Blood Knights in warhammer fantasy battle 8th edition for vampire counts
What are blood knights
The blood knights are in effect a line of vampires who all gained the blood kiss from the renown vampire lord Walach. Walach was trained by the legendary vampire Abhorash said to be the greatest warrior in the warhammer world. Once the order of the blood dragons were a proud order of empire knights whose keep known as blood keep stood watch over the borders between the empire and bretonnia.
One dark night Walach came before the keep and challenged all within to combat, none could stand before such a master swordsman who's abilities were enhanced by his vampiric powers far beyond the ken of any mortal. The best fighters amongst them were given the blood kiss and so blood keep became a vampire lair. Eventually blood keep was besieged by vast army led by a witch hunter marshaling no less then four other knightly orders of the empire and many state troops. They lay siege to blood keep and after much bloodshed and a siege lasting many years blood keep was eventually overthrown. Many blood knights fled through the lands of the old world rather then face the final death.
And so the line of the blood knight continues scattered far and wide they make their way as fearsome raiders or mercenaries oft accompanying armies of the undead to battle. Rumours also abound that the long abandoned and ruined blood keep is once more a vampire's lair populated by returning blood knights plotting to reek there revenge upon those who previously laid them low.
In the game
Blood knights are a rare choice heavy cavalry unit available to vampire counts armies and they come with a hefty points cost. Differences from 7th edition warhammer fantasy battle to 8th include an increase in initiative to 5, they are also reduced in points cost but otherwise remain more or less the same. The flag of blood keep is now only available to one unit of blood knights who have not taken another magic standard. Command models are now also cheaper and the kastellan (read blood knight champion) retains the ability to be equipped with a low points cost magic weapon though generally a lance is sufficient for most enemies.
They retain all their previous rules being both undead and vampiric, having frenzy and being able to accept challenges with martial honour. Vampiric is less useful now in 8th edition though whilst still allowing the blood knights to march it no longer grants this boon to other nearby friendly undead.
Pros and cons
Pros are that on the charge blood knights are arguably the most powerful heavy cavalry in the warhammer world, they are even good if not charging though obviously lose the lance strength bonus. With good stats hitting with 3 strength 7 attacks each on the charge makes them capable of destroying anything that they strike before and with an initiative of 5 that is quite a lot of things. They will have a psychological effect often forcing your opponent to use excessive force to ensure they are dealt with.
Cons are that despite being excellent in close combat blood knights die just as easily as any other knight outside of melee combat to mass shooting, war machines and magic spells. Their points cost mean they are likely to be few in number and the addition of the flag of blood keep again significantly raises the units points cost. Blood knights are vampiric meaning that the invocation of nehek only heals one wound per casting, if they are dying fast you may be unable to keep the unit size topped up.
Frenzy can also be a disadvantage whilst the extra attack is excellent remember they must pass a leadership test not to declare a charge, with a leadership of only 7 this means you must keep your lord and/or battle standard bearer near to have the best control of where they are charging off to. They must also either overrun/pursue, a wily opponent can use this to get a cheap expendable unit to draw them into a position where a counter charge will destroy them or keep them out of the game for a turn or two.
Blood knights have two main uses either as a powerhouse of a unit designed to smash through your enemies battle line. This can be further augmented with the addition of powerful vampire heroes or lords to give them an extra edge. Augment spells can also enhance their abilities vanhel's danse macbre from the lore of the vampires grants re rolls to hit meaning even more attacks will hit whilst hellish vigour allows them to re roll to wound.
Hex spells such as Melkoth's mystifying miasma from the lore of shadows can also reduce an enemies weapon skill or initiative (or even both) allowing your blood knights to strike first or make the enemy easier to hit. A vampire hero or lord with fear incarnate and aura of dark majesty can make the enemy more likely to fail there fear test making the blood knights hit easier whilst also making them harder to hit. The staff of damnation arcane item can also be good granting all friendly undead including mounts within 6" to gain the extra attack special rule.
Another tactical use for blood knights is as a small "panic" unit taken as cheaply as possible, many opponents (especially those who have been on the receiving end of a blood knight charge) will focus fire on them. This means they will be ignoring other aspects of your army allowing them to engage the enemy relatively unscathed.