Mordheim: City of the Damned is a tactical, turn-based, party game based in the Warhammer universe. The core game is based around sending out your warband to explore the ruins of Mordheim to gather the lucrative resource, wyrdstone. Each warband is made up of the different factions (Skaven, Empire Mercenaries, Sisters of Sigmar, and the Cult of the Possessed; Witch Hunters and Undead are paid DLC) and have an array of different units to use. The units have their own set of perks, weapons and armor they can use, and skills. Building a solid team to succeed is paramount to your warband’s survival. Failure can lead to temporary and permanent injuries that are costly to fix and can have lasting negative effects for the injured unit. The game allows a good deal of customization in the makeup of your warband so you can easily design a team to fit your playstyle.
Combat and actions are all based on your typical dice rolling chance system to determine success or failure. Each unit has so many actions it can do each turn from strategy or offense points. What actions each unit can do is of course based on things like what weapons and abilities they have. When two units start fighting they are locked into combat and can’t move unless they sacrifice strategy and offense points to flee or disengage. This allows you or your enemy to easily move in more units to quickly overcome the other. Complicating the situation though is that each unit has a circle of engagement that stops movement through the area, so one enemy can block a doorway or an alley. This flows into allowing players to set up kill zones where for example one melee unit is holding down an alley while his archer buddies are above raining down death.
There are secondary objectives to each mission but the overall goal is rout the enemy team either by killing them all or enough of them that they fail a morale check. While trying to overcome your enemies though, there’s wyrdstone to be gathered around the map. Wyrdstone is the lifeblood of your warband and you have to walk a fine line between gathering it and keeping your units alive in combat. The wyrdstone itself is volatile though and every time a unit picks some up there is a chance they can receive a buff or debuff. The end result is a hectic battleground filled with hard choices. Many times I’ve had an unfortunate unit get caught out in the open and have to decide whether they are worth saving or not. Overall it can make things stressful but its extremely rewarding gameplay when a well thought out plan works or you overcome a difficult situation. Outside of missions there are wyrdstone shipments that your faction will demand from you to deliver within a set amount of time. The rewards for fulfilling them are gold and reputation that eventually will unlock perks. There are other factions that have shipment requests, but they are just requests and not required. They also have their own reputation and perks though so you have to decide who to supply wisely. If you fail the required shipment, their next demand will be bigger and you’ll have less time to fulfill it. After four failures its game over. At the same time, you have to pay your soldiers and pay for their injuries. Injured soldiers can eventually succumb to their wounds and unpaid soldiers will leave resulting in your warband being disbanded, or in other words, game over.
Each faction has story missions to complete on the campaign map that’s unique to them. There’s also randomly generated secondary missions you can do to your heart’s content. Story missions can get really frustrating with vague mission details and worst of all, infinite enemy reinforcements. When the whole game is based around your decisions having lasting impacts and possibly end the game for that warband, poor design on story missions can quickly kill the fun. In the end, I had a lot more fun with side missions and started to avoid story missions.
There’s also 1v1 multiplayer matches called Skirmishes. Skirmishes come in two types, exhibition and contest. Exhibition is a purely for fun match using one of your single player warbands. There’s no rewards or punishments for the outcome of the match. Contest skirmishes act just like a single player mission in that you have to not only pay the upkeep of your units but they can become injured. You keep the fruits of your labor too though making it a highly competitive match. Only problem is that there is never anyone with a match setup and good luck getting someone to join yours. The matches are only 1v1 too so unless you and a friend enjoy killing each other’s warbands, multiplayer is nonexistent.
My Two Cents
After weighing everything else in, there’s an immense amount of replay value in the game, but sadly only in single player. With each warband having different units and you being able to craft each unit to how you want, it keeps each playthrough varied and fun. There’s also a veteran system that you earn points for the more you play the game. This allows you to have an easier time right off the bat when starting a new warband and gives you something to look forward to. The game gave me exactly what I expected from it, but it doesn’t strike me as a game most people would sit and relax with. It’s a hectic fight for your warband’s life and some of these fights can take quite a while to complete. If you have the time to sit down and think things through, Mordheim fits the bill nicely. For a game that started in early access and delivered on its promises with a plethora of gameplay features, I think Mordheim is worth its $39.99 price tag and your playtime (once again, not a sit-down and play a few minutes kind of game).