Judge Dredd – I Am The Law – out of the box review.

Mega City One…

Four million citizens…

…and every one a potential criminal.

Welcome back friends. I hope that you are all staying safe and well!

Last weekend a package landed on my doorstep which I had been looking out for all morning, like some excited kid. When it finally landed I ripped open the mailing box with much gusto and grinned from ear to ear upon pulling out the new Judge Dredd miniatures starter set: “I Am The Law”.

You’re next, creep.

So for the uninitiated, Judge Dredd is a character from a British comic called 2000AD, which has been in print since the late 70’s. I was introduced to the wonderfully weird world of Dredd, Strontium Dog, Slaine and others thanks to my cousins who were subscribers. Every time I’d go over I’d grab the latest copies to read and get my fix of ‘thrill power’.

Judge Joe Dredd is one of the many law bringers keeping the masses of Mega City One in line. They are trained at the academy from the age of 5 and put through years of backbreaking trials before they can graduate to be come an official street judge, and even then it’s only as a rookie. Only until they’ve completed a successful ‘hot dog run’ can they get the official garb of a Judge.

Being a Judge means that they are able also to be jury and executioner and dispense justice on the spot, whether that means a stint in the ‘iso cubes’, or being sent away in a meat wagon. In a city of four million people that covers the entire eastern seaboard, there’s no time to dilly-dally, and the Justice Department are swift in their cleanup of crime.

This dystopian backdrop is ideal for gamers looking for something a little different. And if you haven’t read any of Dredd’s stories, you really should do yourself a favor and check some out. Especially with the Dark Judges…

Anyhoo… This set was around the $80 mark, not terrible by any means for a 2-player starter set. I own Warlord’s Strontium Dog starter set too, and while “I Am The Law” was a little more pricey, it’s also great value for money. Let’s take a look at what you get shall we?

The picture further up the article here has the total contents spread out, but lets focus on the individual parts:

The ‘maps’:

I’ll not lie, this is a great honking two-sided map!

The full color maps are a great way to start playing out of the box. When I say they’re big, I mean it! So big in fact, that I wonder if it’s a little too big for the starter. Why do I say this? well, given that it’s a 28mm scale game, this (I think) 2×3 size map gives you more than ample room to go exploring. Full color, with two different locations to battle over, on pretty thick paper stock. Certainly impressive! Personally I like my gaming area three dimensional, and will probably make my own sectors, but again, this is a starter set!

The Rule Book:

Learn the rules, punk!

Well, what can I say? The rule book is softcover, and literally jam-packed with art and mini photography. I haven’t had chance yet to delve into it as it’s only been here a couple days, but it’s a visual treat. The photos of the minis put me in mind of the oldhammer days when you could see certain household items that had been converted into cool looking scifi scenery, which brought a smile to my face.

The game mechanic is almost identical to Strontium Dog, which I believe is also based off the Bolt Action rule set that Warlord Games produce. Essentially for each figure you have, you have a plastic chit that you put into a bag. Each player then reaches in and draws a chit, which may or may not be their color, so the activation sequence is super random. There are special chits that add another layer to the sequence which potentially could mean that a special character could activate multiple times (because they’re super cool for example). I really enjoyed playing the Strontium Dog game, so I think I can hit the ground running in terms of this game.

As is the norm for starter sets these days (with the exception of Bushido, missed opportunity there!) there are the ‘quick start’ rules to get you acquainted with the game system with just a couple of figures. There are (I think) three starter scenarios in the quick start rules that gradually increase the amount of minis and rules to ease you into how to play. Reminded me a lot of the Infinity rules in that regard.

Odds and Ends:

Also included in the set are two sprues of tokens for use in the game, like star chips and condition tokens. these are color specific so you know if you’re pulling your chits or your opponents from the bag.

A bag of 2000AD dice are included as well and two decks of cards, (which I haven’t busted open yet) but I’m assuming have equipment and other game buffs or conditions on them.

We also have some two dimensional scenery, including barricades some vehicles and a building or two. These are printed on some super thick card and you just push them out. One side they are functional looking, but then if you flip them over you see the item destroyed or beaten up.

Here is where I was kinda scratching my head with this starter set. For around the same price, the Strontium Dog game came with some sweet laser cut MDF buildings that you could assemble for some great scenery pieces. Granted it was a small farm dwelling, not a section of Mega City One, but I feel Warlord could have scaled down the scope for the sake of this release, and included some buildings or some MDF pieces. Heck, even some thick card buildings like you get in the Infinity sets would’ve been cool. I do see there was some give and take on I Am The Law vs. The Good, The Bad and The Mutie in the contents of the boxes.

Moving on from that we get to the best bit…

The Miniatures:

I was most excited about getting more 2000AD miniatures. Right from back in the day when Games Workshop made licensed miniatures for the property, I’ve loved having Dredd and his cohorts in miniature form.

A fistful of…. restic?

So I’m led to believe that the material these minis are made from is ‘Warlord Resin’, but they feel more like the plastic that the Star Wars Legion minis are made from. Am I right in saying that all resins are plastic, but not all plastics are resin? Anyhoo, the figures are super lightweight, and a little bit flexible, but certainly not as much as say, Reaper Bones figures. The detail is superb, and I know I’m going to enjoy the crap out of painting them. Plus I have lots of minis from the old Judge Dredd miniatures game that Mongoose released several years back, and also some of the Foundry 2000AD Judges too. They all seem relatively close proportion-wise, so I can see some big games in the future.

Judges and Juvies

They come with their bases already part of the model, but you are supplied with round bases to stick them to if you wish. Looks like minimal flash to clean up and then a soapy warm water bath to clean any mold release and these will be ready for undercoating and painting.

When I first heard of this release, I was expecting metal miniatures as with Strontium Dog, but obviously not the case. This is not a complaint by any stretch, merely an observation.

In Summary…

It’s about time that Dredd got a decent tabletop skirmish game, and I feel that Warlord have done him justice (ha!). I’m still not totally sure why this set, with plastic minis and 2-D card buildings is $20 more than another starter that has MDF buildings and metal minis. Surely the fold-out mat wasn’t the reason?

Regardless, if you’re dropping less than $100 for a two-player set, then it’s all good, and frankly both of these releases are great value. The game is pretty simple to pick up, but may take a little while for you to master. I like that you can have a good solid game in an hour (going by my experience with Strontium Dog), and honestly I love the game mechanic. It adds an extra layer of randomness that really makes you have to adapt as you may miss out on a couple of activations before your chit gets pulled from the bag.

It just occurred to me that as the core rules and character stats for both games all follow the same criteria, you could potentially cross over the games and have some really interesting campaigns…. hmmmmm…..

Bottom line: If you’re a fan of Dredd, this is a must. There are some great support releases out and coming soon for this game, and I for one am really stoked about bringing the crazy world of Mega City One to life on the tabletop!

Thanks for reading, see you all soon.

Stay safe!

Art by Merky Merx – facebook.com/merkymerx

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