This article was written by David Wanke
Judgement is one of the most interesting tabletop games on the market right now. It is also the most beautiful to look at on the table! If you have been curious about buying into Judgement, this guide will be aimed at helping you make good early purchases.
There are a lot of options when you are first starting, and limited knowledge of the game can make buying in seem intimidating. Fortunately, I am here to offer some friendly advice about how to start your journey and build a Judgement collection. There is no perfect way to start building your collection with the number of choices that are made on the table. You could easily just pick a handful of heroes that you enjoy, purchase those, and throw them onto the table
When getting started the website has a Print and Play section where all of the heroes and Monsters have paper doll versions you can print out and play with. You can find that here: https://judgement.game/pages/print-and-play. When playing with these I would recommend affixing the paper dolls to a 50mm base so it's a bit more sturdy to play with.
To start I will bring up some of the basics of the game as this will help understand what you will need to play the game. The first thing to know is that the game can be played as a 3v3 or the 5v5 level. This means that at the bare minimum to play you will need either three hero models or five hero models to field your Warband. Playing this way is considered “Blind Pick”. You bring your three or five-member Warband versus your opponents Warband of the same size.
There is another common variation of this called “Pick and Ban” or PnB. In this format, you will bring two extra models to the game size. Before the game starts your opponent will ban one hero, you will drop one hero, and then proceed to play the game with the rest. This means that for a 3v3 game you will need five hero models and for 5v5 you will need seven hero models. This format is very common for tournament play but when just starting out it's not crucial to purchase the extra heroes right away.
Materials to Play
Once you have your Warband selected and ready to play will need something to play on. Judgement is played on either a 2-foot x 2-foot mat or a 3-foot x 3-foot mat depending on the size of the game you are playing on. These mats have terrain outlined on the mat itself and will have a number of scenarios also directly on the mat.
One of the nice things about Judgement is the ability to throw down a mat and get right to playing without having to set up the terrain or a scenario for you as it's already printed on the mat. The 3v3 game is played on the 2-foot square mat and there are two options, Cobblestone and Swamp. The 5v5 game also two options on the 3-foot square mat, Cobblestone and Scorched Earth. Cobblestone is generally thought of as the beginner mat for both game sizes as the scenario and the monsters that spawn on it are more straightforward.
Outside of your hero(es) and mat(s) you want to use there are neutral monsters that spawn in the game. For these, either you or your opponent will have to supply them. The monsters that spawn depends on the mat you are playing on and there are also random monster spawns on some mats. Again these can be found from the Print and Play and those can be used until either player gets them.
Lastly, a set of movement sticks, dice, and tokens will be needed. Judgement uses its own special dice that can be purchased, however, if you wish to use regular d6s the rulebook explains that 1 and 2 are “blank”, 3 is a “symbol”, 4 and 5 are “hits” and 6 is a “J”. Movement sticks are the method Judgement uses to measure distances, both for movement and for ranged attacks. Judgement specifically does not use tape measures as other wargames do. If that is all you have, don’t worry about picking up an expensive set of movement sticks at first (although a set does come in the starter box!). Tokens can be anything to track conditions and abilities that apply on the table. There are official ones through Muse on Minis (http://museonminis.com/), good third party ones in a variety of places, or alternative homemade or dry erase tokens available. So long as it doesn’t clutter the table overly much and is clear to both players, anything can be a token.
Starting A Collection
With the introduction to the game and what is required out of the way, there are a few different ways that one can get into the game. My personal recommendation is starting with the Two-Player Starter Box (https://judgement.game/products/two-player-starter-box) or the Tournament Starter Pack (https://judgement.game/products/tournament-starter-pack) depending on the level you wish to buy into the game at. The reason I recommend these two options as the starter box presents great value and will come with everything you will need to sit down and play. The Tournament Start Pack also includes the Two Player Starter Box but with additional heroes.
The Two-Player Starter Box comes with two Hero models, Bastian and Rakkir, and one monster, Gloom. It comes with Judgement dice, tokens, movement sticks and cardboard cutouts for a handful of heroes. The models come pre-assembled so you can crack the box open and get your first game of Judgement going right away!
The Tournament Starter Pack is a great deal and will give you access to a Warband to play 3v3 or 5v5 right out of the box and with purchasing one additional hero will have you ready to even play 5v5 PnB format that was described earlier. The Tournament Starter Pack gives you six heroes that build out a well-rounded Warband that lets you play around with all aspects of the game.
Before going into how to build off of the Tournament Starter Pack I will provide a brief overview of the heroes and classes that are contained within. The first class of hero that is found in the Tournament Pack is a Defender. These are your beefy damage absorbing parts of your Warband and very rarely do players tend to leave these out of their Warband. Their job is two-fold, control board space and absorb damage for your Warband. Each Defender has a defender-type ability that they can utilize to help keep your lesser durable heroes alive. In the Tournament Starter Pack, it comes with two Defenders, Thrommel and Marcus. These two will provide a strong backbone to your starting Warband.
There are two aggressors in the Tournament Starter Pack, Rakkir and Istariel. Aggressors are the heroes that can put out the most amount of damage in the game. They are what you will usually use to knock out your opponent’s heroes. They tend to be heroes you put resources into to get out the most amount of damage. Rakkir is a hit and run style melee aggressor poisoning and laying waste to his opponents and Istariel is a fire mage blasting her foes with fire from afar.
Heroes of the Supporter class give up personal output to amplify those around them. They tend to buff and heal friendly heroes while debuffing opposing heroes. Bastian is the only support within the Tournament Starter Pack. He provides a strong aura that will increase the melee output of all heroes that stick by him. He can also heal and remove harmful conditions. He doesn’t have much personal output but he will keep the rest of the Warband alive and kicking.
The Soulgazer class is something special within Judgement and these heroes are the ones that tend to be a bit more unique. They control the battlefield and are the best models at collecting souls in the game. Included in the Tournament Starter Pack is Kruul. He is a sturdy Soulgazer and he can turn off items of your opponent and even make it quite difficult for them to gather souls for themselves.
Building a Warband
So with what comes in the Tournament Pack, you can play something like Marcus, Rakkir, and Bastian or Kruul for a really well rounded 3s Warband. Adding in Thrommel and Istariel to that initial three will give a solid 3s PnB Warband. You can play Marcus, Rakkir, Istariel, Kruul, and Bastian as a well rounded 5s Warband that contains some good synergy as well. For 5s PnB however you will be down one model that is required to play and that’s where your first choice will come from building out your collection.
Choosing that last hero for 5s PnB is something that gives you quite a few options and ways to go. I won’t go too in-depth in Warband theory at the moment, I will save that for a later article, but from what comes in Tournament Starter Pack what makes the most sense would be to skip adding another Defender or Soulgazer Commonly when you play you will tend to only have a single Defender and single Soulgazer on the battlefield at a time With what you have you already have two Defenders so even after ban you are guaranteed at least one option and with the mechanics of the game you can play without a Soulgazer. I think the best option would be to look at Aggressors or possibly a Hybrid to finish up your 5s PnB Warband.
If more damage is what you want, then going with another Aggressor is a good option. You can go more range oriented and add Allandir. He is able to set multiple people on fire and this combos well with Istariel when you have the fate and the set up to make it happen. Going this route can make handling monsters a little more problematic as you need to be close to getting all the benefits of killing them.
When wanting more melee punch there are plenty of options that will work in this Warband and with Bastian already in what you will have then you can look at some of the dual wield heroes to push out a powerful amount of damage. The two heroes that benefit the most are Brok and Nephenee. Brok is a more straightforward bruiser that when he Crits gets to make another attack. He is a bit more durable than your average aggressor. If more mobility and additional hit and run is your thing Nephenee would be more your speed. She can get into places that a lot of other heroes can’t and put a lot of damage into them especially with Bastian. I think pretty much any melee aggressor would be a good addition to what’s within the Tournament pack to give a well-rounded Warband. So could also just add a melee aggressor you really like and it should work just fine.
The other option to explore would be the hybrid route. The first one that comes to mind right away is Kvarto. He shares some good synergy with both Rakkir and Istariel by being able to apply the conditions that they trigger off of for their big damage. He also has good synergy with Thrommel since he can make Thrommel swing his big hammer a second time in a turn. He is also a model that has some other good synergy with a fair amount of heroes. Barnascus is another hero that has good synergy with what the Tournament Starter Pack comes with. He can apply fire and also can knockdown that can help enable the Warband. The downside to him is that moving beyond what is just in the Tournament Starter Pack he doesn’t tend to see huge amounts of play so if you are looking for something that would slot into more Warband Kvarto is a better Hybrid option.
Moving on from the initial Warband there are a lot of ways to go. As the game stands now Judgement is a pretty balanced game that you can throw quite a few different things on the table and feel like there is still a game. What comes in the Tournament Starter Pack is a great start to a collection and a lot of the heroes that come with it are pretty common to see in warbands no matter the size of the collection. From this point, I would look at some heroes you like the look of or their rules and go from there. I would highly recommend joining the discord as it is a great place to discuss the game and warbands with a friendly community. The discord can be found here: https://discord.gg/DXxEwEH.This article was written by David Wanke