Master necromancer 8th edition warhammer fantasy battle vampire counts overview
What are master necromancers?
Necromancy is the most shunned of all magical arts, specialising in raising and control the dead conversing with long dead spirits and using terrible curses to blight their enemies necromancers are rightly shunned and fear by most living creatures. Necromancers oft start out of wizards with a more noble intention before some event or twist of fate leads them down darker paths.
Nearly all necromancers start out as men, elves are long lived, dwarves have no aptitude for mage craft and the more bestial races such as goblins, orcs and skaven are to caught up in the present or to unaware of their own mortality to turn to the black arts.
There is two main ways to become a necromancer the most difficult but less dangerous way is to seek out a book of forbidden lore such as one of the fabled 9 books of nagash, this method is long and arduous there are many fakes and forgeries. These texts are written in ancient and obscure texts and such vile tomes are often to be found in dread places frequented by wild animals or even much darker creatures.
The other way is to seek out another necromancer or a vampire in order to become their apprentice, this way is both easier and faster have a master of the arts verse is a much swifter way to learn. Seeking out such a dread creature is an ordeal in itself and many would be necromancers end up skewered by uncaring undead guards or as a tasty snack for the vampire themselves. Only the most determined and base of men make it this far, thus it is that the armies of the vampire counts oft number amongst its rank a number of less then human necromancers.
In the game
In the game master necromancers are an undead wizard who starts at level 3 and may be upgraded to level 4. They may choose spells either from the lore of the vampires or the lore of death. One necromancer in the army may take the master of the dead upgrade, this makes them the only wizard that can take units of skeleton warriors past there starting size . This ability is only available to necromancers and is something no vampire can have.
Master necromancers have a decent selection of mounts being able to ride upon a barded nightmare, a flying hellsteed, a corpse cart or even a monstrous abyssal terror. master necromancers are pure wizards and as such cannot wear mundane or magical armour unlike vampires with the exception of the nightshroud.
The special character Heinrich Kemmler is effectively a master necromancer with the master of the dead upgrade. He has the added advantage of loremaster and has his own unique magical items. He also enhances Krell's fighting ability in challenges granting him the heroic killing blow special rule if both are in the same unit.
Pros and cons
The main pro of a master necromancer is that they are a cheaper alternative to a level 4 vampire lord wizard in fact the points cost for a level 1 vampire lord and a level 4 master necromancer are quite similar. A necromancer with the master of the dead upgrade synergises well with armies that have a number of units of skeleton warriors. Master necromancers can make good wizards to hold your battle line together if you have other plans for your vampire lord such as using him as a combat machine to wreak havoc down the enemy line.
Cons are that master necromancer are purely spell casting wizards and have none of the fighting prowess of even a hero level vampire, this makes them vulnerable in melee combat in a way vampires are not. They also cannot wear armour again making them more vulnerable in melee combat. If you have the points to afford it a vampire lord can take on both roles as a combat monster and master wizard though with a high cost.
Master necromancers give you the option of taking a level 3 or 4 wizard that is cheaper then a vampire lord. As a more "pure" spell casting model you will also have more option of equipping them with arcane and enchanted items that enhance their spell casting abilities. In smaller points value games it also gives you the option of having a cheaper general if you do not want to spend the points on a vampire lord. Even a bare master necromancer can add significantly to your magic phases as their higher level enhances the effects of invocation of nehek.
The master of the dead special rule is available to one necromancer in the army this allows them to raise units of skeleton warriors above their starting size. This means a master necromancer with this upgrade can be a great boon to armies with several units of skeleton warriors.