Mordheim: City Of The Damned

To travel to the lost and damned city of Mordheim you may find many adventuring bands departing Altdorf. The ruins lay crumbling on the borders of Ostermark and Stirland.

To get to the presentation for Mordheim: City Of The Damned, you have to hang a right at the Korean business area and head into the home grounds of French publisher Focus Home Interactive. Looking around you’ll be able to spot Behaviour Interactive, neighbours not just in the business halls of Gamescom but neighbours to Montreal developer Rogue Factor.

Having found our way through the dangers of the old world, what followed?

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Roll For Initiative

Mordheim, to fans of Games Workshop properties, should be familiar. To any who haven’t had the pleasure, in a nutshell Mordheim is a skirmish game based in a ruined and warped city of the Empire. Instead of the grand marches of armies, or for an on-line comparison the zergs of Warhammer Age of Reckoning, there is only a handful of combatants on either side.

Mordheim isn’t about force of arms or who has the most troops. Desktop or tabletop, it is about strategy, tactics and the hard fight of your chosen band. No conversation about what was seen at Gamescom is complete without mentioning that peg leg.

In brief sketches, Mordheim: City Of The Damed is a game where you will select, recruit and arm a small warband for the purposes of looting the titular city. It will have both a campaign mode available as well as multiplayer. Maps will be procedurally generated giving us an added spice to keep things fresh.

Recruit, outfit and take on Empire mercenaries, Sisters of Sigmar, Skaven (killkill manthing) or the Cult of the Possessed.

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Tabletop to Desktop

Rogue Factor seem to know their business. It can’t be an easy task translating a tabletop miniature game to desktop. They have had to make some change to the rule set here and there to accommodate those facts as well as introducing some new units to given each band a rounded feeling.

Character customisation was shown off with users having the ability to change practically anything they could want to get the look they need for their band of mercenaries and murderers.

Don’t expect that to remain static though. We mentioned the peg leg, and one or more of them could be in the future of your warband. War, after all, isn’t pleasant to say the least. Games Workshop has always taken a delight in its skirmish and RPG versions in finding ways to mutilate or otherwise the not fun parts of war. If your troops go down during a match there will be a chance that they could lose limbs, lose eyes or maybe even end up dead.

Fans of XCom can start nodding and wondering if they need to add some renaissance faire to their troop outfits. Whether you are pounding friends or facing off against the campaign mode, casualties and wounds should be expected.

Taking Turns

Another part of the tabletop game that has made its leap to the digital battlefield is the turn based aspects of Mordheim. Units will have their initiative calculated on what weapons they have and other such factors before being ranked on an initiative ladder. Units then take their turns depending on where they fall on the ladder and depending on some skill uses that can jump you up a few rungs.

Movement and combat are dictated by a units movement and attack points respectively. Lets say you select your Clan Eshin Sorcerer ( Quickquick! Killkill). Movement range is represented by large blue circles based around your character. Crossing over a border costs a movement point, the more points the further you can go. Additional bits like climbing on top of ruins or jumping down can cost movement.

Attacks, as you may have guessed, use the attack points. Balancing your tactics becomes important when you need to consider keeping some points handy for charges, reloads or counterattacks. After all just because someone has struck you, that doesn’t mean you can’t strike back if you have the points to spare.

The combination makes for an appealing whole where tactical positioning and ambushes will have a greater impact than a straight up slugging match in the middle of the town.

Well… tactics and luck.

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Dice Hate You

If you’ve ever played any game that needs a dice roll, there’s only one thing worse than that player with almost cheating luck. It’s the dice that hates you. Taking Mordheim from your tabletop to your computer screen hasn’t saved you from that unholy agent of Chaos. Skills can fail. Spells can fizzle.

Luck stalks the battlefield of Mordheim and is an equal opportunity offender. Personally I find that very compelling. Just because I may have fallen into a clever ambush, the match isn’t over. Skill will play a part yes, but so too will those invisible and capricious dice that decide fates. During the presentation I got to see a fireball fail and a bold and dashing Empire Mercenary completely fail at climbing. It may not seem like much but when taken as a whole with the fact that your enemy is out there, somewhere, working towards you with mayhem in mind…. it becomes an additional thrill or frustration laying in wait.

The Future

Mordheim: City Of The Damned will be available on Steam as an Early Access game later this year with a release slated for 2015. That’s just when we’ll get our hands on it, not when it will necessarily be “done”. There are after all plenty of forces who have fought in and around Mordheim for the Wyrdstone comet. New warbands depend on factors but haven’t been ruled out thankfully. I don’t know about anyone else but I’d love to get my hands on a Dwarf warband for Mordheim.
Now… I wonder what I need to do to convince Behaviour Interactive and Rogue Factor to get together and take Mordheim into the grim dark far future? Necromunda needs love too.

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About Jonathan Doyle

Once long ago Westwood made a space game. Earth And Beyond was the start of the journey. From there, through Paragon City and to the fields of Altdorf, there were battles. Westwood brought me to MMOs. City of Heroes refined my love for them. Warhammer brought me to writing about them. He loves all things space, sci fi, Warhammer or heroic.