Exploring The Damned City Of Mordheim

It sometimes catches me unaware just how wide and far the various games that Games Workshop have created over the past few decades, having long stopped collecting the models. Yet, with many of these falling out of print, it’s fascinating to see them being revitalised in the land of videogames, Mordheim the latest to get this treatment, this time from the team at Rogue Factor

The game is set in the eponymous city of Mordheim, deep into the south east of the Empire of Man. In the Imperial year 1999, a comet thought to be a good omen actually signalled disaster, coming and crashing into Mordheim and signalling its demise. However, this wasn’t the end, as the comet was made from powerful warpstone, meaning that warbands flocked to the city to try and discover it and collect the huge rewards that it would entail.

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Rather than the pitched battles of the main Warhammer game, in which universe it is set, Mordheim is fought on a much smaller scale, featuring warbands of just a handful of characters that you create and look after from battle to battle. In that regard it has more in common with a pen & paper RPG, where each individual character will earn experience, more abilities and so on.

However, it goes beyond just becoming more powerful, as only the biggest characters in the game will be able to take more than a few hits before they are downed. Once someone’s hit points are depleted, they become incapacitated and you have to wait until the end of the battle to discover whether or not they survive, whether they have major injuries which could lose them a limb or an ability, or whether they are just flat out dead. As in XCOM’s Hardcore mode, once a character is dead, they are gone for good.

Yet, even with limbs lopped off, eyes poked out and certain stats reduced, an experienced character is still going to be worth keeping around, because they will have access to the most powerful abilities. You’ll need every advantage you can get when your opponent might be able to bring out a Rat Ogre.

The game will initially feature the Empire, the Cult of the Possessed, Sisters of Sigmar and the Skaven, with the latter able to bring a Rat Ogre to battle. This monstrosity was easily able to knock a Sister down in one go, but it does have its weaknesses, such as needing to check to see if its confused every time its turn comes around.

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Although it comes from the tabletop game, Mordheim as a video game has used this mainly as an inspiration, making quite a few changes to the formula so that it better fits the format. Instead of player or faction taking a turn as a whole, moving all of their characters together, they now take turns based on initiative. It cleverly keeps the game moving for both sides as well as making another step towards a pen & paper RPG, or the way that Valkyria Chronicle works, as was mentioned a few times.

With fog of war in play, the ability to ambush other characters and so on, it’s a carefully considered game. Each character has a particular distance and number of action points that can be used to move, but you’re able to simply walk back along your path to undo what you’ve done.

Sticking together will be important too, not just because this helps the Rat Ogre not be quite so stupid, but because if your character is caught on its own by multiple enemies, they must pass an “All Alone” check, or all of the enemies will be allowed to attack them. If you start to take too many hits or lose too many characters, you’ll then have to deal with a dropping morale bar and soon have to check to see if your team routs and runs away to lick their wounds – literally, if you’re playing as the rat-like Skaven.

Multiplayer could be quite a big part of this game, even though each faction will have their own single player campaign, so it will certainly help that the maps of the medieval fantasy take on Chernobyl are procedurally generated each time. You’ll never quite be sure what the map will look like or what to expect as you round a corner, ramping up the peril and risks quite significantly.

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The appeal of Mordheim seems to stretch beyond the fans of the original board game, in my opinion, simply by virtue of taking that game as an inspiration and tweaking it. With all the talk of Valkyria Chronicles as an influence, though, I made sure to ask about console releases, and got the pleasing reply that while PC was the target for the end of 2014, they’re also aiming for a PlayStation 4 and potentially also Xbox One releases in 2015.

In other words, if you’ve a hankering for a tactical role-playing game, keep an eye on Mordheim.

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3 Comments

  1. I’m a fan of turn-based games, and anything even remotely Valkyria Chronicles is worth checking out.

    Cheerful title though, “Murderhome” in Scandic…

  2. Played the tabletop game ages and ages ago. Would be awesome to get a Warhammer XCOM-type game.

  3. Definitely interested in this game, I enjoyed XCOM and have been a fan of the Games Workshop universe for quite some time but they don’t always make for good Video games. Fire Warrior for example…

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