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Warhammer Battle Reports 7th / 8thNauticans / Design Fantasy Gallery

The Black Coach Rules and Tactics (Vampire Counts Army)

The special characteristics of the Black Coach make it quite unique in the Warhammer Fantasy World.

The coach has the ability to grow in power throughout a battle by absorbing magical energy from all nearby spellcasters (friend and foe !) plus any dice in the army's power dice pool. These dice are then turned into handy special abilities which are added to the Black Coach's profile.

As it is, the Black Coach has a very useful profile before any power dice are even absorbed ! It acts as a chariot (D6 impact hits), has a 3+ armour save and 4+ ward save. It is also controlled by a Cairn Wraith, these 'ex'-guys are quite hard (3 strength 4 attacks; mounted with great weapon). Also, the coach is pulled around by a couple of Nightmares which provide 2 more strength 4 attacks.

On top of all this, the Black Coach causes terror, is undead and therefore unbreakable and it has the Vampire special rule.

The Vampire rule gives the Black Coach two additional qualities. Firstly, the coach will not suffer wounds as a result of a Vampire General's death. Secondly, and more importantly the Vampire rule enables any other undead units within 6 inches to make a march move.

All of the above sounds pretty useful, right ? Yep, it sure is and for 200 pts it would seem reasonable-ish value for money. But hold on, I haven't even told you about the special powers the coach gets by absorbing magic power dice...

For each power dice the coach absorbs it permanently gains the following attributes (the gains are cumulative):-

total number of dice absorbed:
1 - scythes added to coach
2 - hatred* for cairn wraith driver and steeds
3 - Magic Resistance (3) !
4 - killing blow gained for cairn wraith, steeds and even impact hits
5 - Black Coach becomes ethereal**
6 - Black Coach gains the ability to fly

* reroll missed hits in 1st round of combat
** cannot be harmed by non-magical attacks.

You can see that once the coach has absorbed 5 ot 6 dice it becomes quite a formiddable weapon of war.

The thing with a Vampire Counts army which makes the Black Coach such a powerful rare unit is the number of power dice the Vampires can use.

A typical 2000pt Vampire Counts army might have 12 power dice (to my knowledge, it could have up to 17 power dice !)

If all the Vampires were in close proximity to the Black Coach then, on average, the Black Coach will absorb 2 power dice per turn. So by the time the Black Coach has charged into combat it should have gained 4 powers (and possibly all 6 powers, if the enemy forces were set up nearer their own table edge).

So, what you might well have in the Black Coach's 1st round of combat is an ethereal unit that the enemy cannot kill (especially if you use the BC to attack missile troops or artillery).

Not bad for a much overlooked and ignored unit - most people seem to favour the Varghulf, Cairn Wraiths and Blood Knights.

So what's the Downside ?

Well, two things I guess... Firstly, you're using up a rare unit choice and (as you can see above) Vampire Counts have excellent rare unit choices.

Secondly, you are limiting your tactics. The Black Coach is good but to make it truly great you need to absorb those power dice.

What is means is that your Necromancers and Vampires will have to be tightly packed around your Black Coach in the early turns. Also, you will have less power dice to cast necromancy spells and raise the dead.

A word of warning here, don't use the Black Coach unsupported against large rank and file enemies with hi combat resolution bonuses. Even if the coach is ethereal it will lose wounds if it loses a combat.


If you haven't considered using the Black Coach before then now is the time to ask yourself why and to go back to your army lists.

The Coach is probably best deployed against enemies with a lot of magic and against enemies that you think you have a good chance of charging before they charge you.

In smaller pt value games the Black Coach is worth considering because of the range ot tactical options it opens up.

If you can get it to absorb 6 dice then being ethereal and being able to fly is a major bonus. It means you can keep it out of harms way and there's not a lot the enemy can do about it providing you are the one selecting which units to charge.

Well, that's it folks. Next up... Cairn Wraiths and Varghulfs.

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