The Undead are an ever-present plague on the living. This horror becomes a waking nightmare when bound to the will of a Vampire. When a Vampire prepares for war he does not march alone. Followed by legions of skeletons, the recently dead rise as Zombies, and crypt ghouls come to the call of the vampires. More powerful things known as Wights are summoned to fight in regiments of Grave Guard and Black Knights. Even more deadly than these warriors are the Blood Knights - Vampires of an ancient martial order, intent on slaying all the living. Equally as feared are the feral vampiric beasts known as Varghulfs. Ghosts can be summoned from their restless existence. It is with these creatures and more that the Vampire Counts will use to try to take the world. After all, everything that dies is theirs to command, and everything dies in the end.
Most of the Vampire counts force is now made up of plastic whilst new models and the old metal models have been recast in finecast. Whilst not being overly cost effective, it does make for some very stunning models. Due to the need for large hordes of core units, Vampire counts can be expensive, however the battleforce is a good way of getting large units of skeletons and zombies.
On the Tabletop:
One of the things that best characterises the Vampire Counts army is the fact that it's very hard to make it stay dead. Most units in the army can be replenished and new ones created in the midst of battle. Because every model in the force is Immune to Psychology, you can be sure that your army will act in exactly the way you want it to. Magic plays a large part in a vampire counts army, with a formidable lore of magic your Vampires can slaughter the foe or raise more minions as occasion demands. Forming a horde of Zombies, Crypt Ghouls or Skeletons really isn't very expensive in points, but it is incredibly unnerving to face off against. The Vampire Counts are able to call upon a couple of very large, very dangerous units.
However There's a real risk of your Army General getting killed in a Vampire Counts army. Partly because he's typically your best spellcaster (and the Miscast table is so ferocious), and partly because every enemy model on the table wants him dead. When the General dies, your units quickly start to dissolve and your whole force falls apart. The only thing you can do about this is make sure you don't take any unnecessary risks! Give your general a good save and hope that you can whack your enemy before he draws a bead on your Vampire Lord.
The special characters available to the VC are fairly nice, Vlad is a powerfull addition to your army and with Isabella by his side they are even better. Mannfred is a powerfull spellcaster who knows all the spells from the lore of vampires and lore of death, however he is rather un-protected. Heinrich Kemmler is my favourite character, mainly because of the nostalgia, but he also has some lovely magic items and knows all the spells in the lore of the vampires. Konrad and Krell are both beasts in combat.
A standard vampire can be equipped for various different roles with a combination of magic items and vampire powers. The necromancer is a good spell caster for refilling your ranks. The Wight king, wraith and banshee all help your meagre skeletons handle combat better. It’s very important that you keep your characters with your units, it helps them survive combats and keeps your characters alive.
For core you have skeletons, unless you have fluff reasons, you should have at least one horde of skeletons every 1000 points, Zombies form great tar pits, Ghouls have gone from being a useless skirmishing unit to a very capable unit with poisoned attacks, dire wolves are good for protecting your flanks or going after war machines.
The vc have some very nice special units, my favourite being the grave guard, a large unit of this combined with a vampire or wight king can ruin anyone’s day, the banner of the barrows is a must have. Everything that applies to the grave guard applies to black knights, and then some. The corpse cart is good for helping your necromancer refill skeletons, especially if you mount him on it, which is an option. Bat swarms are swarms, obviously. Fell bats are good for war machine hunting or taking care of that lone wizard that is proving to be a nuisance. Hexwraiths are a new unit which I haven’t used yet, but there ability to wound the enemy by just running past them seems very nice. The Vargheists are also a new addition to the vampire counts, being flying monstrous infantry that can march because they are vampires is very effective. The crypt horrors are monstrous infantry with poisoned attacks and regenerate.
When we look at rare choices you need to have a clear option in mind, the Varghulf is a lovely little beast, which is also a vampire. The Blood knights are powerful vampire knights, being expensive in points and cost, but are worth it. The black coach is a very old member of the vc army, a terror causing vampiric chariot. The terrorgheist can be taken as a mount for a strigoi lord, it can use a special shooting attack every turn which can inflict up to 18 wounds. The mortis engine a nexus of dark energy that can aid your magic users and cause wounds to the enemy, good choice for a heavy magic oriented army.
How to start:
Ok well I know its very games workshop advice but I really do stand by the battleforce, lots of skeletons and zombies and you get a character in the form of a necromancer on the corpse cart, which is a good start. To build from there is a lot more skeletons and a vampire. By then you should know which direction you wanna go in. there are some really good painting tutorials out there for skeletons and zombies to help you out.
· Magic is very important, if you don’t like magic, pick a different army
· Some very cool miniatures, however can be expensive to build necessary hordes
· Painting around 100 skeletons can grow tiresome very quickly, if your looking for a small elite army, look elsewhere
· Big weakness in the army general, which can put some people off
· Very nice models and easy effective paint schemes
· Your army will do what you want it to, all the time
· Nice lore of magic, good choice of spells and magic items
· Can replenish your army as you go
· Some good special characters
· In my mind it’s a very good army to start on, iv started and re started on them 3 times now
· And best of all, you get a vampire, what else could be better
If you want more advice, there is a forum that is dedicated completely to vampire counts, good place to check out: