Sunday, 29 January 2012

Vampire Counts book first thoughts

The new Vampire Counts book arrived last week. For an old timer like myself, this is the fourth edition of the army list (if you count the original Undead book that also included mummies, catapults, etc). So how does it compare to previous versions?

Let's gloss over the cover, quite possibly the worst in all of history (hence the randomly selected picture above). Inside there is some nice artwork, a potted history of the Vampire Counts, a bestiary and the army list.

The background is very familiar to veterans. In fact, it's word for word exactly the same as the previous book in many sections, or maybe slightly rephrased in parts. There's an added chapter on the latest actions of Mannfred and the Lichemaster, but overall there's nothing new. I found this section to be a little dull. In fairness, it's hard to imagine a complete rewrite for the background so some duplication is bound to occur, but I reckon there was scope to include more of the vampire personalities rather than just the same old von Carstein story. On the plus side, there is a very nice new map of Sylvania, one of the best warhammer maps I have seen.

The bestiary is also subject to a lot of duplication from previous books. Of course, there are some new entries to cater for the latest additions to the army. There's a colour illustration for each entry, and a few paragraphs of text. What more can you say about a bestiary? Similarly, the colour section containing photos of the models is familiar to all gamers. Most of the page spreads have already appeared in White Dwarf or on the web, so few surprises here. As an old timer with my own painting style, this section is the least inspiring of the book, but I know for a lot of newcomers these pages will prove invaluable.

As a hobbyist rather than a gamer, I never thought I would say this, but it's the army list that's the most interesting. It's nicely laid out and there is a lot crammed in. The choices for players have never been so wide, and points costs are much reduced in many cases, so there is plenty of scope to include lots and lots of models if that's what you like. I took an existing army list that I had used from the previous book and found that I could afford to double the number of skeletons and add three more hero characters!

Overall, I am reasonably pleased with the book. It's not an instant classic, but neither is it a damp squib. There's not much new in terms of background, but there are plenty of new models and army selections to ponder. It's not quite got the flavour of previous books because of the lack of bloodlines, but there's enough flexibility in the army list section to allow players to emulate these kinds of list if they so desire. I am looking forward to trying out a few ideas in the coming weeks.

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