Friday 26 September 2014

Game 36 - Vampire Counts - 2012/09/23


Some time ago Gatti came up with an idea of a super fast Vampire army. I saw it in action and I must say it is a sight to behold. It would be a great challenge for me to play against it. What is more I owned Gatti a rematch and we finally met on the UB-battlefield again.

Army lists and pre-battle considerations

Gatti decided to theme his army on Blood Dragons and I am really looking forward to seeing some of his conversion ideas taking shape. Other than that it is a flying circus army that hits like tone of bricks. It also shows how varied VC armies can be.

Vampire Counts - Army List

Vampire Lord, Zombie Dragon, Heavy Armor, Shield, Red Fury, Quick Blood, The Other Trickster Shard, Dragonhelm, Talisman of Preservation, Level 1 - The Lore of the Vampires
Vampire, BSB, Hellsteed, Heavy Armor, Red Fury, Sword of Striking, Dawnstone, Enchanted Shield, Potion of Foolhardiness, Level 2 - The Lore of the Vampires
Necromancer - Dispel Scroll, Level 2 - The Lore of the Vampires

50 Zombies
50 Zombies
39 Zombies
5 Dire Wolves
5 Dire Wolves
5 Dire Wolves
5 Dire Wolves
5 Dire Wolves

4 Vargheists
, Vargoyle
4 Vargheists, Vargoyle


It is a very interesting army. As I said it hits fast and hard. Each of the big guys is extremely dangerous because they can pack insane amount of attacks and some of them can thunderstomp, scream into combat and use a breath weapon too. They are easily capable of killing any of my units in a single turn. The army also has so many deployment drops it is not that easy to out-deploy it. Sure, one can always remember that to use the speed to the fullest the regiments need to stay close to the Vampire Lord but even then the fast elements can easily relocate and change the direction of attack swiftly. Fast dire wolves are excellent troops to block, redirect and simply sacrifice if needed and are quite dangerous on the attack too.

The army is also very difficult to contain as it flies. No blocking with my own units then. The units are also hard to harm with shooting because they are tough (terrorgheists, vampires, dragon) or difficult to hit (Vargheists, usually lurking at the back at the beginning) or simply too numerous (zombies). The weakness is the fact that only vampires have some armor to speak about so focused fire should do some damage anyway. Big footprint of the models could be used too as it is more difficult for them to have a good landing zone.

Outcasts - Army List

I used the very same army list I played with in my last 2 games against Dwarves and Bretonnians, so it is just for reminder:

Archmage, Annulian Crystal - High Magic
BSB, Heavy Armor, Shield, Great Weapon, Dragon Helm, Reaver Bow
Noble, Dragon Armor, Shield, Great Weapon, Barded Steed, Helm of Fortune, The Other Trickster Shard, Pigeons Pennant

10 Archers, Light Armor, Musician
10 Archers, Light Armor, Musician
14 LSG, Shields, Full Command
15 LSG, Shields, Full Command

10 Swordmasters, Musician, Bladelord, Amulet of Light
10 Swordmasters, Musician, Bladelord, Talisman of Loec
10 White Lions, Musician, Standard, Banner of Eternal Flame
10 White Lions, Musician, Standard, Gleaming Pennant
5 Dragon Princes
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician
5 Ellyrian Reavers, Musician

Great Eagle
Great Eagle

I wanted to use my firepower to target Terrorgheists. The reason being that they have little armor and every wound caused means less casualties due to their screaming attack. I knew my units will be attacked quickly so I wanted to inflict as many wounds as possible so that even if I lose the regiment my enemy would be weakened and hopefully vulnerable to counter attack. In the case of inevitable fight against the Vampire Lord I planned to target his mount. The reason is that first, it confers that annoying -1 to hit penalty and second, it has only 5+ armor save. What is more, pedestrian Vampire is more easy to counter and with luck can be destroyed too. It would also push the opponent into defense since he simply cannot allow this character to die.

It is still a very tough match up for me and the fact I have never played against Terrorgheist while now facing 2 of them and Zombie Dragon made it very challenging.

The good thing was I didn't face 4th level spell caster but countering 3 of them when lore attribute helps to heal big guys in particular is not that easy either.

Deployment of both armies. Vanguard moves are indicated with grey arrows.

Hills were of infinite height and block line of sight. Rocks and ruins with walls attached to them were both difficult terrain not blocking the line of sight. It is also worth noting that Vargheists were in "moonwalking formation" not looking at the enemy thus preventing any premature charges.

Archmage joined one Swordmasters unit (SM1) while BSB was with another (SM2) and Noble led Dragon Princes to battle. Respective wizards had following spells:

Archmage - Drain Magic, Shield of Saphery, Curse of Arrow Attraction, Courage of Aenarion, Flames of the Phoenix
Vampire Lord - Invocation of Nehek
BSB - Invocation of Nehek, Curse of Years
Necormancer - Invocation of Nehek, Gaze of Nagash

High Elves won the roll off and they started the battle.

Outcasts - Turn 1
High Elves opening moves

Seeing that the enemy most dangerous regiments were positioned on the East and partially protected by the hill in the center of the battlefield, elven regiments from the Western half of their army formation moved at the double to reinforce their companions on the Easter front. Sea guard, light cavalry and archers, however, aimed at the dire wolves on that flank to prevent any outflanking maneuvers. The fire was very accurate and one pack of wolves lied truly dead.

On the West bow armed units moved into range and aimed at one of the Terrorgheists. Only Archers and BSB could fire and while archers could not find a weak spot in the monster's thick hide, BSB wounded it with his magic bow.

Vampire Counts - Turn 1

Vampires do not lose time and take into air
All the regiments on the East move towards the enemy as one. They move fast but do not land that close to elven battle line yet. On the West Zombies and Dire Wolves attempt to charge one of the Reavers unit but Elves avoid the enemy with easy. Then the necromancer summons his power and surprisingly his spell breaks through archmage's defenses. As a consequence 5 swordmasters lie dead, struck by deadly magic missile. What is more that enables the evil necromancer to heal wounded terrorgheist.

Outcasts - Turn 2
Preemptive strike by High Elves

High Elves needed to move fast. First Ellyrian Reavers on the West charged Dire Wolves prowling in the forest and destroyed them. At the same time all available missile units targeted terrorgheist previously wounded and inflicted 3 wounds this time.

Swordmasters on led by BSB charged the Dire Wolves in front of them and easily killed all of them overrunning into the second pack just at the same time when it was hit from the flank by White Lions (Edit: Lions made 9+ roll to reach them). Another pack of wolves was destroyed but White Lions didn't have enough momentum to carry them into the flank of wounded Terrogheist (Edit: needed 8+ but failed). Another unit of White Lions also tried a long charge against the same Terrogheist but could not make it (Edit: needed 11+ but rolled 10). Even great eagle swooped down from the skies but despite its efforts could not pick the necromancer from the crowd of zombies and had to withdraw.

Archmage attempted to protect his warriors and irresistibly cast Shield on Swordmasters and BSB. The magical feedback wounded him and 2 sea guards. He could not breach through with his next spell though.

Vampire Counts - Turn 2
Vampires counter charge

Vampire Lord ordered terrorgheist on his right to follow him and both hit White Lions. Brave Chracians braced for impact and were ready to inflict as much damage as possible but ferocious scream of the terrogheist killed 6 of them before they managed to swing their axes. 4 survivors wounded zombie dragon twice but were then mercilessly cut down by the Vampire Lord and his monsters. They overrun and this time Vampire Lord aided his BSB in combat against Archers who stood no chance and were also cut down to an elf.

Vargheists and wounded Terrogheist moved to the West and scream killed another 2 swordmasters. Magic was, however, completely shut down by the archmage.

Outcasts - Turn 3
Another attack by High Elves

Dragon Princes charged Dire Wolves and easily killed them all overrunning into Terrogheist at the time when it was hit by the Noble from the flank. Although it killed two knights the force of the knightly charge with some wounds inflicted crumbled evil monster to dust.

Second unit of White Lions, ashamed that they didn't catch the big monster spotted another chance for the glory. Vampire Lord landed close enough for them and they charged in, aiming to kill the undead dragon beneath vampire. The dragon was badly wounded and almost destroyed but iron will of the vampire held it together and in vicious counter attack, the dragon swung wildly, breathed noxious gases and stomped brave elves to the ground until none remained. Even Shield of Spahery could not save them. (Edit: I made 5+ roll for a charge but got 3 wounds from 8 hits when I needed 4 to kill the dragon).

All bow fire was not aimed again at the wounded Terrorgheist but 40 bow shots, including BSB's own magic arrows could not even wound the monster.

Vampire Counts - Turn 3
Vampires regroup (red arrow for VL movement is a mistake, he didn't attack this turn)

Vampires regrouped and healed behind the hill. Both terrorgheist and zombie dragon recovered a single wound each. Vargheist and Zombies attempted to attack sea guard but elves withdrew. Healed terrorgheist screamed at Swordmasters with BSB and killed 3 of them.

Outcasts - Turn 4
High Elves reform their battle line too

Swordmasters form thin line daring Vampire and his monsters to charge them while Archmage cast protective spell on the bigger regiment. BSB aims his bow at Terrorgheist and wounds it but only once. Dragon Princes and Noble separate but it is unlikely vampires would fall for such an obvious trap.

Vampire Counts - Turn 4
Vargheists find their target at last

Vampire Lord ordered fresh troops to attack the Elves and Vargheist obeyed without a second pause. Both units made it to the Sea Guard lines and few wounds they received was not enough to stop them. Elves were scattered and one regiment overrun into nearby archers charging them from the flank.

Vampire Lord himself and his pet terrorgheist landed in the middle of the battle field. Terrorgheist screamed again and smaller regiment of Swordmasters was utterly destroyed. Then necromancer stepped out and irresistibly cast his spell which summoned more zombies but also healed both zombie dragon and terrorgheist. As a reward, loyal necromancer was immediately transported to the Chaos spa run by slaaneshi daemonettes as was agreed in his employment contract.

Outcasts - Turn 5
Seriously weakened elven army keeps fighting

Both units of light cavalry charged cursed therrorgheist but they too could not kill it although the beast was wounded. One of the eagles charged zombies and kept them busy for a while. Elven BSB aimed at the Vampire Lord but managed only to wound the dragon.

Elven heavy cavalry moved forward with the Noble following them closely.

Vampire Counts - Turn 5

Vampires keep pushing hard
Vampire Lord was not satisfied. He ordered his minions to attack once more. Zombies charged one of the Reavers unit from the rear but elven light horse escaped. Second unit wounded terrorgheist once losing one of their numbers and thanks to magically boosted morale they held. Even the scream was not that powerful now and claimed only one brave ellyrian.

Vargheists assaulted the building and despite inflicting heavy casualties they were pushed back.

Vampire BSB caught Dragon princes and their armor was not enough to save them.

Outcasts - Turn 6
Last act of valor by High Elves
With their army almost gone High Elves mustered strength for last act of valor and BSB led his Swordmasters to the fight. He himself finished cursed terrogheist which was responsible for dead of many brave warriors. He then challenged Vampire Lord but he didn't answer. It seemed that Blood Dragon was not that eager to test his skills against this opponent.

Few survivors looked for the shelter and light cavalry reformed knowing they will be the next target of the enemy's attack.

Vampire Counts - Turn 6
Vampires hunt down some more elven units

With not many regiments left Vampire Lord decided to attack light cavalry. Ellyrians, knowing they have nowhere to run held and tried to wound the dragon but didn't succeed. Second unit had more chances to escape but was still caught by flying Vargheists. It was clear that forces of evil carried the day and only handful of survivors remained from elven army.

After battle thoughts

Yet another defeat :( At least another interesting game against unique army led by very good general so there is plenty to learn from it.

1. Deployment - as always it could be better. I wanted to split my forces because of the hill in the middle of the battle field so that I could start shooting at terrorgheist turn 1. It was not the best option I think, especially looking at the situation from the perspective of the battle. I would be better with my units all together, supporting each other better. So deploying on the Wast with infantry, characters in the building with Swordmasters as bodyguards and cavalry on the East seems like a better idea now.

2. Magic - I believe I have made a mistake by not choosing Vaul's Unmaking. I could do that but picked Curse of Arrow Attrraction as I thought it would be better for the shooting where I wanted to increase my chances of wounding and maybe even killing terrorgheists. However, a few items Vampires carried were dangerous enough and should have been a target for my spells instead.

3. Shooting - While I cannot complain about to hit rolls I was disappointed with inability to roll a single 6 when I needed it. In particular my turn 3. 40 shots at short range + 3 from BSB at S5 had a good chance to inflict remaining 3 wounds.

4. White Lions vs Zombie Dragon - I was a little unlucky here I think. Having 8 hits and needing 4 wounds was all I asked. But it didn't happen and I lost the unit. I was also considering charging with small unit of Swordmasters. Lions needed 5+, Swordmasters needed less I think so it was not that risky to try. I decided not to because I was afraid I might not make it with Lions and my Swordmasters would be decimated. I think it was a big mistake as even with that happening I would have intact Lions to use. And wounded Dragon would not be that happy to attack them. If that worked, however, I had a champion with SM's so I could even challenge and then the Lions would keep the Vampire Lord for one more turn when my Noble and Dragon Princes could have a chance to charge in too. I think that was the best opportunity I had to turn the tables but missed it.

5. LSG vs Terrorgheist - I had a chance to flank charge terrorgheist with LSG. It was already wounded. I had eagles to block zombies from joining the fight if I didn't kill it. I had quite good static CR to begin with (charge, flank, banner, maybe a rank) so it all depended on the thunderstomp roll. And with 16 3+ to hit with re-roll attacks I could wound it too (unless I rolled no 6's as with shooting). I thought shooting is safer and surer option as I have more hits and wanted to cast curse to increase the chances even more. I miscasted with shield though and could not make it. If that worked, however, I mean the flank charge, I would hit zombies in the flank. Maybe I should have risked that, together with the frontal assault from Swordmasters to make sure I also kill necromancer and have two combats resolved in a single turn. It seems that second "safer" option (first being Lions against dragon) didn't pay off. I guess I need to stay true to my own style and be aggressive :)

There are some other mistakes I made in that game which meant I was losing points for free. Not positioning noble properly meant Vampire BSB could kill my DP and I had no option to counter it with my character. He had a good chance to kill the Vampire as he had 4+ re-rollable/5++ against his attacks, while Vampire had only 5+ re-rollable. Not moving archers knowing he is going to overrun with Vargheists was another. Not blocking zombies with eagle to prevent rear charge at reavers was another.

In the end I have some remarks about my last 3 games.

I was playing against tough armies led by competent generals who knew my army very well (2 of them play HE too and Targ studies his enemies carefully). Hence I could not use the element of surprise. The armies I played against were different to whatever I have faced so far and my usual deployment or new ideas didn't really work well. All armies had tools to limit my natural advantages.

Deployment was mitigated by the castle that does not care about it anyway, and other forces are flying which also nullifies some theoretical gains. Not to mention that VC have many deployment drops too.

Speed and maneuverability were limited by shooting or much faster elements of the enemy. There were no flanks to envelope and spreading my line was more helping the enemy than me.

I guess it simply means I have to re-think my usual approach to the way I play games with MSU army and learn new tricks with it to surprise the enemy and to counter their counters :)

Thanks for reading! :)


  1. Oh man, I had forgotten about this battle! Good to re-read this one!

    1. Hi Gatti! How could you! Easily one of the best games I have ever played! :)