Monday, April 12, 2010

How to Lose with Vampire Counts: A Process

Hello again to my reader (s), it’s been a while since my last post and for that I apologize. Today I want to talk to you about something that happened a few weeks ago that honestly got me to thinking. I eagerly joined the local Ork Town Warhammer Fantasy League, which is a 2K 6 week event which has a total of around 9-10 players. I would be using my Vampire Counts that I have been feverishly painting for the last 2 months, even though I had not ever used them in any kind of competitive environment. There would be a certain comp restriction in that your special and rare choices could not exceed the point total of your core units, though this seriously hamstringed my choices seeing as how VC lists depend on their special and rare choices to win games and have very over-priced and weak core units (more on this later), other than that there is a 10 wizard level cap (i.e you can’t have 4 level 3 wizards, as this would put you at 12…k?) of course bound spells count as 1 level and VC’s got dinged with a +1 before any list building began (yeeaahhhhh…..). So that’s enough rambling, what follows is what I brought in my first list and why it all failed so miserably..

Large blocks of skeletons: The reason I wanted to take these was because a) I happen to have a lot of these skeleton models b) a large block meant more of a point cost, which meant I could take more special and rare choices and c) they look cool.

The reason they failed me: Taking the initial large blocks prevented me from using more points to buy them magical banners and other important core choices such as Corpse Carts, etc. There is really no reason to start the game with more than 15 skeletons in a unit, as it is unlikely that anyone can destroy the unit in one shooting turn and you can usually raise more skeletons anyways with a nearby vampire (even above their starting number) if you need to.

One unit of fast cavalry: Ok, everyone knows that the VC options for fast march blockers are extremely limited, i.e we have the Dire Wolves and Bat Swarms. Now, in my infinite wisdom I thought that I would only need one unit of 7 Dire Wolves to use to outflank the enemy and to be used as march blockers or prevent the dreaded flank charges that will deny my combat troops their rank bonuses.

The reason they failed me: Dire Wolves are going to die their first round of combat weather you have 5, 7, or 10 in a unit. The only way to get around this is to charge and declare a challenge with your doom wolf (though this only works against single character units). I found it is better to take multiple units of 5 in order to cover more of the board and provide an effective screen for your more valuable combat troops as they try to maneuver into position.

Super Combat Vampire Lord: While it seemed a cool idea at the time to make a character that could chop the head off most units, it was ultimately a bad idea to put the only model keeping you army from crumbling to dust in the front lines.

The reason he failed me: This guy came in at a staggering amount of points, and to be honest, no matter how much of a combat badass you make your Vampire Lord, he is still going to be owned by a lot of units out there. Once that happens say goodbye to your army and to the game. It is much better to make a Lord magic oriented and stick him in the back, away from the danger. You have Hero Vampires that can be used in the combat roles.

Wights and Banshees: What’s not to love about these guys? They are Ethereal (they can’t be hit by anything that isn’t magical) have great weapons (strength 5) have 3 attacks and 2 wounds each (except for the Banshee who has an awesome shooting scream).

The reason they failed me: While VC players got away with the Wight and Banshee shenanigans a few years ago, the rest of the Warhammer world has gotten wise, and now most competitive armies have so many magic weapons and magic attacks (Skaven, Lizardmen) that this unit usually just gets pulverized before they are able to do anything worthwhile. Add in the fact that most competitive tournaments or leagues will have a fair share of Daemons (which count every attack as magical) and your 50 point per model (75 for the Banshee) unit starts to look less and less appealing.

One Hammer Unit: It’s tempting to throw all of you points into one single hammer unit that can make or break the game in one round of combat. For some people it’s a great idea, for me, it proved disastrous.

The reason it failed me: I decided to go with a large block of Grave Guard with a magical banner and the super combat Lord character included for good measure. Now, this unit was able to chop through just about anything, and for the most part, they did. However, they are slow as hell and can be avoided by many things that they, as the only real killers in the army, are tasked to eliminate. Trying to chase a Blood Thirster with movement 4 units is a great way for an army to get picked off piecemeal.

And there you have it. There were plenty of other things that led to my humiliation such as not having adequate magic support for a VC army and misusing some of my units (as I am still relatively new to the game). In the future I will be utilizing some of the other VC units such as Ghouls and Black Knights and will let you all know how those future games go.

Stay Tuned for another update later this week!

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