Mordheim: City Of The Damned
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Mordheim: City Of The Damned is a video game based on the popular Warhammer Fantasy specialist game called Mordheim that was released in 2014 as an early-access game, and continued to receive updates (unlike most games in the early-access trend) throughout 2015 and into 2016, though it has since been completely abandoned and practically no one is still playing, so have fun getting a multiplayer match.
The storyline is the same as the tabletop: Mordheim was a city in the Empire, as well as one of the primary centers of the Church of Sigmar and contained the bulk of the Sisters of Sigmar, militant nuns dedicated to their god Conan McZeus. A prophesy stated that Sigmar would return to the world in Mordheim, and in the year it was supposed to happen (specifically in the year of 1999, making this a potential alternate universe where Y2K meant something) the city population EXPLODED with travelers. It quickly turned from a standard Empire city (which tend to already be a mix of faithful, Chaos cultists, and redshirts fated to be the skulls on every surface in Games Workshop landscape design) to a den of hedonism and debauchery, with quickly established slums. Daemon sightings were reported towards the end, and the city became a powderkeg where something awful was bound to happen. To make matters worse, the Empire was in a civil war at the time between three claimants to the position of Emperor.
The Augurs of the Sisters received a vision that shit was about to go down on New Years Eve, and rather than joining the assembled celebrants in the city square to wait for their god they hid in the solid rock catacombs beneath their cathedral. When they emerged, they found that Mordheim had been fairly well destroyed, partially by riots, partially by Daemon slaughter, and partially by a HUGE COMET MADE OF WARPSTONE CRASHING INTO THE CITY. They quickly decided that Sigmar had simply found the city wanting and punished it instead.
The Warpstone comet had shattered and its fragments spread throughout the city. These fragments, called Wyrdstones, caused massive corruption to everything around them.
Mordheim itself is a complete mess. The riots must have been interesting because rather than complete swathes of destruction, you have entire buildings reduced only to a charred wooden skeleton while the building next door remains intact (and rather spiffy, being the current nicest house on the block). The streets are covered in paper debris that seemingly came from nowhere, and some homes are almost cozy inside.
Even more telling is the signs of madness everywhere. Carriages that have skinned horses placed on the cab while kneeling corpses of men in bridles are hitched to the front. Fenceposts which have two "knights" made up of corpses dressed up in wooden armor and impaled on a stake, one of which is crowned with a fish, riding a "horse" made up of multiple pieces of dead animals, which are set on opposite sides holding lances as if jousting. Blood everywhere. Random limbs strewn about and hung from banners declaring the city's allegiance to Sigmar or grasping onto masonry and woodwork as if belonging to an otherwise invisible human. Dead men and women with their arms and legs chopped away with a bloody smear indicating they managed to crawl some distance after being rendered a torso before bleeding to death. Bodies hung from windows and roofs, not being clear whether they were strung up before or after death. Some bodies appearing as if they were killed only moments before despite being covered in a layer of undisturbed dust, some bodies stripped to a clean and polished skeleton laying just beside.
Giant glowing blue maggots crawl on any surface in the city in clusters, seemingly having no interest other than their meandering path. Masses of flesh, spiky bone-like protrusions, eyes, and mouths like lazy Gibbering Mouthers (or more Warhammer-appropriate, flattened Chaos Spawn) are found almost everywhere with some granting blessings or curses to those who stray too near, others doing... something (playing, eating?) to human corpses they've picked up, some rearranging the entire landscape such as appearing to grow from the bottom of a well with a psuedopod lifting the top of the well in the air and inspecting it while a jet of infected water shoots from below and tickles their soft bits, and some just not giving any fucks what's going on and watching the bipeds with disinterest as they RIP AND TEAR each other to pieces.
Of course, not everything is completely destroyed. Raven skull-headed men made of stone pour urns in elaborate fountains dedicated to Morr, the roofs of buildings adorned with Sigmar's Twin-tailed Comet rise from the and still look pure when seen at dawn from the roof of a Cathedral, bronze statues to Sigmar hoist their hammers proudly.
Most fights take place either in the Merchants Quarter, the Noble's District, or the Docks while once in a blue moon a battle occurs at one of the Cathedrals of Sigmar or a Bridge.
The video game basically plays like the tabletop. Pick your warband, equip them, train them, pay them, tend to their medical needs. Skirmish in the city going by Initiative.
Movement during a character's turn is based on their allotment of movement and attack points with certain actions taking one or more of those. Each character can move a certain distance based on things like how heavy their armor is, allowing you to wander freely although you can retrace your steps to take a different route using your movement points. You can't redo your steps if you set off an environmental effect (usually walking on or by one of the Chaos growth things) or a waiting foe sees and charges you. You can perform movement actions like climbing or jumping on/off things although there is a chance of failure in which the character is unsuccessful (jumping across gaps or climbing) or takes damage if they fail. Some actions, like praying using a Rosary or shouting encouragement to a teammate also take movement points.
A large chunk of any skirmish is between gathering Wyrdstone, looting dead bodies and other sources of goods like chests and piles of rubble, and getting into position for combat. At the end of each turn characters unless they overexert themselves characters can select if they are going to go into an Ambush stance (they'll rush and made an immediate attack on the first thing they see), a Dodge stance, or a Parry stance (if they have a Shield equipped). Characters with ranged weapons can use Overwatch, which is Ambush except for using Dakka rather than WAAAGHing.
In combat, characters take turns bashing each other, with some having special abilities like an extra hard smash or a debuff attack. Sometimes characters can make a counter-attack. Characters can enter dodge or parry chances to mitigate damage; parry lets you gain counter-attack chances, but some units bypass parry entirely and so dodge becomes more useful here - good luck stopping that Chaos Spawn's arm when it's the width of a tree trunk and has a Chaos-scrambled brain guiding it, you puny human. Spellcasters cast spells. Pretty straightforward.
When characters are outnumbered, they have to pass an All Alone check based on their Leadership. If they fail, they will attempt to flee and earn a free attack from everything they're in combat with until they dart in the opposite direction as controlled by the AI, attempting usually to hide in a building (although smart players can set up an ambush character nearby who will charge them and give them a whap the second they start to run). Characters who fail their All Alone but are engaged in combat from all sides and don't have a place to flee to simply lose their turn.
The map is lost or won when one team Routs, based on having their warriors put out of commission. There are other secondary objectives per game as well, which can be as complicated as taking tokens off dead enemies or taking the idol in their cart, or just getting a set amount of wyrdstone. You really should go for these seeing as they gift 3 extra XP for every unit, when just completing the mission alone nets 2XP.
When the battle ends, the results screen will say which characters advanced. More importantly, will say who among those who were knocked the fuck out managed to make it back and with or without their gear, and whether they simply dropped dead upon returning home or if they suffered some kind of injury. Sometimes a redshirt who was gored to death by a Chaos Spawn in the skirmish can even make it back with all their gear, completely unhurt and having only gained experience points from the process.
Permanent injuries show up on a character, and can be anything from a cracked skull giving them permanent Stupidity, a lost limb, a lost eye, and so on. While it may look absolutely badass for you to have a Sister Superior with a peg-leg, a missing eye, and a permanent crazy fucking look on her face while she swings around a giant mace, the longterm injuries are usually debilitating and unless you're really attached to a warrior (or not expecting them to survive much longer) you may want to consider replacing them with a new recruit unless they are so experienced you can't bring yourself to let them go. Or keep them in emergency reserve, maybe bring them a heretic home to bludgeon to death afterwards if they sweep while you're gone.
A story mode exists in the game, although it's fairly bare-bones and just gives you the basics of who your faction basically is. During those, you can get access to a "Dramatic Personae" which is a named hero character. Players of Mordheim will recognize favorites like Bertha Bestraufrung when they get access to these special characters (who unless you REALLY fuck up can almost solo most maps by themselves).
Most characters have a lot of customization options for their appearance, with more on the way.
Multiple factions converged on Mordheim, every single one looking to secure the Wyrdstone for themselves.
Sisters of Sigmar
The Sisters of Sigmar hunt for them in the interest of securing the damned corruption-causers within The Rock, their fortress vault that lies in the middle of the river south of the city. Most came from nobility, sent to bring honor to the family within aristocratic society. They want to see the city cleansed and restored to its former glory, although they've been labeled as witches and possibly the cause of the destruction by the more fanatical members of their faith. They lack ranged attacks, diverse magic, or a heavy option but are the most disciplined fighters and are the most durable force. They also have easy access to buffing and healing magic. Sisters of Sigmar are highly limited in weapon selections, only able to use one and two hand maces, one and two hand flails, Sigmarite Warhammers, and Daggers.
Pros: Robust defences thanks to high HP, widespread access to heavy armour and good parry. Very strong support magic. High Leadership and martial stats. The Maiden of Sigmar is less impractical than other Impressives.
Cons: Absolutely NO shooting. Limited mobility and tactical flexibility. Quite weak damage in melee. Poor weapon selection.
- Novice: The first of the two Henchmen options of the Sisters of Sigmar, and represent those who have just been accepted into the church as a Handmaiden of Sigmar after receiving years of instruction and study. Come stock with a Shield and a Mace, and can equip up to Heavy Armor. They have modest stats, but at higher levels can equal the fresh recruit Heroes of other factions. It's been noted by players that their character models resemble Shelley Duvall with freckles.
- Sister: The other Henchmen option. They are the Novices who have graduated into being Sisters proper (obviously). They come standard dual-wielding one-handed weapons. Their primary difference is a higher maximum level of Agility and Accuracy, although this is only important if you plan on having your characters ultra-specialized or reach high levels (the former is viable, the latter is assuming a lot of investment and luck). Unlike the youthful face of the Novice, the Sisters have a look of gritted determination.
- Augur: The first Hero option, although only unlocked for recruitment after your Warband gets a few levels. They were blessed with extraordinary supernatural senses by Sigmar, even visions, and blinded themselves to better tap into that in addition to shaving their heads other than a single very long braid. Augurs can't equip armor, and are stuck with basic Cloth. On top of that, they have a low maximum Toughness, so Augurs are fairly made of glass. They aren't exceedingly powerful either, same weapon options as the other Sisters of Sigmar options and the only combat stat they have a higher maximum in is Agility. They have a massively high potential Alertness. The main strength of an Augur is they can use the Perception ability free (you can't use it if you don't have any movement points left even though it doesn't use any) and it is at a 99% chance to succeed. On top of that they get a fair amount of movement points, and without armor they can move quite a distance for each one. This makes the Augur your scout across the map (although why something as valuable sounding as an Augur is just a scout is a good question). Of interest is the cosmetic customization option that makes their blindfold into Purity Seals. Augur faces are basically just bald blind Sisters.
- Sister Superior: The second closest option to a heavy that Sisters of Sigmar get for normal missions. Sister Superiors are the highest ranked Sisters, who are experienced in the art of combat and keep discipline among the lower ranks. They have a high maximum in all categories other than Agility, which is average. They have a nifty ability called For Sigmar! which increases the distance each point of movement their target can move for three turns, letting the Sister Superior hustle your footplodding Henchmen if your Augur or Bertha get in trouble. They fittingly resemble Sisters who have a decade of experience.
- Sigmar's Purifier: Sister Superiors who's devotion pushes them to instinctively call on Sigmar's patron Wind of Magic, Light. They have weak spellcasting ability and their combat stat maximums are all higher in addition to Leadership compared to a Superior. They come with Comet of Sigmar default, a targeted fireball attack (which is your ONLY ranged attack). Best to invest in a Rosary to have them use at the start of each skirmish, at it increases their chance to successfully cast a spell (if you haven't learned from Warhammer Fantasy, miscasts SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK). Unfortunately Purifiers are an awkward jack of all trades, when you'd usually only want either a Superior or a Matriarch. Purifiers look like the midpoint in age between a Sister and a Superior.
- Maiden of Sigmar: A sister who is zealous and devoted enough to get Sigmar's personal blessing. As the Sisters' impressive-type unit, she is essentially a jacked-up Superior with high stats and maximums across the board (but particularly Strength, Intelligence and Weapon Skill), does not get tired from dual-wielding or two-handing and starts with high ranged resistance and Sinful Speech spell to shut up those magic users. Automatically passes most of mental rolls, at the cost of not being able to voluntary disengage or flee. Not as good as other Impressive units on the one-vs-one basis, her main use is to deal as much damage as possible at once while being supported by fellow sisters. However unlike the other Impressives, she isn't fuckhueg, so she can at least fit through doors and go into buildings.
- Sigmarite Matriarch: The large matronly woman in charge of each branch of the Sisters of Sigmar, who answer to the High Matriarch, Bertha. In most cases the Matriarch will be the Leader of your Sisters of Sigmar Warband. They have slightly below average max Agility, but the rest of their stats have much higher maximums especially Leadership, Toughness, and Weapon Skill (which since it influences Parry means you'll almost always want a Matriarch equipped with a Shield). Matriarchs are stronger spellcasters than Purifiers but are also more expensive, and come with Sigmar's Might default which increases damage as well as chances for a critical hit for all friendlies in a bubble around her with a low chance of failure.
- Bertha Bestraufrung: The Head Matriarch as well as Abedissa of The Rock, and leader of the Sisters of Sigmar. The direct heir of Sigmar's line, with an iron-clad will that makes her immune to the strongest lures of Chaos (although not the debilitating effects), who commands and intimidates all around her depending on their affiliation with the Sisters. Clad entirely in Gromril armor, Bertha is the strongest the Sisters can bring. Although she's not immune to being whittled away through trickery or ambushes, Bertha is strong enough to knock Skaven out with one blow, any Daemon with three. She gains special abilities in each mission you can bring her and is available for every storymode mission. Keep your girls alongside Bertha, and you'll plow through anything with ease.
The Mercenaries are the men of Reikland. They support Grand Prince Siegfried for the position of Emperor, and came to Mordheim to loot the city for either his cause or their own wallets. They want the Wyrdstone to sell to eccentric nobles (both Chaos worshiping and just plain fucking stupid) in other regions of the Empire. They're the jack of all trades group, having access to a bunch of versatile heroes who can do quite well with just about any skill build, a Warlock who starts out a bit weak but with patience eventually becomes a very good crowd control wizard with some nifty offensive spells too, a motherfucking Ogre Mercenary, and access to the most ranged weapons of any warband. Your Dramatic Personae character is Luther Wolfenbaum, who players of the tabletop game will remember as the grizzled merc guy in the book who pops up on some pages to give you tips - he's quite hardcore as a unit too.
Pros: THE gun faction - all your guys can use ranged weapons, and Marksmen are the best non-Hero ranged unit in the game (and they can take Lad's Got Talent). Vast and varied weapon list. Decent Leadership and morale. The most straightforward warband to start with if you're just starting out.
Cons: Kinda lackluster all-round stats. Being versatile means not quite excelling in any regard. The Ogre is stronk but really slow on the move. Not a lot of flash compared to the other warbands.
- Warrior: Just your garden variety Imperial grunt, men like him are a dime a dozen in the Empire and they die against all kinds of supernatural adversity every day. Starts out with a mace and a hammer (though you'll want to swap that out ASAP) and you'll probably want to fill two or even all three of your initial henchmen slots with these guys.
- Marksman: These are your ranged henchmen. They can take all manner of bows, crossbows and firearms for ranged support, and they can be passable in melee too if you spec them right. Keep in mind they suffer the same issues as snipers in XCOM - they'll need a lot of close babysitting before they come into their own. Don't take more than one at the start and keep him out of harm's way, preferably by the Captain. If you can level one up and give him a long rifle, you're golden.
- Youngblood: The first of three hero units, available right from the get-go. If you take him as a scout, be careful because he bruises easily. You may want to have him as a backup for your one Marksman.
- Warlock: Your magic hero, who you unlock second. You know what I said about snipers in XCOM earlier? This guy is even worse for it. He's so fragile he's practically made of fine china, and his starting spell sucks. Help him out by giving him a bow, so he can get a few kills here an there, rack up experience and unlock his better ones. If you can't be arsed with levelling one up, just save for a Hired Sword. On to the spells: The lightning strike spell is by far his best one, so make sure you master it first. Armour of Lead is great against those annoying Skaven to stop them running around and making sure they stand still and take their hits like good little rats. Beyond that, your choice of Fireball or Curse of Rust; both are situationally useful, perhaps the latter if you plan on taking Marksmen (because the synergy is good) and the former if you don't. Dispel is not a big deal unless you plan on doing a lot of PVP against Sisters players. Dread of Aramar is a trap, it looks good from the description but it affects your own guys, it requires you to be in touching distance and it's situational, just stay away.
- Champion: Your third and final hero. He's just a particularly big and beefy Warrior. He makes for a great melee resist tank, because his resistance goes up every time he lands a hit on an enemy. He has decent leadership too, so with a pendant you can throw him into a multi-melee without many problems later on.
- Captain: Your "gets shit done" leader unit from the start. Best to deck him out with a shield and some heavy armour and some appropriate skills like Web of Steel and Shield Specialist and make him as tanky as possible (if you do that watch out for Possessed and Chaos Spawn, things that can punch through his parry), though you can also do something crazy like making him a pistol-toting hardass or something because he's so versatile. Really, let your imagination run wild.
- Ogre Mercenary: Wayhey, your big guy! This guy is awesome. Slow as molasses, but fuck he can be hard to kill because you can kit him out in light armour and helmet. You can also give him a sword too, which lets him parry with Web of Steel.
The Skaven came to the city seeking the Wyrdstone because... well, it's fucking Warpstone. Skaven culture revolves around using it for everything from currency to ammunition to a flavorful spice to sprinkle on your lunch (probably a living human baby). Clan Eshin, as the spies and assassins of the Skaven race, arrived to Mordheim before any others and work both to keep other Skaven away from the city and to steal the Wyrdstone to increase their own power within Skaven society. Also, a chance to kill-kill a manthing is always a plus. Skaven have the best mobility of all the warbands - good at dodging, climbing and leaping and can move like no other. They also have access to a plethora of poison weapons and special racial skills to help inflict more, but you need to make sure your fragile furry fighters don't bite off more than they can chew because they are made of paper. You will learn to fear these guys when the AI has them because the computer's fuckery with rolls negates their squishiness and leaves them basically as an OP master of all warband. Their big weakness though is their absolutely shitty morale and Leadership, meaning you need to actually keep the upperhand or your minions will run, and enemies with Fear or Terror will really mess with them. Forces are as follows:
Pros: Very mobile. Dishes out poison with unique weapons and skills. Good at both melee and shooting, with some nice magic too.
Cons: Crap leadership stats and low morale. Exceedingly fragile with limited access to armour. Rat Ogre is Stupid.
- Verminkin: The bulk of the Skaven population, forming most of a clan's workers and warriors are these runty things. These are the closest the Skaven have for a ranged henchman. Inferior in every respect to the Warpguard except for ballistic skill and only able to use the quite mediocre shuriken, don't go crazy for these. You can maybe bring one along with shuriken and the Skaven's poison weapon skills to help supplement damage from behind the safety of the Warpguard line, or give him a dagger and use him to bump into enemy ambushes so your heroes don't have to. Hey, it's what these rats are for: dying in the place of more badass ratmen.
- Warpguard: Warpguard are heavy Skaven troops trained and use to guard wyrdstone stockpiles. These are your boring but practical, bread and butter troops. Give them heavy armour and a helmet with either a halberd or a spear and shield combo for discount Stormvermin and a much-needed "line" infantry to get in front and soak up that damage. He's also immune to Warp effects from wyrdstone, which is useful given some of the debuffs you can get can be rather crippling.
- Black Skaven: You know what a Black Orc is to a greenskin? Yeah. Black Skaven are bigger, stockier and meaner and usually kick the runts around. This is the bruiser ratman hero with good stats all round. Feel free to go your own way with this one, as you can throw basically any skillset on him and he'll probably be good, and his inherent bonus against armour is a nice touch.
- Night Runner: The Skaven's ranged hero, who probably will be your warband's gets shit done MVP. Want to be a really nasty fucker? Give him warplock pistols with Quick Reload, use Crippling or Pinning Shot in conjunction with the Skaven poison skills. With all mastered skills you can knock off a whopping 8 offence or strategy points from a unit. Your enemy's Impressive won't be if he keeps getting shut down turn after turn unable to do meaningfully contribute to the fight in any way beyond standing there and slowly dying. Just remember that the poison-immune Undead will laugh at him trying to do this. Also quite viable with dodgetank or melee/ranged critfiend builds if you want to go that route, but the Black Skaven would probably be better for that.
- Eshin Sorcerer: Your Skaven spellcaster. Right out of the box he has Guidance which negates the Stupidity check the Rat Ogre or anyone else with the trait has to make, but this means he straddles a fine line: he can't be too far away or he can't use the ability, and he can't get too close to the action because he's likely to get walloped. Also make sure he has higher initiative than the Rat Ogre he supports so he can go first and actually use the ability. His spells range from "decent sometimes" to "brilliant": Sorcerer's Curse is simply superb and I'd recommend you take this on all your Sorcs; Enshrouding Mist and Warp Mist are decent for making sure a poison using Night Runner can apply his poisons and add to that damage; Bless with Filth is a late-game spell for Rat Ogres and other bruisers but less useful early on when your guys can only attack once a turn; Musk of Courage gives immunity to All Alone, might rescue one or two rats sometimes but there's nothing crazy here; Gaze of the Horned Rat can be good in big brawls but at the risk of exposing the Sorcerer to danger; and Warp Lighting is just a fun magic blunderbuss for those moments when you want to show off your UNLIMITED POWAH rather than a reliable source of damage.
- Rat Ogre: Practically a poster boy for hidden costs awareness. The Rat Ogre is very formidable on paper, super-hard to kill and can actually keep pace with your very fast regular units, but he comes with Stupidity by default - he has to roll an Intelligence check (and his maximum, 10, is almost as low as it gets) every turn when he's not in combat in order to do anything, and failing can basically lead to him standing in the open picking his nose while snipers riddle him with arrows and bullets. You need to keep an Eshin Sorcerer handy here.
- Assassin Adept: Basically your jack of all traits melee leader, capable with just about any build. Kind of a facewrecker with the trademark Weeping Blades and stacking Skaven poison, but keep in mind he's made of paper compared to every other leader.
CHAOS UP IN THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE. The Cult of the Possessed are the Chaos cultists of Mordheim. They believe a Chaos God has come to their city, and
kahptoor gather the Wyrdstone to the site of a possible rift into the Warp called the Pit, where they chuck it in to try and get the favour of whatever abominable thing lives in it. Sometimes they chuck people in too. The Cult also took in all the mutants, who are cursed and destroyed by all other factions, and gave them a newfound sense of purpose in their horrible fate. They strike the balance between Skaven and Mercenaries, with a decent heavy (Chaos Spawn), good access to magic, but aren't very durable or heavily armoured and lack the evasiveness of Skaven... Listen, let me tell you what the fuck to do with Chaos, focus mutants, just do it. You get fucked by RNG enough in the game already so another source of hurt is hardly felt. You are the forces of Chaos, so just roll with your RNG; you can even alter it with some of the magic you get, and another tier of RNG with mutants for a few of the classes.
Pros: Brutal in melee combat. Powerful mutations and racial skills. Darksouls are insanely good henchmen. Many of their units ignore parry.
Cons: Fragile spellcaster leader who need nursing early. Limited shooting. Random mutations can easily screw up skill builds. Kinda need things to go just as planned early on.
- Brethren: Your basic Chaos peon guys, ready to break others or themselves in the name of their dark gods. Don't expect much for them, just equip them with bows and spears and never upgrade them out of their henchman status. They are strictly shit tier and are only good as extra meat you can tell to die somewhere. I guess if they survive long enough they can make a good ambusher with the spear and shield combo or just acrobat your ass to a good vantage point and constantly shoot with the bow. Remember these guys are very rarely ever worth throwing more troops at to rescue from losing fights.
- Darksoul: When a mortal man takes a daemon into themselves, they become a Possessed. This doesn't always stick though and when the daemon leaves for whatever reason, they leave the mortal a permanently scarred and insane Darksoul. These motherfuckers are, in this writer's honest opinion, the best damn henchmen in the game. They have the potential to get very durable and START OUT being immune to All Alone,Fear and Terror. 3 of these shit stains can seriously hamper the enemy. Here's some cool things you can do with Darksouls:
- 1) Get all the parrying upgrades, put on a shield, sword, helmet and heavy armour and laugh as your HENCHMAN distracts their CHAMPION for 2 turns AT LEAST by THEMSELVES. Add more for more hilarity (and All Alone checks).
- 2) Equip them with a two handed weapon and send them out just hunt down and kill stragglers or set up ambushes, be sure to purchase the skills that compliment their preferred weapon!
- 3) Equip an axe in one hand and a dagger in the other and just go all 'zerker on your enemies. Remember, they dont give a shit, why should you?
- 4) Mace and shield and set up ambushes in buildings, specialize for stunning and laugh as your opponent cries about stunning being too OP.
- 5) OR do some unholy combo of any of these.
There's only one thing the Darksouls don't do well, and that's ranged combat. By which they don't do it at all. But that's what your Mutant archers and Brethren are for.
- Mutant: Mutants are people whose bodies are warped by Chaos and cast out of all civilised societies in the Old World. Except the Cult of the Possessed who see their body horror as a sign of favour from the dark gods. These guys are the Cult's bread and fucking butter, and for those wanting a more fluff based approach, look no further. Mutants will fuck shit up. You can equip them with pretty much every thing Chaos has access to, and the Mutations are lethal when combined with the appropriate skills. Want an archer hero? Hold off on improving archery too much in case RNG; if you get a torso mutation, it doesn't matter too much; faceless is useful as shit; clawed feet are absolutely brilliant and what you want. Climb atop the biggest and hardest building or scrap of debris you can find and just rain arrows down on enemies as they desperately try to climb up after you. Alternatively, mutate two faces and a right sword arm and become a parrying GOD - maybe flanked by a couple of your 'give no shits' dark souls with their swords and shields. Really play to the mutations, you won't regret it.
- Marauder: Wild and warlike men from the far north who openly worship the dark gods and come south to seek employment and loot as mercenaries. Basically Mutants with a focus on charging in and doing a lot of RIP AND TEAR. Again play to the mutations, but with a melee charge angle. Remember though that he can't wear heavy armour and Last Stand is a mixed blessing, because sometimes you really want to disengage and if your Marauder's charge misses or gets dodged or parried then he may be in trouble a bit.
- Possessed: The ultimate blasphemy, a mortal man who has taken a Chaos daemon inside of him, twisting him in mind, body and soul. Widely considered to be the most worthless hero in the game, this guy is a glass hammer in a way you wouldn't believe. He does hit like a train with the right mutations and skills, and his armbands mean he can bypass parrytanks, but until then you have a hero who has mediocre melee damage and no effective damage mitigation - he can't dodge, parry or wear any armour better than a ragged pair of cloth pants. Plus he has Tiring so tack on an extra offence point cost to subsequent attacks. Stick with Mutants.
- Chaos Spawn: NO! please! noaaraghagrhaghgagh!... ahem.../tg/'s jokes aside, basically a Rat Ogre who gets mutations, doesn't have Stupid and does have Terror (the only non-Undead unit in the game to get it) meaning he's so pants-wettingly terrifying to fight in melee that everyone who fails a Leadership check loses 3 offence and strategy points right off the bat on their turn. Plus he has Overwhelm so he can RIP AND TEAR parrytanks who'd otherwise give you a headache. Very, very good.
- Magister: Any Cult warband is centred on the Magister, a devotee of the Shadowlord that dwells in the Pit, bringing him wyrdstone and human sacrifice in the hope of gaining his favour. This guy is a tough deal early on, as he's a fragile caster at a time when your Mutants are... well, not mutated yet, and the leaders and heroes should be doing the heavy lifting. Later on though he's superb, able to use spells like Chains of Chaos, Curse of Chaos and Visions of Torment to shut down enemy heroes, leaders and Impressive while your own do their work. Weapons of Destruction is a bread and butter spell for making your Mutants, Marauders and Darksouls even more killy. As with most casters you can give him a bow early on to help keep him alive but the Magister's unique ability does require him to be in the action to use.
A small posse of Witch Hunters decided to go on a field trip to Mordheim by the suggestion of the Grand Theogonist. Picked up some flagellants and zealots on the way there, the more the merrier. Impressive unit comes in the form of an Executioner, a big guy with a big axe and an unhealthy relationship with fire. Flagellents with two-handed weapons are just nasty, able to beat down your own henchmen in two hits. Basically the Witch Hunters overall play like a halfway-house of the Mercenaries and the Sisters, keeping the latter's martial prowess and discipline while swapping their spellcasting potential and sheer durability for some of the former's shooting skills and a lot more hitting power in melee.
Pros: Very versatile. Warrior Priest gives unparalleled access to in-battle healing. Can be very strong in melee.
Cons: No specialised ranged fighter. Magic is rather poor and strictly supportive in nature. Zealots are quite poor "master of none" henchmen.
- Flagellants: Flagellants are deranged men convinced the End Times are upon the Empire and want to die gloriously trying to save the world. Unable to take ranged weapons, armour or the Lad's Got Talent skill, they are nevertheless hard-hitting and immune to psychology checks, perfect for picking apart Impressives or clubbing other henchmen.
- Zealots: Chaos wreaks a terrible cost on the people on the Empire, but not everyone takes it lying down. Zealots comes from all walks of life and often have lost homes and/or loved ones to Chaos, so they have pledged to follow Witch Hunters and help them destroy Chaos' agents wherever they can be found. What they lack in martial training they make up for in bitterness and rage. With average stats, a varied list of weapons and access to all armour except heavy, you should feel free to train your Zealots as archers or frontline fighters to backup your heroes. Just don't rely on them to do too much on their own.
- Witch Hunter: Just as famous for their courage and resourcefulness as they are infamous for their ruthlessness and merciless justice, the Witch Hunters usually operate alone but the sheer scope of Mordheim's corruption has forced them to band together under Witch Hunter Captains. Basically a mini version of the aforementioned Captain, able to use the same weapon list with a 10% bonus against resisting spells.
- Warrior Priest: You know 'em, you love 'em. The balding, hammer-swinging chosen asskickers of Sigmar. While their weapon list is kinda limited, they get a lot of good support spells including one of the most useful healing spells in the whole game (restores 40 wounds normally, a whopping 80 wounds when mastered) giving a Witch Hunter warband a lot of mileage.
- Templar Knight: Some young and impetuous noble sons in the Empire try to quickly garner a reputation and fortune by pledging their services in combat to the churches of mankind's gods. They can equip many different weapons and armour, get Last Stand and Fearless and Stoic which increases their damage resistance when engaged by multiple enemies. Clearly, you'll want to kit him out as a tank.
- Witch Hunter Captain: The leader of any Witch Hunter warband, bearing a sanction from the Grand Theogonist himself. They have very good all-rounder stats, the abiility to equip a lot of different melee weapons, crossbows and guns, and a 20% bonus to protect against all spells. Very nice. Build his damage mitigation around dodge to take advantage of his special skill.
- Executioner: Nothing more than a giant of a man with a large weapon, a hood to conceal his identity and a burning pyre on his back, the Executioner often enacts the brutal justice the Witch Hunters are known for. Not quite as powerful in a fight as other Impressives, they are nonetheless still a threat and they can lay down a burning effigy to inspire their surrounding allies. They also get a rather healthy list of weapons and armour to take too.
Vlad Von Carstein presides over the haunted land of Sylvania from a throne of obsidian in Castle Drakenhof, plotting to overthrow the Emperor and tear down the realm of men in what would come to be known as the First Vampire War, his famous assault on the Empire that first made the vampires a threat in the eyes of the common man. To help him raise every dead body from the Averland border to the feet of the World's Edge Mountains in a feat of necromancy not seen since Nagash himself once walked the world, he sent some of his boys to gather green goodies and bring it back to Sylvania for him. Same units as on the tabletop, aside from dogs being replaced with a mini vampire hero. Their impressive is a Crypt Horror. A mechanically unusual faction with many glaring weaknesses but many unique strenghs too.
Pros: Vampire is a combat monster with VERY good stats. Widespread immunity to poison and psychology. Terror and Fear debuffs.
Cons: Henchmen can't use armour or consumables. Very limited shooting. Reliant on spells.
- Zombie: The lowliest form of undead created through necromancy, once perhaps a defiant enemy warrior in life, now in death only a mindless flesh puppet. Immune to All Alone, Fear, and Terror. Immunity To Poison. Don't get injuries like other warriors but more likely to permanently "die" when they fall in battle. Can't buy the 'Lad' s Got Talent' Skill. Being killed doesn't hurt Warband Morale. Can't use Consumables in Combat. Very slow, no ranged weapons or armour and limited to one-handed weapons. You use them to bog down enemies as expendables while your real killers go to town on the poor sods, or alternatively have a pack of them roaming around like a big, stinky circus with two Necromancers spamming Call of Vanhel behind them in a nice, bitey ball of (un)death.
- Ghoul: Vlad's own Ghouls rather than a Strigoi version, and as a result is at least civilized enough to wear a loincloth and use weapons even if they still have the poisoned nails of general Ghouls. Vlad's Ghouls have origins in survivors of the Warhammer Black Death. Can't use armor other than Cloth, but gets a Great Axe and a Great Hammer unlike the Zombies. Always fights to the death, can't Flee or Retreat and is Immune to All Alone, Fear, and Terror. Can't use consumables in Combat, immune to Death Stench. Far better stats than Zombies, but if they die you'll have Morale losses. If using them, you need to make fights count and have their back with your heavy hitters.
- Dreg: Surviving civilians of Mordheim, shunned or outright killed by all other factions. The Vampires protect them so long as they perform the duties only the living can perform (and do so far more reliably than Ghouls). Left pretty fucked up bt the comet fall, they have hunchbacks and various facial scars and aren't exactly sane. Your basic Igor/Quasimodo-looking motherfucker and your starting bow hero. Has access to all the standard gear, is immune to Death Stench. Has Humble Servant, giving 25 HP of its own to heal a Vampire or Vampire Thrall nearby for 15 and boosting their Initiative and Dodge. Boost your Vampire where necessary then get out of the way and shoot to support him. Consider carrying some healing poultices to use it a fair amount.
- Vampire Thrall: Thralls are made by Vampires when they completely subdue a human with their charms and suck them dry. Not quite as powerful as fully-powered vampires but still very high stats nonetheless. Immune to Fear, Terror, All Alone and poison, Thralls shine in just about any melee build where they can take advantage of their Fear aura.
- Necromancer: A common sight in Sylvania (where they are far from the eyes of the Empire and free to pursue their dark studies) and often employed by the von Carsteins, Necromancer magic is focused on two things: the destruction of life, and the usurpation of death. Immune to Death Stench, starts with a staff and able to use just about anything the Undead can use. The Necromancer is slightly more of a damage dealer than the Warlock but he has some support spells too: Call of Vanhel really helps get those slow Zombies into the fray quickly and helps them survive more, and Idol of Death ensures everyone around fail those Fear and Terror aura checks from your vampire heavies.
- Vampire: A Sylvanian Vampire, part of the Von Carstein Bloodline even if they have different surnames. Ridiculously high stats, able to equip just about anything other than ranged weapons, with the limits being Bows, Longbows, and Short Bows. Ignores All Alone, Fear, and Terror and as an Undead has Immunity To Poison. On top of that they have Terror - having a Terror unit right off the bat is a huge deal because most enemy units will have abysmal leadership and only enough offence and strategy points to attack once. Your enemy's troops won't be the only ones shitting themselves when this magnificent bastard decides to get involved in a melee, but if he goes down then you're in real trouble because he's the guy holding the warband together and contributing most of the morale and fighting power. Because he's very strong and much faster than his retinue, you may want him to break off and act in a lone-wolf fashion, grabbing wyrdstone or picking off isolated units, so build him as a scout or as an armour proficient tank.
- Crypt Horror: When a ghoul manages to taste the blood of a vampire, they rapidly grow in size and strength into the fearsome Crypt Horror. The sight of one gnawing on old bones while perched upon a tombstone has sent many a mortal screaming into the night. With Terror, Death Stench immunity and incredible strength, agility and weapon skill stats, the Crypt Horror is meant for one thing: massive damage dealing, especially on the charge.
The Daemons of the city are not playable. They simply rampage through the ruins, killing anyone they meet regardless of affiliation. A Bloodletter is as quick to eat the heart of a Skaven as he is a human, Plaguebearers as interested in defiling a Cultist's body as much as they are a nun's, and Daemonettes... it's better left unsaid. Daemons only appear in the upper difficulty levels, and only if a warrior is above a certain level (spawning at the start of the map near that warrior). They are damn near impossible to kill and simply kill the shit out of whatever they feel like. It is possible to kill one, IF your opponents are not near, and you focus the ever loving hell outta it. Even then, be prepared to lose at least one of your tanks to it. If you DO get the killing blow on it however, you get a whopping 5XP from the experience, which is the same you get from a decisive victory (win the mission plus the secondary objective). Don't forget, Pink Horrors split into two Blue Horrors once you kill it. Blues are very squishy though.
The Hired Swords (from what we've seen so far) come in pairs, one for the good guys and one for the bad guys. However each play very differently from what is available in warbands, and it may be worth to start a campaign with one if you're not too keen on the hero available.
- Poison Wind Globadier The Skaven came up with the crazy idea of selling their services to other deranged maniacs. Only usable by evil warbands (Cultists, Undead and Skaven, duh). Deals AoE poison damage, and can be used as a healer once he levels up. You'll want him to be a shooter first and foremost as he is initially very weak in melee but with the right kit and poison skills he can be a decent utility melee.
- Smuggler The good guys version of the Poison Wind Globadier as the shooty Hired Sword. A real boon to the Sisters as she provides some shooting that rounds out the warband and covers their primary weaknesses, but Mercenaries can find a place for her as well. Starts with a rifle.
- Wolf Priest of Ulric Take your run of the mill warrior priest, add some wolf with a side of badassery and voila, you have this badass beardy viking fellow. Don't bother with him if you play Sisters, the Smuggler is much more useful.
- Doomweaver A powerful caster of the Chaos association. Not great in combat but with their totems they hand out buffs and debuffs like an air hostess with boiled sweets.
If going by the original Mordheim, everyone and their mum is going to come to the city and turn it into an ultimate clusterfuck. Be'lakor is the identity of the "Chaos God", and his plan was to establish a little kingdom for himself free of the touch of the real Chaos Gods although when he realized he had simply traded one prison they laugh at him for looking so tiny and stupid in for another he fucked off back to the Warp and left Mordheim to fend for itself. In the end canon of Warhammer Fantasy, Mordheim takes place 500 years prior to the "present day" and by the current year is just a ruin still being fought over by warbands and forgotten by everyone else. Sisters didn't succeed and were eventually forgotten or absorbed into the ranks of the Lahmian Vampires, Siegfried didn't become Emperor, Clan Eshin remained the number 3 Clan since unlike Clan Moulder and Clan Skryre they didn't really produce anything everyone wanted. Everyone basically lost, and just kept fighting thinking they could win over the increasingly crumbling remains of the city.
That is anyway until End Times happened and the world blew up and then the Winds of Magic became worlds to themselves with each and every one just being a giant Mordheim LALALA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU, LALALA!