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Gus Train
25-05-2008, 09:00
Ok so after a fair bit of deliberation, I've decided on VC. I've got a thorough background for my Vampire Lord and just now need a little help from some veteran players on army composition.

I want to know which is the most viable in playing a Vampire Counts list and which provides the most variety - I DON'T want to play a one-trick pony.

So what works best?

MSU? I gathered that this would be an option as VC armies aren't particularly big and fast armies would most likely be comprised of this.

Horde? I assume that this would be a solid approach as it would maximise the effects of fear, but I'm thinking that perhaps Rare and Character choices might limit the amount of troops you can take.

Those are the main compositions I can think of as I don't think Cavalry armies are that viable (plus they don't really interest me) and I don't like the idea of mass summonings - I think I'd prefer victory to be a result of mundane rather than magical methods.

To let you know I'm aiming at 2000-2250 pts and am looking to include Skeletons, Grave Guard and Zombies over Ghouls. Rare choices would be geared towards Blood Knights (still unsure as they suck up an enormous amount of points and money) and possibly a Varghulf or Banshee/Wraiths.

Hulkster
25-05-2008, 09:20
Varghulfs

One of the best units in the game, and you can have 2

they will destroy any fast cav trying to flank you

Cromenon
25-05-2008, 10:46
Hmm... concerning VC, there are mainly 2 different approaches.

An horde infantry army, mainly composed by big skeleton blocks (with fighty characters in them or not), in order to give CR, then win the combat, then maximize the effects of fear, and,

The elite approach. This army would min-max the basic troops (e.g, in a 2k game, three 10-man skellie units) and its main units would be Grave Guard (minimum 15 men per unit), Black Knights, a Black Coach, a Varghulf or some ethereal nastiness. In this army, the characters can vary from fighty to magic-oriented ones, always to support the rest of the army, which in this case will do the killing.

The first option is (IMO) the best for newcomers. You have to realize that VC are a singular army with many specific rules that make their tactics unique, for example, we don't have baits since none of our units can make a "bait flee", we are immune to psycology, etc. That's why I recommend you, at least in your first games, the first approach.

The second one has an added problem: the size of the army. And that will not help a newborn vamp like you ;).

So, my advice is: go for the horde, then make changes, and play with what you feel comfortable. That's it.

The Brusier
25-05-2008, 11:26
I probably would go the horde way, with 2 units of 20 Skellies with spears and full command, 2x 20 Zombies and 20(ish) Gouls, just for the ton of poisened attacks. Corpse Carts are great, just for the Always strike 1st bound spell. The rest of ur units are up to personal preferance, but Spriit hosts r g8 4 guarding flanks (anything coming down the flanks ie. cavalry, will not have enough combat res to do much).
4 characters, necromancers aren't worth it in my opinion, as vampires do the same thing. Need a B.S.B, just to help with combat res, and V.C's have sick magic Banners.
Oh, plus, no point making hero level magic orientated, only lords have enough options to do so.

Mad Doc Grotsnik
25-05-2008, 11:49
Well, in my experience, Undead Core choices rarely pack enough of a wallop on their own to reliably win combats. Sure, you need only win by a single point in most cases to send the enemy packing, but getting that single point can be a real struggle.

Remember, you cannot choose to flee with Undead, so if you've left yourself open, don't look surprised when the enemy kicks your back door in.

Thankfully, they have various tricks to swing things in their favour. First in your armour, is good old fashioned Fear. Nothing ruins someones day like failing a Fear test just before a crucial combat begins, regardless of who is charging. All too often, I have found a unit about to take your flanks refusing, leaving the unit going for the front with a lot more work to do.

If you want to do a large horde, you need, ideally, to keep your characters cheap, and useful. In these cases, because your basic troops are so fundamentally rubbish (skeletons have worse stats than even a weedy Gobbo!) look for items which will help overcome. Like the Helmet which allows you to lend WS to people. Brilliant little item. One favourite of mine, which is a slight liability, is the Standard which gives you hatred. Resist the temptation to put this into Graveguard, or any other unit actually capable of fighting their way out a wet paper bag. Instead, give it to a Wightking, and bung him in some Skellies. Combined with his Killing Blow and otherwise spanky stats, this Skeleton block is now pretty fearsome.

And there I go, gibbering on about Skeletons. But what about Ghouls? Odd unit these. In some ways a better investment than Skeletons (poison, good toughness, and a bit of a bargain) but not without it's downsides (no command, no armour). I won't go into why each of these is good or bad, I'm sure your competent enough to see why. If you take Skeletons as your main force, why not 'do and empire' and have a small unit of Ghouls as support troops? Get them in the flank, with Skellies to the front, and your pretty much guaranteed the enemy will lose the combat.

Some people knock Direwolves. I reckon they have their uses. First of all, they are cheap. Next, they cause Fear. After that, they are US2, being Cavalry. Thus, a unit of 10 can feasibly see off most Knightly units. How? Failed Fear test. If you are charged by a Fear causing enemy which outnumbers you, if you fail your fear test, they leg it. Try moving them up nice and close in the movement phase, and then Van Hels them into combat. If nothing else, the Knights (having lost their charge bonus) will hopefully be tied up until at least your next turn. And thats almost as good as killing them, as with any luck, they will now be hopelessly out of position.

Corpse Carts are far and away one of the best support units in the game, but be careful. For all that they bring a lot to the table, your opponent is also aware of this, and is likely to make their removal a high priority. So, you have two approaches. Either hide them behind your other troops (I think this works, not 100%) or the other, more surprising one, is don't depend on them. If you have an overall Strategy which would be aided, but does not require, the presence of the Corpse Carts, then your opponent can be tricked into taking them out (which requires a surprising level of commitment) allowing the troops you do want to make it to survive in a better state.

So there you go. Brief outline of my thoughs on the Core units (apart from the Bats).

I have purposefully tried to avoid telling you what to take, and hopefully, have instead helped you to make a more informed choice of your own volition.

Gus Train
25-05-2008, 14:09
@Cromenon and The Brusier: I think I'm convinced to follow the 'horde' path as it both seems more fluffy and obviously more practical being a relatively new player to Fantasy (relative meaning I haven't played a lot of the medium-big games, mostly < 500 points but I'm still informed enough to understand the full extent of your advice :))

@Hulkster: I'm sure two Varghulfs would be an enormous asset to my army, dealing with fast cavalry, artillery, flanking units etc. and not to mention scaring the absolute crap out of the enemy but I'm thinking for a bit of tactical diversity and fitting a little more into my theme (the Varghulf is to be the twisted brother of my Vampire) I'll go with the Banshee and Wraiths.

@Mad Doc Grotsnik: Cheap characters are definitely on the cards and so are large skeleton blocks (20-25 I'm guessing) along with a large Grave Guard unit. Spreading my magic items and characters is also a valid suggestion, as I believe more in making an army more fluid when taking casualties and being less reliant on 'super unit' to win the battle for them.
I.e. If my Grave Guard dies it's not the be all and end all of the game (thought if my Lord is in there I might be facing a harsh incline!)

Note: I'm making the last decision based on 40k anyway, different system yes, but I feel it shares some basic principles.

The detachment-esque suggestion with Ghouls I'll definitely take into account.
I'd say Dire Wolves are also right up my alley, being both versatile and fitting well into my fluff.
Lastly, Corpse Carts... I completely forgot! I'm yet to define any battle plan yet but the latter of your suggestions I found both amusing and cunning :D I'd love nothing more for the enemy to discover, having dedicated themselves to the eradication of my CC's, that my Skeletons, who they are now in combat with (or so the plan goes) are still reasonably self-reliant! But I will see how it pans out as it might be worth shielding them to accentuate my army's combat ability.

The bats... well, I'm not a big fan of the models so we'll see where they fit in!

Oh and Mad Doc, for an ork, your vocabulary is particularly astounding :p.

Keep it coming guys, the more ideas I get the more appealing the army is becoming and it's all golden advice!

Lord Aries
25-05-2008, 17:33
For my list, I run with 3 vamps with ghoulkin, and a lord with it too... I have 12PD.. I run all kinds of other powers and items on them, but you get the idea.

I run 4 units of 10 ghouls
6 black knights with standard/strigoi banner
a varghulf
5 fellbats
5 dire wolves
2 corpse carts with balefire
a black coach


The list starts with just 40 ghouls, but by casting IoN on one dice (3+), 12 times first turn, I end up with 100 before the end of the game. I often run out of miniatures to summon. Ghouls are an amazing anvil, because of their toughness, and ability to hurt the opponents with all those poisoned attacks.

I will have to say that the varghulf is MVP almost every game. I run him with the direwolves, along a flank. The wolves torpedo (snake) and charge in with him to negate ranks, while he kills things.

The bats are effective warmachine hunters, and even better- they are US 5 so they kill people who flee through them. You can ION on them to bring back d6 wounds, so they are hard to finish.

The black coach is very good versus certain armies, and can be great once powered up.

The black knights are without barding, because the extra movement is very good for them. I use them to flank the other side... and they are a great detterent.

I've beaten pretty much every army I've played, against top ranked opponents, and won overall in my last tourney with it. I'm not trying to convince you to run my exact list, but take into account the "tricks" I employ, and how you can use them as well.


Spam Casting- Great basic strategy- basically, you can cast IoN on one dice and get it off 66% of the time, and most opponents will either let it get through, or not be able to stop it. For the first turn, maybe first 2 turns, cast NOTHING BUT IoN to bump up the size of your anvil units. You will be tempted to cast other spells, but the only thing worth it, is to cast Danse on your BKs or Varghulf to get a first turn flank... but even that isn't always worth it. If you get silly, and forget to make your units of 10 go to 20+ on first turn, you can loose to fast armies, or very shooty armies.

Varghulf + Wolves = awesome. By snaking the wolves (free reform!!) you can still negate ranks, and ensure charges will not fail due to lack of space. You only get the 1 attack, but they don't get many attacks back at you, which could negate your flank. Most of the time, the varghulf will kill all but maybe 1 guy that can attack back, and they will attack the wolf, for combat res... but it doesn't matter. If you were spread out, they may have 2-3 attacks back.

Black Knights- without barding, but with the standard of strigoi. I don't like giving them a champ/mus, for the points I just buy another guy. With the hatred you can help ensure when you get to attack, you will hit. I wouldn't try charging static 5 in the front with these guys, but they can command a flank, by either getting into your opponents flank, or deny the flank to your opponent.

Max zero
25-05-2008, 18:38
I'll limit my advice to some general tips:

1) Don't rely solely on magic, it has a habit of letting you down.

Some armies can generate a lot of Dispel Dice with a fairly small outlay of points (Lizards and Empire come to mind). The real danger is magic items such as Seal of Destruction, Great Banner of Sundering and Casket of Sorcery.

Also you do have spells other then Vanhels and Nehek. While they may your most commonly cast spells, sometimes a Raise Dead or Winds of Death could be better.

While magic is a major strength of the VC it can become a weakness if overly relied on.

2) Min sized core units are risky at best.

Linked to point one, summoning is not a precise art. Against fast moving enemies (Brets, Slanneesh, HE/DE) you may not get several turns of building up your forces and getting caught in combat with small core blocks can cost you the game.

A good general rule I have heard/used is that you should never have more then one block that *needs* summoning to be effective for its role. While one block for summoning is good (in fact recommended - it gives your casters something to do) multiple blocks tend to be much more risky. Its not like basic units are THAT expensive, you can get a core block up to 15 strong for a mere 40 points.

3) Focus your vampires. Equip casting vampires like Wizards and fighting vampires like fighters. Mixing both tends to waste points. Think about whether the vampire your are selecting is going to be in the front line or not. If they will be, get them some armour and maybe a weapon. If they plan on standing back, put a Helm of Commandment on.

A decently geared vampire can easily cost close to 200 points. Thats more then your average core unit! Make sure your spending your points on something thats going to really help your battle plan. Keep in mind a wily opponent will target them for some easy victory points.

4) Your units tend be designed to work together, more then most armies. Take advantage of the vampire march moving rule, use Dire Wolves/cheap Black Knight units to take away rank bonus, use screening and charge redirection.

Almost no units in the VC list are meant to be used by themselves, take that into account when deploying and moving.

Dark_Mage99
25-05-2008, 22:52
For my list, I run with 3 vamps with ghoulkin

You realise you only need one, right?

Dexter099
26-05-2008, 03:48
Hmmm...

Personally, the horde approach is fine, but once you've got some of the basic game mechanisms down, you will want to pull up a faster list.

I'd run something like...

Magic Vamp. leader
A bunch of thralls
A block of skellies
A block of ghouls
Grave Guard
Some Black Knights
Some Blood Knights
A varghulf or two, and some dire wolves.

I can't help as much as with vamp tactica, but I can help with beating other armies, I guess.

I play HoC, which is about to be turned into an WoC army in 6 days.

Strengths of WoC

1) The best, cheapest, foot troops in the game- They have WS5 S4 T4 I5 and can carry halberds, shields, 2HWs, or great weapons, and can have marks and be turned into chosen, giving me a unit with a 2+ armor save in cc, and 2 WS5 I5 S4 attacks, for 18 points per model.
2) Great Close Combat- Once we get 12 pt. warriors, we can add more guys, which means more ranks, which means more combat rez. And we still kill lots of stuff in combat anyways.
3) Marks of the Gods- Taking the mark of nurgle, allows me to cause fear, which negates the VC counts fear. Khorne: Frenzy (bad)
4) One of the top few best lores in game: The lore of Tzeentch, Slaanesh and Nurgle (especially Tzeentch) pack quite a punch, especially, when those grave guard start killing blowing themselves, or 1/4 of those zombies turn into demons which can then possibly beat the demons in CC. Or even those expensive blood knights might get hit by 12 S7 bolts.
5) Great Characters- even though the armoury is being cut down in size, it's still hard to beat a 65 point chaos champion who is a better fighter and cheaper than an empire general. Not to mention some extremely nasty weapons and shields, like the chaos rune shield:D.

NOTE: Not all WoC armies play this way, some people go to the extreme and play a Norse variant, fieling all 5 point marauders and warhounds led by an aspiring champion. I suppose this works well, considering 6-7 point WS4 I4 guys aren't too bad!

Weaknesses:

1) Outnumbered- BIG PROBLEM. disregarding the marauder horde, WoC armies are VERY low on numbers, and thus must stick together. This leads to possible envelopment, and can be a problem for units that get bogged down by a zombie tarpit to be flanked in a few turns...
2) Average Leadership- with the base unit only leadership 8 for elite warriors, taking leadership checks becomes a bit of a problem compared to elves who are much cheaper... And those Chaos Knights, 250 point 5 man unit getting run down from a failed break or terror test? :eyebrows:

I hope this helped.

seaXcow
26-05-2008, 04:38
i always use a unit of 18 graveguard with Vlad Von Carstein and Konrad in it.

Disciple of Nagash
26-05-2008, 15:22
Some interesting advice the main points I would remember are:

Unless the unit is a bunker your core should not really be under 15, I would even say 20- you need at least one model for IoN and concentrated shooting can wipe out a 10 man unit.

Don't pay for zombies unless its a min unit to bulk out the core, their really not worth it, however I would have to raise mid battle for thier one and only use of tarpitting

Choose either Ghouls or skellies as your main core and then put the relevant master power on a vamp to be able to increase beyond thier main size.

Focus your vamps - trying to make a Jack of all trades vamp is not generally a good idea, you can always compensate with your other characters / troops.

Don't forget infinite hatred whilst a great power makes your general overrun which clever opponents can take advantage of.

If your going to field wraiths you need to have strong magical protection with a unit for 5+ to be able to absorb damage, smaller and you risk one good magic missile wiping them out. Having a combo of them with a vargulf is very nasty.

Helm of command is worth it in any army, WS7 or 6 skellies can be a nasty surprise.

The common magic swords are decent weapons for vamps - increasing upto S6 helps against knights etc.

Forbidden lore gives you a huge tactical advantage as you can customise your lore before battle whilst still retaining the important IoN, whipping out the Lore of Metal against dwarfs is nasty...........but don't waste this on a hero vamp unless its for fluff, its only effective on a casty lord.

Wight kings are one of the best hero's with thier high toughness and wounds, combined with the Sword of Kings makes them able to even take on lord level characters.

Lord Aries
26-05-2008, 18:09
No one has ever killed one of my 10 man units first turn... even when I played against empire, or dwarves with a lot of shooting. Unless your opponent is playing a gun line... they won't be able to.

One advantage of taking 10 man units, and spamming them up, is even if they kill this unit, they only get the basic points for it. (88 in my case).

Having Summon Ghouls on all my vamps, gives them the ability to use ALL of my dice for summoning. Its a strategy that works very well.

LiMunPai
26-05-2008, 19:31
You might want to take a look at Malorian's VC Batrep Thread in the battle reports section of the forums. Not only can you learn how to play magic heavy VC, but you can also see how they are beaten, and the thread is terribly entertaining.

Now that I mention it, I haven't checked out that thread in a bit. I'm going to take a gander myself.

Gus Train
27-05-2008, 10:09
Well thanks to everyone for contributing, I've got an abundance of ideas now and I'm starting to formulate my army already.

At the moment I'm thinking a solid block of Grave Guard, of which my Vamp. Lord will leading, a couple of Skeleton blocks and some smaller Ghoul units for flank charges and additional 'hurt'.
This will be followed by a couple of Corpse Carts and joined by a couple of units of Dire Wolves, a Varghulf and some Wraiths.

I don't think Blood Knights can effectively be included as my GG will be the unit that provides my 'Holy Crap!' scare factor and Black Knights well... I can see their obvious value but for the moment they'll be left in the 'maybe' pile.

Oh and Zombies! Won't leave home without them! :D (Well technically I will but they'll be apart of my army nonetheless.

Give me a few days and I'll post my army list and I'll see how that goes.

Max zero
27-05-2008, 11:44
No one has ever killed one of my 10 man units first turn... even when I played against empire, or dwarves with a lot of shooting. Unless your opponent is playing a gun line... they won't be able to.

One advantage of taking 10 man units, and spamming them up, is even if they kill this unit, they only get the basic points for it. (88 in my case).

Having Summon Ghouls on all my vamps, gives them the ability to use ALL of my dice for summoning. Its a strategy that works very well.

Its not about losing them in the first turn its about holding up your magic long enough for them to get into combat with your small core blocks.

Have you never fought against a Spell Destroyer, Cube of Darkness, Seal of Destruction, Casket of Sorcery, Vortex Shard or Sigil (just to name a few)?