I ended up fighting VCs a lot so I’m going to try to share my wisdom. I am getting better but I still lose more often than not. I’m also slowly working on my own vampire counts army. Then when I was almost done with this Tactica the new book came out and I had to revise much of this. Here it is now. The Basics All undead cause Fear (or Terror), are Immune to Psychology and are Unstable. Undead can only march if within 12 inches of the army general or are Vampiric. If the general dies, every unit in the whole army takes a crumble check (unless the unit is Vampiric). The crumble checks repeat every turn if the army doesn’t have another character with Lore of Vampires to take over mystical maintenance of the army. VC Battle Standards allows the normal reroll of Ld tests (not that undead take them very often) and add +1 to CR like usual. The real contributor of BSB is that they reduce crumble losses of units in range by one. Vampire Counts players are more likely to play without BSBs than most other armies. To beat the Vampire Counts you need to build your units with an eye towards static CR. The fact that the army’s structural integrity is based on their signature lore, makes Vampire Counts a magical army by default making them depend on their magic phase at least as much as we do perhaps more so. Thus I’m covering magic first. All spell casters on the list have access to the Lore of Vampires. Vampires and Vampire Lords can also take Death or Shadow. Necromancers can choose to take Death instead of the Lore of Vampires. Vampires can spend an additional 25 points (taken out of the Vampiric Power allotment) for the option to take any of the BRB lores other than Life (but that’s not a huge concern since the three basic lores available to them tend to outperform the other lores anyway). Lore of Vampires Their general has to take the Lore of Vampires, and most armies take secondary (or even tertiary) casters of the lore. Not only will this provide assurance against additional crumbles if the general dies, but it lets them double up on their signature spell. The Lore of Vampire’s attribute allows for healing of friendly models on successful spell casting in an identical fashion to Lifebloom. Invocation of Nehek (Signature): This is even more potent than Regrowth. The caster heads d6+ their Wizard level wounds for all friendly undead units within 6 inches, 12 inches, or 18 inches of the caster depending on the version of the spell cast. Fortunately the healing is capped at one wound for models that are Vampiric, Incoporeal or have the Large Target rule. Strategically placed Invocation casters can keep undead Core very strong round after round but their ability to rebuild heavy hitters is more limited. Zombies gain 2d6+wizard level new models with each casting and can be taken above their original starting level. There are upgrades that characters can take to let them take skeletons or dire wolves above their starting level too, but few players take them. Vanhel’s Danse Macabre: Augment spell gives a single friendly undead unit the ability to reroll To Hit rolls until the start of their next magic phase in close combat. Also allows a free eight inch out of sequence (non-charge) move. Can be boosted to target all friendly undead units within 12 inches. Hellish Vigour: Augment spell lets a single friendly undead unit reroll To Wound rolls in close combat. May be augmented to target all friendly undead within 12 inches. Gaze of Nagash: Most lores have one magic missile. This one inflicts 2d6 S4 hits at 24 inches. It has an augmented version with double the range. Raise Dead: Creates a whole new unit of 2d6+3 zombies within 18 inches of the caster in his line of sight. An augmented version creates 2d6+3 skeletons instead, but very few players ever choose skeletons. Summoned units are never worth any victory points, so they make a good expendable speed bump. Curse of Years: Remain in Play hex spell with an 18 inch range. Immediately every model has to test on a d6 and dies on a roll of 6. At the end of the next magic phase (any magic phase not just VC magic phase) this repeats with the roll worsening to 5+, then 4+ and so on to a minimum of 2+. Do not let them leave this spell on your units for more than the initial round unless you want to write off the unit in question as a casualty. This is the Lore of Vampire’s real heavy hitter. You will suffer greatly if you let it remain in play too long. Wind of Death: Magical vortex using the small round template that inflicts S3 hits with no armor saves with the general hit or miss scatters and random distances rolled that vortexes tend to have. The augmented version hits at S4 and uses the large template. Other Special Rules “Vampiric” was brought up twice already. The following units are vampiric: vampires, vampire lords, strigoi ghoul kings, Vargheists, Varghulfs, Blood Knights, and the Black Coach. Vampiric units are immune to crumbles from the general dying. They also heal a lot less effectively under the Invocation of Nehek, so casualties you inflict on them are usually longer lasting (though the Lore of Vampire’s faux-Lifebloom makes up for this somewhat). Vampire Counts don’t have a normal shooting phase. They do have some units with scream attacks. Banshees (either as characters or unit champions in Cairn wraith units), Terrogheists, the Mortis Engine, and any lord level character wielding Scabscrath, a 75 point magic item on the Vampire Counts list. The scream has an eight inch range. A number is generated and compared against the Ld of the target, the excess is wounds inflicted with no rolls to wound or armor saves allowed. It inflicts 2d6+2 (for banshees or the Mortis Engine) or 2d6+remaining wounds of the model (for the Terrogheist or Scabscrath). Since Terrogheists have six wounds when at full health so they are the most deadly of all undead Screamers. The scream can be used even if the model is in close combat or if the target is in close combat. Our units tend to be one point lower than many other armies in Ld. That matters little most of the time, since Cold Blooded 6 Ld will beat regular 7 Ld more often than not. Cold Blooded means nothing against this attack though. No unit of ours likes being hit by the scream, but this is especially deadly in the wake of our new book. Most of our most expensive large units have a Ld score of 5 or 6. Scream attacks can be fired into a close combat or used from a unit in close combat. Fortunately it can’t be used for Stand and Shoot. Lords and Heroes I normally start with Core and work my way up to characters, but the army is called “Vampire Counts”, not “Random Assorted Undead,” so the characters get top billing. Vampire Lords: Vampire Lords can easily reach Slann levels of points cost if only to pay for their huge array of abilities. They have better combat stats than Oldbloods and are spell casters to boot. A lord can be anywhere between a level one to level four caster. Any turn they slay a model in close combat, they have a one in six chance to recover a wound (if they were wounded). They can ride Coven Thrones (bestows extra attacks and a minor hexing effect on enemies) or various flying mounts. It’s rare to put the general on a unit like that because the Vampire Counts suffer a lot when they lose their general. We don’t have artillery to throw at mounted generals so they make break them out when fighting Lizardmen. It is more common to see Vampire Lords riding land based mounts surrounded by an honor guard of knights or else on foot with a pack of hard hitting infantry. Magic items and vampiric powers can of course increase their deadliness. They can also buy up to 100 points worth of Vampiric powers that do not count against their magical item allotment. I’m not going to go over every one. I’m going to mention the Red Fury which gives them free attack for every casualty they inflict each round (Red Fury attacks do not generate free attacks). This lets an already badass character really drive up CR, especially when paired with another vampire upgrade that bestows ASF. I am going to mention Master of the Black Arts, an ability that lets them reroll one of their dice when rolling Winds of Magic. It costs a lot of points so a vampire with that upgrade can’t be turned into a crazy blender but it’s quite potent for an unorthodox player truly going all out in the magic phase. Strigoi Ghoul Kings: Similar in most respects to Vampire Lords. They only have Ld 9 and are capped at being level one wizards (and stuck with the Lore of Vampires). They make up for their inability to wear any armor with a 5+ Regeneration save, poisoned attacks, and Hatred every single round not just the first. They can also ride Terrogheists. Terrorgheists are generally better without a rider, so you won’t usually see mounted Strigoi unless your opponent wants to add a third Terrorgheist. Vampires: The hero level vampires are still potent fighters and spell casters. They have almost as many options as their lordly equivalents. They can be level one or level two casters and they can buy 50 points of Vampiric powers (which unfortunately for us still allows them to take Red Fury). Not only can they serve as a reasonable secondary caster (with whatever lore the VC player chooses) but they can serve as BSB too. They can ride in a bus of knights, ride a flying hellsteed or even ride Coven Thrones. Necromancers and Master Necromancers: These are pretty vanilla casters. Necromancers are level one or two, Master Necromancers are level three or four. They can’t fight in close combat any better than most armies’ wizards. Either type can ride Corpse Carts. Master Necromancers can ride Abyssal Terrors, a fairly weak flying mount. Most Necromancers will be embedded in units though. They can even serve as generals in a Vampire Count army meaning a Vampire Count army can actually exist sans-vampires. Given the effectiveness of tooled out blender vampires, Necromancers are rarely chosen as general in competitive lists unless it’s a small points size game. While you rarely see Necromancer generals, it’s very common to see Necromancers and Master Necromancers in supporting roles. With the new FAQ rules for Spirit Leech, a Vampire Lord’s Ld 10 becomes much more potent. They don’t have to take Lore of Death to throw down nasty Spirit Leech spells, now they just need to have a Necromancer be in the same unit to do it! Don’t repeat my mistake and figure a Slann will be okay with a Ward save and 5 wounds. Even a lowly Necromancer can take down a Slann with the lore of Death with repetition and luck. Wight Kings: A necromancers is basically a much cheaper vampire without the fighting ability. A wight is basically a much cheaper vampire without the spellcasting. They have similar stat lines to Scar Veterans only they enjoy Killing Blow and Ld 9. They can be on foot or ride Skeletal steeds and serve as BSBs. Ethereal Characters: Cairn Wraiths and Tomb Banshees can be taken as characters but they can’t take any upgrades or magical items. A single ethereal killer in a block of infantry is annoying. If the entire front rank is made up of them (or four out of five with the fifth slot held by a Vampire Lord or Strigoi Ghoul King) you will suffer a lot if you don’t have magical attacks). If they are buried in a large unit of zombies or skeletons means you can’t just shoot them with magic spells. If a Lord level fighter is in the group they can generally take out a Saurus character packing a magic weapon before the Saurus can even strike at the ethereals. There is very little our Saurus blocks can do against such an opponent. One tactic I stumbled on things to the good folks at Ulthuan is the Sword of Anti-Heroes since a Saurus fighting a wall of characters will probably have three characters in base to base combat making him stronger. Core Zombies: Zombies are only three points apiece now and can take musicians and standards. If Invocation casters are nearby they are hard to eliminate altogether as many will be healed back most magic phases. They still only have WS1 and ASL. Generally they can’t do much more than tie you down. They can’t even hold you in place very well to allow an elite unit to hit your flank. As a Lizardmen player, you generally WANT your units engaged with zombies to be flanked. Why? Well let’s say five hexwraiths flank your zombie fighting Saurus. Well the Saurus will probably still win combat by more than five just from ripping zombies apart and all the elite Hexwraiths go poof in one round. Zombies are only a real danger when your unit fighting them is very small, failed a Fear test, and/or the zombies are being buffed. Note that small units of zombie scattered about amongst low level casters in round one can be raised to enormous number levels with the right army builds though if there are enough strategically positioned Necromancers. Always target the embedded Necromancers individually when you can. Skeletons: A more expensive slightly better zombie. They have hand weapons and shields and light armor and WS2. They can take spears for free (most VC prefer the parry save though). Generally they are used in a similar fashion to zombies, but zombies are considered a more efficient use of points. Skeletons have a niche as a character bunker since they give up less CR than zombies and can take unit champions. Crypt Ghouls: This is where the muscle in Vampire Counts Core can be found. Ghouls are the only Core that can put up with a fight without characters. They are as tough as Saurus and get two poisoned attacks each. They are commonly seen in horde formation and with their 20 mm bases they will get more attacks per frontage than Saurus get. Saurus have the advantage of a 4+ armor save with a parry (ghouls have no saves without buffs) and Saurus have predatory fighter now. Also ghouls can’t take standards or musicians which hurts them in CR (and CR is very important when you are fighting undead). Ghouls aren’t pushovers but they can’t go toe-to-toe with Saurus unless they are getting lots of magical augments. Dire Wolves: These potent wolves have a M9 and Vanguard serving the same function of Fast Cavalry (even though they are technically not Fast Cavalry). They get +1 S on the charge. Between their low point cost and high speed, they are a serious threat to our skirmishing units and can even threaten our harder hitting units with flank attacks. Special Grave Guard: Probably the best all-comers unit in the Vampire Counts army book. They cost about the same as Saurus and yet outclass them on the whole. They are stronger and tougher than the Core undead have WS3, and heavy armor. They can come with hw+shields or great weapons (most players take great weapons). Be wary of Invocation of Nehek, no unit gets more back in terms of points from Invocation than Grave Guard. D6+4 Graveguard is far more serious than 2d6+4 zombies. Corpse Cart: A chariot with a base move of 4 isn’t very fast. It also only hits at S4. The upside is that they inflict 2d6 random attacks and have Regeneration 4+. When affected by any augment spell from the Lore of Vampires (and remember the augments all have bubble effect options) than every undead unit within 6 inches of the Cart gets Always Strikes First, even zombies who also lose Always Strike Last. There are two optional upgrades, Balefire which makes enemy (Lizardmen) wizards within 24 inches lose -1 to their casting rolls and Unholy Lodestone which lets friendly wizards within six inches reroll a d6 when making rolls for Invocation of Nehek. The chariots work the same whether they are taken as stand alone units or Necromancer mounts. Black Knights: Your basic heavy cavalry, except you know, undead. They get pretty expensive when the barding and lance upgrades are taken, but they are about the only option in the Vampire Counts book with low armor saves. Two things differentiate Black Knights from their living cavalry counterparts. First they have Killing Blow and second they have Spectral Steeds which means they get no movement penalty for Barding and count as ethereal for movement purposes meaning they never take Dangerous Terrain tests, but non-magical attacks can still wound them normally. Black Knights are also a very popular delivery system to get killy vampire characters where they are needed most. Crypt Horrors: Crypt Horrors are mutated Crypt Ghouls and powerful Monstrous Infantry. They have Regeneration 5+ and T5 meaning they die slowly. Like the lesser ghouls, they have poisoned attacks. They can fully benefit from Invocation of Nehek meaning it’s almost as bad to let your opponent bring back these casualties as it is for Grave Guard. Vargheists: They are like Crypt Horrors but stronger on offensive and weaker on defense. They have the Fly, Frenzy, and Vampiric special rules. It’s easy to let it slip your mind that something that big and bulky can fly, don’t let them surprise you with unexpected charges. They only have T4 and no saves of any kind, so they are kind of glass cannons dying fairly easily to whatever you hit them with (preferably at range). Also, since they are vampiric they don’t regrow very fast from Invocation spells. Fell Bats: Relatively inexpensive flyers capable of running interference. A threat to our skirmishing units, but not generally not as threatening to us as Dire Wolves are since Fell Bats tend to come in smaller groups. Since LM don’t have stationary war machines, Fell Bats are not really a serious threat to us. Bat Swarms: Most swarms are weak and overpriced in eighth edition. Making them fly doesn’t make them much better. Bat Swarms also bestow Always Strikes Last on enemies in base contact but that’s not enough to convince many Vampire Counts players to field Bat Swarms. Our main combat units are pretty low initiative anyway so the hex effect means next to nothing to us. Spirit Hosts: This swarm that’s not useless, it’s not the most powerful unit on the list but it sees some play. Spirit Hosts are ethereal which means they are hard to kill if you can’t bring magical attacks to bear or kill them with their Unstable rule. If you must fight them in hand-to-hand combat, try to force multi-combats with weak corporeal units like zombies so you can use the positive CR from fighting the weak units to transfer over to the Spirit Hosts and kill them with Crumble. They die pretty quick to magic missiles too. Hex Wraiths: Combining fast cavalry with being Ethereal, Hex Wraiths are a deadly opponent. They have a special attack that lets them wound enemies as if by a shooting attack when riding through enemy units. Their regular and special attacks hit at S5 are magical, flaming, and ignore armor saves. The same basic principles fighting Spirit Hosts apply. Taken them out via magical ranged attacks if you can, or use CC magic attacks or static CR to kill them if you can’t. Rare Terrorgheists: Terrogheists are probably the best anti-LM unit on the Vampire Count list if not the best anti-everyone unit on the Vampire Count list. We don’t have cannons or heavy long ranged hitters to take them out. Our cold blooded attribute gives us no protection against their Ld based scream attacks and Terrogheists are no slouches in close combat either. Terrogheists can be upgraded to inflict 3d6 S2 hits on units in base contact when they die and/or to have Poisoned attacks in close combat, but it’s really the scream you should be concerned with, the Scream attack is stronger when the Terrorgheist is unwounded, so they hit harder than other screams. Also Terrorgheists tend to get first dibs on the Lore of Vampires healing ability. There are three ways to take them down, magic, skink shooting, or S5+ close combat attacks. Magic is probably best, but with all the ethereal units on the board, every magical attack we can bring to bear is precious. Skink shooting is a straight forward solution, but the very same units that can throw down the poison shots are also extremely vulnerable to the Terrogheist’s scream and stand no chance at all in close combat. Close combat is the most reliable way to take them down, the Terrogheist’s scream won’t make a huge dent in Temple Guard, Kroxigor, or Skroxigor blocks, but by the time you get into CC with the Terrogheist they will probably have already had at least two opportunities to scream at your units. Mortis Engine: Nearly as dangerous as the Terrorgheist. They have a banshee style scream attack and a large number of mundane attacks. The real power is the Reliquary. It radiates a damaging effect to enemies (d6 hits) and a buffing effect to allies (Regeneration boost) with in 2d6+turn number inches. The strength of the damaging effect is equal to the turn number. Trust me, these things REALLY hurt on turn 5 and 6 if you haven't killed them yet. They can be upgraded to boost nearby units to get +2 to cast Lore of Vampire spells, but units with this upgrade takes wounds when their 2d6 rolls turn up a double (not a huge deal since Lore of Vampires can patch up minor wounds on the Mortis Engines pretty easily). To add injury to injury, if you kill them they damage all units friend or foe within roughly 12 inches inflicting 2d6 hits at the strength of the turn number. We don't have a lot of options to take these things out at range so if you kill one of these guys in close combat, chances are pretty good that the explosion will hurt us more than the enemy. Basically take these out as quickly as you can and try not to have any low toughness units nearby when it dies. If you can't magic it to death, charge it with a large dinosaur or a pack of Kroxigor and bash the reliquary to kindling. Black Coach: It’s not as dangerous as it was in seventh edition. It still feeds off of power dice pools but it doesn’t actually deduct from anyone’s power dice pool. They are defensively a tough nut to crack with 3+ AS and 4+ Ward Saves. The more power dice it feeds off the stronger it gets first gaining more and better attacks, then gaining mobility and defensive power. Once it gains ethereal and magic resistance it becomes very hard to kill indeed. The sooner you can put wounds on the Black Coach the better. The Black Coach only has Ld5. Regardless of the level of power it’s acquired, static CR will let you put wounds on it pretty efficiently (it only has four). Shooting it down early is good, charging it early is nearly as good. Varghulfs: Basically a large feral vampire. They have five base attacks, Hatred, Terror, Regeneration 4+, and never give Flank or Rear bonuses. A close combat monster, it’s a good idea to soften them up at range if you can as they will inflict a lot of punishment on you in CC. If you can fight a Varghulf alongside a weak unit like zombies you can take out the Varghulf with CR, but Varghulfs are deadly enough that you probably normally can’t rely on static CR alone to beat them without a block of zombies to get your free kills. Blood Knights: Elite knights whose basic statlines make the Warriors of Chaos green with envy. At fifty points apiece they are probably the most expensive single-wound models in the game. Some players avoid them for just that reason. They are tough but they are vampiric which means they can’t heal back very fast with Invocation of Nehek so casualties you inflict on these bad boys tend to be long lasting. I ended up fighting VCs a lot so I’m going to try to share my wisdom. I am getting better but I still lose more often than not. I’m also slowly working on my own vampire counts army. Then when I was almost done with this Tactica the new book came out and I had to revise much of this. Here it is now.