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So I've looked through some other forums on here and it seems like a lot of other armies are in the process of making tacticas. I would like to start one on the topic of VC since I have had most of my battles against them thus far (~90% of my games...) especially since they are considered to be one of the big three and are quite popular.
However, I will need help from other members here since there are a few units which I have yet to play against, and some which I do not own and have no experience using (I'll list these in the table of contents). Also if you want to take any section, have anything to add or comment on what I've put feel free to do so. I've decided against writing on characters as most aren't worth taking or and will rarely see the battlefiend.
I think this can be organized by listing all of our units & items then saying what it works/doesnt work againts and then a quick summary of all the VC units and saying what to watch out for an how to counter these units.
Death Hag (no experience)
Lore of Dark Magic
Lore of Fire
Lore of Metal
Lore of Shadow
Lore of Death
Gifts of Khaine
May not list all items here, just general reference
Treasures of Naggaroth
May not list all items here, just general reference
Dark Elf Warriors
Dark Elf Repeater Crossbowmen
Black Ark Corsairs
Dark Riders (no experience)
Witch Elves (no experience)
Shades (no experience)
Har Ganeth Executioners
Cold One Knights
Cold One Chariots (no experience)
Black Guard fo Naggarond
Reaper Bolt Thrower
Army of the Night
Lore of Vampires
Not sure if I will do anything here, too many options
Artefacts of Death
Not sure if I will do anything here, too many options
Last edited by Astynax; August 12th, 2009 at 21:54.
Dark Elf Repeater Crossbowmen
These are the most reliable core units you have against vampire counts due to the armywide fear and they will not have to rely on the leadership of characters nor have to test for fear before attacking.
These guys excel against zombies, bat swarms, dire wolves and skeletons as they all have fairly low toughness and armor.
The main reason why they are so good against VC is because these are the guys who will be taking down the zombie screens. A lot of VC players will summon zombie hordes in front of their expensive units which will prevent you from shooting or charging what really matters. However, with the ability to pump out 20 shots, wounding zombies on 3+ and no save will tear these screens down and provide VPs in no time at all.
Bat swarms are also another form of screen, but unlike zombies cannot be summoned, though with "Summon Creatures of the Night" the vampire can use Invocation to increase this unit. However, with 2 or more units of crossbowmen you can focus fire down these swarms until there is nothing left - which leaves the vampire has nothing to invocate.
Dire wolves are another excellent target if not your priority target with the crossbowmen. With a massive movement speed these guys are meant to tie up your units which allow the rest of the VC to move up freely. You will likely have 1 turn, 2 at the most to drop these guys before they hit your lines. While dire wolves do not hit very hard, they are more than capable to take down your crossbowmen which will be a huge setback when it takes away your ability to drop zombie screens. Furthermore, dire wolves can be used to as a monster trap - where the unit charges a dragon or manticore lord and issue a challenge. You lord will now be tied up for several turns killing cheap core units.
Skeletons are also vulnerable to crossbow fire, but are more durable due to a higher toughness than zombies & bat swarms and also have an armor save as well. A good use is to whittle down large skeleton units before charging, but only if you have no other targets to fire at. This is especially true if you cannot do a significant amount of wounds due to the VC being able to invocate the skeletons back just before you charge
Very vulnerable to fast moving units such as dire wolves and especially the Varghulf. The varghulf flies and causes terror, which will very likely destroy your crossbowmen in 1 turn. If you expect the varghulf to go after this unit, protect them with a hidden assassin or black guard nearby to counter to the varghulf.
Recommended size for the unit is 10 men, in order to maximize shots while minimizing points spent. I would not recommend any upgrades for the unit, as points are better spent elsewhere, and shields would not benefit the group much since VC has next to no shooting at all.
1. Dire Wolves
2. Zombie screens
3. Fell bats
4. Other zombies lurking around
Vampire Counts - Core
Strengths: Cheap, easy to summon
Weaknesses: Very low stats all around, feeds VP
Avoid with: Any expensive and heavy hitting unit (CoK, BG, Executioners, lords & heroes) as these are better off attacking other VC units. In addition, if you cannot kill the zombie unit in 1 turn with your expensive unit, expect to be stuck there for the game as the vampire player will likely spam invocation, raise dead and summon undead horde to deny you from killing something useful.
Counter With: Repeater crossbowmen, magic, corsair, spearmen
Additional note: Under weaknesses I listed them as feeding VPs. What this means is that each summoned unit which was not deployed at the start is worth 50 VPs, which is worth approximately 12-13 zombies. However, each summon will not raise this many zombies! A new unit is only D3+4. Late game, if you cannot kill certain units and are behind in VPs, let him summon a few groups of zombies and destroy these to catch up on points. RxB warriors are ideal to score from these units as they can drop the new summons in 1 volley.
Strengths: Highest armor of core selections, easy to invocate back to full strength, decent S & T
Weaknesses: No range, slow, very low WS, and I.
Avoid with: Any expensive and heavy hitting unit (CoK, BG, Executioners, lords & heroes) as these are better off attacking other VC units.
Counter With: Spearmen, repeater crossbowmen, corsair. Big blocks of spearmen and a flanking unit of corsairs will do very well against skeletons since they will have much more attacks and each point the skeletons lose combat by the will lose additional wounds
Strengths: Poisoned attacks, high toughness, high number of attacks, easy to invocate, decent WS & S
Weaknesses: No armor, slow, no standard or musician option
Avoid with: Core units as they have low armor and the poisoned attacks + high volume of attacks will cause you to lose combat especially since the ghouls are tough.
Counter With: Cold one knights, reaper volleys, hydra
Strengths: Very fast, cheap, champion option
Weaknesses: No armor, average combat prowess
Avoid with: Characters
Counter With: Magic missiles, repeater crossbowmen, spearmen, corsair
Strengths: High number of wounds and attacks
Weaknesses: Very low strength and toughness, can only gain 1 wound per invocation
Avoid with: Any expensive and heavy hitting unit (CoK, BG, Executioners, lords & heroes) as these are better off attacking other VC units. Bats are used as a screen or tarpit
Counter With: Assassin with venom sword as he will kill 1 base per wound, repeater crossbowmen, corsair, spearmen
Strengths: Regeneration, multiple wounds, buffs combat or invocation, decurses enemy magic
Weaknesses: Slow, low WS & S
Avoid with: Any expensive and heavy hitting unit (CoK, BG, Executioners, lords & heroes) as these are better off attacking other VC units. With a regeneration save you may not be able to kill it regardless of how hard you hit, so it is better off flooding the cart with multiple attacks
Counter With: Corsair, spearmen, lore of fire, assassins, bolt thrower single shot
Last edited by Astynax; August 12th, 2009 at 22:49.
Lore of Fire
One of the most useful alternative lores available for Dark Elves due to fire damage robbing the VC of regeneration - notably corpse carts, varghulf and any unit with the much talked about Drakenhof Banner. In addition, most of this lore is basic damage dealing spells which are also very useful against ethereal units. At 2000+ point games or if you take multiple casters I would highly recommend having this lore available
Fireball - Basic magic missle quite capable of destroying a corpse cart in 1 turn due to wounds of 4+ and leaving the cart with only a 6+ armor save without regeneration. Prime targets would also be cairn wraiths since they have low toughness and need to be destroyed by magic. Spirit hosts would also work, but with many more wounds you may not be able to completely kill off an entire base.
Flaming Sword of Rhuin - never take this, your sorceresses will get destroyed in combat if you try to use it. Better off swapping for fireball
The Burning Head - Excellent spell if not one of the best in the lore. As it is not considered to be a magic missile, it can be used in combat. In addition, since you just draw a line from your sorceress to any direction, you can use it to pick off characters
Fiery Blast - Use like the fireball.
Conflagration of Doom - While this spell sounds good, it really will not generate that many hits. However, the benefit with spell is there is no range restriction which is very useful to pick off that fast moving varghulf out of range of other spells. Though the hits aren't reliable, it does have the potential to kill the varghulf in 1 magic phase if you roll a significant amount of hits - all of which provide no save for the varghulf.
Wall of Fire - This spell is just AMAZING against VC because not only is it hard to dispel - though also hard to cast, but it can potentially deny that unit from charging you or having Vanhels used on them. Any way to slow down VC to give more time to shoot is a good thing! It also locks up the unit carrying the Drakenhof Banner
Lore of Metal
Another very useful lore, but is limited to a small number of spells.
Rule of Burning Iron - A very scary spell for VC generals as there are no targetting restrictions, and vampires are often decked out in armor which makes it very easy to wound with no saves or regeration allowed. Perhaps the most useful spell of the lore
Commandment of Brass - A useless spell as VC do no have chariots of war machines
Transmutation of Lead - A very situational spell but more often than not useless. Most VC units have poor armor and WS already, so there is little benefit by reducing it more. Swap for the default spell
Distillation of Molten Silver - Use just like the fireball due to its' fiery nature
Law of Gold - Absolutely devastating to vampires who rely on gear to be unkillable combat monsters although the prime target for this would be the bearer of the Drakenhof Banner by taking away the ability to regenerate for an entire unit
The Spirit of the Forge - This spell can be the game breaker if you can wither away the general's unit and then cast this on the general. If you cannot focus the general, it is better off using to decimate a unit of blood knights or black knights.
Lore of Shadow
Not the most useful lore and is sometimes used to propel stacked dreadlords into combat with the enemy general. If you do not plan on doing this, you would be better off with another lore.
Steed of Shadows - One trick pony. After that you're left with a useless lore
Creeping Death - High volume low strength magic missle. Other lores will do more damage except if you hit zombies... but again they're zombies. Don't waste magic on them.
Crown of Taidron - Creates a nova of damage to all units which will hurt your low toughness elves. However, he can raise and heal, you cant. Dont use this.
Shades of Death - As all VC units are immune to fear, all this would really do is make you immune to fear or terror. Not great as it is a remains in play spell
Unseen Lurker - A useful extra move, but very limited by having to be within close range of the caster
Pit of Shades - Most things which are useful in a VC army has high initiative, thus would unlikely be affected.
Lore of Death
I would not recommend using this lore. Dark magic makes a mockery of these spells
Dark Hand of Death - Magic missle, fire, metal and dark do it better
Soul Steal - Quite a strong spell as it automatically causes a wound and you can pick out the general. However, very short range if you're this close to the general with your sorceress she won't be lasting long next turn
Wind of Death - Magic missile, fire & metal do it better
Walking Death - As all VC units are immune to fear, all this would really do is make you immune to fear or terror. Not great as it is a remains in play spell
Doom & Darkness! - Absolutely useless
Drain Life - Low strength hits that useful VC units will shrug off. Very low range
Lore of Dark Magic
Perhaps the most damaging lore DE has available. Fire and metal have the benefit of denying regeneration, and metal can pick out characters but nothing comes close to the killing power of Dark Magic. Half of the lore is capable of wiping out large chunks of core units, which will kill faster than the VC can raise
Chillwind - Magic missile, fire and metal do it better but not bad as a default. The extra ability to stop shooting is wasted since VC have no ranged units.
Doombolt - Medium range but does multiple hits at a strength not offered by other lores. Very useful to take down those T4 special units
Word of Pain - Not too useful since most VC units have low WS already, but can be used against vampires to prevent some return damage. I would swap for chillwind
Bladewind - This spell can be very brutal if you roll a high number of attacks. With the low WS on most core units, you will get a high number of hits. Any core (except corpse carts) or specials are vulnerable targets
Soul Stealer - This spell is your counter to Raise Undead Horde. Though it has a low strength, luckily VC units have a low toughess as well. Statistically, if you target a unit of zombies , 50% will be wiped out. Just don't target units with mutliple wounds like fell bats, bat swarms, spirit hosts & cairn wraith. Target the largest core group you see or a unit of blood knights if you feel lucky as this spell does not allow saves.
Black Horror - With a large template, this spell is to be feared. Target anything except multiple wound units, which are better dealt with by high volume attacks or the venom sword.
Lore of Vampires
To battle them, you must know what they are capable of casting. The major ability to note is that in the VC magic phase, the first three spells listed here CAN be cast multiple times unlike all other lores.
Invocation of Nehek - The bread and butter for the vampire general. The unit regains D6 wounds except for vampire, non infantry or ethereal units. The basic rule to killing VC units is then to do more damage than they can heal - which means for infantry you should focus to destroy the entire unit which leaves nothing to heal, and for ethereal, vampire, monsters or cavalry to do more than 1 wound per unit. Do not spread your attacks over several units, but focus to do as many wounds as possible on 1 unit and hopefully wipe it completely. You should let this spell go in most cases except for late game where the VC wants to raise units past 50% to deny VPs. Use all of your dispel dice to deny this. All vampire characters have this ability by default so it is likely all units the army are in range of this spell.
Raise Dead - A very cheap and spell which can be cast on one die. This spell is dangerous for 2 reasons. While it only raises zombies which do absolutely nothing to most units, it provides a screen anywhere the VC player wants which prevents you from shooting what is important. In addition, the zombies can be raised behind your units which are in combat or about to break. What this means is that once they break, they now run into the zombies and destroyed. The latter use is much more dangerous and you should consider dispelling. Other times this spell is cast is not much of a threat and dispel dice should be used for other spells since this one is easy to cast and can be done multiple times
Vanhel's Danse Macabre - The signature move of VCs which allows the unit to make an extra 8" move. This is extremely dangerous as it gives the VC units a massive charge range by being able to march or fly, then charge in the magic phase with fear or terror... and sometimes after a unit of zombies has been summoned behind you. It's gross. I usually use my dispel dice and even scrolls to stop this in most magic phases
Gaze of Nagash - Magic missile, nothing to worry about as most VC players will elect to use power dice for the first three spells listed here.
Curse of Years - This spell is very deadly if it goes off on an expensive or large unit early in the game. I would scroll this if it is sucessfuly cast within the first 3 turns otherwise that unit is as good as dead.
Wind of Undeath - Not overly scary, but if this spell is rolled you should always keep your characters in a unit to minimize rolls you have to make per unit and so the character is not vulnerable to taking a wound
Summon Undead Horde - This is invocation on steroids and can effectively rebuild a large portion of his army. Spend a good number of dispel dice or scrolls to deny this if possible, especially since it acts like invocation where it can replenish units or wounds, but these can be allocated to any unit and multiple units for whatever the VC wishes - ie. can bring back 1 blood knight, 1 black knight, heal each vampire hero once etc. Very scary.
Last edited by Astynax; August 12th, 2009 at 17:44.
Dark Elves - Rare
Reaper Bolt Thrower
This unit is a must take against any Vampire Counts force for several reasons. The long range allows you to blast away from safety and not have to test for fear and terror. Furthermore, the bolt thrower poses a threat to every unit the vampires can bring and will do more damage than they can invocate. Also, it is one of the few units we can choose that can bring down their fast units before our lines get hit.
The best targets by far are blood knights, black knights and vampire characters.
If you deploy one bolt thrower in each corner of your deployment zone, chances are you will be able to have a flank shot at a rank of blood knights. This is the shot you should always try to set up by using RxB fire and magic to take out screens. Use the single shots if you can hit flanks to deny armor saves and pierce ranks. If both your bolt throwers can target blood knights you should often use both to shoot them. Statistically, volleys will score more wounds to both blood knights and black knights even though they get an armor save.
The black knights should be treated the same way as blood knights, though pose less of a threat if they do hit your lines. Blood knights should be your first target and if you can score two or more wounds to either unit it will take significant castings of invocation to raise them since only 1 can be brought back per spell.
If knights can be targetted, use the bolt throwers to assist in taking down multiple wound units such as corpse carts, varghulfs, monsters and black coaches though success is limited from ward and regeneration saves. I would not recommend using volleys on infantry as invocation can raise equal to the maximum number of wounds. You want to do more wounds than can be repaired from a single invocation in most cases to beat VC.
The biggest threat to the bolt throwers is a varghulf as it can fly over units and be on the bolt thrower within two turns. If a varghulf is taken, you must provide a suppoting unit to deter the varghulf from hitting the bolt thrower by either tying it up with cheap units such as harpies or threaten to kill it with unit of black guard, executioners, assassin or sorceress within range of the bolt thrower. Vampire counts do not have much else which is a great threat as they do not have other fast fliers other than a vampire with the flying horror ability or ranged attacks.
Required unit in the army. Split both bolt throwers at deployment to maximum coverage and increased chance for flank shots on cavalry.
1. Blood Knights
2. Black Knights
5. Varghulf, corpse cart, black coach
Vampire Counts - Rare
Strengths: Very fast, very high stats and attacks, terror, regeneration
Weaknesses: No armor, low initiative
Avoid with: All core units as they will unlikely flee in terror or lose combat. Also a huge threat to your bolt throwers as this thing flies. Keep your flanks and bolt throwers well protected. You will unlikely bring this guy down in 1 turn
Counter: ASF Black Guard with a magic weapon on the tower master, combat Masters with a ward or regen save, ASF Executioners, lore of fire, assassin with manbane and rending stars (rending stars highly recommended to generate threat as the varghulf can just fly off otherwise)
Cairn Wraith & Banshee
Strengths:Ethereal, multiple wounds, high number of attacks (Wraith), fast
Weaknesses: Average S & WS. Low initiative
Avoid with: Any non magical unit as they will not be able to fight back. Also most characters are not recommended but is an option available to send against this unit because of the multiple wounds. If a character fights alone, his chances of survival will be grealy reduced. However, if he goes with a unit, the unit is unable to do anything andis better off elsewhere.
Counter: Magic missiles, assassin with venom sword
Strengths: Fast, very high statline, multiple attacks, vampires (allows other undead units to march), frenzy, high armor
Weaknesses: Frenzy, very expensive
Avoid with: Just about everything in the DE army except a tooled up dreadlord wither either the Pendant of Khaelith or the Armor of Eternal Servitude and ASF models.
Counter: Bolt throwers, ASF Executioners, assassins
Strengths: High armor, high toughness, ward save, terror, potential to go god mode
Weaknesses: Drains VC's PD, chariot class
Avoid with: Low strength units (str 5 or less)
Counter: Assassins with manbane and rending stars, cold one knights, bolt thrower single shot, master or dreadlord with caledor's bane or potion of strength.
Additional note:Thankfully this unit is a rare which has much competition from other options as this thing is a beast. Hits hard, hard to kill, and gets harder and stronger as the game goes on. However, there is one unit which deserves honorable mention against the black coach: the assassin. Deploy the assassin as close to the coach as possible and rush it ASAP. With manbane and rending stars, the assassin with auto hit 3 times from 12" and wound on 3+ (manbane max str 6 + 1 from stars = str 7!!). The strength 7 will deny the high armor save, which leaves only a 4+ ward save. The coach is considered to be a chariot so any wound which gets through will automatically cancel all remaining wounds. Because of this, the assassin should be able to 1 shot the black coach on any given turn but this must be done before the coach picks up the ethereal ability. (3 shots x 4/6 to wound x 3/6 ward save = 100% to get 1 wound through)
Last edited by Astynax; August 12th, 2009 at 22:47.
varghulfs can't fly though.
General tips against vc:
keep firing at the same unit until it's gone, or it's all for nothing.
I try to have as many attacks as possible on everything except spearmen, as we most likely won't be outranking anything.
critical in all games, but doubly so with vc, you don't want to be stuck in those tarpits and dragged down.
Frenzied corsairs with +1 hw are a treat, and will grind down zombies and the like pretty handily. i recommend 7 wide, 2 ranks.
Try not to charge zombies/skels without shooting/magicking them down to around 15 or so.
more than that and they will have critical mass and generally will grind you down and beat you with SCR after a couple of turns.
If you want to have magic, you have to overload on it, since most vc will be sporting ~6-8 DD plus scrolls.
Trying to deny vc their magic phase is generally a fools errand, their best spells are one-die spells and spammable + the bounds are plentiful.
Going no magic at all is doable, but you have to make sure you can take out those casters through combat pretty early in the game or you will be stuck in protracted fights with neverending units and dragged down.
If there ever was a good matchup for assassins, vc are it.(and TK)
If you feel really evil, take shadowblade..
(you'll make the guy cry cheese, but yeah)
Dark elves have a pretty good time against vc, since we can make their army-wide fear non-effective on most of our units with gear and/or unit choices.
fav spells to use:
lore of metal : #1 & 6
word of pain
black horror (not all that great since no ld-test are taken)
stuff that's better than usual against vc:
+1 to dispel staff (helps with nehek)
black staff (bound pod, since most often the vc will dispel your normal pod)
crystal of midnight (a chance to kill van hels or nehek on a caster is great)
seal of ghrond ( more dispels are good)
that's all i can think of atm.