Mordhau: How to become a master swordsman

Last Updated May 20th, 2019

The new medieval combat simulator Mordhau has taken the PC community by storm, tapping into the same visceral combat thrills which made games like Mount & Blade and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare so popular. However, despite its clear similarities to medieval combat titles like Chivalry, Mordhau is also very much its own unique beast.

In this guide, we’ll explain some of Mordhau’s more unique elements and how players can use those elements to their advantage. Much like the medieval combat games that came before it, Mordhau isn’t a game that can be mastered in an hour or two. If you follow the below tips and guidelines, though, you can get a noticeable leg up on the competition and carve out your own place on the game’s chaotic battlefield.

Understanding Weapon Control

Mordhau players will quickly learn that the game has no place for button-mashers and “spammers.” Your character’s limited stamina gauge ensures you can’t just recklessly swing your sword around forever, and even if you could, you definitely wouldn’t want to. A skilled opponent would simply parry your wild swings and drop you with a riposte without breaking a sweat.

There are several facets to understanding the overall “flow” of a typical Mordhau melee, but none of it will mean much if you can’t properly control your own weapon. Unlike in other medieval combat games, the direction your weapon swings when you click the attack button isn’t dependent on which direction your character is moving. Instead, the direction your mouse is moving in when you initiate the attack determines the direction of the swing.

You can move the mouse left or right for horizontal swings, flick it up for overhand chops, or move it down to try and catch your opponent with a low swing. You can also move the mouse wheel to perform stabs and press the F key to kick doors and enemies. Just note that kicks have a deceptively short range and are hard to land on a highly mobile opponent.

There’s also a central indicator which shows at-a-glance the direction your sword will swing when initiating an attack. This indicator quickly changes based on whichever direction you last moved your mouse in, so you can know for sure what sort of attack you’re about to perform before clicking the attack button.

Morph Attacks, Chambering, and Parries

One of Mordhau’s more advanced combat techniques is the morph attack. This cool-sounding maneuver is basically a clever feint which involves quickly turning one type of attack into another. Ideally, your opponent will try to parry the initial attack, leaving them exposed and unable to avoid the second attack. As part of Mordhau’s opening tutorial, you’ll learn how to do one of the easiest morph attacks, an overhand swing into a stab, but you should try and experiment with other combinations as well.

Another advanced technique that’s worth mastering is the chambering mechanic. By using your mouse cursor to position your character’s upper body, you can lengthen or shorten the total swing time for a given melee attack. Even if your opponent knows the direction of your attack, chambering can throw off their parry timing and allow you to score a sneaky hit.

The same upper body movements for chambering are also helpful for mastering Mordhau’s parry system. Since different weapons have different attack ranges and speeds, a good habit to get into is constantly modifying your viewpoint so that you’re following the tip of your opponent’s weapon. If you’re just facing your enemy directly, it can be hard to judge the exact right moment to initiate a parry. If you’re following their weapon, though, you can better see any incoming attacks they throw out.  

Use Your Surroundings

Mordhau’s weapon-based physics are quite realistic, to the point where larger armaments can snag on virtually any environmental object, be it a tree, a wooden fence, a wall, or even another person. Clever players who take the time to learn Mordhau’s various map layouts can use these weapon physics to their advantage by baiting enemies into areas where their weapons are much less effective.

For example, if an enemy is trying to overwhelm you with a greatsword or other large weapon, lead them into a narrow corridor or a room with a low ceiling. Chances are that most of their attacks will get caught on the walls or ceiling, leaving them exposed to counter-attacks in the process.

Narrow corridors and bridges are also excellent go-to spots if you prefer stabbing weapons like spears or rapiers. Your enemies won’t be able to sidestep your attacks in such areas, allowing you to press your advantage and possibly break though their defenses (or at least force them to retreat).

The Power of Range

Speaking of spears, long-range melee weapons are some of the best options for Mordhau beginners no matter what type of conflict they find themselves in. If you don’t mind going a slightly less honorable route, an excellent strategy in game modes like Frontline is to equip a spear, let your teammates clash with the enemy team, and then jab out at any exposed/outnumbered enemies from afar.

If you prefer Mordhau’s cooperative horde mode, large sweeping weapons like the scythe are worth locating. A single well-timed scythe swing can easily drop three or more AI enemies as they’re pressing in on you. Whether you’re playing competitive or co-op, keeping your opponents at range also prevents them from getting close enough to kick you or needle you with shorter, quicker blades like daggers or short swords.

On the flip side of the range game, you should avoid large open areas if you suspect the enemy team has archers or throwing weapon users. In fact, if you have a two-handed weapon equipped, looting a fallen enemy’s shield can actually save your life.

When you pick up a shield while holding a two-handed weapon, the shield is automatically strapped to your back. These back-strapped shields won’t prevent crafty ambushers from backstabbing you, but they can block enemy projectiles like rocks and arrows. If you need to make a fast exit or put your back towards enemy archers during a tense duel, you’ll be glad you have the shield’s added protection.

Pay Close Attention to Regions and Server Ping

By default, Mordhau is configured to search across all worldwide regions when you matchmake into an online game. However, if you wind up getting matched into a game that’s being hosted in a different region than your own, network latency can severely impact your gameplay. We’d recommend switching over to your native global region, especially if you’re based in the United States.

Similar practices should be enforced when you’re manually searching for active games via Mordhau’s server browser. You definitely don’t want network latency to mess up the timing of your parries and attacks, so pay close attention to the ping counters for each game. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to avoid any games that have anything more than 70-75 ping.

Mordhau is definitely the sort of game where the only way to truly get good is to just throw yourself into the chaos and learn as you go. The above tips can make the on-boarding process easier, but it’s only through many hours of practical application that you’ll truly master the game’s many nuances. If you think you’re up to the challenge, Mordhau is available now on PC via Steam Early Access.