Friday, January 27, 2012

Vampire Counts

I've been through more army book editions with the VC than with any of my other armies.

Based on the articles on this blog, you could be forgiven for thinking that Blood Angels were my first major army, and that 40K is the only game I play (with small excursions into Warmachine). However, I started playing Warhammer Fantasy several years before I started playing 40K. I played Undead, and later Vampire Counts. My Vampire Counts army is still my largest army (by model count if not by points).

So why don’t I ever write about it? That has to do with how I like to play and what models I own, and how that interacted with the Seventh Edition VC book and the Eighth Edition core rules. I tried to make my collection flexible, but it always centered around blocks of undead infantry with strong characters leading them. This always worked well for me, until the Seventh Edition Army Book.

This happened for two reasons that I can see. First, the way that Vampires purchased equipment and powers changed, becoming much less flexible. This made it difficult to make a good close-combat vampire. In addition, the new rules made it much more efficient to use a high level wizard Vampire Lord, and keep him far away from combat. Second, and a bigger concern for me, Skeletons were downgraded while Ghouls became way better, but they both cost the same points. This was a significant problem for me because I own more than 100 Skeletons but only 20 Ghouls. When I started playing, Ghouls were a skirmishing unit (I still like them better that way). They were very useful but one didn’t base their battle line around them.

My collection includes the entire range of GW Skeleton evolution.

So I blundered along using Skeletons, relying on a character to generate their kills and the skeletons to provide static combat resolution and outnumbering. This didn’t work well, but it kind of worked. Then Eighth Edition came out. It increased the importance of kills in combat beyond that of static combat resolution, meaning that my skeletons really had no chance of winning combat. However, by switching to a percentage system for army building, it required me to take even more skeletons. Finally, it removed the ability of fear causing units to auto-break enemy units they outnumber. This meant that Skeletons were paying for a much more useful version of fear.

I have to admit that I didn’t even play any games of Eighth Edition. The changes were just brutal to my VC army. While I do really like the rules for Eighth overall, they did not interact well with the models I owned, and try as I might, I couldn’t make a VC army that I liked and thought would give me a decent chance in games. I heard about one build that was consistently doing well, but I wasn’t going to buy the 80 Ghouls necessary to run it.

Fast forward to the new VC book. Vampires are customizable again. Skeletons are now half the point cost of Ghouls. Even Zombies were improved, to the point that I hear people discussing whether they are a good choice to actually put in lists, rather than just raise up during games. I like the new Lore of the Vampires (getting rid of spamming Invocations and just making it affect every model within a certain radius was a great idea). Also, there are items and abilities that make the new Fear actually very useful.

I haven’t made any solid moves yet, so I don’t know if this is enough to get me playing Fantasy again. That said, I’m excited about my Vampire Counts in a way that I haven’t been since the release of the last army book.

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