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Black Knights Rules and Tactics (Vampire Counts Special Units)

When you're selecting a Vampire Counts Army, Black Knights and Grave Guard should be at the forefront of your plans to beat any other Warhammer Army.

Now we're really getting into the meaty part of Vampire Counts army selection.

Should you select Black Knights ?

The answer is a very easy "yes !". A well equipped and supported unit of Black Knights can win you a Battle.

Black Knights have the usual benefits and weaknesses of other cavalry. They have a great armour save (2+ if you give them barding), they will usually strike first (if you charge them into combat) and they have a strength 6 lance attack in the 1st round (better than most other knights).

Likewise, in common with most other heavy cavalry they are one of the army's more expensive units.

"Tell me something I didn't know..."...well, unlike most other cavalry units, Black Knights suffer no movement restrictions for difficult terrain thanks to their skeletal steeds. This can be a big benefit when fighting certain races or when there is a lot of interposing battlefield terrain. Take for instance Wood Elves. They can be nigh on impossible to chase down in wooded terrain, not so with Black Knights.

The second big advantage that the undead knight have that the living do not is that they will never panic from missile fire casualties or rout from combat. Being immune to psychology and never panicing is a definite bonus but never routing can be a double edged sword and, at times, work against you if your unit is charged and heavily outmatched.

Routing in my opinion is the single most influential negative that your army can suffer. It usually puts an unwanted distance between you and you opponent, it drives your army backwards away from your enemy's table quarter victory points and of course, your unit can always be cut down or run from the battlefield altogether.

There is also an advantage to a cavalry unit standing firm whether or not they are going to win the combat... it allows the rest of your army time to catch up with your forward units. Not only that but is greatly increases the chances that you will be able to charge the flank or, Dark Arts willing, the rear of the unit fighting your Black Knights.

Black Knights have one further profile attribute that sets them apart from nearly all their living equivalents - a toughness of 4. Don't underestimate this, it can make a difference when your armour save will not.

So how to use Black Knights

These heavy cavalry should be used as elite shock troops to take on the enemy's finest. Tool them up and provide them with magical and character support. Try to keep other large rank and file units nearby and charge them in while the Black Knights hold the enemy back. You will not have a deeply ranked Black Knight unit (unless you are very adventurous and into risk taking). The supporting rank and file units will give you that all important rank bonus and a flanking bonus in the multiple units scrap that will follow.

Are Black Knights the best Vampire Counts unit ?

The debate rages in the Vampire Counts thread of the battlereporter forum over which VC unit is the most influential in a battle. Some people have voted with the Varghulf, some with Grave Guard. Whatever the outcome Black Knights are certainly in the top 3 and should be included in any flexible VC army, especially a tournament army when you will not know which enemy armies you will encounter.

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