Review: Judge Dredd – Helter Skelter Brings Mega City One to the Tabletop
Today’s post is a written review of Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter the board game, which takes a look at the mechanics and the miniatures. If you want a quick and fun miniatures skirmish board game themed as Judge Dredd, this game is great!
Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of the game itself in play as my gaming studio is not yet ready – so I’ve used some of the marketing photos from Osprey in the article. Only my painting and building area is currently setup for photography. That said, the game is great and I really wanted to share my thoughts about the product.
Special thanks goes out to Osprey Games for sending me this title for review.
If you ever played Wildlands by Osprey Games and liked it, you will like Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter. Judge Dredd is actually a re-skinning of that game to a new theme. The mechanics are solid and the cards are better presented for easier play compared to Wildlands. The game plays two to four players and should take 30 to 60 minutes per play. We found it took roughly 45 to 60 minutes a play, but we are newer to the game too.
The goal of the game is to collect five points before your enemies. You get one point for each “Shard of Reality” (objective markers) that you collect and one point for each enemy that you kill. The first person to five points wins. Simple.
Now, lets get into the game!
Choose your Faction…
To start, each player chooses a faction. The base game comes with four…
- The Judges: Well rounded and hard hitting with a psi character too. Lots of ranged attacks, a good amount of armor and they have one melee specialist.
- The Strontium Dogs: This group features Johnny Alpha, Gronk (a doctor), and even a vampire named Durham Red. They are space traveling bounty hunters. They are good at ranged attacks and hiding in cover.
- Nikolai Dante: This group is fast and focuses on melee attacks. Within their ranks is Lulu Romanov – a Demon that can melee attack other characters from a distance.
- Slaine Mac Roth: This group is an interesting one to play. They have just four characters (every other group has 5), but they are extremely well armored melee monsters. They have a couple of characters that hit extremely hard, and they also have a Wizard in their ranks too.
The groups all play differently. This adds excitement and flair to the game. Of the four factions, I only knew of the Judges and Strontium Dogs when I received the game. I played all of the groups. Most players gravitate towards the Judges as their favorite to play as. Personally, I like playing as the Strontium Dogs or as the Slaine Mac Roth group.
Once you choose your faction, each player draws ten location cards.
Finding your Locations…
Each player draws 10 location cards. They then look at the cards and assign 5 of the cards to their characters. That is where on the map they start the game. The player then hands their remaining cards over to another player. The other player uses the passed over cards as the areas to place their objective markers. There are five objective markers in total for each team.
We actually played these starting location rules wrong the first games we played. Instead of assigning the cards to each character, we placed them randomly under the figures and handed the remaining cards over to the other player. This changed the game to have more of a luck element that felt pointless to us. After going back over the rules, I was happy to learn we were doing it wrong.
Instead, you choose where your characters go and choose where the enemy’s objectives are.
This means that you can set up ambushes and have some say over where your characters start.
Deploying and Playing…
On your turn, you play a card or deploy a character. You can do this as many times as you want, but you only have a finite number of cards to play. Each card determines the actions that your miniatures can take on the board. Attack, Melee, Psi Attack, Move, Rally, and Heal are all options here.
If you play three cards marked for the character you want to use, you can collect an objective (“Shard of Reality”). Remember, getting to 5 points wins you the game and each shard is worth one point.
Once you decide you are done, you draw back three cards. Your opponent now gets to activate to deploy and use their cards as they see fit.
There is a lot of strategy here and I really liked keeping my melee monsters hidden until I was ready to spring a trap.
The Cards Rule the Game…
As stated above, you play cards for all actions in the game. You want to attack, you play a corresponding card. You want to move, play any card with that character’s icon on it.
Moving up hills costs extra movement points and collecting objectives requires three cards.
You get a total of seven cards in your hand at the start. Each turn, you can play as many cards as you want and at the end of the turn, you draw back three cards. Your hand may never go above seven cards.
When your opponent plays, you still need your cards. When attacked, you give up cards with cover, armor or psi icons on them related to the character attacked to avoid damage. Some of the card icons work for everybody, while others are specific to a character.
Cards dictate which characters can use them, but there are multiple characters on each card. The card normally does something different for each character listed unless they have an icon on them available to all characters.
Because you give up armor, cover and psi cards to avoid damage, it is a good idea not to use all of your cards and save some for defense on your opponents turn. That said, you get to draw back three cards, so you will have at least three cards in your hand during your opponents’ turn.
A neat feature is that each deck comes with a summary card letting you know how many of each type of card is in your deck. This lets you know which characters are more likely to draw specific card abilities like armor and attack.
There are no dice in the game. Everything runs on the cards.
My Take on the Game…
Overall, I really like this game. It is a complete re-skinning of Wildlands, but if it works, it works. Wildlands, by the way is also a really good game!
Using attack and defense cards as you do in this game constantly keeps the players engaged. In a group setting, it is a bit of a free for all, but most of the games I played were one-on-one. In a multiplayer game, exploding attacks can be more effective. When we played in two player modes, we kept the characters far enough apart that the Judges and characters with grenades could not use their explosion abilities.
The rules are simple, easy and fast. The only one we got wrong right off the top was the distribution of location cards at the start of the game. Once we figured out that you could look at the cards and assign them, the passing of the left over cards to the other player made a lot more sense.
The rule book is twelve pages long (counting the cover and back page) and you really just need seven of those pages for the rules. Once we understood the rules, we used just the quick reference page at the back of the book to play and eventually we didn’t even need that.
On top of being a quick and fun game, it comes with some great miniatures. Below are pictures of some of those figures.
Pictures of the Judge Miniatures
Judge Dredd comes with 20 unique ink-washed miniatures. In this post, I am going to share pictures of the five characters from the Judges’ faction. If you are interested in a write up of these five characters, check out my article on Must Contain Minis.
Now, let’s take a look at those figures.
For a board game, these are great miniatures. They even come pre-inked, which is a nice touch. I did nothing to them to get them looking so nice like that.
Wrapping it up…
Overall, I really like Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter the board game by Osprey Games. If you want a quick and fun miniatures skirmish board game themed as Judge Dredd, this game is great! Likewise, if you prefer a fantasy theme, Wildlands might be your fit.
Give them a try if you get the chance and let us know what you think.
Special thanks goes out again to Osprey Games for sending me Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter for review.
Thanks for reading and until next time, Happy Gaming Everyone!!!
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If you want more Judge Dredd: Helter Skelter content, I have a number or articles for you to check out. I have articles looking at the Nikolai Dante’s faction and the Strontium Dogs. I also an article looking at the Slaine Family and on checking out the Judges too.