Note: I made some attempt at generic advice, but this will need updating as new releases come out. I have a secondary post below for updates, since this post is already max length.
Epic Vladimir's Rules:
- Feat: Blood Legacy
- Epic Vladimir's feat applies only to friendly faction non-character warrior models, and it works on 4-6 of them. This means it's in your best interest to bring a lot of them, to guarantee you have viable feat targets left when feat turn comes.
- His feat is also every stat, but only stats. This means his feat targets get more accurate with ranged and melee attacks but not magic attacks, and do more damage with melee attacks but not ranged or magic. You will get the most bang for your buck, then, if you feat models specialising in melee.
- SPD is hands down the most important stat on any model's card, and that gets raised by the feat as well. Remember, this game rewards taking something good and buffing it into incredibly good, so you will typically get the most out of his feat by bringing a model that's really fast to begin with and/or has speed shenanigans, like pathfinder or acrobatic.
- While this feat is obviously excellent for assassination, do not be afraid to attrition with it. If the enemy has parked something you really want dead somewhere (s)he thinks it safe from reprisal, you might be able to get an advantage your enemy will never recover from by feating early and wiping out the something. Your feat targets will usually live through your enemy's reprisal turn, which means you just killed something for free, and material advantages matter, as do territory advantages.
- Spell: Transference
- This spell is critical to epic Vladimir's success, and should typically be put up turn 1. It allows your friendly faction warrior models to spend Vladimir's focus to boost melee attack and damage! You don't need it in effect turn 1, so it's ok to spend focus on it, but you want it up in later turns so you can pay only 1 to keep it going and hand out the rest.
- More so than any other ability he has, this encourages a melee-centric army, since the spell does absolutely nothing for ranged or magic.
- Remember, charge attacks are already boosted damage, and impact attacks can never be boosted. The primary uses for this spell are boosting attack rolls to guarantee you hit and boosting damage on additional swings from a model like a manhunter or Fenris.
- This uses the Fury mechanic of dynamic spending - focus is spent directly from Vladimir, not allocated up front, which means you can decide on the fly where and when to spend it, and focus is conserved if you accidentally kill something earlier than expected. It's incredibly efficient, and basically turns your army into a Hordes battlegroup.
- Spell: Hand of Fate
- This friendly faction model/unit upkeep buffs absolutely any attack type. It very roughly simulates +2 to attack and damage and +10% to crit rate (meaning 50% crit rate when boosting to hit, 60% for Drago). Get this up turn 1 and keep it up.
- Spell: Wind Blast
- This spell does two things - it guarantees your enemy will not stand still inside it for the aiming bonus, since the penalty for doing so is larger than the bonus, and much more importantly, it gets rid of cloud effects. Use this to open up LOS for attack vectors.
- Spell: Razor Wind
- Never forget Vlad has this, because he hasn't got a gun. You will generally never cast this, because Vlad has no business being within the spell's range of the enemy on purpose, but if the enemy has just failed an assassination run, remember that Vlad can Hand of Fate himself and then sling a fully boosted Razor Wind at the enemy - this can win you the game by itself.
- Spell: Martial Paragon
- This spell is mutually exclusive with Transference or Hand of Fate on Vlad, so you should always be assessing which of the three you really want on him. Its most significant benefit is parry, allowing you to charge through lanes the enemy thought were clogged and escape from assassins who ran into position. The additional accuracy is nice, but against many targets you will prefer Hand of Fate because it raises damage output as well, so you will need to pay careful attention to what you plan on fighting.
- Spell: Assail
- This upkeep makes a warjack faster. As should be clear by now to you, epic Vlad wants infantry, not warjacks, but like all warcasters will take at least one. While you should feel free to stop paying for Assail if you need it for Transference, turn 1 there's no good reason not to put it up, since it lets your warjack trample farther than it can run, and lets it get to the action faster.
- If you can afford the points, the single best warjack for this spell is Behemoth, since he can trample and shoot and doesn't ship with charging or running for free, so all of Assail's benefits apply. However, Drago (who runs and charges for free base) is so absurdly efficient under Vlad that you should feel very comfortable only taking him and slapping Assail on him for the speed benefits alone.
- Special Ability: Might of Kings
- This punishes the enemy severely for attempting to nickel and dime Vlad to death - a canny opponent will usually attempt to kill Vlad or not attack him in the first place, which adds to his overall durability. Even when attempting to kill him all at once, he'll get harder to hit as the assassination happens, which can either protect him or force your opponent to employ a knockdown or stationary effect prior to the run, which makes your enemy easier to predict.
- This ability is turned off by friendly fire. If you must take AOEs, make absolutely sure they won't drift onto Vlad.
- This ability is NOT turned off by collateral damage. If you're sure it won't lose you the game - and it will if you're going second against a serious gunline - it's ok to slam something into Vlad turn 1 to get the first of the three MoK buffs. You can shake off or (more likely) sacrifice action turn 2 to stand up, and then you're SPD 7 for the rest of the game.
- Special Ability: Blood Trials
- This is what really guarantees your opponent will go big or go home when it comes time to assassinate Vlad. You'll only very rarely actually manage to get your hands on the focus it generates - instead, constantly remind your opponent it exists, and watch her/him suddenly decide to stop swinging at you.
- Special Ability: Defensive Strike
- Unless you have Hand of Fate or Martial Paragon up, do not count on this actually hitting your target. If you're worried about an inbound melee assassin, get one of those spells up beforehand. Remember, it only fires once per turn, so only use it when it really matters if you're being charged by multiple models.
- Weapon Loadout
- Vlad has a magical reach weapon that gets weapon master against undead. This is all he has, with no guns. Try to avoid using it, and instead focus on supporting your army.
- Avoid mercenaries. Every single one of eVlad's buffs specifies friendly Faction unless it's range SELF. Valachev (or another Ranking Officer, if we ever have any) can fix this, but your enemy will know it and gun for him, so be careful.
- Focus on melee - both Transference and Blood Legacy encourage it.
- Keep your characters to a minimum - they can use Transference and Hand of Fate, but can't be feated. If you do use a Ranking Officer, remember that unnamed members of a character unit are not themselves characters, meaning you can feat Nyss Hunters who aren't Cylena, for example.
- Keep your models to a minimum - Transference is 1-6 focus, 1-7 with Silys in play to pay for it. Blood Legacy is 4-6 models. The more you bring, the harder it is to support them. eVlad does not scale up well to large armies. For this reason, I recommend focusing on solos.
- Do take a unit for Hand of Fate, though - it gets better the more attacks you make with it. You don't need to take something with a crit effect, but if you do, it'll be even better.
Specific synergistic models as of this writeup:
- The Drakhun is the single best feat target you can take - of everything in Khador, if your army is down to one model and you're feating, you want it to be him. He pairs well with Fenris, since anything charging one can be forced to deal with the other.
- Kayazy Assassins make excellent targets for all of eVlad's buffs, especially since with all three they can charge a foot through enemy lines to deliver 4-5 (you feated the underboss, right?) attacks that will virtually never miss and hit like a truck. You can and will take out an enemy heavy warjack with this. Since they lack pathfinder, you might consider ignoring my advice above and taking Saxon Orrick for pathfinder.
- Manhunters are excellent targets for Transference and the feat. If you take them, take Yuri and get them into a forest.
- Kayazy Eliminators are also incredible under him.
- The Great Bears can't be feated, but Backswing can use Transference for the second swing.
- Drago. I can't emphasize this enough. Hand of Fate stacks with his affinity, and more importantly you can hand him 1 focus with Assail or 0 without and he'll still do incredibly well for you. eVlad needs a jack that can run well on empty.
Epic Vlad can also be used to "fix" models with "problems" that might prevent you from taking them normally. He can buff Doom Reavers despite their spell immmunity due to Transference being on himself, he can get Iron Fang Uhlan base P+S back up to IFP levels with his feat, and his Iron Fang Pikemen (both flavors) are absurdly accurate under him. If you own any Khador melee unit that you feel should get more table time but for some reason you never field it, eVlad is a great excuse.