Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blood Angels and all things... Mordheim?

In the coming weeks, you are going to see a bit of a shift to what I'm covering with the blog. Previously, I've been exclusively doing Warhammer 40K, but I'll be expanding to start covering Mordheim. Don't worry, if you read the blog because of the Blood Angels and like the tutorials and 40K material, none of that is going away. I'm just going to be sprinkling in some Mordheim now and then. 

Why are you covering Mordheim? That game is like 100 years old.
Very true, but of all the Games Workshop games I've played, Mordheim is one of my favorites. It's easy to get into as you need a small model count and the integrated campaign system makes for some really memorable games.

I have a bit of history with Mordheim as well as I was one of the original designers on Lustria, Cities of Gold and I wrote the Dark Elves and a lot of other Warbands. I hear the collective groan, Dark Elves were so overpowered. Well, that is the type of stuff I aim to fix and really not that overpowered (unless you power game). Truth is I worked on Lustria with a great group of enthusiastic people, but they weren't game designers and most of the decisions that were made were done by consensus which is the wrong way to approach such things and resulted in decisions that I wasn't proud of. Here's a picture from Town Cryer of the first event for Lustria we ran back at Gamesday.

Harry Golden, Derek Whitman, Jeff Visgaitis, Steve Cornette and John Herrington
That's me in the middle. I was much skinnier back then with long hair and full of hopes and dreams. I met and talked to a lot of great guys in the Games Workshop Studio including Space McQuirk, Tuomas Pirinen, Jervis Johnson, and Steve Hambrook (RIP). I got a tour of the hallowed design studio, saw the amazing work of Jes Goodwin first hand, drank at Bugman's Bar, and was the first person outside of Games Workshop to see anything for The Lord of the Rings line and the Tau.

Thanks for the history lesson, but where is this going?
Right! Mordheim is a great game, but it is definitely showing it's age. Several editions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle have come and gone and a lot of the rules are outdated and the Warbands based on fiction that has been updated. My first goal is to be rebalance the ruleset and attempt to address some of the issues such as:
  • Armor is too expensive and not worth purchasing for the benefits you receive
  • Using two close combat weapons is better than using a sword and shield
  • The weapons themselves aren't balanced with each other (i.e. slings are better than short bows, blow pipes are useless)
  • Etc.
You do realize that's what Coreheim does, right?
I do and I have taken a look at Coreheim which I think is a well done rewrite of the rules. My problem with Coreheim though is that it is a rewrite and doesn't feel like Mordheim anymore. A lot of things were changed unnecessarily in my opinion and while well balanced, it invalidates a lot of existing fan material that is already out there. My goal with Newheim (catchy, huh?) is to address issues with the current ruleset without invalidating all of the existing material out there.

At the end of this journey, I'll be leaving the community with an updated ruleset for Mordheim that presents options instead of pigeon holing your choice to taking sword and hammer and scorning armor. Of course I'll update some of my favorite Warbands along the way including Lizardmen, Dark Elves, High Elves (NOT the Shadow Warriors, mine were never printed), Norse Raiders, and maybe I'll add some new surprises. I plan to set up a website at where you will be able to download PDFs of all the rules and step back into the dangerous streets of Mordheim once again and experience something that is both familiar and new.

Till next time,
–The Harrower


  1. Have you looked at deathsquads at all? They have done some things with their rule set that really balances out some of the issues in Mordheim. Somehow the game mechanics also seem to work at promoting more strategy and less mob fight tactics.

  2. I haven't recently, but I did download one version of the rules. I'll have to check it out again. Thanks!

  3. Interesting and can't wait to check it out!

    I also checked out the Death Squads rules. I liked it and found it balanced, but I'd rather have an update of the Necromunda rules than some combination of Mordheim and Necro (which is what Death Squads does somewhat). any chance of a Necro update too? :)

    Anyways looking forward to this!

  4. I'm glad to hear that you don't want to change much. I'm a little bit uncertain about changing the weapons though as I don't feel that it is necessary to balance all/most of the weapons because if they are unbalanced then they are unbalanced for everyone making them balanced within the game (if that made sense).

    One minor change I am thinking of implementing for our group though is to remove the ability for Crossbows to be used with the Quick Shot skill.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading more. :-D

  5. @Roland I did check out Death Squads and its pretty cool. I never did play much Necromunda, so a rewrite isn't planned at this time. There are quite a few other 40K skirmish games out there that might offer what you are looking for. If not, updating the rules shouldn't be too hard.

    @BenjaminNeale Its not necessary to balance all of them. The sling for instance is overpowered. It's the cheapest missile weapon in the game and is better than the bow. The halberd is pretty much useless along with the blow pipe. Gromril and Ithilmar weapons are ridiculously expensive for what they do. Like my other changes, we just need slight tweaks here and there. I don't plan on doing an entire rewrite.

  6. I'm not sure if this is the place for a discussion. Let me know if it is not and I'm happy to take to email. I am not trying to be disagreeable but rather I am playing "devil's advocate" to hopefully assist you in creating the best rules possible.:-)

    Is the sling really better than the bow? They definitely are cheap but a friend of mine on TBMF recently highlighted that slings can't take advantage of Quick Shot or Nimble and can't use hunting arrows. Also, bows have a longer range than slings (excluding short bows but they are only 5 gc and CAN use the aforementioned skills and items). Slings may be good at the start of a campaign but they quickly do not compare to other missile weapons later on in a campaign.

    I do agree about halberds are not used much and Gromril and Ithilmar weapons are expensive. The blow pipe is definitely quite useless as a general option. I am keen to see what ideas you propose. However, the tricky thing is when a weapon is given a boost in certain warbands as a fix. For example, the halberd can be used as a gun rest in the Kislevite warband (maybe turning this ability into a shooting skill available to everyone is an easy way to buff halberds in certain situations). Gromril and Ithilmar weapons are expensive but they are cheaper for dwarves and elves at the start meaning that they can be more common in those warbands (which makes perfect sense).

    Also remember that fixing armour already has the ripple effect of making Gromril weapons slightly more worthwhile even if they are still costly (e.g. a gromril hammer becomes 12gc with the benefits of Concussion and Cutting Edge but a gromril sword would be 40gc which no one would purchase but does it really matter if no one wants a gromril sword?).

  7. @BenjaminNeale This is definitely the place for discussion. I appreciate any feedback as that will only make the final ruleset better.

    You're right. The sling is better than the bow at the beginning and in later play it doesn't work nearly as well. When I said the sling was overpowered, I meant the 2 shots at no penalty. If I was to balance the sling, I'd decrease the Strength to 2 and allow the purchase of sling bullets to up the Strength to 3. In keeping with the theme of not changing too much, the sling will stay as is with the -1 to hit when firing 2 shots. I'll add a new skill to remove the penalty to make it a more valid choice further in a campaign.

    I never played with the Kislevite Warband, but I don't like fixing weapon balance with skills. It's the basic rules of the weapon that need to be tweaked. I understand what you mean about how changing weapons can have an effect on other Warbands because of abilities they have or if they get them at a discount. It's definitely something I'll keep in mind, but I don't know all the Warbands. Hopefully if I stray too far my readers will let me know.

  8. @The Harrower... Hopefully I am able to provide some food for thought. :-)

    I guess that you don't need to worry about unofficial (or non-GW published) warbands but I believe that it would be beneficial to get a good grasp on the official warbands when making changes to the rules so that you can at least keep the official warbands balanced with each other and the new rules.

  9. Hey Jeff, Good to read this! Your HIgh Elf list, was a good one, those were good days!
    D Whitman

  10. Hey man! How the heck are you doing? Those were the days.

  11. The Newheim link is borked. Did it get taken down?

    1. I never got it set up. I have the ruleset almost done, but didn't have time to polish it. Once I graduate college (which is the next 2 months) I'll most likely revisit.

  12. Hey The Harrower,

    I hope you graduated college as planned and if yes, congratz. :-) But I was wondering if you were able to work on newheim again. It sounded very promising, any news on that? :-)