Marcus Jones on December 2, 2015

Mordheim: City of the Damned Review

A new RPG set in the massive Warhammer Fantasy universe, Mordheim: City of the Damned thrusts players into the cult classic tabletop game Mordheim for the first time.

Placing players in the midst of the now destroyed Empire city, Mordheim; formerly a haven of debauchery and more, the corrupted revelry in the city continued until a sign from above arrived. A twin tailed comet, initially hailed as a symbol of an upcoming golden area, slammed into the city, decimating it. Along with the destruction of the city, the comet also brought Wyrdstone to the land, a powerful green stone capable of fueling magicks and more.

Wyrdstone, being the incredibly valuable resource it is, attracts the attention of numerous nefarious groups looking to capitalize. This includes the Chaos-infused Cult of the Possessed, a group of demonic-looking humans, the Sisters of Sigmar, a group of warrior priestesses, the Skaven, a race of man-sized anthropomorphic rat-creatures, and finally a group of human mercenaries looking to profit off from the Wyrdstone. This sets the stage for various encounters across the ravaged city as each faction dukes it out in an attempt to take the green precious stone for their own.

Mordheim at the core is a strategy RPG with players assuming the "role" of their selected group of warriors, maneuvering them around the battlefield to collect Wyrdstone, loot, and to slaughter the competition. Unlike tile-based strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea, Mordheim's large maps are almost completely traversable in any way you deem necessary. It's possible to climb, drop down, and run the length of the map to blindside your opponents or find great loot. A circle of light indicates your character's area of movement. As you move outside its boundary, a movement point is used. However, until you've chosen to stop to make an attack or end the turn, you're free to continue moving that unit around within his movement boundaries. Be careful, though - enemies and traps can be hidden, and falling prey to them causes your character to stop moving and potentially take damage.

Each character has a set number of action points, which can be used to attack, or saved for counter-attacking. If your character's action points become drained, don't expect them to do much more than take a beating. Battles won't end until all enemies are dead, or the rout of the enemies from failing a morale check. However, each map has a set of objectives, both primary and secondary, to complete. Campaign missions will advance the story, but side missions offer additional chances to receive loot and gold. Skirmishes are just quick one-off engagements for players to get their warriors back out into the fray while collecting some additional loot in the process, but they have no bearing on the overall story.

Outside of the battles themselves, the game has a lot to offer. Players can manage their roster of battle-hardened veterans, handle shopping and equipping them for the next skirmish, spend upgrade points on the Warband, and more. Each window gives a quick tutorial when it’s first opened up, giving players a chance to learn on the go. Just don’t forget to pay your people and send off any needed shipments of Wyrdstone to your faction back home too! Without payment, your troops will refuse to deploy, while the game will quickly come to an end if you do not send a shipment of Wyrdstone. Thankfully, you have time to work your way through a few skirmishes to pick up the needed Wyrdstone, but keep in mind you’ll be doing this during missions when you have a threat of losing your valuable warriors.

Oh, yeah, there’s permadeath in this game. Whatever happens throughout your missions can and will carry over. If one of you warriors ends up going down, there’s always a chance they’ll suffer scars, lost limbs, or even death. Between skirmishes, it’s always important to double check any character that fell in battle receives the needed medical treatment to keep them at least maimed and alive rather than just plain old dead.

Mordheim is a massive game, especially regarding what can be done outside of battles. With that huge scope, however, comes a steep learning curve. The included tutorials will help many players get their feet under them to start, but it won't help for everything. Trial and error will be your friend throughout those difficult times, and trust me on this one, but there will be many difficult times. Thankfully the difficulty will be one to expect! During the campaign missions, in the Warcamp, and during just messing around on random skirmish maps for the extra loot.

Simply Put

Mordheim: City of the Damned is a solid game. I feel those looking to get into a game of this type or just Warhammer, in general, will get turned off by the difficulty. I was under constant pressure to keep my warriors alive and healthy, but when you’re facing down a massive Skaven beast, you know that’s not always going to happen. Aside from that, it was nice to return to the Warhammer Fantasy universe with a self-contained RPG.

Note: The Mordheim: City of the Damned review is based on a digital PC copy of the game.

Mordheim: City of the Damned

Mordheim: City of the Damned 8
Warhammer Fantasy setting is self-contained
Growing your band of warriors into a small army
Difficulty can be extreme
Facing down a horde of enemies with only one warrior