Zombies in Warhammer 8th Edition for Vampire Counts
What are Zombies
Well Zombies are the recently dead brought back to life by wicked Necromantic magic used by Vampires and Necromancers. Often these bodies have limbs missing and any nearby object is merged into the Zombies body be that lumps of wood or discarded weapons after all, all their evil master requires is that they lurch into battle.
Zombies are also the easiest of the undead to create and can be done so mid battle from reanimating fallen zombies bodies of the slain foes or even allies. Zombies are slow, lurching unskilled creatures who seek to swarm and claw the enemy to death. Terrifying to face and stinking of death and decay, however should a foe hold their nerve Zombies are easily defeated.
In the game
Zombies are a cheap core unit for Vampire Counts and are the arguably the worst fighters found in the Warhammer world, they have a weapon skill of 1 as well as the always strikes last special rule. Thankfully in 8th edition they have had both their strength and toughness raised to 3 they have also had their points cost reduced.
Zombies are essentially a tarpit or bogging unit as well as being expendable, generally units of Zombies have to be large to soak up casualties so they are not as useful for redirecting enemy charges.
The main strength of Zombies is the added benefits they gain from castings of Invocation of Nehek, Zombie units can be raised above there starting number and also gain an additional D6 models from each casting this means 1 casting of Invocation of Nehek can raise up to 16 new Zombies (2D6 plus the casters level of 4).
From 7th edition to 8th several rules have gone characters are no longer prevented from joining Zombie units (though beware of crumbling), they also now pursue like every other unit should they ever fluke it and win a combat. Characters can often balance he poor combat prowess of the Zombies against other poor unsupported infantry units.
Pros and Cons
The cons for Zombies are of course that they are extremely poor fighters even similar costed units such as gnoblars or goblins outmatch them, even if the enemy fail their fear test this only puts Zombies on a level pegging. Zombies also crumble extremely fast from any enemy that bring a high number of attacks to bear. Zombies can wear units down through attrition and combat resolution.
Skeleton Warriors can also perform a similar role but are more expensive are are not raised as fast with Invocation of Nehek, slightly more skilled with an armour save though with a higher points cost which unit you should take is a matter of personal choice and the army you are facing.
Pros are that they are easy to raise back up and with a few nearby castings of Invocation of Nehek can hold up powerful foes such as monsters or other powerful but low attack units potentially for the entire battle, they are also totally reliable as no undead ever flees. Zombies will even eventually wear down small lightly armoured units such as enemy Fast Cavalry units.
Zombies main use is as a slowing or bogging unit to hold off more powerful foes whilst your more powerful units deal with the rest of the enemy. Of course if this is a "free" unit you have created through the Raise Dead spell so much the better. The more powerful the foe you intend to hold up though the more Zombies you will need and the more likely you will have to expend more magic dice keeping them together (literally).
Another added bonus is that a unit raised through the raise dead spell now no longer gives any victory points, this means with a bit of luck a Vampire Counts player can both raise a fresh unit of Zombies and increase them to a decent size using them to bog down an enemy unit or warmachine (they cannot fire whilst in combat and Zombies will eventually wear most war machines crews down eventually) and this will cost you no victory points if they are wiped out.