We recently sat down with Matt Sprange, author of Block War, to find out just what level of Mega-City One flavoured madness he’d managed to inject into the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game’s first expansion…
Judge Dredd has a long and rich history. What was your first experience of the worlds of 2000 AD and its iconic characters?
While all the other kids were reading the Dandy and Beano, I had my nose firmly in 2000 AD, devouring tales of Nemesis the Warlock, Bad Company and, of course, Judge Dredd. From there, I progressed into role-playing games, and the second one I picked up was the old Judge Dredd game by Games Workshop.
The rest is history!
You’re no stranger to designing games based in the universes of 2000 AD. What did you enjoy about revisiting the mean streets of Mega-City One and Block Wars in particular?
It is very familiar territory, so kind of like going back home. There is a lot of nostalgia tied up into it.
In terms of writing, however, the gonzo nature of Mega-City One is a very big draw. You can add just about anything you can think of, so long as resources (and miniatures design!) can keep up! All you have to do is look at an idea through a Mega-City One-tinted lens, and you are already well on your way.
Warlord Games has been eager to bring the spectacle and violence of Block Wars to the tabletop. Can you tell us more about what new elements you have created to make the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game’s first expansion a unique gaming experience?
The central core, I think, was the concept of actually ‘owning’ your own block, with its own characters and personalities, and then setting out to prove it is the best block in the sector. You even have the heavy weaponry fresh from your block’s Citi-Def armoury to back your arguments up.
Added to that, you have all the residents of the block to draw upon, from the Juves to the Citi-Def personnel, from the Fattie who lives in apartment 366c to the whacked-out lunatic who thinks he is a true-to-life superhero.
When the simmering tensions of Mega-City One’s citizenry ignites into a Block War, the resulting violence can be over quickly, lasting anything from only few hours to just a couple of days. What systems have you introduced to the Block War campaign system that captures such an intense and short-lived war?
It was more about what you leave out than what you put in, as is the way with so much of games design. You need the pacing to constantly escalate as the Block War begins with a few skirmishes in the tweenblock plaza, and ramps up to the deployment of the biggest weapons and explosives available to raze the opposing block to the ground. The scenarios scale up quickly so you get a real feeling of momentum.
Violence and characters in 2000 AD are often exaggerated, one might even say zany. How have you captured that surrealistic humour in this expansion?
That is threaded throughout the DNA of the Block War expansion. For example, the game already had Fatties, so you could use them – but this is a Block War, so we added Fattie battering rams to break down defences and a Fattie wannabee Citi-Def member (Fats Hambo). You can place an ‘ordinary’ group of citizens on the table and then watch as one of them just loses all their cool and turns Futsie in the middle of the fight.
This is not your standard miniatures game. Pretty much anything can happen and you just have to choose whether to fight it or go with the flow and hope it all results in victory!
There are many Judge Dredd storylines featuring Block Wars, not least Block Mania. What iconic comic book moments have you managed to cram into the book?
The history of Block Mania is covered in the book, along with a fairly deep background on how Block Wars break out, how they are conducted and (crucially) what the response of the Justice Department is. However, once you get on the tabletop… well, we have factored in those who want to use named characters (if one just happens to be resident in your block when the fighting starts), but the Block War expansion is more about your stories, set against the backdrop of Mega-City One. We want players boasting about how their block and their own characters triumphed in a three-way scrap that left their opponents in ruins, of that great last stand in the main mall that held waves of enemies back until the Judges arrived to arrest everyone…
Players are encouraged to name their Block, usually after a pop-culture reference. What would be your go-to naming convention?
I have used in-jokes in the past, sometimes aimed at other people in the miniatures game business. Or maybe you will choose the name of a particularly unpopular politician. Or just open the nearest newspaper and grab the name of the first celebrity you see.
The denizens of Mega-City One are a varied bunch, and absolutely brim with character. What are the new special rules that really epitomise the comic book flavour of the characters and armoury options in Block War?
Oh, there are so many. It starts when you first create your block, as there are several types to choose from. You might want a really scrappy lot of blockers hailing from the oldest Pre-Atomic block in the sector, or maybe you want some richer citizens from the local Con-Apt who are looking to prove their superiority above the surrounding rabble. We have Sonic Cannons and Riot Foam, Assault Judges and beefed-up Pat Wagons, Flabfighters and Robodogs, scrawl wars and preparatory bombardments, Plascrete Viruses and Electro-Cordons… there is just so much in this supplement, and you can pick and choose, use it all in one massive scrap, or grab specific items and characters and use them in your own (non-Block War) games.
This is a mighty dose of Mega-City One, guaranteed to bring chaos to your table!
Block War allows players to build their own block with unique characteristics, gather their residents together, and then unleash them on the self-satisfied citizens of a neighbouring block – who have had everything their own way for far too long! Included are new rules for use in the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game; new characters and units, new Armoury cards to add to your deck, and a brand-new Block War deck that brings the sheer violence and chaos of a block war to the tabletop – along with a lot of Judges!
The streets of Mega-City One have just become a lot more violent…
Judge Dredd: Block War Expansion contains:
- 80-page Block Wars book,
- Pad of 100 City Block datasheets
- 15-card Block War deck
- Three new Armoury cards
- Two rampaging resident figures (in Warlord ResinTM) – exclusive to this set!
Justice Department Riot Control
When a block war erupts the men, women and robot auxiliaries of the Justice Department bear the brunt of quelling the fighting and preventing it spilling into a multi-block war – or worse.
Assault Judges are all handpicked veterans, pulled from the ranks of Street Judges and trained to bring an end to criminal activity in the speediest (and most brutal) manner possible. Equipped with riot shields and either Day Sticks or Disruptor Guns, they are deployed during the very worst of block wars to target leaders and combatants who have managed to get hold of heavy weapons.
Stern, unyielding and covered in heavyweight armour, the Riot Judges are trained to handle large mobs. Riot Judges operate in small teams and are trained and equipped to contain, pacify, and arrest unruly citizens, only sweeping in to break heads when there are few other options.
Judge Dredd: Fatties at War
When a block war comes, Fatties can really pull their not inconsiderable weight. Improvised armour will be strapped to their considerable bulk and then pushed at full speed towards the enemy to be used as a living battering ram.
Every fat camp has a Fats Hambo, to one degree or another. A militant campaigner for fat rights, they are true believers in the Grud-given gift of as much food for every Fattie as they can stomach. Using (and bending) the laws for arming Citi-Def units, they have managed to get their hands on powerful weaponry and just enough training to be dangerous when enraged.
Judge Dredd: Mega-City Resident Mob
The average citizen of Mega-City One is usually docile and, while not respectful of the Law, at least fearful of it. When the madness of a block war takes over, however, citizens gather into large, sometimes huge, mobs. At this point, they become exceptionally dangerous, easily able to overwhelm a Street Judge caught on their own.
And look out for more new Judge Dredd Miniatures soon…