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The Sun King

Staff member
True Blood
Aug 22, 2012
This work is the collaborative effort of The Sun King and Najo. The handbook is a subjective assessment of the Vampire Counts army, meant to help newcomers to the game. Our ratings are based on years of playing and cold numbers. Alas, Warhammer Fantasy is no exact science and opinions will therefor differ – not even our collective wisdom can deduce an ultimate truth. However, this handbook should offer insights into the intricacies of the Vampire Counts army that even veterans will find useful. Our ratings and comments are based on uncomped competitive play at around 2500 points. Enjoy!

[21st of November 2014] Incorporated Summoning Guide written by @Demian.
[6th of March 2015] Incorporated Forbidden Lore section with contribution from @Scalenex.
[24th of March 2015] Moved Magic Items, Spell Lores and Vampiric Powers to another thread.
[9th of April 2015] Added Character Mounts beneath the Lords and Heroes section.
[13rd of April 2015] Revised Demian's Summoning Guide for easier accessibility and use.
[22nd of May 2015 Added Spoiler Tags making navigation easier]
[22nd of May 2015 Uploaded Undead Legion Expansion! Yay!]
[22nd of May 2015 Moved Vampiric Powers and Spell Lores back into this thread]

Special Thanks!
Special Thanks goes out to @Scalenex who wrote the initial draft of the Forbidden Lore - BRB Lores and BRB Magic Items. We have Scalenex's consent to expand and revise on his work and then incorporate it into our writing style. Thank you Scalenex for your initial work and encouraging us to give it the full VC Handbook treatment.

Rating scale:
RED is unusable. This rating is reserved for the real stinkers. Picking this can only make your list worse.
YELLOW is situational. You need to have a specific purpose in mind if you pick this. Without a plan for the selection you will make your list worse by picking this.
GREEN is moderate. These are decent, balanced selections but are not a must have either.
BLUE is good. Most lists benefit from this selection and you should definitely consider it.
PURPLE is amazing. If you don’t pick this you’re likely a masochist. No matter how you look at it, this pick will usually make your list better.

Undead Legion Expansion Link

Vlad von Carstein: Truthfully, Vlad is not that bad, especially if fielded in the same unit as his undying love, Isabella. When together, both of them gain Always Strike First and if one dies the other gets Hatred and Frenzy. But Vlad’s best feature is his ability to not die! The Carstein Ring grants Vlad a 4+ ward save and if he dies, he can return in a nearby unit on a D6 roll of 2+. With Blooddrinker allowing Vlad’s ‘The Hunger’ to restore a Wound on a 4+ instead of 6+, he becomes very difficult to kill. Unfortunately, Vlad lacks synergy amongst his various powers and is only a level 3 Wizard, so he isn’t as competitive as he could be. But if Vlad were built as a normal Vampire Lord, his sword and ring come in right under a 100 points, which is about right. All things considered, with how survivable Vlad is, there are some play styles that can take risks with him and make good use of his unique features.

Mannfred von Carstein: Mannfred is simply a beast when it comes to magic. With Loremaster in both Death and Vampires, he provides everything you need for spell support. Even better, with extra Wizards, you can easily get a second copy of an essential spell. Two Soulblights or Raise Dead? Yes please! Although Mannfred lacks defensive items, he has 5 Wounds, so keeping him alive in a Black Knight or Skeleton bus is fairly easy. If you want more protection, you can back him up with two mortis engines or an Obsidian Lodestone (on a character in the same unit), though this is probably not necessary. The real trick with Mannfred is effectively using his Sword of Unholy Power. Mannfred really shines when he is killing rank and file and generating extra Power and Dispel dice. Mannfred is the most powerful Wizard the Vampire Counts have and in the right hands he is BLUE, just be careful when you use him, because if he ends up in a combat where he can’t wound or gets wounded too easily, they will make short work of him. Being a Master of the Black Arts he will turn bad winds of magic rolls into good ones, and this is golden if you take his array of spells into consideration. If you enjoy mobility take him on hellsteed and keep him safe by jumping from bunker to bunker.

Heinrich Kemmler: With +1 to Dispel and Loremaster Vampires, Heinrich is a great choice for a magic heavy army. Like Mannfred, you get extra copies of Lore of Vampires spells if you bring extra Wizards. What makes Heinrich distinct is his Cloak of Mist and Shadows, allowing him to either Fly or become Ethereal until the start of his next turn. This allows for some powerful movement tactics where Heinrich hops between units, ignores terrain and takes positions to use his spells most effectively. Just don’t get him caught in the middle of combat, because even though he carries a sword that spawns Grave Gard and Skeletons with ease, he lacks any kind of saves.

Vampire Lord: Vampire lords are feared by nearly every Warhammer player, and rightfully so! Amazing stats, access to 100 points worth of magic items AND vampiric powers, effective both on foot or mounted and they are Wizards too! The Vampire Lord adds massive damage and casting potential to your army and the options for building them are staggering. It would take an article in itself just to go over all these options, but some of the key ideas are:

1) Use your Vampire Lord’s damage potential to his fullest. Red Fury, Quickblood and a good Strength bonus weapon (like Ogre Blade) is the typical combo. This is where the term blender lord comes from. Then there are variations on those three pieces to gain flexibility, magical power or reinforce your defenses but at the cost of damage output. Just changing the weapon has tradeoffs. A great weapon frees up points, and gets past Banner of the World Dragon but cancels out Always Strike First. A lance gives back points, but loses its strength bonus on following rounds. Potion of Strength is good for one turn only, but can be used with any weapon. All of these are viable substitutions, but require being built around.

2) Give your Vampire Lord decent protection. Your Vampire Lord draws a lot of threat. Sniper spells, sniper shooting, lord challenges, character hunters, artillery, killing blow plus the occasional miscast. Defense against all of these is a good ward save. Sure, you can mount and armor your lord to get a 2+ armor save or put Seed of Rebirth and Dual Mortis Engines for a 4+ regeneration save, but nothing is as reliable as the 4+ from Talisman of Preservation or Armour of Destiny. Of course, both a good armor and ward save is even better.

3) Choose your magic capability. Vampire Lords can just tack on a level or two and let a Master Necromancer handle the primary spellcasting or they can be your level 4 Wizard and do double duty as both a combat and spellcasting beast. When deciding how powerful of a spellcaster your Vampire Lord is beyond his Wizard level (through selection of Arcane Items and Vampiric Powers) be mindful you are trading off his damage potential for spellcasting power. You take Master of the Black Arts and you lose Red Fury and Quickblood or take a Black Periapt and lose everything but Talisman of Preservation. There is always a tradeoff when determining your Vampire Lord’s magic role.

4) Fine-tune him to your army. There are compromises to each of these points, and it comes with fine-tuning your Vampire Lord to your army. His selection of powers and items don’t exist in a vacuum. Running a scream heavy list? Aura of Dark Majesty is valuable. Your local meta light on character threats? Choose Dread Knight. Light on Immune to Psychology? Choose Fear Incarnate. You want a mobile Vampire Lord that can wipe out warmachines and surprise charge out of his unit? Take Flying Horror. Honestly, the possibilities are extensive, just keep his primary role of damage dealing and survivability in mind while customizing him.

Once built, you need to know how to use your Vampire Lord. Vampire Lords do best in units that can be healed quickly, benefit from his march radius (since he is likely your general) and have unit champions that can accept challenges on his behalf. These units provide shelter for your Lord while benefiting from the Vampire’s damage output. Skeletons are ideal for Vampire Lords on foot, with Crypt Ghouls and Grave Guard also being decent choices. When mounted on a Hellsteed or Barded Nightmare, Black Knights are the optimal choice since they heal with Invocation easily. While it might be tempting to put your Vampire Lord in a unit of Blood Knights or on an Abyssal Terror or Zombie Dragon, these are poor choices. Your Vampire Lord becomes extremely vulnerable when mounted on a monster and the Blood Knights don’t really benefit from his presence enough (since they are difficult to heal and can march on their own) for it to be worth putting him at risk.

Regardless, there are many tricks to keeping your Vampire Lord in an optimal position where he avoids danger and is a nightmarish killing machine. Since our units usually benefit from being charged (allowing you to heal in the next magic phase), your vampire can usually use his movement or a well-timed Van Hel’s to get into a superior position for his next spell or the upcoming combat. Be mindful of enemy Wizards, their spells can threaten your Vampire Lord and his unit. Know when you should engage to avoid a magic missile or sniper attack, or when to stay back to avoid one of the dreaded nuke spells like Dwellers, Purple Sun or Final Transmutation and send in a Wizard hunter instead. Once in combat, his position is often best when he is killing rank and file. Let your champion and other characters accept challenges, you don’t need to waste your Vampire Lord’s killing power. Heroic challenges are foolish and risky. Besides, the sooner the enemy breaks, the sooner you run them down and kill the enemy characters any ways. The same goes for running your Vampire Lord outside of a unit. Be cautious, stay in flanks, avoid wizards and charge into fights the vampire can easily win. Vampires are devious and cunning, and they don’t live long by being foolish. Your Vampire Lord is the single most valuable part of your army, so think like a vampire and avoid putting them in unnecessary danger.

Strigoi Ghoul King: Often overlooked, the Strigoi Ghoul King offers an interesting alternative to the Vampire Lord. With Infinite Hatred, Poisonous Attacks and Regeneration (5+), the Ghoul King can usually forgo Quickblood and the standard magic items and instead focus on his offensive capabilities. With Red Fury and Potion of Strength to give him a boost, the Ghoul King dishes out serious damage. Add in a magic weapon (if you don’t mind losing Poisonous Attacks) and he’s even more formidable. Fencer’s Blades gives him WS 10 for added protection, Sword of Bloodshed gives him +3 Attacks to increase his onslaught even more and out of all our lords, the Strigoi Ghoul King makes the best use of Skabscrath. A Ghoul King with Skabscrath, Aura of Dark Majesty and Curse of the Revenant can scream nearly as good as a Terrorgheist! Add in some Banshees and actual Terrorgheists, and you have a very solid screamer army. You can go even further and mount the Ghoul King on a Terrorgheist, giving you way too many screams to be considered sane (or for opponents to want to play with you). Ghoul Kings also synergize well with a Mortis Engine, minimizing the need for a ward save. Just put a Dragonbane Gem on him in case he runs into Flaming Attacks. Because the Ghoul King has Leadership 9, you can also sneak in a Level 4 Master Necromancer with Lore of Death easily, giving Death magic support to his army and with Doom & Darkness even more potent screams. Between the Ghoul King, Terrorgheists, Mortis Engine and Lore of Death, there is a lot of interesting combinations. Adding in Crypt Ghouls and Crypt Horrors as your primary foot troops, you have even stronger themes and synergies.

Master Necromancer: Master Necromancers are an effective way to add a powerful Wizard to your army. They have access to two very strong lores (Death and Vampires) and can carry 100 points of magic items, including an Arcane Item. Their points are low enough, that in most armies you can also field a Vampire Lord. This helps spread out the risk of losing both your General and level 4 Wizard. Your choices for Arcane Items really depends on the degree of risk you want to expose him too. Earthing Rod is an optimal choice to avoid being sucked into the void or lose Wizard levels on a miscast. The Book of Ashur makes his overall casting and dispelling more powerful, but is very expensive. The Black Periapt offers a number of tricks for manipulating your power and dispel pools during the magic phase. As for other items, Talisman of Preservation is your best choice for protecting your Master Necromancer, both from the enemy and your own miscasts. Whether he is magical support to your Vampires or as a General on his own, a Master Necromancer is a great addition in nearly any army. The only reason not to take him is if you choose to run your Vampire Lord as your Level 4 Wizard. A word of caution, if you do field a Master Necromancer without a Vampire Lord, you need to adapt your army and strategies to play more defensive due to the lack of combat damage and lower Leadership.

Mannfred the Acolyte: Mannfred the Acolyte is relatively cheap and a very strong caster. However, he lacks any good saves and the extra wounds of his Lord version and unlike that version, Acolyte Manny can’t easily make use of his Sword of Unholy Power. You can mount him on a Barded Nightmare for a better armor save, but with two Wounds he is too fragile to risk in combat. His best feature is having Loremaster with Lore of Vampires. Combined with other Lore of Vampire casters, Manny gives you extra copies of those valuable spells. Add in Mortis Engine with Blasphemous Tome, and he is essentially a Level 4 Wizard. His Lord version is better, but Mannfred the Acolyte is very powerful as a support caster in the right armies.

Krell, Lord of Undeath: Krell, Lord of Undeath is just not worth his cost. For half the points, you can take a normal Wight King that is nearly as effective. It’s a shame, since Krell has such a beautiful model and interesting backstory. But even with +1 to WS, W and I, Terror, Multiple Wounds (D3) and gaining Heroic Killing Blow if Heinrich is in the same unit, Krell is still too many points. Just take a Wight King, give him a Great Weapon and Armour of Destiny and call it a day. For slightly more than Krell’s points, you could take two Wight Kings and a Wraith and have a more powerful and versatile frontline. Unfortunately Krell, Lord of Undeath is anything but.

Konrad von Carstein: Konrad is a mixed bag, as fragile as he is insane. With his hatred, 5/6 Attacks and Multiple Wound (2) sword, he tears through Ogres, Trolls and other multiple Wound models. Unfortunately, he only has heavy armour, Toughness 4 and 2 Wounds and half the time he is subject to Stupidity. Konrad requires proper management to use effectively, so keep him in range of your General and Battle Standard Bearer to get him into combat reliably and then aim him at the models he slays the best.

Isabella von Carstein: Like other Vampire heroes, Isabella is fragile. She has two interesting perks though that easily get overlooked. Foremost, when she’s in the same unit as Vlad they both get Always Strike First! This is great, giving both models re-rolls to hit. Even though neither has Red Fury, between the two of them they have enough attacks to make it hurt. Isabella’s chalice is decent too, giving a steady source of healing to a character in her unit. If you can keep her safe from harm, the Vampire Lord fighting in the front line can continuously recover an automatic wound at the start of your magic phase. This works even better with Vlad, since he’s so difficult to kill, allowing him to take even further risks.

Necromancer: Necromancers may be scrawny, withered outcasts with no friends, but they are so useful! With access to both Lore of Vampires and Lore of Death, plus 50 points of magic items, Necromancers excel at supporting our units from outside of combat. Vampire Counts depend on spells and Arcane Items more than any other army, and the Necromancer gives you a cheap, easy way to get more of both. Typical Arcane Items you’ll see Necromancers with: Dispel Scroll, Book of Arkhan, Cursed Book, Forbidden Rod, Powerstone, and Scroll of Shielding. Even Enchanted Items like Rod of Flaming Death and Ruby Ring of Ruin go well on a Necromancer, and sometimes you can squeeze in both an Arcane and Enchanted Item. The options are nigh endless. All of that, plus another channeling attempt, a signature spell from Lore of Vampires or Death and boosting the Leadership of any undead unit he joins, or stick him in a Zombie bunker and let him make some new friends with Invocation of Nehek! What’s not to like! You can even take multiple level 1 Necromancers all with Lore of Vampires and spam Invocation of Nehek. Add a Mortis Engine with Blasphemous Tome, and they each can cast Invocation on a 3+ with a single dice! If there is a down side to Necromancers it’s in Vampire footslogger armies. Footslogging armies need their characters in the frontline and use their infantry units as delivery systems and tarpits, which puts the Necromancers at risk. In these armies, spending 40 points more on a Vampire is more effective and Necromancers are considered BLUE and some cases even GREEN because of the resources needed to keep them safe.

Vampire: With only Toughness 4 and 2 Wounds, Vampires are a bit delicate. But with 4 Strength 5 Attacks, 50 points of both magic items and vampiric powers plus magic levels, Vampires are a point efficient way to add damage output and Wizards into your army. The trick with Vampires is to maximize their damage while giving them enough protection to keep them safe from typical rank and file. Usually, items like Enchanted Shield, Charmed Shield, Opal Amulet, Dragonhelm, and Seed of Rebirth (with a couple Mortis Engines within range) are ideal for giving a Vampire with heavy armour (and sometimes a shield) enough protection to get through a fight or two intact. Then it’s all about building the Vampire for his combat role. The most obvious is the mini-blender. Give a Vampire Red Fury and Sword of Swiftslaying and he is nearly as deadly as a Vampire Lord. With Aura of Dark Majesty, Dread Knight and Beguile plus Glittering Scales and a Sword of Striking or Might you have a Vampire who makes screams stronger, is nearly impossible to hit and rarely misses with his attacks. Give a Vampire a Great Weapon and Quickblood, plus Armour of Destiny and he can deal damage while easily taking it himself. You can mount a Vampire on a Barded Nightmare, give him Enchanted Shield and Heavy Armour and have a mini-blender with a 1+ armor save. There is so many combinations. Really, for just 40 points more than a Necromancer, Vampires give you more movement and combat capability. Making use of these powerful heroes just requires some creativity and in the right armies they are considered BLUE.

Wight King: Wight Kings are tough as nails and affordable. They offer good defense and make perfect body guards for the Vampires in your army. When equipped with a good armor save and weapon, Wight Kings are effective characters in a Vampire Counts army. Whether on foot or mounted, Wight Kings make ideal candidates for Battle Standard Bearers or wearing Nightshroud. The only downside of using a Wight King is you sacrifice both the spellcasting and the offensive qualities of a Vampire hero. Wight Kings are a prime choice in an army reliant on Grave Guard or Black Knights with the Banner of the Barrows and they excel at keeping your Vampire Lord safe from enemy challenges.

Undead Battle Standards: Your battle standard can freely go on either a Vampire or Wight King. Most of the time you won’t give it a Magic Standard, as it’s usually better to equip the Bearer with items instead (especially a Vampire). All in all, Battle Standards have value for our armies. Undead still need to pass marching tests, quick reforms and Slain General tests to not crumble if our general dies. Additionally, the reducing of our crumble by a point can really matter. That negated Wound could be that one keeping a model engaged and not allowing overrun. Mixed with Invocation of Nehek and prolonged, multiple combats, a Battle Standard quickly pays for its messily 25 points. Not to mention, where it is engaged gains an additional +1 to combat result too. Battle Standards, whether a Vampire or Wight King, stabilize your combats, if even a little bit and can be worth using in combat focused armies. The big downside with a Battle Standard is that it affords your enemy an additional 100 victory points and therefor your Battle Standard Bearer becomes a target. Use them with caution and build them defensively. It is even better if you can keep the character out of harms way by having your front rank filled with command group and other characters.

Cairn Wraiths: At first, Cairn Wraiths seem a bit underwhelming. But once you start exploring their many tactics, they become a terrifying weapon in your arsenal. First, they are Ethereal and can hide out in units (avoiding magic missiles and their like). They can accept challenges. They can charge out and tie up targets that can’t deal with them (like monsters and monstrous cavalry). They cause Terror, so charging with a Cairn Wraith in a unit could make an enemy break and run. They can move out of units and position as a redirector. Then there is the wraith-wall tactic. Take a cheap Core unit like Skeletons or Zombies, field that unit 5 wide and then have 5 Cairn Wraiths join the unit. The unit gains a rank and standard bonus, has all the benefits of Undead infantry and when the Cairn Wraiths make way, has an Ethereal front rank with 15 Strength 5 attacks.

Tomb Banshees: Tomb Banshees play a similar role to Cairn Wraiths. They can do all the ethereal character tricks (hiding in units, charging out, redirecting) with one major difference, they have Ghostly Howl in place of 3 Strength 5 Attacks. With their howl they can reduce chaff, monsters and small units of armored troops to nothing quickly and they can do it while engaged in combat. Banshees become very good when taking two or more and used with Aura of Dark Majesty, Doom & Darkness and/or Iceshard Blizzard. A word of caution though, Tomb Banshees can’t grind like Cairn Wraiths and don’t generate combat result with their Ghostly Howl. So use them outside of regiments carefully.

Character Mounts
Skeletal Steed:These bony ponies let our Wight Kings ride in style. Granting ethereal movement and not being slowed by barding, a Skeletal Steed adds both armor and mobility to your Wight Kings. An obvious choice if you are fielding Black Knights, it also is a way to make solo Wight Kings that ignore terrain and can easily move from unit to unit. Remember, if your Wight King joins a unit without the Spectral Steeds special rule, he can’t move as an ethereal and his movement is reduced to 7 by his barding, at least until he leaves the unit.

Nightmare: Ideal mount for your necromancers and vampires. Nightmares are generally good all-around and grant both Movement 7 and +2 armor save to their riders. Necromancers only get +1 armor save, but gain Movement 8 and Toughness 4. The Nightmare has a decent WS3 Strength 4 attack, which is respectable for a mount. Though mounting your Vampire Lords and Vampires on Barded Nightmares might seem ideal, it really depends on your play style. If using Black Knights to deliver them into combat, then absolutely. But if you are using Black Knights as a support unit or need your Vampire Lord‘s march bubble and combat ability to remain with your infantry units, then mounting them isn’t necessarily ideal. Still, if you are comfortable with using characters on unusual base sizes, Barded Nightmares are an easy way to boost your blenders’ movement and armor saves. Master Necromancers and Necromancers can forgo mounts, unless you need them keeping up with the other cavalry in your army.

Hellsteed: An excellent choice when you want your vampire to fly. Hellsteeds grant a point of armor, a strength 4 attack and flying for the same cost as Flying Horror. The tradeoff is your vampire becomes cavalry (but without the barding) and can’t easily hop from unit to unit with flying (like they can with their power). Unless you run multiple cavalry units, getting full use of the Hellsteed’s movement requires being extra careful as your vampire can’t easily move among or get “Look Out Sir!” from your army.

With a Hellsteed, your vampire inevitably ends up charging from or moving out of a unit and into the open. If timed right, you’ll surprise your opponent by charging over chaff or further than they thought and wipe out a key component of their army unexpectedly. But if used poorly, a Hellsteed ensures your vampire’s demise as they stick their neck out and get it shot off by cannons or any number of other threats. Still, what your vampire loses in security, they gain in mobility. A Hellsteed provides a whole bag of movement, charging and pursuing tricks. If you play a cavalry heavy army, there is little reason to not use Hellsteeds. If you run an infantry army or your tactics have vampires avoiding the frontline, then Hellsteeds are YELLOW because of the additional risk they put your vampire in.

Abyssal Terror: With how deadly cannons are to monster-riding characters, it’s difficult to recommend this beast. Although an Abyssal Terror does have flying and causes terror, there are far better options for those elsewhere in our army. With a Toughness of 5 and only 4 Wounds, Abyssal Terrors are fairly vulnerable to magic and shooting. Likewise, having only a Strength of 5 and 3 Attacks, an Abyssal Terror is hard pressed to cause any real damage. Abyssal Terrors can be upgraded with Poisonous Attacks and Armour Piercing, which helps, but still it’s not enough. What the Abyssal Terror does have is its Thunderstomp and a smaller base than other ridden monsters, making it harder to hit with cannonballs. Abyssal Terrors aren’t useless, but they put your Vampire Lord unnecessarily at risk and offer no real protection in return.

Terrorgheist: The only mount option for Strigoi Ghoul Kings. On their own Ghoul Kings and Terrogiests are good, but together, not so much. Both are pricey and lack protection against cannons. When they get hit, it hurts twice as bad and is an easy way to lose all those eggs in one basket. That said, combining the Strigoi’s fighting capability with a Terrogiest’s scream and thunderstomp is devastating for an unprepared opponent and once they are in combat, a mounted Ghoul King is fairly hard to kill. If you have target saturation or monstrous infantry screens and can get these two into combat quickly, they can be game changing and are GREEN. Otherwise, there are better ways to spend your character points.

Zombie Dragon: The Zombie Dragon suffers from the same problem as the Ghoul King on a Terrorgiest. It’s a big target and you are putting a powerful lord and mount together, begging your opponent to eradicate it. You have to play very tactically to keep this big bird and its rider alive when the artillery starts raining down. Once in combat though, there nothing that compares to the raw power of a Vampire Lord on a Zombie Dragon. With its Scaly Skin, a Strength, Toughness and Wounds of 6, Thunderstomp and a breath weapon with -3 to Armor Saves, the Zombie Dragon is formidable. But the Zombie Dragons’ real secret weapon is Swarm of Flies. Making all enemy in base contact -1 to their To Hit rolls, not only does this protect the dragon and its rider, but the Zombie Dragon is fairly effective at supporting our units in combo charges too. Give your Vampire Lord riding the dragon Nightshroud and/or Other Trickster’s Shard and with its large base, enemy units are marginalized even further. With some creativity and smart game play, a Vampire Lord on a Zombie Dragon can wreck your opponent.

Corpse Cart: Although fluffy, you’d think taking a mediocre unit, sticking your necromancer on it and paying for their ride with character points was bad enough. But then forcing them to stay outside of the warm, safe masses of rotten undead bodies and they can’t even march to keep up? Even worse! Don’t do this unless you are trying to get your necromancers killed!

Coven Throne: Beautiful and complex (much like its handmaidens), the Coven Throne holds a lot of power for the risk-taking general. Often compared to the Mortis Engine, the Coven Throne is an entirely different beast. Where the Mortis Engine is a Chariot/Warmachine that synergizes with and supports your army, the Coven Throne is a weaponized mount for the Vampire riding on it. Best used as a support unit in aggressive armies, the Coven Throne grants the vampire riding it ethereal movement, D6 Strength 5 impact hits, 4 Strength 5 Attacks with Always Strike First (from the Handmaidens) and 2D6 Strength 3 Attacks (from the Spirit Horde). The Coven Throne has a 4+ Ward Save (for itself, not the rider) which synergizes with any Magic Resistance the rider has. Since the Coven Throne grants +1 Armor Save, your vampire can easily get a 2+ save without compromising much offensively. The Scrying Pool works well with Lore of Vampires (backing up spells like Van Hel’s Danse Macabre or Hellish Vigor) or gets you by if you use another lore and still want your vampire rerolling in combat.

The Coven Throne’s claim to fame is Battle of Wills. Affecting any unit attacking the Coven Throne (with either range or close combat), most often enemy will suffer -1 to WS and BS or perhaps have to re-roll successful To Hits. Although unreliable, some planning can help maximize Battle of Wills’ effect. Always position your Coven Throne to maintain Leadership 10 and engage enemy units with a lower Leadership. Flanking with the Throne, while keeping it within range of your general is the easiest way to do this. Then support the Coven Throne with a well-placed Doom & Darkness and Aura of Dark Majesty. If played right, you can make Battle of Wills at least consistently weakening your enemy units while occasionally causing swathes of destruction as the unit turns on itself. These tactics also mean the Coven Throne is ideal for weakening and breaking Steadfast and Stubborn units.

Finally, whether you mount a Vampire or Vampire Lord on a Coven Throne depends on how much risk you want to take and how quickly you can get your Coven Throne into combat. A Vampire Lord has Leadership 10, more magic items and vampire powers and a better Toughness and Wounds. A Vampire though has nearly as much hitting power, risks far less of your points and can take a Battle-Standard. Since the Coven Throne is vulnerable to Unstable, a Battle-Standard helps protect it from crumbling and taking the throne on a hero doesn’t waste your points for your Lords.

Zombies: Though one of the weakest fighting units in the game, you’ll never find a cheaper and more reliable tarpit. Considering that zombies cause fear, are unbreakable, can take cheap standard bearers (for the blood and glory scenario), are dirt cheap themselves and can be raised beyond their starting size this is a solid core choice. Zombies raise so fast that taking units larger than 20 to start with is often overkill, and you get more out of casting Invocation of Nehek by having multiple zombie units within its range. Zombies act very well as speed bumps, wizard bunkers, redirector chaff and tarpits (when grown to a decent size). Usually the only characters you should be putting in this unit are Necromancers, but Vampires can use Zombies for unexpected shelter or as a safe way to get into combat in a pinch. Zombies are most reliable in larger units of 50 or more, so they are best taken in armies with multiple Invocations that can raising them quickly or in large units that fill out a majority of your core. As Zombies are reliant on Invocation to maintain their numbers, they do best in armies with strong magic and multiple Lore of Vampire wizards.

Skeleton Warriors: Though they are not as cheap or easy to raise as Zombies, Skeletons have access to better options. First, skeletons can take full command. This means Skeletons are ideal for delivering our Vampires into combat, as their champion can accept or issue challenges to keep our Vampires safe (letting them cause mayhem in the enemy ranks). Second, Skeletons can take a Magical Standard which is very useful. The Banner of Swiftness, Banner of Eternal Flame and Screaming Banner are all popular choices, adding versatility to the unit depending on its role in your army. Though Skeletons do have better stats than Zombies, and are equipped with light armor and shields, it’s debatable which one is the better tarpit. Skeletons seem to do better as tarpits when not supported with Invocation of Nehek, while Zombies do better when Invocation is used to grow them faster than the rate they are being destroyed. Best fielded in units of 30+ models and five wide, Skeletons are usually taken with hand weapons and shields for the parry save. Sometimes there are advantages to taking spears though. When used in horde formation and supported with spells like Van Hel's Danse Macabre or Mindrazor, Skeletons with spears are deadly. Spears are also a good choice if you have a Mortis Engine since the parry save doesn't stack with regeneration. In the right hands, Skeleton Warriors are BLUE, but they need proper support and a specific style of play to be used effectively.

Crypt Ghouls: Being our only core choice that can fight its way out of a wet paper bag, Ghouls are a popular choice. They are often deployed 40 strong and in horde formation to maximize their attacks. You should always take a Ghast since an extra attack in the front rank is better than another body in the back and it gives you a champion to protect your Vampires. Since Ghouls have poison and two attacks each, they can cause a lot of damage against units with low or no armor saves and they become even deadlier when Van Hel's is cast on them. Unfortunately, because Ghouls are Strength 3, they are virtually useless against heavily armored targets. Also, though they are Toughness 4, their lack of a save makes them very squishy. Ghouls do become much more durable though when combined with two Mortis Engines to gain a 5+ regeneration save. Regardless, make sure your Ghouls are within range of Invocation of Nehek to keep them at fighting strength.

Dire Wolves: Though competing with Spirit Hosts and Fell Bats (and to a lesser degree Zombies) for their role as redirectors, Dire Wolves are an excellent choice for a number of reasons. Since Dire Wolves are core, they don't compromise your more preferable special, rare and character choices. With Movement 9 and Vanguard, Dire Wolves have a mobility our other core choices lack. This gives them a potential first turn move of 30", allowing them to be in an early redirecting or flanking position. With their Strength 4 when charging and Swiftstride, they are ideal for hunting warmachines or flanking and disrupting unarmored units. Dire wolves are usually taken in multiple packs of 5, with 3 to 4 packs not being uncommon. Some players field them in larger groups and run them into enemy flanks. Dire Wolves are famous for the Wolf Dart, where 5 wolves are fielded in a 3 x 2 or a 2x3 formation (depending on enemy base sizes) designed to maximize their attacks on a single model in the enemy unit (usually a Wizard or BSB). Doom Wolves are rarely taken since Dire Wolves are often just sacrificed as chaff, but they add some nice tricks to the unit. Doom Wolves give extra punch to flanking tactics or Wolf Darts and the hilarity of tying up a Bloodthirster (or other Monsters) with a challenging Doom Wolf is often worth the points itself.

Corpse Cart: This filthy wagon has some valuable features, especially against elven MSU lists. Its biggest merit is giving our troops Always Strike First (thus negating elves' reroll To-hit). Unfortunately, the Corpse Cart is only M4 and a chariot (thus cannot march). To properly use the Corpse Cart, we need to cast Van Hel's on it, and that's just so it can keep up with even our infantry! With that said, proper use of the Corpse Cart can be effective when your army is built around it, as undead with Always Strike First are frightening for anyone to face. Also, unlike many other undead units, the Corpse Cart does well thrown into multiple combats. Its' T4, W4 and Regeneration makes it fairly durable, so it doesn't tend to bleed much combat resolution. Corpse carts also have some interesting options that a creative general can build around. Balefire's -1 to enemy casting rolls within 24" weaken enemy magic phases and make our dispel dice go further. While Unholy Lodestone's Invocation of Nehek reroll helps grow our infantry quicker. For general's attempting to raise up an unholy and disgusting amount of zombies (and possibly break the world record for most raised in a single game), this upgrade is essential!

Grave Guard: Grave guard have two distinct roles in our army. Want to punch through enemy armor? Give them great weapons, deploy in horde formation and you got a solid hammer. With a bucket load of S6 attacks and Killing Blow, these bad boys cut through armor like a hot knife through butter! Need a solid slab to tie your enemy up and grind them down round after round? Throw hand weapons and shields on these T4 infantry and deploy them five wide. Now you've got a reliable mini-anvil that enemy characters want to avoid and is the perfect home for a tooled up Wight King or Vampire blender. In either case, Grave Guard draw a lot of heat and can die fast, so support them with Invocation of Nehek. Fortunately, they regain d6+level Wounds per casting which is amazing for an elite unit like this. Although Grave Guard come at a fair price for what they do and are good standalone fighters, they compete with many other Special options. If you field them, plan your army around their role. Keep in mind which units and characters they threaten the most with Killing Blow and that they only have M4. Grave Guard do best when controlling key positions, so staying within range of the general's march bubble and a Van Hel's Danse Macabre is important. Likewise, their Killing Blow synergizes well with Hellish Vigor, especially when equipped with hand weapons or fighting against an enemy whose Toughness is greater than their Strength. Furthermore, Grave Guard can carry a Magic Standard of up to 50 points. What you choose specializes them similar to Skeletons and their options include the Razor Standard, but most of the time Banner of the Barrows is auto-include since Grave Guard have that pesky WS3 and it adds +1 to their To-Hit Rolls in combat.

Black Knights: These are the bread and butter of a mounted Vampire Lord list, easily being a BLUE for those armies. In other lists, they lack some punch and mobility, hence the rating. Regardless, Black Knights are tough to kill, deal decent damage on a charge and can move as ethereals (when not accompanied by a vampire). They also have a solid armor save, allowing them to tie units up and absorb a lot of damage. Because they are not ethereal or vampiric, Invocation of Nehek raises an impressive 1+level wounds. With their armor save of 2+ (when barded), this makes them easy to keep alive. Unfortunately, they deal very little damage on subsequent rounds, though this can be improved with a Wight King or Vampire armed with a great weapon or Ogre Blade. Black knights are best fielded in units of 12-15 models and used as either a flanker that supports your general's infantry unit or as the infamous Black Knight bus to deliver your mounted Vampires and Vampire Lord. Since they can take Magic Standards, popular choices include Banner of Swiftness (with Vampires), Razor Standard (to help punch through armor) and Banner of the Barrows (when using them as support or with Wight Kings). There are some tricky formations that involve leveraging Black Knight's armor, Killing Blow and movement, putting Wight Kings and full command in the front rank to push mounted necromancers into the second rank, thus allowing Black Knights to carry Invocation of Nehek and Death sniper spells with them. Black knights can also be built into death stars housing all of your characters in an even larger unit, though this severely limits your army's flexibility.

Crypt Horrors: Our Crypt Ghouls vampire-blood fed big brothers. With T5, W3 and Regeneration (5+), Crypt Horrors are only second to Beasts of Nurgle as the greatest anvil in the game. But unlike the Beasts, these big boys are healed 1+level wounds from Invocation of Nehek and being multi-wound models also benefit from the Curse of Undeath Lore Attribute. With 3 S4 Poison attacks they are not exceptional in combat but they play the grind game just fine. Like Crypt Ghouls, they are strongest against low armor and are twice as deadly with a Van Hel's reroll. With support from Invocation, there are few units in the game Crypt Horrors cannot take on and come out on top. Because of poison, T5 and Regeneration, Crypt Horrors can threaten high Toughness monsters and units normally outside a S4 unit's capability. Plus with M6 they are also one of our more mobile units, which is just icing on the cake really. Oh, and did I mention that they work well with Mortis Engines? Just one mortis engine pushes their Regeneration to 4+ and a second keeps it there should a Mortis Engine fail. They play well with Terrorgeists too. Let your Crypt Horrors tie something powerful up, and then have your Terrorgiest scream (and shout and let it all out) right in their face (...umm, please disregard the Britney reference). Crypt Horrors do great in 4 and 6 man units, but they really shine in 8 man units as two ranks of 4. An 8 man Crypt Horror unit has 25 poison attacks, 4 stomps and a total of 24 T5 wounds to eat through. Disgustingly good really.

Fell Bats: These bloodsuckers are versatile. They are cheap (same cost per wound as Dire Wolves), have a small frontage, and they Fly! Their only downside is they are competing for those ever popular Special points. That said, Fell Bats are great as redirectors. Where Dire Wolves are best used in the early game, Fell Bats can hang out behind the ranks and near your general. Then at an opportune moment drop in the middle of everything and ruin your opponent's plans. This allows Fell Bats to get into places Dire Wolves can't go, and it’s whether you need this advantage or to save your Special points for something else that determines if you should take them or the Dire Wolves instead.

Bat Swarms: You might immediately notice the Bat Swarms & Corpse Cart combo. The cart gives your units Always Strike First, the Bat Swarms give enemy units Always Strike Last. Just like peanut butter and chocolate...how could that not be good? It looks so nice on paper, but fact of the matter is that both units are very circumstantial and managing the two properly is more effort than it’s usually worth. This is partly because where Bat Swarms should give you the upper hand in close combat, they all too often bleed combat resolution even worse than zombies. Bat Swarms have great movement and keep up with the units they are meant to support. However, they don't deal much damage and with their T2, die all too fast. Bat Swarms are used best flanking enemy units (where fewer models can attack them) and in a single file of two ranks. This minimizes their contact to the enemy and keeps the Bat Swarm in combat as long as possible. Like many of our Special choices, Bat Swarms require being built around and are not worth taking if you aren't going to make use of their effect.

Spirit Host: Oh my, where to begin? Spirit Hosts are insanely cheap, have many wounds, good movement and are Ethereal! Need to harmlessly kill Night Goblin Fanatics? Done! Need to hold Monstrous Cavalry for perpetuity? Done! Need to redirect that big, scary unit? Done! But wait, there's more! Need to bait frenzied units? Kill bunkered Wizards? Target saturation? Throw out multiples of these and...Done! Done! and Done! It slices, it dices, it Juliennes! This unit is pretty much the Veg-O-Matic of the Vampire Counts, and is there anything it can't do? Well, needless to say be very cautious taking Spirit Hosts in units of 2 or more. They can act as an anvil against certain armies, but lose their target saturation role and become a big target in exchange for less risk of crumbling. Spirit Hosts also are GREEN against armies with high amounts of magical shooting like Wood Elves or Dwarves. It doesn't hurt to take a base or two of Spirit Hosts in most armies. If you are going to field more than that, they start to compete with the coveted Special choices and require you to build your army around them.

Hexwraiths: Either you love them or your hate them. Truth be told, Hexwraiths are one of the trickier units for the aspiring Vampire Counts general to use properly. They are expensive, are T3 with no real protection and they strike last, plus they contend for attention in that ever popular Special choice. But Hexwraiths are a very unique unit. First, they are Ethereal, have great weapons and magical, flaming attacks (take that Hellpit!). They ignore armor (Skullcrushers? What Skullcrushers?) and they are Fast Cavalry. But the real secret to the Hexwraiths is their unique rules: Soulstrider and Spectral Hunters.

Soulstrider let's Hexwraiths move through unengaged units (say what?). Yes, move .. through .. units. Mastering this is key to getting the most from them. Along with Fast Cavalry reforms, Hexwraiths can stay close to enemy, while remaining out of charge arcs and line of sight. They can hug flanks and rear arcs or move through units to take the shortest route to a piece of cover, becoming highly inconvenient for an enemy to pursue. With Vanguard, M8 and a well-timed Van Hel's Danse Macabre, Hexwraiths can move 30" on the first turn, placing them behind enemy lines with little exposure to threats. The real trick is keeping your Hexwraiths within 12" of your general so they keep marching throughout the game.

Spectral Hunters makes all of this moving around and harassing your enemy worth it, as Hexwraiths automatically deal a S5 flaming, magical hit that ignores armor for each model in their unit that rides through one unengaged enemy unit. Say good bye to chaff or ride over Chaos Knights and watch them die. Hexwraiths used properly are brutally effective.

Now all this awesomeness does make them magic missile magnets (which is a bonus in itself if we're going for target saturation). But there are a lot of ways to mitigate this:

• Good magic defense - Balefire, Black Periapt, Book of Ashur, Dispel Scroll, Scroll of Shielding, Staff of Sorcery, and level 4 Wizards.

• Get them into combat (though choose selectively as they are better when kept moving).

• Keep them out of range, charge arcs and line of sight.

• Bring something more terrifying for your opponent to target (Terrorgeists are good for this).

• Keep them in range of Invocation (difficult as Hexwraiths operate away from most of your Wizards).

Hexwraiths are best fielded in multiple units of 5-7 in one rank, allowing them maximum Spectral Hunter hits while keeping opportunities for Soulstriders open to them. They can also be fielded in units of 10 in two ranks, ideal for disrupting ranks but dependent on your local meta (Not that great against Daemons of Chaos). Hexwraiths are very adaptable, removing enemy knights, chaff, gunlines and other small units with ease. They can hunt mages, take out artillery or act as redirectors in a pinch, all the while ducking and weaving across the battlefield and (hopefully) staying just out of harm's way.

Vargheists: Highly mobile and hard hitting, few lists can do worse than picking Vargheists. On the other hand, if used poorly they die fast and become a total waste of points. But what makes Vargheists attractive is how independent they are. As a Vampiric unit, they can always march and with Fly they can move very fast. They are Monstrous Infantry, S5 and A3 with Frenzy, so these beasts have 4 attacks and a stomp against most enemies they fight. Vargheists are best when flanking, creating a threat on a second front your opponent must react to (usually by dividing his forces). Make sure they have a couple of targets, and can get into combat without facing a lot of attacks as Varghiests only have T4, I4 and W3. If used properly, Vargheists tear through an enemy unit and easily overrun into the next one. Vargheists are very flexible too. A unit of 3 can be deployed in a single file with a champion and go Wizard hunting all day long! A unit of 4 can be deployed 2x2 and get the majority of its attacks into an enemy's flank while minimizing attacks back. That same unit can go 4 wide if the enemy are little threat and maximize their own attacks and stomps. In addition to their squishy nature, Vargheist's Frenzy and Ld 7 makes them a bit unruly, so move them carefully (moonwalking towards the enemy if you have too) and then choose your targets with care, ensuring you get the charge. Because of this, if you aren't proficient at moving or facing them or your opponent is effective at baiting them, Vargheists can be difficult to use.

Morghast Harbingers: See description herehttps://www.vampirecounts.net/threa...-handbook-undead-legion-expansion-2015.28985/

Varghulf: As a Vampiric unit, the Varghulf is very mobile and can operate away from your general. It’s fast, has reliable damage and takes a beating. Unfortunately, the Varghulf competes with the ever popular Mortis Engine and Terrorgheist for MVP of our Rare choices. Fact of the matter though, the Varghulf is a good flanker, he destroys MSU armies and tears through elves. He is valuable in monster mash lists or as support for a cavalry based army and he excels at hunting down Wizards and warmachines. Also, since the Varghulf has a solid T5, W4 and Regeneration, running him within 12” of a Lore of Vampires Wizard from time to time is a great way to top off the occasional Wound he loses. Many armies are going to build around the Mortis Engine or Terrorgheist. But the Varghulf fits an unconventional niche that plays an important role in unconventional armies.

Blood Knights: So, hands down, the Blood Knights hit harder than nearly anything else in our army. For the right player, they are easily GREEN. Just looking at their stats, it’s apparent these lords of blood and night can wreak havoc. A minimum sized unit has 12 S7 and 4 S4 attacks when charging. They’re Vampiric and cavalry, so they are very mobile, have great reach and their 2+ AS is respectable. Blood Knights can get into a flank easily and excel at running their enemies down. There is a downside to all of their awesomeness however, they aren’t cheap, heal slow, and have 1 Wound each. Plus with Ld7, their Frenzy could get them into a bind if they get lead around by your opponent. All of this, AND they are competing with the ever coveted Rare spots.

But don’t listen to the naysayers. They are playable. Taken in small units of 4, Blood Knights are still affordable and can ruin someone’s day. Tool them up further with command and the Flag of Blood Keep, and they gain a 4+ ward save against shooting and ranged spells. Throw in MR2 and that ward vs. Spells is a 2+. Some pro-level players even use them as a deathstar, taking 6-10 Blood Knights, loading them up with blender Vampires, a Battle Standard and key Magic Items then keeping the ensuing mess of fangs, lances and hellfire-eyed horses riding down any and everything in sight. However you use Blood Knights, avoid putting your general in them. It makes both your general and the blood knights an easy target, and it wastes your general’s march bubble when it should be supporting your non-vampiric troops.

Cairn Wraiths: Do not take these... Seriously. They aren’t good. Yes, they are Ethereal, yes they hit hard, but unlike their Hero version, they cannot hide in a unit and are doomed to walk around with Absolute. Zero. Protection. The best case scenario; your Cairn Wraiths get targeted by magic missiles that you will HAVE to dispel to keep them alive. Worst case scenario; your Cairn Wraiths come up against one of the many armies with an abundance of magical shooting or close combat attacks. Between Wood Elves, Warriors of Chaos, Skaven, Dwarves, Daemons and characters with magic weapons, your Cairn Wraiths will go POOF faster than you can say “Oh holy shit!” Now, in some metas or with some creative generals Cairn Wraiths might be a YELLOW and if any unit says “Hey, got balls of steel? Want an insane challenge? Try me!” its’ this one. But most armies do not need this unit, so save yourself the headaches and take Cairn Wraiths as heroes instead. As Nagash intended!

Black Coach: The Black Coach is not an optimal choice. Though it is vampiric, it doesn’t grind as well as our Varghulf or hit as hard as Blood Knights and it’s nowhere as fast as either of them. Where the Black Coach shines is it’s hard to kill and it can deal with small units. With T6 W4 AS3+ and a 4+ ward, the Black Coach can take a beating from shooting and magic. With its impact hits and Evocation of Death power, means it cleans up MSU lists. But its problem is in drawn out combats where it has difficulty producing ongoing damage. This makes the Black Coach a liability to itself and other friendly undead units as its inconsistent damage turns into poor combat results, which causes crumble. To be fair, the Black Coach is probably YELLOW in the hands of the right general and even GREEN against Wood Elves. It even combos with Master of the Black Arts to power up faster. But unless you really need its unique features, there are better choices you can make.

Terrorgheist: If any of our units’ reputation precedes them, it’s this guy’s. Affectionately known as the T-Bat, the Terrorgheist is known for its powerful Death Shriek. Dealing hefty damage that attacks Leadership while ignoring Toughness and Armor Saves, Death Shriek allows the Terrorgheist to live up to its name, terrifying the most harden of Chaos Champions and their followers. Because of its scream, many of you would rate the T-bat PURPLE, but you can’t believe all the hype. Yes the Terrogheist is a beautiful model, yes it can be the answer to many a Vampire Count general’s problems, and yes it can scream and shout with the best of them. But against a skilled opponent, the Terrogheist is a large hulking model that is easy to wound and as it takes damage its infamous Death Shriek weakens. Even worse, there are so many efficient counters to the Terrorgheist; cannons, bolt throwers, magic missiles, poisoned shooting, decent hammer or anvil units, rival monsters, Wood Elf shooting… the list goes on. Truthfully, most armies should be focusing on neutralizing the big bad T-bat on turn 1 and have him dead or useless by turn 2.

But it’s not all Doom & Darkness, the Terrorgheist has some survival tactics that are easy to put in play. First, keep your general within 12” of the T-bat whenever it moves, until most threats to it are gone. That beast can fly and a 20” hop can get it out of trouble before trouble gets it, letting the T-bat re-position for optimum screaming. Second, keep the T-bat within 12” of your Lore of Vampire casters. Healing up on our Lore Attribute is easy and immediately repairs the scream right before using it. The same for getting it in range of Invocation, allowing it to regain 2 Wounds from casting one spell. Third, engage it in close combat tactically. If it charges the right units, the T-bat will take a little damage that can be healed, it can still scream at a target outside of combat and can no longer be targeted by shooting because it’s engaged. Remember though, if you engage the T-ba, you want it to kill and move on quickly so it doesn’t get pinned down. Finally, field multiple threats for target saturation. For most players, this is a second Terrogheist (or a third being ridden by a Strigoi) but similar threats such as a Mortis Engine, multiple Hexwraiths units or a Black Knight bus often get similar responses and can open up your available strategies.

And speaking of Doom & Darkness, the Terrorgheist synergizes very well with that spell. Aura of Dark Majesty helps too. The vampire general who makes good use of Death magic and the Cursed Book or who can keep the T-bat targeting units affected by Aura of Dark Majesty will be pleased at the results. So keep your Terrogheist moving, avoid the plethora of threats and disintegrate the most elite, armored units in your way.

Mortis Engine: In the right hands, the Mortis Engine is PURPLE. In the wrong, it’s GREEN. At first glance, the Mortis Engine is quite mindboggling because it does so many incredible things. First, it grants a stacking Regeneration bonus that makes even Crypt Ghouls, Zombies and Skeletons hard to kill and gives a character with Seed of Rebirth a hefty boost. With the Blasphemous Tome upgrade it grants +2 to your Lore of Vampires spell casting rolls (even bound ones) and makes 2 dicing them deliciously easy. The double miscast from Blasphemous Tome affects all Wizards in range, so be careful with it (especially around Ogre Kingdoms and their Hellheart) but it can also be used offensively against your opponents too. At the start of your turns, the Mortis Engine damages all enemy within range, clearing out chaff and weakening or destroying smaller units. By late game, this effect is devastating as it kills the high Toughness units too. The Engine has Ghostly Howl, allowing it to deal with armor. With Spectral Steeds, it moves as an Ethereal allowing it to use terrain to its advantage. As a chariot, the Mortis Engine hits fairly hard on a charge and since it can’t march, it doesn’t matter if it’s within the general’s radius.

With T5, W5 and Regeneration the Mortis Engine can take a beating and grind in combat all while damaging nearby enemy turn after turn. By keeping it within 12” of your Lore of Vampire wizards, it is easily kept at full Wounds with Curse of Undeath, thus making the Engine very difficult to kill. Cannons are its biggest threat, so the wily general will use its free pivot to present its side to cannons, granting the shallowest target and thus making it harder to hit. Crypt Horrors used as a screen not only gain a Regeneration buff, but as Monstrous Infantry can keep cannonballs from penetrating them and thereby protecting the Engine. Two Mortis Engines are especially effective, as the Regeneration bonus stacks and the double Engines creates target saturation for cannons, gunlines and magic. Still, a determined opponent can make keeping the Engine intact difficult, so your plans for when and where it eventually explodes are important. A good Vampire general maximizes its effects, charges the Mortis Engine into the right combats and then if necessary run the Mortis Engine into your enemy and let it be destroyed, exploding and taking out even more of them. This is where the Mortis Engine requires skill to use properly as poor timing can make it useless or worse, turn it against you. But with so many effects, when used right the Mortis Engine is a game defining center to your army that can end in a specular explosion rivalling even Michael Bay’s best attempts at blowing things up.

Morghast Archai: See description herehttps://www.vampirecounts.net/threa...-handbook-undead-legion-expansion-2015.28985/

Vampiric Powers
Master of the Black Arts: Master of the Black Arts can strengthen your magic phase, but it comes at a great cost. With its high point cost, you must sacrifice powers like Red Fury and Quickblood on your Vampire Lord. Master of the Black Arts does have synergy with the Black Coach (letting it siphon more dice), but if you want to strengthen your power pool, Black Periapt allows you to do so without sacrificing as much (or none if on a Master Necromancer) of your Vampire Lord’s damage potential.

Curse of the Revenant: Curse of the Revenant makes your Vampire Lord less vulnerable, but at the cost of losing Red Fury. Giving your Vampire Lord an extra Wound is a viable strategy and makes them more survivable. You often see this power combined with Skabscrath, since the Wound bonus also strengthens its Death Shriek. Curse of the Revenant is a nasty surprise on a Vampire Lord built for grinding.

Red Fury: Red Fury is the one vampiric power responsible for giving Vampire Lords the nickname Blenders. Red Fury grants a staggering number of attacks and synergizes best with Magic Items that boost the Vampire’s Strength and Attacks. Although normally combined with Quickblood for its re-rolls, Van Hel’s Danse Macabre can work as an alternative to free up options for other vampiric powers. When using Vampires to deal damage, this power is the essential component and has no substitute. When building a mini-blender Vampire, choose between this power and Quickblood.

Flying Horror: Flying Horror is a decent power (especially if you play with closed lists) and offers a number of tactical options for your Vampires. Although a Hellsteed is cheaper and can be a better alternative if you need other vampiric powers too, Vampires with Flying Horror can hide in infantry bunkers and fly out for surprise attacks when needed. With their improved movement and range, these Vampires can easily hop from unit to unit and move into superior positions for casting spells and threatening the enemy. Flying Horror is a very tactical choice but can easily be misused, so have a plan in mind when taking it or you could find your Vampire in a bad spot unexpectedly.

Quickblood has so many nice benefits. Always Strike First allows the Vampire to remove enemy threats before they can attack him. It gives re-rolls against enemies with the same or lower Initiative. It also negates Always Strikes First re-rolls an enemy might have. Combine Quickblood with a Great Weapon and the Vampire gains a powerful weapon that still strikes at initiative, while freeing up magic item points for other options. When building a mini-blender Vampire, choose between this power and Red Fury.

Aura of Dark Majesty: Aura of Dark Majesty causes all enemy within 6” to suffer -1 to their Leadership. Aside from weakening all enemy break, panic, march and reform tests, it synergizes with a lot of facets of our army. Banshee and Terrorgheist screams, Coven Thrones, Fear, Terror, Death Sniping. Sadly, it doesn’t stack with itself but it does with other effects like Doom & Darkness and Iceshard Blizzard. Aura of Dark Majesty also combos well with Curse of the Revenant to maximize Skabscrath’s Death Shriek.

Dark Acolyte: Dark Acolyte is limited in use but when used in builds that maximize Invocation of Nehek this power increases casting results enough to usually warrant an additional dice from your opponent if they hope to successfully dispel it. This means your opponent has to commit more resources to stop your Invocations of Nehek, and thus allows fewer resources to stop other spells. Most of the time you will want to focus on other vampiric powers, but when used effectively, Dark Acolyte can noticeably boost your Magic phase.

Forbidden Lore: Forbidden Lore opens up possibilities but at a hidden cost. This power can’t go on your Vampire Lord (who has to take Lore of Vampires), so it can only go on your Vampires. Taking Forbidden Lore means they give up powers like Quickblood or Red Fury and since they can only be level 2, you get little access to the new Lore. If you want reliability with the Lore, you have to take multiple Vampires with this power or plan around the Lore’s Signature Spell. That said, spells like Iceshard Blizzard (Lore of Heavens), Wyssan’s Wildform (Lore of Beasts) and Searing Doom (Lore of Metal) are all spells that can be built around or remove weak points in our army. Vampire Counts armies still gain better control over magic by focusing on Lore of Vampires or Death, but in the right hands Forbidden Lore offers powerful tools that can surprise your opponent.

Supernatural Horror: Since there is so many ways to get Terror into your army, this power is often a poor choice. Usually you can just take a Wraith or Banshee and put them in to your Vampire’s unit. This will have the same effect with much broader tactical options. If your Vampire is mounted or using Flying Horror and you want him to cause Terror then this power is YELLOW, but it’s still not the most effective use of your vampiric powers.

Fear Incarnate: Fear Incarnate is really only useful in fear-bombing armies. However, fear-bombing rarely works. You can combine Fear Incarnate with Screaming Banner, Aura of Dark Majesty and Doom & Darkness but unless you are also running a screamer list to take advantage of the Leadership debuffs, the investment in making fear-bombing more reliable is not worth it. There simply is too many units in the game that are Immune to Psychology or can reliably pass Leadership tests for Fear to make a difference.

Beguile: Beguile is a useful (and cheap) way to protect your Vampire (and those next to him) by causing a single enemy in base contact to make a Leadership test at -3 or re-roll their successful hits. Combined with Aura of Dark Majesty, Dread Knight and Glittering Scales, and your Vampire becomes nearly untouchable. Careful though, don’t lose sight of your Vampire’s primary purpose (to kill rank and file and generate combat result). But add in a Strength boosting weapon, Red Fury and Other Tricksters Shard, and a Vampire Lord with this combination of powers could easily go challenging enemy characters with very little exposure to risk.

Master Strike:
It’s a trap! Why would you trade your high strength Red Fury attacks for one Heroic Killing Blow? Almost everything in our army is useful, but this sadly falls way short. It’s a terrible power and there is no reason to take it.

Dread Knight: This is a great power that grants a Vampire +2 WS, but there’s a catch, you must always issue a challenge if you’re the highest Leadership Vampire in the unit. Challenges are a bad place for your Vampires as they either get tied up fighting a unit Champion or facing off against a powerful lord who actually threatens them. If you can keep your Vampires away from challenges, then this power is useful. This power works best on hero Vampires that are in the same unit as your Vampire Lord, since their Leadership is lower and can benefit from this power without any downside.

Summon Creatures of the Night: This power is cheap and allows you to raise Fell Bats, Bat Swarms and Dire Wolves beyond their starting size. Unfortunately, all three of those units are usually used as chaff and work best in small numbers. So there really is no reason to raise them beyond their starting size. Some army builds make use of large units of dire wolves as tarpits. In these few cases, this power has some limited value.

Vampire Counts Magic Items
Skabscrath: Honestly, Skabscrath is expensive and difficult to use. Only a Lord can carry it and its cost leaves few points for any defensive items. Skabscrath grants Devastating Charge, Frenzy and its attacks count as Flaming and though those things are useful, you risk its bearer making unwanted charges and its automatic overrun could cause problems. To top that, if the sword’s bearer hasn’t killed an enemy by the end of the game, they become a casualty themselves. But all that said, when using Skabscrath it’s really for one thing only, its Death Shriek. Used properly, Skabscrath screams nearly as good as a Terrorgiest. Placed strategically and combined with the right vampire powers, and Skabscrath becomes a nasty surprise for your opponent. The trick is building that character right. Aura of Dark Majesty and Curse of the Revenant both improve its scream, while Red Fury synergizes with its extra attacks well. Skabscrath is best used on a Strigoi Ghoul King, who doesn’t need to use points on defensive items like a Vampire Lord or Master Necromancer. In the right army, Skabscrath’s bonuses and surprise Death Shriek can be very effective when used properly, making Skabscrath a GREEN.

Nightshroud: Nightshroud causes enemies in base contact to lose strength bonuses from their weapons and gain Always Strike Last (thus losing Always Strike First). This wrecks characters and units dependent on these rules (like all elves) and Nightshroud has many places it can be utilized. The obvious choice is on a Wight King bodyguard. Keep him next to your blender Vampires, and they essentially gain the protection of the item without having to wear it themselves, allowing them to put points into items that boost their damage. But give it to a Vampire, and he can bring his damage capabilities along with the protection Nightshroud offers. This allows Vampires to take on enemy units and survive in challenges that would otherwise put them at risk and likely be deadly.

Banner of the Barrows: If you have either Grave Guard or Black Knights in your army, then this banner is an auto include. It’s most effective in a four-rank horde of Grave Guard with a couple of Wight Kings all wielding Great Weapons. Give a Wight King the Battle Standard with Screaming Banner, and when enemy fail their fear test, they will face 35 S6 attacks that hit on a 2+ and have Killing Blow. Frightening indeed! Unfortunately, this Banner only works on those units, so it’s useless in armies without them.

Screaming Banner: For a cheap, simple way to boost fear in your army, the Screaming Banner is your best option. Though it can’t compete with the Banner of the Barrows, it’s cheap, Skeleton Warriors can carry it (which means it comes out of your core points) and it synergizes with Doom & Darkness, Aura of Dark Majesty, Fear Incarnate and Iceshard Blizzard. Screaming Banner is worth considering if you want fear to be more reliable in your army.

Black Periapt: For general’s who want to control the magic phase, this Arcane Item is the most effective and powerful way to do so. Its price means you have to sacrifice to use it, as it must go on a Lord. But when used correctly, Black Periapt is game changing! Its effect is simple, store up to two of your unused dice from the current Magic phase for use in the next Magic phase. But the tactical options this provides you are very potent.

Magic Defense: Purposefully save two power dice to boost your dispel pool. If you are using Lore of Vampires and A Mortis Engine with Blasphemous Tome, this is easy to do.

Magic Offense: Purposefully save two dispel dice every turn and boost your magic phase.

Dispel Remains in Play: When a Remains in Play spell is cast with a casting value you can’t easily dispel, don’t waste dispel dice. Suffer the effect, then store two dice and use them to dispel that spell during your turn instead.

Salvaging: Whenever your opponent rolls really well or really bad, you often have left over dispel dice. Likewise, you may have a casting roll go bad and leave you with a couple power dice and your opponent with all his dispel dice. In these cases where dice would be wasted or a turn the Winds of Magic is poor, just throw a couple dice into the Periapt and carry them into the next phase.

Carry Over: You can actually carry dice through two phases and gain some strength in your casting or dispels. With this variant to Salvaging, if a future dispel or power pool needs a boost, or if you have extra dice and no spells (yes, it happens), just carry them through two turns and use them to boost the next similar phase.

Black Periapt seems simple at first and maybe to some even mediocre. But its real power is in using it properly, with the right timing and taking advantage of opportunities with it. You can choose to purposely play magic offensive all game, only stopping spells that hinder your tactics all the while gaining two dice to your power pool. Or you might play a magic defensive game, stop your opponent’s spells until you can kill their Wizard and then switch to an magic offensive style. Likewise, when things go wrong, the Black Periapt allows you to salvage dice that would otherwise just be lost. The Black Periapt is subtle, and it’s not for everyone. But it is powerful and works very well with Lore of Vampires (due to the low casting values and Blasphemous Tome bonus) and Lore of Death (because of the Life Leeching), giving control over the Magic Phase to an army dependent on it.

Staff of Damnation: Though the possibilities of devastation granted by this item seem endless, Staff of Damnation has two major disadvantages. First it costs the character carrying it too much. With it being an Arcane Item and its high point value, there is just better use of that slot and points. Second, it’s not very effective. Only your front rank troops really benefit from it, which means you either need wide frontages or multiple units within range and engaged when it’s used. Its short range also means its best carried on a Vampire or Vampire Lord who is carrying it into battle, or used by a Necromancer or Master Necromancer behind the engaged units. In every case, there is likely a better combination of items those characters could be using. Staff of Damnation sounds good, and using it to buff multiple hordes of Grave Guard at once would be awesome, but honestly it’s not worth what it costs and it’s rarely going to turn the tide.

The Cursed Book: Every hex this Arcane Item can cast is good and it automatically casts its spells at the cost of D3 power dice, which you’d be throwing 2-3 dice at them to cast any ways. The Cursed Book can be very effective (though unpredictable) and works well in low magic armies or armies that aren’t using Lore of Death or Shadow but want to sprinkle the hexes in from them. The item is affordable for what it does, so the best reason not to take it is if you need the Arcane Item slot for something better or your Wizards have so many spells that you can’t spare the power dice it requires you to feed it.

Book of Arkhan: In a game where movement is more important than nearly anything else, having a bound spell version of Van Hel’s Danse Macabre can be the ace up your sleeve. With a power level of 3, it’s easy to cast on a single dice, you can cast with more dice if needed and it’s threatening enough to draw out dispel dice. It provides all the benefits of the non-boosted version of the spell and it gives you a second casting or a back-up of Van Hel’s for when you really need it. This item deserves a place in most Vampire Counts armies, especially if you run low magic or have few Lore of Vampires Wizards. Put it on a Vampire or nearby bunker Necromancer and keep it close to the frontline where it has the biggest impact. If you’re feeling extra naughty, use it on Hexwraiths for a second run through the enemy’s ranks.

Rod of Flaming Death: Though a bit pricey, Rod of Flaming Death is a useful item that provides some range and chaff clearing to an army lacking it. But its real value comes from its secondary effect. An enemy unit wounded by it that moves in its following turn (for any reason) suffers a S4 hit to every model in that unit. This effect works best to hold off large units or to control fast moving, low Toughness hit and run units (like those in the armies of our pointy eared friends). Used well, Rod of Flaming Death is a valuable addition to an army needing its unique features and wants to slow their enemy down.

Spell Lores of the Vampire Counts
The Lore of Vampires, Shadow and Death are innate to Vampire Counts’ Wizards. These lores play an important role in the Vampire Counts and thus their use and strategic interactions with our units are key to successfully playing the army.

Lore of Vampires

Our general is required to take this lore. This likely means a Vampire Lord, Master Necromancer or a Strigoi Ghoul King is going to use it. Since Lore of Vampires synergizes with our army so seamlessly, it works well on its own, with Lore of Death or Lore of Shadows.

The Curse of Undeath (Lore Attribute): Curse of Undeath mimics Life Bloom, but in a markedly darker context. It is brilliant for keeping our multiple wound models alive and mitigates many of our weaknesses. Vargheists, Spirit Hosts and Terrorgheists are easier to heal (which keeps the big bad bat’s Death Shriek at full power too). It easily heals Wizards that take a Wound from miscasting or the Vampire Lord that gets in over his head. Just keep your Wizards’ positions to what needs healing in mind before you start casting so you don’t waste the healing from this Lore Attribute.

Invocation of Nehek (Signature Spell): Be honest, this spell is likely the reason you play Vampire Counts. Bringing your forces back from the dead is awesome! The fact Invocation is a bubble effect and some units can be raised beyond their starting size is even more awesome!! And since it’s our signature spell, it can be taken multiple times and is spammable, which is epically awesome! This spell works best with our infantry, Black Knights and Crypt Horrors and because it heals our units, some aggressive armies can forgo a dispel scroll (freeing up an Arcane Item slot) and let weaker spells through. With all these great features, you need a good reason to not take this spell on every Lore of Vampires Wizard in your army.

Vanhel’s Danse Macabre: In a game where deployment and movement is key to winning, Van Hel’s Danse Macabre is game changing. So much so, your opponent will do anything to stop it getting cast. Your unengaged units get to move 8”, allowing even your infantry to cross the board (and be getting charged) as early as the end of turn 1 or charging the start of turn 2. The movement from this spell has so many applications. Solidify that redirector, inch in to get that scream in range or reform units to block movement, and by casting it in a bubble you can do all of that at once! This movement even works with Hexwraiths, triggering their Spectral Hunters power. But Van Hel’s doesn’t stop there, it allows all friendly units within range to re-roll their close combat To-hits. Aside from being good with our army, it really synergizes with the blender Vampires (especially those who can’t use Always Strike First) and our poisonous units (like Crypt Ghouls and Horrors). Van Hel’s is so powerful, the bound item Book of Arkhan is nearly auto-include just so you can have two copies of the spell. Van Hel’s is second to only Raise Dead and when you have both, those two spells win games.

Hellish Vigour: This spell is our least useful. Sure, rerolls to Wound are nice, but pales in comparison when considering the rest of the lore. If you use Grave Guard and Black Knights (i.e. Killing Blow), or your Blender Vampires lack weapons with strength bonuses, then Hellish Vigor is worth it and considered GREEN, otherwise swap this spell for Invocation of Nehek.

Gaze of Nagash: Gaze of Nagash is a solid magic missile capable of dealing decent damage to most targets. As Vampire Counts lack ranged attacks, Gaze of Nagash gives our armies a way to destroy chaff, concentrate hits on single models or remove a rank or two from a regiment. Gaze of Nagash is most valuable in armies that thin down units before engaging them, usually on a Necromancer or Necromancer Lord. Gaze of Nagash is less valuable for aggressive blender based armies that close ground and engaged quickly. In those armies Gaze of Nagash is GREEN.

Raise Dead: Raise Dead is maybe one of the most powerful spells in the Lore of Vampires. It is useful in every army and style of play. It seems simple at first, raise a small unit of Zombies or Skeletons. But the key is where you summon that unit and how you position it. Raise Dead is the ultimate redirector and using it well requires skill and a solid tactical understanding of the game. This single spell can tie up key units every turn, giving your army time to grind through combats, move into position or gain some other advantage. There is always something to redirect, and in the off chance you’re in such a strong position that there isn’t, then summon a new unit of Zombies and grow them to a sickening number with Invocation of Nehek just for kicks. Raise Dead has some other nonconventional tricks too, like triggering your opponent’s Night Goblin Fanatics to disrupts his plans or summoning behind a combat with Frenzied troops that are going to overrun. Beginners will struggle with this spell, the subtleties in redirecting can be elusive. But don’t worry, with time and experience anyone can learn to make use of this spell.

Curse of Years: Curse of Years plays a crucial role in the Vampire Counts army. It typically doesn’t deal much damage at first, allowing it to get cast. But then it becomes a threat that can’t be ignored. Because it singles out models individually and effects everyone in the unit, Curse of Years can kill off champions and wounded characters easily. It’s extremely effective against large blocks of models and any armored units (since it ignores armor). Because it triggers at the end of both magic phases and quickly increases its to Wound roll each turn, at some point your opponent is going to have to throw a hefty number of dispel or power dice to stop it before it triggers again. It’s at this point the spell either deals a massive amount of damage or cripples your opponent’s pool for that magic phase. If you are using Black Periapt, Curse of Years usually creates an opening for you to take your extra dice without suffering losses from a spell. As a hex spell, Curse of Years synergizes well with aggressive armies, thinning out enemy units engaged with your own or as a deterrent to keep them at bay.

Wind of Death: Wind of Death provides some interesting weapons to your arsenal. As a vortex spell, it provides some ranged damage and blocks movement. Like Curse of Years, it ignores armor saves. But it’s most interesting feature is it deals D6 Strength 3 hits (if boosted Strength 4) to a unit for each rank it has. Better yet, it only needs to clip a unit to affect it, allowing you to aim it through as many units as possible. This allows Wind of Death to quickly thin down ranked units and remove their likelihood of having steadfast. The rest of Lore of Vampires is so good, you won’t often need Wind of Death, but it is a welcomed spell when you do.

Overall: The lore is so integral to a Vampire Counts army that having a decent grasp of it is good before delving into Death or Shadow. Understanding the Lore of Vampires lets you know what you can and can’t sacrifice from it and how big of a role it should play in your tactics.

The Lore’s casting values are low and the spells essential for supporting our army’s fighting, giving re-rolls on To-Hit and To-Wound. It grants healing and moving to your troops. You can raise the dead to redirect and bog down your enemy and the damage spells synergize with our army's fighting style. Even when spells are not useful, they often still have application and our lore attribute is always useful. A Level 4 and Level 2 Wizard is necessary to fully access the lore. Common strategies with Lore of Vampires is to overwhelm your opponent with Invocations of Nehek or use Van Hel’s Danse Macabre to move your units into place to intercept the enemy with re-rolls on their to-hits.

Lore of Shadows

Smoke and Mirrors (Lore Attribute) : Smoke and Mirrors is gimmicky but has a number of tricks with your Wizards and other characters. You can swap the position of your Vampires to get a spell in range or get a character out of trouble. You can bait enemies towards your Necromancers and then swap in your Vampire, or swap a Vampire with a Wraith or Banshee. You can use Smoke and Mirrors to get a necromancer out of combat and use his sniping spells again or use it to get a wounded character back into range of your Lore of Vampire Wizard for a quick heal. Smoke and Mirrors takes a tactical mind and a lot of characters to make the most of it, but it certainly has some interesting applications.

Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma (Signature Spell): A brilliant hex! It’s a signature spell, cheap, versatile and it debuffs the enemy stat that you need! Unless you’re aiming for The Withering or Okkam’s Mindrazor, you should always take this spell.

Steed of Shadows: This spell is circumstantial but has a few tricks. Use it to move the Wizard or your Vampire Lord into a unit before it’s charged next round. You can also move your Wizard and then trigger the Lore Attribute, rescuing a character with Smoke and Mirrors. Unless you have specific plans for Steed of Shadows, the other spells in the lore are better.

The Enfeebling Foe: This spell singlehandedly turns a combat to your advantage. By reducing the enemy’s Strength, it protects units engaged with the target and when playing the grinding game, allows you to draw out the combat as long as possible. A good spell for controlling your enemy’s damage potential and to boost your combat result.

The Withering: The Withering is a frightening Hex that reduces an enemy’s Toughness, causing them to die like flies. Good with both ranged and close combat attacks, just make sure to attack once a unit is hexed so you get the most from this spell. The Withering can be used as a deterrent to keep the enemy out of combat with you too.

The Penumbral Pendulum: This spell is circumstantial but can be a nightmare for enemy units if you position your caster well and they have a low initiative. The Penumbral Pendulum combines well with Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma and if lucky, can even snipe characters who fail their look out sir rolls. This spell is very effective against Monstrous Infantry and Cavalry when cast through their flanks.

Pit of Shades: This spell is difficult to target but very effective against low initiatives and since our Vampires have good initiatives, they are hardly at risk in case it misfires. Pit of Shades synergizes well with the Melkoth’s Mystifying Miasma and is best used against armies with large units in either bus or horde formation.

Okkam’s Mindrazor: The benefit of having Strength 10 Skeletons or Zombies is obvious, and that is exactly what Okkam’s Mindrazor does. This spell is difficult to manage though, as you can only put it on your level 2 Vampires, making it easy to dispel unless you’ve six-diced it. Reliably getting the spell is tricky too as you need at least 3 Vampires. Still, with a Vampire Lord’s Leadership 10 and plenty of Lore of Shadow Vampires, this spell absolutely ruins your enemy when it, your Vampires and Skeletons are all used together properly.

Overall: A powerful lore that includes the infamous Okkam’s Mindrazor. In standard games, Lore of Shadows can only really be used by our Vampires. Lore of Shadows is solid for combat armies with three great hexes, and a powerful augment spell. The other spells are decent but the lore’s casting values are high enough that our Level 2 Vampires risk miscasting. Maximizing the lore requires taking 2-3 Vampire heroes which can be difficult to build around. The lore works very well with Skeleton units supported by your Vampires and lead by a Vampire Lord.

Lore of Death

Life Leeching (Lore Attribute): Unfortunately Lore of Death’s best spells are hexes, so this attribute won't trigger often. Nor is it as reliable as Curse of Undeath or as tricky as Smoke and Mirrors. But when Purple Sun is successfully cast, you will absolutely love how Life Leeching effectively restarts your magic phase. Don’t plan around needing Life Leeching, but exploit it when you get Purple Sun.

Spirit Leech (Signature Spell): Spirit Leech is the most reliable of the sniping spells, often worth fielding a Necromancer just for him to take it. Spirit Leech has a low casting value, decent range when boosted and can single out characters in units! When you kill your enemy’s general, their level 4 Wizard or their Battle Standard Bearer with this one spell it is game changing! Spirit Leech synergizes well with Doom & Darkness and Aura of Dark Majesty. When casting, make sure your Wizard is within range of your Vampire Lord’s Inspiring Presence and that the target suffers from both debuff effects to get the most from this spell.

Aspect of the Dreadknight: There is really no reason for a Vampire Counts army to take this spell. It’s essentially wasted and should be swapped out with Spirit Leech. Even if you want a unit to cause Terror, psychology effects like Terror (and Fear) aren’t reliable enough to justify it. Just use a Banshee or Wraith instead.

The Caress of Laniph: TheCaress of Laniph is the weakest of the sniping spells. It is a bit random and can fail it’s To-Wound rolls even if cast successfully. It works best when combined with Soulblight and used on armored, multiple Wound targets with low Strength and high Toughness or enemy Wizards, since most Wizards lack high Strength. The Caress of Laniph is easy to cast and has a good range when boosted, so it has great value in defensive armies.

Soulblight: Soulblight is a hex that reduces the two most important stats in the game, Strength and Toughness. This makes even your Zombies and Skeletons fearsome opponents or can be used as a deterrent to keep enemy units out of combat. Boosted, Soulblight affects all enemy units within range making it helpful when you’re outmaneuvered and need to regain a tactical advantage. Overall it is a great spell for any style of play, whether your army is defensive or aggressive.

Doom and Darkness: If ever there was a spell with synergy to the Vampire Counts it is Doom and Darkness. This hex makes our Fear, Terror and screams much more deadly. With a -3 to Leadership, enemy units will fail march tests, Steadfast units will break and Fear (and Terror) will actually have an effect! This spell is essential to any screamer army and useful to all others. Even if you’re not focused on Death magic, this spell might be worth running a couple of Necromancers in hopes of getting it.

The Fate of Bjuna: A decent sniping spell. Its short range makes it difficult to use without getting engaged in combat. Where it is strong is it Wounds on a 2+. The Fate of Bjuna is a nice back up to the other two sniping spells, but it’s not as reliable as Spirit Leech (if you also have Doom & Darkness) or as good at sniping Wizards as The Caress of Laniph.

The Purple Sun of Xereus: The dreaded Purple Sun of Xereus! A spell that makes armies tremble at its mere mention and with good reason too! This vortex causes any model it passes over to make an Initiative check or die with no save of any kind allowed. Infamous for being six-diced (usually to get the larger template cast with Irresistible Force), Purple Sun absolutely devours regiments. However, it works even better with the small template since that one is more accurate. But if that wasn’t painful enough, Life Leeching can turn those Wounds into even more power dice, completely rebooting your Magic phase. As a vortex, Purple Sun remains in play, blocking movement and causing total chaos! Cast it through your opponent’s flank and you will decimate his battleline. Be warned though, if your Wizard has this spell, a fairly large target is on his head. So protect him and use it well. Also, the damage output of this spell is greatly reduced if you end up facing Elves or other armies fielding many high Initiative units.

Overall: Lore of Death is best used on Master Necromancers and Necromancers. It is occasionally used on a Vampire hero in order to get snipping spells in to close range. This lore has a mix of very powerful and weaker spells. About half of the spells are situational and one is essentially useless. The remaining spells are solid, with two valuable hexes, the most powerful vortex in the game and a key sniping spell.

Forbidden Lore - BRB Lore Guide
The BRB lores of Fire, Beasts, Metal, Light and Heavens are accessible with the Vampiric Power Forbidden Lore. These spells play a role in our armies for the creative general willing to trade off a vampire's blending capabilities for diversity in their spell lores. Special thank you to @Scalenex for his contribution to this section.

Lore of Fire

Lore Attribute – Kindleflame: To really benefit from this Lore Attribute you need a level 4 Wizard or multiple level 2 Wizards, which is a big investment for Vampire Counts. A number of Forbidden Lore vampires all with Lore of Fire could be very effective armed with cheap ranged spells and Flaming Sword of Rhuin. The Lore Attribute stacks with the Fireball from Ruby Ring of Ruin which is nice, so cast the bound spell first.

Fireball: A long range magic missile that does 1D6, 2D6 or 3D6 Strength 4 hits. Fireballs are cheap to cast and deal a decent amount of flaming damage. This makes them versatile against a number of targets, especially large monsters with regeneration. The only drawback with Fireball is once engaged, your vampires can’t cast this spell. This spell is so versatile it is worth bringing Lore of Fire only because of it. Combine this with a character using Ruby Ring of Ruin and you can really ruin someone's day.

Cascading Firecloak: An augment spell that causes 2d6 Strength 4 Flaming hits to each enemy unit touching the vampire’s unit at the end of each Magic phase. Although the damaged isn’t caused during combat, it weakens enemy units before combat and speeds up any attrition tactics you are using. Because it’s an augment, it can be cast while the vampire is in combat too.

Flaming Sword of Rhuin: Although some of our lower Weapon Skill units won’t get as much from this, our heavy hitters will melt faces, gaining +1 To Wound, and both magical and flaming attacks. Fairly useful spell that ups our damage output. Especially brutal when assaulting buildings and fighting ethereal or flammable creatures. This spell is especially nasty on fast, hard-hitting units with lots of attacks like Morghast Harbringers and Varghiests.

The Burning Head: This spell doesn’t do much damage, and with such high Leadership scores and rerolls, panic tests are fairly ease to pass. Plus, direct damage spells lose their value after the mid-game as we engage most of the enemy units. Still, the spell affects every model passed over and it can boost its 18” range up to 36”. Against horde armies with Toughness 4 or less troops, that can do some damage and cause a failed panic test or two. Also, combined with Doom & Darkness, it could ensure a key unit breaks and runs. In either circumstance, keep the spell if your tactics can use it, otherwise swap for Fireball.

Piercing Bolts of Burning: In most cases Fireball is a better choice, but when you are facing deep ranked enemies this spell is valuable. Against units with four ranks Piercing Bolt has the same casting value and rough number of hits as Fireball. For deeper units, Piercing Bolts actually does more hits. It can also be boosted to 48” at the lower casting value of 13+, giving Piercing Bolts easier reach. Although, Fireball is more consistent, Piercing Bolts is a good backup as a second flaming magic missile. Be careful though, against MSU armies or after your enemy has suffered heavy causalities, this spell loses a lot of its value as it can’t deal as many hits.

Fulminating Flame Cage: Undoubtedly the best Lore of Fire spell. Your enemy either has to forgo moving or take a LOT of hits (a Strength 4 hit for every model)! As controlling the movement phase is often key to victory, dictating how the enemy moves is a step closer to that goal. This spell is very useful, shutting down movement and supporting our attrition-based tactics all at once! Flame Cage also combines well with Fire’s ranged attacks, because either its dealing damage or the target isn’t moving. When the target doesn’t move it’s unengaged, allowing you to hurl more flaming damage at it!

Flame Storm: With the scattering template this spell is just too unreliable. Against concentrated large units, Flame Storm can be very powerful. Against smaller units or armies that are spread out, it is too unpredictable to warrant expending power dice on. If facing a mass horde this spell is useful, otherwise swap it for Fireball.

Overall: Generally a good lore as Fireball shores up our lack of range and Flaming Sword or Flame Cage both synergize with our playstyle and Lore of Vampire’s well. Lore of Fire can add some serious punch to our army, giving both range damage, close combat buffs, and counter movement. The only drawback with Lore of Fire is our Vampires are often better as blenders in combat than staying back and casting magic missiles. If all you want the lore for is Fireball, just take Ruby Ring on a Necromancer and have him stay back and blast away. If you want Flame Cage and Flaming Sword, then take a vampire or two with Forbidden Lore, just make sure you have a backup plan if you end up without those spells.

Lore of Beasts

Lore Attribute - Wildheart: This Lore Attribute is situational and its bonus too small to gain any real benefit from it. Since Wyssan’s Wildform is the primary spell you will be casting, you would have to build your entire army around units like Black Knights, Spirit Hosts and Dire Wolves. Though those are all good units, Wildheart isn’t worth hampering your playstyle for.

Wyssan’s Wildform: This spell is likely the reason you are taking Lore of Beasts. A signature spell that grants +1 Strength and Toughness to a unit within 12” (or 24” when boosted) is never bad. With this spell, take any undead unit and make them utterly formidable in close combat (and more durable to shooting too). Although there are countless applications, imagine Toughness 4 Zombie tarpits or Strength 5 and Toughness 6 Crypt Horror anvils. Toughness 5 Black Knights that are Strength 7 when they charge or Vampires that are Strength 6 without their magic weapon! With how well Wyssan’s Wildform works with our units, consider adding a Level 1 Vampire or a Strigoi Ghoul King with Forbidden lore if your tactics can take advantage of it.

The Flock of Doom: Overall, its low Strength makes this spell less appealing. Flock of Doom is alright against elf MSU armies or for clearing out chaff, but our army has more reliable ways to do this. Swap this spell for Wyssan’s Wildform unless you are facing targets this spell is actually effective against.

Pann’s Impenetrable Pelt: Most of our characters are already tough enough to not need this. There are rare instances where the bubble version of the spell can protect your Necromancers or Wraiths from attacks or spells that can harm them. You might also have a character trying to hold a unit in place on his own. In either case, the circumstances are too rare for this spell to be effective for us.

The Amber Spear: A good spell for an army with traditionally no artillery and few ranged ways to deal with 2+ armor saves. Cast normally it chews up and spits out knights and the odd Monstrous unit. Boosted it takes out the big monsters such as Bloodthirsters or the assorted dinosaurs of the Lizardmen with ease. Make good use of this spell when you get it and you’ll easily end up with range superiority!

Curse of Anaheir: As essential as movement and combat is, a hex that reduces an enemy unit’s To Hit roll and punishes them for moving synergizes especially well with our tactics. This spell causes the unit to treat all terrain as Dangerous Ground that they fail their test on a 1 and 2, instead of a 1! Curse of Anaheir works with most playstyles and against many armies, but it’s most devastating to Cavalry units, who are completely reliant on their armor saves and movement.

Savage Beast of Horros: Although any character would love to have this spell, a Red Fury vampire with it is absurdly powerful. Any vampire with +3 Strength and Attacks (not including effects from Magic Weapons) is terrifying, and since the vampire can cast it on any friendly character within 12” (including himself), the spell doesn’t require any tricky maneuvering to get close to your target. Just make sure your Savage character isn’t bogged down challenging a piddly unit champion. When boosted, the spell becomes even more frightening. All friendly characters within 12” gain its bonus, turning Wraiths, Vampires, Wight Kings and Banshees all into blenders. Did someone say…wraithwall?

Transformation of Kadon: This spell is intended to turn an everyday wimpy wizard into an all-powerful monster. The problem is most vampires already are all-powerful and really don’t gain anything from this spell. What the vampire loses in magic items doesn’t make up for what they gain in special rules and many of the monsters have stats lower than a Vampire Lord. The other issue, is even though vampire powers still apply while transformed, since the vampire has to take Forbidden Lore, Vampire Lords can’t get both Quickblood and Red Fury and Vampires can’t take either of them. Still, the spell isn’t useless. A hero Vampire gains from turning into any of the various monsters and powers like Dread Knight, Beguile, and Aura of Dark Majesty are all useful in monster form. While a Vampire Lord with Red Fury can use the boosted spell to become a Mountain Chimera and lay absolute ruin to your opponent. Overall, basing your strategy around this tactic isn’t worth the risks of running two Vampire Lords and a Vampire with a high chance of miscasting when you transform. Still, the look on your opponents’ face the first time their unit takes 4d6 Strength 7 hits with Red Fury, absolutely priceless!

Overall: The Lore of Beasts is decent but a mixed bag for us. A Level 1 Forbidden Lore vampire is viable and you can easily build your army around Wyssan’s Wildform. With a Level 2, you potentially could end up with spells that don’t work well together. But since the signature spell is always good, just swap the bad spell out for Wyssan’s Wildform as it works with any tactics. A Level 4 Lore of Beasts Vampire gives decent spell selection, but is a poor use of points as the signature spell is effective enough with our army.

Lore of Metal

Lore Attribute – Metalshifting: The lore attribute is good, but it applies to only two of the spells. Since one is the signature spell, you can reliably get metalshifting if you need it, but overall it has little effect on the lore. Still, it is utterly devastating against armored units that Vampire Counts typically struggle against.

Searing Doom: Not every army is crawling with armored plated things to melt, but nearly every army has one or two units that either have a very good armor save or a moderate armor save paired with a high Toughness. When facing down a nasty looking Doombull or outmaneuvered by a flying Daemon Prince, Searing Doom is the friend to have and it’s a signature spell too!

Plague of Rust: A one point armor save penalty is fairly mild, but since it is permanent and stacks with other modifiers (and successive castings of this spell) it can be helpful in drawn out grinds (which undead are fairly well-known for). Plague of Rust does work against the Lore Attribute, and thus the signature spell, so it can conflict with the other spell.

Enchanted Blades of Aiban: Everyone likes +1 To Hit and Armour Piercing, especially undead hordes and their Vampire Lord blenders! A fairly decent spell that helps our units hit more and punch through amour better. Ideal with Crypt Horrors and Crypt Ghouls because of their low Strength and high number of attacks. Also works well with Grave Guard and Black Knights, getting even more hits through (and thus more Killing Blows). Vampire blenders benefit greatly too, often hitting on a 2+ and gaining a -3 to Armor Saves before considering any magic weapons. Nearly all of our units can benefit from Enchanted Blades and it’s a handy spell to have if you face ethereals.

Glittering Robe: Undead units are not generally known for their armor saves. With this spell, Skeletons and Grave Guard have 3+ (even 2+) armor saves. Our Zombies, Crypt Ghouls, Crypt Horrors and Spirit Hosts gain a 5+ armor save. Hexwraiths have a 4+ armor save. Though normally it’s heinous for a vampire to sparkle, here it’s a good thing, as your vampires on foot can easily get a 2+ armor save without using any magic items.

Gehenna’s Golden Hounds: Basically a 12” version of Searing Doom that can single out characters and when boosted has a 24” range instead of doing 2D6 hits. Although decent against certain characters, it’s useless against Wizards. Usually you should swap this spell for Searing Doom unless you are facing a heavily armored army or heavily armored characters, in which case you want this and Searing Doom.

Transmutation of Lead: This spell reduces its target’s WS, BS, and armor saves by -1, so it’s not too shabby. But since undead have low WS to begin with (vampires aside), a -1 to enemy WS may have little to no effect. Likewise, the reduction of armor saves is good, but it works against the damage spells and the Lore Attribute.

Final Transformation: A very powerful spell. It effectively removes a third of any enemy unit and has a small but real chance of killing a bunkered character with no save at all. The resulting Stupidity test isn’t a big deal, but if you’ve targeted the enemy’s center unit, you can cause Stupidity tests on most of their units and law of averages says some of them will fail the test, particularly if they are away from their BSB.

Overall: Lore of Metal is a good lore. Not all of the spells are great but there no real duds and Searing Doom gives our army a way to deal with armored units at range. Since the signature spell and Gehenna’s Golden Hounds’ value varies depending on what army you’re facing, if there are no target’s with decent armor saves, focus on using the lore’s augments, hexes and Final Transmutation instead. A Level 4 Lore of Metal could be formidable if planned right.

Lore of Light

Lore Attribute – Exorcism: Depending on your opponent, this Lore Attribute is either very useful or completely useless. Against Warriors of Chaos Daemon Princes running amok, Daemon armies or other Vampire and Tomb King armies it’s amazing.

Shem’s Burning Gaze: Lore of Light’s signature spell, Shem’s Burning Gaze is a cheap magic missile with a 24” range that inflicts D6 Strength 4 hits that count as flaming attacks. In an army with little to no shooting, magic missiles are always good to have and with Shem’s you can swap for it. The spell can be boosted to 48” range and Strength 6. Against daemons and undead it becomes a powerful 2D6 hits.

Pha’s Protection: A fantastic augment spell that’s cheap to cast and has a good range. This augment gives one of your units (or all within 12” if boosted) a -1 to be hit from shooting or close combat. This makes tarpits more sticky and elite units very hard to kill. Because it reduces damage hits dealt to the unit (and thus damage) one casting can immensely turn an entire round of combat against your opponent.

Speed of Light: Another good, cheap augment spell with a bubble option. Speed of Light grants its targets Weapon Skill and Initiative 10. Although vampires may not really need this, the entire rest of our army does. Speed of Light negates a major weak point in Vampire Count armies and helps both their offense and defense at the same time. Our units go from being hit on 3+ to hitting on 3+ and from hitting on 4+ or 5+ to being hit on a 4+ or 5+. Speed of Light synergizes well with Corpse Carts and Purple Sun. Always Strike First from the cart and Initiative 10 means they are getting rerolls To Hit against nearly everyone, while the Purple Sun will only harm our models on a 6.

Light of Battle: Not very useful for an army that is unbreakable and immune to psychology. Although we do need Leadership tests for marching or swift reforms, it isn’t worth using a spell to do something we rarely need and even more rarely fail. Swap this spell out for Shem’s Burning Gaze.

Net of Amytok: The damage from this spell is usually inconsequential. Normally, this spell is cast at a unit to prevent it from moving or shooting. Generally speaking, units are kept from moving or shooting only about half the time. But where the spell is very powerful is shutting down artillery and Wizards. Since war machines automatically fail Strength tests (page 108 in the BRB if you don’t believe it) Net of Amytok prevents one from shooting at you altogether! With Wizards, make sure their main Wizard is affected by the spell, and then each spell he attempts to cast potentially is stopped and causes damage, harming him directly. In both cases, the D6 Strength 4 hits are much more effective, possibly removing the target after a single casting.

Banishment: A nasty magic missile that deals a solid 2d6 Strength 4 hits at 24” range. Banishment increases its Strength by +1 for each Light Wizard within 12” of the caster, so this spell gets fairly powerful, fairly quick. When boosted, the spell increases its range to 48”, giving it excellent reach. But the real secret of the spell is successful ward saves taken against it must be rerolled! Add in the Lore Attribute and boosted range, and daemons have no hope against you!

Birona’s Timewarp: This spell is very powerful with any of our units. Granting double Movement, +1 Attack and Always Strike First, Birona’s Timewarp removes some of our key weaknesses. Ghouls and Grave Guard with double movement, an extra attack and Always Strike First are incredibly deadly. Blood or Black Knights (and their mounts) both gaining an extra attack means they hit even harder when charging. When targeting the units holding our blenders means the vampires within them gain all of these benefits too. Combine Briona’s Timewarp with Speed of Light, and our units become unstoppable killing machines.

Overall: Light has great synergy with our army’s low initiatives and weapon skills. There is really only one useless spell (Light of Battle) and the signature spell is fairly good. Lore of Light gives our army powerful tools against daemons and undead, and a lot of good augments to make our units even better. With all of its benefits for us, Lore of Light is one of the best options with Forbidden Lore.

Lore of Heavens

Lore Attribute - Roiling Winds: Adds an extra D6 Strength 4 hits when your spells target flyers. Although great when taking down Great Eagles or Terradons, anything north of a Griffin will barely notice. Roiling Winds does add on to the Lore’s two hexes, giving them a secondary use of chaff removal, but overall this Lore Attribute is fairly narrow in its use.

Iceshard Blizzard: This hex works well with our army and is one of the reasons to take Lore of Heavens. Early game the spell reduces your enemy’s shooting. While the -1 To Hit, To Wound and Leadership greatly swings close combat into your favor. The Leadership penalty not only affects Fear or Terror tests, but Combat Result and the resulting Break test too. Finally, a -1 to Leadership also synergizes with our army’s screams and stacks with other penalties (like from Aura of Dark Majesty or Doom & Darkness).

Harmonic Convergence: Rerolling 1’s isn’t flashy, but this augment is cheap to cast and can make the difference on large blocks of troops or massed combats with multiple units. Since Harmonic Convergence rerolls 1’s on our unit’s To Hit, To Wound and Armor Save, it’s fairly useful with most of the units in our army, especially those with Poisonous Attacks or Killing Blow. Not as versatile as the Signature Spell, but used together our units become a lot more dangerous in combat.

Wind Blast: This spell requires ideal maneuvering and paying close attention to enemy movement to use properly. It shoves one of their units directly back D3+1” (D6+2” when boosted) from the caster. If any collisions occur, some damage can be done. But considering how important movement is, disrupting it can be valuable and that is where Wind Blast’s value lays. With our army’s easy access to tarpits and redirectors, this spell is more effort than its worth.

Curse of the Midnight Wind: In most cases, Harmonic Convergence is better because it takes one less power dice to cast on average. However, Curse of the Midnight Wind really shines against enemy units with Poisonous Attacks or Killing Blow. It also combos better with Iceshard Blizzard, effectively neutering many units.

Uranon’s Thunderbolt: A 24” Strength 6 magic missile is decent in an army no real range attacks and has trouble dealing with high armor saves. What makes Uranon’s Thunderbolt less desirable is that it only causes D6 hits, and is less reliable than other options.

Comet of Cassandora: The psychological effect of this spell alone is worth using it. Players often concentrate on getting away from the comet’s marker, and end up making tactical mistakes because of it. The comic is cheap too, making it easy to cast unexpectedly. For best results, use Zombies to tarpit enemy units within range of the counter and hold them in place until the comet hits. Due to its area of effect the comet is easily one of the most cost effective damage spells in the game.

Chain Lightning: Although a bit more to cast than Uranon’s Thunderbolt, you get D6 Strength 6 hits plus a reasonable chance to hit multiple targets (including those in close combat). Unfortunately, because it only does D6 hits per target, the spell’s hits are not very reliable and unless the enemy’s units are close enough together, the chances of getting more than 2 or 3 bounces is unlikely.

Overall: Lore of Heavens is a mixed bag for Vampire Counts armies. Its two hexes and one augment are really good with our army, but overall similar effects can be found in Lore of Vampires and Lore of Death. Wind Blast, Thunderbolt and Chain Lightning all leave something to be desired and really do less for us then Raise Dead, Gaze of Nagash or Curse of Years can do. Where Lore of Heavens is unmatched is the Comet, which you may not get. If you want to use this lore, take a level 2 Wizard, go for the Comet and then swap the weakest spell rolled for the Iceshard Blizzard.

Warhammer BRB Magic Items
This section covers the magic weapons, armour, talisman, standards, arcane and enchanted items found in the Warhammer Rulebook and how they relate to our army. Special thank you to @Scalenex for his contribution to this section.

Magic Weapons

Giant Blade Though having a Strength 8 Vampire Lord makes short work of armored enemies and monsters, it’s debatable whether it’s worth losing your 4+ ward save. Against most enemies, Ogre Blade is good enough and leaves enough room for Talisman of Preservation or Armour of Density.

Sword of Bloodshed With a Red Fury Vampire Lord who is facing mostly Toughness 3 troops, this sword is good. Boosting Strength is the more reliable, all-comers route though, and when taking this sword your lord can’t have a 4+ ward save. However, a Strigoi Ghoul King can make good use of this weapon when combined with Potion of Strength. Facing 16 re-rollable Strength 8 attacks is, to say the least, fairly disturbing.

Obsidian Blade For ten fewer points you can take the Ogre Blade, wound more often, and eliminate most armor saves anyway. The Obsidian Blade isn’t worth it unless your Meta is full of Chaos and Bretonnia.

Ogre Blade One of the best options for a blender as it boosts him to Strength 7, gives his attacks -4 to armor save and he Wounds most units on a 2+. At 40 points, it leaves enough room on a Vampire Lord for Talisman of Preservation and an item like Other Trickster’s Shard. Even on a Vampire, there is still room for a useful item like Seed of Rebirth or Charmed Shield.

Sword of Strife Nearly as powerful as the Sword of Bloodshed, but without cutting into your points so far that your Lord can still get a 4+ ward save.

Fencer’s Blades Since Vampire Lords have such high Weapon Skills, they usually don’t need Fencer’s Blades. Still, a Weapon Skill 10 can be both defensive as well as offensive, making any character with Fencer’s Blades difficult To Hit. Even necromancers you plan to have in the frontlines can benefit from it. Vampire Lords combining Fencer’s Blades with Glittering Scales are even harder to hit (though a lack of armor is a bit risky and the two together keep you from taking a 4+ ward save).

Sword of Anti-Heroes – This sword has a lot of hype around it, but its value varies depending on you and your opponent’s playstyles. Against armies that load their units up with characters, or vampires that end up in challenges or solo charges, it can be extremely powerful. The problem is our blenders kill more and generate better combat results when fighting rank and file, which requires you to avoid enemy characters. Also, since a good opponent can counter this weapon by spreading their characters out, means Sword of Anti-heroes is increasingly unreliable the more experienced your opponent is.

Spellthieving SwordWhen a character is directing attacks at an enemy wizard, you want them to KILL the wizard, not merely dock his spells. Absolute waste of points and a magic weapon choice.

Sword of Swift Slaying– The secret ingredient to making a baby-blender! With only 50 points to spend on vampire powers, there is no way to give a Vampire both Red Fury and Quickblood. This weapon steps in and gives the vampire Always Strikes First. Since the weapon is fairly affordable, the Vampire still has points for other items like Dispel Scroll, Book of Arkhan, Other Trickster’s Shard or some cheap defensive items like Dragonhelm, Charmed Shield or Enchanted Shield.

Sword of Battle – Although an extra attack is always nice, an additional hand weapon is cheaper (at the cost of carrying a shield) and doesn’t eat up magic item allowance. Also, strength bonuses are usually preferred so your vampires can punch through armor saves better.

Berserker Sword – Since undead are Immune to Psychology, this is just an inferior form of the Sword of Battle. This sword is more a liability than anything else.

Sword of Might For the blender on a budget, this is a decent weapon. Makes your vampires Strength 6, with a -3 to armor saves. This is worth taking on a secondary blender if you already using Ogre Blade.

Gold Sigil Sword With our vampires’ high Initiative scores and easy access to Always Strike First, this is often a poor choice. Against elven armies, the Gold Sigil Sword gives vampires a higher Initiative than the elves they are fighting. For necromancers casting Purple Sun, the bonus Initiative is a neat trick to avoid being killed by his own spell.

Sword of Striking – You hit more often and it’s fairly cheap, what’s not to like? A great weapon if you aren’t fighting armored units. Combines well with Potion of Strength or vampires using Lore of Beasts.

Biting Blade A Strength boost is always better, but this weapon is very cheap. Not a bad afterthought for a character without a magic weapon and 10 points to spare in magic items.

Shrieking Blade – Shrieking Blade shouldn't ever be taken and has no use whatsoever in our army. It's simple, our entire army already causes fear.

Relic Blade Against nearly all enemies, vampires and wights should be wounding on a 5+ or greater anyway. As a general tactic, Vampire Count Generals shouldn’t be putting their characters up against units they can’t wound easy either. The Relic Blade is a relic, avoid it!

Tormentor Sword This sword is a waste of points and of your magic weapon choice. Its effect is so circumstantial, it will never come into play. Taking this weapon only weakens your characters, unless you rather toy with enemy spellcasters by giving them stupidity, instead of just killing them.

Warrior Bane – As a cheap option for a magic weapon, Warrior Bane is decent. Used for neutralizing monsters or characters causing trouble. Whatever character you give this weapon too, build it to survive fighting in a challenge and to cause lots of wounds. Combines well with Other Trickster’s Shard and Potion of Strength.

Magic Armors

Armour of Destiny Since you can take heavy armour, Talisman of Preservation and either Charmed Shield or Enchanted Shield and get better protection, Armour of Destiny is better taken as a second 4+ ward save for another character. Still, Armour of Destiny is a second way to get a 4+ ward save and you can combine it with Magic Resistance items.

Trickster’s Helm – Vampires and Wight Kings are already hard to wound for most things, but this helm makes it even harder. Although expensive, Trickster’s Helm makes a Vampire Lord nigh-invulnerable to most rank and file. When combined with heavy armour and a shield, your vampire has a 3+ armor save on foot and a 1+ on a Barded Nightmare.

Armour of Silvered Steel – A good way for vampires on foot to get a 2+ armor save and still pack a great weapon or additional hand weapon. For mounted vampires, there are better ways to get a 2+ armor save. Combined with Fencer’s Blades on a Vampire Lord makes him extremely difficult to kill.

Armour of FortuneIf you want a 5+ ward save, take Talisman of Endurance with heavy armour and save points for a for another magic item.

Helm of Discord – For its cost, you really need a guaranteed matchup with a low leadership enemy to make this item worth it. Helm of Discord theoretically works if building a whole strategy around reducing the enemy’s leadership. Combined with Aura of Dark Majesty, Iceshard Blizzard and Doom & Darkness you could make an entire army based around causing fear, screams and a Vampire Lord who can’t be attacked in challenges. Overall, a bit too gimmicky and you lose reliable powers and items in place of more conditional ones, but fun none the less.

Glittering Scales – Sacrificing a point of armor save for -1 for enemy To Hit rolls is powerful, but risky. You can pair these with Fencer’s Blades or Dread Knight to ensure a high Weapon Skill making most models only hit you on a 6. Mounted vampires can take a barded nightmare and shield for a decent 3+ armor save, and still take Dawnstone or a magic weapon. Works well with Beguile too.

Shield of Ptolos – Only really useful for solo vampires in a meta with little to no cannons and a lot of elves. Unless the elves are wood elves. Skip this item.

Spellshield – A decent way to give Magic Resistance (1) to a character and still let them take a talisman.

Gambler’s Armour – If you want a 6+ ward save, take Talisman of Protection with heavy armour. Gambler’s Armour is alright when combined with Obsidian Amulet.

Dragonhelm – Often taken for the 2+ ward save vs. flaming attacks. Dragonhelm also gives a point of armor save and still allows the character to take a great weapon or an additional hand weapon. Combines well with both foot and mounted vampires with shields (and barding) togive 3+ or 1+ armor saves respectfully.

Enchanted Shield – A good way to get a 3+ armor save on foot and a 2+ while mounted if the mount doesn’t have barding.

Charmed Shield – A powerful one use 2+ save against the first hit suffered. Can ignore anything that hits this character, including a cannonball. Invaluable to a vampire on a mount or flying solo but be careful as veteran players will shoot the vampire with ballistic weapons first, so be smart with your movement. Charmed Shield is also a cheap way to keep a Vampire acting as baby blender alive or make a Wight King even harder to kill.

Magic Talismans

Talisman of Preservation – With how dependent Vampire Counts are on characters and magic, a 4+ ward save is indispensable. Whether protecting a Master Necromancer from miscast damage or giving vampires a ward save in combat, Talisman of Preservation is useful in every situation. Ideally take this talisman on your general or another blender if your general is a Vampire Lord using Armour of Destiny. A master necromancer can use it to protect himself from spells and miscast damage. It can be combined with Charmed Shield on a Wight King or Vampire for a hero that is very difficult to kill. With all of its applications, it’s no surprise this magic item is found in nearly every Vampire Counts army.

Obsidian Lodestone – Magic Resistance (3) is good if you plan on running a large deathstar style unit that needs protection against spells. Since magic resistance stacks with ward saves, you can combine this item with Armour of Fortune to give a character a 2+ ward save against magic too. Not recommended for mounted or solo Vampire Lords as a 4+ ward save with magic resistance (2) is better in both cases.

Talisman of Endurance – In most circumstances, you should go the extra 15 points and take Talisman of Preservation instead. The exceptions are if you need 70 points free on your Lord for other items or if you want a hero to have both a magic weapon (Sword of Might is ideal) and a decent ward save. Combines well with another character using the Obsidian Lodestone. Have both characters join the same unit, and the bearer of the Talisman of Endurance gains a 2+ ward save against spells.

Obsidian Amulet – Ideal for a solo or mounted Vampire Lord using Armour of Destiny. The magic resistance (2) from Obsidian Amulet stacks with the 4+ ward save from the armor, granting the bearer a 2+ ward save against spells. Obsidian Amulet works well on vampires joining a unit of Blood Knights with the Flag of Blood Keep, granting the unit a similar benefit. Of course, neither of these circumstances are the safest place for our vampires, but depending on your playstyle and local meta, this talisman can grant the extra protection needed for those vampires to get into combat safely.

Dawnstone – For a heavily armored vampire, the Dawnstone is an excellent investment granting a rerollable armor save. Where its value varies is against armies that easily ignore armor or have high strength units that reduce armor saves to little or nothing. If your character will face a lot of screams, Lore of Death sniper spells, waywacthers, gunlines, or high-strength monsters or characters, then Dawnstone is Yellow and you should invest in a ward save instead. If you can avoid or minimize those threats, then Dawnstone is Blue. Dawnstone combines well with Armor of Destiny on a Vampire Lord with a shield, lance and barded nightmare, giving the vampire a 2+ rerollable armor save and a 4+ ward save.

Opal Amulet – Sometimes one good save is all you need and this talisman is fairly cheap. A two wound character will benefit from a single 4+ ward save more than a multiple use 6+ save. A good choice for heroes, as a lord should have something more substantial. Opal Amulet is a risky way to give a character a more powerful magical weapon and still have a 4+ ward save at a crucial moment. Combined with Charmed Shield, the Opal Amulet might be the only ward save you need. If you really love gambling, take a Vampire Lord with Charmed Shield, Opal Amulet, Sword of Bloodshed and Potion of Strength. Mix in Red Fury and Quickblood of course, and then aim your blender towards whatever you want to kill.

Obsidian Trinket – Although a cheap way to get Magic Resistance (1), Obsidian Trinket isn’t usually worth disregarding the other talismans, especially when you can take Lichebone Pennant instead. A Vampire Lord can use Obsidian Trinket with Armor of Destiny and leave enough points for Fencer’s Blades, Sword of Anti-heroes or Sword of Swiftslaying. This gives the Vampire Lord a 3+ ward verses spells and still leaves room for a decent magic weapon. This approach is ideal for a Vampire Lord with Red Fury and Flying Horror, who can take the Sword of Swiftslaying in place of Quickblood and still gain decent protection against spells without losing much killing power against rank and file. Obsidian Trinket can also be thrown on a hero and still leave room for cheap but effective items such as Sword of Might, Charmed Shield, Other Trickster’s Shard and other similar toys. This allows the hero to grant Magic Resistance (1) to the unit without compromising the choices for the unit’s banner. Overall, there are better talismans you should consider first, but Obsidian Trinket offers some interesting applications that can work in the right armies.

Talisman of Protection – Although a 6+ ward save is better than none, its price is a bit steep for a save that will fail you most of the time. Talisman of Protection is alright when used in conjunction with other defenses or you are putting most of your points in offensive items.

Seed of Rebirth– Seed of Rebirth grants its bearer Regeneration (6+) and since its only 10 points, a hero can take Seed of Rebirth with an Ogre Blade. Add in heavy armor and a shield, you gain a hero that is fairly effective at killing and has some decent protection. Where the Seed of Rebirth really shines is when combined with a pair of Mortis Engines. The overlapping dark auras from the Reliquary grants the bearer Regeneration (4+)! If your army includes even a single Mortis Engine then Seed of Rebirth is Blue as the protection it provides for its cost is too good to pass up. Just keep your character away from Killing Blows and Flaming Attacks.

Dragonbane Gem – This talisman is so cheap its worth including on one of your heroes just in case of Flaming Attacks. Practically standard issue for a Strigoi Ghoul King, Dragonbane Gem allows him to charge into units with Flaming Attacks and be nearly immune to them. Since its only 5 points and the security it provides is invaluable, this talisman is Purple for a Strigoi Ghoul King.

Pigeon Plucker Amulet – To circumstantial to recommend wholesale, but in certain metas this talisman is a cheap way to give a decent ward save against the more common flying threats out there and leave your character plenty of points to do other things. Only worth taking if your character doesn’t need a better talisman or you face a lot of flying units and characters.

Luckstone – One of the better dirt cheap magic items. Sometimes one save is the difference between winning and losing. If a character has a solid armor save and a five points of magic items left, you could do worse than to give them the Luckstone. Just remember to write yourself a note so you don’t forget to use it.

Magic Standards

Rampager’s Standard – The cost of this banner means it’s only able to be taken by our Battle Standard Bearer. Unfortunately, Battle Standard Bearers in our armies are usually better off taking other magic items. To really get any value out of this, you’d want to put the BSB in a cavalry unit next to a very killy Vampire Lord. Otherwise your BSB is a points sink carrying this.

Wailing Banner – There are far easier ways for the undead to cause Terror than this overpriced banner. Just throw a Banshee or Wraith in a unit instead.

Ranger's standard – Don’t bother giving this to your infantry. But in a unit of cavalry with vampires in them, this banner might surprise an opponent using terrain to screen himself from you. If you take Black Knights without vampires, their spectral steeds make this banner pointless, especially since they are better off taking Banner of the Barrows.

Razor Standard – A decent upgrade for your Black Knights or Grave Guard, helping them deal with armor. This banner on your BSB, lets your unit take another banner (like Banner of the Barrows) and allows the Razor Standard follow your vampires, making them better at dealing with armor. If your meta has a lot of Warriors of Chaos or Bretonnia armies, then this banner is a good addition to have.

War Banner – Although a bit expensive, War Banner adds +1 to your combat resolution. Not only are you more likely to win combats and break your enemy, but this banner reduces any causalities we would lose by one. Often overlooked, this banner is worth considering for adding stability to our units.

Banner of Swiftness – A cheap banner that simply adds +1 to its unit’s movement. But in a game where movement is so important, that extra inch could win you games. This banner means two more inches when its unit is marching and a +1” to the unit’s charge range. Banner of Swiftness is best used with Skeleton Warriors or Black Knights, adding extra mobility to our army. Don’t forget, the banner also affects characters moving out of or charging from the unit, which makes for some nasty surprises from vampires and Cairn Wraiths having a Movement of 7 for that turn.

Lichbone Pennant – Same price as the Obsidian Trinket, but its points come out of your units instead of characters. Since Magic Resistance benefits everyone in the unit, this banner combos well with our characters’ ward saves. Best used in Skeleton Warriors, since the points come from Core and the Magic Resistance (1) can cover a large number of models that way.

Standard of Discipline – Although undead don’t take as many Leadership tests, they still do when reforming and marching. But with Vampire Lords often running the show, this banner isn’t very useful. The banner becomes more useful when used with less traditional tactics though. If a Strigoi Ghoul King is your general, take this banner in his unit to give him Leadership 10, and thus boosting nearby units and Spirit Leech spells. This banner can also be given to a unit of Blood Knights or a Vampire BSB, allowing them to operate more reliably when away from our Vampire Lords.

Banner of Eternal Flame – You never know when you’ll need to assault a building or fight something with Regeneration. Banner of the Eternal Flame is cheap enough, that even if you don’t run across these situations often, you aren’t out much when you don’t and prepared when you do. Put the banner on Skeleton Warriors, and have them joined by vampires with non-magical weapons or a Strigoi Ghoul King with no weapons (and thus Flaming and Poisonous Attacks). Watch out for Dragon Princes, Flamespyre Phoenixes, most of the Chaos Dwarves, and characters with Dragonbane Gem or Dragonhelm though. If your vampires end up in combat against a character with one of those items, make sure your champion accepts any challenges to avoid having your blender’s attacks getting negated. Remember that the flaming attacks don’t confer over to magic weapons, which is a good way to have a character within the unit that can deal with 2+ ward saves vs. flaming attacks.

Gleaming Pennant – This banner cost next to nothing, and a rerolled Leadership test could be useful at a key moment. Still, with how little we rely on Leadership tests there are overall better choices of banners to take.

Scarecrow Banner – This banner may be cheap but it does literally nothing for us since everything already causes Fear.

Arcane Items

Book of Ashur – Definitely can help you dominate the magic phase, but overall it costs too much for what it does. Never take this on a Wizard below Level 4 as the wizard levels are cheaper than this item and they give you spells too.

Feedback Scroll – Not powerful enough for its’ cost or that it uses an arcane item slot. Could be detrimental to opponents who six-dice all their spells and don’t put ward saves on their wizards. Otherwise a waste of points.

Scroll of Leeching – A lot of points for something that has one use and can’t actually stop or mitigate a spell in anyway. Where Scroll of Leeching might have use is being played when your opponent rolls doubles on the Winds of Magic and has between 8 – 12 dice. Then when they cast their first spell with 3-4 dice, you let it through, and gain extra dice for the remaining 5-9 power dice. But because these circumstances are few and far between, this Arcane Item is a waste of points, especially if they miscast and lose the rest of their dice anyways.

Sivejir’s Hex Scroll – Although it’s fun to turn enemy Wizards into frogs, this Arcane Item isn’t reliable enough to effect most Wizard lords and it might only last for a single turn. That’s a lot left up to chance to waste a Necromancer’s entire magic item allowance. Where the Hex Scroll has some use is against lower level Wizards with specific spells that are causing some issues or powerful characters that just happen to only be Level 1 or 2. A Strigoi Ghoul King would get turned into a frog on a roll of 2+ and then is easily killed by anything targeting him, since all his stats are reduced to 1. Combines decently with Lore of Death sniper spells.

Power Scroll – Remember, Power Scroll was officially FAQ’d and now cuts a spell’s casting value in half (rounded up). Anytime you want to make a spell easy to cast, you can use this item and two dice nearly anything. For maximum potential, hold out on casting a nuke spell, wait until your opponent is out of dice and has used their Dispel Scroll, then use this Power Scroll to cut a high casting value in half and two dice out a Purple Sun or Final Transformation.

Staff of Sorcery - This item can be found in the Warhammer FAQ and adds +1 To your dispel attempts. If you want to play a magic light army, but still want a good magic defense take Staff of Sorcery on a Level 2 Necromancer. If you also take a corpse cart with Balefire, you can virtually forgo a Level 4 Wizard altogether. This item is very useful in lower point games.

Wand of Jet – A one use item that allows you to add D6 to a casting result after the roll is made. Though not the strongest of Arcane Items available, what’s interesting about Wand of Jet is that you can add D6 to a casting after its rolled, turning a failed result into a successful one. With an army as dependent on magic as Vampire Counts, Wand of Jet can save your magic phase at a pivotal moment.

Forbidden Rod – Vampire Counts thrive on a stable magic phase, and Forbidden Rod can help you maintain one. The down side to Forbidden Rod is that it deals D3 Wounds to the bearer of this item. Strategies on minimizing this down side vary from taking the item on a Master Necromancer and letting his 4+ Ward Save mitigate the wounds, to using the item on a Necromancer and just take the chance he is going to get killed. Adding an Opal Amulet gives a Necromancer a 4+ ward save against one of the wounds, while Seed of Rebirth with the Regeneration bonuses from two Mortis Engines gives him a very dependable Regeneration (4+).

Trickster’s Shard – Between having to announce when you are using this item and how odds are against it wounding, this item isn’t very effective. Overall, Trickster’s Shard is not worth taking up a precious Arcane Item slot.

Earthing Rod – Hopefully you won’t need Earthing Rod, but if you do, it reduces the risk of losing your Wizard from 8.34% to 1.35%. With how important our Wizards are, Earthing Rod is more an insurance policy to protect your investment when a casting roll goes bad. Depending on what Lore you are using, the bonuses you have when casting, and what other Arcane Items you need determines how useful this item is. Earthing Rod is less useful when your casters are using Lore of Vampires. With the Lore’s low casting values, you can easily two dice most spells with a Level 4 without miscasting. With the more expensive spells of Lore of Shadows and Lore of Death, Earthing Rod can keep your primary Wizard alive.

Dispel Scroll – Every player knows this item, since it’s in nearly every army. Most players would quickly label this Purple, and for some experience levels, playstyles and army builds, Dispel Scroll very well may be. The reason Dispel Scroll is only Blue for Vampire Counts, is we have to many good Arcane Items competing for the same slot (Black Periapt, Book of Arkhan and Cursed Book to name three) and since Invocation of Nehek easily heals damage, we can often let damage spells through. Another consideration is the other Arcane Items can keep being used every round, while Dispel Scroll only works once. Still, when you need a way to stop a spell that is going to ruin you there is nothing more reliable than Dispel Scroll, and after weighing your options if you can’t justify playing without it, then make sure to make room for one.

Power Stone – A great way to gain an unexpected edge in a magic phase, especially if your opponent thinks you are down to your last power dice or two. You can use the extra dice from Power Scroll to surprise your opponent with a nasty spell they didn’t think you could cast. If timed right, this can be game-changing.

Sceptre of Stability – If you already have a Dispel Scroll and are desperate for more magic defense this isn’t terrible. The problem is one use items like this are usually given to your Necromancers and you really need a Level 4 Wizard to get maximum mileage out of this. Overall, the Dispel Scroll is all you need and is more reliable.

Channeling Staff – If the bearer can stay alive the whole game, Channeling Staff will yield you on average one extra power die and dispel die per game. If you have a free Arcane Item slot open on a Necromancer, this item helps strengthen your magic phases. Otherwise skip it as we have much better options.

Scroll of Shielding– A decent, cheap alternative to Dispel Scroll. Although Scroll of Shielding is only one use, it grants a unit a 4+ ward save against any damage caused by a spell your opponent cast. It can cushion the blow of a nuke spell, and if it’s a Remains in Play spell, you get the 4+ ward save every round until the spell ends. What’s really good about Scroll of Shielding, is it works even if a spell is cast with Irresistible Force.

Enchanted items

Wizarding Hat – As our Vampire Lords are Wizards, we really don’t gain anything worthwhile from this item. It’s a waste of magic item points for us.

Fozzrik’s Folding Fortress – This item costs too much for our Lords to make good use of it. Aside from being a 100 points, it completely consumes their magic items, which is key to maximizing a Vampire Lord’s damage or a Master Necromancer’s spell casting.

Arabyan Carpet – A flying mount or the Flying Horror power are both cheaper than this item and they don’t use up your magic item points. Plus, a Vampire with either of those options can still join units.

Crown of Command - Undead don’t roll break tests, so we have no use for this item.

Healing Potion – Too expensive for what little healing it provides. Vampire Counts get all the character healing we need with the Vampire Lore attribute and the Hunger.

Featherfoe Torc – In most situations this Enchanted Item isn’t worth it. If your meta has a lot of powerful flyers, it might work as part of a Vampire Lord build that can fight those flyers toe to toe. Otherwise don’t bother with the Featherfoe Torc.

Ruby Ring of Ruin – Ruby Ring is useful for many army builds. Since it’s an Enchanted Item, it doesn’t use up any Arcane Items and can be taking by non-wizards. As Vampire Counts lack a lot of magic missiles, Ruby Ring provides an invaluable tool providing range, chaff removal and flaming all wrapped up in a fairly cheap magic item.

Terrifying Mask of EEE! – If you really need Terror, take Supernatural Horror for the same cost and don’t waste your magic item allowance. Better still, take a Cairn Wraith and get a nasty character along with it.

Potion of Strength – Potion of Strength is one use, but it adds a powerful boost to Vampire Lords and Strigoi Ghoul Kings at a key moment, especially if they do not carry a magic weapon. This allows the vampire to focus their magic items on making them more powerful against rank and file, and then the potion allows the vampire to kill something that would normally be too tough for them to handle. Potion of Strength is really good combined with Sword of Bloodshed on a Strigoi Ghoul King.

Potion of Toughness – For the points, you can get a more reliable defensive item. If used properly, this potion can protect your Strigoi Ghoul King or Vampire Lord at the right time in order to survive fighting a nasty monster or character. Overall, there are better magic items you can take.

Other Trickster’s Shard – A powerful Enchanted Item that allows your blenders to avoid ward saves negating their attacks. Other Trickster’s Shard is invaluable against characters, Tzeentch Warriors and Daemons. Just be careful to not go after powerful characters unless you have too.

Iron Curse Icon - This item is so cheap, it only needs to save one model every other game to pay for itself. Whatever your MVP unit is, you could do worse having a character in that unit carrying this. If you ned another Enchanted Item on this character for a specific reason, take that item instead, Otherwise, you can’t go wrong taking Iron Curse Icon.

Potion of Foolhardiness – For only five points your blender can get an extra attack on the charge (and one more chance for Red Fury). A great deal if you aren’t using your Enchanted Item slot for something else.

Potion of Speed Fairly limited in its use as our vampires have a high Initiative and the Potion of Speed has to be declared before it is used. This item can help a Master Necromancer by boosting his Initiative before he casts Purple Sun, giving him additional protection if the spell misfires. Not the best option for our characters, but it’s so cheap it may be worth taking if you have a spare 5 points.
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Wight King
Mar 25, 2009
GJ with this guys. I personally think Ghouls and Beguile should be blue.

Ghouls for 10 points have incredible synergy with the rest of our army and forms a better core than a lot of equivalents out there. While they have no armor save, they can be brought back and pose a threat to everything due to the sheer amount of wounds and attacks that they have.

Beguile is one of the best vampiric powers ever. It's incredibly cheap, can be brought on any popular Vampire/Lord combo, and offers incredible synergy with many of our items, other vampiric powers, and leadership modifiers. The cost associated with the fact that it outright offers better protection than most magic items and armors that costs 2x as much makes it incredibly cost-effective. There's no better protection for the general of your army for that price, none.


Vampire Count
True Blood
Sep 12, 2011
Wow guys, this is perhaps the best warhammer guide I've ever read.! Very extesive, very well explained variety in the rating scale to account for synergies.!

I ofcourse have a few tweaks to some of the ratings to suit my preferences/experience. That can't be helped, and you do say so in the 'disclaimer'.

That being said this need to be stickied, liked and linked to everyone who plays VC or warhammer in general.!

Insane job guys!!!

The Sun King

Staff member
True Blood
Aug 22, 2012
Thanks @HERO :) As I wrote in the introduction opinions will vary as Warhammer is not that clear cut and some things are better in different styles of play. With that said I think it was very nice to work together with @najo who has a completely different approach to playing VC than I.

Thank you so much @Bullhax! Let the spreading of the word begin - and it begins with you :) I've wondered if I should post it on Warseer, but I don't have a profile there yet.
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Mortarch of the Dark Soul
True Blood
Dec 23, 2012
First, I like to say it was an absolute pleasure working with Sunny on this. We both put allot of time and effort into this project and I know I definately learned a few things from Sunny. We discovered how diverse our play styles are too and that brought a broader perspective to the handbook then we first expected. Vampire Counts really has a width and depth to it's builds and strategies, and that became quite clear as we worked on this together.

So, thank you to @The Sun King for inviting me to work on this with him. It has been a great pleasure!

@Bullhax Thank you for the kind words!

Ghouls are on that edge, and we struggled with making them blue. In the end, their points cost, lack of full command. and armor save makes them a liability at times and we couldn't ignore that in our assessment of them. Ghouls do synergize very well with van hel's and mortis engines, but so do other troops, so those individual units are rated and reviewed with that in mind.

Beguile has two drawbacks that keep it from being blue. You have to invest in infrastructure to make it reliable, thus taking items and powers away from blending. When you take beguile AND AoDM, you just dropped quickblood etc. Also, it only gives you protection from one model in base contact. Other protection works against anyone attacking you. And, that one model still gets to hit, they just have to reroll those hits. So, you could have beguile fail easier than other protection. That said, it stacks well with other protection and does hamper a character in base contact with your vampire, but that isn't the best place for your vampire to be. So, all these factors push beguile into mid range at green.
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Wight King
Mar 25, 2009
Beguile has two drawbacks that keep it from being blue. You have to invest in infrastructure to make it reliable, thus taking items and powers away from blending. When you take beguile AND AoDM, you just dropped quickblood etc. Also, it only gives you protection from one model in base contact. Other protection works against anyone attacking you. And, that one model still gets to hit, they just have to reroll those hits. So, you could have beguile fail easier than other protection. That said, it stacks well with other protection and does hamper a character in base contact with your vampire, but that isn't the best place for your vampire to be. So, all these factors push beguile into mid range at green.

Wait, what infrastructure? You can take Red Fury, Quickblood and Beguile. The only thing you need for blending is Red Fury and Quickblood. As for the one model, maybe you don't see this the same way as I do, but any incoming damage possibly reduced is good. While of course this is something that's less useful on say, a Skaven swinging at your 1+/4++ Lord, it can make for an outrageous difference vs. more killy units and characters.

But this is your guys list and not mine, do with it was you please of course. I'm just pointing out that for 15 points, IMO there's not a better protection item in any of the existing army books, or in the BRB for the price (closest would be Shield of the Merwyrm). Especially when it doesn't conflict at all with your magic allotment, which is a boon by itself. And it only gets better with leadership modifiers, which you can take in your army as synergistic components.

Fair point on the Ghouls though, but for me, they are blue. Simply because there's not a lot of core in the game that scares off monsters and other MCs quite like ours.
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Sep 26, 2014
Sun King and Najo: Awesome Guide guys. This is the best and most thorough guide I have ever seen. It not only states the obvious, but also goes into many of the intricacies of the playing VC +10 :) :)

One thing I noticed is you did not make the Varghulf Blue :(... even though you had nothing but good things to say about this guy. he is my favourite unit so I am a little biased....

He is the only non-Frenzied, non-hero unit that can march without the general... Which is a huge plus for us, who have to keep a lot of our units clustered in a circle of radius 12 inches around our general.

Another interesting choice you made is making Gaze of Nagash Blue... I find that on a VL, I prefer to have something more combat oriented. On a necro who sits in a bunker, it is of limited use because he is usually hanging out at the back. I have never really used it, as you usually have better/ more needed spells to cast.

Also, Bat swarms should be red I think. No matter what arguments any of us make... I have never seen Bat Swarms make any VC list I have seen, my own or online... I think that says it all.
Sep 26, 2014
I had a thought... wouldn't it be REALLY COOL if there was some mechanic that would adjust point values of units/items/powers based on how often they are used in VC Armies? The ideal would be to get everything to be 'Green'. Basically it would work like supply/demand in a free-market economy.

For example, since everyone loves to take the TG, his point values would keep increasing by some function of how often it appears in lists. This would cause the TG to get more expensive, until some point value was reached which was deemed to be OK, but not great. Same thing would happen with weak units. Our bat swarms would fall in points until people started including them in lists.

Same with Vampiric powers... I can see Master Strike being worth 3 points.... and Supernatural horror maybe 10? :)

This is a theoretical scenario, but it would be cool to be able to use everything that is in our Armybook and to be able to face more everything in other armies... just a random thought
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Mortarch of the Dark Soul
True Blood
Dec 23, 2012
Wait, what infrastructure? You can take Red Fury, Quickblood and Beguile. The only thing you need for blending is Red Fury and Quickblood. As for the one model, maybe you don't see this the same way as I do, but any incoming damage possibly reduced is good. While of course this is something that's less useful on say, a Skaven swinging at your 1+/4++ Lord, it can make for an outrageous difference vs. more killy units and characters.

But this is your guys list and not mine, do with it was you please of course. I'm just pointing out that for 15 points, IMO there's not a better protection item in any of the existing army books, or in the BRB for the price (closest would be Shield of the Merwyrm). Especially when it doesn't conflict at all with your magic allotment, which is a boon by itself. And it only gets better with leadership modifiers, which you can take in your army as synergistic components.

Fair point on the Ghouls though, but for me, they are blue. Simply because there's not a lot of core in the game that scares off monsters and other MCs quite like ours.
There is plenty of infrastructure. Anything that boosts WS, supplies a minus to hit or induces fear synergizes with beguile. But all those things lead to fear bombing or putting your vampires in harms way. I personally like beguile, but items like charmed shield, enchanted shield, dragon helm, opal amulet and seed of rebirth can be more effective in the right builds. For something to get blue, it's nearly auto include. Because beguile is subjective by play style and builds, green reflects that.


Mortarch of the Dark Soul
True Blood
Dec 23, 2012
Sun King and Najo: Awesome Guide guys. This is the best and most thorough guide I have ever seen. It not only states the obvious, but also goes into many of the intricacies of the playing VC +10 :) :)

One thing I noticed is you did not make the Varghulf Blue :(... even though you had nothing but good things to say about this guy. he is my favourite unit so I am a little biased....

He is the only non-Frenzied, non-hero unit that can march without the general... Which is a huge plus for us, who have to keep a lot of our units clustered in a circle of radius 12 inches around our general.

Another interesting choice you made is making Gaze of Nagash Blue... I find that on a VL, I prefer to have something more combat oriented. On a necro who sits in a bunker, it is of limited use because he is usually hanging out at the back. I have never really used it, as you usually have better/ more needed spells to cast.

Also, Bat swarms should be red I think. No matter what arguments any of us make... I have never seen Bat Swarms make any VC list I have seen, my own or online... I think that says it all.
First off, thank you. Sunny and I are glad your enjoying the guide. We had a lot of fun making it. As for our buddy the Varghulf, we both see his value, but when compared point for point and pound for pound with the mortis engine and terrorgiest, and that he compete with them for rare slots, ol'ghulffy slips down to green.

As for gaze of Nagash, read the description closer. It does state that it's green in the army builds you speak of. I play the same style and have little use for it. Sunny's style uses gaze to core out chaff and pop off soft targets. In defensive, necro death magic type builds you are going to use gaze to do your shooting.

As for bat swarms, take them 1 wide and flank with them. They also double as redirectors.
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Black Knight
Aug 24, 2011
Great guide guys, really useful stuff. I disagree with ghouls, I think they should be a lower ranking. I'm agree with everything else though, and it's helped me reconsider a couple if units too. Might get me some hero wraiths...
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Black Knight
Aug 24, 2011
@Flem100 why wouldn't you be able to give vampires magic armour? What rule are you referring to?

Edit: I see after my page refreshed that you edited your post. Does this mean you retract your objection?


Wight King
Mar 25, 2009
There is plenty of infrastructure. Anything that boosts WS, supplies a minus to hit or induces fear synergizes with beguile. But all those things lead to fear bombing or putting your vampires in harms way. I personally like beguile, but items like charmed shield, enchanted shield, dragon helm, opal amulet and seed of rebirth can be more effective in the right builds. For something to get blue, it's nearly auto include. Because beguile is subjective by play style and builds, green reflects that.

Anything regen is build specific and eats magic item costs. Beguile does not, so while it's not 5 points like Charmed Shield, it's pretty much an auto-include for me in competitive play since it protects your blue Vampire Lord on TOP of other elements in your army. The fact that it comes from Vampiric powers and can be taken on top of Red Fury and Quickblood is what makes it amazing. You can take all the forementioned items on top of having Beguile, so Beguile never competes with those items and need to be ranked separately. Aura of Dark Majesty or Doom and Darkness is hardly considered fear-bombing, because they wreck face in general.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter, this is my opinion, which will be different than yours because this entire tactica is an opinion piece.


Oct 22, 2014
@Flem100 why wouldn't you be able to give vampires magic armour? What rule are you referring to?

Edit: I see after my page refreshed that you edited your post. Does this mean you retract your objection?

Yep. I found the rule in the rulebook that said that if you have options to buy normal armour then you can by magic armour as well. Else wizards cannot wear armour and vampires are wizards.
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Grave Guard
Jul 30, 2014
Fantastic to finally see this type of guide here on Carpe Noctem too. Great work.

Now it's time to start on that undead legions guide eh? :D (No seriously.)
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Mortarch of the Dark Soul
True Blood
Dec 23, 2012
Fantastic to finally see this type of guide here on Carpe Noctem too. Great work.

Now it's time to start on that undead legions guide eh? :D (No seriously.)
I'm actually collecting notes on that now. The main issue though is undead legion lacks use over time right now. Between Sunny, myself and the longevity of these forms and all the great threads by its members, there is a ton of playtesting and experience to go off of. If it wasn't for all of the great feedback from our members here and threads like Sunny's army challenge or great advice previous moderators have given, our guide would be no where as accurate and complete as it is. Undead Legions on the other hand would be speculative and many players are figuring the combinations and strategies of that out now as we speak. We will see what we can figure out shortly.
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Mortarch of the Dark Soul
True Blood
Dec 23, 2012
Yep. I found the rule in the rulebook that said that if you have options to buy normal armour then you can by magic armour as well. Else wizards cannot wear armour and vampires are wizards.
It's the reason Nightshroud says necromancers can wear it, cause if it didn't, they couldn't. ;)


Crypt Horror
May 10, 2011
Loved it ,guys. Really good as an over-view. My only disagreement ( and this is only because of play styles in my locale ) is that Cairn Wraiths have really worked for me. But as you said, different things work in different ways. Thanks for all the effort.

The Sun King

Staff member
True Blood
Aug 22, 2012
You're welcome Jeff! Glad you enjoyed it. Could you give us some insight in how the Cairn Wraiths as unit work well?


Crypt Horror
May 10, 2011
It's very simple. both my main opponents have horde armies( O&G,and a Chaos marauder army ) They are both very light on magic, and haven't realised that they need to stop casting against my Lord in his large, protective unit, and go for the ethereals instead. It's a tactical matter which I expect them to realise sooner or later. To be fair, I have been playing about 3 times as long as both of them put together, but don't see why I should point out such a basic idea to them. The third guy I play,much more experienced, just seems to ignore them - haven't sussed his reasoning yet. It seems to be a very local approach - I recently played a Canadian visitor - he used my dwarves - and I got totally munched. I don't think this will help many other players, but it's always worth watching for the low magic enemy - it makes huge difference.


Mortarch of the Dark Soul
True Blood
Dec 23, 2012
What's interesting with end times lords and heroes percentages being official now, you are better off taking wraiths as heroes, hide them in units, then have them pop out and form a unit in their own once you got them close. Saves rare points for better units and gives you a more powerful version of the cairn wraith unit.


Staff member
True Blood
Nov 26, 2008
This is really good. Big thumps up for putting this together!

One expansion you could consider is to add in a review of the common magic items as well, with suggestions on how to put them to good work.
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Sep 26, 2014
Take Wizarding Hat on your SGK. This way you get a level 2 SGK :)

But seriously... that might be nice idea.

I love the power stone. Such a basic item and what a surprise when your opponent thinks you only have 1 PD left and is smiling with her 2 DD, only for you to 3-dice that all important bubble Van-hell's or invo and watch her smile dissapear

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