10 Mordhau tips to help you survive the melee

With 64 players hacking and slashing across medieval battlefields, Mordhau is bloody, chaotic fun. But all those severed limbs and battlecries disguise what is one of the most nuanced melee combat systems ever devised in a game. If you go in mashing buttons and wantonly swinging your sword left and right, chances are the only head you'll see rolling is your own—and the unfortunate teammates who happen to get in your way. That's why we've rounded up some helpful Mordhau tips to get you started.

Learning to be a lord of war in Mordhau will take a lot of patience and some trial and error, but this guide breaks down some basic concepts and includes links to more in-depth reading material should you really want to study the blade. Further down, you'll also find some rapidfire tips of some systems you might not be aware of.

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The most important Mordhau tips 

Mordhau is not a hack-n-slash kind of game. If you want to survive, you're going to need to think carefully about your attacks while reacting quickly to your enemies'. And with a combat system as in-depth as this, you could spend hours pouring over guides to every little detail that goes with swinging a sword.

To start, though, complete the combat tutorial which walks through the basics of attacking, parrying, and feinting. It's a lot to take in, but starting out you should focus on these simple basics:

Practice morph attacks, with the simplest being an overhead slash into a stab. These attacks are great for baiting out an early parry, leaving your opponent vulnerable.

Practice parrying properly by turning your camera to follow the tip of the player's weapon. While some weapons have a wider angle of parrying, others are quite narrow. You should always be in the habit of parrying attacks this way, instead of just facing the enemy and holding the right mouse button. This becomes even more important if you're pressed up close with your enemy, as their swings will arc from either side beyond the range of your parry, forcing you to turn your camera to block them.

Once you're feeling more comfortable with the weight and timing of your weapons, I highly recommend reading this Steam guide that covers everything about Mordhau's combat in great depth. It's a fantastic resource to pore over as you continue to play. 

Weapon ballistics are both amazing and frustrating 

Mordhau's combat is governed by a robust physics simulation that is extremely fun to play with, but can also be frustrating. Most of it operates on basic logic: If a character has a shield on their back, you won't be able to shoot them with arrows from behind. But there are more nuanced interactions than that. Arrows and thrown weapons can be parried if timed perfectly, but you can even hit them out of the air with a well-placed swing. If someone does manage to stick you with a throwing axe, you can often see it lodged in your own body, allowing you to grab it and throw it back at them. Likewise, you can pluck throwing axes out of bodies of teammates or even enemies during combat.

Get used to your weapon being caught on players or the environment. In Mordhau, your weapon won't magically clip through the environment or other players, which means you have to always be conscious of how much space you have before attacking. A room with a low ceiling will block your overhead swings, for example. Likewise, be conscious of friendly players who are near you before you swing from side to side, as you're liable to hit them in the back and damage them. 

Build your own class right away 

Mordhau provides almost a dozen default classes that you can use from the beginning, each one fully kitted out in armor and weapons that you might not have yet unlocked. But once you've completed the tutorial and earned a few thousand gold, you should build your own fighter right away. Not only is Mordhau's armor and weapon customization extremely varied—offering a ton of options to customize your appearance and kit, but creating your own class unlocks options that aren't normally available to you, like perks.

Like armor and weapons, perks cost points, but their passive effects can be really helpful in combat. For new players, grabbing Friendly is worthwhile since that'll limit the damage you inadvertently do to your team (which will be a lot, at first). Fireproof is also valuable. Though it costs a lot, Bloodlust fully heals you after a melee kill, which can be extremely powerful if you can spare the extra points.

More importantly, building your own class lets you build a character perfectly tailored to your strengths and weaknesses. Plus, every class can benefit from secondary items like firebombs or medic bags which aren't available on most default classes.

Ping matters a lot 

You can get away with a suboptimal ping in a lot of multiplayer games, but Mordhau is not one of them. Because its combat is so subtle, requiring you to instantly react to the slightest of cues or die, and because everything is handled server-side, you really need a strong network connection. Without one, your parries will always feel a second too late and a swing that looks like a miss will end up cleaving your arms straight off. It's frustrating.

In my experience, anything more than a 75 ping is going to start to impede your ability to fight effectively. Fortunately, Mordhau has official servers in eight regions, including three for just the US alone. Even better, there's a wide range of custom servers that can sometimes provide much more favorable network connections. If you find it hard to consistently get a match where your ping is 70 through matchmaking, try using the server browser to hone in on servers closer to you.

Other quick and simple Mordhau tips 

Don't ignore medic bags that players drop on the ground. These bags have limited number of uses but can restore your health to full and are an invaluable resource for staying in a fight.

Try out your 'R' alternate grip for each weapon. Each weapon has a unique alternate grip that changes its stats in useful ways. Swords can be held by the blade to pummel enemies with the grip, while spears and longswords can be held to shorten their range but increase their damage or speed. Some single-handed weapon can be thrown by pressing 'R' too, so be careful.

Don't ignore the engineer class. This support class can barely fight, but it can build all sorts of extremely useful defensive structures like cover for archers or spikes that will instantly kill enemies and block off useful flanking routes.

Kicking open doors knocks down anyone on the other side. Make a proper entrance and get in a quick stab or two while they're trying to get up.

Use the mouse buttons for certain attacks. Though you can swing your weapon by angling the mouse in specific directions, there are also some handy shortcuts that you should use, too. For example, mouse wheel down will do an overhead slash, which makes morphing an overhead slash into a stab as easy as flicking the mouse wheel back then forward.

Think twice before attacking someone covered in blood. It's easy to mistake which team a player is on if they're covered in blood. The last thing you want to do is kill a friendly or get killed by someone you thought was one. 

Steven Messner

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.