Okay, I hate it when people come on forums and whinge on saying 'my army got nerfed' but wellllll....
The way to play this army has changed drastically...
Previous strengths of magic dominance, psychological warfare [fear/terror], lack of concern about the worst troop stats around, op wraith units, immensely tooled up characters, these things are all of the past.
Magic dominance from single die spell casts is out, but in a 1000pt army you'll get roughly double the dice to do the same thing, but your opponent with even just one L2 mage can hold you at bay. Now we need to look at the rest of the spell list and make more use of it, there's serious potential in going for uber casts of Summon Undead Horde, Curse of years and Wind of Undeath if the opponent has plenty of units. These were never really used before as the single die Invocation was so much more effective. But the ease of casting them now is quite something, though you really need to look at specialising your vampires for optimum effectiveness. All magic or all combat as a little bit of each gets you nowhere.
Psychological warfare doesn't really exist anymore. Instead in combat, your opponent may once in a while fight with WS1, not something to rely on as you can bet on a Lord (high Ld) and BSB being nearby. Though combat Vamps should really take Aura of Dark Majesty as it'll have effects of increasing the likeliness of this, favouring successful break tests and also interfering with any troops wanting to march nearby.
Also on this vein of thought, outnumbering/outranking is gonna become a hefty issue for Vamp players, if we don't we have a stubborn enemy, not needed.
The bad troop stats is gonna be a real bugbear on all Undead players. Now that the emphasis of the game is coming back to troops making attacks, [Am actually Really glad to see this but every silver lining has it's cloud,] Skellies and Zombies are gonna shine at just how bad they are....
Ways round this.... Horde em up, even crap stats get better when you up the amount of attacks. Helm of Commandment is gonna become your favourite item, normally worn buy a magicky Vamp Lord behind your battle line. Danse Macabre gets you Always Strike First and reroll misses, a huge boost, and ofc the movement thingy but thats by the by. Other ways to get this are through Corpse Carts and Staff of damnation, though both are bound spells, you need to read how they work and see if you like.
Wraith units, though still a nifty bunch for being Ethereal and dishing out some sexy damage are no longer immensely manouvreable as Skirmish units are confined with similar LoS and movement to normal units
The days of most of your army being in points heavy characters with token minimal size Core Units and the rest in Special/Rare are also gone.
Real attention needs to be paid to what role you want your characters to take, and how to efficiently kit them up. The 25% Lord and 25% Hero means more Lords in smaller games!! though at 205 starter you're not going to get much kit on him in a 1000pt scrap. But to not take him means only 2 characters in your army, it'll be an uphill struggle going that way.
I still see the Wight King as the best statline BSB pts can buy though. For cheap points Necromancers fill a gap and are always handy.
Let's have a look at some positive things now....:scratchhead:
Admittedly I am still finding my feet with this new Edition, the changes as a whole, I love, more emphasis on troops, armies being more manouvreable, the game has def evolved, how can we take advantage of this....
First up, there's guaranteed to be a lot more dice in the magic phase so let's get the old favorite 'Black coach' back out again. Each magic phase will see average 7 power dice, before any additionals. That pretty much guarantees an upgrade to it Every Magic phase, so by end of Turn 3 you get the all singing, Scythed, Hatred, Magic Res, Killing Blow, Ethereal, flyer, you Always wanted, maybe even earlier =)
And unless I'm very much mistaken, there's no more cannonball chariot popping!
Black Knights might also be worth another perusal, now that the 2nd rank get to attack, the charge can become a Lot more effective. Tweaking with Banner of +1 to hit, some Always hit first with re-roll magic and a character or 2, there's some serious damage potential, though have yet to put this one into effect.
Personally am taken with a new look a Grave Guard. Before I always used as an anvil with hand weapon shield, serious lastability, which they maintain. But with 2nd rank attacks, single attack great weapon units have some serious potential. Multi attack units will only get +1 from the 2nd rank which wont greatly enhance their effectiveness, but this gives chance to double the amount of S6 being dished out. Even on hand weapon/shield, that's still a heck of a lot more killing blow potential. Not many heroes will be volunteering to face that, just on the off chance...
As always with magic enhancement for Always strike 1st, re-roll misses, even +1 to hit banner, these guys will scare opponents.
Corpse Carts around the front line will always have their place.
Dire Wolves are no longer Fast Cav, relegated to 'War Beasts', meh. A sad loss. Though Fell Bats are now much better at War Machine hunting, take a unit of 6 and see them dish out 12 attacks as they dont have to be in base contact any more.
Army Selection needs more care with job-specific roles for Vampires needing to be optimised to fit point allowance.
The more manouvreable units in our army are now a lot less so, whilst the majority of our opponents have become more so with a better chance of marching in proximity to enemy units.
Our heavier units now look to be a little stronger and might be something we come to rely on.
Horde units look to be a must for cheaper units, eg. Zombies, though this is a double edged sword with giving opportunity for more enemy to engage.
The Magic Phase has changed severely, and though can still be a strength is not as reliable as was, and that miscast table still makes me wince. Plenty of dice and repeat casting Invocation on 2 dice with a L4 Vamp is open for wearing down dispel pools, but the option of an uber cast of Summon Horde with your last power dice is also definitely viable. I say with your last dice so you dont lose any when you miscast. And the fact you can heal up any Magic users is still a strength of the army.
These thoughts are just my initial responses to 8th Ed. I haven't gone far in my play-testing, though am relishing the challenge of looking again at the elements of the army that had gotten sidelined previously. I look forward to hearing others thoughts on the Good, the Bad, and the Dead.