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Grave guard warhammer 8th edition fantasy battle vampire counts overview

Updated on July 5, 2012

What are grave guard

Grave guard are the resurrected warriors of ages long past, many ancient human tribes would honour their dead warriors by placing them within vast barrows and tombs clad in the armour and carrying the weapons they did in life. Many of these places are now saturated with dark magic which the interred warriors have soaked up over the ages, some are so saturated the grave guard have already returned to unlife and merely wait for a vampire or necromancer to free them from their tombs.

Once returned to unlife these ancient warriors are resilience beyond that of the more recently slain, they also remember more of their martial training and years of battle and fight with an uncanny skill for the undead. Worse they are clad in the finest armour of their time and often wield magical blades and weapons allowing them to strike down the living with impunity. Tough as they are even grave guard are indestructible, it is many a foes worse nightmare though to see them return to unlife through powerful necromancy after the considerable effort it has taken to stop them in the first place.

Vampires and necromancers actively seek out these barrows to obtain such powerful and tough fighters both for their armies and as sentry's and guards for their keeps. Many even use them as a bodyguard where any foe wishing to face them must brave the blades of the grave guard.

In the game

Grave guard are practically a copy and paste in 8th edition from 7th edition. They have a slightly lower points costs and upgrades remain the same. The only slight change is that now grave guard have the killing blow special rule and no longer benefit from wielding magic weapons, whilst not really benefiting grave guard themselves it does benefit the wight king hero.

Weighing in at toughness 4 with heavy armour and shield they are still a tough unit to shift, they still have the option on upgrading to wield great weapons as they did in 7th edition.

Sadly many of the items that made them an even more powerful unit have gone, Blooddrinker now has a reduced effect and is only available to Vlad von Carstein. Also gone has the Drakenhof Banner which gave them all regeneration. On the plus side with the hellish vigour spell from the lore of the vampires being readily available, as well as the hexes from the lore of shadows these debuffs can greatly increase the effectiveness of your grave guard against any foe.

Pros and cons

Pros are they are a tough hard hitting unit especially effective in horde formation able to benefit from either a 4+ armour save combined with parry of a strength of 6 when striking in combat. Their weapon skill of 3 also makes a surprising amount of difference, enemies failing their fear tests will require rolls of 5 to hit them and if they are also equipped with the Banner of the Barrows the grave guard themselves will strike on a roll of 2! As an infantry unit they benefit from the extra models restored from invocation of nehek meaning if your magic phases are good they can be hard to put down.

Cons are that they are a special choice and vampire counts now have a total of 9 special choices making the selection that little bit harder. Grave guard are also more effective in bigger units (often hordes) which means a unit of 30 to 40 models, whilst reasonable costed points wise this will still be a fair points sink for you. Also the addition of Vargheists and Crypt Horrors to the vampire counts army mean they are often better choices depending on the role you have in mind. Grave guard are also affected by stomp and thunder stomp which adds further to this decision.

Tactical uses

Grave guard are the best heavy infantry available to vampire counts players, it is also possible to raise them at a fast rate with casting of invocation of nehek, they are also cheap enough points wise to have a fair sized unit. They also make a good block to place your own characters in, as any unit particularly powerful characters must run the gauntlet of killing blow in order to get to them.

With the back up of powerful characters and magic spells grave guard can become both lethal and practically impossible to shift, a nearby corpse cart is also useful. This potentially grants them the always strikes first special rule due to the effects of vigour mortis and allows them to re roll the dice when affected by invocation of nehek. The banner of the barrows is a good selection of magic standard for them.


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      Vampfan 4 years ago

      The real anvil of the vampire counts and strong too with the great weapons!

    • Arioch profile image

      Gordon D Easingwood 5 years ago from Wakefield, United Kingdom

      Overlooked that minor points drop thanks for pointing it out.

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      Count Jondi 5 years ago

      More on topic, yes the grave guards are fantascic.

      You got one thing wrong they are ONE point cheaper now!!!!.

      And disappointed Vampire count player, are you kidding me it's easy as all hell to keep your general standing, Ive played 20+ games, and only lost my general twice.

      Afraid of the miscast, assuming you do, there's only a 5% chance or so of it being instant killed, the rest mostly inflict wounds, that you can heal easily.

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      Count Jondi 5 years ago

      I have seen you say this severaal times, What are the interpertation issues regarding ION, it seems very straight-forward to me

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      disappointed vamp 5 years ago

      I agree with you on higher point games the vamps will shine. Im having difficulty with 2k. Its not the good ol days. Imo the GG is a must have now in any point however it soaks up a lot of special percentage. Back in the day we controlled the magic phase and resurrecting was easier. Now our most used spell IoN has serious interpretation issues that only a FAQ will fix. Here's hoping

    • Arioch profile image

      Gordon D Easingwood 5 years ago from Wakefield, United Kingdom

      Grave guard are still one of the better units for Vampire Counts even with all the new stuff. Your right Vampire Count armies do end up bunched up around the lord and for those invocations of nehek. I usually play 2,800 or 3,200 points and vampires seem decent at this level not the best since a quarter of your army is invested in a vampire lord but certainly still playable.

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      Disappointed vampire player 5 years ago

      I agree with your analysis of grave guard. Arguable the best unit. The only thing i don't like about the GG is that they are only really effective in horde. Darn. Which means at least 30 with great weapons. $$$ And you gotta get the banner of barrows. By themselves i wasn't getting units to break, however, with the banner and vampire lord/hero with sword of anti heroes it got a little a good way. Unfortunately in a 2000 pt game it doesn't leave you much to work with on special units. Which on my previous rant,thanks for your response btw, limits vc to slow huge horde blocks with exposed flanks. Your abs right about IoN on them. Your opp is gonna throw everything at them. I had to just keep casting it on them. The lore of vampires turned into the lore of IoN. After playing several battles i realized that in order to have even a remotely competitive list you're gonna need to play at least 3000+.

      The rest of what im about to say is not on GG. When i play warhammer, i try to play it like chess. And the key to chess is to control the center of the board. Your best pieces have point values and special abilities just like chess. When controling the center of the board you rarely use your queen until later in the game unless you want her to die. Same is true with warhammer. Because of this dumb 12in rule most army formations are going to be so close together that the general is going to be in combat very quickly. That's great if that's what you want but it can put your general prematurely in check. Your right too that Vc relies entirely too heavily on its one good piece. This migration is not good for business. With the rotation of 7ed vamp magic items its going to be extremely hard to keep the lord alive in combat or a miscast. Does this sound vampiric to you?