Recently I had the pleasure of playing a demonstration game of the Judge Dredd Miniatures game run by the author himself Matthew Sprange at Triple Helix's birthday event. In fact I played 2 games - the first in which played as a team of 2 Street Judges while Matthew played a Street Gang. In the second game I again played the Judges but this time I managed to rope in a few fellow forum members and my 2 Judges found themselves attempting to quell a small Block-War between an Ape Gang (played by Messy) and a band of Renegade Robots (played by Bert) while a Lone Vigilante (played by Big Cat) took to the skies above. Personally I find reading about someone else playing a game rather boring, so I'm not going to do a battle report here - I'm going to talk about how the game works and plays!
And it plays fast (which is something I always look for in a game) - the rules are strait forward and easy to learn, the core mechanic being roll a D10 and add the appropriate characteristic while your opponent rolls D10 and adds their opposing characteristic.
For example when shooting the attacker rolls D10 and adds their miniature's 'Shoot' Characteristic (rapid-fire type weapons allow the you to roll more than 1 dice) while the target roll D10 and adds their 'Agility', the highest rolls made by both players are then compared. If the target's roll is higher then the shot was a miss, if the attacker got the higher roll then it's a hit the weapon's 'Damage' Characteristic is deducted from the target's Hit points. If the target is equipped with some kind of armour an Armour Save roll is made by rolling (you guessed it) D10 and adding the target's 'Armour' Characteristic, the aim being to roll above 10, but certain weapons have an Armour Piercing characteristic which is deducted from the Armour roll making it all the more difficult (one nice touch is that a 1 on an armour roll is always a failure meaning even the best armour has a chance of failing against the lowliest weapon). Most other rules work along the same lines, for close combat both models roll the number of D10s indicated by their Melee Dice characteristic, and add their Melee characteristic, when a Judge is attempting to arrest a perp both models use their Will characteristic and so on for other actions. Movement is measured in inches of course and the usual line-of-site rules are present (I feel pointing that out in a review of 28/30mm miniature combat game carries about as much worth while as pointing out that the miniatures have bases).
It's all fairly standard for game of it's type and as a bonus it's nice and easy to learn. Comparisons can of course be drawn with GW's neglected (and now estranged) child Necromunda, Judge Dredd plays faster than Necromunda and there's no constantly having to look up or memorise 'to-hit' and 'to-wound' charts between dice rolls - it's all just basic maths and D10s. Also there's no 'turn sequence'/'phases' to worry about going through in the right order each turn - Judge Dredd uses a simple '2 actions per a turn' system which will feel familiar to players of HeroQuest, D&D and many other games. Your 2 actions (which can include moving, shooting, melee and certain special actions unique to some character types) can be performed in any order you like, so you can shoot and then move, move then shoot, shoot twice, move twice or use an ability like the Judge's Special Action 'Arrest' and then shoot afterwards if it fails.
But it's not the core mechanics of this game which make it stand out, it's the rich, vibrant Judge Dredd/2000AD background which (unlike that of a lot of popular games) doesn’t take itself too seriously and gives the game a great sense of fun which I've found lacking in a lot of modern games.
The flavour of the background is woven throughout the rulebook with things like the special rule for Demolition Droids being called 'Big Jobs' and other nice little touches like that. The rules are written in friendly humours tone and the background is explained in short paragraphs throughout the rules followed by paragraphs explaining rules themselves to which the snippet of background relates. So if like me you're a long time fan of Judge Dredd you'll be able to appreciate all the references in the rulebook, but if you're new to Judge Dredd you won't be intimidated by page after page of what some gamers might call 'the fluff'. This of course is an advantage when introducing the game to players who are unfamiliar with Judge Dredd and 2000AD (such as the inevitable wave of people who will have only just become aware of it all due to the new film)
As you'd expect from a game based Judge Dredd there's a lot variety in your choice of forces and each force has something that makes in unique and play differently to other forces - this is where the background really comes into play in the game providing each force with it's own specialist troops and rules.
As I've mentioned before Judges have the ability to Arrest members of other forces and the rules state that they must attempt to arrest a perp before engaging in combat which gives them a unique tactical style. The Justice Department is of course one of the more heavy equipped forces with a lot of unique weapons and pieces of equipment (in fact the Justice Department has a separate equipment list to that available to other forces) but Justice Department forces tend to be out numbered by most other forces.
The opposite of Justice Department forces in many ways are the Street Gangs which consists of a large number of Juves and Punks armed with more basic weapons. Street Gangs are the nearest thing you'll get to a run-of-the-mill force in Judge Dredd
Fewer in number than the common Street Gang but with access to better weapons and equipment are the organised criminal groups known as Mobsters. Blitzers are the Mobsters 'specialist troops', tougher than your normal Mobster and equipped with a 'Brain Bomb' which they will detonate rather than being arrested.
Ape Gangs are one of the most varied forces in the game with access to several different species of primates each with it's own speciality, in addition to this all the apes have the 'Swinging Apes' special rule which allows them to automatically pass Agility tests, meaning of course they can swing and climb all over the place to out manoeuvre other forces.
The Fattie Stampede is another very unique force consisting as it does of a lumbering group of Fatties rolling unrelentingly forward on their 'Belly Wheels' crushing all in their path in their search for more food
From outside the walls of Mega City One come the Cursed Earth Desperado gangs, consisting of the more 'standard' Desperadoes and their allies the Mutants, in addition to their normal weapons and equipment Mutants can also (as you'd expect) 'purchase' beneficial Mutations. Anyone into sculpting and/or converting their models can have a lot of fun with Mutants.
The thrill-seeking rich youths of the Sky Surfer Gangs are another fun force to play, their Power Boards of course make them the fastest moving force in the game.
Lone Vigilantes are a 1 man force heavily equipped with all kinds of gadgets enabling them to fly, deflect gunfire and emulate many other super-heroic deeds. Although very popular among some the down-trodden inhabitants of Mega City One, the Justice Department of course doesn’t approve of citizens taking the law into their own hands. Being 1 model this is definitely the most cost effective force to field but the down side is of course that one mistake could mean you loosing your entire force.
Renegade Robot forces not only get a huge variety of different robot types to play with from Demolition Droids and Combat Droids to Junk Robots and Robo-dogs, but also have the 'You’ll Never Take us Alive, Human!' rule allowing them to ignore any Justice Department attempts to arrest them!
Finally, inspired I'm sure by the Necropolis storyline is the Zombie Horde force, consisting of a large mob of the undead controlled by a powerful psychic Zombie Master
In addition each force also has it's own list of Mercenaries it can hire ('Back up' in the case of the Justice Department and I guess 'Side kicks' for Lone Vigilantes) which can add more variety to you force.
The rulebook also provides rules for 2 'character' Forces, The renown Angel Gang and the Personal Retinue of Mad Chief Judge Caligula and I'm sure we will see a few more in the up-coming expansions (I'll most likely do a review of the BlockWar supplement in the near future)
The official miniatures cost about £2.99 each for a single model on foot and the boxed sets containing multiple figures (normally around 8) cost £21.99 - this makes about them average price in a miniatures industry with the likes of GW and Privateer Press's current prices. But they're fairly good value when you consider they are good metal miniatures and of course there are other places you can get miniatures you can use in Judge Dredd.
As you might know Foundry do their own range of 2000AD miniatures in £10.00 packs of 3 single models on foot (or in some cases 1 large model or 4 small models) so the prices work out about the same or a little more expensive.
On the low-cost end of the miniature's market you've got good old EM4's Future Skirmish range (formally produced by Grenadier) which contains a large number of models that could find various uses in Judge Dredd. The models are sold individually for £1.50 each. Copplestone Castings also do a very (very, very) similar 'Future Wars' range sold in packs of 5 for £8.50.
Some of you might remember that Citadel made a short-lived licensed range of Judge Dredd figures back in the mid-80's to accompany the Judge Dredd the Role-Playing Game GW published around the same time - they are apparently quite rare and sort-after but some of you reading this may own some of them (I know I do).
I think it's also worth mentioning Prince August used to produce a range called Future Shock (also known as 'Bitume') some figures of which clearly owe a lot of influence to Judge Dredd (especially their 'Shocktroops') - I've picked up a few of these recently from a shop that has them remaining in stock from the old days, I am unsure of whether they are still in production.
Talking of things that were clearly inspired by 2000AD; if you happen to have a few Necromunda miniature around you may also find them useful for Judge Dredd too, but I wouldn't recommend going out and buying them for that reason (especially not brand-new)
And on top of that you'll find that most Sci-fi ranges will include some Street Gangs, Rebels, Punks, Robots and vehicles that can be used in Judge Dredd (I'll post more about alternative miniature for Judge Dredd in our Miniatures Discussion section when I get time)
On a personal note I've long been a fan of Judge Dredd and 2000AD and thus over the years I've randomly collected a few Judge Dredd miniatures from the old Citadel range and Foundry as well as a few from Mongoose's older boxes (it's always great when your interests overlap). But despite this I've never actually had a game to use my Judge Dredd miniatures in - before now! Well, actually I do own a copy of the Judge Dredd D20 RPG from when I played in a short campaign with one gaming group I'm part of, but we never used miniatures in the games ...
The Judge Dredd Miniatures Game rulebook is available as a free download from Mongoose's website - so if you've already got some suitable miniature you can start playing free of cost!
~The ravings of a single mad Goblin is bad enough, but such a power-hungry, malice-filled creature as Mortis can never hope to be understood~
I wish I'd had time to have a game of this too, it looks really good fun. Got plenty of gangers and mutant-ish desperado types already....guess I just need to get myself some Judges to arrest them with
We'll have to get some games of this in Mortis, got a bunch of those Hexagon/Platformer sets that would probably make some nice terrain for Mega-City One.