Tabletop Game / Mordheim

Mordheim is a fantasy boardgame made by Games Workshop, creators of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000.

Being an example of what are known as "warband games", boardgames that occupy a small junction point between a Role-Playing Game and a wargame, Mordheim's ruleset hearkens back to the much more complex rules of earlier editions of Warhammer.

Set several centuries before the "present day" of Warhammer, it revolves around a city called Mordheim, once the jewel of The Empire, now flattened after being crushed under a meteorite of wyrdstone. This magical substance can, among other things, turn lead into gold, and so the ruins now crawl with adventurous treasure seekers. However, the wyrdstone also causes rampant mutation and corruption, and so the ruins are crawling with monsters, maniacs and mutants.

The game was still being supported by Games Workshop with a section in White Dwarf magazine, Town Cryer, which provided new rules, warbands, scenarios, modeling tips, etc. until February 2010, when Games Workshop stopped supplying the basic Mordheim rules for purchase as a physical book. In April 2014 the previously available digital downloads of rulebooks and other materials were removed from the Games Workshop website along with any other remnants of the old Specialist Games. There was also a comic set in the city following the adventures of two self-serving rogues, Ulli Leitpold and Marquand Volker which ended with both of Ulli & Marquand dead and the narrator taking all their loot.

The game had alternate settings originally published in Town Cryer, including Empire in Flames (the rural sections of the empire), Lustria, and Khemri.

A video game adaptation, Mordheim: City of the Damned, is being developed by Rogue Factor and published by Focus Home Interactive. It's currently available for purchase on Steam.

For the Warhammer 40,000 equivalent game see Necromunda


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     Tropes in the Tabletop Game 
  • After the End: A localized example. Mordheim was utterly destroyed by the wyrdstone comet, but the rest of the world is fine. For a given value of "fine".
  • Amazon Brigade: The Sisters of Sigmar warband. Unsurprising, given the name.
  • Armor Is Useless: Armor is expensive and so easy to penetrate from everything that its rare to see anyone carry any.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Or you might think so, at any rate. The Witch Hunters want to eradicate "warlocks, witches, sorcerers, fortune-tellers, necromancers, worshippers of the dark gods, deviants, mutants, blasphemers, sinners, utterers of profanities, servants of Daemons, or composers of corrupting music". The only thing is, this being a setting where Slaanesh exists, the music could indeed be one of the most dangerous things on the list.
  • Automatic Crossbows: Repeater crossbow
  • Awesome, yet Impractical
    • Double-handed weapons. They add +2 to the user's Strength - which, in an "average human vs. average human" situation, means your chances to wound the opponent jump from 50% to 85%, and armor saves get a -2 modifier (essentially making everything but a heavy armor + shield combo useless). The catch? The user always strikes last, even if they charge, meaning that the opponent has the chance to down them before they even get to employ said Strength bonus. Also, since they are 2-handed, they forbid the user to use a shield, making them even more vulnerable. Good luck.
      • Can go into pure Awesome territory when comboed with the Strongman skill, which removes the "always strike last" penalty. A Stength 6 Middenheimer Captain who strikes in Initiative order with high Weapon Skill and heavy armor? Now that's scary.
    • Basically the whole Cult of the Possessed hero roster. The Magister? He's your Captain and only Mage mixed together, meaning that he can't wear armor and cannot be re-hired. Have fun trying to protect him while having him use his (short-ranged) magic. The Possessed? Expensive as hell (a minimum of 110 gold crowns when your starting budget is 500, and every mutations past the first one costs double the normal price, making a multiple-mutations Possessed insanely expensive). The Mutants? Glorified henchmen with mediocre stats. Their only "edge" comes from having access to (usually stupidly expensive) mutations.
    • Rat ogres. Sure, they cause Fear and their profile is impressive... but they are Huge (everyone gets +1 to shoot them), cannot use equipment, are Stupid (which means they have a good chance to lose turn after turn by standing where they are and drool) and cost a whopping 210 gold crowns (for reference, that's pouring roughly 40% of your starting budget in one warrior). Also, the fact that Rat Ogres cannot gain experience makes them fairly useless in campaigns, as other units will eventually outclass them.
      • It gets particularly offensive when you confront the Rat Ogre with the Ogre Bodyguard. The latter has -1 to S, T and A... but has a much higher Leadership of 7 (the Rat Ogre gets 4, which basically means he's doomed to fail any Leadership roll when on its own), can use equipment, can gain experience and costs 80 crowns (with an extra 30 to be paid after each battle, but still). A sufficently experience and equipped Ogre will murder any Rat Ogre most of the time.
    • Elven bows. Their range is mostly overkill, and they still hit with S 3. -1 to enemy armor saves is nice... but all black powder weapons do that and are much cheaper (considering that black powder weapons are relatively expensive, that says a lot about how much the Elven bow costs).
    • All Blackpowder weapons have have high costs(one Hochland Long Rifle takes as much as 8 henchmen), long reloading periods, usually cannot move-and-fire, and can only be used by certain characters, usually Heroes with access to a specific skill so only certain warbands can make any use out of them.
  • Badass: Anyone who survives more than one visit to Mordheim is going to become this soon enough.
  • Boring but Practical: The humble sling. "Mordheim" being an urban combat game, the limited range on this weapon isn't much of an issue, and it hits with "Strength as user", which means as hard as any bow. Also, the ability to fire twice if the shooter doesn't move in the same turn is insanely useful, essentially doubling your chances of one-hit killing someone.
    • Bows are also common for any warband that can't use slings. Heroes can get skills to improve their Bows as well. Clubs/hammers are very common as they are much cheaper than nearly any other melee weapon.
    • Bludgeoning weapons. They have a 50% change to stun a wounded (down to 0 Wounds) enemy, which, in most cases, spells certain death for them.
  • The Berserker: Anyone with the Frenzy rule.
  • Black Humor: This is a Games Workshop game — naturally, it's full of it.
  • Black Magic: The magic used by the Chaos Cult, Beastmen and Skaven, of course, but the Witch Hunters consider all magic "black". To be fair, this game takes place in a time period before Teclis of Ulthuan showed humans how to use magic safely, so for all practical purposes, with the exception of elven mages, the Witch Hunters are right.
  • Blind Seer: The Augurs are the Sisters of Sigmar who trade their eyesight for second sight (read re-roll dice for their failed actions in game and get choose the results from two dice when looking for loot). They also shave their hair off except for a single braid.
  • Bloody Murder: The Dark Blood chaos ritual literally consists of slashing open a palm and showering an enemy with blood, which burns the enemy. And then testing to see if you collapse from blood loss.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Bugman’s ale which makes the unit fearless and the Kislevites naturally have vodka.
  • Burn the Witch!: The Witch Hunters, naturally.
  • Church Militant: The Sisters of Sigmar and the Witch Hunters. Both agree that Wyrdstone is a dangerous and evil resource that must be sealed away for the good of the world. But they wouldn't ally because the witch hunters have decided that the only way that the sisters could have survived the comet impact was to have made pacts with dark gods and they treat the sisters like they would the chaos corrupted warbands that loot the city.
  • Circus of Fear: The Carnival of Chaos warband.
  • Cult: Cult of the Possessed who worship the Shadowlord, a dark lord who lives in The Pit (the crater which the meteor left when it struck).
  • Cursed with Awesome: Out of Combat warriors must roll a d66 (yes, it exists) on a fairly long table after the game, to determine what happened to them. Most results are fairly bad, but some grant special abilities (such as causing Fear due to horrendous scars!), experience points or gold with no side effects.
  • Crutch Character: Any warrior who cannot gain experience, such as animals, Rat Ogres, zombies and the like. They might have good profiles or special abilities (all zombies cause Fear, for example, and Rat Ogres have monstrous stats), but in campaign games, their inability to improve means that they'll fall hopelessly behind other warriors.
    • Heroes, to an extent. Most of them start with experience points, which account for their higher stats or special abilities, but have slower advancement than other units.
  • Demonic Possession: Cult of the Possessed has the "Possessed" and the Darksouls which are humans who have been previously possessed and have been driven mad by the experience.
  • Disaster Scavengers: Everyone, it's why most of them are here and the only way to survive. It helps that said disaster spread lots of valuable Green Rocks around the city.
  • Dowsing Device: The Wrydstone Pendulum from the Opulent Goods article is a pendulum made of wrydstone and can be used to find more of the stone.
  • Dramatis Personae: This is used as the name for the list of hireable individual characters with actual names rather then generic troops.
  • Drop the Hammer: Apart from the regular hammers the soldiers can be armed with, the Sisters of Sigmar have the Sigmarite Warhammer, a holy weapon that takes after the God Emperor's favoured weapon.
    • In fact, this is one-half of the Sister's hat; every weapon they use is some variant of a hammer, flail, or mace.
  • Early Game Hell: As with Blood Bowl and Necromunda, if you fare bad or lose in the fist couple of battles it would be easier to just scrap the warband and start from scratch, as you lack both the resources to plug the holes in the roster and the skilled units to cover for the absent ones.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: There are tables for environmental effects that include the earth underfoot trying to swallow you, shadows coming to life and trying murder you, and spontaneous rains of fish.
  • Experience Points: Units gain experience for surving and achieving objectives in each battle which can be used to gain new skills or stat increases.
  • Warband of Hats: Even individual empire provinces get their own warbands.
  • Gladiator Games: Whilst gladiatorial combat is outlawed in most places of the Empire, games still continue in lawless location such as the devastated city of Mordheim. Units that haven't been killed but taken out of action have a chance of waking up in the infamous fighting pits of Cutthroat’s Haven. If the unfortunate sod wins, they gain EXP and cash, if they merely survive they just throw him out.
    • One of the hired swords that warbands can recruit is a Pit Fighter.
    • The larger gladiatorial fights can be played out with the Gaiden Game "Pit Fighter".
    • Also there are rules for playing with the Pit Fighters warband, made up of those fighters who earned their freedom or more likely escaped the pits.
  • Glass Cannon: A Skaven Master Assassin with Art of Silent Death and Tail Fighting, equipped with fighting claws. Double crit chances combined with a metric crapton of extra attacks? Every one of which starts at S 4 and gives an extra -1 to armor saves? Yes, please. However, his Toughness is a mediocre 3 and his armor options quite limited, which makes him relatively vulnerable.
    • It's easy to make any character into one as offensive skills are common and powerful, while defensive ones are limited to only a couple of skills which many heroes don't have access to.
  • Good Luck Charm: Can be equipped, and they even work! saving the holder from damage 50% of the time (determined by dice roll).
  • Green Rocks: Wyrdstone... better known elsewhere in the Warhammer setting as "warpstone".
  • Human Sacrifice: The Cult of the Possessed can sacrifice captives or random survivors that them find they gain after the battle for extra EXP.
    • One of the random things that be found while exploring is a group of people being held for sacrifice. What you can do with them depends on the warband including freeing them (humans), sell them to slavery (skaven), zombifying them (undead) and the Possessed can finish the job.
    • Other chaos aligned warbands and the Lizardmen can also do the same.
  • Hunter of Her Own Kind: Countess Marianna Chevaux was turned into a vampire against her will. She now spends her time hunting vampires in the anonymity of Mordheim and torturing them for leads on the whereabouts of her sire Serutat to exact her revenge.
  • The Igor: The Undead warbands can recruit the Dregs, the hunch-backed and deformed human survivors of the comet strike. They serve their undead masters faithfully since they are the few who showed them kindness.
  • It Only Works Once: The Blunderbuss can hit anyone in a 16" long and 1" wide area but can only be fired once per battle.
  • Kill It with Fire In the end Magnus the Pious razed the city with fire after the great war against chaos in 2302.
  • Knife Nut: Johann The Knife. He has a special rule called Knife Fighter Extraordinare that allows him to bypass the limit of three knives thrown during his turn, allowing him to throw six knives per turn if he doesn't move. He's so good with knives that they count for swords during battle.
  • Literal Genie: The wizard Nicodemus freed a daemon that had been trapped inside a lantern and in return was offered a wish. His wish was "I want to become the greatest wizard known to Mankind!" and the daemon granted his wish by making him grow endlessly. He discovered an antidote before he grew too large, but he requires a constant supply of Warpstone to manufacture it.
  • Mooks: Henchmen make up the majority of any warband. They cannot look for Wyrdstone to sell, cannot learn skills, have limited statistic upgrades, and permanently die 1/3rd of the time after any battle.
    • Elite Mooks: Some warbands have these at a higher costs and sometimes drawbacks like inability to gain ANY experience and therefore stuck with default stats.
  • Mythology Gag: A Sisters of Sigmar seeress called Cassandora predicted the comet is presumably the same Cassandora from "Comet of Cassandora" in the Warhammer Lore of Heavens.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: From the credits "No toads or rats were harmed during the production of Mordheim. Several fish were consumed."
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The Norse Warband from town cryer had the Wulfen. Described as Berserkers with a very rare mutation that allows them to change into blood hungry beasts, part man part wolf or bear. These warriors can tear through flesh and armor with ease with there massive fangs as they rampage through the melee.
    • The Empire in Flames rules include the Balewolf, a creature of chaos the can even infect the units that it wounds with lycanthropy potentially turning them into a Balewolf in a future battle.
  • Prehensile Tail: Skaven can get this as a special skill.
  • Press-Ganged: The Pirate Crew warband can force captives to become swabbies to fight for them (with the decent chance of running away if they can). Undead just turn them into zombies.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Rumor has it that the endless growth in Nicodemus back story was written because when they made the original model, they noticed that it was taller then the other human models and rather then remake the model simply integrated it with the story.
  • Religion Is Magic: The Sisters of Sigmar have mystical powers as a result of their devotion to Sigmar. They even managed to use their prayers to shield their monastery when the comet hit.
  • Retcon: In the 6th Chaos Warriors sourcebook for Warhammer, The Shadowlord was explained to be Be'lakor, the Damned First Daemon Prince of Chaos Undivided, having possessed the Chaos Warrior who should have been the Chosen of Chaos for that generation, in an effort to cheat his destiny.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The Skaven of Clan Eshin run rampant over the devastated city.
  • Running Gag: A lot of models made by Games Workshop for Mordheim include a fish. For example one is nailed to the Freelancer Knight's shield and Witch Hunter flagellants carrying one for no particular reason.
  • Shout-Out: The Carnival of Chaos preforms such tales as ‘The Emperor’s True Face’, ‘Orfeo and Pustulate’, ‘Papa Noigul’s Festering Children’ and ‘A Midsummer Nightmare’.
    • The introductory story for the Carnival includes the lines:
  • Sniper Rifle: Hochland long rifle.
  • Suffer the Slings: Slings in Mordheim have similar stats to short bows but with a special rule allowing them to be fired twice if the unit wielding it does not move in the same turn. A popular tactic for the Skaven warband is to arm a whole lot of cheap units with slings for a Zerg Rush since ranged attacks were a bit over-powered.
  • The Gunslinger: Normally blackpowder weapons can only fire once every two turns, reflecting their slow reload time. The "Pistolier" skill negates this for pistols, as does the gear "Brace of Dueling Pistols." The thing is the two effects stack, so a hero with both can fire twice in a turn, gunslinging with matchlocks.
  • Toxic Phlebotinum: Wyrdstone. The "Power in the Stones" article from Town Cryer gives rules to give wyrdstone shards magical powers whilst using them, but runs the risk of sickness, mutation or transformation into a chaos spawn.
  • Universal Poison: Poison affects every race from Ogres to Skaven, only a few are immune such as the undead.
  • Urban Warfare: The game uses rules similar to Warhammer but without the emphasis on large units of troops in formation deployed on fairly open terrain, instead focusing on a few warriors in cramped streets.
  • Whip It Good: Sisters of Sigmar steel whip special weapon.
  • Wretched Hive: The city of Mordheim became so depraved, corrupt, and horrifying a comet was thrown at it. Then it became a bunch of warped ruins home to a few depraved, corrupt, and horrifying mutants, any number of criminals who arrived to take advantage of the lawlessness, as well as the mercenary warbands coming from across the realm to loot it.
  • Your Mom: In the fluff for the Dwarf warband a fight was started between a group of dwarves and mercenary humans because the the drunk human leader "made a very unfriendly remark about the dwarf leader's mother".
  • Zerg Rush: The Skaven. Their bands tend to be very large, which makes them harder to rout (you have to lose a quarter of your men... pardon, rats before being forced to test for routing). Borders on Game Breaker when you are faced with a 20-rat Skaven band, and they'are all armed with slings, which can fire twice in the same turn. Enjoy being stoned to death.

     Tropes in City of the Damned 
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: Firearms are an alternative to bows. They're slower, but deal more damage per shot; however, it will still take at least 3-4 shots to down most enemy units.
  • Annoying Arrows: Played semi-straight. Arrows still hurt, but far less than an equivalent melee attack. Archers are good at whittling away enemies, but arrows alone will rarely kill an enemy unless you have multiple archers focusing on the same target.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The number of units you can deploy, and the number of units you can keep on reserve between missions, increases based on the rank of your warband. The maximum possible number of units you can have in a mission is one Leader, five Henchmen, and four Heroes/two Heroes and one Impressive unit.
  • Asteroids Monster: When a Pink Horror is slain, it splits into two Blue Horrors.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Two-handed weapons hurt, but they're slow and tiring (resulting in attacks becoming weaker and more costly with successive strikes) and just carrying one hurts your dodge and initiative ratings. Attacks performed with two-handed weapons also increase the opponent's chance to dodge them by 10%, meaning that you're more likely to end up dealing no damage at all.
    • Few players will willing gear up their troops in heavy armor. Though it offers substantial damage reduction, it comes with a LOT of drawbacks, such as mobility and the ever-important Dodge. On top of that, while the damage reduction is nice, the reduction in evasion as well as the abundance of weapons that can bypass a chunk of armor (and these tend to be the slow, heavy, hard-hitting weapons that dodge units would laugh at) means that the protection will oftentimes not add up to much.
      • Armor is not as useless at it might seem. Most warriors can dodge only one attack per turn; some, more experienced warriors can dodge up to two, and only Heroes who perfected the Sidestep skill (which takes lots of skill points and lots of money) can dodge three. Armor works against every attacks that connects... which, especially in the early game, is going to be the majority of all attacks. Armor can save a warrior's life in a heated melee where they will be targeted by multiple attacks in the same turn.
  • Badass In Charge: Bertha Bestraufrung is the leader of the Sisters of Sigmar, and is simultaneously your sponsor and your Hero Unit.
    • In a more general sense your Leader unit will probably be the warband's heaviest hitter when you're starting out and is likely to remain so until you hire an Impressive.
  • Battle Trophy: The 'Marked For Death' secondary objective requires you to defeat certain members of the opposing warband and claim special trinkets they're carrying.
  • Bigger Bad: The Shadowlord and Murderlord Snikkit are the main sponsors of the Cult of the Possessed and Skaven factions, respectively, but they never appear in person; instead relaying orders through your warband's commander and demanding shipments of wyrdstone in exchange for continued funding.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: A possible mutation that replaces a random arm with a weapon covered in a debuff-inducing poison, and it comes in multiple flavors:
    • The Executioner is an axe blade that weakens armor. It also has a variation called the Destroyer, which reduces how much damage a target can do in melee combat.
    • The Ripper is a daemonette-esque crab-claw that makes its victims more vulnerable to critical strikes.
    • The Smasher is a huge fleshy club that lowers a target's stun resistance. It also has a variation called the Crusher, which reduces poison resistance.
    • The Slicer is a literal Blade Below the Shoulder that makes a target more vulnerable to subsequent melee attacks. It also has a variation called the Piercer, which instead makes a target vulnerable to ranged attacks.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • Using only a single one-handed weapon adds a 10% boost to a warrior's dodge chance, thanks to the empty hand being used for balance. Wearing no armor also adds 10% to dodge chances. Combined, a warrior can have a 20% higher chance to dodge attacks, which can be a godsend for low-level warriors that naturally have sub-par dodge chances on their own.
      • Note that both of these options have drawbacks, just to reinforce how tough things are: single one-handed weapons have mediocre damage, and lacking armor means that the attacks that DO hit you will hurt much more. Between the two, you won't win blow-for-blow, so you'd better pray to the Random Number God that the enemy misses as much as possible.
    • Impressive units are huge, powerful, deal obscene damage and can take it just as hard...but if you pass on one, you can take two Hero units in their place. These two units, depending on specifics, can hit just as hard and tank just as well, and have the added perk of being able to split up and work two different locations as needed. Impressive units are also gigantic, and can't get to hard-to-reach places Heroes would have no problems with.
  • Capture the Flag: The 'Break Their Will' secondary objective involves raiding the enemy wagon to steal their idol, while protecting your own.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Oh so blatant. It occurs less with lower-level warbands, but the skill checks will almost always favor the AI, and accuracy ratings will sometimes outright lie; it's more common than not to see players consistently miss attacks of 80% or higher accuracy, while enemies who should feasibly have 50% or less accuracy will land their hits nearly every time. The AI appears far more likely to get critical hits as well; multiple consecutive criticals is a common sight for the AI, whereas such occurrences are exceedingly-rare for human players.
  • Crutch Character: The Sisters can be seen as an entire crutch faction. They can all be clad in heavy armor, given heavy weapons, and loaded up with healing and support spells; the final strategy for most Sisters warbands involves advancing your wall of unkillable magic-flinging pain slowly up the map until everything is dead. However, their lack of range, poor mobility, and awful climbing skills means that the more standard tactics of ambushing, overwatch, and flanking are far less reliable for them. They're powerful, but overusing them can encourage playstyles that will get other factions killed in a hurry.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Losing an arm renders a warrior unable to duel-wield, carry a shield or use a two-handed weapon, which is crippling for dedicated ranged fighters... On the other hand, the warrior also gains a permanent 20% boost to their dodge chance, which will definitely help a unit geared for melee combat.
    • Note that, in this case, "help" means "keep useful until the player can replace them with a non-mutilated warrior". A one-armed warrior won't be able to dual-wield or use two-handed weapons, nor to use a shield, which will make them pretty mediocre at both damage dealing and tanking.
    • Several of the Chaos mutations are pants-soiling levels of Body Horror, but no one can deny the significant bonuses they grant.
  • Difficult but Awesome: The Cult of the Possessed has a horrible early game (see below), but if they manage to survive it in decent condition, they have the potential to become pretty powerful. A full-tank Darksoul can keep multiple enemy warriors occupied for round after rounde, since Darksouls never take All Alone tests and can become pretty sturdy, while a Magister who advanced Chaos Chains can make enemy Heroes nearly powerless and a Possessed or Spawn with the right mutations can destroy them like there's no tomorrow.
  • Early Game Hell: At the beginning of a campaign your warriors are fragile, money is tight and you don't have access to powerful skills yet. Also, if it's your first campaign ever, chances are that you won't know how to build your characters, resulting in suboptimal builds the game will be all too happy to smash. Prepare to fire your entire warband and start a new one many, many times.
    • If early game is hard for everyone, the Cult of the Possessed has it even worse. Their Commander is a Squishy Wizard who cannot hold his ground in a melee (he's the only leader unable to do so in the early game) and their henchmen's defensive stats are sub-par, making them particularly vulnerable. In a game where being knocked out of action can lead to permanent injuries, the Cult of the Possessed's inherent frailty means that one or two bad games can force you to start the campaign all over.
  • Eldritch Location: The Grand Library of Mordheim is host to a chaotic layout of rooms connected by portals, is absolutely covered in the Meat Moss seen in the rest of the city, and is occupied by a pack of daemons summoned by the Library's deranged curator.
  • Eyeless Face: The Featureless Face mutation, which somehow makes Perception tests free of charge and increases their success rate by 20%.
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Two mutations cause this: The Eye, which creates a giant eyeball in the chest, and Thousand Eyes, which results in dozens of little eyeballs all over the upper body.
  • Fake Difficulty: No matter how careful you are in choosing your missions, deploying your warriors and navigating the ruins of Mordheim: if the Random Number God decides to screw you over, you will miss a string of 90%-chance-to-hit attacks, while your opponents will hit with all their attacks and critstun you half the time.
  • Final Death: Units that die in battle have a chance of dying for good. On a meta level, failing four Wyrdstone shipments to your Supporting Leader has them forcibly disband your Warband, effectively causing this for the entire campaign.
  • Fragile Speedster: Thanks to the Arbitrary Headcount Limit described above, the Skaven have been redesigned as this. Plenty of strategy points and high dodge chances all around, but low defense and morale.
  • Game Over Man: Losing a battle results in your warband's Supporting Leader admonishing you for your failure during the loading screen.
    Merga: "Disappointing the Shadowlord leads to death, and things worse than death. Do not fail him again."
  • Glass Cannon: The Cult of the Possessed (and to a lesser extent the Skaven) are this. The Cult units have various combinations of great offense, above-average mobility, spellcasting, and the ability to get powerful Chaos mutations that can grant them unique and powerful benefits...but their defense is subpar (especially the entry-level units) and their morale is below-average as well.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The Daemon Soul mutation, which allows a unit to automatically pass All Alone tests and grants a 25% boost to magic resistance.
  • Green Rocks: Wyrdstone, literally. Sickly Green Glow included.
  • Hero Unit: During the faction missions, your warband will be accompanied by a unique Leader character called a Dramatis Personae. This character is max level and very powerful, but if they are defeated you immediately lose the mission.
    • There are actually a class of units available for your warband CALLED Hero Units, but they fit the role of Elite Mook more.
  • Horned Humanoid: The Crown of Bones and Wrydstone Horns mutations cause this. Merga also has an impressive pair of horns, but they're purely aesthetic.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The main appeal of the Empire faction. Their units are diverse and specialized, meaning the team can field an effective mix of dedicated tanks, damage dealers, archers, and spellcasters. However it's worth noting that they generally edge out the other factions in terms of ranged capability.
  • King Mook: The Dramatis Personae for each faction is essentially a max-level Leader with a unique character model. Merga is a bit of an odd example, because despite being a Magister her model and animations are that of a Sister of Sigmar wielding a great-weapon.
  • Luck-Based Mission: So, so many:
    • Dodge works as a secondary chance for an attack to miss, and the up-front statistics displayed to the player don't always factor it in. This means it may not be apparently obvious that the 80% hit chance hte player sees is actually closer to 40%.
    • Criticals. There are almost no displays of these in battle, and they have a SIGNIFICANT impact. A crit means both extra damage AND a turn-wasting stun, so a fight that was going in one unit's favor can be immediately ruined by a lucky crit.
    • Scavenge and Wyrdstone placement. While there are algorithms for it, it's heavily randomized, and it's entirely possible for all the stones to be clustered just a short jog from the player's spawn...or scattered wildly on the far side of the map, beyond the opposing warband.
    • "Pre-Engagement" deployment conditions. Both warbands are deployed at random across the map, with units of both sides being deployed within combat range of one another. This can result in such fun as your archer within swinging distance of the enemy's Possessed.
    • Equipment loss and permanent injury after falling. What items you lose, and what (if any) permanent penalty your unit suffers is entirely random, ranging from nothing to death.
      • To an extended point, what can be looted from yours or the enemy's corpse. Just because the enemy is carrying a big, shiny battleaxe doesn't necessarily mean you can snatch it off his remains.
    • Missions themselves, including deployment, objective, warband you'll face (and their difficulty) and any optional objectives. It's entirely likely to face a row of nothing but Deadly missions, with maybe one Brutal.
      • You might be facing a line of low-level Imperial archers that will rout as soon as you look at them sharply...or a wall of elite Skaven with superb movement and dodge, and more health than your toughest units.
    • Mandatory Wyrdstone shipments. While the dates are calculable and the deadline is always the same duration, the quantity varies and has no relation to your performance thus far. You can easily end up owing 300 units while your faction is battered, broke, and forced to sit out for several days recuperating.
      • You have SOME leeway with these, in that there are no immediate penalties for failing, but four failures total over your warband's career and that's it; Game Over, no second chances.
  • MacGuffin: Wyrdstone, a byproduct of the meteor that hammered Mordheim. These chunks of glowing green stone are the main reason everyone is fighting over the town. Magically powerful, useful in both alchemy and equipment-forging, and dangerously unstable; the Empire wants it because it's valuable, the Skaven want it because it can be used to make their signature Warpstone weaponry, and Chaos wants it because it's magically powerful and can induce Chaos-favoring mutations. The only faction who is after it for altrusitic purposes are the Sisters of Sigmar, who see the stones as blasphemous and want to lock them away.
    • In gameplay terms, Wyrdstone is one of your primary objectives; you'll have a set amount you have to periodically gather, failing which has dire consequences and can even lead to a Non-Standard Game Over. Beyond that, excess Wyrdstone beyond your quota is your primary source of income, AND nets you some nice bonuses from traders.
      • It's also Toxic Phlebotinum; Wyrdstone is unstable and units picking them up risk suffering (short-term) mutations, ranging from small positive bonuses to crippling penalties. This is one of the main reasons Chaos wants it, and why the Sisters want to lock it away where it can't affect anyone.
  • Macrogame: Present in the form of the Veteran System, and helps alleviate some of the Nintendo Hard nature of the game. Every individual warband you create has their own set of achievements to meet, which all feed into a universal xp meter; when it hits thresholds, the player earns points that can be spent on quality-of-life upgrades, such as reduce unit upkeep, better shop prices, chances at free equipment, and more. Once earned these bonuses apply to all current and future warbands, so even failed warbands ultimately contribute to progress.
  • Magic Knight: Possible, though not terribly effective; spellcasters clad in armor or carrying heavy weapons can still cast spells, but have both lower success rates and a higher chance of backfire.
  • Meat Moss: Patches of Chaotic growth are all over the city, and any one of them has the potential to spray an unsuspecting warrior with a surprise debuff if he walks too close. You'll never know which ones are dangerous, of course, until you trigger it.
  • Metal Slime: Daemons have a chance to appear on Brutal-difficulty missions and higher, are hostile to everyone, and will grant a whopping five experience to the warrior who lands the killing blow on them.
  • Mighty Glacier: The Sisters of Sigmar's hat; universally slow as molasses, with lousy climbing abilities, and a complete lack of ranged weaponry...but they're all tough, hit like a ton of bricks, have high morale, and most of them can cast spells, to boot.
    • Bertha Bestraufrung's melee damage is obscene: she can pulverize anything short of Impressive units with just one or two attacks. However, her Dodge chance is only 20% and she can only attempt to dodge a single attack per turn. Sure, she's heavily armored, but even her armor can't protect her from Death of a Thousand Cuts if you leave her unsupported for too long.
  • Mook Chivalry: Averted painfully for actual gameplay, but a quirk of the Campaign means that enemy warbands will only ever field as many units as the player does. This means that, especially later on, players can game the system by only taking four or so of their eight-strong warband, and the enemy will match. Having fewer numbers of units makes managing battles FAR easier, and gives enemies fewer chances to gang up on the player's units.
  • Mook Promotion: The 'Lad's Got Talent' passive skill is one of these - It promotes a Henchman to count as a Hero unit, granting them extra Offence and Strategy Points and allowing them to master skills.
  • Morale Mechanic: A crucial element of gameplay; each warband has a morale meter that drops when they lose units. When it hits certain thresholds, the warband has a chance of routing, resulting in instant mission failure.
    • This is what makes story missions so Nintendo Hard; usually morale is an Instant-Win Condition and hitting it in a close battle can net you the win. The enemy is exempt from morale in story missions, YOU are not. You must complete the assigned objectives to win, and if you lose too many units in the process, you can still rout and fail immediately.
  • Multiple Head Case: A partial example, unfortunately: The Extra Face mutation gives a warrior a second face that overlaps with the original, resulting in a face with three eyes, two noses and two pairs of lips over an enormous mouth. The effect is almost akin to a visual glitch.
  • Nintendo Hard: Make no mistake, Mordheim wants you dead. Your units are weak starting off, and thanks to the Morale Mechanic, it's entirely possible to fail a mission simply from having a couple of your five-man warband fall. Any unit that falls in battle will drop some of their equipment (which can include rare and valuable gear) and has a chance of suffering permanent injuries, possibly rendering them nigh-on useless. On top of everything else, you still have to pay wages daily, as well as earn enough Wyrdstone to pay off your Supporting Leader and avoid a Non-Standard Game Over. Your first few warbands WILL fail, simply due to a lack of understanding of game mechanics and optimal builds for each faction.
    • Story missions are a whole new breed of Nintendo Hard. Infinitely-respawning enemies who aren't any weaker (and are in some cases stronger) than normal, and IMMUNE to the Morale Mechanic while you, the player, are not. Worst though is that these missions are designed to play to your faction's most-glaring weaknesses; if you don't have a plan going in, expect heavy losses, if not utter failure.
    • The Random Number God helps reinforce this trope as well, due to just how unforgiving it can be. A several-days winning streak can be broken by an unlucky loss that costs you over half your most valuable equipment and results in your best units suffering crippling injuries (or even Final Death), possibly plunging what was otherwise a perfect game into Unwinnable territory.
      • Notably the inverse is true as well; it's possible to survive a defeat with no permanent injuries, minimal equipment loss, and a decent stash of Wyrdstone. On top of that your units still earn XP even if they fell, so it's entirely possible to come out of a crushing loss stronger than you went in.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Slings have been removed, and an Arbitrary Headcount Limit has been put in place to make all warbands equal in size.
  • Puzzle Boss: Merga, in her boss battle, is surrounded by a shield that negates all physical damage. You need to perform a lengthy process of freeing a pair of Sigmarite Sisters, finding and purifying shards of the pylons powering her ritual, and then taking the shards to each of the eight pylons to disable them and finally drop the shield.
  • Shoot the Medic First: The Sisters of Sigmar can learn to cast healing spells. Since spells are generally cheap to cast as long as you don't spam them within a single turn, you will want to focus down these spellcasters quickly; however, this being the Sisters of Sigmar, those spellcasters will still most likely be either very hard to hit, or have a ton of armor and health, and will also be swinging oversized hammers at you the entire time, so this isn't as easy as it is elsewhere.
  • Shows Damage: Certain injuries your warriors suffer are represented on the unit model afterwords, such as missing limbs and blinded eyes.
  • Spiteful A.I.: The computer in single player will do anything it can to make you lose, even if it would counteract what one would expect in the fights. They will loot their own dead to deny you their Bounty items if that's the sub-objective, devote multiple units to loot your dead so that you lose valuable equipment, swarm your leader to make you lose the morale checks... it can go on and on.
    • It gets much worse than that. The objective of the AI in every mission isn't to win, it's to screw the player as hard as possible. They even tailor this to your situation; Warband hanging by a thread, but your overleveled Hero Unit with high-quality equipment is carrying you? The AI will suicide-rush as many of its units as it can at the hero, hoping to kill and loot them before you can end the mission, swiping the loot and likely inflicting the hero with a debilitating injury in the process. On the last couple days of your Wyrdstone shipment and just a few stones short? They'll focus almost entirely on scavenging all the stones they can, and will gang-rush any of YOUR units that are carrying any. Trying to level up newbie units after a bad loss? They'll focus those units exclusively, crippling them before they can become useful to you.
    • This is primarily because enemy warbands are not persistent, instead being generated from scratch for every match. They don't need to worry about equipment losses and permanent injuries, and will simply focus on doing whatever will most immediately disrupt your campaign.
    • Played dead straight with the storyline missions, which are a painful inversion of Character Select Forcing; each warband has specific weaknesses they need to deal with, for instance the Sisters of Sigmar's lack of ranged combat and poor mobility. Story missions are specifically designed to play to your warband's weaknesses; continuing the above example, the first story mission for the Sisters has you break through extra-powerful melee units holding tight chokepoints (which means no flanking; you WILL have to sacrifice Cannon Fodder, or otherwise use your Hero Unit and risk the Random Number God screwing them over,) all the while ranged units hide on balconies and overhead ledges taking potshots at you. To top it all off, once you've finally cleared through, it then becomes a race to the top of the tower; multiple Climbs are needed (which your units will have at least a 40% chance of failing) while endless waves of enemy units pour in and continue to beat down your exhausted Warband.
  • Supporting Leader: You get two - Your warband's commander, who gives the orders directly and participates in special missions, and your faction's distant sponsor, who demands tithes of wrydstone and gives you those faction-unique missions.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Stupid mental condition, which forces a unit to take an intelligence test if it starts the turn outside of immediate combat. If it fails, it wastes its turn standing around doing nothing.
    • The Amok mental condition prevents the unit from fleeing or disengaging from combat, which can be problematic when an Amok unit gets trapped in a fight they can't possibly win.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Henchmen are significantly more powerful in City of the Damned, and are able to level up and learn skills just like Heroes, though they can only purchase the first tier of a skill.
    • To a lesser extent, the Cult of the Possessed has benefited greatly from their fragile Leader unit being replaceable, and mutations being a random upgrade gained for free at level thresholds.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Chances are you'll find a lot of weapons that can only be used by certain units from other factions, like flails or warplock pistols. Depending on the faction you play as, these weapons are essentially Vendor Trash.
  • Verbal Tic: The Skaven retain theirs, as always.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: The colors and appearances of your warband members can be customized to a limited extent. Equipment, injuries, and mutations also visibly change units; fresh warbands will almost look like an army of clones, but one of the quickest way to identify high-level warbands is to note how strongly they avert Only Six Faces.
  • You Have Failed Me: Fail to meet your Supporting Leader's Wyrdstone deadline four times in total, and they'll shut your warband down for good.