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post #23 of (permalink) Old 09-09-14, 03:56 PM
Vaz
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It's a bit of either or.

The weaknesses with Tomb Kings was;
- No March - ever
- Weak troop healing (there are only 4 augments in the spell list)
- Cannot heal characters or mounts

With access to an allied army, with access to the lore of Vampires, this is improved.

Your core choices are 25% of units made of the following;
- Zombies
- Skeleton Warriors
- Crypt Ghouls
- Dire Wolves
- Skeleton Warriors (TK)
- Skeleton Archers
- Skeleton Horsemen
- Skeleton Horse Archers
- Skeleton Chariots

Skeleton Chariots as mentioned lost their big buff (at least until the FAQ, I'm sure it's an oversight) in that they cannot be joined by a Tomb Prince or King, meaning no My Will Be Done, and no Death Mask of Kharnut to try and encourage linebreaking.

Vampire Skeletons versus TK Skeletons - 4pts versus 5pts, TK Skellies have Ld5, and cost 4pts without Light Armour, Vampire Skellies have Ld3 and cost 5pts/model, but can take a Magic Banner for 25pts.

If you're going to run them with a Magic Banner, then putting a Tomb King/Prince to let them benefit from My Will Be Done is okay, but it's a lot of points going into S3 A1 models, and improving them with expensive force multipliers is a bit daft. It is worthwhile mentioning that a single Necromancer with Master of the Dead can increase the size of Skeleton Warrior units past their starting - this includes Tomb Kings, as they're named the same as Vampire Skeleton Warriors - this doesn't apply to Archers, however.

Zombies - nobody ever takes them. In the Vampire Counts list, you can raise zombies, and lots of them - they can be taken above their starting unit limit, and gain an additional d6 with Invocation of Nehek. A L4 Vampire with Dark Acolyte, Raise Dead, and Invocation of Nehek can create a zombie unit with 2d6+3 models, then gain a further 2d6+4+D3 zombies - with average rolling, you've just created a 22 model tarpit out of thin air - all the way up to a 34 model unit at max. This isn't exactly much - you're maybe going to do 2 wounds at best to any enemy unit, and against elites, you've just "thrown the unit away" - but the way you've angled that Zombie unit is that you've managed to force the enemy elite unit which was going to flank into your Knight bus to spend a turn reforming as their overrun would not catch the bus in the flank.

Ghouls - way too expensive. This was a knee jerk to the 7th edition Ghoul spam, which IIRC was basically taking as many ghouls as possible with their 2 poisoned attacks each, and giving them a special ability that let them start further up the field, at a time when chargers went first unless there was ASF or similar, and no step up/supporting attacks - basically if you got the charge off (and you usually did, due to charge being double move distance flat), and was able to kill the front rank, and due to their cost, outnumber the enemy as well, you were looking at a combat resolution of 3 from ranks, 5-8 from kills, and one outnumber, compared to a single enemy rank, and maybe 3 ranks, and possibly a kill if you forgot to target the champion, you could force a 300pt enemy unit to take a Break test on a -7 or so. Since pretty much all of those benefits were removed AND they now cost twice, neither can they be made higher than starting size, they're rarely taken. There was also a rule that the BRB brought in call "Fortitude" which was based on banners, something that was a really poorly thought out rule in retrospect, but something that penalises ghoul armies as they cannot take standards.

Dire Wolves - despite being kind of expensive, and being T3 no save, and only I3 with a Vanguard move, these can be fairly effective. The Vanguard move gets them in position ready for a conjoined charge with a Black/Blood Knight charge to remove ranks. Against shooty armies, they tend to suffer, due to not only getting pincushioned, but also the lack of big combat blocks which need to have their flanks removed.

Archers - these are a new thing to Vampire Counts armies - a shooting phase? What's that? As mentioned, Skeletons are kind of poor - they were taken in Vampire armies as they were the perfect midpoint between Ghouls and Zombies - they at least have a 5+ save to benefit from, and often consisted of one massive block around 40+ strong with a L2 Necromancer with Master of the Dead who can simply throw any spare dice at the end of a Magic phase on improving his bunker for free.

While the bunker option is limited only to melee varieties of Skeleton Warrior, Archers actually let your core units do something, while looking intimidating in your deployment zone.

In regards to horsemen - the melee ones - you're not going to like them. There's little that they can do with their S4 charge, T3, 4+ Save that Black Knights with their S6 Killing Blow and ignores difficult terrain movement and +1 to hit Standard, Toughness 4, 2+ Saves cannot do. Sure they cost nearly twice as much - but compare a S3 arrow against each - assuming it hits, 50% to wound, 50% to save = 25% chance dead TK Cav. 33% chance to wound, 83% chance to save = 6% chance dead Black Knight - costs twice as much, but 4 times more likely to survive. Lets not even talk about what happens when said units charge something like Chaos Warrior Halberdiers. The S4 charge is still achieved by Vanguard'ing Dire Wolves, who can have a decent chance of hitting a flank, and are a lot cheaper.

Skeleton Horse Archers - they're light cavalry who cannot march (and cannot march in Legions as they're likely to be out of the Generals reach anyway, so that's not fixed). If that's not enough to dismiss them, they're equipped with Hand Weapons and bows, that only hit on 5+, and cost 2.5x what normal Archers cost. Even using Smiting for Multiple Shots (2) is a poor use, as you get 2.5x the amount of shots with normal archers, as well as likely to be in range of Smiting in the first place - and despite the longer range they have by virtue of their scout rule and 8" move speed, if you're that desperate for wounds that you're relying on 5+ to hit S3 arrows, you're truly in the crappers (incidentally, that was probably due to you not having 250% the amount of shots in the first place). As you can see - bad.

Chariots - we've already done this. However, they're a core unit which can actually do something, which may well be good enough reason to take, they're also a combat unit, and one of the few things in a TK army which can hit hard enough to do significant damage to break on the charge. Sounds decent until you remember that Vampire armies are pretty much all about their special and rare units and hitting hard - Grave Guard blocks, Knight busses, Crypt Horror hordes+Dual Mortis Engines, Vargheist hordes, Hexwraith combat blocks, Blood Knights, Dual Black Coach, Dual Terrorgheists being the pick of the bunch, plus the added benefits of the Morghasts.

In return, Tomb Kings have Tomb Guard, which are outclassed by Grave Guard, Necroknights, Tomb Scorpions, Ushabti (utter gash, cannot heal adequately, 50pts a model, and a 5+ Armour Save? no ta), Carrion (even more effective with Invocation of Nehek to heal them), Warsphinx spam (still tends to get cut short by Cannonballs), Sepulchral Stalkers (Strength 1 versus Initiative is weak - even Ogres and Dwarves have I2, so you're stuck wounding on a 5+, despite Artillery Dice hits - not to mention putting yourself in charge range of a lethal enemy unit - because there's no point wasting those shots against crappers units), Necrolith Collossus, Heirotitan (magic heavy armies need this), Necrosphinx assassins, Screaming Skull Catapults, and Caskets.

I think the best thing to do is choose which is going to be your main hitty unit;

I'm old school, so prefer units with options, as characters can join and force multiply, but that needn't be the case - from what I can see, the list has very hitty units in Grave Guard (or Tomb Guard, but honestly, Grave Guard are just better), Black Knights, and Blood Knights, and can be well supported by a variety of units - Flying Vargheist Hordes, Crypt Horrors with Mortis Engine in support (4+ Ward, T5, 3 Wound anchors which can be healed effectively as they're not Large Targets or Vampiric), Corpsecarts for Vigour Mortis buffs, Ethereal Spirit Hosts, Hexwraith War Machine/lone archer unit killers, and then your general beatstick supports.

My army honestly wouldn't have changed all that much - I might take TK Skeleton Warriors as for the meanwhile they're still buffed by Master of the Dead Necromancers, along with a Heirotitan and Casket of Souls or 2 to generate additional power dice with which I might transfer a few of my buffing Vampires to Lore of Undeath. I can't honestly see what changing my core units to becoming shooters would do for me - maybe kill a half dozen or so enemies. Maybe a few Necrosphinx for Headhunting enemy monsters/characters, and a Screaming Skull Catapult to reduce the potential enemies the knight bus is up against thanks to panicking those on the flanks away from general+reroll. Possibly shed some points for some Scorpions to help kill War Machine crews and their sniper cannons.

I honestly don't think that the problem with Tomb Kings was their lack of effect - on paper they have plenty of synergy - it's just that they're a bit too overcosted, and their "downsides" are too overplayed or not mitigated as effectively as other armies are - for example, Chaos Heroes are rewarded for challenges, for example, but TK took some serious penalties. The Undead Legion removes SOME of those penalties, but a few others are hardcoded in - such as how bad the Lore of Nehekhara is (that's a penalty, in as much as, even though you are no longer forced to take it, it is still wasted potential - it's not High Magic/Lore of Nurgle, for example), overcosted units (Tomb Guard, Sepulchral Stalkers, Necroknights and Chariots sticking out here), and just generally poor units - both Cavalry being the main ones here.



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