Count mannfred and mannfred the acolyte vampire counts 8th edition special character
In the game
Returning from 7th edition Mannfred von Carstein makes a return in 8th edition in both his incarnations the hero level version Mannfred the Acolyte and the vampire lord level version Count Mannfred. Gone now is his option to take further arcane items and he comes with set magic items both have the magic weapon the sword of unholy power, Count Mannfred also still retains the magic armour the armour of templehof.
Count Mannfred still has the choice of either a barded nightmare, hellsteed or abyssal terror mount. Sadly he cannot have a zombie dragon night as is suggested in the story in the new vampire counts army book where he rides upon one and combines forces with Heinrich Kemmler and the lord of undead Krell. Mannfred the acolyte may choose to ride atop a barded nightmare or a abyssal terror, he remains the only hero level vampire who may ride atop an abyssal terror.
Differences from 7th edition
One of the main things Mannfred has lost is the ability to take further arcane items previously the hero level Mannfred could take one and the lord level Mannfred could take two!. His attacks have also increased by one in both incarnations though to go along side this he has also increased in points cost.
Mannfred's vampiric power have also changed mannfred the acolyte now has the dark acolyte vampiric power rather then the now redundant walking death. Count Mannfred now has master of the black arts (which itself has changed), dark acolyte (again this has changed) and summon creatures of the night. Gone now is the lord of the dead vampiric power (now the necromancer upgrade master of the dead).
The addition of the hunger rule also gives Mannfred a chance to regain wounds in melee combat always useful when you have five of them.
Pros and cons
Pros are with the changing of the forbidden lore vampiric power having the loremaster special rule in either the lore of the vampires and/or the lore of death is now quite a nice bonus. The only other character with the loremaster special rule is Heinrich Kemmler. With the addition of an extra attack and the augment spells in the lore of the vampires boosting Mannfred's combat prowess makes the sword of unholy power more useful. The armour of templehof giving him a total of five wounds is also enhanced by both the hunger special rule and the lore of the vampires lore attribute the curse of undeath both which can restore lost wounds to him.
Cons are that with the addition of the master necromancer lord character and the ability for any vampire lord to be a level four wizard makes Mannfred less of a must have, also his lose of being able to take further arcane items means that you must still invest in other wizards for them (such as the ever faithful dispel scroll). Master of the black arts is no longer as powerful, two extra dice is nearly always better then re rolling one of the winds of magic dice (remember it can also give your opponent more dispel dice too). His increased points cost also pushes him out in 2,000 point games.
Mannfred is a powerful wizard backed up with the physical combat prowess of a vampire and with the loremaster special rule is a viable addition to any vampire counts army. He can also be hard for some armies to kill with five wounds, high toughness and the ability to restore wounds with the hunger and the curse of undeath. Mannfred can also swap from offensive spell caster to augmenting allies and restoring units with invocation of nehek unlike many other spell casters.
The lore of death is useful for sniping characters and monsters with death spells, the dreaded purple sun can also be useful to wipe out low initiative enemies. Remember every wound caused has the chance to restore power dice due to the lore of death lore attribute life leeching and occasionally it can be handy to kill an easy target just for the chance of more dice. Add this to the dice from the sword of unholy power can make your magic phase hell for your opponent.