This classic Games Workshop production is based on the best selling Fighting Fantasy book of the same name. It boasts some really characteristic and fantastic board artwork. The same style of artwork was also used in the Dungeon tiles range of products also produced by Games Workshop for general role-playing maps. The game was produced during the late 80′s and is no longer available, although you could hunt down copies on eBay or boardgamegeek.
The aim of the game is to explore the dungeon and get to the end of the board. There are multiple pathways to reach your goal and movement is controlled through dice rolls.
This is a very easy game to learn. The set up instructions are clear and then you are off on your way to explore the dungeon. The playing pieces are bright and chunky and the board is the 6 piece ‘jigsaw puzzle’ type. It’s a fast paced game.
Ultimately, there’s only so many variations to this game as there are a limited number of cards/encounters. However, the artwork is great and it’s a nice and quick trudge through a dungeon. The use of the maze tiles near the end of the board allow for some variation in the game.
I have a particular fascination with mid Eighties era games in general. To put everything into context, the Eighties pretty much where most gamers experienced something of a renaissance for board games and role playing games. It was basically a new place to tap into the imagination for genre writers and also for new companies to emerge from the shadows, most notably being Games Workshop.
Games Workshop dipped its fingers into a number of franchises during 80′s and Judge Dredd was one of the mightiest iconic characters around at the time. Dredd’s influence still can be seen in the stoic and authoritarian Space Marines of Warhammer 40k in my opinion.
In 1985, GW produced the first Role Playing game box set for Dredd and I was hooked from then onwards with all things RPG and board gaming. I had already been reading the 2000AD comic books avidly at the young age of 11 and probably even buying some of the classic citadel miniatures at the time (and painting them very badly). On the box set itself I was immediately drawn in by the artwork cover with the gold foil ’ Judge Dredd’ badge emblazoned on the top of the box. Dredd is depicted astride on his Law Master bike shooting at an unseen assailant – how cool was that! Even now, it has to be one of my top 10 box art covers of all time.
Opening the box revealed all the usual items needed to start the game. I was very impressed with the clearly set out rule books splashed with some storyline images from 2000AD. Rule mechanics (written by Marc Gascoigne and Rick Priestley) at the time were a mystery for me but here was a role playing game where you could name and create your own Judge to walk the beat on the streets of Mega City One! As with all role playing games, your actions are determined by the standard RPG dice set. You are equipped with everything a Judge needs including his (or her) personal Law Giver (Gun) and Law master vehicle to chase the bad guys. There even an option to create a Judge from the PSI Division to exploit telepathic powers. Your role as a Judge is to play enforcer and executioner to the dangerous criminals that roam the city. Judges could dispense the law according to the guides in Player’s Handbook and score experience points for all Perps (short for Perpetrators) captured dead or alive. Games masters could also work in some of Dredd’s most notorious of foes such as The Angel Gang and even the nasty Dark Judges. All the stats were provided for these characters. Players essentially have to work as a team to secure situations and experience points are lost for any downed Judge. The packed box set included, Character sheets, colour floor maps to play the adventure scenario, dice and cut out paper figures.
There were only ever three supplements that were released for Judge Dredd RPG. The first being, Judgement Day; secondly, Slaughter Margin and lastly the PSI Companion book. There was also a board game called Block Mania which was also released a year later.
Judge Dredd lives on in an updated version of the role playing game which is released by Mongoose Publishing. There’s also a Miniatures battle game which is also published by Mongoose. The rules for this can be freely downloaded here. There’s also the buzz that Dredd is going to make something of a cinematic comeback in 2012. The film, starring ‘Star (lens flares!) Trek’ and ‘Red ‘ actor; Karl Urban, is being touted as a revival to the Dredd we all love. This comes off the back of a rather dismal attempt by Stallone to make a success of the character in the mid 90s. Although I admit, I kind of liked some parts of that film but I’m hoping to like the new film a whole lot more. I’ve heard it’s something of a prequel origins story.
Below: Karl Urban in Costume for Judge Dredd 2012
The Judge Dredd Role Playing Game box set I hold a special place for. I regularly take the box from the shelf and leisurely flick through the manual pages from time to time. Every gamer I’m sure has one of these games in their collection and I personally say that Dredd is the law around here!