Judge Dredd: Initial Review
That's right kids, I've picked up a totally new game, Judge Dredd! For those of you who are not familiar, this game is based on a comic that's been running for about 30 years and has had two films made of it (the Stallone version is TERRIBLE), I highly recommend watching Dredd (2012), and if you haven't, you're a bad person.
This game drew me because I'm a fan of the comic series, then after seeing the newer Dredd movie, and the awesome miniatures by Warlord Games, I just couldn't resist. I purchased the Judge Dredd Starter Set, which seemed like a good place to start.
First up, I ripped open my box of new toys and found a lovely collection of 18 pewter miniatures. Coming from playing GW games for the better part of two decades, I'm quite familiar with dealing in pewter and these were pretty near top notch! Very little flash, no misaligned molds, none of that oddly textured stuff that appears in GW casts, just some very nicely cast miniatures. They were mostly single piece models, and at first glance, quite plain. Unlike GW minis, these are not inundated with skulls, trophies and random meaningless detail, instead the guy in a biker jacket and jeans (and a cod pieces) pretty much just looked like that. The judges were all quite nicely sculpted, though I may change the angle of the wrist on the riot judge with club and shield.
At first glance, this game seemed fairly simple, though with a ton of similarities with Necromunda. It's a turn-by-turn style game, just like all GW games, though some things do interrupt that (equivalent of going into Overwatch in 2nd Edition 40k/Necromunda) and instead of rolling D6's, you roll D10's. Many rolls are contested, for example, when shooting, if a weapon has 4D, that means it rolls 4 dice to shoot, the enemy then rolls a dice and adds their agility. For every shot you have that exceeds their agility roll, you do a wound, very simple!
The first thing that really jumped out to me though was how activation works. Each model gets 2 actions per turn, this includes Move, Melee, Shoot, and Special Actions. Want your model to run? Move twice. Want him to stand still and blast away? Shoot twice. If you win a round of combat, you can push the enemy away up to 2", which means if you win combat with your first action, you can push the enemy away then blast them in the face with a shotgun. AWESOME! An example of a Special Action would be Judges trying to arrest someone. Judges are unable to attack a model that has not resisted arrest. First, a Judge needs to instruct the perp to prepare for judgement, if they resist (contested Willpower check), well, then they have it coming and the judges are able to bring the might of the law down on them. If the model is a minion (nameless goon), and they are arrested, they are removed and you roll on a special table for them at the end to determine their judgement, but your Heroes are too smooth for that and will always resist arrest.
There are fairly straight forward rules for vehicles, basically everything in the game revolves around the same kind of stat line as infantry, and many move quite fast (20" movement!). If you've ever wanted to run over a punk's cranium with a Lawmaster Bike, there are rules for that, and it's all very easy to understand and remember.
When it comes to any game, the diversity of the factions is key to having a fun campaign. One of my biggest criticisms of Necromunda was just that there just isn't much diversity between the core factions. Judge Dredd however has a whopping 18 factions to choose from! These range anywhere from your typical Judge force, or a lone vigilante (think Batman), to the girth of a mighty fatty stampede (exactly what it sounds like). On top of that, each faction is able to pick from a selection of mercenaries, of which there are a few dozen to pick from.
Lastly, lets talk talents. Similar to Necromunda, after games your models will gain experience and can become more powerful fighters. Unlike other games I've seen though, the special skills in this game work off of a tree, rather than random selection. So as you progress down the "True Hero" tree for example, there are abilities you can only get after you've taken the ones before it. It kind of makes sense, you don't have the balls to say "Drokk the Law!" before you've gotten the "Brave" trait.
While I'm aware that this game wont ever get the traction that most GW products seem to get, when it comes to a skirmish campaign game, this might actually become one of my favorites around. There is a lot to be said about how well designed the rules seem to be in this game, despite it having a very simple to understand core. I'll be sure to keep you guys updated, and hopefully squeeze in a few battle reports while I'm at it.