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New Vampire Counts
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Old 25 Feb 2008, 00:54   #1 (permalink)
Shas'Ui
 
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Default New Vampire Counts

Well, with the Vampire Counts officially out, I've done me some playtesting. I'd like to share with everyone some of my findings, including my rock-hard indestructable Grave Guard setup.

First of all, the Vampire Counts don't seem to be the same at all. So many things have changed, mostly for the better, that old tactics just don't work anymore, and new tactics can be formulated by accident. For instance, Necromancers are now entirely optional, and armies without them are actually better off magically. All that Necromancers do is provide cheap support magic, and keep the bodies on the Corpse Cart company. So what? So now Vampire Counts characters have become more powerful than they ever were, with even the most magically modest of Vampires (except Konrad) contributing his fair share of Magic. Necromancy has also been redone. With the new way particular Necromantic spells work, a single Vampire with enough power dice can raise a new unit of zombies, and cast Invocation of Nehek on it many times over before using Danse Macabre to push it into close combat!

Here are some things I found useful. To start, my uber unit of Grave Guard. I use Grave Guard to keep my Vampire alive as long as possible in combat, because even a mighty Vampire can be bogged down by too many attacks. For this unit, you're going to splurge. You HAVE to splurge. This unit alone can be upwards of 700 points after the Characters go in. First off, you want to take a nice, big unit of Grave Guard. Mine was 15 strong, but that's because I have limited access to Grave Guard models. I'd rather go 20 strong at least, but 15 suits my needs. Next, you need to come up with your General. Mine was a level Vampire with Blood Drinker (you see, I was playing a mere 1500 points so couldn't take a Lord) and Dark Acolyte. I chose Dark Acolyte because Magic is invaluable, particularly to this unit. Blood Drinker was chosen so that the Vampire can heal himself outside of the magic phase, and heal the Grave Guard if he himself is fully healthy. This makes the Grave Guard even harder to kill than they already are. Next, you take a Vampire with a Battle Standard. This particular Vampire not only contributes the Close-Combat ability of a Vampire, but the Standard means that the Grave Guard take 1 less wound when they lose combat. But the reason you buy the Battle Standard is so you can take the Banner of Drakenhof (yes, the most expensive banner in the book at over 100 points). This is what makes the unit unkillable. Regeneration on the whole unit (including both the vampires) is something that will cause a headache to any player. Then, give your Battle Standard Bearer the Master of the Black Arts power for the extra 2 power dice, and use that Vampire specifically to heal the Grave Guard when they start taking wounds, or heal other nearby units if the Grave Guard is at full strength. Now, your Grave Guard have a 3+ save in combat, Regeneration, Invocation of Nehek on multiple characters INSIDE the unit, the Vampire's ability to march, the combat ability of 2 Vampires to add to the Grave Guard's considerable prowess, and an Epicenter from which to launch all manner of magical mayhem.

Next up is our cute friend, te Varghulf. The Varghulf moves as fast as unbarded Black Knights. There's a very obvious reason why this is helpful. Black Knights are strong, of course, they're strength 6 on the charge. However, Cavalry alone is not usually enough to win a fight. Once a Varghulf is thrown into the mix, however, things quickly get ugly for whatever it is that the combined forces are fighting. As long as both units support each other, they'll run quickly along, breaking units as they go and wiping out whatever doesn't break. Black Knights are tough, even when unbarded, and the Varghulf is tougher still and has Regeneration. Add that to the Terror it causes and this combination will cause the entire ranged section of the opponents army to run screaming into the night.

Not much else to report as of right now, but I've found the Hellfire Banner works particularly well in large units of spear-armed skeletons against Wood Elves, but that I'm sure is obvious. Stupid flammable Treekin get no ward saves against that banner!
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Old 27 Feb 2008, 10:10   #2 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: New Vampire Counts

That unit seems really tough, and could go through just about anything. Unfortunately, alot of people will simply avoid it and take out the rest of your force. In 2k maybe, but I wouldn't use it in anything less. What were you playtesting against? Must have been a good game if you were using that unit.

The Varghulf is definately great. How were you using him? Charging in the front with the knights, or getting a flank charge?

The unit I want to test are the blood knights. Sure they have the weakness of frenzy, but they can be shielded by two cheap units of wolves. As they're vampires they can keep the wolves marching and thus not be slowed down.
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Old 27 Feb 2008, 10:36   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Vampire Counts

Excellent review, Kaffl. If I could, I'd karma.

You've hit spot on - the vamps have changed a lot, even though the changes look subtle - mainly to the magic. A tactic I tried on Monday was casting IoN lots of times on 1 dice, but I found it was being incredibly easily dispelled, or failing, and wasn't working. 2 dice all but guarantees a cast, with the opponent having to use 2 to stop it. Then you usually can draw out the dispels with IoN and then get off a nice Summon, or even nice Wind of Undeath.

I want to take a vamp BsB, for the extra dice, but fluffwise I have to take a wight King. These guys are damn nasty for the points, but you do miss the extra magic.
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Old 27 Feb 2008, 19:35   #4 (permalink)
Shas'Ui
 
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Default Re: New Vampire Counts

Quote:
Excellent review, Kaffl. If I could, I'd karma.
Well gee, thanks. After I typed it up I felt like I was missing a lot.

Quote:
A tactic I tried on Monday was casting IoN lots of times on 1 dice, but I found it was being incredibly easily dispelled, or failing, and wasn't working.
If you run your opponent out of dispel dice and then just use 1 die, you'll find that with luck you'll get the spell off a LOT more. Or you'll get the spell off a lot less, but a Lord with a Skull Staff (+1 to cast and dispel) will definitely make great use of that tactic, particularly with the 6 power dice he generates himself. He should theoretically get that spell off 4 times in one magic phase with average luck, without using any army dice and using only 1 die per cast.

Quote:
The Varghulf is definately great. How were you using him? Charging in the front with the knights, or getting a flank charge?
I'm gonna get disowned by all Vampire Counts players for this, but he was running amok on his own. I used him to swiftly close with archers and the spellcasters my opponent didn't put in his units (those casters were actually put to better use outside of units where they wouldn't get into close-combat as quickly and had free reign to run off wherever they want). However, one word of warning... DON'T CHARGE WOOD ELF ARCHERS unless you feel lucky. My Varghulf took 3 wounds from the stand-and-shoot, and regenerated multiple wounds. He would've died on his first charge if I was a little less lucky.

By the way, don't discount Zombies even though they got worse. Zombies can't kill anything except by accident, but they can stop a charge like no other. If a character with the Sceptre de Noirot raises a unit of Zombies, they aren't going away on wounds alone, and so the opponent can't overrun into you. I've saved my casters many times over the course of only two games by using this obnoxious little trick, and in my game against the Wood Elfs I ran a Treeman off (Zombies can't pursue, but having locked the Treeman in for 3 full turns the fact that the first round was a draw and the Zombies won the next two means that they CAN win fights without dealing wounds. Then, the rankd6 strength 2 hits can kill most things Zombies can reasonably be expected to run off).

Anyway, I was thinking. I lately read an article on GW about High Elves, and how Teclis was the best caster in the game. Now, however, I think the Vampire Counts have an answer to that. I think Count Mannfred is in fact the better caster. Here's why:

- Teclis always knows one full lore of the player's choosing. Mannfred always knows TWO full lores, Vampires and Darkness. Advantage Mannfred.

- Teclis received +D3 power dice and dispel dice per turn. Mannfred receives +2 power dice EVERY turn, along with the Sword of Unholy Power converting kills into power/dispel dice. Mannfred may also choose extra magic items, such as the Skull Staff or Power Stones, granting him more power. Teclis has the ability to gather up more power dice/dispel dice in a turn, but it's never a sure thing, whereas Mannfred always receives his. Contested.

- Teclis is, what, Strength and Toughness Zombie? Mannfred is a Vampire! HUGE advantage Mannfred!

- Teclis is permanently stuck on his feet, whereas Mannfred can ride any mount other than Skeletal Steeds, Corpse Carts and Zombie Dragons. Yay Abyssal Terror! Advantage Mannfred.

- Teclis can ignore the first miscast each turn. Mannfred cannot, but Mannfred can generally survive anything but snake-eyes. Then, Mannfred can be healed. Advantage Teclis, but not by much.

So I thought it was pretty obvious that there is a new caster on the block that can rival Teclis, if not out-magic him completely! Supporters of Teclis, feel free to argue, but I'm just pointing out facts here. I don't know how many points Teclis is, but according to how good everyone thinks he is, he may well be more than Mannfred unmounted.
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Old 28 Feb 2008, 08:55   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Vampire Counts

A tactic I found to great effect was to let the Varghulf have his own reign in the battle. My opponent had a number of Bolt Throwers, and I was confident the Varghulf could get rid of them. I kept him on the flank, and had a unit of wolves in front of him. As he is a vampire, the wolves could march, and with him marching at 16" a turn, the wolves just in front, they can screen from any incoming fire, then split off and allow him the charge, untouched.

I prefer to let him have free reign, it opens up a lot of options (mind, a unit getting hit by a Varghulf and unit of Black Knights is going down. Hard.)
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Old 28 Feb 2008, 09:31   #6 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: New Vampire Counts

Suddenly I see my rare choices being occupied by Vargulfs and not much else. If only they were US5, they'd be just about perfect.
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Old 28 Feb 2008, 19:34   #7 (permalink)
Shas'Ui
 
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Default Re: New Vampire Counts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalarn
Suddenly I see my rare choices being occupied by Vargulfs and not much else. If only they were US5, they'd be just about perfect.
Yeah... I'm going to take a unit of Cairn Wraiths once I can grab 'em up with money-stuffs. BIG unit. Best screen ever created, can shield 4 units ranked 5-wide from all non-magical fire. Other than that, Varghulfs all the way!
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