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Vampire cavalry tactica. 1.0
I figured it was about time I started putting my acquired knowledge down so others can benefit. For the purpose of this tactica Iím going to assume you want to use a vampire list that is formed mainly of the cavalry units such as black knights and blood knights and is for the most part deigned to be magic light and reach combat in the first half of the game.
The first thing to realize is that you will need about three units of armoured cavalry. As they are in the special and rare slots of the army it might be wise to address them first.
Very difficult to use properly but excellent for hunting war machine crews, lone wizards and taking table quarters or objectives. They also provide invaluable screening for the black knights, and screening plus blocking the line of sight of youíre blood knights if using them. They are however highly vulnerable to missile fire and magic missiles, and cannot really fight any unit in combat. Sometimes useful for flank charges but often give the enemy combat resolution from lost wounds. They are cheap, a unit of 6 comes in at 48 points and so become useful for their limited tasks. They are also a core choice so donít take up a knight slot. However they are cavalry so only one wound can be raised from an invocation of Nehek.
I tend to include one unit of zombies in the cavalry list as I think it looks scary as a big unit and also people think they are rubbish so tend to ignore them. Cheap as chips, but very ineffectual in combat the sort of jobs for them are to hold charges for a turn (or two) to destroy unit by being behind them when they break and to absorb missile fire. You can also add to zombie units without getting a bloodline power, which means you can include one and not worry about if it needs to be a bit bigger to block lines of sight or absorb a nasty charge.
Good core choice, they can build static combat res better than ghouls because of access to standards and magical banners, fairly resilient in combat and not bad at taking light (bow) fire. With a champion can prove a pretty safe bunker for a character. You will probably only be able to afford a small unit though, so you need to get lord of the dead in your list.
Much of the same thing counts for ghouls and skeletons, although I feel ghouls are better offensively as they have 2 poisoned attacks each, and can shrug off weak missile attacks with t4. No access to standard bearer means you are down 2 static combat resolution from a fully equipped skeleton block however. (standard - 1 war banner - 2).
These are roughly half the points of a blood knight and have the same defensive capability if equipped with barding. In my opinion there are few better cavalry choices in the game. With S6 on the charge and the killing blow ability even enemy characters will be concerned about them getting a charge. A unit with champion and standard will cost about 210 points with barding depending on the standard and whether they have barding or not.
A note about barding versus non barding on black knights: The 2+ armour save is very useful but for a cavalry army I would suggest you will want a unit that can outcharge enemy cavalry such as empire knights.
While not strictly speaking cavalry they have a huge move (20Ē) which they can use outside of the normal area of command from a vampire. They are pretty cheap for what you get which is a unit that in my estimation outperforms the wolves at virtually every task. The reason you will probably only get on unit in is that they are a special choice (taking up a black knight spot) and that they are quite vulnerable when used in small numbes.
The bats have a 20Ē charge however and skirmish. This coupled with the rules for breaking undead makes them ideal for taking down the large flying creature your opponent has if fielded with large numbers or a considerable amount of involcation with summon creatures of the night. (until the errata bats regain d6 wounds per successful cast.) Simply charge in and lose combat but not enough to lose all the bats while lining up the blood knights or lordís hammer unit to go and squish said beasty.
The hardest hitting things in the book, if not in the game. They are hideously expensive however. A unit with a 4+ ward against shooting is in the region of 400 points and if you donít take protection against shooting the handguns and bolt throwers will make a mess of youíre expensive unit.
Offensively they are absolutely awesome, and provide a good hiding place for characters, as any of the unit can accept challenges and leave the lord/hero free to squish rank and file troops. I use them without a champion, however I can see the advantages of taking one.
Blood knights are relatively easy to counter however, as they are frenzied they have to charge enemy units which are in range, and because they are few in number a flank charge from almost any combat unit will see you in trouble.
I have little experience with wraiths but I think that if they could be squeezed into a cavalry list they would be very powerful. If you can keep them alive against magic and daemons/dryads they would be a useful addition. Despite this I doubt they can be included due to their prohibitive points cost.
To be brutally honest I love the model and fluff of the coach but it is so vulnerable to a single S7 hit and it costs so much I doubt it can be included in most peoples cavalry list. If I were forced to include one I would put it right near as many of my own spell casters as I could early on and then try to get a combo charge with it and some black knights, because if it sticks in combat it will rapidly be destroyed.
I have never fielded one so I am looking for advice, to my eyes he looks a little vulnerable but I can see the potential in using him with a unit of marching black knights to flank my opponentís army. 5 attacks with hatred is good offensively, and the regenerate might help keep him alive even against combat resolution too!
Grave Guard, Bat swarms, and corpse carts can be reviewed else where. I canít think of reasons for inclusion in the cavalry list.
Essentially he needs to pull his weight in combat as well as magic. Its always worth taking him at level 3 because of the extra dispel dice. Good powers include dread knight, red fury, infinite hatred, walking death, aura of dark majesty (if used with wraiths.) and at least one of the raising extra models in a unit power.
Magic items for the lord include dread lance (with red fury for many wounds!) The blood drinker (for reviving blood knights!) The balefire spike (for removing treemen and regenerating creatures.) Walachs bloody hauberk will give you a really useful 1+ save with a ward, as will the enchanted shield twinned with the crown of the damned.
If you need magic in your list (and you will because its an undead list!) then the black periat is a great item, and scrolls are always good.
Mounting him on a monster is generally frowned upon at 2000 points as I think it make the general too vulnerable to missile and magic attacks, however I have seen him mounted on a hellsteed to good effect.
There are many builds but try to design them with a purpose. You might want to look at the helm of command for a vampire in order to have WS6 black knights on the round they charge, or you might need some WS6 skeletons in order to hold a charge up. Scrolls again are very handy, as are power stones because Vanhals casts on a 7, the exact average of the two dice from the stone! A battle standard is generally a good idea, because it reduces the amount of damage you will take from losing combat, and can really get you out of trouble.
I really think wight kings are a great choice for the cavalry list, when armed with the sword of kings in a unit with the banner of the barrows he becomes terrifying for enemy characters. He is also very cheap which is a huge bonus as you want to try and save your points for those expensive knight units! With a skeletal steed he can lead units of black knights through terrain too Ė very useful for flank charges and avoiding war machines.
There is nothing else for it, you are going to have to win the game by charging your opponents army and killing big parts of it. With the cavalry list you have little shooting or magic but plenty of killing power. My advice is to pick fights carefully and be wary of things that youíre opponent sends your way. Know that most troops can flee youíre charge and try to plan for it, or charge things that cannot flee, such as war dancers or dryads.
Pick youíre fights carefully Ė you canít afford to get stuck in lengthy combats, and make sure you target units which you can break in one turn (not 35 slayers!) Use the combinations of magic banners to youíre advantage and try to organize youíre lines so that if you do get charged you are near the BSB and some other troops to help you out.
Be aware of things with killing blow, especially near the blood knights, that can really ruin your battle plan.
Be aware of enemy fast cav baiting blood knights, and be aware of enemy unit with a longer charge range than you, for example tiranoc chariots, and brettonian knights.
Plan your magic phase carefully, you will get maybe one or two spells off so make sure they count whether itís a vanhals charge or raising zombies behind a combat you know you will win!
Iím going to add to this, so send/post suggestions to this thread please!
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Sun-Tse : The art of war