Vampire Counts Tactica

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Overall Look: The Vampire Counts army functions differently from others due to the fact that most of its units are, well dead. All VC units are Immune to psychology, so you don't have to worry about fear and terror. All VC units also cause Fear and cant be broken in close combat, instead they take wounds equal to how much they lost the combat by. A Battle Standard Bearer reduces wounds caused in this way by 1. Undead units can only march when their within a certain distance of a Vampire. Finally, if the General of the VC army is destroyed, the army literally starts to fall apart.

Now, some overall points on the army itself. The Vampire Counts army has no shooting. None. The closest thing they get are a few spells, other than that the only way you get to kill stuff is up close and personal. The Vampires Core choices are, overall poor. Don't realistically count on them to win combats by themselves. Don't get me wrong, you do need some core, but know the their limits. The Special and Rare options of the list however, are on the flip side of the coin. VC rare options in particular are highly deadly, but extremely expensive. Finally, don't forget this. Vampires. Are. All. This army isn't called "The Undead", its called "Vampire Counts" for a reason, your general will in all probability be a Vampire, so his continued survival is paramount to winning any game, and all vampires are some of the deadliest things in the game.
So, this all mean several thing in general
#1 Reliability: You can count on your undead units to hold their ground against any opponent, their not going running anywhere.
#2 Fear: Every unit in the VC army causes fear, a potent weapon that you should never forget.
#3 No Shooting: You have no shooting, so be prepaired to screen your units while you approach the enemy.
#4 Marching: Your undead units can only march if within a certain distance of a vampire, so it may be wise to spread some of your vampires through your ranks if you want to keep your army moving at a steady pace.
#5 Vampires are all: The Vampires in your army are the sword with which to kill the enemy. Weather your using them to bolster your ranks of undead or as a mace to smash your enemies units, your Vampires are where the real action is at. Everything else exists to support them, to a greater or lesser degree.

Unit by Unit Rundown:

Core: Well, you have to have at least two of these units, so lets start here.

Zombies: Oh where to start... Take a good look at the Zombie stat line. shtlk, ain't it? At four points a pop though their cheep as chips, which is a good thing because your going to need buckets of them anyway. Zombies have a role to play however in the VC list. Their the only unit that we can create from nothing in the magic phase, and they can be increased beyond their starting size. Zombies make good Tarpits and screens. Use them to block missile fire and tie up enemy units you don't want to deal with at the time. Just keep increasing the size of the unit for as long as you want the enemy unit tied up.
Zombies can also be used to flank enemy units if you raise them near the rear or flanks of an enemy with Raise Dead. However you do need to wait until your next turn to charge with them, so the enemy can engage them to prevent the flank attack.

Skeletons: Skeletons are the real Core of the Vampire Counts armies. Their stats are still nothing to write home about, but at least they can hold their own against most things of similar size. With the option to take spears for only a point more they can be used as a defensive bunker for a necromancer or vampire, but if its cheaper to just stick with their basic armament. Skeletons can take a magic banner of up to 25 points, and there are some intersting options like the Banner of the Dead Legion or the Banner of the Endless Nightmare, however you'll probably find it more efficient to invest your points elseware.

Modeling Tip: in a Vampire Counts army, you will need to use a lot of Zombies and Skeletons and you should have quite a few extra to be used when you summon more. One way you can save cash on models is by having your Zombies and Skeletons appear to be rising up out of the ground. Simply take on of the Zombie or Skeleton arms and cut it off at the shoulder joint and glue it to a base, then simply paint and flock. Voila! instant Zombie rising from the dirt. The Zombie sprew comes with several Headstones that you can glue to monster bases and use to represent up to 4 zombies or skeletons with a few appropriately placed arms.

Crypt Ghouls: Crypt Ghouls are are an interesting offensive unit. They have more toughness than a human, but they lack armour so be carefull with them. However, they have 2 attacks base which count as Poisoned, so their great against lightly armoured opponents and can be used well against high toughness targets like Ogres, Trolls and even Giants. They lack a banner and musician though, so work best as a small support unit. Still, some Strigoi armies use large units of Ghouls as their main unit.

Dire Wolves: Dire Wolves aren't as good as they used to be, but their still a fast, cheep unit. They have no armour and typical toughness, so their somewhat fragile, but their cheapness means that their distruction wont bother you much. Their fairly effective for attacking flanks and war machine crews or lone wizards.

Bat Swarms: Bat Swarms are, in my oppion, somewhat underestimated. Their cheep, highly mobile and not to easy to get rid of. They, like the Dire Wolves are usefull for getting flank and rear charges. They are also a good Tarpit and are more mobile than Zombies. They also have a better chance of hurting the unit their holding up.

Corpse Cart: Corpse Carts are some great support units on their own and a good mount for a Necromancer. Their Miasma of Deathly Vigour can really put the hurt on the enemy, as long as you keep the cart near your units. With Regeneration and a toughness one point higher than a typical human the Carts aren't going to be destroyed to easily, and you can always heal them up with Invocation of Nehek. If your using one as a mount for a Necromancer than the Unholy Loadstone upgrade is very usefull. Balefire would be usefull if you used several Corpse Carts in an army, but if your only using one or two, then stick with Unholy Loadstone.

Characters: It wouldn't be the Vampire Counts without the Vampires, the main muscle of the army.

Vampire Lord: Take a look at his basic profile. Do you have an evil grin yet? A Vampire Lord's basic profile is nothing to joke at, but the fun has only started, the Lord is also a lvl 2 Wizard and can be upgraded to a lvl 3. He can also have a hundred points of magic items AND vampiric powers. Finally, if you absolutely need to destroy something, he can ride a Zombie Dragon or Abyssal Terror. If you don't have an evil grin yet, check your pulse.
All this does not come free though. You pay for every ounce of awesomeness the Vampire Lord has, but don't be to worried about it. The Vampire Counts army was intended to have awesome characters and the Core choices are cheep enough that you can spend quite a lot on your Lord without worrying, He'll be doing most of the killing anyway.

Vampire: The Hero level Vampire is, like his bigger partner, not something to take lightly. you can customize your thrall vampires just like your Vampire Lord into any niche you need them to fill, weather its crushing the enemy in close combat or boosting your magic phase, the Vampire Thrall can be used to fill that role.

Vampiric Powers: Since we're talking about Vampires, I might as well tell you about the Vampiric Powers. Vampiric Powers are basically some specail rules that can be bought to customise your vampire. There are several neat things you can get like the ability to Fly and become Etherial. One thing to mention is that the only way you can get mundane weapons and armour for our Vampires is to take a specific power (either Avatar of Death or Dread Knight, depending on if you want him mounted or not). Use your Vampiric powers to customise your vampires into whatever role you have in mind for them.

Necromancer: Necromancers are the basic wizards of the Vampire Counts army. Their fairly inexpensive and its almost always a good idea to take at least one of them Necromancers count as lvl 1 wizards, but you can purchase up to three spells for them, and you get to choose which spells you want, either Invocation of Nehek, Raise Dead or Vanhal's Dance Macabre. You I suggest you always give your Necromancer Invocation of Nehek, as you will always need to use it. Necromancers are typical wizards, which means they will die from anything more threatening than a stiff breeze, so protect them. A Corpse Cart is a good way to do this and also increase the usefullness of the Necromancer.

The Black Art: Necromancy: The Lore of the Vampires is the magic lore you will be using with the army. Most of the spells are fairly easy to cast and 5 of them increase your undead in some way or other. All Vampires have Invocation of Nehek as standard, which is a good thing as you will be using it often. Invocation is also a spell I would give every Necromancer, as its extremely easy to cast and always usefull. Raise Dead is another usefull spell and is the first one on the list so you can replace one of your spells with it. Vanhel's Dance Macabre is also extremely usefull, speeding up your undead making them much more deadly as they all get Always Strikes First (even ones with Great Weapons!). Gaze of Negash and Curse of Years are the only spells that cause direct harm to enemy units. Their OK, but I find the other spells more usefull. Wind of Undeath and Raise Undead Hoard are the most powerfull and difficult to cast spells. Their effects can be game altering, but don't be afraid to replace them with Raise Dead if you roll for them on a Vampire Thrall.

Wight King: Man, this guy is tough for a hero. Don't underestimate the humble Wight King, this guy makes for an awesome Battle Standard Bearer or the leader for a unit of Black Knights. A Wight King with the Drakenhof Banner and a Great Weapon is a sight oft feared by many an opponent. All mundane weapons used by the Wight King are magic and have the killing blow ability, so you don't necessarily need to buy a magic weapon for him.


Grave Guard: The crem'dela'crem of the Vampire Counts infantry units, Grave Guard are a powerfull unit. Their basic stat line is greater than that of a typical human, with greater strength and toughness. Not only that, all their weapons are magic and have Killing Blow. Grave Guard come with Heavy Armour, Hand Weapon and Shield as standard, but can exchange their shield for a Great Weapon for only a point more. This option can be highly effective when combined with Vanhel's Dance Macabre giving them Always Strikes First. Grave Guard can also take a magic banner worth up to 50 points and some good choices would be Banner of the Barrows and the Royal Standard of Strigos.

Black Knights: Black Knights are basically Grave Guard mounted on skeletal steeds and armed with a lance. You can give the skeletal steeds barding for the same cost as a zombie if you wish.
Black Knights are the basic heavy cavalry of the Vampire Counts list, but they come with a unique little rule, or their steeds do at least. Black Knights can move through terrain with no penalty at all, which is great for suprise charges through forests. They can have a magic banner of up to 50 points also, and the same banners that work for Grave Guard work for them also. Don't forget their lances are magical and cause Killing Blow!

Fell Bats: Fell Bats are large fliers, but their stat line isn't very impressive. They can be usefull however for hunting down war machine crews and getting rear and flank charges, and they are fairly cheep.

Spirit Host: Spirit Hosts are swarms with a peculiar rule called Etherial. Basically, this rule means that the Spirit Hosts can move through terrain unhindered and can only be harmed by magic weapons. This means that Spirit Hosts are great for holding up units. If no one in the unit they are fighting has a magic weapon, all they can do is stand there and let the ghosts drag them down one by one. However, be wary of using them against armies with a lot of magic like Skaven and Elves.

Rare: All the Rare units in the Vampire Counts army are very deadly and very expensive.

Varghulf: The Varghulf is a missile. Point it at something you want destroyed and let it go. There are few things that the Varghulf cant take on, and you should know what those things are when you see them. Use the Varghulf as a sledge hammer to break units that are already engaged with your Zombies and Skeletons. Be wary of Cannons and Bolt Throwers however, try and get into combat as fast as you can. With Regeneration and a high toughness, the Varghulf ain't going anywhere soon once its safely into combat. The Varghulf is easily the least expensive of the rare options, so I expect it to appear more armies.

Cairn Wraiths: Cairn Wraiths are ethereal like Spirit Hosts, unlike the Spirit Hosts however, Cairn Wraiths are more than a tarpit. Armed with Great Weapons and multiple attacks, Cairn Wraiths are a deadly opponent, able to cleave through most units. You can upgrade one Cairn Wraith to a Tomb Banshee which has the Vampire Counts only ranged attack (albeit a very short ranged one). The Ghostly Howl of the Banshee is a potent weapon that can be the doom of any heavily armoured unit and can destroy large amounts of Skaven and Goblins. Cairn Wraiths however are very very expensive and can be harmed by magic weapons. Avoid Characters and magic shooting like the plague.

Blood Knights: Holy hell. These bad boys are extremely Killy and extremely expensive. An entire unit of mounted Vampires with Frenzy, and Lances, now if all that doesn't sound Killy, I don't know what does. With multiple attacks, high strength and good armour, Blood Knights can be considered some of the best heavy cavalry in the game, and they have a points cost to match. The Unit Champion can be equipped with a magic weapon worth up to 25 points. He comes with a lance standard, but giving him the Sword of Might could be a good idea. The unit can also have a single banner worth up to 75 points. Conveniently, the Flag of Blood Keep is 75 points. With this banner you wont have to worry so much about ranged attacks directed at the knights, and be certain, they will attract a lot of attention as it will be your opponent's #1 goal to destroy this unit before it reaches his lines. Again, I cannot stress how expensive this unit is. A full unit of five, with full command and the Flag of Blood Keep is almost 1/3 of your points in a 1500 point game, but when they hit, they hit hard.

Black Coach. The Black Coach is the Vampire Count's only chariot, and its a tough one to destroy at that, and deadly as well. Firstly, don't forget that the Black Coach counts as a Vampire so undead close to it can march. The Black Coach's base stat line is impressive for a chariot and its more than able to destroy your enemies core units, but the Coach has another special rule. This specail rule basically drains a few of your power dice, but increases the effectiveness of the Black Coach by giving it things like Scythed Wheels, Magic Resistance, Killing Blow and even the ability to Fly. The Coach is an expensive addition to your army, and don't forget that it is still a chariot and can be destroyed by attacks of str 7 or higher, but as the game goes on, the coach only becomes more deadly. However, it will steal some of your power dice, which may be a bad thing if you need to get some spells off.

Vampire Counts against:

Empire: Beware the Empire Gunline. Use your core units (zombies) to screen your more valuable stuff and tie up his shooting units with some Spirit Hosts, Bat Swarms and Zombies.

Bretonnia: Try and cushion the charge of their knights with your zombies, and increase their unit size to deal with the inevitable casualties that they will inflect with their charge, then engage them on the flanks with your powerfull units. Ignore any peasants they might have, their nothing but a minor annoyance.

Dark Elves: Beware their shooting and their highly mobile units. The Dark Elves are a very mobile army, so be on your toes and try and pin his units down and attack them with your powerfull stuff. Watch out for Hydras and massed ranks of crossbowmen.

Dwarfs: Treat the Dwarf Gunline much the same as the Empire version, however the dwarfs will be more difficult to break. Engage their tough units such as long bears, hammerers etc. with your vampires to ensure their destruction. The fact you cause fear will be a help if you can outnumber these units also.

High Elves: Watch out for the High Elf magic phase and try to hunt down their wizards to prevent them from shutting down your magic phase, something critical for your undead. On the offensive the High Elves are deadly, even their basic Spearmen are capable of killing quite a few enemies. However, you have Fear and and the ability to raise your dead on your side. Swarm his units and break them one by one.

Ogre Kingdoms: Most things in the Ogre Kingdoms cause fear themselves, so wont run away against most of our stuff. Their also fairly fast, and cause Impact hits, so use Vanhel's Dance Macabre to gain the upperhand and charge them, it will make things much easier if you can pull it off. You cant rely on fear to win your fights, so win with attrition. Keep raising your units and wear him down over time, there is little they can do to stop your magic from going through.

Skaven: Skaven use a lot of magic weapons, so Spirit Hosts and Cairn Wraiths aren't very usefull against them. Engage their units with large ones of your own and then attack them with your powerfull stuff and break them one at a time. Try and eliminate their Characters to reduce their leadership and force them to break. Watch your own flanks, as the skaven will likely try and do the same. Get rid of their ranged fire power ASAP.

Wood Elves: Wood Elves can be somewhat annoying as they can move quickly out of our assault range and slowly pick at us. Your best bet is to try and catch their units with a combination of Vanhel's Dance Macabre and Raise Dead. Don't let them snipe your Vampire or Necromancers. Once their units are engaged, make sure you take advantage of this.

Orcs and Goblins: Treat the Orc Hoard kinda like the Skaven. You can use Spirit Hosts to tarpit units against them though. Try and eliminate their leadership base, swarm their units, then break them with your vampires and powerfull units. Repeat when necessary.

Well, I hope that this tactica has helped out some new Vampire Counts players out there, or perhaps convinced a few of you to join the ranks of the undead.  

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