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

Cairn Wraiths Rules and Tactics (Vampire Counts Rare Unit)

Cairn Wraiths are excellent (you can't go far wrong with 3 str 5 attacks from an ethereal creature). They do have one fundamental weakness - which is probably just aswell for the enemy - Cairn Wraiths are skirmishers.

When I first got the Vampire Counts book I glanced at Cairn Wraiths and thought "hmmm... they might come in handy". At a later date when I read their profile again I thought "hey, these are awesome" and then all of a sudden "oh no !" when I realised they were skirmishers.

Cairn Wraiths are fantastic at taking on any non-rank and file units. Indeed, these non-rank and file troops probably do not even have an attack which can harm the Cairn Wraiths because they are impervious to all non-magical weapons.*

* note that this does not mean they always win combats, if the enemy has a higher combat resolution you will lose and take wounds like any other undead unit.

The enemy could have a very tough time getting to grips with your Cairn Wraiths if you use them to take out skirmishers, missile troops and artillery. With the Cairn Wraiths movement of 6 and ethereal characteristic, which means they ignore difficult ground / wooded terrain etc, they could be a difficult unit to chase down unless the enemy's magic wielding characters are mounted or flying **

** don't forget that some enemy unit attacks are intrinsically magic, eg. Wood Elf Forest Spirits (they don't need magic weapons to wound ethereal units)

Cairn wraiths are not only good for hitting non rank and file units. They are powerful in combat in their own right providing the enemy unit they target:-

  1. does not possess magical attacks

  2. is not an elite enemy unit with high toughness or

  3. does not have a starting combat resolution bonus above 4
    (eg. 2 ranks, a standard and outnumber) ***

*** I say this on the basis that Cairn Wraiths should on average be able to inflict at least 4 wounds (which would be a draw) or more likely 5 to 6 wounds against an 'average' human/orc profile level enemy.

Cairn Wraiths should avoid elite units at all costs (unless the elite unit is already engaged and the Cairn Wraiths can charge it in the flank or rear). I say this because the top elite units in an enemy army usually also house the enemy heroes who are often equipped with magic weapons. A hero or lord with a magic weapon with make short work of any Cairn Wraith in his/her path - never forget that Cairn Wraiths only have a toughness of 3 !

The Tomb Banshee

This model is an interesting quirky addition to the Cairn Wraith unit. The Banshee provides one of the very few opportunities that the Vampires has to deliver a 'missile' type attack, it has a very limited 8 inch range though and it's combat powers are weakened.

The banshee howl, scream or screech must be quite terrifying for lesser mortals because it will on average cause 2 wounds on any unit with a leadership of 7. Toughness and armour are completely ignored. Only ward or regeneration can help a unit that suffers wounds. A tomb banshee is therefore well worth taking if you're fighting an opponent like Ogres or Dwarfs or Bretonnians (in fact any higher toughness, well armoured enemies).

A closing comment for armies facing Vampire Counts

If you are facing a VC army you need a plan to deal with ethereal units because you will probably be facing one or more. If a Vampire Counts commander leaves his Carin Wraith at home he may well bring ethereal Spirit Hosts. If he/dhe doesn't bring those either then he might always choose a Black Coach (which if he positions it well, amongst his spellcasters, could well become ethereal during the course of the battle).

In short, if you are facing a Vampire Counts army, especially a larger one of 3000pt or more then you will need to ensure you have some fast moving characters or ranged magic to deal with ethereal units.

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