A brief rundown of MORDHAU's more complex mechanics and concepts.
What is attack manipulation?
Well, it’s a way to either hit someone earlier or later during your attack. It can be used as a way to get around your opponent's parry, reposition an attack to hit a particular area, or to swap targets in a team or 1vMany engagement to keep your opponents guessing.
So how you do you manipulate your attacks?
Simply put, look into the strike direction to accelerate, and look away to drag or delay it. You can drag a stab by aiming away from your opponent and then moving it in towards them once you’ve committed to the attack.
Footwork is important with manipulating your attacks too. The closer you are to someone the more control you have over your attack. If you are off to the side of your opponent you can drag more than if you are just in front of them.
Your hips are tied to your mouse movement, meaning that you telegraph your attack manipulation. When you accel you will be looking into the swing, and when you delay you will be looking away from it. Sometimes you might want to intentionally telegraph early into the swing in order to manipulate your opponent’s timing, or you might want to do it late so your opponent has to react quickly and possibly make a mistake. Don’t leave it too late otherwise the weapons turn cap will influence your mouse movement, this happens once the grunt plays and you have committed to your attack.
Feints keep you from having to commit to every action. By pressing Q during the windup of your attack, you will perform a feint. This includes:
- and Morphs.
It’s important to remember that after a feint you can go straight into a parry. This can make them a great defensive tool if you think your opponent will hit you first. By default you will be able to go straight into a parry using right mouse button during the windup of your attack, but you can also hit Q to feint manually and then hit right mouse button for a parry.
Feints, Morphs & Chambers
You can use a lot of the melee mechanics together. You have the opportunity to morph after a chamber if you’re still winding up the attack. The timing might be tricky to get use to but this can catch a lot of opponents off guard. Now, you can go a step further and feint a chamber-morph. While this attack might be hard to read for newer players, it’s important to keep in mind that it consumes a ton of stamina.
Simply put, you can perform chambers, morphs and feints, either early or late into their windows. Now, lets run through some quick scenarios where this timing can be quite important.
Chambers vs. Feints
If you time a chamber properly, you will punish a player if they decide to feint. Worst case scenario you just chamber their attack. However, this might not always be the case. If you go for a chamber at the last possible moment against a quick weapon that has feinted, they can bait out your attack and hit you while you’re still winding up. In this case a feint has just countered a chamber. A feint can also counter your chamber regardless of the weapon’s speed if your opponent performs an early feint. To work around this you will need to perform your chambers a bit earlier, or read your opponent’s feint and look to parry instead.
Morphs vs. Chambers
If you notice your opponent is chambering you can throw in a morph to catch them off guard. However, this might not always be the case with certain weapons. If you’re using a zweihander and your opponent is using a bastard sword, and you perform a stab to strike morph to try and catch them off guard, their chamber attempt might still hit you before you can hit them. In cases like this, you’d need to perform a morph earlier so your attack isn’t as drawn out, but it still baits out the chamber attempt. You might also need to accelerate your attack.
Kicks vs. Everything
You can also use kicks as a way to counter feints, morphs and chambers, if they’re timed properly. Usually when your opponent is morphing or feinting they run straight up into your face to do so. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea because the closer you are to someone when you’re attacking, the less time they have to read. However, you can punish this behaviour with a well timed kick. You can bait out a chamber in a similar fashion by attacking, and then morphing or feinting into a kick. Most players will run into an attack to chamber, and that’s perfect kicking distance. Be careful, if your opponent catches on to this they might bait out your kick with an attack, and if you commit when they’re out of range that leaves you incredibly exposed.
Usually when you miss there’s a brief period where you are unable to queue up another action called recovery. You can use combo’s to skip this recovery period, but it does require some foresight. If you are going to miss an attack, you can perform a combo, then feint the comboed attack, and then go straight into a parry. This is called a combo-feint-to-parry. A combo-feint-to-parry will prevent your opponent from punishing you for missing, but you will lose a significant amount of stamina in the process. This does not work with every weapon because some weapons can’t combo. For example, the Maul and executioner's sword. You are also unable to combo out of a kick, so don’t miss!
If you’re unsure about what your weapon is capable of be sure to check out the advanced settings in the armoury.
A lot of people will perform a combo-feint-to-parry right after they miss, and during this moment of panic you can get around it by performing feints, drags or morphs. More experienced players will be less prone to this sort of mistake.
Once you have successfully landed an attack your recovery period afterwards is shorter than if you had missed. This is called hit recovery.
Keep in mind that hit recovery only refers to situations where you successfully land an attack on your opponent, it isn’t the same if your attack was parried.
A combo will usually allow for quicker follow-ups on most weapons. Attacking after the hit recovery will allow for an attack that’s not quite as fast as a combo, but still quite quick. The twist is that this attack allows you to morph and chamber. This can also be performed from the same side, unlike a combo. Blunt weapons make the most use of this mechanic because their attacks only cleave on kills, meaning that they only combo in those scenarios. Their hit recovery tends to be much quicker to make up for their single-target nature.
You can also go straight into a parry after landing a hit. This is really useful if you’re fighting multiple opponents and you want to avoid taking damage.
After a successful parry you can go straight into another parry. This is called a parry-into-parry. You can still go straight into a riposte after any successful parry.
Your parry does not get cancelled when you perform a riposte. What this means is that if you perform a riposte very early into your parry window, your parry will extend into the riposte. This can allow you to block attacks while you are attacking to take back the initiative against multiple opponents. This mechanic is called Active Parry.
You gain additional stamina if you block multiple attacks with a single parry, active parry or parry-into-parries that are performed in quick succession.
You can also go straight into a parry during the windup of your riposte.
When you parry the opponent has a recovery period where they cannot queue up an attack immediately. This window is long enough for most weapons to not have to riposte to keep initiative. Since this is just a regular attack, it allows you to feint, chamber and morph. Since it isn’t a riposte, you miss out on an attack that could otherwise be uninterruptable.
Health & Stamina
Different weapons cost different amounts of stamina to parry. If you’re trying to parry a weapon that’s much larger than your own, it’s going to cost a bit more stamina to block. This is called stamina negation. The most obvious examples would be a dagger parrying a halberd, or a dagger parrying a maul. Compare this to a dagger parrying another dagger, and you can see there’s quite a difference. Makeshift weapons have dreadful stamina negation, so maybe avoid fighting with the lute unless you really want to prove a point.
You get a bit of stamina and health back on kills, and stamina is also gained upon a successful hit, or if you disarm someone. Perks such as bloodlust, fury and second wind can increase these amounts in the armoury. Also, if you are disarmed you’ll get some stamina back, but not if your held-shield was disarmed.
You can manipulate your character model to avoid attacks. The simplest way to do so is to hit left control to crouch, this will bring you lower to the ground and give you the opportunity to duck underneath attacks. You can get even closer to the ground by looking down as well. This can make ducking under attacks much more consistent. Alternatively, you can look up and lean away from strikes to perform a matrix. Keep in mind these moves are incredibly situational, and I’d avoid attempting these until you have a sound understanding of Mordhau’s combat. Most experienced players will drag their attacks in a way so they can easily adjust them if they spot a duck or matrix, or they will just aim for the lower body.
Body manipulation can also be used as a sort of damage control. If you notice a strike coming for your face, you can turn away from it and look down at the ground, and more often than not they’ll just hit your upper-body. This will usually deal much less damage.
On the defense try and keep your camera movements smooth and also try and keep your opponents on screen. If you can’t focus on the attacks you’re going to have a hard time dealing with them.
There’s a trade-off to this though. If you want a strong offense you’ll want to perform drags and accelerations where your opponents may be mostly off-screen. This can leave you with less time to read the enemy’s counterattack should they defend.
There are some situations where you will need erratic camera movement on the defense, but these tend to only be in huge team fights and one vs many situations.
If you’re having a hard time reading attack angles, look at your opponents hands. The hand movement tends to be much more obvious and exaggerated so it can be easier to read than the weapon itself.
If you’re still having difficulty timing your defense, try and listen for your opponent’s grunt. This only plays when they have committed to the attack, so you’re less likely to fall for any feints. Don’t rely on this to read attacks because if your opponent is close the grunt will play as you get hit.
Footwork is something that I have barely touched on, and it’s because it’s incredibly complex. Basically, you want to move forward on offense in order to close distance with your opponent, and move backwards on defense to give yourself more room to read your opponents attacks.
Keeping your distance is key for defense because that means it will take longer for your opponent's attack to reach you, giving more time for you to react and/or reposition yourself.
When you move forward to attack, make sure you’re sprinting so you make the most out of your movement and range. Be careful, if you get too close while you’re starting your attack you can leave yourself open to being kicked.
Sprinting is the best way to avoid attacks using footwork since it’s the quickest way to move. You can use this to force an attack to hit you later or earlier if you run into or away from the attack. This can also force a miss if your opponent is accelerating or dragging their attack too much or too little.
Keep in mind, if you turn too harshly your movement will be slowed down, potentially leaving you exposed to your opponent.
Your stamina won’t regenerate while you’re sprinting so avoid using it on the defense unless you need to do some fancy footwork to avoid attacks.
In summary: Sprint forward when attacking, walk backwards when defending. More space means more time to read attacks. This is incredibly rule of thumb and won’t always be the case at high levels of play.