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Zombies or Skeletons? A discussion on the use of chaff & hordes.

Discussion in 'The Teachings of Abhorash' started by King Geiseric, Sep 7, 2015.

  1. King Geiseric

    King Geiseric Zombie

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    Fair tidings

    I, King Geiseric, last of my name have been wondering of the use of chaff and whether to bring zombies or skeletons to my battles.

    Some context first: in my neck of Sylvania I typically fight Warriors of Chaos and High Elves. My two opponents focus on infantry and cavalry with only small exceptions. These battles are usually 3 way fights and my attempts at going into a slugging match against High Elf Spearmen or Swordmasters and Chaos Warriors have ended badly, despite my best attempts and resurrecting them in droves to grind my enemy into the dust. My attempts have gone as follows:

    60 strong blocks of skeletons with hand weapons and shields against 20 Swordmasters with 1 Necromancer.

    60 strong block of zombies with two necromancers against a 20 man group of Warriors of Chaos.

    While the zombies held out longer because of the Invocation of Nehek (total of 4d6+2 per magic phase usually).

    Sadly they were ground into dust in about two rounds (regardless of my hard flanking and the dice gods looking unfavorably upon me).

    Am I misunderstanding the use of my undead chaff? I have been quickly reevaluating their use as they don't fare well in combat against, well, anything. And the ever loathed rule of Unstable which in some cases has killed more models than the enemy has.

    What is their proper or at the very least a more efficatious use of my zombies and skeletons.
     
  2. Mad 'At

    Mad 'At Dumb enough to work Staff Member True Blood

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    @King Geiseric: I use zombies a lot myself, and I can confirm that they are not great. Against enemies with a high damage output they really struggle.

    The first thing to realise is to never field them wider than 5 models. Extra attacks won't do you much so it will only mean the enemy gets more attacks. If you want to go one step further in using them as roadblocks you field them 1 or 2 models wide. The enemy gets very few attacks and you won't crumble nearly as fast. Some people consider this tactics a little cheesey though, personally I never use it since it looks ridiculous.

    Even with buffs you would be harpressed to get anything accomplished by zombies. Van Hel's helps them a lot as you can score some hits even on 5+ with re-rolls. If up against T4 or higher you'd also need Hellish Vigour. Another helpful buff is a Corpse Cart nearby, giving them always strikes first is not that important for their own damage out put, but it can lessen what they receive. If up against small units the ASF could let you kill some opponents before they get to strike. And up against elves you rob them of their re-rolls To Hit.

    I generally use zombies as the centre of my armies, 1 block as bunker and 2 blocks as "fighters". Unsupported, even with magic, I can only count on them to handle the absolute weakest stuff like goblins or slaves. If they are up against really killy units they won't last long, especially against combo charges. Sometimes I put characters in them though, and that can change a lot. With a killy hero vamp you can reliably go though weak units with lots of ranks, due to the zombies breaking steadfast. The really killy stuff, like Chaos Warriors, is still a problem though. Characters can let you handle medium strength units too, like most elf units, especially with some buffs. A vampire in the unit also benefits greatly from having a Corpse Cart nearby, as the ASF will grant him re-rolls against most targets. I often use a hero vampire with Red Fury and Sword of Might to help me cut through units. He is very puny though, so against things with a little damage output you can't rely on him for prolonged combat.

    I hope that gives you some ideas at least =)
     
  3. Aranei

    Aranei Ghoul

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    Zombies and skeletons are OK to fight against regular infantry like Clanrats. Against elite units like Swordmasters and Chaos Warriors, they struggle to survive. As I mentioned in another thread, even 12 Chaos Warriors is usually enough to kill 40 skeletons.

    If you want to make them more useful, follow Mad 'At's advice - add a vampire to the unit. Between being good in melee, ability to cast Invocation of Nehek, and potential to take some cheap magic items and bloodline powers that make him significantly better, a vampire can add a lot to the unit. However, remember that 4 to 6 enemy infantry models will likely direct their attacks at him, and without ward save/regen/really good armor he will eventually die.
    Corpse Carts are indeed useful, as Mad 'At says.

    As I already written, you can try to add Cairn Wraith and/or Tomb Banshee heroes to the unit - if the opposing unit has no magic weapons, they will only be able to die via crubling (Unstable). The Wraith can kill a bit in close combat, and Banshee can scream even while engaged.

    Do not forget that your opponent must test for Fear every hth phase - a failed Ld test can be sweet! Also skeletons can take the Screaming Banner that makes them even more frightening.

    Finally, Dire Wolves/Cavalry/Spirit Host flanking the enemy can actually improve the situation a bit. For example, first tie the unit with a Spirit host, wait until the unit reforms to face it, then charge - now it is a flank charge, and you will take less beating (attacks to the flank are limited).

    And don't be shy to use magic buffs on your squads!

    I wonder how do you play your 1vs1vs1 games. Is it free for all or two players ally against another one?

    I hope this helps!

    P.S. Try reading Sunny and Najo's handbook if you haven't already - it covers many problems like this.
    http://www.vampirecounts.net/threads/sunny-najo’s-vampire-counts-handbook-2014.27561/
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2015
  4. King Geiseric

    King Geiseric Zombie

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    Hail to thee, and I thank thee for thine kindly advice.

    My two opponents and I worked out a way of fighting in agreeing to send at least 40% of our forces towards each other and the remaining 20% to be sent wherever we wish. This has painted my experiences somewhat as I have to be extremely cost efficient as to what I send where because I cannot rely on army wide tactics.

    Perhaps it is time I play a 1 vs 1 battle (I've never done so before).

    -King Geiseric
     
  5. Adam_Barrow

    Adam_Barrow Sleepless Knight True Blood

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    Skellies shine best as character delivery units. Their base Combat Resolution (banner + 3 ranks) means 4 Wounds you don't have to cause to keep from crumbling. Fighty characters help swong that number in your favor.
     
  6. Adam_Barrow

    Adam_Barrow Sleepless Knight True Blood

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    And almost always go Hand Weapon and Shield on skellies. Leave the Spears at home.
     
    Dragonet likes this.
  7. Quinten

    Quinten Grave Guard

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    Couple points:
    1. Let the enemy charge you. If you let the enemy charge you, you will be able to use invocation earlier.
    2. Your taking units of 60 zombies from what I understand. By the time you get into combat (turn twoish) you should have been able to cast at least two invocations bringing them up to 76+ man units. With magical support it should take anything but a deathstar a couple turns to chew through that.
    3.Against really strong units you can try running your zombies 3 wide to really cut down on the opponent's attacks.
    4.Make sure to take a banner. for five points you will definitely save more than 5pts worth of zombies.
    5. Remember that zombies only cost 185 for a unit of 60. This is likely far less than the unit they are facing so you 'won' if they held out for awhile not if they didn't die.
    6. That set-up of game seems awfully unfair to VC as we rely on having our entire army around our general. When I play games like that I usually send my entire army against one player and take them down one at a time.
     
  8. King Geiseric

    King Geiseric Zombie

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    Indeed Quinten. This has been a somewhat awkward way of doing battle, but it was chosen as my two friends are avid players and married. So I cannot easily invite one without the other. Not that his bothers me at all, they are both splendid people (Chaos Lord and a High Elf princess, explain to me that one). We used to do it as a free for all but that sadly always degenerated into one person getting crushed between two huge armies or someone camping a hill with a cannon or no one moving for fear of death (double death in my part).

    It is something to work out in the future however as we are considering starting a narrative campaign and posting the carnage on youtube.

    More to the point however I see that clever use of zombies and I appreciate your elucidations on their proper use. I realized this only yesterday to mimic the ever reviled "rat darts" Skaven players employ to mitigate the damage received and the crumbling from unstable not to inflict damage. Goodness, if I could spam the spell hard enough I could hold my opponent's usual hammers in place indefinitely barring outside interference.

    You have done me a kindness. Thank you kindly.

    -King Geiseric
     
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  9. King Geiseric

    King Geiseric Zombie

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    I shall Sir Sleepless!

    Sadly I wont be able to comment on how effective these tactics serve me as my two opponents have been otherwise become preoccupied for the weekend. But I shall report to you as soon as I pick a fight or meet them again. Speaking of which, I took your advice and dug up a Terrorgheist for my army.

    I am naming it Bitey.

    -King Geiseric
     
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  10. Adam_Barrow

    Adam_Barrow Sleepless Knight True Blood

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    Well done. Let us know how you fair in the fray!
     
  11. Quinten

    Quinten Grave Guard

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    Have you tried getting your hands on a triumph and treachery book? Its an expansion for WHFB that is all about playing battles with more than two sides. Alternatively, does one of you have a significantly larger collection than the other two? You could try a two against one battle.
     
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  12. The Sun King

    The Sun King Imperator Staff Member True Blood

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    Get spears if you have a Mortis Engine nearby.
     
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  13. Ohcyt

    Ohcyt Zombie

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    Skeletons and Zombies do the same job. They die again. The difference to most troops fighting skeletons vs zombies is nothing. Terrible troops is terrible troops. Expecting anything but tarpitting from either of these options is foolish. As tarpits go Zombies win big time. Price per wound and ease of raising make zombies the clear winner. I like a nice line of 30 or so strong blocks (never horde your attacks are largely meaningless). 1 necro can easily raise models in 3 units at once gaining lots of free models. Against really nasty opponents (elite hordes and the like) don't be afraid to have a unit stand around waiting for its counterpart to die off and then take over the tarpit role. Never ever try and combine actual fighting units and your zombies. Invariably crumble will bite into your valuable units as the zombies die.

    In terms of character delivery I only use either of these units to deliver 1 kind of character. Wraiths. Wall off the front of a unit of zombies with 5 wraiths and they will wade through all opponents that do not have magic attacks. I mean ALL. Not the most fun for your opponents as they often do not even get to roll any dice until they are taking break tests. Your wraiths can also pull all sorts of interesting shenanagins like jumping to other units that have advanced past them and appearing in the front row, charging out solo or providing chaff in a pinch.

    All other character delivery should be handled by faster units. Fighting characters on foot are delay/avoidable by canny opponents.
     
  14. The Sun King

    The Sun King Imperator Staff Member True Blood

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    They do not do the same. Skeletons can have full command and magical banner. Huge difference.
     
  15. Adam_Barrow

    Adam_Barrow Sleepless Knight True Blood

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    Also armor, if you're inclined.
     
  16. Ohcyt

    Ohcyt Zombie

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    all mean very very little to the Chaos warriors hacking at you. I meant they function the same in game terms. The advantages of light armor a magic banner and a champion are slight. The increase in cost does not offset. You start spending points on low WS low T low S troops and you set yourself up for failure. If you are trying to deliver a single foot fighting character I guess skeletons are better. They have an option to fear "bomb". Those tactics both require unskilled opponents to be successful. I don't have the luxury of new or unskilled opponents. I see no reason to teach to a low standard. Most players who are taking the time to ask for opinions like this on the internet are looking for good advice on how to win. Zombies are superior to skeletons in the game of Warhammer Fantasy 8th ed. They do the same job for less points.
     

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