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Wights are some of the deadliest creature's in the Old World armed with blades that are able to cut down the strongest heroes, they grip the hearts of even the hardest of warriors with fear. Worse they are clad in heavy armour that is proof against the blows of many a foe. The good news is they are on our side.
You may have guessed that I am bored again so have decided to give another of my rants about Vampire Count tactics, today its about Wight Lords Black Knights and Grave Guard.
There is much to recommend Wight Lords as a useful part of your army regardless of the blood line you follow. As with almost all the troops you can choose from in the Vampire Counts army they are unbreakable and cause fear. In addition they automatically cause killing blow a very useful attribute of which more will be discussed later. With a considerable number of attacks and two wounds their stat line is typical hero fair, and while their combat abilities are no where near as good as vampire thralls they are cheaper and have a superior Ld as well.
There are essentially two ways of using a Wight lord. The first is as a regular hero. Here the Wight Lord fills in for a more expensive Vampire Thrall or even Count, he is there to either kill powerful enemy characters or hack down the rank and file. In the case of the former you will be up against it but remember that your killing blow ability will be invaluable. The Sword of kings and the Cursed Shield of Mousillon is I believe a very potent combination able to put your Wight Lord on par with most enemy hero's and the ability to kill the hero outright with a single blow makes the Wight Lord particularly scary.
If on the other hand you are looking to kill the rank and file a great weapon and talon of death combination will cause considerable damage.
The question you may be asking of course is why take a Wight lord at all when a Vampire Thrall or a Count can do the job so much better. I would argue there are three reasons. The first is expense a Wight Lord is pretty cheap compared to both a thrall and a count and in smaller games you may not have the points to splash out on the more powerful characters. Secondly there are circumstances when other characters simply aren't appropriate, for example Nechrach thralls and counts are vulnerable in combat and Wight Lords are the best alternative. On the other extreme Blood dragons will be eager to rush into combat and accept challenges which may not suit your style of play a Wight lord gives you more choice as to who your character will engage. Thirdly a Wight lord is not as conspicuous to enemy attacks as a full blown Vampire count is and so is more likely to reach the enemy lines unharmed and hopefully unnoticed.
Finally you can add a Wight Lord equipped to do maximum damage to a unit that already has a character this can be a bit of a points sink but will increase the combat potential of said unit by a huge amount.
The second way (and my personal favorite) of using a Wight lord is as the Battle standard bearer. Io like this way because unlike most battle Standards the Wight Lord effectively gets a free magic weapon in the form of his killing blow ability in addition to the Magic Standard he can have. Which standard to pick is always a hard choice but I think it comes down to three contenders the first is the banner of the Barrows if you are leading a unit of Black Knights or Grave guard this should be your first choice without a doubt. The ability to always hit with killing blow on a three plus ios just to good to miss of course the unit may take this in which case a different banner may be suitable. The second and priciest banner is the Hell banner , Terror is a very nasty ability and one that few armies can deal with (even Ogres will run) and as such I would well recommend it. Finally the Banner of doom gives you that extra bit of protection that could be useful against certain armies such as Wood elves or dwarfs. On the other hand a 5+ ward save is a bit weak considering that you can raise most of your units up again and the ones you can't will be heavily armored. Useful if you are particularly paranoid of your Black Knights being destroyed by a cannon salvo in the first turn.
As a note I don't even consider the other two banners. The Screaming banner means fear tests are rolled using three dice, nice but hardly worth the points especially when you consider that the real bonus of fear is the auto break. As for The Banner of the Dead Legion (+d6 to unit St) it is hardly worth dignifying with a response for why this is the worse magic banner, but because this is an informative thread I will give you three good reasons. Number one you should outnumber the enemy by a large amount already especially if the wight lord is with Skeletons. Even Grave Guard or Black Knights should be fielded in sufficient numbers and directed towards appropriate foes so an auto break is inevitable. Number Two If you don't outnumber the enemy but are still charging them you should NEVER rely on a single dice roll to decide whether the combat would be won or not, you should at least be able to win the combat through CR even if you can't auto break them. Third the chances of getting into a combat which you can probably win but don't out number the enemy but might be able to on a roll of a dice (ie. a margin of six) is fairly unlikely and definitely not worth the points.
In summery then Wight lords are deceptively dangerous, they are also fairly direct in their job, they are there to add some much needed beef to your regiments and can make even skeletons seem scary. My main bit of advice would be to try out various combinations to see what works best for you.
Grave Guard are in my opinion one of the greatest infantry regiments in the game of warhammer. Fear and unbreakable as always are two exceedingly useful traits. They come with a choice of weaponry and armour, while it is tempting to give them halberds and make them ST5 combat monsters, the cost is high and the sacrifice you make to your armour save just isn't worth it in my opinion. I would much rather be safe behind my Sword and Shield combination and a nice 3+ save. Killing Blow more than makes up for the loss in St and means you always have a chance of dealing with any troublesome heavy cavalry/characters/insert nasty.
The downside of course is that Grave Guard can't be resurrected and are very expensive if you start losing them through CR. However follow this advice and you will be winning all your combats so that shouldn't be a problem.
Building a unit of Grave Guard in my opinion is best done with over engineering in mind. By this I mean that the unit should be constructed so that not only does it take its rightful place at the center of the army it can also deal with anything that gets thrown its way, this means taking the banner of barrows as a must 3+ to hit any opponent NO MATTER WHAT is to good to miss (pun not intended). Next the unit should be big if you can take the full 30 though this is quite a points sink the intimidation factor alone is almost worth it. If 30 is too much consider at least 20.. These units of 16 (or even less) you some times see roaming around are just begging for a good round of shooting followed by a cavalry charge to decimate them. Finally carefully consider the characters you will be putting in the unit, while it may seem tempting to put your vulnerable Necrach count or a necromancer in the uber unit, think about it for a moment these guys are going into the thick of battle best leave the weaker characters near but OUTSIDE the regiment. Instead I would recommend a Character built to fight either, a Wight Lord as discussed above or a Vampire Thrall or count of a suitable Bloodline.
So you have this amazing regiment how to use it? Well here is the trick because any self respecting enemy isn't going to go anywhere near it, they are going to pick it off with missile fire and or delay it with magic and march blockers. Here some good magic support of your own is necessary first for defense and second if you have Vanhels danse to speed the unit along their way.
It is also important where and when you deploy your unit, putting the unit in the center of the board forces the enemy to make a choice, he can either build a strong defensive line against it putting his best units to oppose your Grave Guard (what you want because you can beat his units) or he can attack your flanks leaving the center weak Hannibal style (also what you want because you can break through his center easily while you r zombies hold up his flank attacks). This overall tactic involves placing your grave Guard on the board very quickly forcing your enemy to react to it, the other way of fighting is leave your Grave Guard to last placing it only when you know what kind of army your opponent has and placing it opposite a target of choice, be careful though putting your Grave Guard on a flank may put it away from the main of the battle and be a waste of points. Personally I prefer a compact line with the Grave Guard in the center closely protected by two units of Zombies covering its flanks.
Remember also that using grave Guard in such a direct way can be a gamble the unit you have created is quite a pint sink and though effective a canny opponent will find various tactics to delay disable and even destroy it. It is useful then to vary your tactics once in a while and occasionally consider dropping the Grave Guard altogether.
Black Knights are formidable and in many ways act in a similar manner to Grave Guard. They are even stronger on the charge and are faster, but remember that they are a lot more expensive so you will have few of them and losing a round of combat can quickly decimate you unit.
Another thing to note is that just because they are faster doesn't mean you have to use their speed charging headlong into the enemy army will rarely work and is a sure way of being surrounded and destroyed. I would use Black Knights as flankers with barding for maximum armour, A good tactic is to combine the Black Knights with a unit of dire wolves the Black Knights go in for the flank charge while the dire wolves whip around and in subsequent turns come in for a killing rear charge.
The other tactic is to hold a unit of six or so in reserve at the rear of your army for an end game decisive charge in the opponents weakest area.
My final word of advice is kind of tangential and applies to all units but especially Black knights because they are so expensive, know where you are going and how you are going to get there, it sounds obvious but the number of times I have seen players bold maneuvers come to nothing because they end up marching through a heavy wood or a steep hill that delays them is astonishing. This happened to me a while back I was playing against a friends high elves, it was a campaign battle and the main objective was a bridge and a river dissected the board. Now we had decided while placing the river that that even the banks of the river counted as rough terrain (the banks were about an inch and half wide on either side) all fine but I wasn't paying much attention and my Black Knights wheeled onto the banks and rather than leading them to glorious charge in turn three they were left slogging along until turn five when they were finally charged themselves by a large unit of Phoenix Guard.
I had my revenge the next day though because we played on exactly the same board and my opponent made the same error with his dragon Princes which goes to show that good generals learn from their mistakes great generals learn from other peoples. I hope you learn from mine.
great tactica but how many bK would you recommend in a unit
Thanks for the great tactica, it makes me wish i had the money to get me some grave guard and a wight lord .
Wow, Berny Mac. Outstanding post. It's one for the books, or the "Playing With" thread that's pinned up top.
Thanks for writing it. It really gave me some good ideas that I'd never considered.
It is hard to say Black Knights are so expensive and so vulnerable to losing a combat that I don't really like taking them that often, but as a rough rule of thumb at least 10 not including any characters you are are going to put with the unit. 12 and two characters would make a very nasty (and expensive) unit.Originally Posted by hero
Last edited by Visitor Q; May 13th, 2006 at 13:45.
alright thanx a lot
One of the things i like about about wights is the coolness factor: My BK are converted and so are one of the centre pieces of my army. I understand graveguard could perform a similar role (i intend to get some).
"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face... for ever."
I like fielding a unit of 6 BK with champ and standard in a single rank. Most troop formations allow you to get 6 BKs in BTB, so I find this formation maximizes your attacks on the charge, while conserving cost. It does make wheeling a little more expensive.
I fairly often play a Blood Dragon player who loves BKs (while I love GG), two units of 8 usualy. I try and match it up so that my GG plow through his skellies and zombies, and my zombies just tie up his BKs. This has worked well for me more then once, and I have been unable to EVER kill one of his BKs with a zombie, even with a staff of damnation. I have more then once disintergrated a whole squad of BKs as one turn of bad rolling for him means huge losses to CR, while a turn of good rolling for him means I just raise more zombies.
This just goes to show you to pick your fights carefully.
Do Wight Lords cause Terror? I thought they did for some reason (It is just that on a quick 'read' or your post you never mentioned that he causes terror...So, does he?). If he does, could you not just stick him in a Skele unit and have them cause terror? (Or him at least). Would be an annoying unit to have in the middle of your battle line, especially for low leadership armies.
....He is coming for YOU....
"Master Bungle is right" - Stonehambey
"Get out of my house Master Bungle!" - Victim