A Vampire player makes a good case for being one of the best players possible at the game of Blood Bowl. They are very strong, have high agility, average movement and armour. They have fantastic skill access so can develop to perform any role well. Vampires also have two great skills, Regeneration makes them very resilient and Hypnotic Gaze (the team’s best weapon) can render an opponent useless.
With all that going for them why don’t they take the honours of the best player? As with any player they have their downsides, they are expensive players to hire and they can also be somewhat unreliable thanks to Bloodlust. While they do have two great starting skills, they do lack any of the core skills as a rookie. All this combines into them easily being reroll hogs and turnover machines. If you don’t manage them right they can destroy their own team and forget they are even in a match.
The main thing to consider when playing with Vampires is how many you are going to have on the pitch at a time. The more you have on the pitch, the more times you are going to have to roll for Bloodlust. If you have more, then on the other side that means there are less Thralls to feed off. So the more Vampires you have, the more you fail Bloodlust and the less options you have to go and bite to avoid turnover. If you are biting more Thralls then you are more likely to injure one. That also means there is one less to feed on next time and if you fail to bite one, then you also lose the Vampire off the pitch. This can escalate to a point where the other team can ignore you and just run in a touchdown. So the thing to take from this is that you shouldn’t have too many Vampires on the pitch at any one time. It can also be a good thing to not take an unnecessary action with one if you can avoid it, so that you don’t have to roll for Bloodlust.
Thankfully the latest rules have given them a bit of a boost and things aren’t as bad as they used to be. They no longer do permanent damage to their team mates and they also don’t lose their action any more when they need to feed on some blood. That last change is a big one as it gives a bit more control back to you as the coach. Vampire players and teams handle in a rather unique way compared to any of the other Blood Bowl races. Due to that I’m going to take a slightly different format to discussing the development of a Vampire.
Vampires and Pro:
If you have looked around at other advice on playing Vampires you will inevitably seen at least one person recommend to take Pro as their first skill. There are advantages and disadvantages to doing that and I’m going to run through the arguments as this is probably the one thing that divides Vampire coaches.
The reason you see so many coaches suggest taking Pro first is to try and get a handle on Bloodlust. As I explained above it can really destroy your plans if you don’t consider the effect it will have on your team. Pro is also useful from the point of view that you can use it on all the agility rolls a Vampires makes and also on blocks too. All those are very good and useful points, so why would anyone suggest to not take Pro?
I’m one of those who says not to take it, well certainly not early in development. Pro can be a great choice for the fourth, fifth or sixth skill, just there are better options early on. One thing nearly all Vampire coaches will agree on is to start the team with not many Vampires and to take a lot of rerolls. If you only have a couple of Vampires on the team then that is a lot less Bloodlust rolls to fail. It also means that you will have a lot of Thralls on the pitch, so you can take the decision to fail and just go and bite one.
You also have lots of rerolls, if you are using your Vampires later in your turns then you can just feel free to use a reroll if you fail Bloodlust. A reroll has the advantage that it always works, Pro only allows you to reroll half the time, so it can’t be relied on in crucial spots. Instead of taking Pro I would recommend to take Dodge first. Most of the rolls a Vampire will usually do are going to usually be: Bloodlust, blocks, dodges, Hypnotic Gaze and less often ball handling rolls.
The first you can’t avoid unless you do nothing with them that turn, this is a good thing to be aware of (for any coach not just Vampires). The only way you can reroll a block is with a team reroll or Pro (remember the latter only works half the time). Dodges you will probably be doing a lot, so having the Dodge skill is great and also offers some protection where Pro doesn’t. Hypnotic Gaze doesn’t cause a turnover if you fail, so most of the time if it doesn’t work it isn’t a big deal. Ball handling rolls you typically try to minimise with every team you play and you can get other specific skills to help with those if you wish.
So to sum it all up, I don’t take Pro early on as you can get skills which always work (unless they are negated in some way) or you can use a team reroll. Most rolls that you make cause a turnover or are crucial in some other way, I would rather use something that is certain than take the chances with Pro. I will admit that taking Pro can make them more reliable, especially if you have run out of rerolls already. I just think it makes them less effective compared to one of the many other skills that you can select instead. You will also see Pro friendly coaches admit that there are rolls that they will just use a reroll on, passing up their Pro ability of their player anyway. There are quite a few excellent Vampire coaches who preach the no Pro route, it is tried and tested and I use it myself.
Vampire development builds on Page 2…