Warlord Games are no strangers to comic books, most of their stalwart staff grew up on a steady diet of Battle, Commando and Hotspur comic books during the 70s and 80s! Add in the fact that for several years Warlord Games distributed the Judge Dredd miniatures game for Mongoose Publishing.
It seems only right that they handle the next incarnation of 2000AD based miniature games, and last year the released the hugely popular Strontium Dog game and have just followed suit with an all-new game based around the most successful British ComicBook character of the past forty plus years, Judge Joe Dredd!
Dredd is the toughest cop in the history of comic books, a clone of one of the most famous judges, trained from infancy to uphold the law like it was a religion and dispense justice accordingly. Dredds world is filled with the bizarre and strange, a place where being ugly is the in vogue thing to be, people can top the scales at over two tonnes, apes can talk and of 98% of the sprawling metropolis of Mega-City Ones populace, are unemployed.
Its a world where violence and crime go hand in hand, with gangs of punks, dunks, taps and more terrorising the city blocks that they live in, each often homes tens of thousands of scared citizens. This is a living and breathing city, and often the backbone of the stories, and as a famous man once said, “There are a million stories in the naked city and this is just one of them!”
Trying to stop a powder keg igniting are the judges of the Justice Department, trained from the age of five in the toughest school in history, they fight a never-ending battle to keep the anarchic city from collapsing in on itself!
- 10 highly detailed resin miniatures (1 Street Judge, 1 Rookie Judge, 8 Block Gangers)
- 160 page full-colour A4 softback rulebook
- 8-page Quick-Start scenario booklet
- Double-sided gaming mat
- Full-color, double-sided die-cut card scenery
- 7 Unit cards
- 18 Armoury cards
- 18 Big Meg cards
- Full-Colour waterslide Meg-City graffiti sheet
- Plastic game tokens
- 2 six sided dice
- 8 Combat dice
The miniatures that come in the starter set are all made from the new wonder resin that Warlord made great use of with the recent release of SPQR and the new resin allows for really fine details to be cast very crisp and sharp.
The eight Block Ganger models are all armed and posed in a variety of ways, from close combat weapons to ranged and even heavy weapons, and each model looks like it has been lifted right out of the pages of that hallowed tome 2000AD with many of the miniatures looking just like artwork from stalwart artists such as Brett Ewins, Brendan McCarthy and Bryan Talbot!
Very little in the way of flash on the models means very little cleanup and none of my miniatures suffered from the dreaded (pun intended) resin warp where barrels of guns or blades can sometimes warp due to the casting process. This is, however, a very simple thing to fix if it does happen, but the QC at Warlord is first-rate and its quite rare to get a miscast!
There are two judges, one is a female rookie judge, the other a male street judge, each is again cast in the new resin and the details on the chains and weapons is crisp and sharp with great lines of animation and fluidity of movement, especially on the street judge. Both judges are armed with their iconic Lawgiver handgun and the male judge also carries a day stick to dispense justice where needed and again very little flash or mould lines to remove.
The models are also supplied with round plastic bases that the integral bases can be glued onto to give a bit more stability and allow for the bases to be customised a little more if desired.
Gaming Tokens and Dice
Both the plastic tokens and the Combat Dice that are presented in the core set are the same as those found in the Strontium Dog Starter Set that came out last year. You get three frames of plastic tokens which are used during play and help keep track of who has activated, wounds, pinned models and other effects such as moving quickly or bleeding. The frames are in two colours, one gold and two in blue, to signify each players teams or gangs.
The Combat Dice are six-sided dice that feature unique facings that are used during play. Each die has three hit icons, two armour icons, and one 2000AD icon.
Die- cut scenery
The die-cut scenery that comes in the starter set is printed on high-quality thick stock card and is double-sided. The artwork depicts various things such as hover vans and industrial terrain features and other features that are more in keeping with Mega-City One, such as the Resyk building that features heavily in the comics. One side has the terrain piece in pristine condition, while the reverse side is it after heavy damage or neglect.
Like the card terrain found in the Doctor Who miniatures game from Warlord Games, the artwork is excellent and they add that extra dimension to your table, essential if you are new to tabletop gaming!
Each model or gang is represented by a miniature on the tabletop during play and the starter set (as well as the expansions for each unit) contains enough unit cards to cover the contents of the starter box. The cards are simple to read and are broken down as follows:
Move: This is the distance the unit can move during a move activation and is measured in inches
Shoot: The units ability to make ranged attacks, either with weapons or natural abilities. This is the number of Combat Dice roled when making an attack. The higher the number then the more chance of sucess.
Fight: The fighting prowess of the unit, either via brute strength, or skilled martial arts. Like Shoot, this is the amount of Combat Dice rolled to make a successful attack in melee or hand to hand combat.
Evade: How agile a unit is and how well it can get out of the way of incoming damage. Note that not all units or models have an Evade stat.
Resist: An armour or mental save that is used to negate damage caused to the unit by an attack, the higher the number the better the chance of success.
Cool: The morale and willpower of the unit and how well it can keep its nerve when under duress or being attacked without becoming panicked.
Notoriety: How much influence, effectiveness or fame the unit has and in the advanced game is used as a points cost for the unit. Some units which are cheap such as a basic punk will cost very little coming in at just 3 points, whereas a senior judge is 23 points, naturally, Judge Dredd is the most expensive model in the game and is 36 Notoriety!
The cards give you enough to play with all the models in the core set and you can make things more difficult for the judge player by ramping up the level or weapons of the gang members. Each card is double-sided and features all the rules and statistics as well as any skills and equipment that the unit has standard!
Armoury and Big Meg Cards
These cards are used to flesh out your gangs and judges, giving them weapons and equipment, and each card gives a full break down of what the item does and how it works, as well as a piece of artwork featuring it. Big Meg cards allow extra depth to the scenario and can affect various things, from causing problems for your opponent to adding cover to your gang. You get to draw three cards at the start of the game and can use them to augment play, often as a reaction to the current players turn. The cards are also handily reprinted at the back of the rulebook
Quick start scenario booklet
This eight-page booklet is designed to teach you the very basics of the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game, from moving and shooting to using more than one miniature and much more. This acts as your introduction to the weird world of Dredd, and is designed to get a novice or new players up and running very quickly by cutting out a lot of the bulk of the core rules found in the full rulebook.
Each of the introductory scenarios is simple and straight forward and offers a good break down of how the game will play, going from just a couple of models on each side to larger and more in-depth games!
The double-sided playmat that comes with the two-player starter set is immense! I had a really difficult time trying to position my camera to take a photo of it when I did my unboxing video, it is just that big.
This mat is on a really thick paper stock that is of pretty high quality and should easily last until you can make your own terrain and is printed with a render of the Big Meg itself.
Rules are something that can be hit or miss with miniature games, especially those based on an already existing intellectual property. Sometimes so much care is given to the rules when being crafted that they have glaring holes in them and are often too simple as to appeal to fans of the IP in question. That said sometimes the rules try to be experimental and offer a fresh slant on already existing characters and settings. While this may be a new approach, long-time fans of the franchise will often be up in arms. It is a very fine line to get the balance right and much like Fantasy Flight Games did last year with their excellent Star Wars: Legion, Warlord Games have hit the nail on the head with Judge Dredd Miniatures Game!
The rulebook is a softbound 160 page long tome that is full colour and is packed from the first page to the last with hundreds of awesome images drawn from the comics almost forty-three-year history! From the creator of Dredd’s iconic image, the late and very much missed Carlos Ezquerra, to more modern and contemporary artists who have worked on the galaxies greatest comic book, the rule book is filled with them, all icons in their own right. As I said in my video unboxing, many of these artists were my heroes growing up, people I revered and respected, in much the same way that many folks follow popstars or footballers.
My point really is that the art adds an extra level of depth to the game, grounding it in the mythos that has built up over my entire adult lifetime! Artwork, of course, does not a game alone make, so how does it play?
Well, there is a very old adage that if it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it and for the most part, a lot of games companies tend to do this. Games Workshop has followed more or less the same formula for both Warhammer Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 for the past few decades and sure things change and get simpler or more complex, but the basic mechanics remain more or less untouched. Likewise, Privateer Press did the same format when they released Hordes, which is all but identical to Warmachine from the company.
Why do I say this? Well at its heart Judge Dredd Miniatures Game, like its sister game Strontium Dog, uses a cut-down version of Warlord Games World War II combat game Bolt Action! The Bolt Action ruleset is pretty simple and yet has enough versatility to be adapted to more or less any situation or genre (in the past we have used it for Starship Troopers, Halo and even 40K), and so it is pretty much ideal to use on a small scale miniatures game where you are not going to be using much more than around twenty models at any given time!
In essence, the game goes like this! Players place a token for each member of their gang or team of judges into an opaque container and one is drawn at a time and depending on the colour of the token, the player controlling that team activates one of his models. Each model may then perform two actions, such as move, shoot, or dive cover, etc, and then once it has performed both actions it is classed as activated for this turn and the play then passes to the next player to draw from the bag. This is repeated until all models have been activated, then all tokens from surviving models are placed back into the bag and the next turn begins!
It’s as simple as that really! That is how Bolt Action managed to get so many fans on board. It is quick and simple to learn and allows for more than one game to be played a session, something that a lot of other games companies often fail to achieve.
Of course, that is just a very basic overview of how the game plays, and it is much more in-depth than that. You have Big Meg cards to augment your gangs, cause problems for your opponents and much more, add to that the Armoury cards that allow you to flesh out the teams and gangs and give them access to weaponry, equipment and even vehicles and the game expands considerably.
Each chapter of the rulebook is laid out in a very easy to read format, and there are dozens of examples of gameplay to fall back on just in case you are confused about a particular mechanic. There is a bestiary of sorts that features rules for not only Dredd himself (they also come in card format with his miniature) but some of his more famous adversaries such as Orlock the Assassin and even the infamous Judge Death!
The rulebook is broken down into five sections, each going into great detail to its contents, these being.
Core Rules: Everything you need to know about the game and how to play it, from measuring distances to vehicles and mounted combat. This takes up 39 pages, but there is a basic run down that is just a page long.
Armoury: All the weapons and equipment used in the game is detailed here, including how to use the Big Meg cards.
Denizens of Mega-City One: This is the whos who of the game, and covers everything from the basic citizen on the ped, to Judge Dredd. It also delves a little deeper into the background and lore for the universe.
Scenarios: Six ready to play scenarios make up this section of the rulebook and are progressive in difficulty.
To Live and Die in Mega-City One. Taking its name from a famous gangster movie, this section is the advanced rules and offers up a full campaign system, expands on the rules for making your gangs and introduces things such as sentencing criminals for the judges and using grudge points.
The layout of the book is perfect and is filled with dozens of images taken from the comics, and photos of the excellently painted studio miniatures. The miniatures are often depicted in a comic book panel style, complete with word blowouts that add to the overall feel of the game and ground it instantly to the genre. There are plenty of examples of how things work and how to do things throughout, making the whole thing a quick and enjoyable read.
Warlord Games like to spoil their gamers, they often give away something special when they release a new game, normally a unique model or miniature and Judge Dredd: I Am The Law is no exception!
For a limited time, anyone who buys the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game starter set of the game will receive a free limited edition Judge Dredd vs Judge Death miniature. This white metal multipart miniature is based on the amazing artwork of the legendary Gregg Staples and was created for the release of the computer/console game back in the very late 90s. It has since gone on to be one of the most famous images of the comic book characters and sees them locked in a struggle, with the etherial Death wrapped around Dredd his arch-nemesis. The miniature perfectly captures the amazing art of Staples and is a must for any collector of Judge Dredd memorabilia! Look out for a giveaway on Gamers Web for your chance to win the limited edition Dredd vs Death miniature as well as some other great Dredd/2000AD related goodies.
Thoughts and conclusions
Capturing the feel of Dredd’s world in a miniatures game is not an easy task, it is as simple as it is complex for many parts and while Gangs of Mega-City One and its follow up the Dredd Miniatures Game both did a valiant attempt at capturing that essence, which in many ways they did; they also seemed to miss out on one of the things that makes Judge Dredd stand out and that is the city itself!
Dredd is hard, he is the title character after all and most likely able to take on anyone that is foolish enough to come at him. That said he is not immortal and unlike the previous games, Dredd and for that matter Judge Death can be taken out, not an easy task but it is possible. Much like the powerhouse that is the Hulk in Atomic Mass Games Marvel Crisis Protocol, if you whittle away at the character you can incapacitate them eventually. In the previous games, Judge Death was almost unstoppable in the game, now at least you have a fighting chance.
The Judge Dredd Miniatures Game core set is excellent value for money, and comes with some really lovely looking miniatures, all cast up in the new Warlord resin, which is pretty nice to paint on. As I write this, wave one has been released for the game and features a whole host of models, from the more famous bad guys such as Mean Machine Angel and Judge Death to more punks, and even fatties! Future waves will include Judge Anderson, vehicles and Cit-Def units and with the whole game being supported by some excellent terrain from Sarissa Precision, we can expect to see some great tables appearing at shows and clubs around the world!
Those who know me well, know that I have a deep love for Judge Dredd and his universe and this game is quick and easy to learn but carries with it that weight that only comes from years of experience in making games. Warlord has come up trumps with the rules once again and offers us a playable world in which to venture, and I look forward very much to seeing this world bloom and grow.