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Mordheim: Closely Following the Tabletop Set

Terry OBrien Posted:
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We met with Yves Bordeleau and Vincent Gallopain of Rogue Factor, for a look at some early gameplay footage of their upcoming strategy RPG Mordheim at E3 last week, and the game is looking pretty interesting. Mordheim is based on Games Workshop's tabletop skirmish game of the same name, and the devs have closely followed the tabletop rule set, with a few exceptions, which we will discuss in a moment.

A little background first, Mordheim is a city in the Warhammer Old World, which is Games Workshop's fantasy world. The city is hit by a meteor made of magically-charged stone, which, of course, destroys the city, leaving it in ruins, but also scatters little shards and chunks of the meteor scattered all through the ruins of Mordheim. These pieces of the meteor are now called Wyrdstone, and they are powerfully charged with magic and chaos. While these Wyrdstones are highly sought after, as their magical properties are valuable, they also have a tendency to warp and change everything about them, and usually in very bad ways. Your warband is in Mordheim to collect these bits of Wyrdstone, selling them to the highest bidder.

You begin the game by building your warband, choosing from between four races; human mercenaries, Skaven rat-men, Chaos Possessed, and Sisters of Sigmar. Once you choose your warband's race, you fill out your roster with various troop types, like spellcasters, close combat specialists, ranged units, and various other troop types. Then you purchase gear for the troops at your disposal. Once you think you're ready, you turn your attention to exploring the city.

Mordheim has several varieties of gameplay, the first being a single-player campaign, where the player explores the city fighting various computer-controlled warbands.  There are also two types of multiplayer, a practice mode, where your can fight one-off battles that do NOT affect your warband's ongoing rating, and ranked matches, where you and your opponent fight battles where all the consequences, both good and bad, carry over and effect your ranking. The city maps are both procedurally-generated, reflecting the ever-changing environment, and include some more permanent landmark maps, for structures or landscape features that are more persistent, like The Pit, the crater left by the meteor's impact.

Gameplay works very similar to the tabletop, you and your opponent deploy your warbands and then maneuver your troops around the city attempting to locate your enemies and dispose of them, while trying to gather as much Wyrdstone as you can. Warband members gain experience for kills and finding Wyrdstone, and can gain more skills and abilities as they become more powerful. Likewise, they can also be killed, or, oftentimes worse, badly wounded, and have to carry the effects of those wounds forward from then on. We saw one warrior with a missing eye, making him far less proficient with ranged weapons. The cool bit was that these wounds are portrayed on the character model, so an unlucky band member could end up with a peg-leg, one arm, blind in both eyes, and all of those injuries are visible on the character model.

Some of the changes in gameplay from the tabletop are the ongoing fog-of-war that is present. Unlike a tabletop game, you can only see the areas of the map that are within your troops line of sight, which makes every turn a harrowing experience, as you wait to see if your opponent is going to surprise you with a huge Rat Ogre from behind. Also, instead of the usual back-and-forth turns where each player's whole warband alternate, Focus has introduced a staggered model-by-model system based off your troops initiative, so there is a much more dynamic feel, and a lot less standing around waiting than there is in the tabletop game.

The game is still in its very early stages, but it looks and plays very smoothly, and we are eager to see what else Rogue Factor comes up with in this games development process.


Terry OBrien

Terry OBrien / Terry is a Features Writer at MMORPG.com, and resident Warhammer guru. He is old, he remembers playing Telengard on a Commodore 64 in the early eighties. He wants all you kids and your new-fangled video games off his lawn!