Mordheim: City of the Damned – Review
Follow Genre: Tactical RPG
Developer: Rogue Factor
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Mordheim: City of the Damned – Review

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Good: Challenging gameplay, steep learnin curve
Bad: Noticeable long loads
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Every now and then we see popular tabletop games being made into video games. Mordheim: City of the Damned is the very first adaptation of the 1999 cult classic Mordheim, which is set in the fantasy world of Warhammer. Turning boardgames into a video game has never been an easy task, though we have to admit that Mordheim does lend itself to it. With dice being switched out for RNG, the city of the Damned has finally made its triumphant return.

Mordheim city of the damned title


When a twin tailed comet is sighted above Mordheim, people believe the coming of Sigmar and a new era of prosperity is neigh. Wanting to be part of this foretold golden age, masses flock towards the city with lawlessness rising with Mordheim’s growing population. However, the passing of the comet proves to be a day of judgement as it crashes onto Mordheim and rains down fragments of the Wyrdstones while killing anyone in its proximity. Now, the city of the Damned is but a battlefield for various factions to challenge each-other over ownership of these cursed stones and the golden glory they might bring.


Mordheim’s graphics can be divided into a 2D and a 3D side. The intro, for example, is a 2D animation using drawn art. Though timing isn’t always the best in this, the artwork does look great and brings a special kind of atmosphere before the game has even started. The majority however is in full 3D and while characters and maps might not contain as much layering as those in a lot of triple A games, the details are very well done and add to the grittiness of the title.

Though the artwork in itself certainly gets a thumbs up, the UI is something to get used to. Especially the many tabs and blocks available while trying to figure out what to do with your warband can be a little overwhelming at the very beginning. Luckily this is something that grows on you while playing.

Mordheim storySound

There is actually a lot of voice-work in Mordheim. For example, any page explaining the warband of your choosing or the mission you picked, comes with a full voice-over of the shown text. The voices are rich in tone and accents, though lose some of their strength when narrating a lengthy passage. Especially since these simply pop up as a whole and the slow (but comprehensible) voice-over quickly limbs behind your own silent reading.

The general soundtrack of Mordheim sounds quite generic for the genre. In other words, it helps convey a sense of loom and doom with drums and chanting, though without bringing anything new or unique.


Mordheim: City of the Damned is a dark turn-based strategy RPG adaption of the classic tabletop game Mordheim. In it, you take control of your own warband. This group is part of one of the four playable factions, being the Human Mercenaries, the ratlike Skaven, the Sisters of Sigmar and the Cult of the Possessed. Each group specialises into something else. For example, the Skaven are basically swift rogue types and thus excel in initiative and dodging, while the Sisters wield heavier weaponry and seem to prefer tanky business. Needless to say that the faction you decide to run for will affect your playstyle and general strategy when on the battlefield.

mordheim 1

The title brings a strange kind of mix between tabletop fantasy and modern video games. Mordheim offers a range of characters to recruit into your warband using your well-earned gold. Each group exists out of one leader, a hero and general recruits. The further in the game you get, the more your warband can expand and thus the more people you can add to your little army.

Now, all units of the same class always look exactly the same the moment you hire them, though this is where the game’s magic comes to take a peek: they actually all have different names. That’s right, Mordheim cheekily tricks you into caring for this band of misfits, maybe even into thinking of a suitable background for each and every one of them and altering their looks, knowing that they’ll probably be dead -or at least heavily maimed- just a couple of battles in. Ouch. Survivors luckily get the chance to level and gain skill points and new abilities.

Mordheim’s general gameplay isn’t a simple walk in the park. Whenever starting a mission, there are a lot of things to keep in mind whilst scouring the land. Especially since your main mission – next to staying alive – includes locating and hoarding Wyrdstone fragments for your employer. All assignments on the map give information on difficulty, positioning of the battling warbands and give a grading to the amount of Wyrdstones and gold available. A lot of times you’ll notice the difficulties aren’t exactly following your own idea of what you might be able to tackle. Receiving Hard or even Deadly missions from the start aren’t all that uncommon. The game however gives you the option to pay scouts to look for other promising locations to add to the map.

mordheim 2

Once a map has been chosen, you can manage your hirelings’ statuses before deploying them. Positioning, as is in all tactical games, is of course incredibly important in Mordheim. The game allows you to start a mission with either generated spots for your warband members, or for you to place them according to your own strategy along a set of predetermined locations. It goes without saying that the latter is more advantageous. The AI of the enemies is of the ‘attack on first sight’ variety, so already having a bit of an idea of where they are located or by simply placing your mercenaries relatively close to one another, you might be able to escape getting ganged upon.

As mentioned before, Wyrdstones are very important in this world. Lore wise because they are powerful and well sought after, and gameplay wise because failing to deliver the demanded amount of stones can lead to a premature game over. Wyrdstones are usually found on the ground throughout the city. Of course, these tiny bits of hell are being hunted by every faction in the game and so it becomes an art to either get to them before the others or steal the shards from your enemies unconscious bodies. Though it wouldn’t be Mordheim if even this last bit wasn’t as straightforward as it sounds. The city of the damned is filled with booby-traps and carefully thought out ambush locations by both parties can really make a difference.

Mordheim prides itself in being a tactical game in which a dead soldier means a permanently dead soldier. Yes, there actually is a difference between knocking someone unconscious and actually stabbing the life out of them. But even if a character survives the skirmish, chances are they are returning to camp with either some mental illness or an amputated body part. Except for the illnesses, which can be healed by leaving the affected person out of the warband for a certain amount of ‘days’, injuries are there to stay.

Mordheim city of the damned battle

Battles are turn-based, which means the fastest individuals of both teams get to move first. Every character has a set amount of steps they can take. These steps are visualised by blue rings which are actually pretty generous in size and give you quite some possibilities to do a little recon of your immediate surroundings. The map, which can be toggled on and off using the mouse wheel button, of course also helps a great deal. The attacks themselves however can feel a little rigid. Once you get close enough to attack a rival, you get locked into the position and get ready to pounce. This can turn into an awkward situation in which you actually wanted your soldier to pass the enemy by, yet got too close. The result is that you either have to sacrifice a turn in order to be able to step away, or quickly decide to attack or get ready to dodge, all while taking the possible success rates into account.

Mordheim isn’t all about fighting and scraping the streets of the deadly city for coin to put into the upkeep of your warband, however. A noticeable part of it is unfortunately waiting for maps to load. Now, this is something we all have to live with when playing games that come with big environments. However, most buildings in Mordheim look very similar and yet the loading can take minutes. It’s not enough time to pick up knitting, yet you do think of keeping your needles and a ball of wool close just in case.

mordheim map


Mordheim: City of the Damned is a challenging tactical RPG which mixes classic tabletop thinking with video game graphics and gameplay. It is a hard and by times frustrating game to get into. This due to how easy it is to miss objectives, lose a limb or to go entirely broke. Yet, it is one of those titles to grow on you the better you understand the mechanics. Unfortunately, the long load times do put a damper on the fun.

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  1. […] of the city of Mordheim. For more information be sure to check out our review of the PC version here and the console launch trailer […]

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