Each Bloodline has its own wild and wacky theme force tucked away in a two page spread at the back of the book. All move units around between slots and adjust the numbers you’re allowed to take, and three of them invite in units from other lists. The book does warn you these are in no way as balanced as the main list and it’s not kidding.
This section is more theoretical than the rest as I don’t have the required troops to go hard on any of them, although I’ve taken the Von Carstein one out for a spin and I’d entertain the Blood Dragons or Lahmians.
Lose Master Necromancers and Ghouls, gain 0-2 Bat Swarms, 0-2 Black Coaches, Fell Bats in Core and Sylvanian Levy, aka Empire Free Company, Archers, Crossbowmen and 0-1 Huntsmen.
An increasingly popular theme force, with a lot of flexibility. Huntsmen are good march blockers and diverters if you don’t expect too much from their actual shots, Crossbowmen add a good solid punch from a distance, Free Company aren’t as mobile or tough as Ghouls but can bait, switch and throw down two attacks in melee well enough. Really benefits from a Battle Standard Bearer with all those living units around. Just don’t forget that you’re an Undead army; your melee blocks should still be Skeletons and Wights.
Lose Master Necromancers and Ghouls, Dire Wolves move into Special, all Heroes can ride Winged Nightmares and unridden Zombie Dragons appear in Rare.
Hot damn, it’s a Vampire flying circus, and a perfect opportunity to use those Zombie Dragon models. Lots of Terror, lots of mobility, lots of eggs in one basket. I haven’t played this one as I don’t have enough monsters to justify it, but it looks like so much fun.
Lose Master Necromancers, Ghouls and Zombies, gain Swains: Heroes from ANY OTHER WARHAMMER ARMIES BOOK, with all their usual options, including mounts, who gain Hatred of the enemy if the Lahmian General, the immortal object of their desire, turns out to be less immortal than planned.
Clearly meant to be used with restraint and dignity, to bring in a Bretonnian or Empire hero, maybe an Elf if you wanted to get daring (a Wood Elf Alter Noble would be a giggle, or a Dark Elf sorceress for bonus lesbianism) or a Chaos Champion (think about it, big hulking metal Viking with the ultimate goth girlfriend draped off ’em…). But RAW is RAW and some people recommend Skink Priests on Stegadons or Warlock Engineers or other silliness.
Whatever you end up indulging in, the Swains had better be able to survive and contribute to the game on their own as there are all sorts of rules loopholes around putting them safely in any of your Undead units and life’s too short to spend fiddling about with those.
Easier to list what you can take than what you can’t, to be honest. Blood Dragon Vampires of any size. Wight Lords. Black Knights (must have barding), Grave Guard and Skeletons with hand weapons and bows at 10 points each as Core. Regular Skeletons as Special. Black Coach, Banshees, and Dogs of War… unless you want to go off the deep end and let your Black Knights use Lance Formation, and since this list is clearly derived from Bretonnia rather than the Empire I say go hog wild.
Accept that you’ll only be attempting one spell per turn; take those Black Knight lances with a Thrall in the front of each one; fill up on Skeleton Archers and bring a Banshee or two to deflect. Deal with enemy wizards by spitting them upon your lances. Game on.
Only Vampire characters. Core is Ghouls, 0-1 super-Ghouls with WS 4, S4 and Ld7 at 10 points each, 0-1 Bat Swarms, 0-1 Strigany (another set of Empire Free Company). Special is Skeletons, Dire Wolves, Fell Bats and 0-1 Spirit Host. Rare? Banshees and Dogs of War, no Black Coach for you!
Another army where you won’t be casting many spells, but in your defence you won’t need to as the majority of your army isn’t even Undead and doesn’t need the Necromancy boosts so much. Skeletons are there as a bunker option in case your vampires need to hide from shooting for a few turns, everything else is full feral. It’s an interesting idea for a list that might work as a single-character, high-risk high-reward sort of thing. I am more intrigued by this than I should be, but I don’t own the twelve kajillion Ghouls it would take to put together.
Lose all Vampires, Ghouls, Bat Swarms and the Black Coach. Dire Wolves move into Special. Everything not a Necromancer gets a points break.
Essentially, you’re giving up on the combat potential and cool factor of the Vampire in favour of an absolute barrage of spells and combined arms play to compensate for your lack of really strong heroes. If you must play a Vampire Counts army without Necromancers you may as well do it like this and get a little more bang for your buck, and it’s pretty characterful for Kemmler.