Book Review - Judge Dredd Case Files #16

Book Review – Just wrapped up Judge Dredd Complete Case Files #16, slowly I'm making my was through the complete series. Judge Dredd was never readily available when I was a kid so I didn't know a whole lot about him other than it was the same style as the other British sci-fi I liked (40K, Necromunda). When the miniatures game came out I decided to track down the complete collections and read them from the beginning.

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Getting Raunchy - Judge Dredd Book Review

Book Review – Recently I finished reading Judge Dredd: The XXX Files. I picked this compilation book up because the cover art is really fun and kept catching my eye. I'm slowly reading the Complete Case Files but opted to take a break from them to read a stand alone compilation. 

Starting with the book itself, this is a nice trade paperback with a soft-touch finish on the cover which looks and feels great. The interior full color pages are printed on a nice glossy stock that reproduces the art well. This would look great on a coffee table as a conversation piece. (given you're ok with the content)

The stories inside are from mulitple time periods by different authors and illustrators, sharing the common theme of love, sex or other adult industries in Mega City One. Some of the stories are just plain weird like the Sex Olympics while others are a really compelling read with great art like the Jack the Ripper style sex-droid killer. Even the weird stories are an interesting read and provide a look into the seedier side of the Big Meg. 

I picked this up for some inspiration to finish up my Slippery Kitty Lounge terrain piece. The art definitly gives me some good ideas on how I should decorate the interior. The added bonus is I also have some ideas on possible story arcs to use once I can get my group back into playing the Judge Dredd Miniatures game.

If you're a fan of Judge Dredd this is a must read.

Judging the Aftermath ...

Book Review – As quickly as the Judge Dredd Complete Casefiles are being released in the US I'm picking them up and reading them. It bums me out that the next volume won't be released until February so I might have to splurge and get the British Editions.

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol 6 picks up where the last volume ended. In the aftermath of the Soviet Judge invasion Mega City One is in ruins. Most of these stories deal with the problems that arose from the city being destroyed. Some of my favorites deal with a Soviet Judge who doesn't realize the war is over. 

Once the aftermath is dealt with the stories fall back into the usual pattern I really liked the series which dealt with the Perfect Crime. Each episode dealt with a different "genius plan" which is ultimately foiled by Dredd.

The quality of this as with the other collections is pretty top notch and I highly reccomend them if you have any interest in Judge Dredd as a character or the Mongoose Publishing miniature game.

On the painting table ... Lone Vigilantes

Judge Dredd – Just a quick update today. I was able to get some paint applied to the two vigilantes I built earlier this month. Not a whole lot going on with them yet other than some basice color blocking with a quick wash. I needed to get them into a passable state for our weekly games. As soon as I have more time I'll go back in and detail them out and bring them to my ususual standard.

Getting Invested ... Some Gang Backstory

Getting Invested ... Some Gang Backstory

Judge Dredd – With the Judge Dredd ruleset you can easily recreate some of the story lines from the 35+ year span of the story arcs. This is pretty cool if you're a huge fan and want to see how the story would play out. On the flip side you can use the rules to create your own unique characters and have them battle it out on the streets of Mega City One (or technically any location).  For me the second option is more interesting.

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On A Mission ... Making Judge Dredd More Interesting

Judge Dredd – After a few multiplayer games of Judge Dredd I realized that we needed something added to the system to keep multiplayer games more interesting. Most of the missions in the book work best with two players, since we like to play big games with four or more people we needed a way to create missions that could accommodate that number of players.

My first thought was to write scenarios for (X) number of players. I abandoned that idea as it would get stale after a few games. Instead I looked at the 1.5 version of Malifaux which generated missions based on a card flip. This type of mission generation works pretty good in multiplayer games as it gives a player an individual goal and his/her opponents can try and stop that from being accomplished while still trying to accomplish their own goal. 

After some thought I created a small deck of cards with various missions on them, some harder than others. The idea is that each player will draw from the deck for their mission each game. If they can accomplish the mission they get a bonus payout for that game. I think this will encourage players to do more than just kill the juiciest target on the table. It also will help direct some of the action. If you want to try these cards out I uploaded a pdf here. This pdf is set up so you can print them double sided on cardstock.

Practice Makes Perfect - Judge Dredd Dry Run

Judge Dredd – Before I went any further with my near future board I wanted to get a dry run of Judge Dredd in to make sure that it was going to be functional for the campaign my group is starting shortly. My big concerns were about the size of the buildings and how functional the removable roofs would be. I also was slightly concerned about my limited amount of scatter terrain on the board. 

We're going to be running the campaign as multiplayer games rather than one-on-one so that added another level of concern to the functionality. Typically multiplayer tends to bend these types of systems to the breaking point however that's the way my group likes to play so we deal with and house rule anything that breaks the system.

We set up a three player game with each force clocking in at 500 credits. The forces included the Justice Department, Ape Gang (proxied), and a Lone Vigilante (MERCs Proxie). To test out the game we chose to just play last man standing and collect points for what you took out. Set up had two players in adjacent corners with the third in the center of the opposite side of the table (using a 3'x3'). 

The game progressed quickly with the Judges arresting a chimp early on, and then spending the rest of the game trying to keep up as the Apes converged on the apartment building where the lone vigalante was holed up. Ultimately the Apes won out with a single chimp facing off against the last judge standing, laser guns are no joke as they bypass most armour.

After the game I realized that I was referencing an older version of the pdf I had printed out and my other players had a newer version, slightly annoying as the newer version of the rules could have provided a different outcome but ultimately not a big deal for a trial run.

The system is fairly simple once you get the hang of it. Every model has 2 actions they can do each turn these can be movement, shooting, melee or special actions. You activate each model in your force and once they've all gone your opponent activates all their models. 

Moving is the same as any other system you move up to your move stat. Average movement seems to start around 5" which can be increased on heroes when they level up.

Shooting is an opposed D10 roll where the shooter adds their shooting score and the target adds their agility, if the shooter is higher they hit. The target then takes an armor check rolling a D10 and adding their armor bonus subtracting the AP of the weapon if the result is 10 or greater they suffer no damage. If the score is less then ten they suffer damage equal to the damage stat of the weapon. 

Melee is slightly different; it includes a move and then both models role their melee dice and add their melee bonus whoever scores the highest wins the combat. For every die that is higher than their opponents highest die they score a hit. Armor checks are the same as shooting. If a model is armed with a weapon that can parry you can force your opponent to re-roll a single dice. (which in our case changed the results of several close combat fights)

Special actions are all the things that add flavor to the game. They include attempting arrests, psi powers, hiding, jumping, alert status (overwatch essentially) etc. The offensive actions require opposed tests similar to shooting for the most part willpower vs. willpower. The other special actions are a catch all for anything else you want to do in the game, they also cover the needs of special scenarios and interacting with terrain.

After the battle you roll for your models that were taken out to see if they survived, were maimed etc. This includes charts for heroes and a simple 4+ roll for minions. The latest update to Block Wars includes a chart for models arrested while laying in a campaign.

Then depending on which campaign mode you're using you gain credits, the system in the core book gives each force a percentage increase for each battle. The Block Wars supplement introduces a territory system similar to Necromunda. After you cash in you can buy new recruits or better equipment. 

I feel like the dry run went well, however as with any game that has the rules online as pdfs you have to keep up with the updates unless your group agrees to just use what ever you've printed out. The bonus with it being a free pdf is that Mongoose is actively making revisions to improve the game play experience and adding additional forces to the supplement as they create them. 


I Am the Law Comrade ...

Book Review – I just finished up reading Judge Dredd: The Complete Casefiles Volume 5. This is the fifth collection in the series and collects some major story arcs in the Judge Dredd Universe.

The first half of the book collects a series of shorts detailing the rackateers of Mega City One. Each story focuses on a particular type of crime perpetuated by the syndicates. Some of the more memorable ones are body leasers who put a loved one in cryogenic sleep as collateral for a loan. These stories are really fun and give a sense of what the Judges deal with on a day to day basis.

The second half of the book is dedicated to the Apocalypse War. This huge story line begins with Block Madness erupting all over Mega City One; think civil war with each giant block of people fighting against every other block. 

Questing for the Law

Book Review – Hmm ... I seem to be running out of clever law references, anyway I recently finished reading Judge Dredd the Complete Case File Volume 4. This volume continues the chronological adventures of "Britain's Favorite Comic Hero" (I wonder if that's true, is Judge Dredd as popular over there as Spider-man is here?) and is presented in black and white like the other volumes. This time around the paperstock seems to improved in quality and there's a soft touch UV coating on the cover. I hope this is the direction the rest of the collections go in as it just feels nicer.

Some big stories in this collection most of which is taken up by the Judge Child story which takes Judge Dredd into space searching for a child who is supposed to save the city in the future. It's a interesting story that introduces the Angel Gang, a band of Desperadoes from the outskirts of Texas City. During the interstellar chase Dredd visits numerous planets doing battle with various alien species as well as law breakers on colony worlds. Eventually Dredd catches up with the child and deems him evil abandoning the quest to return to Mega City One. 

For a story that took up most of the book this was a good read some of the chapters were better than others and some were just plan weird, which seems to be a thing for this book. The material from this story feels dated although the new Green Lantern cartoon is using a similar premise to tie it's stories together so I guess the idea still is relevant. 

Where the book shines is when Dredd is back in his element fighting crime in Mega City One. I really liked Chopper story and the Rat Fink stories. They carried on for a few issues but kept on point without getting to weird. 

The Law in Miniature ... First Impressions

Judge Dredd Block War – While I didn't participate in the Kickstarter for the Judge Dredd Mini game (Essentially it seemed to be almost retail for the rewards) I did recently find a good deal for some of the box sets on ebay. After looking over the free rule set, I realized that for the most part you'd be able to use Necromunda figures to represent the street gangs and some of the other options. I haven't played through the intro scenario yet but on the surface it seems to be similar to Necromunda but using a D10 with modifiers which should allow for a more varied experience. Once I have time to play a few games I'll post up a more detailed review of the system.

In the mean time here are some shots of what comes in the Justice Department box set and the Holocaust Judges box set. Both of these sets contain Judges which are very specific to the Judge Dredd universe (most of the other models in the range are easily replaceable with similar scale models) and are really a must have to play a game to feel like the comic. 

The Justice Department box comes with three Street Judges, one Psi-Judge, two Riot Judges, a Tech Judge and a Medic. The models feel very similar to the old Necromunda sculpts, chunky oddly proportioned and slightly cartoony. Some people might have a problem with this as it does look slightly dated, I however like the look and feel of the models. Something about them feels nostalgic and I like that they match up well with other models I own. 

The quality of the sculpts is pretty good. There is a ton of flash and mold lines that will need to be removed. You're probably going to want to have a file on hand as the vent spots have a pretty sizable attachment point. The models also seem to have a good solid coat of mold release on them which means a dish soap bath and scrub is a must before attempting to assemble or paint. Not that there's much in the way of assembly as these are all one piece sculpts.

The Holocaust Judges come with three heavily armored Judges. I think I'm going to mount these to 40mm bases rather than the 30mm that they came with. The models are very bulky and hang over the base pretty significantly if left on 30mm. The flash isn't as severe on these sculpts but you do have quite a few pieces to clean and assemble.

My name isss .... Death

Book Review – Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 03 is the third book in the series that captures Judge Dredd's chronological adventures from the pages of 2000AD. This book seemed to be significantly thinner than the other volumes I picked up. The paper seemed to be of a lower grade stock as well as having a few less pages (unsuprisingly the MSRP is the same as the other volumes).

This volume introduces Judge Death and being from another dimension in which life is against the law. Creepy premise but the initial story wasn't as great as I though it was going to be and only took up three or four chapters of the total book. It's a little unimpressive since he's featured on the cover but still not a bad read, especially since the shorts are self-contained or carry over for and issue or two.

My favorite story in the collection is "Sob Story," in which a gang of killers is killing residents that live in mobile homes and setting the home on auto pilot so it can be years before the body is found. 

This collection features more one shot stories than the previous collections and I really enjoyed the volume as a whole.

I'm still the Law ...

Book Review – Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files Vol 2 continues the adventures of everybodies favorite lawman. The second collection is more interesting than the first as it begins to tell more epic tales that introduce you to the insane world that is Mega City 1. 

The first of these tales is the Cursed Earth Saga. This tale has Judge Dredd leading a convoy to Mega City 2 (Essentially L.A.) to deliver a cure for the disease that is running rampant in the city. Unable to fly Judge Dredd has to trek across the radioactive wasteland that is the Cursed Earth. The stories are fun to read however due to some copy right issues several installments were not included in the collection. Apparently two of the story arcs had Dredd fighting against the descendants of McDonald's, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Honestly I'm really bummed about that and am trying to track down someplace to read these stories as they sound like a blast. The stories that are included in the collection have Dredd fighting dinosaurs, mutants, robots mecenaries, rat worshipers and the corupted judges of Las Vegas.

The next big epic in this collection is The Day the Law Died. In this story Judge Caligula becomes the Chief Judge and has a rein of terror. Fun story and I can see how they'd be fun to play in the tabletop game.

The rest of the collection has random one shots about Dredd patrols of Mega City 1.

Overall I enjoyed this collection a bit more than the first one. It's still crazy and off the wall (much like most comics from the late 1970's) but you can slowly see Dredd developing into the facist lawman that I've always known his character to be. I have a feeling the next volume will be even better, as the writers seem to be developing along with the characters.

I am the Law ... Case Files 01 Review

Book Review – Dredd 3D peaked my interest in learning more about the long running British comic. I had some exposure to Judge Dredd through crossovers and the DC attempt at publishing new adventures during my youth but never really felt like the character was something I wanted to read more about. After that dreadful Stalone movie I passed the Judge off as a joke and never looked into reading more about him. 

The Mongoose Kickstarter (which lets be honest was really just a presale to garner attention, but good for them because the game looks like fun and I like the look of the sculpts) combined with the amazing new movie gave me reason to revisit the character and give him a second chance. A book that's been running since 1977 and still going strong has to be worth checking out. The special features from the blueray convinced me that I needed to read the original British work and not the attempts to "americanize/superheroize" the Judge.

Judge Dredd: The Complete Case Files 01 covers his adventures from the 2000AD, Programs 2-60. While these were written in 1977 they still hold up fairly well, some of the costuming is a little dated but overall the stories are well written and clever. Most of the stories are self contained one shots but a few carry over for a few issues such as the Great Robot War in which a robot named Call me Kenneth instigates a rebellion of all the robot slaves and Dredd's six month visit to the moon to serve as marshal of the Luna 1 colony. 

The printing is clean and crisp black and white with a decent quality uncoated paperstock. My only minor issue with the production quality of this collection is in the panels that span a full spread. Most of the text gets lost in the gutter due to the massive size of the spine on a collection this big.

I'm convinced that reading the original material is the only way to truly appreciate Judge Dredd. However this first collection is pretty disjointed and most of the stories are plays of pop culture at the time, so not all readers are going to love it. I have the next three case files to read and am looking forward to the books of the 1980's. 




BONUS REVIEW – Over the weekend I took my daughter and her friend to go see Mama. This is the new Guillermo del Toro movie about two girls who are found after being lost in the woods for five years. After years of searching their artist uncle and rock star wife adopt the girls and try to give them a normal life. Unfortunately the thing that kept them alive for all those years won't let them go and craziness ensues.

The visuals for this movie are super creepy and set the atmosphere for the story. Rather than being the traditional gore fest modern horror movies have opted to become this relives more on disturbing images and sounds to set the tone. While there are plenty of sudden scares the movie isn't all that scary and instead languishes in the skin-crawling, grimey-feeling creepiness that del Toro is famous for.

While I enjoyed the film and thought it was well executed, the ending fell flat for me. I'm not going to spoil it for those who have yet to see the film, but it was pretty meh for an otherwise well executed film. If you're a fan of Pans Labyrinth or Hellboy then you should definitely check this out as the visuals almost make up for the lame ending.


Movie Review - Dredd 3D

Review – Over the weekend I was able to get out and see Dredd 3D. I have to say I was impressed, this movie was nothing like the laughable 1995 Stalone movie. Instead it felt just like the 2000 AD comics I remember as a kid, super violent and bloody. (I ususually hate 3D movies but this one used the blood splatter and slow-mo bullet shots to such great effect I didn't feel ripped off after dropping $13 on a ticket and another $6 for a drink. 

For those who don't know the background, Judge Dredd takes place in Mega City One, a vaste walled in metropolis consisting of most of the eastern seaboard. Within the walled city are huge mega towers that house upwards of 750,000 people each, these jut out of the runned down and ruined expanses of the old city. Outside the walls is a irradiated wasteland. The original character was created in the late 70's so the idea of a nuclear holocaust was very much top of mind for many readers. Judge Dredd is also the inspiration for Necromunda and the Adeptus Arbites. 

Dredd 3D has a simple plot lawmen go in for a bust, shit hits the fan, good guys win. Much like any gritty crime movie they all follow the same forumla. Which is really what Dredd is all about, no super crazy plots to destroy the world, takeover or what not, just a bad ass cop doing his job.

The visuals of this film are stunning, it's everything I imagine a near future dystopian society to be. No ground breaking hover cars or other craziness just people grinding away at their miserable daily lives. 

After seeing this I'm seriously considering the Kickstarter from Mongoose or at the very least digging out some Necromunda figures to play some games.