The bastard's guide to winning in Mordhau


On Mordhau's medieval battlefields there is an unspoken code of honor that many players abide by. Mordhau's complex and nuanced first-person combat and medieval themes naturally encourage players to approach combat with mindfulness. After launching last week and selling a shocking 500,000 copies, its community has already formed a code of honor that it encourages others to observe. A lot of it is simple stuff: Don't run away from a duel, be mindful of your attacks so that you don't accidentally damage a teammate, don't interrupt another's duel just to steal the kill.

More on Mordhau

Take your Mordhau mercenary skills to the next level with our builds guide and tier list. You can also read our general tips if you need some help staying alive during the melee. 

But Mordhau's honor code is also an implicit endorsement of certain playstyles over others. At the top of this hierarchy sits those noble, sword-wielding knights. They take pride in their mastery of Mordhau's nuanced combat, knowing the ins and outs of 'chambers,' ripostes, and other esoteric concepts like 'drags and accels'. They'd like for you to believe that their skill is so supreme that they don't need such lowly equipment like a shield, bandages, or, say, even a helmet. They are the muscled Chads of Mordhau, and anyone who doesn't play like them should be ashamed.

I am not one of those players.

To hell with that, I say. You can have your e-chivalry. I'm here to see my name at the top of the leaderboard and I'll do anything to get there. And if you're like me, this is how you do it.

Be sure to turn on the volume for each of these gifs.

Mordhau's spear is a godly weapon that is way cooler than a sword.

Use the spear

Of all of Mordhau's weapons, one stands tall above the rest—no seriously, the spear is a five-foot-nine harbinger of pain and frustration. If you want to be the king of the battlefield, you should spend in-game gold to unlock it immediately. That five-foot-nine length translates into an extreme reach that can't be matched by any other weapon, which means you can safely stab people in the face while they desperately try to get close to you. But, don't worry, if you follow this guide, they'll never get close to you.

What makes the spear the ultimate weapon of the Mordhau bastard isn't just its reach, though. It's how much damage it does with its stab attack. Oh, sure, you could swing it from side to side, but then you would be an idiot. Are you an idiot? I didn't think so. See, if you hit an unarmored foe in the chest with a slash attack, your spear will only do 30 damage. If you stab them in the chest, however, that number leaps up to a whopping 75. Headshots are instantly fatal. So you might as well unbind all other attack keys and change your LMB to stab (like I have). It's the only attack you need.

The downside is that spear costs a whopping 10 points, leaving you with just enough left over to suit up with some decent armor but not much else. You won't need it anyway, and I'll explain why.

Short spears and shields are for wimps 

If you've played any amount of Mordhau by now, you've likely fought against the scourge that is sweeping through this game, the dreaded short spear and shield user. On the surface the benefits seem obvious: You take the stabbing power of the god-tier spear and you complement it with a shield that effectively turns you into a turtle with knives strapped to your shell. Not only can you stab but you can stab and easily block almost any attack. It's an obvious choice… if you're a complete craven.

Short spears are bad and you should never use them—unless an enemy threw one at you and you're merely giving it back. The short spear has dramatically less range and power than the regular spear, which are its two best features. And what do you get in exchange? A shield and a slightly faster stab animation? Please. Our next point will explain why this is dumb. 

Never be on the frontline 

A shield is useful if you're directly in the path of enemy weapons, yes. But the Mordhau bastard knows that the best shields are made of not wood but flesh. Specifically your teammates' flesh. With your five-foot-nine spear, your job is to always stay just a foot or two back from the front line of a fight, letting your team soak up the damage of incoming blows while you jab your spear in between the gaps, poking enemies in the face until they die.

Chances are you'll occasionally stab your own teammate in the head. Don't worry. As long as they're not facing your direction (why would they be?) they won't even know it was you who did it. If you feel really guilty, though, you can pick up the Friendly perk for one equipment point (you'll have to sacrifice some armor) which makes you do less damage to teammates.

Always go for the cheap kill

The road to being number one is paved with stolen kills. Find enemies who are preoccupied fighting one of your team (preferably two or more, so the enemy is severely outnumbered), rush around to their flank (assuming the path is clear), and stab them in the head. 

Think of yourself as a noble and majestic eagle, circling the field of battle. You don't want to always be in the thick of combat, but rather darting in and out to capitalize on openings the enemy gives you. Did an enemy take a swing at an ally and miss? Rush in and stab them in the head! Is an archer getting too close to the action? Rush in and stab them in the head! Has an enemy turned their back on you to engage in a duel? Rush in and stab them in the head!

Don't feel guilty about stealing a kill from your mate who was risking their life to fight that enemy, though. Mordhau is a team sport.

Always run from an even fight

Never engage the enemy one on one unless you absolutely have to. You have nothing to prove, and on the off chance someone calls you out in chat for strategically repositioning yourself just tell them their family is dumb. If you do get attacked while you're alone (like in the gif above), just keep parrying and walking backwards toward your team's spawn zone. Eventually help will arrive and you can overwhelm the enemy... and do a sick air jump and stab them in the head like I did in the gif above.

Loot a shield from a fallen soldier 

"But Steven," you say, "didn't you just tell me shields are for cowards?" Yes, but the shield you should pick up isn't meant for holding. When you pick up a shield with a two handed weapon like a spear, the shield is strapped to your back. So when you inevitably have to strategically reposition yourself from what isn't a fair fight, enemy archers can't shoot you in the back. That's right, shields that aren't being actively held in your hands will still block projectiles (but not melee attacks). As soon as one of your shield-bearing teammates dies (preferably by distracting an enemy so you can swoop in and stab them in the head), loot their shield from their corpse. Just remember to thank them for their sacrifice. 

Get in their heads with your aggravating battlecry

Here's a quick tip: Press 'V' constantly. That's how you battlecry in Mordhau. It's imperative that you're doing this as often as you can, preferably just after killing someone by stabbing them in the head. Also go into the face and voice customization menu and change your voice to "Foppish" and your voice pitch to as high as it can go. You really want your screams to ring in the ears of everyone near you.

The whole point of this guide is to just stay out of danger and stab people in the head. And if you do that, expect to be at the top of the leaderboards each round. I'm not even exaggerating. Best of all, you'll earn a tidy sum of gold and experience points too. Naturally you should spend it on cosmetic upgrades for your spear. It's worked hard to put you at the top.

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.