Wot I Think: Mordheim – City Of The Damned

Hi! How are you? Are you having a good December? It’s almost Christmas. That’s probably something to be excited about, I suppose. I tell you something that’s not worth being excited about, and that’s Mordheim [official site]. Probably don’t get anyone Mordheim for Christmas. I’m going to explain why and to try to remain cheerful, but every time I write about or think about Mordheim’s idiot enemies, I just get angry. Imagine this paragraph coming at you through a clenched smile. ARE YOU READY? JOLLY GOOD.

Mordheim is set in Mordheim, which is a city in the Empire, one of the nations that makes up Games Workshop’s fantasy/horror spin on renaissance Germany. In Mordheim (and hence in Mordheim), you command a warband made up of not-very-grizzled mercenaries who loot the many spoils of this warped and ruined city, battling with rival warbands like vultures cawing over a corpse. This gradually grizzlifying experience slowly transforms them from sappy simpletons into, hopefully, seasoned and cynical warriors of the highest calibre.

These men (there are pretty much no women, unless you choose to play as The Cult of Crazy Women) learn from each and every fight, carrying forward both experience but also injury, while collecting all sorts of equipment and paraphernalia in that same magnetic fashion we would expect in every fantasy setting.

And I hate it.

Mostly, anyway.

There are a number of reasons for this. A number of them! I’m smiling at you. My teeth are only a little clenched. Only slightly agrind.

The thing I hate most is probably how stupid the opponents I fight are. Your warband might be half a dozen fighters, or it may be a few more as, with time, you unlock more slots for more warriors. Your opponents are of a similar number. Of those (say) six enemies you cross paths with in some ruined back alley somewhere, four might run at you, one might seemingly get stuck on a street corner and do nothing, and another might stand there and let your archers pummel him with arrows until, like the most melancholic bouncy castle, he succumbs to all this pricking and lets the life fart out of him, collapsing into himself.

This doesn’t always happen. I want you to know that the enemies don’t always stare at you silently across open ground, turn after turn. Sometimes the enemy really does want to press an advantage they have and will finish one of your ailing men (or Crazy Women), rather than wandering off to pick up something shiny they saw. Sometimes they come at you in numbers, which is the best way to win a fight, or indeed a battle.

You see, Mordheim rarely has you fighting to the death. A downed warrior isn’t necessarily a dead one and you usually need only knock out two or three of the enemy before the rest of them rout. So move in groups, gang up, target one or two people at a time and your odds of success are good. Actually, because your opponents aren’t smart enough to follow your example, your odds of victory are excellent. Every time. Rinse. Repeat.

Another thing I hate is the staccato combat. Mordheim’s Bavarian brothers aren’t the teutonic knights of old, they’re the wooden, staggering figurines that parade out of a Black Forest cuckoo clock. While they might run around with at least a little grace, might swing their weapons with all the energy you’d expect, the fights they find themselves in are tit-for-tat affairs where one side stabs, then the other side stabs, then the first side stabs again.

There’s no fluidity to these encounters, there’s only people locked in place by zones of control who then take turns to roll dice and see if they’ve hit something. There aren’t exciting choices about how to swing, or greater risks for greater rewards, there’s simply a stab or thrust and then the hope that you’ll dodge or parry when the same comes back at you.

This can continue for a while, even as a mighty hero (one of the game’s specific classes) strikes a wiry Skaven (Warhammer’s excellent rat-people) with his two-handed sword (a very big weapon). I have never seen a two-handed sword look less effective than when it is swung into the same person’s torso five rounds in a row, and don’t even get me *started* on ranged weapons. Combat in Mordheim rarely feels lethal and often looks languid. You could achieve a similar effect equipping everyone with pillows, plushies and pool noodles.

All these fighters act according to their position on the initiative carousel, which twirls through each in turn. The lightly-armoured tend to go first, while those you have stacked with heavier gear and multiple weapons will wait, stock-still, as everything else unfolds around them. Yes, this is the way of turn-based combat, but Mordheim allows you to run around within your movement limits, creating the sense of a world in stasis rather than a world in waiting.

A swig of a potion or the occasional nasty injury can confuse the initiative order, but otherwise every fight has a clockwork feel. A step. A stab. A step. A stab. A riposte. Repeat. Again, your best tactical options are found in anything that gives you weight of numbers rather than clever decisions or reactions, though the additional gradual attrition from a few arrows can also help. It’s unexciting. It’s uninspired.

All this is one side of a coin, though it’s a side I’ll return to again. On the shinier side, the side that caught your eye and first made you reach down to the cobbles, Mordheim also has a substantial campaign that links all these many awkward battles together. The spoils of victory can be draped upon your warband or sold to pay their wages, while you also accumulate wyrdstone, the game’s magical currency, which can be shipped off to win the favour and furnishings of various factions. There’s a lot more to the game in this department, as it soon becomes apparent that there are a great many skills that can be unlocked, warband advancements waiting to be enjoyed and, of course, magic items that can be exploited.

This being the Warhammer world, magic tends to have its downside. Those potions you drink, for example, may cause more than just indigestion. Or they might not! Who knows. That, at least, is a chance for you to enjoy some risk for reward, rather than just rolling a die to see if something does or doesn’t work.

It can’t be overstated how elaborate this campaign side of the game is. Point by point, you can increase the mental and physical characteristics of your recruits, also watching as serious injuries penalise them for life. Some die. Some don’t. All are changed forever, each of them growing into very distinct individuals as your campaign progresses, every one a unique and beautiful flower (or, as perhaps suits Warhammer, a bulbous mushroom). You will, however, have to make the effort to customise all their clothes. They arrive as if they slid straight out of a photocopier.

Yes, it’s often interesting stuff. Your team is forged in battle, but truly shaped between skirmishes. It’s just a terrible shame that those skirmishes are often so silly and quickly become formulaic. While they often start with very different pretexts, such as your squad scattered by some event, or caught on the back foot, they so often play out the same way. There are frequently side-quests or additional objectives on offer, but there’s never much point in fulfilling these, particularly not the ones where you’d have spend turn after turn scouring a level to collect unremarkable treasures.

And that’s assuming that you even have the chance to explore. Because the enemy charges for you even if they’re outnumbered, they’re likely to engage in another fight to the death even if they don’t stand a chance. Turn by turn, they roll to hit, they stab, you roll to hit, you stab, and then another battle is over after two enemies rush, fall and then the rest elect to rout. Maybe it’s all a little faster this time, as you have better weapons and warriors, doing incrementally more damage. Maybe you’ll be less bored. I wasn’t. I hated it.

There are other things you may or may not hate. You certainly should hate the long loading times, as I definitely bought a new, top-of-the-range PC with a sexy SSD to enjoy three minute loads between repetitive battles. You may well also hate how, when moving your warband about, they have a habit of getting caught on scenery. You may hate how familiar all that scenery quickly starts to look. You may hate the bizarre default key bindings (middle mouse to bring up the map?). You might well also hate the smug tone of the narrator, especially as he soon starts to repeat himself between battles, but your mileage my vary. I don’t know. Perhaps you like smug people.

I shouldn’t have to now qualify my opinion by saying that I grew up a big fan of Warhammer, particularly Warhammer Fantasy, but this game could well have seriously appealed to my personal bias, reaching out to that bias, stroking it, whispering in its ear and asking it if it wanted to quit this joint, to go get a drink, to head back home for warpstone and chill. There I was, all ready to get excited about leading a team of Warhammer warriors through hell and horror, but all Mordheim does is reduce fights to routines.

It’s saved somewhat by multiplayer. Your warbands can be teleported out of the campaign and into fights with other humans, humans nowhere near as dim as the game’s AI, humans able to make decisions that go beyond just charging forward. Against real people, Mordheim can be a game of hiding and of ambushes, it’s maps suddenly full of danger and surprise, of bait and switch. A warband so engaged can gain both injuries and experience, or simply fight in a showcase match, returning to your PC as if nothing had ever happened.

But if you were hoping for a new squad-based game with the finesse of XCOM, or the many tactical choices of Jagged Alliance 2, this is not it. Mordheim is dumb. Mordheim is flawed. Mordheim tries hard and doesn’t succeed. This is not a happy Christmas, everyone, but the misshapen horror of Faschnat. It’s your present from Krampus.

Mordheim: City of the Damned is available now.

128 Comments

  1. Rogerio Martins says:

    I need to drink some water, because I’m first!

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      That, was a terrible joke.

      • Rogerio Martins says:

        Well, you standards be damned. :)

      • Ahtaps says:

        It was a bit dry.

        • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

          I know right, water terrible way to open the comments section, just makes me feel like he didn’t have anything to say, so he just tapped out.

          • CraftyBanana says:

            I don’t know, he definitely wet my appetite for more.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Al__S says:

    Sounds like a clunky and poor straight-up implementation of the Mordheim miniatures based game, which was literally “hey, we heard you liked Necromunda, here’s the same game, but in the WHFB world”. Wasn’t particularly successful. Came out sometime during the 6th Edition WHFB cycle.

    • Rogerio Martins says:

      It’s a pity though, I was really hoping it would be good, that way along with Vermintide maybe they would destroy the current Age of Sigmar world and bring the classic back :)

      • Bull0 says:

        I don’t get this thinking at all. It’s not like Phil Kelly came to your house and demanded you hand over all your old books when they announced Age of Sigmar. It’s the same universe moved on in time, nobody’s taking the stories away from you.

        • Bull0 says:

          Although Phil Kelly coming to my house would’ve been pretty awesome. I’d definitely invite him in for tea.

        • Rogerio Martins says:

          Yes they are, they did destroy the universe after all and replaced it with a poorer one.

          • Bull0 says:

            No, it’s the same universe. The old world and many of the people in it were destroyed, but it’s the same universe moved on, not a retcon.

        • Zelos says:

          The prospect that games will be set in age of sigmar instead of the classic setting is quite disturbing though. Classic warhammer is just that; it’s classic.

          At least total war: warhammer is based on the old setting.(Presumably because development started before AoS happened) That could’ve been the greatest tragedy of all time.

          • Bull0 says:

            Age of Sigmar is undeniably weak, I just find the line of thinking that the old world is “gone” really baffling

          • Rogerio Martins says:

            But it is, it’s destroyed.

          • Runty McTall says:

            Yeah, I find your logic a bit strange – in the fiction, literally the whole world is gone and almost every character bar a handful was killed.

            If they just dropped it and moved onto something else then you’d have a point – the characters and setting would be more in stasis than “gone”. But they didn’t, they obliterated it (taking great detail to chronicle the various fates of many of the personalities).

            Even if you set a game or book or whatever somewhere earlier in the chronology, it’s hard to ignore the known apocalypse that you know is coming up for everyone and everything.

    • CraftyBanana says:

      It emphatically isn’t a straight up implementation of the miniatures games (which I would much rather have had, and for the record still play in its physical form). It’s very much it’s own thing, with roughly eleventy-billion different stats, a great love for dull ‘add 5% to parry chance’ skills, and the slow whittling down of massive health bars replacing the relative lethality of the tabletop game.

      • JimboDeany says:

        I’m with you buddy, I play the TT version too and have to say it’s a lot more fun with combat on a knife edge and people dying far faster. They really need to look at the scenarios in this to move it away from “Collect wyrdstone, kill the opposition, repeat”

    • Eggheart says:

      This review is very unfair, so I would suggest you not put all your faith in it. Mordheim is rough around the edges, no doubt, but it is still one of the most fun games I’ve played this year. Ive given it 70 hours, and I’ll be putting in plenty more. Its earned a long-term spot on my games-shelf.
      There is no way it deserves the venom that is being leveled at it in this ‘review’. I am quite shocked at how fiercely the author has denounced what is actually a pretty good game. I’m sure he’s given good reviews to plenty worse. Sure, there are lots of games that are more polished, but they usually bore me quickly despite that. Mordheim does not. Its good fun, with plenty of different tactical considerations. It has a detailed progression system, and the missions can be quite challenging. You grow attached to your gang members. You customise their skills and weapons, turn them into heroes and cheer their victories. And then you cry when in the next mission they get their leg chopped off, half their head caved in and their back broken. And then you make the heartbreaking choice not to waste money on a doctor… it’s alright Johann. Just close your eyes, my friend…

      • Bluerealmstudios says:

        I actually think Mordheim is a great game, for me it was one of the highlights of 2014. I agree that it has rough edges here and there, but these are very minor and tend to be more visual than game breaking. The game is also strongly supported by the developers who regularly patch and update the game and feedback swiftly on issues highlighted through their steam discussions page.

        All this aside, I find it strange that the heaviest criticism from this reviewer is the lack of fluidity in combat… Given that it is a turn based game, based off of a table top game. Both of which have playstyles which are slow and considered, not fluidic or faced paced. Its not a hack and slash game like Vermintide (thank god), the whole game is based around one thing.

        Risk vs Reward

        The game is about planning strategy and managing gains vs losses in an increasingly difficult campaign, which itself is well balanced to force you to sacrafice your men’s lives to ensure you can grab that last wyrdstone shard or go for that final holy tomb.

        I felt most hurt with the comparison to Xcom (which is one of my favourite games), which is a completely different style of game. I feel that just because it also offers perma-death doesn’t equate to it being a fair comparison.

        I was a fan of Warhammer table top when I was younger, but now that I simply don’t have the time or money to invest in the hobby. Mordheim offers a great take on the game, which stays true to its essence while offering a more grounded tactics system for a wide ranged player base.

  3. Jockie says:

    Oh man, I really enjoy Mordheim. it’s true there are AI problems (mostly the large creatures getting stuck and) and the campaign missions are mostly horribly designed, but I find the combat, positioning and development of the warband very compelling. I really like the ‘optional’ objectives that serve a similar purpose to Xcom EW’s Meld – they make you do dangerous shit for the rewards, they most certainly are worthwhile (you need them for crafting formulas later on and for development early in a campaign).

    It’s not a perfect game and it could really do with some more variety (i.e, more races, more objective types and more environments). But for TBS nerds like myself it’s been the game that made me stop crying about XCOM 2’s delay (and the mediocrity of other promising titles like Bedlam and that western one wot came out a couple of weeks ago).

    Oh yeah and the load times are horrendous.

    • Rogerio Martins says:

      You thought Hard West was mediocre? I quite liked it .

      • Jockie says:

        I haven’t played it, mainly because I was burned on Skyshine’s Bedlam, but also because most of the reviews I read were lukewarm, It’s on my sale wishlist, but the consensus seemed to be that it was alright, but nothing special.

      • anHorse says:

        I couldn’t get on with Hard West at all. Really didn’t like the pacing and the ratio of gold digging to combat

        And then the combat didn’t do much for me, it wasn’t bad (apart from the stealth bits) but it didn’t grip me enough to live with the gripes

        • Rogerio Martins says:

          Dude, gold digging is only part of the first scenario, it changes completely with each one.

    • DarkFenix says:

      I mostly agree, I hated the game at first. Gave it a second chance, hated it. It didn’t click until I read a guide on building a decent warband and tried a third time, now I’m having a lot of fun.

      The AI deserves a little more credit than it was given, they do focus fire and generally try to gang up and I’ve seen enemy ranged attackers go for high ground. The problems are many too of course, the AI doesn’t stick together sensibly (though it seems to try, just fail) so is easy to pick off and its unit stats appear to be randomly allocated (units get a bit useless if their builds aren’t at least semi-cohesive).

      In the end the game is actually good, but it thoroughly reeks of missed potential (the biggest question running through my mind is: what if they applied this TBS formula to a setting that doesn’t suck? ie. not some trashy main franchise spin-off).

      • Jockie says:

        I think the setting would be more compelling – Mercenaries of all shapes and sizes fall onto a wrecked city for its resources – if there was a bit more variety and maybe more personality to your opposition. Right now, it’s a case of ‘oh it’s the Skaven again, yay’. But if each warband had it’s own personality, i.e. one that builds a certain way (say a Human Merc group that tried to go with heavily ranged builds), as well as have their own name and motto (similar to Bloodbowl). Also it needs more warbands desperately.

        There is certainly an element of missed opportunity to it, but I really do enjoy playing with my Sisters of Sigmar. Developing them from neophytes into powerhouses was a journey that I enjoyed regardless of its foibles. Tinkering with builds, earning powerful formulas and kitting everyone out is an enjoyable feedback loop that can be wrecked in an entertaining way when your parry master tank in heavy armour suddenly gets her shield-arm hacked off.

        • DarkFenix says:

          Yeah if they added some of the personality Bloodbowl had it would improve greatly. I don’t think I’ve paid the slightest bit of attention to enemy warband names thus far as I don’t think they’re persistent at all, I think they’re just randomly generated when you enter a mission.

          But personally I think they needed to take a great big pile of creative license and shove in a whole lot of variety from the main Warhammer franchise. Warhammer’s factions have a wonderful variety of different people trying to beat the snot out of everyone else, the Mordheim setting seems to cut out all the interesting ones and leave us with the frankly rather dull remainder.

          • Jockie says:

            As I understand it the Boardgame had 6 core factions and about a dozen others from expansions that covered pretty much every corner of the warhammer universe. I assume at least some of them will appear as dlc down the line, but the core game could have done with a couple more.

          • PhilBowles says:

            Yes, the original game had six factions (Witch Hunters and the Undead are missing from this version – these were actually my favourites), though mercenary warbands came in three flavours which varied them more than the game allows. I think only about three of the subsequently-released warbands were official; one of those was another mercenary band and the Shadow Warriors were eventually made unofficial again because they were badly-designed.

            But a big offender is the Hired Swords – from what I’ve seen, in this version this is a barely-implemented feature, offering only existing model types as options rather than the distinct Hired Swords of the original game (though warlocks and ogres have been promoted from Hired Sword to standard roster status).

        • screamingabdab says:

          “But if each warband had it’s own personality, i.e. one that builds a certain way (say a Human Merc group that tried to go with heavily ranged builds), as well as have their own name and motto (similar to Bloodbowl). Also it needs more warbands desperately.”

          This is why they really need to make a bloody Necromunda game like this :) Each gang has it’s own style, skillsets, wep choices, etc forcing different playstyles.

          By Jupiters cock why isn’t there a Necromunda game coming out!

          • PhilBowles says:

            Variety is a particularly curious reason to want a Necromunda game – except for the oddball bands in the expansion, the Necromunda gangs were completely identical in weapon options and skill sets, the only variety dictated (for those who didn’t want to convert the figures) by the fact that the miniatures range gave different gangs different weapon options. While the actual weapons were so badly-balanced that, if you had complete freedom to customise the models, all bands would look basically the same.

          • Chiron says:

            Based on the developers comments when the game was released

            “We are also starting to work on a new project that won’t be announced for at least a year, so we’ll return to you guys at some point with exciting news! :D”

            I’d lay money on a Necromunda equivalent being in the works, at least I hope so

          • Archonsod says:

            They’d have the same problem with Necromunda if they implemented it the same way. There is variety there – Sisters are good at soaking up damage, Chaos good at dishing it out, Skaven are fast but have all the resilience of wet paper and so forth. The AI however doesn’t seem to distinguish between one warband and another, and the AI’s spawned warbands simply have randomly distributed skills and abilities rather than any kind of cohesive build templates to draw from. As a result you only really see the flavour of the warbands come out in multiplayer and the odd scripted campaign mission.
            That said the AI isn’t as bad as the article makes it out to be. It’s not that it’s stupid as such, more that there seems to have been a ‘one size fits all’ approach taken rather than specifically adjusting for certain things. Ranged behaviour is identical whether the warrior in question has a bow, gun or shuriken, so there’s a sort of baseline effectiveness there but it’ll never take advantage of any unique properties of the equipment. Plus of course thanks to the randomness it’s not that unusual to see a cultist who’s been futilely plinking away with a shortbow all combat pull out some nasty melee weapon he’d have been much better using from the start.

    • stonetoes says:

      I found the optional objectives absolutely infuriating. They’re the worst part of the game, encouraging you run away from enemies lest you kill them too quickly.

      Oh, I have to steal this banner from the enemy’s cart and take it back to mine? But as soon as I pick it up they take a moral hit and rout immediately and I don’t get the extra reward? So I have to hope that I don’t win the battle too decisively?

      Don’t even get me started on all the loot lying around which you don’t get to pick up when you win, even if it’s directly under your feet. They for some reason decided to replicate the most aggravating aspects of the tabletop games.

      • screamingabdab says:

        “Necromunda gangs were completely identical in weapon options and skill sets”

        That’s not the case Phil. Each gang specialised in 2 sets of skills. Yes if you got lucky on the upgrade roll you could pick a skill from any category.
        But for the most part you got 2 sets to choose from, which does affect the way you play. Tweak the equipment distribution and you’ve even more difference.

        • JimboDeany says:

          Yup, he’s right. All gangs started out identical but rapidly shifted due to skill limitations with some going ranged, some going stealth, some going CC and Van Saar going BEARDY :)

      • jomon jim says:

        None of the secondary objectives make sense.

        Break their will. Steal the idol and bring it back to your cart. But if stealing their idol makes them route, then I’m pretty sure I just broke their will. Why didn’t I get the objective? Oh, I didn’t bring it back to my cart? Well, wasn’t I walking back to my base with their idol and my cart in some proximity? Couldn’t I toss it in?

        Marked for Death. When you finish off the enemy with the bounty and the enemy team routes, you don’t get time to pick up the bounty. Even though it’s at your feet.

        Wyrdstone rush. Same issue. There are wyrdstones usually at your feet or a stroll away by the end. Tut tut, the referee says, the objective is to collect them during combat. Mind-numbing.

        Secondary objectives should spice up games, but these are ludicrous. So, sure you can employ holding tactics to accomplish these tasks… that should be done after battle. Come on. Taking bounties happens after the fight. It takes about 5 seconds, then you can hit the showers.

        Did nobody raise these questions months ago when this was introduced?

        • Replikant says:

          Argh. Thank you for pointing it out. I might still have bought the game, despite the review, but this is unacceptable. I hate this kind of gamey nonsense with a passion. The ONLY reason not to pick up loot at leisure after combat if is massive enemy reinforcments are just around the corner.
          I hate secondary objectives in most games anyway which (via the reward) encourage OCD and gamey tactics to artificially add a few hours of tedium to the game. But this is just dumb.

          • Chiron says:

            I think the reason your warband doesn’t loot at leisure after combat is because they are in a haunted city surrounded by Deamons and an array of horrible creatures and villains out to murder them in a variety of painful ways.

            They go in, have a scrap, then run the fuck out of home afterwards.

  4. klops says:

    Sounds like it what it seemed like by the early videos. The combat was just boring in those. Shame, though. I wished it could be a pleasant surprise.

  5. hotla says:

    A terrible shame.
    Well, just play Battle Brothers instead. Same shit, much better package.

  6. anHorse says:

    They picked an awful time to release this

    I was interested for months but decided to hold off until release, and then it comes out when there’s so many new games that I probably won’t get around to considering it until spring

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    teije says:

    That’s a little discouraging to read – usually a big fan of these types of games, although the setting doesn’t interest me much. Methinks I’ll wait for a big sale on this and give it a whirl anyways. Sounds like it could improve with a few patches/DLC.

  8. SaintAn says:

    I disagree. It’s an excellent game. I can’t even enjoy X Com anymore because this game is so much better.

    • ThatParticularArgument says:

      The game is certainly flawed, but I find it a lot of fun and tries a few new things. Might not be a the greatest game in the world but the review seems overly harsh. “Hate” is a pretty strong sentiment to have towards it, which makes me question if the reviewer likes turnbased games at all.

      • anHorse says:

        He absolutely gushed about Valkyria Chronicles on Eurogamer earlier in the year

        Maybe that explains it, from what I’ve seen of Morheim it resembles VC more directly than anything else

  9. Duke of Chutney says:

    I wonder if they stuck too close to the source material. Imo Mordheim the miniatures game is not a good game.

    • PhilBowles says:

      Really? Mechanically I much preferred it to Necromunda. It’s actually quite a major departure – the action point system allows many more actions to be taken per turn in the computer game, and is more forgiving as a result; the hitpoint system makes the game much more about running headlong into things and bashing them until they’re dead than about careful positioning and engaging at range; and there is no functional difference between heroes and henchmen save that heroes are stronger – a shame as this division was a key innovation in Mordheim the miniatures game. You can also expect much less variety in warbands, since you have specific unit limits – which are the same across all warbands – and unlock others at a fixed rate. You aren’t going to be facing Skaven bands that outnumber your mercenaries, for instance.

      • Duke of Chutney says:

        For me there are a few core warhammer issues, such as throwing dice 3 times to resolve a combat if someone kills with the first hit. In theory a combat could last ages that always seemed like it should have been left in 1985. Debates of line of sight and the exactness of movement distances are always really tiresome.

        But the main charges i would make against mordheim are;

        in a standard engagement scenario there was little incentive to attack. I played several games where my opponent got in a defensive position and demanded i come and get him at his advantage. Theres not time limit to battles and no draw condition so either i gave up or i gave him an advantage.

        second, as your heros gain expeirence and special abilities these stack up to the point the game becomes very confusing. Before someone makes a charge you get this silly situation where they compare sheets of paper to decide if its a good idea. It even gets to the point where i forget my hero can side step at a critical juncture. Way too much detail.

        Finally, i found over longer campaigns the game snowballs a bit. Whilst there is a under dog system it doesn’t quite compensate for a growing gulf in hero quality between parties.

  10. Stevostin says:

    “But if you were hoping for a new squad-based game with the finesse of XCOM”

    I don’t know what to think when I read this. In my mind XCOM is the poster child for “turn based squad game completely lacking any finesse”. Either Mordheim sets up a new standard in infamy, either the reviewer doesn’t know his stuff, either I missed something in X-COM. But if so it didn’t prevent me to beat it rather easily without having to think a lot.

    • PhilBowles says:

      Mordheim is indeed a very curious case of a tactical game that’s close to being devoid of tactics – there are no intrinsic cover rules, you can set ambushes up in plain sight (a mechanic presumably designed for multiplayer, where you are prompted to use sight lines to set ambushes lest the opponent avoids them – but in single-player an AI will just charge straight into an ambush), and ranged weapons other than pistols seem underpowered, there only really for sniping enemies already engaged in melee. Weapons can be switched in a moment’s notice, and every soldier can have two weapon sets. Movement rates, especially for Skaven, are absurdly high, which nullifies much of the advantage of high ground.

    • Snoop says:

      This review weirdly lacks any nuance. The game has heavy flaws, mostly the AI being pretty stupid and numerous collision bugs, but it’s pretty interesting in itself. I already have much more fun with it than with XCOM, which is such a washed down version of the original.
      IMO this is a game with great potential but plagged with a substantial amount of issues, and the enjoyment one can get from it depends substantially on his abiliy to overlook them. Could it be a great tactical game with proper patching? Certainly. Difficult to say if the devs are experienced enough to fix proporly these issues though.

  11. merbert says:

    Well….whatever the mixed reviews are on how it plays…..one thing is for certain…..it LOOKS shit.

    I’m talking – the tentitive opening of a public toilet cubicle door, staring back at you is the lid down toilet which looks innocent until you brave a flick of the lid back with the toe of your show and….OHHHH GOOD JESUS H CHRIST WHAT THE FUCK ISSSS THAT….AND DID THAT??!! AND WHERE’S THE TOILET PAPER?! AND WHAT KIND OF AAAAANIMAL WOULD HAVE DONE THAT….AND LEFT WITHOUT WIPING??!! – kinda shit.

    • klops says:

      Sounding like PewPewDie is never a good thing. Not even in written form.

    • Snoop says:

      For some reason these screenshots look much worse than the game itself, they’re blurry and washed down. But reading your comment I assume you were not really trying to form an objective opinion.

  12. PhilBowles says:

    The game needs a multiplayer campaign for the true Mordheim experience – the campaign system is well-realised (though good weapons and armour are too easy to pick up, and the wound system seems too forgiving with serious injury being very rare), but the actual battles themselves are weak even without the AI element (which I actually found better than your experience, with enemies trying to gang up commonly, but still too beatable). This is exacerbated by the odd and unnecessary idol system, which seems to be designed purely as a way to exploit the AI since – even if it recaptures the idol – it will never put it back and so suffers the morale malus for the rest of the match.

    The game also gains nothing from the third person view over a more appropriate isometric approach; needing to implement a waypoint system just to navigate is no way to design a tactical game.

    • Snoop says:

      The third person view can be inconvenient sometimes but handling four floors with an isometric view would be hell.

      • PhilBowles says:

        Just handle it the way the strategic view already does, or the way the original X-COM games did. The new XCOM handles floors in an isometric setting effectively as well, but even following bug fixes it’s not as smooth as the originals in that regard.

  13. Laurentius says:

    It’s very hard to make informed decision these days about such games. Opinions on TBS are all over the place. I didn’t like combat in XCOM very much but I did like one in The Banner Saga and RPS generally though opposite…eh.

  14. PhilBowles says:

    And yes the narration is annoying – at least for the mercenaries, and not least because this game seems to share Warhammer Online’s conviction that Germany is located somewhere deep in Yorkshire. Sure, dispense with fake German accents by all means, but in that case don’t deliberately cast regional English accents in their place.

  15. Game kNight says:

    I don’t agree with all your points about Mordheim. I will grant you the AI is stupid – but it has been improved greatly and we have been promised that it will improve further.

    In my opinion the game was not ready to be release and it has been rushed. Who rushed it and who is to blame I don’t know, but the game should have been kept in Alpha for a good 3 months still.

    The combat feels awesome and running around in the city makes you feel like when you played the TTG only now you are down in the ruins with your warriors. You can utilize tactical abilities and the surrounding buildings to navigate around the enemy and deliver incision strikes or go straight for the enemy warbands leader if you please. It doesn’t feel slow or anymore repetitive than what Xcom has been delivering since day one… or any other game that provides a progressive storyline.

    It seems to me that you haven’t given this game a proper chance… that it beat you the first couple of times and left you feeling a bit violated… am I right?

    The skills system is elaborate and requires thought to master… you have reduced it to being only a matter of number and forget that it is also about the skills you choose.. but that takes time to build up and a lot of effort to master.

    I do agree that the multiplayer is a great addition to the game… it is however lackluster IMHO. Without a proper way of creating leagues or finding matches automatically the multiplayer part is being overlooked… and that is a pitty because it is really here Mordheim shines… or darkens?

    Kind Regards
    Game kNight

    • lordcooper says:

      So, how do you get from “Actually, because your opponents aren’t smart enough to follow your example, your odds of victory are excellent. Every time. Rinse. Repeat.” to the game being too hard for the reviewer?

      • Archonsod says:

        To be fair the behaviour cited in the review isn’t one I recognise. The AI can get caught and butchered piecemeal at times – but generally because the scenario deployment deliberately scatters their units (indeed it’ll happily give a masterclass in bringing numbers to bear whenever you find your positions switched). The problem there isn’t the AI behaviour so much as it is the scenarios themselves – in some situations it’s quite possible for one player (you or the AI) to find one or two of your guys deployed right in the middle of the opponent’s entire warband. Outside of those scenarios it can get quite clever with it’s forces – grouping together it’s melee fighters to advance on your warband while flanking with missile units for example.
        Similarly I’ve only seen it prioritise picking stuff up rather than engaging when that’s actually part of the mission or a sensible move (it can be more beneficial to stop short of the opponent and set ambush stance instead. They’ll attack as soon as the opponent moves into their ambush range, and with the right skills and gear you can get much better bonuses to the attack than you would from a charge or regular attack; not to mention the difference between charge and ambush range for certain units)

    • Premium User Badge

      john_silence says:

      “Violated”?! What a strange turn of phrase, especially when the review states repeatedly that the game presented little challenge. Don’t worry we get it, you’re good at the game because you’re smart. And subtle.
      Sorry for releasing my inner Krampus (that last line! Loved it). I just don’t like that kind of innuendo.

  16. Brinx says:

    If not even Skaven could save this game from mediocrity these are dark times indeed.

  17. Chiron says:

    Ouch, rather scathing.

    Its got flaws but its got a good atmosphere, the management is fun and I understand MP is a much better kettle of fish (because lets face it humans are always going to be stronger than AI opponents)

    Would I change a few things? Sure, but its a nice solid little game.

  18. Jungle Rhino says:

    Would be good if the reviewer could have expanded a bit more on how the multiplayer plays out? What exactly does getting teleported out of Singleplayer entail? Can you setup one off multiplayer matches? How is the match making done? Can I set this up with a group of my friends?

    The whole appeal of tabletop wargaming is nothing to do with the game mechanics – it is about shared experiences with other people. Laughing about the time Franz fell off a ledge and lost his right eye. Or the brave bowman who killed the chaos demon in CC because of crazy dice.

    I got the message that the AI was poor fairly early on in the review. Got the in-depth explanation and details as to why. But not much else.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    Gods damn it all, I was looking forward to this.

  20. thekelvingreen says:

    Oh well, never mind. GW may be releasing a new version of the original game in 2016.

  21. cog says:

    For what it’s worth, I heartily disagree. It is by no means perfect, but I quite enjoy it.

  22. Henas says:

    I agree with the sentiment ‘it’s got problems but overall an enjoyable experience’.

    No mention of the path through Early Access, or size and budget of the development team?

    For the $26USD I paid in the recent sale, I’m happy with what I got.

    Negatives: Load times. They are horrid due to the amount of variables calculated via RNG on level creation. Note the precrafted story missions load quickly. Standard load times I get are ~90-120 seconds on my SSD.

    AI. As mentioned can be suicidally stupid and pathfinding is poor at time.

    Lack of variety. Few choices for customisation and cosmetic details are limited.

    Positives: warband management is enjoyable, with a persistent ‘Veteran’ bonus that unlocks better rewards as you play, regardless of which warband.

    The upgrade and progression loop can be rewarding, and does entice you to keep playing.

    Combat is closest to the Valkyre Chronicles system, which can take be off putting but becomes more enjoyable as your warriors advance and more options open up than ‘beat with stick til they fall down’.

    Visually, not fantastic but not terrible either. It sets the mood and provides decent atmosphere. I particularly like the character models for Skaven. At least it doesn’t have that ‘made in Unity’ look.

    If you’re a fan of TBS, I’d suggest giving it a shot. With the Steam refund system, don’t really have much to loose but a few hours of your time.

    • magogjack says:

      I’ve been quite happy with the game as well, and it should be noted that the team was only 20 people.

  23. Blastaz says:

    Interesting to see such a hatchet piece from rps. Most of what I had seen suggested the original ea release was simplistic but it had grown since then and was now a really quite good game. Oh well guess I will wait for total war hammer to relive my youth.

    • Chiron says:

      I really do encourage you to try it out, its a lot of fun and if AI is a bugbear for you its worth bearing in mind that its primarily designed as a hardcore MP game – where you and your opponent level up together and whose warbands grow to hate it each other.

      It lacks several MP features because its created by a small studio who have done a stellar job compared to the vast swathe of Warhammer titles

    • jomon jim says:

      They hardly updated the core game (simple combat, zombie AI) since the last time RPS looked at it, so it’s not a huge surprise the Wot I Think wasn’t exactly gushing with praise.

  24. Hobbes says:

    I must be playing a different Mordheim. Because the game I’m playing only has the occasional AI pathfinding glitch, and by and large puts up a really solid challenge (as long as you bother with hard or brutal missions, and particularly if you draw neutral mobs to spice things up), I’ve had the highs of crushing victories, and I’ve had the hilarity of a one armed skaven captain beating half an opposing warband senseless.

    For me this has been one of the sleeper hits of the year, and I’m looking forward to seeing Rogue Factor put in some extra Warbands to add some variety to the game. I’m easily sinking an average of four hours a day right now into it, and not showing any signs of slowing down right now, at least not until I’ve finished the campaign with each faction.

    The commentary about ranged is particularly absurd given how much positioning and zones of control MATTER in this game, along with the correct equipment layout and all the like.

    So, yeah, this smells less like a review and more like someone who decided to hatchet the game because they couldn’t get far enough in to really figure out how the game rewards you for sticking with it past rank 1 warbands.

    It’s at this point I think I need to ask Paul “Bro do you even Mordheim?”

    • Game kNight says:

      Same thought here… Same thought.

    • magogjack says:

      I agree, the reviewer makes it sound like this is some AAA game, not made by a 20 person team.
      If they were charging 60 or 70 dollars I could understand the vitriol in the review, but it is only slightly overpriced now (I bought it in EA which I feel was more along the lines of what it should be priced).
      Also while the tactics are fairly straight forward the strategy is not, this is a game about pre and post planning. For example want to use ranged? Give a couple troops shields and swords (swords let you counter attack) then give everyone else bows.

      Its like tuning an engine after you see how it preforms.

  25. jomon jim says:

    The tactics are limited. That’s what ruined it for me. After playing Battle Brothers for a few weeks prior, Mordheim was a letdown in early access and continues to be so now.

    The AI zerg rushes unless you hole up in a building. Then they wander around in sight of your ranged warriors.

    You can further improve your odds of winning by letting the first two turns pass, while hiding your team. By then the AI will spread out in search of you (ostensibly the wyrdstone) so you can gang up on them more easily .

    You can break up the monotony with the uninspired story missions. Unfortunately they rely on horrible inventory management, one of the worst aspects of the game. You can’t drop items on the ground or pass items from one character to another without having a container or corpse nearby. How did that pass alpha?

    The rest of this game feels like it wasn’t properly thought out before development began – like massive plot holes in a story. If we are trying to scavenge, then why not just let our warbands scavenge stealthily and then escape? Following this line of logic, if we are scavenging then why do we suddenly flee the battle after victory when, more often than not, the secondary objectives are under our noses at that moment.

    This could have been a clever mix of scavenging, exploration and fantasy urban warfare. Imagine a campaign map where you slowly battle your way through the city toward the comet impact, increasing risk and reward as you discover the horrors awaiting.

    Instead it’s a grind of refereed, gentlemanly sporting matches against a zombie AI armed too often with – pool noodles. Nightmare material in all the wrong ways.

    It’s an infuriatingly simpleminded little game.

    • Snoop says:

      It’s a tabletop adaptation. These mechanics you dislike are part of the original game. Logic is not relevant here.

  26. braven5 says:

    Wait a in, all this is basically a rant about AI, but is’t Mordheim meant to really be a PvP game? I mean the idea is like Blood Bowl, you have team go to war/treasure hunt against other players.

    The AI option is mere after thought to practice the game mechanics

  27. Aetylus says:

    Not often I disagree with RPS so much. Mordheim is probably my favourite game this year.

    The obvious comparison for me is Xcom, except that I’ve become far more attached to my skaven warband than I ever did to the Xcom squadies. Sure Giznat may be a one-armed crippled rat with serious mental problems… but he’s my crippled rat and I’m sticking with him dammit! (At least until he loses the other arm… then its the bottom of the river for him).

    The combat to me is a nice balance of complexity. Its probably got about the same complexity as Xcom (which, if one were to be as uncharitable as this review, boils down to: move to cover, select between aimed or not aimed, click button).

    It plays like valkyria chronicles, i.e. turn based where you move the guys directly. Of course it feels static… its a turn based game… they ALL feel static. Thats what we like about them.

    I haven’t been so hooked on a game in ages. Only downside is loading times (certainly noticeable, though manageable with a SSD… would be crap without SSD).

    • zapatapon says:

      You can choose between aimed and not aimed in XCOM ??

    • Myros says:

      I agree, for me this is game of the year 2015. I haven’t enjoyed a game this much for years. Work on the load times and improve on the AI and this is a gem.

  28. RealityJones says:

    Have played it, quite enjoy it. Not much said by the reviewer is accurate or makes sense, really.

  29. Sobric says:

    Hmmm not sure I entirely agree with this WIT, although if you’d asked me a few weeks a go I was about ready to throw my PC out the window in frustration with the game (an unforeseen downside of the digital distribution revolution).

    First, the negatives: Load times. By far an away the biggest drawback with the game is how long it takes to load maps. I’m told that this is because there’s an algorithm that runs through the map closing doors, collapsing bridges etc to ‘randomise’ the map a little more.

    I also feel the scenarios are a little too prescriptive. I’ve got into the habit of not choosing those that have scattered warbands, as it tends to engage me in combat 3 – 4 turns earlier than I’d like.

    The point on secondary objectives is also completely fair. They’re good for extra experience if you can get them, but I don’t think they work (in single player at least. In multi-player (which I haven’t tried yet) they could be a great antidote to overly defensive players). I’d like to see secondary objectives as secondary win conditions, and have the AI programmed to attempt to accomplish those if it can’t find an opponent so that you can’t just hole up in building until the opponent finds you piecemeal.

    The positives: Warband management. It’s great! I love the customization, the visible effect some injuries have on your warriors, training your warband etc. It was the best bit of the tabletop game and has been wonderfully translated onto the PC version, IMO.

    The combat can also be blissfully satisfying; when your Sister Superior bum-rushes the Skaven leader and completely levels the rat with a massive Hammer, what’s not to love about the game?

    I admit that there’s some tactical depth that’s lacking, as the way to win (at least for the first 10 or so missions) is to work out a way to overwhelm your opponents as quickly as possible, but it does develop later into the game (spellcasters, ranged weapons become very effective, warriors on their own (particularly the Cult of the Possessed) become harder to simply overwhelm). Even once you’ve “figured out” how to win encounters, one slip up can still cost you some serious injuries – possibly finishing your warband entirely for that campaign!

    Overall, I’m very very positive about Mordheim. It has some flaws, absolutely, and I think it should have stayed in EA for another month or two but it’s a small developer so I’m not going to blame them for wanting to release when they did to generate extra revenue.

    I’d like to see some more Warband types (and some more variety within the Human Mercenaries – I believe the tabletop game had three main varieties that changed their strengths) and some of the unique Hired Blades from the table-top game (one-off powerful Mercenaries), but these are all things that can be built on what are very solid fundamentals.

    • jomon jim says:

      So, let me get this straight “they become harder to overwhelm”, but that’s still the same tactic right?

      • Sobric says:

        Broadly yes, as in it’s still the “best”, but you have more options so it’s not the “only”.

        To address your point below, I’ve played less than 40 hours across multiple warbands and I don’t think the game requires 100+ hours to get enjoyment out of the game.

        That said, I’d say only buy it if you’re the sort of person who really enjoys all TBS strategy games or love the IP.

        • anHorse says:

          Cheers for your thoughts, sounds like I’ll personally enjoy it even if I do experience the issues the RPS reviewer had

  30. jomon jim says:

    Since most the other reviews out there read like steam store descriptions and always end with “good for the right kind of player” (which I take as – I, the reviewer, am not that kind of player, so I spent as little time as possible with this and it shows in my generalized writing), it’s nice to read something honest about this game for a change. A breath of fresh air to remove the stench of Mordheim is welcome.
    I read a dozen reviews so bland that it seems they spent 1 hour 59 minutes before their steam refund. (Can you do that with a review code?)
    Perhaps Paul didn’t spend the last 127 hours mastering the game and discovering the hidden tactics to be found by hour 92. That would’ve been torture.

    • Hobbes says:

      Well considering that it seems the screenshots indicate that Paul didn’t even make it past Rank 1 warbands, his opinion seems to have been formulated based on surface analysis of the game. People who take the time to actually dig into the game seem to love it, myself included. Funny that.

      As I said, this reads like a hatchet piece, another “Banished” which was another triumph of RockPaperShotgun making a mess of a review.

      • madmario says:

        The banished review had a lot more detail. :) Here, the reviewer kind of pointed at huge systems (there are lots of skills!) but didn’t explore them (there is just swing and hit, no risk reward!). He’s entitled to his opinion, absolutely. I am glad that I am not alone in disagreeing with him.

        • Hobbes says:

          The banished review also made the same mistakes this one did, it did a surface analysis and didn’t actually review the game. It just did a hatchet piece and didn’t bother to explore the game properly. Again, bad review by bad reviewer in that instance. RPS most of the time -does- get things more or less on the mark, but when they mess up, boy do they mess up.

          Banished in particular stands out as one of the hills one of their writers died on, because it became utterly clear that the reviewer failed to spend any real time with the game and the moment people figured this out the review got ripped apart. Mordheim is looking like another triumph in this regard.

  31. Le_Bossu says:

    What a surprisingly uneven and undeservedly negative review. Generally expect (and receive) far better from Paul. Shame to see him overlook the games many charms to focus in such a narrow fashion on AI and tactical weaknesses that are nowhere near as bad as he makes out.

    Yes, the AI can act at times with apparent disinterest to impending doom, or a lack of awareness to opportunities for swift victory through superior numbers, yet it rarely does anything that I can’t put down to a team member cowering in fear or hesitating in panic when faced by a 10 foot tall pestilence ridden Rat-Ogre with steak-knives for teeth. Frankly the number of games with AI significantly more advanced than Mordheim are sadly few. I’m not sure Paul realizes that having the game split between combat and gathering/looting (i.e. the entire concept of Mordheim – fighting over a city you are looting) means that having AI immediately swoop into combat would negate any looting opportunities. The AI sometimes focusing on looting/exploring rather than leaping into the fray does create occassional tactical weaknesses but nothing that warrants the above diatribe.

    The tactical options are similarly berated to excess and beyond. No options for greater reward at greater risk? Every turn you are offered choices as to whether to charge and do big damage or take the more likely, softer strike, to pull back and possibly survive or throw in another attack and trust in your ability to dodge the counter, the more your band grows and develops, the more your choices of how they do so affect this very balance of risk vs reward that lies at the center of combat.

    Yes, Mordheim’s combat is relatively simple, yet no more so than Valykria Chronicles and the tactical choices of placement and timing are arguable far more subtle here than in the latter.

    For me the real appeal of the game is the long develoment of your mercenary band as they develop skills and accrue wounds, at times so many lingering maladies that you’ll be tempted to let one of them die a slow death rather than shelling out for a doctors ministrations.

    Really disappointing assessment that goes far too overboard on some minor flaws and pays down the games real charm. Obviously it wasn’t Paul’s cup of tea but a decent review should be able to ascertain whether a game has potential appeal for people beyond the reviwer themself. Expected a mixed game and found it more enjoyable than I had thought it would be. Expected a far more balanced review and got this.

  32. cpt_freakout says:

    Also want to echo the “I’ve been having a total blast” crowd. The AI is unreliable, but that has a double-edged quality to it since it can be utterly stupid in one battle and then quite OK the next. Never truly ‘good’, in any case, but it does give some surprises every now and then.

    In many ways, this game is just like Blood Bowl – you don’t really play it for the AI-controlled passing Dwarfs and tanking Elves. Everything you do in single-player is basically preparing you for the much better, much more exciting multi-player matches. That’s when the tactics shine, when you realize that position is everything, that every single one of your warband members (who you should build differently) has a role to play in different circumstances, and that zone-control and terrain are of utmost importance.

    Sure, there’s just 4 warbands, but they do play completely different to each other. Keeping with the spirit of Skaven, my warband has terrible morale, but I turned them into good dodgers and critical hitters, so I usually hit and run to live another day. I think other players have hated I do that – but hey, I’m a cowardly little back-stabber, so catch me if you can! Little point in me telling you I really, really can’t do that with my Chaos warband.

    You don’t need a million hours to find the subtleties of the tactics required in a game like Mordheim – you just need to play against other humans. This is, for me, the only thing that’s really missing from the game: an MP campaign. Sign up with some fellow hiveminders and watch our armless, peg-legged bastards give up everything for a few miserable coins. Now that would make Mordheim my tactics game of the year.

    Nevertheless, it’s still a really great game if you approach it like many have approached Blood Bowl: it’s a boardgame in disguise, made to play against others.

    • csbear says:

      “Everything you do in single-player is basically preparing you for the much better, much more exciting multi-player matches.”

      Agree, that’s what GW games (videogames based on their boardgames) are all about in the end. That’s what the Blood Bowls and Mordheims should be reviewed on. Skip the single player campaign review entirely if you have to or just give it a snippet. I have been enjoying it so far, but need a little more play time to develop some final thoughts.

      As someone else mentioned, I care more about my Skaven warband then I ever did with my XCOM team. That’s the big one for me. Probably because that’s a GW thing, where character development is key due to the RPG nature of their games. However, all of this is due to the mechanics of the game rules and maybe not directly related to what Focus did. But I’ll still mention it as a positive here.

      Loading times are REALLY bad (I’m playing from an SSD) and graphically it’s not great. Graphics done using a 3D engine must must have some resources behind it or they just look terrible.

      I wonder if there was some way to make this game 2d-iso, would that have changed some minds of the naysayers? With the 3d animations, sometimes I feel that due to the limited animations it just magnifies the shallow parts of the combat mechanics.

  33. Person of Interest says:

    Thank you to all the commenters who politely explained how their experience diverged from the author’s. I may have been entertained by the original piece, but it’s the comments section that’s informed my opinion of the game.

  34. drenzul says:

    Sorry, but how many games has the author actually played?

    I’m guessing really not very many.

    The game is really quite deep and the tactical choices e.t.c. get much more complex as you get more skills for the characters and set them up for various tactics.

    I’m not saying there aren’t bugs with the game, the AI has it moments of pure stupidity (although the suicide skaven who all leaped off a massive wall to attack me on very low hp and promptly went splat was very amusing), but overall you completly do an injustice to the game.

    Most of the points you raise against this game could be applied to practically any turn-based game.
    In fact you raise Xcom, as far as the ‘just rolling the dice to attack’ and ‘static world’ are concerned, well I’m afraid Mordheim is miles ahead of Xcom in these departments, so your point doesn’t really make sense. The world is certainly more alive than the Xcom missions with more varied surrounding and better manoeuvrability as well as more realistic movements (Yes you CAN climb over that 5′ wall).

    The AI is the main let down in this game.

  35. andromedius says:

    So, one paragraph only about the multiplayer – as it appears it is quite good. I’ll do the same with the rest of this review and dismiss it.

  36. 2lab says:

    I’m quite enjoying my Mordheim time.

    When ever anyone criticises AI in TBS games they tend to miss the fact the the AI is almost always bad. It’s a tricky job to code sane AI for games like this.

  37. zdsdead says:

    “Static combat”?

    Its a god damn turn based game, of course the combats static. Absolute pathetic review, imho, this game has faults, but puts many aaa games to shame. Well worth the money.

    • Game kNight says:

      You sir made me laugh :D

    • anHorse says:

      I think by “static combat” he’s referring to the fact that once a melee starts you have to use a disengage to move again.

      Static’s an awkward way to describe it, especially when the Skaven are designed around using your disengages to avoid getting hit back

  38. anHorse says:

    Been playing this now since comments here convinced me to give it a go

    I have to say there’s stuff in the review that’s totally inconsistent with my experience, the reviewer discusses the game as if combat is the sole purpose of each in counter. The challenge in Mordheim (at least so far) stems not just from the combat but from balancing the other stuff (objectives, looting) alongside the combat.

    Kill em all may be the quickest and easiest way to win but it’s suboptimal in terms of rewards and you’re effectively ignoring the entire conceit of the game.

    Oh and this “These men (there are pretty much no women, unless you choose to play as The Cult of Crazy Women)” is incredibly disingenuous
    There’s one faction of men, one of women, one of rats of indeterminate gender and one of twisted mutations who are similarly of no clear gender

    To imply there’s some massive gender imbalance is one of the worst examples of a writer looking for something to whine about that I’ve ever encountered in an RPS article

    • anHorse says:

      P.S. every faction is pretty crazy, but Sisters are probably the most sane since their “crazy” religion saved them from being hit by the fucking meteor of the Gods

    • Hobbes says:

      This was a bad review written by a bad reviewer. If you want to play Mordheim and enjoy it, you should, because it is a good and fairly accurate depiction of the Mordheim boardgame. It’s probably one of the best Warhammer boardgame recreations as of late (and some of the things that Paul slates as “bad” are in place because THAT IS HOW IT WORKS IN THE BOARD GAME), and as a result when you approach the game with the mindset that you have, as opposed to trying to bury the damn thing, you find it infinitely more pleasurable.

      Also, I have a Skaven Captain who has one arm now, and he beats humans to death with a club. This is a permanent injury that forced me to adapt to circumstances, and is something that more games -need-. At the higher levels it’s these kinds of injuries that really shape your warband as well, the one eyed, peg-legged lunatic with the pair of axes who goes wailing into battle and refuses to do anything but fight to the death suddenly has real character and you become genuinely attached to them.

      Makes me wonder just what Paul was playing.

      • anHorse says:

        Injuries are fun, I like the mechanic a lot. As you said it turned my generic (albeit already slightly customised) group of units into a set of troops who are all my own.
        Couldn’t tell them apart at first but now they’re all unique looking (and playing) characters who I really care about.

        Although the fact that every single one of my sisters is armless or eyeless reflects very poorly on my leadership of them, especially in the first 5 or so battles

      • madmario says:

        “Makes me wonder just what Paul was playing.”

        RPS usually does a great job, but I also felt like this on a number of points made by the reviewer.

      • BB Shockwave says:

        Here is the thing, most people who picked up this game did not do it to play a recreation of an ancient boardgame that barely anyone outside WH fans knows about.
        Me, I came to play it because it was a turn-based fantasy strategy, and we don’t have many of those. And got fooled into buying a game that’s all but unplayable. I rarely abandon games – but now Mordheim can take his place next to Dungeon Siege 1, Might and Magic Heroes VI and King’s Bounty: Warriors of the North as my collection of “lost causes”.

    • magogjack says:

      Yeah, this game has more playable women in it then in most games…..and to call them crazy?!? Its Warhammer is there a sane faction/person in the whole universe?

    • Chiron says:

      FYI: Female Skaven are, according to GW on high, large fat mounds of blubber good only for pumping out legions of babies to ensure the Skaven have a high population and used as trophies

      • klops says:

        “Original Skaven Blood Bowl models had females, which had cheerleaders, which had four breasts each.”

        • drenzul says:

          This is entirely true.

          I don’t know where Chiron got ‘large fat mounds of blubber’ from. Females are certainly second-class citizens/slaves in Skaven society but I’ve never seen anything in the lore (and I was a Skaven player), to suggest the females had a vastly different form to the males.

          • klops says:

            Google “female Skaven” and you find all kinds of interesting information. Also stuff like: “Females are — are docile, barely intelligent creatures who spend much of their lives hidden away in the nest to breed. — far larger than the average Skaven (about 10 foot tall)” (source Skaven army book, 6th ed.).

            I know nothing about the lore. I just giggle at the googled oddities and blurt them out here.

          • Chiron says:

            Going from mentions in the Gotrek and Felix novels and one or two of the Dwarf books (the grudge series? buggered if I remember the name)

            The various wiki’s also back this up
            link to warhammeronline.wikia.com
            while females are docile and barely intelligent (however this may vary). They spend much of their lives hidden away as breeders producing three to five litters a year, 20 or so young per litter. It is rumoured that the pack-masters of Clan Moulder, have breed females who can produce the absurd amount of five-times has many litters.

            link to whfb.lexicanum.com
            Female Skaven are rare and, at most, semi-intelligent but are capable of giving birth to huge litters very frequently. This means that the Skaven are probably the most numerous of all races.1 p6

            link to 1d4chan.org
            In their only mention in the fluff, female Skaven are described as essentially mindless giant sky-scraper sized living wombs covered in lactating breasts that only exist to constantly dribble baby Skaven like a faucet and to eat. In one of the Gotrek & Felix novels, a Skaven is rewarded by his superior by being given permission to mate with one (the implications are mind-boggling).

    • TheTingler says:

      I agree with the review utterly, but I do take issue with this silly comment: “there are pretty much no women, unless you choose to play as The Cult of Crazy Women”

      Translated: “there are pretty much no women, apart from all the women”.

      There’s fighting for equality rights, and then there’s just seeing inequality everywhere even when there’s nothing to see. Sorry Paul, you’ve strayed into the latter. The teams are “Men, Women, Rat-Creatures and Non-gender-specific”. And the Sisters of Sigmar are my preferred team.

      Furthermore they’re no crazier than any of the other sides, genders, or species.

      Please keep fighting for gender equality in games, Paul and RPS, but make sure to pick your battles more carefully.

      • madmario says:

        I felt the comment was silly because the depiction of women is consistent with the license. The game is limited to the license, after all, and I don’t recall that many females outside of the sisters of sigmar in the Mordheim TT either.

      • BB Shockwave says:

        But why are there no female soldiers amongst the possessed, mercenaries or the Skaven? Oh right, because Games Workshop is stuck in the past, making games for 40-something fanboys. Emphasis on BOYS. Show me a female WH fan and I show you a white raven. Hell, the orcs and skaven do not even have females, in-universe! (the skaven possibly have, we just never see them) I find GW’s approach to female miniatures ridiculous. They seem to be stuck on the age-old “boys will not play with girl toys” mentality, that was the reason we had to wait until 2015 from 1986 to get the first G1 Arcee Transformer toy… :D

  39. surgeonufo says:

    I also disagree with the review here. I have been a fan of the warhammer world for a long time (started playing GW games in 1998) and while I no longer have time or inclination for the miniatures game, I did play a little of the tabletop Mordheim on its release. I have always been a fan of the GW skirmish/campaign games, such as Mordheim, Blood Bowl and (my personal favourite) Gorkamorka. I tried playing Mordheim online via a group at roll20 but didn’t play more than a couple weeks. I had been loosely following the EA period of this title but waited until it was released officially to buy it.

    I don’t regret a thing about my purchase. I have already gotten my money’s worth from it and have greatly enjoyed my time in Mordheim. I eagerly anticipate getting home from work so I can load up my Sisters warband and play a couple of matches.

    So far I’ve only played the Sisters though I’ve made warbands for the other factions. At first it did feel a little formulaic but I’ve recently started seriously diverging my heroes and henchmen and getting them some skills. I’ve only played against AI and the difficulty there comes in the divergent goals of collecting loot/wyrdstone while trying to win the fight.

    The biggest issue for me, and the reason I only play a couple games at a time is my own fault. My computer is almost 10 years old. I had to change graphics to low/medium, though honestly graphics matter far less than gameplay to me. The load times however, do absolutely kill me. I usually get a mission loading then go do something else like make food or read a book or use my ipad because they are -that- long. But again, 10 year old computer. With that, I still look forwards to the game.

    I am excited to take a warband out into the world of pvp but from the brief peeks I’ve seen at the pvp screen it appears slow at best. I’ve been looking around for some well organized leagues but there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount. I therefore felt pretty sad when I saw this diatribe was quite sad at the potential for leading to a smaller multiplayer population.

  40. jac8awol says:

    I only registered here to say how far from the truth this review is. Try the game, get hooked, try your best to tear yourself away before sinking 139 hours into it. The only problem I’ve had is large enemy units occasionally getting stuck on the terrain, which keeps them out of action. Apart from that, the brutal difficulty is a refreshing change.

  41. madmario says:

    I find the game much more enjoyable than the reviewer. It has the coarseness of a title by a younger developer working under a constrained budget (of time and money, I believe the whole team is ~20). The UI is unusual and seems to be tailored to something like a steam controller.

    Even so, on the whole, I find the campaign to be a lot of fun. Combats are as hard as you choose–it sounds like the reviewer stuck to easy missions where he wasn’t so spread out at the start. Deadly missions, with the chance of a random demon, and where your warband is scattered, can be very difficult and unforgiving, especially early on. Attracting the unwanted attention of a daemon at the early stages will probably mean a TPK.

    The AI does have some problems in terms of tactical choices and pathing. These are unfortunate, sure. But the AI *will* gang up on you. It will pick on your weakest links. It will counter your attempts to 2-on-1 or 3-on-1.

    On the whole, I find the game a lot of fun. I’ve spent more than 40 hours with it and I’m very happy with my purchase. I feel regularly challenged but I don’t choose the “easy” options when playing.

  42. RegisteredUser says:

    I actually liked that the review was outspoken about feeling tedium. But the most important bit for me was the load times. I stopped playing the otherwise pretty nice Shogun 2 because loading a realtime battle took 30-90 seconds each time, even if it was just 4-5 units fighting.
    To read THREE MINUTES for battle load times makes my head spin.
    Anything past 20 seconds begins to feel tedious, especially considering an SSD can shovel 4GB of new data in that timeframe even with moderate performance(~200mbyte/s) and any sensible engine should hold the core assets in RAM in the first place(if the whole game is under the size of an 8-16gb system RAM PC, what on earth are they constantly loading and unloading anyhow? At worst it can be 2gb video textures, and that again SSD wise is 10 seconds plus 2-3 of processing).

    In short: Minute long load times? What are these people doing!

    • anHorse says:

      Randomly generating all of the gameplay elements of the map and enemies

      Every time

  43. Mannikins says:

    I join the amount of people that have taken the liberty to create an account purely for the sake of warning the easily fooled or otherwise easily swayed people; The reviewer has a very, very personal view on the game, and I – just as personally. – must remark can barely agree with the points – and those points I do agree with fail to bring many things to attention.

    The AI is hardly as clunky as the reviewer states. It was in early stages of the game, but it is hardly so any longer.
    The combat is fluid. There may not yet be “high risk, high reward” options or overly intricate setups for every standoff, but it is by no means dumb. It requires positioning, tactic and planning as any other tactical RPG would, in my experience more than I went through in XCOM.

    The game has an immensely supportive set of developers that greatly improve the experience every patch released, but work tirelessly with half the amount of resources most releases have these days. Does this make the flaws of the game disappear? Hardly. Many things need tuning, specially AI and the occassional stuck glitch every tenth match. But if you by any means think most of the review is being fair to the game, you will be missing out on a great experience; I got far more than my money’s worth, heck, I didn’t even know Mordheim existed and I’ve gobbled lore books out of the wild ride I’ve been having.
    The game is evolving and will continue to do so; And even if it didn’t for the time being, it’s far better than what some of these horribly childish statements bring up. Some of which made me honestly third-party ashamed. Bringing up the Sisters of Sigmar as a negative representative of females in Mordheim was just sort of the cherry on top of that.

    Opinions may be opinions, but just saying, if you are letting reviewers guide your hand, at least try and fly towards something more tangibly believeable, folk.

  44. SpaceHamster06 says:

    Not even sure the guy who reviewed this has actually played the game since the opening first few weeks of Alpha, or, at the very least, attempted to play on any difficulty beyond the easiest. I didn’t agree with anything he has written. And that’s nothing to do with opinion, from a factual stand-point. He’s just straight up wrong on most of it.

  45. BB Shockwave says:

    Ah, I guess this answers my question – there ARE reviews on this site that are not endless gushings of praise of indie “roguelike” (never understood why they call them that, they should call them “player-torture”) games.
    Here is a negative review finally…and it is negative for all the WRONG reasons.
    Sure the AI in Mordheim is bad, but that is the least of the problems with this game that tries to adapt a woefully out of date boardgame too faithfully. Speaking as someone who spent a whole year in 1994 wholeheartedly playing XCOM-Terror from the Deep – I don’t think I would have enjoyed 2012’s XCOM Enemy Unknown and its expansion so much if it would have just done the unimaginative and adapted the old game, time units and warts and all. Games should evolve and change, and Mordheim is a good example of what can kill gameplay because of slavish devotion to the ancient times. But hey, it’s a Warhammer game, and that’s a franchise that now 100% depends on crochety old players.

    Let me go out of my way to say first, that I am an avid Turn-based Strategy gamer. King’s Bounty (new and old), Heroes of Might And Magic, XCOM (new and old), Age of Wonders… they remain my favourites and what I dust off to play again every few years. But – I need to stress this – I am not a fanatic gamer. I have many hobbies, a demanding job, and a lot of overtime. I play for FUN, which is why I stay clear of MMORPGs full of endless grind. I love solving puzzless, be it a tactical battle or a larger strategical approach – I like the euphoria it gives when you see your small army beat a larger ones through sheer tactical positioning and forethought.
    What I do NOT enjoy is playing a game that seems to have a malicious programming seemingly designed to ruin your play, where the random number generator rules and where you cannot even go back and try things again. I do NOT HAVE THE TIME to deal with this.
    Yes, I have to say here – I REGRET buying this game at full price. I usually download everything pirated first to try them, and if they live up to expectation I buy them for real – I have been fooled by marketing before. But Mordheim seemed like a dream come true, basically a fantasy XCOM with interesting game mechanics, nice graphics and good skills and ideas like the free movement system. Even a friend and colleague who reviewed the game gave me a positive review. So I fell for the marketing and bought it. That’s 40 EUR I am never getting back… Because all the reviews, all the youtube gameplay did not mention one, crucial thing that simply killed the game for me: A lack of SAVE/RELOAD.

    It’s one thing to add such an “ironman” function for hardcore fanatics who like to punish themselves, but to remove it completely from the game? I thought at first, well, I will be just careful in battles. I will manage my leaders and heroes carefully. Sure… sounds good on paper. But when you go out on missions where the enemy is ALWAYS stronger than you, innately KNOWS where you are, seeing you through walls, and makes a beeline for you? That’s when it all falls apart. Because nothing is more “fun” than investing ridiculous amounts of money in upgrading skills for 200 gold (when you can hardly scrape together 100 from wyrdstone rewards – wyrdstone you have go out of your way and risk injury to collect, because even on missions where that is the objective, try collecting it while 3-4 enemies rush blindly to attack you)… and then see the unit randomly die or become a one-legged, one-armed, half-retarded paranoid cripple after being hit on the head too hard.
    And then watch as the “veteran players” – no doubt time millionaires who spend their time meticulously painting miniatures – tell me that “this game is about the warband, not the soldiers, just sacrfice them and start a new one”. Let me tell you… that is NOT FUN. To grind endlessly for gold, so that I can upgrade soldiers in order to beat the increasingly more and more hard enemy warbands on the campaign missions… and then shout obscenities at the screen when the gods of random numbers decide my leader has gone on to ratty heaven because he was knocked out and I need to start a new one, from scratch? This game is indeed made for masochists with a lot of time on their hands.
    And don’t anyone come and tell me “you need to use this and that strategy”… I wasn’t born yesterday. I tried to keep my leaders apart from the skirmish. But HOW to do that, when I go into a mission where supposedly, the enemy is “tightly grouped around their cart”, only to find MY warriors scattered in buildings, often locked inside by ONE enemy blocking a door, and find a group of Possessed encircling my leader on the SECOND turn, running out of buildings far-far from their own cart? “Disengage from battles”, they say. “Skaven use hit and run tactics”, they say. Nice, tell me how I can disengage if there is simply “no room” due to the whole “circle of influence” mechanic? Stick to the walls and you will get backed to them with no chance of escape. Stay out in the open, and ALL enemies will run for you and encircle you. And from there on, there is NO strategy in the game. Swing and miss, swing and hit, and pray to the random number gods that you dodge. Except, well, the AI cheats here all the time, too. You will rarely see those “death by snu-snu” Sisters cast spells and get struck by curses, but try it yourself and get decimated.

    Even so, after losing my best hero and getting my leader crippled to uselessness, I clung on. I went to the second campaign mission, because being set difficulty, they are hilariously, EASIER than regular random missions (how stupid is that?) – and… got stuck by a bug. Simply, I need to lower a bomb on a crane, and I did it for 3 cranes – for the fourth, the interaction spot simply doesn’t appear. So… I am supposed to retreat and try again. Possibly losing even more of my veterans in the process.
    Thanks, but no thanks. And this is why I hate steam – if this was a hardcopy, I’d be selling it on Ebay now… But I am stuck with Mordheim now, for good. And it’s all a pity, because scratch the idiotic skill costs, the merciless difficulty, then insane load times (on a brand new power PC I got last summer) and the lack of a proper save function and this could be a good game. And could still be… with modding. But of course, if there is one thing Games Workshop and its almost Chaos-cult-like fanatical followers hate, it’s modding. How dare anyone question the grand GW bible of things! It worked in the eighties it is good now too! These people remind me of the “Trukk not Monkey” Transformers G1 fanatics in the late nineties. Except those simply had to accept times have changed and the franchise evolves – but for Warhammer, the franchise never evolves, and this game is the epitome of it. Reduce skill costs to say, 50-100 gold, add a proper save function for missions, and make it possible to actually accomplish secondary objectives in missions by NOT having the enemy see you the moment the match starts. Make the game FUN. So what if you have to throw out the grand GW Bible? XCOM threw out time units… and for all my love for the old games, it made things BETTER, easier. I am no longer a secondary school student who can play late into the night and all weekends and try again and again. And trust me Mordheim, my age group is gonna be your demographic. Because new kids today? They don’t even know what turn-based strategy is, let alone what Warhammer is. Evolve or fade away, this is the new motto.