Mordheim – Building a Warband in a Round Base World

Mordheim_Intro_Logo

The chaps – including a few new members – and I have started yet another Mordheim campaign.

In our particular world this is nothing new. We love Mordheim. Like love love.

We also have two or three warbands each so it’s merely just a case of dusting off whichever one tickles our fancy and off we go.

However we have 3 new members to the group, none of whom have played before let alone got warbands.

So what are they to do in a time when the kind of models they need are either in short supply, are no longer available or come on the wrong kind of bases. And by wrong I mean round.

And by round I mean wrong.

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I’ve heard a lot of arguments in favour of round bases in Warhammer. The argument largely holds up only because of how  Warhammer now works. To play Fantasy sized games in the Age of Sigmar, on round bases, would be a fucking nightmare.

So, if Age of Sigmar works fine with round bases, does it matter if you use them for Mordheim as well.

I would argue yes and here’s why.

Desgin

Mordheim is an incredibly well balanced game. The starting warbands, for all their differences are more or less evenly matched – this is very hard to achieve.

It’s also what makes the game so fun when the stat increases and the skills start rolling in. A single point of weapon skill or strength over your opponent early on in the campaign really upsets the plague cart.

This balance extends – whether it’s been intended or not – to the bases too.

Thanks to the majesty of right angles it’s possible for for 8 models to surround a single model. Depending on the models involved and how far along in the campaign you are, this ability is fairly decisive.

Round bases and square bases just don’t mix. They either hamper your warband’s ability to get into combat or prevent as many models from attacking them.

Sure, if you’re the one with round bases then why should you care. Fewer models attacking you is a good thing, right?

Strictly speaking, yes but there’s also a question of fairness. Mixed base shapes will, inevitably cause problems.

Gameplay

In the closed in streets of a Mordheim space is ever at a premium. Whereas some could see the wider round bases (and the varying sizes round base models now come on) as an advantage to clog up the streets, that’s hardly in the spirit of the game.

Plus that particular annoyance flows both ways.

Especially as the game is all about getting stuck in with as many models as possible. It’s not a game of Mordheim without a really big, really messy scrap going on somewhere.

Square bases are neater. I’m the first to admit that the poses of some models make base to base contact…problematic but this is a minor issue compared to a base shape that limits base contact when movement and model placement is one of the most nuanced and therefore important rules in the game.

Models mounted on larger square bases shift the balance by limiting the number of models that can charge them and, equally give them a wider frontage to charge multiple models should they so choose.

The problem with round bases is that models that would normally be mounted on a 20mm square base end up on a 25 mm round base, affording them this game altering advantage.

Were this on one or two models – such as a captain and a champion – it perhaps wouldn’t matter. But when it’s across an entire warband it can actually be a game changer.

Things get really sticky when those bases jump to 30mm and above as is often the case with modern character models in Age of Smegmar*.

*yes, it was deliberate

Collecting a Warband

So if round bases aren’t an option what’s a Mordheim novice to do when collecting a warband when increasingly square bases are becoming a thing of the past?

You can, of course, try to pick up an original Mordheim warband on eBay. Personally I wouldn’t for 3 reasons.

  1. They are absurdly expensive. Some warbands – especially Carnival of Chaos – go for insane money. Resist the urge to have a piece of Games Workshop history. They don’t give a shit so neither should you.
  2. The models have broadly speaking dated very poorly. There are much nicer models out there for a lot less money.
  3. They aren’t scaleable. If you’re playing a campaign your warband won’t stay its starting size for long. After two games my Lahmian warband has grown by 5 models.
    Relying on out of production models doesn’t work.

Mordheim-Witch-Hunters

Fortunately there a couple of options.

Option 1 – Source your warband from the Age of Sigmar Range

Thanks to a confused and – quite frankly – bungled initial release there are still a fair few models out that can be used for Mordheim with little or no conversion. However as the game becomes more established and the writers flesh out the Age of Sigmar world, these will start to disappear.

Some Age of Sigmar regiments and single miniatures come with a square base still. Especially those that were sculpted with a plastic scenic base as part of the model. They are ideal but will eventually be superseded.

If the Kharadron Overlords and the Idoneth Deepkin are anything to go by, what replaces them will be fairly unrecognisable. That’s not a complaint but a mere statement of fact.

The good news on that front is it gives you the opportunity to plump for some really refreshing hired sword models for you campaigns. Again, considering the inflated prices on eBay you may as well go for something totally new.

Assuming you’re able to gather together the models you want then it’s just a case of finding some square bases. Fortunately there’s still a few companies out there who stock some amazing scenic bases. Better still you can get enough to deck out your entire warband for only a few pounds.

I can personally recommend Tiny Worlds. I’ve reviewed their products in the past and can speak to their quality and their customer service. But others like Daemonscape also produce some nice bases.

Option 2 – Mix and match

This is my preferred method and one I’ve used for the last 3 warbands I’ve created.

Companies like Freebooter Miniatures produce some awesome metal models, all mounted on scenic square bases as standard and because Freebooter’s Fate uses named characters they are all individual sculpts. This is awesome for sourcing your character models.

In fact at Salute I bought a chunk of the Brotherhood range to replace the hodge podge of old GW models I had used for my Lahmians. They weren’t telling the story I wanted to convey well enough. It was great on paper but on the board they looked messy.

The rebooted Lahmians have a darker story and a unifying look centred around an ostentatious and beautiful Lahmian vampire that will look deliberately out of place.

I even replaced the Henchmen models with Brotherhood models. Scaleability is a slight concern but there are enough models across the entire Freebooter Miniatures range that I can make it work easily enough.

Just two of the new models I purchased from Freebooter to serve as the Beloved and a Thrall respectively.

The only downside is it’s a fairly expensive way of collecting a warband but – in my opinion worth it (a) for a really unique looking warband and (b) a model range that is supported and not going anywhere.

Plus when you consider buying up entire regiments of GW models to only use one or two, it becomes entirely reasonable.

Fortunately we operate in a saturated market place so there are plenty of fantasy games that can easily proxy for Mordheim miniatures – such as Frostrgrave and Avatars of War.

frostgrave
The Frostgrave models aren’t GW standard but neither are you paying GW money. As henchmen they’re perfectly serviceable and (you guessed it) scalable.

Again sometimes this will mean paying slightly over the odds for a single miniature but I do believe it’s worth it to get a warband that’s unique to look at and fun to play with. After all the reason why armies Warhammer and 40k look amazing is because of the sense of uniformity, punctuated by cool characters.

Mordheim warbands work because of the subtle uniformity underpinning a group of individual models.

Where you may struggle is with GW specific creations such as Skaven. For the time being Skaven are staying as is so, beyond a base swap, you should be fairly safe buying those.

Taking to the Streets

Any hobby project is a deeply personal thing. If you’re investing time and money into something you need to love it.

It’s for this reason that so many of us start armies, lose interest and sell them on. In some cases it’s because we can’t be fecked but in the majority of cases it’s because we don’t love the army enough to continue.

I painted a battle company in 3 weeks and a Imperial Knight household in 6. I did this because I loved the armies I’m collecting. My Death Guard will be fully done by November for the next trip to Warhammer World for the same reason.

It’s really important to choose the right models for your warband that allows you to get the most of the game both mechanically and aesthetically.

Most arguments I hear against this are usually born from inconvenience. We’re wargamers! Everything we do is an inconvenience.

We build fiddly models with noxious glues, then spending hour upon back breaking hour to painting them to then spend hour upon hour stood around a table, ending the night with sore knees to go with our sore backs. It sounds pretty damned inconvenient.

But we do it because we love it.

Mordheim isn one of the best games I’ve played in my almost 30 years of wargaming and still one of the best rule sets out of the dozens I’ve reviewed over the years.

Give it some love.