested. This means there's less room for error in the magic phase, and having a Loremaster like Kemmler is huge because you can't afford to not roll a certain spell (like Dance Macabre). Not having access to your core magical options could cost you the game almost by default if your opponent's also slinging magic around. Kemmler's +1 to dispelling is also very useful when opposing other Lord-level mages. Vampire Counts are hugely reliant on the force-multiplying power of a good Magic phase, and not being able to force multiply is suicide for your army.
Once you get into the 2,000's, you'll find that it's possible to field lots of heroes and lords within your point constraints. Given how reliant your army is on these two types of characters, this is a huge piece of good news for you. Being able to field multiple Level 2 Vampire front-line casters is very, very handy. In this range, you can more comfortably field a Vampire Lord than in previous point ranges, because your supporting casters can pick up the slack if you don't have a Level, 4 caster Lord, to do all the heavy lifting that's required to keep your army going. Still, having a level 4 caster is never a bad idea. Nothing is more irritating than having your Invocations dispelled consistently.
In 2,500 points and up, all sorts of crazy things get introduced into the game and the scale of battles increases considerably. There's much more flexibility in games this large and you're not quite as reliant on force-multiplying magic to be successful. Still, all the things I've discussed remain true, their impact just isn't as decisive from turn to turn.
Other thoughts: A Corpse Cart with Balefire combined with Kemmler means that you're going to be 2 points up on even a Level 4 Lord in the dispel phase. Being 4 or 5 points over a Hero-level caster means you'll dominate their magic phase every single turn as long as you use your dice wisely. Creating margins of advantage like this is an important part of list-building because it ensures you'll be able to control the course of the game when you need to. Your core units aren't typically going to be decisive by themselves, so you need to search for that advantage in your characters and your special/rare choices. Coordinating your picks to create and capitalize on weaknesses is an important concept of Vampire Counts list construction.
Use flanking units to avoid bad combat resolutions. Vargheists in particular and cavalry, in general, are great at inflicting mass casualties and swinging a resolution in your favor. Build your lists around which flanking units you're using. A list that flanks with Black Knights and Dire Wolves plays very differently than one that relies on a pair of Corpse Carts and a flock of Vargheists.
I went over this in the magic section but I'll say it again. Vanhel's Dance Macabre is the most important spell for your army list after Invocation. If you really want to be sure, running Kemmler or Mannfred plus a Hero that has it (either bound or rolled or both) is the way to go. Having zero ranged options outside of the Magic phase means that you must be in combat in order to win. Do you always want to rush straight in without thinking? Of course not, that's absurd. However, the ability to close the gap very quickly with your whole army can be decisive if your enemy is expecting a few turns of breathing room to maneuver around your Movement 4". Conversely, not being able to close the gap when your opponent is lining up unpleasant charges with monsters or cavalry can cost you the game.
With the end times books, especially Archaon, you can build the most game-breaking armies. My personal favorite is at 2500pts. Get Kemmler, a Vampire with the fear build (Aura of Dark Majesty, Fear Incarnate, and the screaming banner), and a 29 Cairn Wraith heroes. Take an allied aestyrion force, which consists of one prince, with the banner of the word dragon. As the unit is heroes, they can all just group up, and boom. 32 models, of which 30 are ethereal, and all have a 2+ ward save vs magical attacks. Even incarnates are going to struggle to hurt you. Did I mention that this was 2500pts
In short, plan before you play. Don't end up like Ben, the hapless player whose list has as much depth as a typical 17-year-old girl. Make sure your army doesn't crumble before your eyes because one necromancer decided to miscast or get into combat. HUGE HORDES OF UNDEAD is the appeal of this army, so play just that - waves and waves of zombies and skeletons, supported by truckloads of Lords and Heroes, who can make your army bigger and bigger every turn. Don't do a Ben and play units of 20 that are destined to fail as your sole necromancer dies, taking the whole army with him.
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