I attended Origin Game Fair a few weeks ago and, in addition to seeing many wonders (watching Uncle Atom of Tabletop Minions conduct a painting tutorial; looking at some of the very best wargaming tables I’ve ever seen; seeing every table, chair and ledge in a massive convention center occupied by footsore gamers) I also had the joy of playing in my first-ever game of Mordheim.
This year, 2019, marks the 20th anniversary of Mordheim, actually, and it’s probably one of Games Workshop’s most beloved (and late-lamented) properties. For those not in the know, Mordheim is a skirmish wargame taking place in a large city that was decimated by a massive comet. The fallout from the comet left the city littered with the glowing green substance known as wyrdstone. As a result, factions from all over the Empire (this is the Old World of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, after all – actually Mordheim takes place 500 years before the Old World, but… anyway) are battling it out in the ruined city to find the wyrdstone, as well as seek treasure, smite heretics, etc.
Basically, the whole game has a gleefully grimdark feel, with a lot of high-medieval eschatology mixed in – the aesthetics of the game basically look like The Apocalypse as stage-managed by Bruegel and Durer (Yes, those are highbrow references, but Google them and you’ll understand what I’m talking about).
Mordheim plays using an adapted version of the WHFB rules (the Warhammer rules that predated Age of Sigmar) meaning lots of tables were necessary to figure out if you hit, wounded, etc.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing my first game and, since I’ve been building up my store of Mordheim-relevant warbands and terrain over the years, I should be able to run a game of my own soon enough.
People love Mordheim. That’s not an understatement. There’s no one that I’ve ever talked to who played the game that didn’t love, love, LOVE it. Mordheim premiered in 1999 and both rules and minis were still available from GW into the late 2000s and early 2010s (though they stopped producing new materials in 2004), and since then there’s been a slow drum from fans who want to see Mordheim come back.
I put out an unscientific call for responses from people on Twitter to see if they’d like to see it come back.
To a person, all said they’d like to see it return, but most thought it would be unlikely, especially since Warhammer Age of Sigmar has shifted into a (very) High Fantasy mode and Mordheim was very much low fantasy, and took place in a universe that’s essentially been destroyed by… well, the End Times.
Some have tried to fill the void. There have been imitators, of course, in the ensuing years. Most notably, Osprey Games’ Frostgrave capitalizes on a Mordheim-like aesthetic and concepts (hardscrabble warbands trying to find magical materials in a ruined city sounds, y’know, familiar at the very least).
Now, GW isn’t averse to bringing back old games: Blood Bowl and Necromunda, two old favorites, were brought back a few years ago and are roaring with newfound popularity. And GW has been increasing its focus on skirmish games – Necromunda, Kill Team, AoS Skirmish, Underworlds, and the just released War Cry all falling into this category.
Could Mordheim come back? Sure. If, for instance, War Cry takes off, there would almost certainly be space for a one-off Mordheim-branded boxed game (similar to what GW did with the Rogue Trader set they introduced into Kill Team). But that wouldn’t really be the original Mordheim, and from a substantial number of people, I heard that, if Mordheim was to be re-released, they’d want it in its original form, with the old rules, even.
My prediction? Honestly, in recent years GW has really listened to the fans and they don’t seem at all to be against returning to fan-favorite properties.
I think The City of the Damned will be back, in some form, for your tabletop gaming pleasure.
How that newest incarnation will look? Sigmar only knows...
About the author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube