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I've been contemplating which Bloodline I should choose and I think I may decide to go Necrarch because I like the magic aspect of Warhammer Fantasy and I really like the idea of raising hordes of Undead minions in battle. However, after reading the Bloodline bonuses when taking Necrarch Vampires, I am not sure if they really even make much of a difference. I say this is because even in a 3000 point battle, it would be hard to use even more then 3 Necrarch Vampires when I could be using the other various spellcasters without the apparent disadvantages. Here is my reasoning:
1) Taking Nehekhara's Noble Blood for Vampires seems like a waste. A Vampire Lord is the only Lord/Hero choice it would make sense to give this upgrade to, so you could have a Level 4 Wizard. However, you only have 55 points left for upgrades.
2) On a Vampire Count, this upgrade seems redundant because it only leaves me with a Level 3 Wizard, which makes no sense when I can just take a Master Necromancer who is a Level 4 Wizard, with 100 points left for upgrades to boot.
3) After the Lord choices, the Necrarch army takes an even bigger turn for the worse. Our choices of Necrarch Vampires drops to the lowly Thrall, which after the Nehekhara's Noble Blood upgrade, leaves him with enough points to get a 5 point upgrade which doesn't exist. All this just for a Level 1 Wizard. To add insult to injury, the Thrall's WS drops to a measly 4, which leaves him not much of a spellcaster OR a Vampire.
As you can see, in a semi-logical 3000 point Necrarch army list you would likely have a Vampire Lord who is a Level 4 Wizard with very few upgrades, a Vampire Count who is a Level 3 Wizard and is even less effective then the Vampire Lord, and either one pathetic Vampire Thrall who is a Level 1 Wizard and has 0 upgrades along with 3 Necromancers, or the fore-mentioned Lord choices and 4 Necromancers. So to create a Necrarch army which is obviously going to be magic-based, we have to sacrifice 2 WS on each of our Vampires, restrict them from mundane weapons and armor, and lose almost half of the upgrades available to our Lord choices. Oh and by the way, what have we been getting in return for all of this? +1 to to the total when trying to cast a spell. Wow. This mediocre rule comes into play for only or Lord choices, which is only 2 in a 3000 point battle, unless you actually decide to include one or more Level 1 Vampire Thralls with -2 WS.
As much as I really want to collect a magic-heavy Vampire Counts list, the Necrarchs have been very unsuccessful in convincing me try this style of play. Unless I am completely missing something, only the Necrarch Lords seem to be of any use in a Necrarch army list. Someone please persuade me with some Necrarch knowledge that an inexperienced Warhammer Fantasy player such as myself will surely need. I really want the Necrarchs to happen for me, so someone PLEASE show me where I have gone wrong in my assumptions of the Necrarchs magic application.
On a side-note, I have a couple other questions about the Vampire Counts. First off, in the Bloodline bonuses section of the Vampire Counts Codex, it says that Thrall's can take Arcane items. I was under the assumption that any Lord/Hero choice character could take whatever items he/she wished from the Vampire Counts Armory. Someone please clarify this for me.
Also, I was skimming through my Vampire Counts Codex and happened upon the Ghouls entry. I was very surprised of how cheap they were for all of the stats and special rules they have. I don't know what Skirmishing or Poison Attacks are, but I nearly creamed my pants over the stat-line. Average WS, high-toughness, above-average attacks. All for the price of a Skeleton. I'm wondering to myself why the Vampire Counts forums and Vampire Counts army list section aren't flooded with Ghoul-heavy lists. These units seem extremely powerful and if the Necrarchs don't work out, I am considering using lots of Ghouls. The only downside I can see is that they have a small unit size and because they aren't immune to psychology, there low LD hurts them. Also, they can't be summoned. Tell me if I'm right or wrong, as these creatures seem to be a very unused and powerful unit.
Thanks for taking the time to read this reading and answering this post.
You've got a good point about Nehekhara's Noble Blood on a lord. But a vampire, even with a lower WS, can get into the thick of combat and come out grinning. A master necromancer will die without much struggle. You're paying for a much more durable unit.
I think everyone agrees Necrarch thralls are useless.
I've had great success with Necrarch armies. I've not played a game at 3000 with them. As for my 2000 build, I use a count with master of the black arts and the awakening. I usually go for a talisman of some sort instead of Noble Blood. With the +1 to cast, getting spells off is pretty reliable. Adding D3 models to invocation is absolutely great; makes him hands down the best summoning vampire. And add 6" to the range of that summons, or to magic missile, and he's pretty potent magically.
Then I add two necromancers. Give one a power familiar and you've got 9 casting dice. More than enough to do some damage.
Last I go with a wight lord for some combat ability, but I'm not relying on "strike" units, like wights. I want lots and lots of undead all over the place and the Necrarch delivers pretty reliably.
I tihnk that a thrall with noble blood could take arcane items, which are limited to magic users, but as you point out, with five points left over, what's the point? Check the main rule book for limitations on what characters can take what items, but it's mainly that non-magic using models can't take arcane items.
I don't think ghols are underused. The experienced generals I've seen writing about them or talking about them recognize their value. They're a great value and one of my most consistent units. Great stat lines, cheap, but like you mention, alive and prone to panic. And they fit a necrarch theme really well if that matters to you.
I'd use ghouls mostly for a missile fire soak to protect your other summoned units. Once ghouls flee for the first time they usually don't rally. I don't think I'd be giving many spells to my necrarchs because one miscast will usually end your magic phase. Instead I'd use bound items, and familiars with them. I'd fire off all my bound items first. This way there's no chance of them going to waste, and it draws out dispel dice and scrolls. Having a bound spell to make all of your units attack is great. Then I would fire off my other spells. Lahimians are more my style of play, but I have looked at all of the bloodlines.