The third core choice under scrutiny is the rockstar is vampire counts core infantry in 8th, the ghoul. It's hard to consider any other core when you compare them to this poisoned madman. Though they lack any kind of armour, they can dish out the hurt. They can also be raised up, making up for that lack of armour. Let's sit down with our insane cannibal and get to know him better.
Ghouls - taste like chicken
Essentially devolved cannibalistic humans, ghouls have been shifted about quite a bit down the editions. From ranked unit, to skirmishers, back to ranked again, it's been a windy road. In 8th, they have become the new hotness for vampire counts core, though their star has been much in the ascendancy since the release of the last vampire counts book. Now classed as undead they no longer flee at the first harsh word, and are able to be raised, which is excellent. They cause fear and are unbreakable, but suffer from crumble like any other undead unit. So, why ghouls? Let's see the stats:
M WS BS S T W I A LD
4 3 0 3 4 1 3 2 5
Ghouls have poisoned attacks, and no equipment options. Also, no access to command apart from the ghast champion. As you can see, the ghoul is above average in a couple of areas. Toughness 4 makes up somewhat for the lack of armour. It's the two poisoned attacks that tickle my fancy though which is good, as they only have strength 3. This gives ghouls the ability to really smack high toughness enemy units right in the gob. With a standard 5 model wide unit, you have 16 attacks with the ghast. Not bad. Go horde on that, and you're looking at 41 potential attacks. This is the same as a horde of spear armed skeletons, but you're swapping the armour for poison. It takes an extra rank of spears to get to 41 attacks, so the unit will cost more (skeletons with spears are 9 points, ghouls 8)
Ghouls operate well with a character. Any vampire slumming it with the ghouls would do well to take the Summon Ghouls vampire power. I don't tend to use them to hide necromancers, as skeletons are more survivable with light armour and a shield. Ghouls need to be going into combat.
Banners & Buffs
A great match-up is with the bsb. Gasp! Yes, the grave guard are not the only unit the bsb hangs out with. This gives them a standard, makes crumble less awful, and, sometimes the Drakenhof banner can really mess up someone's day. I've seen my regenerating ghoul unit take down a fantastic amount of enemy units. Just watch those flaming attacks.
Good old shadow magic is a good one to help these guys. The Enfeebling Foe or The Withering will help their naked asses stay alive a little longer
Ghouls are a good team-up with grave guard. If you can hold the enemy in place with the grave guard, the ghouls are just the thing for a flank attack. If you intend to use them this way, 20 is probably plenty, but my ghouls units are usually 30. This is about as classic a hammer and anvil as you'll see.
Ghouls don't do well in protracted combats unsupported. Watch for dwarves, chaos warriors and dwarves of chaos. That said, get a corpse cart giving them asf, vampire summoning more ghouls or Vanhels giving them re-rolls will all help tremendously. Anyone out there who plays vampire counts knows that there are few undead who can do it without some manner of magical help.
Ghouls are great for dishing out stinky hurt, something I was unused to with my core, but they melt away fast due to having no save so don't let them get bogged down. In 8th, it's an unusual vampire army that has no ghouls in it.