I’m bobliness and I’ve always written articles and thoughts about the games I play, so the death of forums was, for me, a sad time.
Hopefully this will become a series of articles on this forum and we can revive the…. Artform(?)….let’s go with that.
This article is intended to give beginner players a bit of a primer from the perspective of a more experienced player and maybe give you some shortcuts to understanding the game, what it’s about and why you should play it!
I apologise for the all-text nature of this, I'd love to include some pictures....but I cant make this forum accept them yet, not sure why. If i work it out I'll come back and update it!
I intend to follow with an article about building/planning a warband that should be more pertinent to players with a bit more experience as well as the beginners.
Judgement is a tabletop miniature game, but one of the first things I want to mention for new players is that you CAN play it without miniatures. The website includes print and play content for every character, the maps, everything.
This has two implications:
- You can play 3 v 3 or 5 v 5 with a friend regardless of whether you’ve both bought models.
- You can test any model of your choice with a convenient proxy before you buy if you wish.
I would strongly encourage you, after your initial purchase (which may well be the starter box, for example), to play some games with the ‘paper dolls’ of the characters you’re considering and give yourself a chance to try them out!
Since you’re new, or considering trying Judgement, here’s my list of reasons you should play Judgement. Please keep in mind that I personally value the competitive side of tabletop games, so I might be skewed:
- With just a little bit of thought about your warband, you should never go into a game feeling like it’s a “bad matchup”. There simply isn’t really such a thing in Judgement.
- There is no “faction”. ALL CHARACTERS ARE AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.
- If you do feel there is some character that is broken and makes everything a bad matchup for you….then you can ban them! The ability to ban a single model from your opponents warbands means you can always be certain you wont face whichever thing you decide you hate to play against.
- There are items and levelling up, in a tabletop game! That’s something that I’ve only ever really seen in ‘league’ games like bloodbowl, necromunda, mordheim etc. The customisation options in-game are really quite diverse and have a genuine impact on the gameplay.
- There is an app available on your phone (warband commander) that includes literally EVERYTHING. All the rules for characters, monsters, artifacts…..things you can stare at while you’re on the toilet at work and killing time!
- The models are beautiful and collecting them is self-justifying. They are some of the best display models running around because their scale is so much more imposing than the majority of table-top games.
- The dice mechanic on attacks limits the maximum damage a character can deal and puts a cap on how badly things can swing for or against you in a single activation.
- Judgement still includes a significant ‘dice-luck’ variable that ensures you are never completely out of a game and allows for ‘hero-plays’ and cinematic moments that give you plenty to talk and laugh about after the game.
- The respawn mechanic works to stop you from being completely pushed out of a game early and allows a recovery mechanism not present in most games
- The win condition is variable and you can build a warband to play to a variety of win conditions. Games end in different ways every time and the experience should be very different.
- The individual activation mechanic means that you are rarely sitting waiting for your opponent for very long and you are always involved in what’s happening.
- The low number of characters on the board means each activation is meaningful and feels
- The monsters that inhabit the map are extremely important to the game and can play a major role in determining the victor. This isn’t random, you interact with them all game and can use them to swing things against your opponent.
So, let’s assume I’ve convinced you to play…..what should you expect?
Well, firstly there are a lot of rules and it can be a touch intimidating. Don’t let that put you off though, the core mechanics are deceptively simple. If you get your head around the basic rules for activating, moving and attacking, you can start playing games! The app (warband commander) includes all of the rules and is extremely user-friendly. You can browse every character, all the items, all the monsters….Yes, you’ll end up accidentally playing some of the rules wrong and you’ll work out later which ones they were, that’s not a problem and don’t let it discourage you.
I recommend you take whichever models appeal to you for whatever reason works in terms of purchasing, however there are ‘classes’ in the game: Soul-Gazer, Defender, Aggressor, Support and Hybrid
They do matter, and building a balanced, well-constructed warband is important to having fun and successful games…..but you can play with whatever the heck you want. I would recommend that when you’re learning, it’s easiest to have both players have a similar warband – I recommend two aggressors and one soul gazer each. This gives you a game where characters can die quite easily, both players have roughly the same damage output and similar options available for claiming souls.
Having a defender in the mix is perfectly fine, it will just make it a bit more difficult to kill each others characters and slow the game down a touch. Again though – play what you want!
Judgement is a game of alternating activations, so after you’ve setup and started, you can expect turn one to involve mostly both you and your opponent trying to setup your warbands for the first engagement. Assuming your playing with the suggested warband of two aggressors and a soul gazer, you will be aiming to:
- Deal with any monster that is close to your deployment
- Setup your soul-gazer within 4” of the “soul pit” – which is where the souls will appear.
- Setup your aggressors to threaten the opponents soul-gazer and punish the enemy aggressors if they come after your soul-gazer
Accomplishing those three things, while also trying to monitor your opponents positioning, is more than enough to try and get your head around as a new player! If you manage to do that….congratulations!
From turn two onwards you’re on your own, the game will rapidly change shape depending on far too many things for me to predict for you now (particularly with new players – who knows what you crazy kids will decide to do!) and your goal should be to try and get to four souls (by killing opposing models and by soul-gazing the ones that spawn) before your opponent.
Keep in mind that if you get to kill an opponents model, your model will level up and will be carrying around a fragment of that characters soul, which rewards you every turn with an extra fate to spend on super sweet abilities and items!
Unfortunately if your opponent exacts vengeance on your hero…..then you lose that soul and your opponent gets a fragment of yours!
As such, the game can swing back and forward a lot, aggressors tend to die quite easily to other aggressors so don’t be surprised when you go from in the lead to losing (or vice versa) in a single activation.
Get out there and play some games!
Only the Gods can sit in Judgement.