The core mechanics are pretty simple; each gamer plays a card from their hand and this builds the landscape of the Cursed Earth. These can be anything from a dinosaur attack to an escaped experiment gone awry, natural hazards, rad-storms, psychic dogs, wasteland warriors... the usual stuff you’ve expect from a Mad Max-style setting.
The game is split into two phases. During the morning, the cards are placed in an optimal order and the symbols on the card are resolved. This includes stuff like scavenging for food, getting wounded, fighting monsters, radiation and so on. You’re essentially trying to resolve the cards in a way that minimises loss and maximises your various abilities. Then there’s the evening phase, which is basically the same but the cards are arranged in a more challenging way.
You have three Judges - Dredd, Anderson and Giant - who can deal with challenges in different ways. Dredd is a good all-rounder, Giant is tough, and Anderson can resolve some issues in a more economic way than the others. The game comes with three modes; competitive, co-operative and a solo-player mode for those of us with no friends.
The result, regardless of mode, is a series of rapid puzzles where you’re trying to negotiate tricky situations in order to draw more cards. Eventually you’ll draw Mega City Two and your quest ends. It’s short, fast, fun and makes you think rapidly. It’s great opener for an evening’s gaming. If this game sounds familiar, that’s because it’s basically a reskin of The Lost Expedition, created by the same designer
Design wise, this is a lovely thing. We have lush artwork from both Rufus Dayglow and Dan Cornwell, and the compartment for storing the game pieces is mocked up to look like a Justice Department Ration bar. The whole game has been lovingly redesigned and re-imagined to fit the Judge Dredd setting, and this makes for an atmospheric and fun game that evokes the source material splendidly. Worth a look.
JUDGE DREDD: THE CURSED EARTH CARD GAME / PUBLISHER: OSPREY GAMES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW