Total War: WARHAMMER II Race Guide: Vampire Counts

Total War: WARHAMMER II Race Guide: Vampire Counts 1 - steamsplay.com
Total War: WARHAMMER II Race Guide: Vampire Counts 1 - steamsplay.com
A Vampire Count race guide including an overview, campaign strategies, unit information and battle tactics along with hints and general advice.

 
 

Race Overview

 
A collection of powerful Vampires and Necromancers, who are able to wield Dhar magic to command vast legions of the Undead. They corrupt the lands in which they dwell and generally care little for the living. 
 
In battle powerful Lords and Heroes support vast numbers of fodder while specialist units take out key targets and demoralise the enemy. With no ranged units the Counts are masters of disruption and psychological warfare, using high mobility and terror to cause chaos amongst the enemy ranks. 
 
Able to field large numbers of Skeletons and Zombies whose purpose is to simply hold the enemy while highly mobile units harass and strike their ideal targets. Bats and wolves are excellent at controlling the battlefield, able to lock down enemy units which allows Cavalry and Monsters the freedom to pick their engagements. With the ability to be further bolstered by a range of supporting units that provide buffs and healing, and in some cases additional damage. 
 
All units are Undead and therefore have a binding to the Lord and as such do not rout from battle, instead with low leadership they begin to crumble and eventually disintegrate. While units are crumbling they will take constant damage which can be halted by restoring leadership, when enough damage has been sustained and leadership can not be restored the Undead will begin disintegrating completely, removing the unit from battle and campaign. This makes maintaining leadership especially important, yet the roster as a whole suffers from low leadership making Lords and Heroes essential to every army. 
 
In battle expect to rush in and close with the enemy using a vast array of highly effective disrupters while a war of attrition takes place in the main battle line. All Lords and two of the four hero types are casters with Vampire types also being strong melee combatants. Magic plays a large role in battle providing healing, buffs/debuffs and direct damage to supplement the generally lower stats of the Counts roster, each army will have access to multiple Arcane Conduits allowing large pools of magic to be used each battle. 
 
On the campaign map things start slow. A combination of expensive buildings, low income, weak garrisons and high upkeep costs lead to a reliance on armies full of low tier units with Lords, Heroes and magic providing the strength to early game armies. With the bulk of early game income coming from post battle loot, sacking and raiding until the technology Defiler of the Ancient Barrows is researched which reduces the upkeep of Skeletons by 100%. This will allow for the recruiting of multiple Lords who can lead low cost Skeleton armies to start taking the offence to nearby factions. 
 
With the Counts suffering from an aversion penalty towards order factions there will always be a hostile faction nearby. Waging wars against potential enemies and sacking their towns instead of occupying them will not only weaken them preventing future hostilities but also provide the funds to build up home regions and level Lords. 
 
At tier 4 the Vampire Counts really start to shine. With income rising sharply and the full range of heroes unlocked, Bloodline Lords can start to specialise armies based on their unique skills as they assign skill-points with each Bloodline having a unique theme. 
 
Masters of manipulation and strategic warfare, a creeping corruption spreads out before a wave of heroes followed by vast legions of Undead, enemies will wither away long before battle is joined being assaulted, having replenishment hindered, their movement blocked and all enemy heroes wounded. 
 
 

Campaign Mechanics

 
Vampiric Corruption 
 
Settlements owned by the Counts will naturally spread vampiric corruption across the province, the amount of corruption can be further increased by certain technology, Bloodline buffs, and buildings with Lords and Heroes able to provide additional corruption locally. 
 
The amount of corruption in a province directly affects the public order and replenishment, with low corruption causing a public order malus and attrition to armies in enemy regions, high corruption increases public order and allows Vampire armies to replenish in hostile region while causing attrition to all living armies as well as a public order debuff to non Vampire settlements. 
 
On higher difficulties the attrition and public order males for the AI is minimal however its still worth actively spreading 
 
Raise Dead 
Able to raise units directly from battle markers, region specific locations on the campaign map created from high casualty battles, with higher casualties increasing the pool of units to raise. 
 
This ability allows Vampire Count Lords to replenish losses after a battle instantly, as well as access higher tier units without their recruitment buildings, elite units becoming available in regions with multiple markers. 
 
In order to create a battle marker two armies of at least 14 units each must have a combined number of casualties greater than xxxx after a battle, except for sieges. While markers will naturally be created over the course of a campaign the player can deliberately create their own by feeding multiple stacks of zombies against a superior force, creating a staggering amount of casualties after a battle. 
 
Bloodlines and Blood Kisses 
Bloodlines are a campaign mechanic which when awoken with Blood Kisses grant powerful Lords and campaign abilities. There are five Bloodlines with three levels each, the amount of Blood Kisses required to unlock each level are, 3 for the first, 6 for the second and 12 for the third. 
 
There are a few ways to acquire Blood Kisses, defeating a faction leader in battle, wounding or assassinating a hero and through technology. 
 
The bonuses are as follows; 
 
Lahmian 
Rank 1: -50% Upkeep for all Heroes 
A good first pick, heroes are excellent force multipliers and an early Lahmian Lord will provide cheaper Vampire Lairs and buff campaign heroes. 
Rank 2: Vigour loss reduction -8% (all armies) 
Not really noticeable, a second lord and access to rank 3. 
Rank 3: Campaign line of sight +150% (all characters) 
This is a huge boon and a high priority, greatly increasing the vision of all Lords and Heroes allows for better strategic planning. 
 
Von Carstein 
Ranks 1: Casualty replenishment rate +20% (all armies), gain access to crossbowmen 
+20% provides nearly half of the max functional army replenishment of 50% and is very noticeable, one unit of crossbowmen is a nice bit of flavor. A solid second choice. 
Rank 2: Public order +5 (all provinces) 
+5 public order may seem good, especially on higher difficulties however corruption has a bigger effect on public order and provides additional benefits. Take this after the Strigoi line unless you want the Lord. 
Rank 3: Gain access to Handgunners 
Unless you really want some Handgunners or a third Lord save this till last. 
 
Blood Dragon 
Rank 1: Weapon strength +10% for cavalry units (all armies) 
While not as flashy as other Rank 1 perks passive boosts are always nice, the main appeal here is the Lord himself and unlocking higher tiers. 
Rank 2: Unit experience gain per turn +100 (all armies) 
Background experience means your units will fight better in the long run, while not essential it does add up over time. 
Rank 3: Immune to Untainted attrition (all armies) 
The main attraction, your armies will be free to roam in Untainted lands although they will still take terrain attrition. Normally a non issue if corruption is actively being spread it is a nice quality of life improvement. 
 
Strigoi 
Rank 1: Ambush success chance +20% (all armies) 
Having a rush oriented roster makes the Counts excellent in ambushes, +20% is instantly noticeable and a top 3 first pick. 
Rank 2: Vampiric corruption +5 (all provinces) 
The quickest way to stabilize a newly conquered region is to increase Vampiric corruption, with just one region in a province corruption will start spreading rapidly. 
Rank 3: Public order -60% penalty due to presence or lack of corruption. (all provinces) 
With this perk the snowball to world domination truly begins, combined with the tier 3 Blood Dragon perk armies can outpace the spread of corruption. 
 
Necrach 
Rank 1: Research rate +25% 
The Lore Keeper trait and Student follower each add +10% and are easily acquired, with Necromancers stealing technology a research rate of +400-600% is sustainable. Being weak in melee Necrach Lords require the most skillpoints to reach their potential. Usually the last Bloodline to unlock. 
Rank 2: Winds of Magic starting amount +20 (all armies) 
Increases in the starting amount of Winds of magic are hard to come by, while very useful in the early game every army will have access to multiple Arcane Conduits by the time this perk is unlocked. 
Rank 3: -10% Upkeep for all units (all armies) 
Another somewhat deceiving perk with supply lines adding +15% upkeep per army you could just not recruit the Lord to save the -10% upkeep instead. 
 
 

Factions

 
Sylvania 
 
Von Carsteins 
 
The Barrow Legion 
 
 

Legendary Lords

 
Vlad von Carstein 
An expert strategist and melee combatant able to vanguard his entire army and personally providing the siege attacker trait. Vlad is an absolute beast in melee with great stats, wards and regeneration. Once equipped with his quest items he is able to replenish up to 12 Hit Points per second in combat (+4 for The Hunger and +8 from his weapon Blood Drinker). His unique campaign skills grant increased Magic Item drop chance, factionwide unit experience gain, increased campaign movement range and battlefield speed and personal MA/MD buffs. While he doesn’t buff any specific units the ability to Vanguard his entire army helps with the Vampire Counts roster style of rush tactics being able to quickly close the gap to the enemy in battle. When joined in battle with his wife Isabella, both Vlad and Isabella gain an additional 15 MA/MD. 
 
Isabella von Carstein 
The other half of the Unrelenting Love, Isabella is an amazing supporting Lord who focuses on buffing Vampire Heroes along with the Monsters and Beasts in the Counts roster. In battle she isn’t as strong a fighter as Vlad instead using high mobility to pick and choose engagements, having access to a Barded Nightmare and Hellsteed mounts. Isabella really shines in a supporting role with her unique item able to restore both the hitpoints and vigor to lords and heroes. Vampire Heroes embedded in her army gain +10 MA and MD and when chosen as a starting lord she will provide an additional +25% weapon strength to all embed Vampire Heroes alongside increasing the faction Vampire Hero Capacity by 3. Her unique army buffs greatly improve the combat potential of the beasts and monsters in her army (excluding Crypt Horrors). 
 
Heinrich Kemmler 
Leader of the most powerful vampire count faction, Heinrich Kemmler is the most powerful living user of Necromancy. Standing with one foot in both the realm of the living and the dead, Kemmler is a master of the dead. 
 
With his factions -50% upkeep reduction for Necromancers combined with the Lahmain Bloodlines -50% hero upkeep Heinrich can field vast numbers of Necromancers very early in his campaign. This along with his mountain climate habitability which allows him to inhabit a large swath of the old world and effectively take on the Dwarfs in their home regions, gives him the best campaign buffs of all the Counts. 
 
Starting in the Grey mountains, positioned between Bretonnia and the Empire he seems to be in a precarious spot. Being so close to two of the large order factions however can be a boon. With the ability to recruit Necromancer heroes from the first turn and the upkeep reduction allow for early steal technology actions, researching the skeleton upkeep reduction technology very early in the campaign. 
 
With Necromancer heroes also wounding enemy heroes, allowing them to recover oy to be wounded again. A 100% success rate can be achieved for these action with the Devious trait and Hive Mind ability. It is very easy to amass Blood Kisses and unlock the Bloodline Lords and campaign bonuses using this strategy. 
 
Manfred 
Helman Ghorst 
 
 

Lords and Heroes

 
Lords 
 
Vampire  
 
Strigoi  
 
Master Necromancer 
When compared to the Vampire Lord options this lonely living Lord may seem like he has no reason to be recruited however he does possess one very unique skill. 
 
Thrall Master provides a -15% Recruitment cost alongside +4 recruit for skeletons and zombies rank at with one skill point investment. This combined with tech Risen Champions for +2, the commandment Evocation of Nagash for an additional +1 means a Master Necromancer can recruit Skeletons and Zombies at rank 7. You can also add in a tier 3 Armory for an additional +2 Infantry rank. 
 
With this in mind it is worth recruiting at least one of these lords once you have researched Defiler of the Ancient Barrows to mass produce Skeleton armies. 
 
Bloodline Lords 
Lahmian (Defensive Lord, Melee Brawler) 
Key skills: 
Hive Mind (-50%hero action cost, +50 hero success chance in region) 
Queen Bee (-50% construction costs of VampireVamoire Lair building chain) 
A whirl of death on the battlefield, Vampires of the Lahmian Bloodline excel in the thick of melee. With a large Bonus vs Infantry and an ability to reduce the Speed and Melee Attack of units around her, she is best suited in the midst of the Frontline where she can use her bonuses against the enemy infantry. 
 
On the campaign map she supports the heroes within the same region with the Hive Mind skill while the Queen Bee skill provides cheaper access to Vampire heros. These abilities along with the -50% hero upkeep reduction campaign ability put the Lahmian Lord as my first pick every campaign. 
 
Although they have access to an Undead Dragon mount they are better suited as foot Lords to maximize their role in combat. 
 
With the building cost reduction and hero action buffs Lahmian Lords are best suited patrolling the borders of your empire, here therether are able to quickly build up new regions alongside Lore Keeper Heroes and cross into enemy territory to aid your heroes in harassment. 
 
Strigoi (Assault Lord, Melee Dueler) 
Key skills: 
Grotesque (physical resist) 
(Ghouls upkeep reduction) 
(Horrors upkeep reduction) 
Strigoi Lords are monstrous creatures who gave into the beastial nature of the Vampire curse, as such they have developed wicked claws capable of piercing through the thickest armor. With decent speed, little armor and melee defence, make them well suited to hit and run tactics picking and choosing high value single entity targets. 
 
The ability to ride a Terrorgheist only increases the effectiveness of their battlefield role. 
 
On the campaign map Strigoi Lords can decreasedecease the upkeep of Crypt Ghouls and Horrors as well as increase their battle endurance. 
 
This is a great army composition in ambush battles able to quickly rush to close with the enemy and surround them. The composition also fairs well in sieges with Horrors being the cheapest Siege Attacker unit available 
 
Von Carstein (Air SupremacySupremecy, Melee Support) 
(Net flying units) 
A well rounded melee combatant, thecombatant the Von Carstein Lords inspireenspire those around them. Granting guardianship to lords and heroes around in a radius they are well suited supporting others where needed. 
 
Able to completely reduce fellbat upkeep to 0 and provide reductions to Vargeists and Terrorgheists the Von Carstein are the rulers of the skies. 
 
Blood Dragon (Cavalry Lord, Melee Beast) 
Buffing elite infantry or cavalry 
 
Necarch (Support Lord, Caster) 
 
Heroes 
Vampire (Shadows, Death) 
Key Skills: 
Encourage (Provides +4 leadership in a 70m radius boosted up to +13 with skills) 
Dark Benediction (+8 Leadership in 30m radius) 
Immortal Will (Restores Hitpoints over 13 seconds) 
The Hunger (Constant Regeneration while in melee combat) 
Replenish Troops ( 
Vampire Heroes are hybrid melee/caster combatants able to boost their own combat potential and provide a source for arcane conduit. Available in either Shadow or Death magic with the mount options of on foot, on a Barded Nightmare or a flying Hellsteed. Being undead they can be healed with necromantic magic and also carry innate healing abilities in the skills Immortal Will a 13 second regen with a 60 second cooldown, and The Hunger a constant regen while in combat. These healing abilities tied with their character skills can create a powerful battlefield presence as they also provide a leadership boost to nearby units of up to +17 as well as the campaign abilities to boost replenishment and spread corruption. 
 
Primarily a battlefield hero having one or two Vampires attached to each army is a great force multiplier. Boosting leadership for nearby allies in a faction plagued with low leadership and bringing additional Winds of Magic with Magical Reserves and Arcane Conduit as well as the additional spell selection. I recommend assigning skill points into Leadership and Melee Defence first to unlock Immortal Will before grabbing The Hunger at level 9 and heading down the spell line. 
 
Vampire hero capacity can be increased in to ways, the first by constructing the Vampire Lair building chain and the second with the Lord campaign skill Children of the Night at level 2 
 
Wight King 
Campaign Agent/Battlefield Tank 
Heroic Killing Blow 
Foe Seeker 
Armored and Shielded 
Able to decimate garrisons and armies on the campaign map with his Assault skills, as well as provide a strong anchoring presence in battle the Wight King is a versatile hero. 
 
After unlocking his abilities and mount he comes a heavily armored homing missile able to survive deep behind enemy lines dueling enemy Lords and heroes, especially if supported by Cavalry. 
 
With hero upkeep being affected by supply lines while embedded, and how effective the Assault skills are i find Wight King better suited on the campaign map unless you need a bodyguard to a caster lord. 
 
Banshee 
Campaign Agent/Battlefield Assassin 
 
Necromancer 
Useful on both the campaign map and in battle Necromancers should be recruited en mass. Able to access the Lore of Vampires and Corpse Cart mounts they can also provide a passive heal to nearby units with the skill Master of the Dead. Once on a Corpse Cart they gain an innate regeneration and provide a +5 Melee Attack and Defence to nearby units, they can also stack another source of regeneration to nearby units if on an Unholy Lodestone Corpse Cart. When attached to an army Necromancers increase the chance of magical items dropping with their Scouting ability. 
 
On the campaign map Necromancers are able to Steal Technology, Wound and Assault Unit. When in the same region as a Lahmian Lord with the Queen Bee skill and two Devious traited heroes/Lords they can achieve 100% success rate and zero cost actions able to boost research rates and collect Blood Kisses with ease 
 
Available for recruitment from the tier 2 Growth building chain which also increases their capacity Necromancers are quick and easy to acquire in a campaign. The tier 3 growth building also increases the global recruit rank by one, with the amount of buildings you will have it is conceivable to recruit and disband the heroes to acquire preferred traits at any stage of the campaign. 
 
 

Lord and Hero Traits

 
Race Unique 
Dread Incarnate 
(-4 leadership to all enemy units in the local region) 
This debuff applies to every enemy army in the region the hero is in, embedded or not. This debuff is additive, allowing multiple heroes to cause enemy units to rout upon contact. Offensive campaign agents are best suited for this trait, able to move between regions between battles fought in the same turn. 
 
Lore Keeper 
(+10% research rate and -10% construction costs in the local region) 
The construction cost reduction is additive, having multiple heroes in a region will bring construction costs down significantly. The Lahmian lord skill Queen Bee 
 
Generic 
Knowledgeable  
An A tier trait for most factions, the Counts will usually have 3-4 casters in every army and so won’t have a problem with Winds of Magic reserve, this lets them utilize other traits. Knowledgeable Necromancers are great for income boosting regions such as Drakenhof and Altdorf. 
 
 

Building Overview

 
Provincial Capital 
Tier 1 
Tier 2 
Tier 3 
Tier 4 
Tier 5 
Weaker garrisons 
Large income 
 
Minor Settlement 
Tier 1 
Tier 2 
Tier 3 
 
Military Recruitment 
Cemetery 
Tier 2: Barrow 
Tier 3: Mausoleum 
With access to the Raise Dead mechanic Vampire Counts are not reliant on recruitment buildings outside of those that increase hero capacities. It is useful to have a Tier 2 Barrow where you have a Master Necromancer recruiting Skeleton armies to unlock Spearmen however. 
 
Forest 
Tier 1: Sinister Copse 
Tier 3: Abyssal Wood 
While not needed in the early to mid game, during the late game it can be beneficial to set up a recruitment center in a tier 5 province to allow the construction of a Terrorgheist Lair, combined with technology to increase recruit rank and Commandments it is possible to recruit high ranking units instead of relying on the Raise Dead mechanic to reliably recruit late game armies. 
 
Binding Circle 
Tier 2: Defiled Cairn 
Tier 3: Binding Circle 
Tier 4: Lodestone of Darkness 
Unique amongst the other recruitment buildings due to the ability to recruit and increase the capacity of Wight King heroes this chain should be constructed in any Provincial Capital that does not have a resource chain. 
 
Military Support 
Armory 
Tier 2: Ancient Armory 
Tier 3: Reliquary 
With the ability to increase the recruit rank for Infantry it is worth building in a province you plan to recruit Skeletal legions from. 
 
Vengeful Spirit 
Tier 4: Spirit Well 
Tier 5: Font of Nightmares 
Unlocking recruitment for and increasing the capacity of Banshee heroes as well as providing a small amount of income this building chain should be built in all Provincial Capitals. 
 
Vampire Lair 
Tier 4: Vampire Crypts 
Tier 5: Vampire’s Keep 
Required to recruit Vampire Heroes outside of specific landmark buildings, increasing hero capacity alongside providing income and public order bonuses it’s a must have building chain in all Provincial Capitals. Build cost can be reduced by 50% if a Lahmian Lord is in the region as well as reducing build time by 1 
 
Necromancy 
Tier 4: Forbidden Library 
Tier 5: Necromancer’s Tower 
Providing additional income, research rate and increasing the recruit rank of Necromancer Heroes the Necromancy chain is a must have in all Provincial Capitals. 
 
Terrorgheists 
Tier 5: Terrorgheist Lair 
Vampiric Corruption – local +2, adjacent +2 
Recruit Rank – Forest units +3 
Unlocks Recruitment – Terrorgheist 
An expensive tier 5 only building it can be useful to construct in a recruitment province to increase the rank of forest chain units and unlock the Terrorgheist Itself. If funds are plentiful it is a useful building to have on border provinces to promote the spread of corruption. 
 
Defensive 
Walls – Capital 
Tier 2: Ghost Fence 
Tier 3: Skeletal Walls 
Tier 4: Blasphemous Bulwark 
With the relative weakness of standard garrisons, all Provincial Capitals will benefit from at least a tier 2 building dramatically increasing the survivability of the garrison with tier 3 able to effectively counter late game armies unsupported. Once borders expand and core regions are stabilized the building can be demolished in inner regions allowing for increased income buildings. 
 
Garrison – Minor 
Tier 2: Corpse Pile 
Tier 3: Grave Guard Watchtower 
With AI targeting prioritizing unwalled settlements, and the cost of loosing and rebuilding a minor settlement exceeding the benefit of an additional income building it is highly recommended to construct walls in all minor settlements. Building the Garrison in slot 2 will allow it to be quickly rebuilt if the defenses are overwhelmed by an enemy assault. 
 
Restless Dead 
Tier 3: Awakened Battlefield 
A useful building in regions prone to frequent attacks or with a large raise dead pool. 
 
Patrols 
Tier 3: Crypt Keepers 
With the large number of heroes possible to field at once, enemy hero actions and undercities aren’t a big problem for the Counts. 
 
Infrastructure 
Boneyard 
Tier 1: Charnel Pit 
Tier 2: Lychyard 
Tier 3: Ossuary 
Growth is a must have building for all races in the early game, usually destroyed once tier 5 has been reached and replaced with another building. The Vampire Counts growth chain however provides benefits throughout the campaign that are worth keeping even after max population is achieved. These benefits are tied directly to Necromancer heroes and unit recruitment with the tier 2 building increasing Necromancer hero capacity and adding additional recruitment slots locally, this is further increased at tier 3 with the added benefit of increasing Necromancer recruit rank globally. This comes at a cost however as the building chain itself is a lot more expensive than other race growth chains. 
 
Repression 
Tier 1: Gibbet 
Tier 3: Gallows 
Granting a small amount of income and public order the Repression chain is well placed in building slot 3 of minor settlements if they don’t have a resource or landmark. There are better buildings to be built in province capitals. 
 
Balefire 
Tier 2: Balefire Brazier 
Tier 3: Balefire Hearth 
Tier 4: Witch House 
High Vampiric Corruption has many benefits including increased public order, attrition to living armies and spawning undead rebellions which are generally easier to repel. The Balefire chains ability to spread corruption to adjacent provinces at higher tiers can be used offensively to weaken nearby factions hindering their replenishment, spawning constant rebellions and allowing undead armies to replenish. 
 
Standard Build Template 
Capital Settlement 
Slot 1: Growth 
Slot 2: Garrison 
Slot 3: Balefire 
Slot 4: Trade or Income/Barrow (Wight King Capacity) 
Slot 5: Vampire Crypt 
Slot 6: Necromancer’s Tower 
Slot 7: Vengeful Spirit (Banshee Capacity) 
 
This template allows each capital to support the most hero capacity, increase public order, and spread corruption while providing the most income. Regions lacking in trade resources providing a Wight King for campaign scouting/actions. With each Lord giving an additional Vampire Hero capacity every Provincial Capital owned will supply an army with 2 Necromancers, 2 Vampires and a Banshee 
 
Minor Settlements 
Slot 1: Growth 
Slot 2: Garrison/Walls 
Slot 3: Trade/Income 
 
With growth providing additional Necromancers capacity and recruit ranks at tier 3 alongside local recruitment capacity they are worth keeping all campaign. Having the Garrison in slot 2 will allow it to be quickly upgraded to walls at tier 3 and if the settlement is sacked it will retain the garrison at tier 2 allowing for quick rebuilding of walls. Finally slot 3 for trade buildings and additional income, with Trade buildings providing additional campaign buffs (upkeep reductions unit rank increases etc) recruitment provinces can build a crypt to allow Skeleton Spearmen to be produced. 
 
 

Technology

 
 
 
 

Diplomacy

 
Friendly: Greenskins, Pirates, other Undead 
Neutral: Skaven, Dark Elves 
Hostile: The Empire, Dwarfs, High Elves, Wood Elves, 
 
Aversion 
Great power 
Expand slowly 
Limit contact 
Maintain reliability 
 
 

Campaign Strategy

 
Early game 
 
Secure the starting area, Sylvania or Artois/Bastonne for Kemmler. Kemmler should try to take out Couronne early. 
 
Unlock and recruit a Lahmian lord asap, level to 10 to unlock Queen Bee/Hivemind. 
 
Build as many level 2 growth buildings as possible to field as many Necromancers as you can. 
If playing Von Carstein faction focus on Vampire Heroes and Lords to unlock lvl2 blue skill Children of the Night to increase cap first, Lords can heal with magic, vamps have Immortal Will. 
 
Beeline Defiler of the Ancient Barrows and recruit a Master Necromancer when near completion, rank up to level 2 and assign 1 skillpoint to Thrall Master for +4 Skeleton recruitment rank, add +2 tech and +1 from commandment for rank 7 Skeletons. 
 
Send all the Necromancers with the Lahmian lord to Steal Technology against a settlement of an enemy to quickly level up with Heroes with good traits embedding into armies once their magic is unlocked and they have +50 or so turns of steal technology banked. heroes with less desirable traits to assign points into the blue skills and go out to find and wound enemy heroes when they have +50 turns of steal technology, while new Necromancers level with the Lord. 
 
Once Skeletons are free, recruit as many Bloodline Lords as possible, focus on red line and unique skills first leaving magic to Necromancers buffing Skeletons with Legions of the Dead. Getting lots of Lords out and levelled early to transition to mid game. 
 
Sack and raid nearby factions to build core provinces up to tier 4 before expanding. Expanding before the core is tier 4 will slow the mid game down, slowing access to Vampire Heroes and additional income from high tier settlements/Vampire Crypts. Additionally increasing the great power penalty causing more factions to declare war. 
 
Try to create large Raise Dead pools using multiple Skeleton stacks, battle an army with at least 14 units, once the battle is won and the enemy shattered and fleeing, stack all the Skeletons in a line and cast Wind of Death on them to create a large number of casualties. 
 
Keep 1 free hero capacity to cycle a hero every turn (recruit and disband to allow a new hero with new trait to spawn) key traits are Confident/Disciplined for armies, Knowledgeable/Devious for campaign agents (Devious will be replaced late game) and try to amass 5 Lore Keepers to stay with the Lahmian Lord. 
 
Once Tier 4 is reached, have the Lahmian and Lore Keeper heroes move to regions and build Vampire Crypts. Start recruiting Vampires to embed in armies. 
 
Mid Game 
Start to take Settlements in waves, securing new settlements with garrisons and walls while raiding and sacking adjacent regions to combat rebellions, once at Tier 3 and all walls are up, move on to the next wave of occupying stopping expansion when 2 provinces from the core settlements and go back to sacking and raiding. 
 
This will allow the Lahmian and Lore Keepers to quickly build up core regions to tier 5 and the first wave to tier 4. Once core provinces are maxed and income is exceeding infrastructure costs start recruiting elite units into Primary armies (Lords with upkeep reductions, Strigoi, Von Carstein, Blood Dragons) 
 
High level Devious Necromancers should be patrolling border regions wounding heroes to supply Blood Kisses with extra Necromancers returning to the highest income region owned once 50+ steal technology are banked to increase income, assign any treasurer followers to these heroes to further boost income (Sylvania is by far the best region for this with the Gold Mine, +50% income boost, and 10 slots, Altdorf is a good booster region for Kemmler) 
 
With economy picking up and hero capacity skyrocketing, full focus on cycling heroes for desired traits for the late game. With -33% hero recruitment from tech and an additional -20% stacking per lord in local regions heroes can be replaced cheaply, as such each turn all available heroes should be recruited until all hero capacity is filled with desired traits. Necromancers can easily be recruited at high ranks due to the availability of growth buildings throughout the Empire. 
Create a raise dead pool using zombies/Skeletons early for crypt Horrors 
 
Tips 
Early game armies can just be 2 wolves 1 horror and 2 Necromancers supported by a second Skeleton only army. 
 
The Lahmian Bloodline is a highly recommended first pick. With wounding enemy heroes being the most reliable source of Blood Kisses, halving the cost of hero upkeep allows more heroes to be recruited and begin levelling up earlier. Excellent in melee and able to unlock Perfect Vigour and a large Bonus vs Infantry early in the skill tree the Lord herself is a valuable addition to early game armies. Unlocking the Queen Bee and Hivemind skills at level 10 she also provides a large strategic and economic advantage over the other Bloodlines, able to halve the cost of Vampire Crypts as well as reducing the cost and increasing the success chance of agent actions. This will allow for early access to Vampire Heroes and the ability to quickly and cheaply train multiple heroes using agent actions. 
 
All vampire units and buildings are expensive, and with the majority of income buildings being locked behind high building tiers it is better to build tall as opposed to capturing multiple settlements. This doesn’t mean idleness in the early game however as the source of income will come from post battle loot, sacking and raiding 
 
Don’t worry about trying to get the perfect traits on heroes at the start, recruit to your max capacity and instead spend money on increasing the capacity as quickly as possible. Once the mid game is reached it is possible to move several Lords with skill points in ‘Children of the Night’ to a single region, the recruitment reduction from the skill stacks and as it unlocks an additional vampire hero capacity per Lord it is a skill to pick up regardless. With technology and buildings increasing the recruitment rank it is quick and easy to replace any levelled heroes with traits that are less than ideal. 
 
Occupying Port Settlements is dangerous for the Vampire Count factions, opening vision to a sea region can encounter multiple factions at a time. With the diplomatic aversion all living races have towards the undead, the possibility of having far away factions declare war and send armies when least expected is high. 
 
Necromancers with the Knowledgeable trait are excellent income boosters, park them in a high income region such as Altdorf or Drakenhof with a ‘Treasurer’ follower and see how quickly the bonuses add up. With how easy it is to increase Necromancer hero capacity and the -50% upkeep (-100% with The Barrow Legion) it’s a highly effective use for extra heroes. 
 
Acquiring 5 Lore Keeper traits early in the campaign should be a priority, it matters not which Hero or Lord the trait is on in the early game as income can be saved until all the Lore Keepers are in the same region. While 10 traits will stack and reduce construction costs to zero, the costs in cycling heroes and the upkeep for said heroes will start to bring diminishing returns after around 5. 
 
 

Units

 
Infantry 
 
Zombies (Meatshield) 
Total War: WARHAMMER II Race Guide: Vampire Counts 
Pro: cheap, durable 
Con: slow 
Use: 
A cheap, effective and slow meatshield unit designed to take damage in place of other units. With a large model count and high health they act like a tarpit, any melee unit that engages them will be stuck slowly chipping away at the units healthpool. They move in a slow loose formation that actually helps their survivability as charging units will penetrate the formation and have a harder time disengaging. Every other stat is dreadful so don’t expect these guys to perform any other role. 
 
Skeleton Warriors (Line Infantry) 
Pro: free with technology, effective with supported 
Con: weak when unsupported 
Use: 
The basic melee unit and line holder of the Counts roster. In comparison to Zombies, Skeleton Warriors while not as tanky are faster and have a stat line that allows them to dish out some damage against the units they are fighting. With support from a Necromancer hero on a Corpse Cart they can perform well above their cost. The technology Defiler of the Ancient Barrows will reduce the upkeep cost of Skeletons to 0 
 
Skeleton Spearmen (Anti-Large Line Infantry) 
Total War: WARHAMMER II Race Guide: Vampire Counts 
Pro: anti-large 
Con: 
Use: 
With more melee defence, less melee attack and a bonus vs Large, Skeleton Spearmen 
 
Crypt Ghouls (Line Flankers) 
Pro: Fast, Poison 
Con: Lacks Armor and AP damage 
Use: able to quickly exploit gaps and flank enemy units while inflicting a poison debuff, Crypt Ghouls are best suited to supporting the main line. While they do have the speed to harras the rear if needed they are vulnerable if left exposed and better units for the role in the roster. 
 
Grave Guard (Elite Line Infantry) 
Pro: Armored and Shielded, BonusBobus vs Infantry 
Con: Cost 
Use: 
One of the deadliest Line Infantry units in the game when supported. Heavily armored with a silver shield, solid melee stats and a Bonus vs Infantry. A Line of Grave Guard combined with a Necromancer on a Unholy Lodestone Corpse Cart and a Mortis Engine will win nearly any battle of attrition. The problem comes from their upkeep, other army compositions using free Skeletons to hold the line are more cost effective unless lead by a Blood Dragon. 
 
Grave Guard {Great Weapons} (Elite AP Infantry) 
Pro: 
Con: 
Use: 
 
Cairn Wraiths (Elite Line Flankers) 
Pro: Fast, Ethereal, Terror, High AP damage 
Con: Weak to Magic and Ranged 
Use: 
These scythe wielding Wraiths are elite shock Infantry, fast and and with a small unit size they are able exploit the smallest of gaps to deliver devastating Armor Piercing Magical attacks and Terror, being Ethereal gives the Wraiths surprising survivability in prolonged melee however due to their small unit size and health pool they are very vulnerable to magic and ranged attacks. 
 
Cavalry 
 
Black Knights (Melee Cavalry) 
Pro: 
Con: 
Use: 
Cost effective melee cav 
 
Black Knights {Lance’s and Barding} (Shock Cavalry) 
Pro: 
Con: 
Use: 
Cycle charge variant 
 
Hexwraiths (Elite Melee Cavalry) 
Pro: 
Con: 
Use: 
Elite AP terror cav 
 
Blood Dragons (Elite Shock Cavalry) 
Pro: 
Con: 
Use: 
Elite antilarge cav, excels at fighting other cav not so much single entity 
 
Monsters 
 
Bats (Flying Meatshield) 
Pro: Very Fast, Flying, Durable 
Con: Low Damage Output 
Use: 
Flying zombies 
Excel at bogging down units for damage dealers to catch. 
able to catch enemy cavalry and prevent them using their charge bonus 
Bypass ground units to directly engage ranged 
 
Wolves (Disruption) 
Pro: Very Fast, high attack and charge bonus 
Con: Low Survivability 
Use: 
With their high speed, attack and charge bonus combined with low health, defense and armor Wolves are best suited for chasing down fleeing units. Able to quickly chew through even highly armored units as they rout Wolves will struggle unsupported against all but low tier ranged units, working in pairs they can be used to disrupt the enemy back line and surround isolated units cycle charging to break them. 
 
Crypt Horrors (Line Flankers) 
Pro: AP, Regen, Poison, Splash Attacks, Siege Attacker 
Con: 
Use: 
A straight upgrade from Ghouls 
Cheapest siege attacker 
Can exploit gaps and flank good maneuver 
High damage output good survival 
 
Vargeists (Disruption, Damage Dealers) 
Pro: 
Con: 
Use: 
Guided missiles 
High mobility and damage to hit and run isolated or engaged units 
Pair well with bats to pin and soak damage 
Great in sieges able to disengage from walls with ease allowing cycle charging 
 
Vargulf (Line Flanker) 
Pro: AP, Splash Attack, Regeneration, high mass, Very Fast 
Con: Very Low Leadership 
Use: 
Monstrous bat like wrecking balls, Vargulf can quickly charge into, and through enemy infantry bouncing between multiple units and leaving devastation in its wake. Capable of harassing the rear and flanks as well as supporting the main line bringing large amounts of AP damage wherever they go Vargulf’s low leadership means they should not stray to far from Lords and Heroes to prevent any moral shocks. 
 
Terrorgheist (Monster Killer) 
Pro: breath, AP, flying, Terror, BvL 
Con: 
Use: 
A highly mobile Terror unit with good durability and damage output. Effective at killing enemy monsters and cavalry with the BvL and capable of moral shocking all except the most elite or unbreakable units with a combined breath attack and rear charge due to it’s Terror, Terrorgheists are a multipurpose addition to every army limited only by their upkeep. 
 
War Machines 
 
Corpse Cart (Line Support) 
Pro: Aura Buff 
Con: Redundant due to Necromancer Heroes 
Use: 
Slow moving 
 
Corpse Cart (Balefire) 
Pro: 
Con: 
Use: 
 
Corpse Cart (Unholy Lodestone) 
Pro: 
Con: 
Use: 
 
[b}Black Coach (Disruption) 
Pro: Very Fast, High Mass, Single Entity, Bound Abilities, Terror 
Con: Expensive 
Use: 
Excellent at out maneuvering and breaking through enemy lines due to its high mass, fast speed and small single entity the Black Coach is an effective disruption unit capable of quickly breaking the enemy back line. Pairing well with a pack of Wolves to hunt down routing units, the main drawback being the high upkeep cost. 
 
Mortis Engine (Line Support) 
Pro: Ethereal, Terror, Mass Regeneration, Damage Aura, Increases Magic Regen. 
Con: 
Use: 
Able to simultaneously deal damage to enemy, and heal friendly units while engaged in melee the Mortis Engine belongs at the heart of the toughest matchups. With surprising survivability due to the Ethereal trait it should not stray far from the protection of other units as it is vulnerable to being focused down, especially against magical attacks. 
 
 

Battle Strategy

 
Unable to field large numbers of ranged and artillery, 
Units favor attrition or rush style warfare 
Either style can work on its own although a combination of both is most effective. 
 
Units across the roster suffer from poor stats and higher upkeep compared to other races, with low leadership causing crumbling being a major concern. 
 
Psychology plays a large role in battle with a variety of highly mobile terror units and leadership debuffs allowing moral shocks to break the leadership of enemy units, once broken Bats and Wolves can quickly run down any survivors. 
 
Able to heal and revive deceased models in units with magic and auras, after each battle is won time should be taken to use all available Winds of Magic to revive as many models as possible. This is an excellent time to simultaneously use Cavalry and Monsters to chase down any remaining enemy units with Wolves being the best unit at this task. 
 
Lords and heroes make up for the difference in unit value. Lords provide a variety of army buffs, a strong melee presence and spellcasting abilities with Necromancers and Vampires heroes each playing their own important roles. 
 
Necromancers can passively heal units around them while not in combat with ‘Master of the Dead’ and have access to the various corpse carts as mounts, which can provide additional mass regeneration and a +5MA/MD aura buff to nearby units, alongside regeneration for the Hero himself. With access to the Lore of Vampires, Necromancers are also powerful spellcasters, able to provide additional uses of raise dead and Arcane Conduit. Bringing at least one, preferably two along with every army to support the main battle line is recommended. 
 
Vampires are hybrid caster/melee heroes with access to either the Lore of Shadows or Death and surprising endurance in combat with some investment into yellow line skills. Able to provide an encouragement aura increasing the leadership of nearby units, an effect that can be increased with further investment into the yellow skill line, Vampires can support your infantry on foot, cavalry on a Barded Nightmare or flying units on a Hellsteed giving them the mobility to be where they are needed most. The only difference between the two types being the spells they have access to. With the added bonus of increasing the replenishment of armies they are attached to every army would benefit from 1-2 heroes. 
 
With Bloodline Lords supporting the use of different units, each army can be specialized towards a different form of warfare with Strigoi excelling in ambush and siege battles, Blood Dragon in field, Von Carstein in air Supremacy and Lahmian/Necrach Lords being powerful combatants best at leading support stacks. 
 
Early game armies will be made up of mostly cheap Meatshield units of Zombies and Skeletons with Lords, Heroes and Magic providing the majority of damage output. Adding 1-2 units of Wolves for harassment and chasing routing units alongside a unit of Crypt Horrors for line flanking and the Siege Attacker trait will substantially increase the effectiveness of early game armies. 
 
Once the Skeleton upkeep technology has been researched multiple armies of this type can be fielded operating with the support of a second Lord leading a Skeleton only army remains viable into the mid game. Moving armies in pairs will allow for bait and ambush strategies to lure enemy armies into more favorable battles, with ambush battles providing a reliable way to deal with enemy range and artillery playing into the Vampire Counts strengths as a rush style roster. 
 
Expect and encourage these armies to take large amounts of casualties each battle. With a large base replenishment granted from the Von Carstein Bloodline combined with the Raise Dead mechanic any losses can be replaced quickly and allow for the formation of large Raise Dead pools. 
 
With the diplomatic aversion wars on multiple fronts is highly likely, this is where having many weaker armies is a benefit over a few stronger elite armies, they can simply be in more places at once. An army of Skeletons in ambush by a settlement is a great way to supplement the strength of the army with garrison units and build up large Raise Dead pools. 
 
Transitioning to mid game effort should be made to cycle heroes with preferred traits into each army and bring the total number of heroes in each up to 3-5. With a large skill point investment being required to get the most out of Lords and Heroes fielding as many as possible will allow for exponential growth to the effectiveness of each army. 
 
Once Hero capacity is reached, adding a highly mobile Terror unit such as Hexwraiths to an army will allow for easier chain routing of enemy units, these units are expensive though so use should be limited. 
 
Entering the late game these armies can start to evolve around the strengths provided by the particular Lords leading them. Still maintaining a core of free expendable Skeletons, armies can begin recruiting specialized units from larger Raise Dead pools allowing them to compete with opposing late game armies. 
 
 

Battle Tactics

 
Early game tactics are limited due to the focus on large amounts of infantry supported by Lords, Heroes and Magic with one or two harassment units. There are only two main formations in each to deploy, the Square and Line each with their own strengths and weaknesses. 
 
The Square formation is for playing defensively where the enemy has significantly greater mobility. Forming the entire army into one or two defensive squares with Spearmen up front, Swords behind and the Lord and Heroes in the center will provide the most units coverage from auras and buffs, a charge defence against large units, the ability to easily swap Spear Infantry for Sword Infantry once melee is engaged and allows for Lords and Heroes to quickly react where they are needed most. With all flanks secured and units covered by Encourage and regeneration auras this formation can be expected to hold out for long periods of time against melee armies. It is highly vulnerable to magic, artillery and heavy ranged fire so check enemy army compositions before deploying in this fashion and deploy in woods where possible for the additional protection against ranged and large units. 
 
Line 
A oblique, checkerboard, double line 
 
 

Army Compositions

 
Early game armies can be primarily Skeletons with two or three other units in support, splitting the Skeletons into ⅔ Spearmen and ⅓ Warriors. Most of the damage output of the army will come from the Lords, Heroes and Magic, with the Skeletons purpose more to tank damage and hold the enemy in place. With a higher defense and a BvL Spearmen can survive longer in prolonged melee and better suit this role, however bringing along some Warriors will increase the overall damage output and aid in siege battles with the Warriors better suited to take the walls. 
 
*Auto Resolve also seems to favor Spearmen over Warriors with the later taking much higher casualties.* 
 
As for support units, a Necromancer hero should be added as soon as possible to provide spellcasting, Invocation of Nehek will keep your Elite units and Heroes in the fight and Raise Dead is a great way to tie up ranged units with Wind of Death being an incredible source of damage. Master of the Dead provides a passive healing aura which increases with the inclusion of a MA/MD buff once riding an Unholy Lodestone Corpse Cart. Bringing a Necromancer along will also free up the Lord’s skill points, allowing them to focus on army buffs and unique skills. 
 
A unit of Dire Wolves will greatly increase the effectiveness of primary armies giving much needed mobility and options to harass enemy skirmishers, working in pairs they can quickly surround isolated units to rout and destroy them. 
 
Finally a unit of Crypt Horrors will grant the Siege Attacker trait and some much needed AP damage to counter any Elite units the enemy brings. 
 
Mid game when Tier 4 is reached and Heroes are starting to be fielded in large numbers, exponential growth to an armies strength can be achieved by adding extra heroes with each additional skill-point compounding. Focus should be on expanding hero and Bloodline capacity then recruiting to the max, this will allow for multiple high level heroes in preparation for the late game. Once upkeep reduction skills begin to unlock primary armies can start to field elite units as needed, however focus should be on upgrading infrastructure and only recruiting more units when an income surplus is achieved. 
 
Banshee Heroes provide primarily campaign roles, increasing army movement when embedded and detaching to damage walls and block enemy movement. When detached they can be replaced with a unit from the Raise Dead pool, with the intention of disbanding this unit to reattach the Banshee after the battle they can be considered expendable and used aggressively. 
 
Vampire Heroes are excellent at supporting every unit, strong melee fighters and spell casters with self healing they also provide a leadership buff to nearby units. On foot they can support the infantry, riding a Nightmare they bring extra toughness to Cavalry and on a Hellsteed they help rule the skies allowing them to fill a role in every army. As strong as they are they are not invulnerable and will struggle if caught in the open, if pinned down by Elites, Lords and other Heroes or targeted by ranged they can be quickly brought down so should always be escorted. 
 
Late game when multiple provinces are fully upgraded and income exceeds infrastructure upgrade expenses, Lords and Heroes are high levelled having unlocked their unique skills and excess income can be used to support armies of high tiered units. 
 
These following army templates are my recommendations for the specific Lords, aiming to be cost effective and fun while providing a different theme around the unique skills. 
 
Vlad 
1. Banshee 
2. Vampires (Foot) 
2. Necromancers 
6. Spearmen 
4. Grave Guard 
2. Grave Guard (Great Weapons) 
1. Mortis Engine 
1. Vargulf 
 
Isabella 
Vampire Heroes and Monsters in any combination. 
 
Kemmler 
1. Banshee 
2. Necromancers (CCUL) 
2. Wight Kings 
4. Spearmen 
3. Grave Guard 
2. Cairn Wraiths 
2. Hexwraiths 
1. Crypt Ghouls 
1. Mortis Engine (Claw of Nagash) 
1. Black Coach/Terrorgheist 
 
Red Duke1x Banshee 
2. Necromancers 
2. Vampires 
5. Spearmen 
4. Grave Guard 
2. Black Knights 
2. Blood Dragons 
1. Mortis Engine 
 
Strigoi 
2. Necromancers (Corpse Cart Unholy Lodestone) 
2. Vampires (Foot) 
9. Spearmen 
4. Ghouls 
2. Horrors 
 
Blood Knight1x Banshee 
2. Necromancers (Corpse Cart Unholy Lodestone) 
2. Vampires (Nightmare) 
6. Spearmen 
4. Grave Guard 
2. Blood Knights 
1. Vargulf 
1. Mortis Engine 
 
Von Carstein 
1. Banshee 
2. Vampire Hero (Hellsteed) 
11. Fellbats 
2. Dire Wolves 
2. Vargeists 
1. Terrorgheist 
 
All Other Lords 
2. Vampire Hero (Hellsteed) 
17. Skeletons 
 
 

Tips and Advice

 
 

By coximus

Here we come to an end for Total War: WARHAMMER II Race Guide: Vampire Counts hope you enjoy it. If you think we forget something to include or we should make an update to the post let us know via comment, and we will fix it asap! Thanks and have a great day!


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