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Fell Bats Rules and Tactics (Vampire Counts Special Units)

Flying creatures can be an important addition to any army. They are the fastest movers and provide you with a means of harrying the enemy flanks and posing a threat to weakly armoured war machine crew, spell casters and other isolated independent special units like the Dwarf's Anvil of Doom.

The main choices will all flying units are :-
1) whether to select them from your unit army list or to take a character on a flying mount and
2) whether you have fast moving alternatives (eg Wood Elf Glade Riders which can move 18 inches per turn)

For the Vampire Counts army you are spoilt for choice if you need a flying option.

Flying Horror Vampiric Power

Firstly, you can bestow the gift of flight on any Vampire character by giving them the Bestial Flying Horror power for 30 points. This is probably the worst option * available to you, because your Vampiric power points are probably better spent elsewhere to provide tactical options that would not otherwise be available to you.

* I can envisage one situation in particular that this could be useful. If your enemy has a strong missile defence then the chance of you getting an effective flying unit up to the enemy line might be slim. A Vampire could however deploy with a large unit of skeletons and march move towards the enemy and then leave the unit and fly over the top of interposing enemy units straight into the enemy's secondary line. There, the vampire would be unhindered for, probably, at least 1 turn to engage enemy war machines, spell casters and the like.

Hellsteed, Zombie Dragon or Abyssal Horror.

Your second character option would be to provide a monstrous mount or a hellsteed for your vampire. Heros can take a hellsteed for just 20 pts (and they are reasonable in combat - for a flying dead horse !). A Lord can take a hellsteed, abyssal terror or a zombie dragon (although these can work out very expensive and they are considered to be rare so take up an extra hero slot in your army - more on that in a future post)

Hellsteeds are actually a pretty good option as a vampire mount. They only have a single wound so they do not count as a monster that can be shot our from underneath your vamp. This means that your vampire and hellsteed is treated as a single model which will benefit from any ward or armour save given to it.

Abyssal Terrors and Zombie Dragons are beyond the scope of this post but I will return to them in future.

So, let's assume you don't want to take a flying Vampire or you want more flyers. Exactly how good are our fury flying friends ?

Fell Bats

Well, I'm sorry to say that fell bats are not great. They are however quite cheap in comparison with the flyer options most other armies have. The important question here I guess is "do my fell bats need to be great ?"

Well, my answer in short is "no, they don't providing you use them to the best of their ability". Also remember, when I said they're not great I didn't say they were bad.

Fell Bats need to be used to mess with your enemy's plans. They are not going to win you many combats. In fact Fell Bats might not win you any combats except against weak skirmishers, scouts and war machine crew.

And there's your answer. Don't attack key enemy units with fell bats. Mess with the units that don't want you there. I'm particularly thinking about war machines now.

There's one last thing. If you're facing a lot of cavalry or the enemy are fast movers like Ogres or Skaven then Fell Bats suddenly rocket in importance because they allow you to march block your enemy and hold up their advance.

So in summary, fell bats can help target the enemy war machines, are great for march blocking and only cost 20pts. They won't win you any battles but they can impede your enemy's plans - a lot !

One last thing that you should know. Unlike nearly all other flyers, Fell Bats will not get in a flap and panic under missile fire so even 5 bats for a paultry 100 pts should stand a good chance of march blocking 1 or 2 units and tying up at least 1 enemy war machine during the game.

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