This guide is designed to show players, new and old alike, how to utilize the first 10 turns of a campaign to set yourself up for a successful legendary campaign as Heinrich Kemmler leading The Barrow Legion.
First 10 Turns of a Campaign
Before We Begin
This guide is intended to provide a step-by-step outline of the first 10 turns of The Barrow Legions campaign on Legendary campaign and Normal battle difficulty.
I chose to write the guide with these difficulties both because they are my personal preference to play on balance wise, and as a starting point for newer players who have yet to take the leap to legendary. Hopefully with the help of this guide players can become more familiar playing battles in real time without pause.
This guide is not an in-depth breakdown on the Vampire Counts faction or it's late game campaign and battle strategies, however I have including tips and advice at the end of the guide.
For those unaware the main differences in Legendary effects for this campaign:
+15% Supply Line Upkeep:
- We want our armies to be as cost effective as possible as we will have multiple supply line penalties).
- 8 Public Order.
- Lots of rebellions until corruption is stabilized.
- 80% AI Vampire attrition damage.
- We won't be relying on attrition damage at all.
A full list of changes can be found here.
Barrow legion faction effects:
- Suitable Climate: Mountain (Allowing easy occupation of the old world).
- Diplomatic relations +30 with Chaos (Not really a deciding factor, nice to keep Norsca at bay).
- Upkeep -50% for Necromancer Heroes (The big draw for the faction, stacks with Lahmian bloodline reduction. We will be making liberal use of Necromancer Heroes throughout the campaign).
- All units in Heinrich Kemmler's army are immune to non-Vampire Count territory attrition (This allows Heinrich to be the spearhead army operating in enemy territory).
- Hero recruit rank: +2 for Necromancers (local province (+2 Ranks early game is huge, 3 points into Specialist reduces agent costs by 40%)).
- In battle, Heinrich Kemmler can summon Krell, a powerful Hero (Krell is a bit of a mixed bag, he is powerful early on however does not have a mount so tends to get rag dolled a lot by early Bretonian Lords).
- Dire Wolves: A key unit in all our armies throughout the whole campaign, used to chase routing units tag team with the Hexwraiths, all round an excellent starting unit.
- Cairn Wraiths: 75% Physical Resistance and Magical Attacks means these guys will hold our lines and dish out considerable damage to priority units early game.
- Hexwraiths: Like Cairn Wraiths but better. They cause Fear and Terror, have Flaming and Magical Attacks as well as strider and a whopping 94 speed. These guys can get anywhere on the battlefield fast, and pack a punch when they get there.
Lets have a look at the start of the Campaign:
Heinrich starts with Blackstone Post at Level 2 and the Landmark building "Castle Drachenfels' Catacombs" this gives us a small research (+5%) public order (+3) and Vampiric Corruption (+3) bonuses, more importantly though it lets us recruit Necromancer Heroes and gives them a bonus rank to all provinces. It also lets us recruit Skeleton Spearmen and Fell Bats.
Heinrich also starts at war with Artois a Bretonian minor faction who will be our early game punching bag. He also shares his spread out starting province with two other factions, Karak Zilfin and Skullsmasherz.
Enough preamble lets get to the step-by-step.
First up we want to raise 2x Zombies then move just inside the Montfort region to raise another 2x Zombies and finally attack Grisoreux
The odds look even but with our battle plan of isolating units and chain routing the enemy we will take next to no casualties
Note: The auto-resolve bar shows the likely causalities of both sides, not your chance to win the battle.
Line up your zombies and put them in guard mode. Make sure your Hexwraiths and Wolves are NOT in guard mode then move them forward and group them 1 and 2. Spears in this battle are expendable, we are going to dismiss them before ending the turn. Finally group the rest into one locked group
begin the battle and hold "alt" then left click and drag move your zombie group forward just in front of the enemy line, move your Hexwraiths and dogs forward toward the flank of the enemy line.
Use your Hexwraiths to strafe in front of the enemy line while the dogs strafe the rear of the line, this has two benefits it should push the archers out of formation and you can pounce on them once they are separated from the main line, and it disrupts the formation of the enemy line.
Here we can see the archers engaged in melee.
Mopping up the archers now.
As your zombie line approaches spare some time to direct them to charge into an enemy unit, going for a surround if possible. the zombies are just to hold the peasants at bay while the Hexwraiths break the moral of isolated units and the dogs chase them down. Don't forget to pop Krell into a group of infantry for some extra damage.
Kemmler should be healing your Wraiths and dogs as needed throughout the battle. Make sure they end every battle at full health, zombies can be healed once the enemy breaks completely and you are mopping up if you have spare winds.
Aaand the battles over!
A Decisive Victory
Sack Grisoreux and Forced March to Blackstone Region as close to Karak Zilfin as you can go
Now you can recruit 2 x Necromancer Hero's with Kemmler's and the Landmark buff they will be at lvl 3.
I find the traits Devious and Lore Keeper as the most important early game, Devious stacks agent action cost reduction and success chance with Lore Keeper providing extra reseach and construction cost reductions.
Level up Hero's - 1x Steal Tech, 2x Specilist (later hero's will go all 3 points in specilist first, the first two heroes need the extra % to hit 150% research on the first steal tech action).
Kemmler's skill point should go into Invocation of Nehek. This gives him the ability to heal up to 4 units with an overcharged cast and unlocks his first set of spells.
Disband both units of Skeleton Spearmen. Money is tight in the early game and these units are not needed.
Build a charnel pit at blackstone Post in the second slot.
Lastly set your research to Defiler of the Ancient Barrows, our free skeleton technology and the core of our strategy.
Hint: I like to rename hero's to their traits for easy identification later.
Move your Necromancers to Gisoreux and preform the Steal Tech option, if both succeed move to the next step. If one or both of your necromancers failed you can reload the save and carry out a battle to reset their success chance. The success rate for each hero will always be the same upon reload so if one succeeds and one fails you can reload and use the hero that succeeded then do a battle to reset only the second hero's chance. I normally forgo the cheese however this first steal tech needs to succeed in order to get the free skeleton tech at turn 14.
If you have a devious hero make sure to move him into the region first to get his bonus.
Raise Zombies with Kemmler
Two things could have happened, one the dwarfs attacked and sacked Monfort and retreated to Karak Ziflin or two, the dwarfs raised Monfort and are stuck in that region.
If option one then attack the second lord outside of Zilfin and ambush the reinforcing army as it enters the map.
The key here is too engage the dwarf warriors and miners with the zombies and circle your wraiths behind the line for rear charges.
Summon Krell to attack the enemy lord and keep healing your units, overcasting Invocation of Nehek can heal up to 4 units at a time now, reserve your dogs if any unit routes away from the line.
Cycle charge you Hexwraiths into the rear of the enemy every 10 or so seconds pull them back for another charge.
Once you have dealt with the main army, send the hexwraiths and wolves to clean up, make sure to kill the reinforcing lord with the wraiths.
Victory once again.
Check hero actions if needed and then attack Karak Zilfin directly.
An easy battle you can just use the wraiths and wolves for.
After the battle sack the city, if needed check hero's again, then go ahead and occupy the settlement
Attack the settlement directly, if the lord is not in the settlement and you attack him he will run and you will have to deal with 2 lords the next turn.
This is rather straight forward, same as when we attacked Gisoreux just with no ranged units and sturdier dwarf troops. You don't even need to engage the Lord as he will die at the end of the battle regardless.
Move your zombies forward and cycle charge the wraiths into the miners from the rear until they break, once they do send in the wolves and hit the next unit until the army mass routes.
Run the rest down!
Sack Karak Zilfin afterwards. Check your Necromancer actions then occupy the settlement and deal with the remaining army during the end turn.
Looks worse than it is, Krell will take the lord and half their troops are ranged so the Hexwraiths will take them out no problem.
Don't kill the lord but wipe the army, the following turn you can finish him and force march to Blackstone Post
Build a charnel pit in karak zilfin, don't repair the minor settlement (cash is tight). Assign your skill points, Necromancers a 3rd point in specilist and Kemmler to take Gaze of Nagash for some emergency lord damage then The Curse of Undeath for some passive healing.
Not much to do this turn.
We have a new Technology researched - The Book of Arkhan, +5 leadership is always nice.
If you got option 1 move Kemmler to Blackstone Post and recruit 3x zombie units.
If you got option 2 move to kill the dwarf lord then force march to Blackstone Post.
Upgrade the Charnel Pit in Blackstone Post to a Lychyard, this will give us access to a third Necromancer in 3 more turns.
Necromancers move to steal tech at Fort Bergres. It does not matter if they fail the attempt as long as they succeed one out of three times to maintain the research buff. If they level up put the skillpoint into steal tech.
Once again ignore the damaged building at Karak Zilfin.
Keep an eye on the Target's effects for hero actions, if an agent fails the settlement will gain a 20% debuff to success rate.
Prioritize going after Marienburg settlements with your hero actions if possible, most AI factions hate them and you will receive minor diplomatic boosts for every hero action.
Move Kemmler to attack the second lord at Grisoreux, raising as many zombies as you can along the way, stopping just short and have your Necromancers join his army then attack.
Those do not look like good odds, lucky for us we can ambush the reinforcing army yet again here (I have had it once where the reinforcing army was on the enemy deployment side and still one with this army comp)
Here we are set to spring the trap.
Get around behind the line and take out the archers.
Once the archers are dealt with, start rear charging the line and folding up on it.
Ready to take on the second army
Does not take long to get a full rout.
Hardly a scratch.
Once defeated merge and replace badly damaged units in your army. When you are ready attack and sack Grisoreux
They never stood a chance!
I like to skill Kemmler with a second point into Gaze of Nagash here for the WoM cost reduction.
Force march to the region border so you can raise some more dead next turn.
Finally repair the settlement in Karak Zilfin, next turn we will be upgrading it to tier 2.
We have learnt to Raise the Newly Dead now, giving our zombie line quite the buff (+3MA and MD) almost increasing those stats by a third each.
Now its time to attack and sack Gisoreux yet again.
It is safe to auto-resolve this battle, you will take a lot of zombie casualties but this is okay as we will be moving back to blackstone post for some regen and you can just merge and raise some new zombies after.
Regardless whether you choose to fight or auto resolve the battle move kemmler back to just inside the blackstone post region and put him in ambush stance (this is for some extra exp and we want the trait "good ambusher") next turn we will recruit another Necromancer.
Upgrade the settlement in Karak Zilfin and hit end turn.
Turn 6 may prompt you with a mission, most of the time it will be something like "attack x army/settlement of another vampire count factions enemy" If you get one that you can complete while following this guide its a bonus otherwise just ignore it.
With construction complete on the Lychyard, recruit your chosen Necromancer and put 3 skill points into specialist.
Carry out your agent actions only if they are close to running out of research boost, otherwise hold off and start saving up. We want 3000 dark magic to upgrade the Charnel Pit in Karak Ziflin in 2 turns.
Merge and raise some zombies if needed then move Kemmler to attack and sack Gisoreux.
You can auto resolve this battle as we will be retreating to Blackstone region after sacking.
Few re-dead zombies.
We want to use Heinrich's Skill points to get Wind of Death so grab Evasion. If you fought the extra battle against the Dwarf Lord you will have enough points to have it by now, if not you will after the next battle.
Head back to the Blackstone region for some replenishment and hit end turn.
This is the turning point of the early game, by turn end you should have Wind of Death for Kemmler, be halfway to the free skeleton technology and claimed a region outside of your starting province.
If you haven't already embeded your Necromancers into Kemmlers army now is the time however move Kemmler close to Grisoreux first so you don't loose movement range. We will be attacking twice in one turn will grant more exp and at no cost, also the third Necromancer doesn't need to steal tech just yet as you wont make it over 200% research just yet.
If you got super lucky with a Lore Keeper trait and a Student follower the extra 20% will get you over the 200% threshold and allow you to research Defiler of the Ancient Barrows 1 turn sooner so keep Stealing Tech with your Necromancers*
Move Kemmler to attack the second lord at Grisoreux but stop just short, embed your Necromancers into Kemmlers army Merge any damaged zombie units and attack. With 18 or less units in your army they wont run allowing you to attack the lord outside the settlement granting you to ambush the reinforcing army as it enters the battlefield again.
This time we want to occupy Gisoreux.
You should now have enough skill points to take Wind of Death, your ultimate damage dealer spell as Vampire Counts. From here you want to put a second point into Wind of Death for the cost reduction followed by Earthing and Magical Reserves before picking up Arcane Conduit.
I argue against taking curse of years at this point, while its a good debuff spell your biggest bottleneck until arcane conduit is having enough Winds of Magic to cast with, the reserve is usually full and trickles through slowly. You are better off to line up a WoD cast and heal instead of debuff.
If you have the funds, build a Charnel Pit in Gisoreux however make sure you will have 3825 dark magic to upgrade the Charnel Pit in Karak Zilfin as well as recruit a second lord next turn.
Hit end turn.
Another secret has been uncovered by your sneaky Necromancers stealing scrolls, a new mantra Bond of Bones. This reduces skeleton recruitment cost by 10% of which we will soon be recruiting a lot of.
Recruit a Master Necromancer at Grisoreux and transfer all your zombies to him. We are to besiege Castle Artois and we want them to sally out and attack in a field battle which they will only do if you have 6 or less units so send a Necromancer to Steal Tech.
You should have enough movement (3% left) to take Kemmler and attack and siege Castle Artois, build 1 ram to initiate the fight in 2 turns.
Upgrade the charnel pit at Karak Zilfin, hit end turn and wait for Artios to sally out.
Not the worst odds we have faced so far.
Deploy on the hill with your Hexwraiths in Vanguard, it's possible to kill the lord before the army arrives.
With her death head back to the hill to regroup.
Awaiting the army.
Move your line forward to meet them but hold steady, you want a nice straight line for the cast.
Clipped my own troops here a little, nothing Invocation can't fix!
And there it is, good game Artois just cleanup now, make sure to run down as many as you can!
Continue the siege.
If you have any Necromancers at lvl9 I prefer to hold onto the skill point as at lvl10 they unlock the final point in both wound and steal tech, having the spare point means you can take both ASAP.
Not much to do this turn.
A rebellion is about to spawn and will attack Kemmler unless he is reinforced, send your Master Necromancer up to the region border and recruit some more zombies with him. Start stealing tech with your necromancer heroes again try to keep them around 5 turns remaining on boost research, you want to start stockpiling money for once you finish the skeleton upkeep tech as you still need to raise and recruit them.
That's it for turn 9.
Tenth Turn and Beyond
Attack and sack Castle Artois.
Then use your Master Necromancer to initiate a battle with the rebel forces while Kemmler reinforces.
After all that is done occupy Castle Artois with the Master Necromancer and build a Charnel Pit. Set the Commandment to Foster Terror for the growth and Vampiric Corruption.
Force March Kemmler back to Grisoreux as you will want him in the Blackstone region on turn 11 to recruit another Necromancer Hero.
Your Master Necromancer will have leveled up so put his skillpoint into Thrall Master as he will be the primary recruitment lord.
Carry out as many hero actions as you need/can afford and turn ten bites the dust.
Here is some advice for the next few turns:
I like to take Caste Bastonne and Monfort, then attack Paravon, sack their towns and march down and around to Bordeleaux sack them to take the pressure off Mousillon and let them take the coastal settlements. It's not worth taking them this early as it puts you in the line of fire for the high elves plus you can use the money to build up your own teritories.
It is easy to bait Bastonne's army into attacking your second lord with the Kemmler in ambush, its mostly mounted yeomen. With an ambush battle you can double envelope the army and cast wind of death straight down the middle, easy win then move onto the Castle the following turn.
Turn 10 is around when the AI starts recruiting heroes, this is good for you as you should have 2 Necromancers skilled in wound by this stage and a 3rd on the way with a 4th ready to recruit. Wound is arguably better than Assassinate as it allows the heroes to re-spawn to be wounded again farming blood kisses.
Building wise I suggest the growth buildings in the first slot and walls in the second slot in every region. level 3 growth buildings add +1 recruit rank for Necromancers globally, as well as increasing the recruitment capacity, allowing you to cycle Necromancer Heroes for good traits later in the campaign. Walls in slot 2 means you can rely on your garrisons to back up skeleton horde armies early game, and if minor settlements are ever sacked they keep the garrison and loose the building in slot 3 instead letting you get walls up faster.
Research I like to go for after free skeletons is skeleton recruit rank. With the tech, a Master Necromancer with his first skill point in Thrall Master sitting in a province with the Evocation of Nagash commandment you can recruit rank 7 skeletons at turn 18. This will increase your armies strengths immensely and is needed on legendary. After that its into the Lahmian line of technologies for campaign buffs.
The first Bloodline lord i like to go for is the Lahmian Line as she has a skill at lvl 10 that reduces cost and raises success chance for hero actions, with a devious hero or two thrown in you can get 100% success rate free agent actions, including wound attempts. This is insanely powerful and allows you to farm hero levels, blood kisses, and boost your tech research rate at no cost.
Suggested early game army compositions are 2x wolves 1x Crypt Horrors and the rest skeleton spearmen. The Crypt Horrors are the cheapest unit you have with siege attacker and help duel lords and other high value targets. The wolves teaming up on archers and routing units. It's a minimal micro army letting you concentrate on a few units that matter and practicing spell casting. It also has the side benefit of being highly cost effective early on. Lords spec damage spells first as they can heal themselves in combat and are the primary damage dealers.
Tips and Tricks
Lahmian Bloodline Lords unlock two amazing skills at level 10.
- Campaign Line of Sight: +10% (Lord's Army).
- Construction Cost: -50% for all Vampire Lair chain buildings (local region).
- Construction time: -1 for all Vampire Lair chain buildings (local region).
These bonuses stack with Lore Keeper Heroes and Lords. With 5 such characters in the region, Vampire Lairs one of the most expensive building chains for Vampire Counts become free.
- Hero action cost: -50% (Heroes in local region).
- Hero action success chance: +50% (Heroes in local region).
- Enemy Hero action success chance: -25% (enemy characters in region).
These bonuses stack with Devious Heroes and Lords. With an extra 1-2 Devious Heroes in the same region and a Queen Bee agent action success rate will hit 100% every time and be free of cost allowing you to level Heroes super fast at no cost.
On top of these amazing skills the first Awakening of a Lahmian Bloodline reduces all Hero upkeep by 50% which stacks with The Barrow Legions faction effect of -50% upkeep on Necromancer Heroes. When on the campaign map they have no upkeep even though the unit card says 100 upkeep it only comes into effect when they are embedded in an army.
It is possible from this start to roll through and take the province of Reikland in its entirety along with the two forts, Nuln and Marienburg before turn 30. This creates an easily defensible empire with bastions on all fronts. However I find that killing Reikland this early detracts from the campaign and removes the chance of farming Volkmars defeat trait of +3 MA and MD army wide. I much prefer waiting until they take a region or two outside of Reikland then pouncing and letting them confederate the other empire factions.
The Barrow Legion is one of my favorite factions. The combination of early Necromancers and being placed to take on 2 of the most powerful Order factions straight out the gate can lead to some crazy snow balls, at the same time presents a challenge throughout the game as you end up fighting High Elves and Dwarfs late game and they are a challenge!