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Judge Judy.

4 - Interacting with Monsters.

Today we talk about the neutral monsters and how they can, and will, do whatever they can to hinder your gameplan. Having ways to interact with the neutral monster roaming the board can sometimes be an outright game-winning strategy purely in itself.

Different ways to interact with monsters; a guide to the different types of heroes in Judgement.

The melee one-rounders:
[Brok, Thorgar, Zhonyja]
-These three heroes can single-handedly crank out enough damage with enough dice to allow you a quick round 1 kill of a gloom or inferno if placed a moderate distance away. Brok is the undisputed king in this section with his crit's ability to 1-shot a neutral. Zhyonyja sometimes needs to spend a fate to get it, which can put you in awkward positions, but also allows her to one-round Asthtooths, which is something the other two have much more difficulty with. She's also better against Vujasha than the other two because of her dice advantage.

The mailmen:
[Styx, Kvarto, Svetlana]
-These heroes allow you to gift your opponent one of the neutral monsters. These abilities usually result in a perfectly delivered 5 to 7 damage (plus or minus poison and fire) and a negative table state for your opponent for maneuvering, finding charge lanes and having to worry about parting blows. Styx has the longest range, allowing you to target enemies way in your opponent's back field. Kvarto's TK has the best pin-point placement, whilst Svetlana's is the only one that doesn't cost fate, but is on a slower delivery vehicle and thus a smaller threat-range. 

The trick-shotters:
[Allandir, Gendris] 
-These guys can actually get kills on enemy heroes by targeting a nearby neutral monster instead, and then chaining a shot to the unfortunate hero. Disadvantages are that you'll commonly be shooting into melee, and that it takes 2S's to pull off the trick shot, so your best bet is to use Asthtooth or Inferno as your bounce targets.

The Executive secretaries:
[Bastian, Haksa, Gendris]
-Our collection of super supportive and friendly roadside 3" melee assistance providers give you a great way to set up for a quick kill by providing that dice support for your melee aggressors and occasionally a few extra points of damage or inches of pushes. Bastian gives the best in raw dice, but loses out on surviveability and damage output. The other two give you additional board-presence abilities in their totems & forest that they place on the table.

Having a flexible, but robust strategy that involves neutral monsters and how they shape the table is an important part in warband selection and picking and banning. If you have suggestions or examples of particular hero-monster interactions you've had then let us know!



Till next time!

-G

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3 - Trinities of Synergy and Deadly Doubles: Using Pre-Synergised Modular Teams to Help List Building in 3v3's and 5v5's.

Why Bother?

Picking warbands for the different pre-made formats of Judgement can be tricky, especially when picking and banning are involved. This T=0 (where T is time into game) meta-game is the first part of playing Judgement. It involves committing to a particular (usually 2 or 3) set of win-conditions and playstyles. It also involves attempting to deceive your opponent and avoid their deception in turn.

Using Deadly Doubles and Trinities of Synergy to build a modular roster for your warbands in different combinations allows you to react adequately to the map selection & PnB portions of the game, and hopefully give you an advantage in the overall macro-game.

You could for instance build a 5v5 roster out of 2 Deadly Doubles and a single filler, a Deadly Double and Trinity of Synergy, or even 2 overlapping Trinities of synergy.

Deadly Doubles:
This game is like a tele-novela of passionate couples of intense chemistry falling in and out of love with each other (and each others' exes). Some of the most famous Brangelina-style couples include:

Thrommel & Kvarto *Pronounced in the original Australian = Kuh-Var-Doh* 
-One of the most passionate pairs, Kvarto not only helps pull in unwilling victims into reach of Thrommel's big hammer, but he allows him to swing that bad boy twice. A straight 100% damage increase is just that big. In turn Thrommel is the Kevin Costner to Kvarto's pudgy (but fragile) frame. With Thrommel to sit on a soul, Kvarto can soul harvest in peace whilst putting out game-winning TK's or massive damage spikes + knockdown.

Zaffen & Kvarto
-The long distance relationship that Zaffen and Kvarto have is undeniable and it based once again on that dwarf mechanic of 2A basic attacks, which come with a correspondingly generous damage grid. It's less intense and passionate than Kvarto's relationship with Thrommel, but it's obvious that the midget siamese twin thing on Kvarto's chest has a thing for dwarves.

Pre-patch Xyvera and Doenrakkar.
-Possibly the most epic love-story of two heroes in this game ever, it was a soul-forged bond that could withstand any iceberg that fate could throw at their loveboat of steamy RES 3 damage-transferring abilities which basically rendered both heroes invulnerable for pretty much the entire game. It's probably a good thing they fixed this. The modern, post-patch remakes feature Xyvera and Skoll, using bulwark on Xyvera as an ablative shield to cover her 5HP heals that she wants to put out every turn. In turn he provides her with a big fat hitpoint pool to draw from for putting out that auto-hitting true damage. 

Skoll & Bastian
-Somehow, a man with one eye is able to drastically improve the visual acuity of a 2 headed Ettin. No one enjoys the two extra attack dice bonus from Bastian's sticky staff & aura more than Skoll. Nephenee lies jealously plotting plans to seduce Bastian in the background of the scene, threatening their relationship in the next season of 'Judge Judy & Executioner'. Really anyone with dual-wield in particular have a tendency to get into highly dependent relationships with the one-eyed bandit.

Thorgar & Anyone
-Thorgar is a typical jock man(cow)-whore. He will get it on with any hero in Judgement, because he is a synergy slut. All heroes appreciate the breathing room that an 800 pound battering ram buys you. The knockdowns, the huge damage, the massive threat-range, threat-level and hit-points means that he takes the pressure of your other heroes so they can win you the game.

Saiyin & Doenrakkar
-This controversial inter-racial couple came in the spotlight early on in the show and have remained a steadfast synergy since then. The Don loves the sweet healing Saiyin gives, but cares much more about her ability to counter his only real weakness: fire. Saiyin definitely enjoys the protection from attacks, giving her a big, muscly wall to hide behind so she can soulgaze her heart out and run the table.

Piper & Zaron
-There are actually 4 people involved in this "duo" but they all do work. Between illusions and skeletons there are some great ways to play with the table. A table controlling combo this allows for great positioning plays, flanking shrine holds and some serious soul-game. Don't rely on the backstab bonus though, the fact that it takes 2 activations to set-up makes it too easily counter-able. Zaron himself has been eyed up by the suave and sophisticated Skye for seduction in the next. Will he be able to resist Skye heroic standing abilities, or will he remain faithfull to Piper?

Marcus & Nephenee
-Nephenee's KD addiction became obvious very early on in the season. She would show up to work strung-out, make simple mistakes and go to the bathroom for conspicuously long periods of time. Meeting the knockdown dealer of the century resulted in the kind of fiery, whirlwind relationship that only a 24 damage activation brings and that ends in a final shoot-out with the entire local police department in an abandonded mexican farm-house.

Kvarto & Styx
-The mind-bending, teleporting duo that made "we gotta stop meeting like this" a  thing back in the 90s, these guys team up most effectively during the pick & ban phase of the game, ensuring that you can always sneak in at least 1 auto-hitting teleport ability that to place neutral monsters inside your opponents' formation. This provides massive amounts of table position, damage superiority and shrine advantage in many cases.

Trinities of Synergy:
An ideal Trinity of Synergy actually contains 3 Deadly Doubles, as in; Hero A independently synergizes with hero B, Hero B independently synergizes with hero C and Hero C independantly synergizes with hero A.

Thorgar, Thrommel & Kvarto.
-An incredibly dense formation that brings superior damage and Crowd Control [ In Judgement i consider CC to be 1)Pushes 2)Knockdowns & stuns 3)Slows and obstacles 4)Taunts and 5)Others] whilst also being completely ban resistant. People might think that a Kvarto ban cripples this Trinity but it doesn't. Thrommel & Thorgar kicking ass was never dependant on Kvarto, they are perfectly capable of synergizing with your remaining picks to make a game-winning composition.

Rakkir, Zaron & Styx.
-This threesome is simply called 'The Movement'. Being able to drop two teleport markers very far upfield turn 1 and being able to use and recycle those markers indefinately brings some serious next level play. Styx provides crucial dice by engagement for Rakkir, along with an incredibly powerful Turn 1 2nd-activation kill (styx gets 2 runs, teleports Rakkir up, Rakkir charge + extra attack + fate = 18" threat range for out-of position squishies to get insta-gibbed). Ethereal passage working on Zarons skeletons is just added hilarity to throw some serious spanners at your opponent.

Bastian, Skoll & Thorgar.
-These guys became friends after realizing they all equally enjoy helping each other stack huge amounts of attack dice on enemies and do incredible damage whilst providing soul pressure and great defensive capabilities. With bulwark and Bastian heals + Thorgar's regen, these boys have a tendency to stick around to close out a game.

Marcus, Istariel & Barnasus.
These three are the rowdy out-of-town cousins that get drunk and trash your house and set fire to something in your garden. Knockdowns and fire is what these guys apply, liberally. bringing a tank as well as a literal tank gives you grinding power, whilst istariel just does her thing in peace, leaving others in pieces.

Bastian,Piper & Skoll
"Bastian's aura does an incredible amount of work with those two, and his healing can make Skoll very difficult to bring down, while Skoll's Bulwark can keep both the squishy guys alive for a long time." 
-Andrew Galea

Haksa, Xyvera & Skoll
A threesome that runs the largest hitpoint-trading operation on this side of town they met their end during a high-speed car chase at the end of a police raid gone bad. Until their apprehension they had been known to trade up to 2D6 + D6 + D6 + 5 direct target, auto-hitting damage and at the same time raking in 3D3 + D6 + D6 + 5 + 2 in heals per turn 

If you have discovered any Deadly Doubles or Trinities of Synergy of your own, then let us know in the comments below!



See you guys next time!

-G

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2 - Warband Construction Theory: An introduction to keywords, how to use them and what they mean for your play style.

Now that wave 2 is almost upon us, the catalog of playable heroes will skyrocket to 28. Because there are no faction limitations for selecting your warband this highlights the biggest, most glaring weakness of Judgement as a game:


"The characters in Judgement are so well-designed, so well-balanced and so fun to play that it is impossible to form a 5v5 warband without leaving dearly beloved heroes out of your roster, like orphaned kittens abandoned in the rain."

Not every hero can be chosen for Friday Night Judge Judy sessions.


I regularly find this to be the hardest part of the game and so I have tried and experimented with different tools that I could use to help my decision making process based on the qualities of individual heroes and their overall contribution towards a particular play style. One of these is the use of keywords. I assign these to particular heroes and then pick my warband based on a reasonable distribution of those keywords so that I am left with a flexible warband that is resilient to bans and can play on the large variety of maps. Let's take a look at some of the categories of keywords that I like to use, and how they look:

 

1) Fate consumption. Here I use 3 different labels; NoFate, TurnFate & SwingFate

NoFate heroes are perfectly happy to spend the entire game without having any fate spent on them at all without losing much effectiveness. These are heroes that have good base stats and active abilities as well as fate abilities that are either corner-case abilities for very specific match-ups or situations or just not game-winningly powerful. Some examples of this in my opinion are heroes like Thorgar, Brok, Barnascus, & Svetlana. 

TurnFate heroes are the opposite, they want to spend at least 1 fate every turn of the game to really maximise their impact and get the best value possible. This includes fate healers like Haksa, Bastian & Skye, fate damagers like Zhonyja, Rakkir, Istariel & Zaffen and utility fate users like Piper, Zaron, Gendris, Loribella & Kvarto. 

The last category is SwingFate. These are the heroes that have good fate abilities that you will probably only use once per game but will have a possibly game-winning impact, meaning that it is advisable to always have 1 fate in reserve for these guys. This includes heroes like Skoll, Marcus, Styx, Viktor, Xyvera, Doenrakker, Saiyin, Brok and Allandir.

Composition wise for a 3v3 PnB warband I want a minimum of 1 NoFate hero and a maximum of 2 TurnFate heroes (one of which will either be banned or dropped) in order to ensure that I don't fate-starve myself. Notice that the TurnFate hero category is large so you must choose carefully!

 

2) Board position. I identify 4 possible board positions a hero aims to occupy; Front, Middle, Back & Side.

Front are heroes that need to be in melee and that perform well in the chaotic and cramped confines of a multi-combatant brawl. Heroes such as Thorgar, Marcus, Haksa, Brok, Doenrakkar, Skoll & Skye are exemplary of this category. It requires a combination of decent defensive stats, moderate to good damage output, and a decent melee range to qualify for this category. Front fighters are essential for controlling & contesting shrines and protecting your valuable Middle & Back heroes from being engaged or killed by your opponents Front fighters.

Middle is the largest and probably most important category here. They are the ones who maneuver, counter-attack and generally rely the most on good model placement. Heroes such as Bastian, Styx, Thrommel, Xyvera, Zhonjya, Kvarto, Loribella, Kogan, Barnascus and Gendris fall squarely this category. They are heroes who don't like having to tank a enemy alpha strike, but want to be close enough to the action to counter-attack for big damage, or to enable your other heroes to get work done. Their favorite position is in the center, a few inches behind their screening troops in order to retain the ability to react to the spawning of souls, counter attack against enemy heroes and to fill up board space left empty by your opponent and project threat.

Back are the heroes that enjoy working with empty table space and helping out teammates from the safety of their warm little camp fire behind the front lines. Allandir, Zaffen, Zaron, Kruul, Saiyin and Istariel are the exemplars of this category. They enjoy finishing off wounded targets and playing the soul game without being bothered by the enemy. They are also all heroes that can spiral completely out of control if your opponent lets them do their work unhindered and can often win you the game as a result, assuming of course you don't throw them away recklessly. A well-played Back hero should never die and will probably be your first hero to level 3.

Side are the heroes that either enjoy fighting on their own, or want to threaten your opponent's Back troops. They have superior mobility and excel at disrupting your opponents formation. On maps with congestive terrain and flanking shrines these guys excel. Rakkir, Nephenee and Viktor make up this category and they require dedicated focus in warband construction. If you want to use on of these heroes, the rest of your warband MUST be built to take them into account. Otherwise you will play away a potentially massive advantage that you have.

For composition of 3v3 PnB I want a minimum of 2 Front heroes to ensure I can fight for the shrine/soul pit regardless of bans with a maximum of 1 Back or Side hero.

 

3) Soul gazing ability. Here I identify 2 categories. 1stGaze & 2ndGaze.

1stGaze includes all soulgazers as well as Bastian and Styx. These are all guys that will do a solid job of playing the soulgame and should be gazing whenever it is safe to do so in order to put pressure on your opponent. 1stGazers add 2 Gaze-units(GU) to your warband each.

2ndGaze includes all the heroes that have a soul harvest value of 4 (i.e. the supporters and the defenders) as well as Viktor. These are the guys that can gaze with a decent probability under the condition that they either have a friendly assist (or two) or the fate to spare with the reroll (preferably both). Without one of those two conditions I probably would not gaze unless I had nothing better to do. 2ndGazers add 1 Gaze-unit(GU) to your warband each. I know that Viktor doesn't soulgaze but his ability to choose the soul spawn will allow him to count to your total gazing score.

Composition wise for a 3v3 PnB I would want to bring at least a total of 3 GU's. This is to ensure that after bans I still have at least 2 GU'sleft on the board, whether that be a single 1stGazer or two 2ndGazers. Because of my undying love of the supporter class I frequently have more than 3 Gaze-units in my warbands pre-bans, making my potential for soul-game fairly stable

 

4) Dependancy. Here there is only 1 keyword, but it's an important one. Dependant heroes are the ones who have such strong synergistic interactions with specific other heroes that having one of them banned almost always means you end up dropping the other hero because they lose so much effectiveness once their best friend gets eliminated. One shining example here is Thrommel & Kvarto. If Kvarto is banned I almost always end up not taking Thrommel because of the loss of 50% of his damage output. Styx & Svetlana are in a similar position. Svetlana's Dependancy:Styx means that if Styx gets banned (common occurance) then Svetlana becomes that much harder to move around the table and be effective and I will be drawn so strongly towards dropping her as to in essence give my opponent a second band, for free.

Composition wise I try to avoid Dependant models in 3v3 PnB. If I do bring a Dependant hero I make sure that the 3 remaining heroes I have left form a Trinity of Synergy amongst themselves. In this case I will pick the two hero combo with the Dependant and then alongside that an entirely separate and self-contained 3-man warband. An example of this would be to put down a Kvarto/Thrommel pair first and augment that with a strong 3-man team such as Zhonyja/Thorgar/Kruul

 

Putting it into practice:

Below is an example of a warband that I designed using the keyword system

-Thorgar (NoFate)(Front)
-Haksa (TurnFate)(Front)(2ndGaze)
-Piper (TurnFate)(Side)(2ndGaze)
-Skoll (SwingFate)(Front)(2ndGaze)
-Styx (SwingFate)(Middle)(1stGaze)
Total Gaze-units(GU) = 5
Min 2 Front? = Yes
Max 2 TurnFate? = Yes
Max 1 Back/Side? = Yes

 

Notable Synergies:

Skoll (Bulwark) --> Piper / Styx / Thorgar : All of these heroes have 0 RES and equally appreciate the extra 5 HP.

Haksa(3" melee) --> Piper / Skoll : Both of the heroes enjoy the assist bonus that Haksa's considerable melee range gives them. This will allow for Piper to act as an aggressor in case Thorgar gets banned.

Styx(Ethereal Passage) --> Thorgar / Haksa: Getting the extra distance is great for Thorgar because it allows him to dive a monster with 2 attacks, giving you a decent chance of killing it. Haksa enjoys Ethereal passage as a way to quickly take a controlling board position on the centre of the table or a shrine with a double totem start.

Thorgar(Mancatcher) --> Haksa / Piper: Being able to pull enemy heroes into Haksa's considerable 3" melee forces people to deal with parting blows, and also makes Thorgar's attack more likely to crit/throw if needed. Piper greatly enjoys having Thorgar activate first and mancatcher in a suitably squishy target, so that when Piper activates he can simply stand the and pump out 3 quick back-stab's in a row and duplicating himself in the process to avoid any kind of retaliatory charges(on the killing blow like a pro, as damage & level up trigger before the maneuver symbols resolve, allowing you to trigger the ability you just learned).

 

Let's take a look at some ban responses:

Thorgar ban: My only aggressor so he may end up catching a ban. Should this happen I will endeavour to have Piper take over the DPS role and will recruit Haksa to be his melee enabler. This will take Piper out of the flanking/shrine contesting role meaning I am best off picking Skoll to contest the shrine as well as dropping bulwarks on piper whenever I get the chance. Getting Piper to level 2 to enable his Duplicate as a combat maneuvre is important here because it allows me to spend more actions on attacks whilst keeping him protected.

Haksa ban: Unlikely to be banned with so many other good ban targets, this may get targeted by people who know how I feel about the orc shaman (he's one of my favorite heroes in the game). I would resort to a 2 & 1 strategy with Skoll & Thorgar teaming up and Piper going for the flank. This works well on maps with a flanking Shrine, where Piper really shines.

Piper ban: A solid ban target for my enemy. Having one of my premier mobility pieces taken away would mean a Styx pick to gain board space and to enable flank switching should it be necessary (Astral split can be incredibly powerful on the smaller 3v3 maps). I would combine him with Haksa to provide defensive capability and put up a good fight for shrines (Haksa will be the Ethereal passage target turn 1 for sure). Depending on my opponent's team composition either Skoll or Thorgar is a solid third pick. If my opponent has a lot of RES, Thorgar with armour shredder takes preference, if he brings elves or soulgazers then maybe Skoll might be a better pick.

Skoll ban: In this situation I would engineer Haksa toward a more defensive role with a quick Lvl 2 if possible and a Glyph of Warding if I can get it on him. He will be backed up by Thorgar who will provide damage and throws. Piper will be picked to bring up the flank and make shrines plays. On maps that feature Ashtooth or Inferno Styx may get picked purely because of how fun it is to charge and enemy squishy and Astral split a monster straight into the heart of the enemy team.

Styx ban: Another likely ban, people rightfully fear him. I probably would respond with the above mentioned Thorgar/Haksa/Piper combo unless there was a heavy central focus in which case I might exchange Piper for Skoll to provide even more beef and staying power. Skoll would also see the table if my opponent had a particularly good Piper combo (let me know when you figure out what that is)

This leaves me with a warband that enjoys playing the maneuvre and capture game, trying to utilize a fate advantage leveraged through shrine control or monster kills with a solid opportunistic soul-gazing strategy. I have some of the best movement-based heroes in the game featuring teleports, blinks, tramples, throws, pulls and place-switches. It also features two fantastic death-rays, the double-tap combo of pain-reflector and equilibrium for those crazy 2 fate auto-hitting instant kills (oh, you play elves? . . .  . ..... sorry). I think this overall playstyle of strong maneuvre play backed up with pin-point damage suits my personal style very well

So that's it for now. This was the method I used to come up my new warband this afternoon and I thought I would share it with you whilst it was fresh.

I'd love to hear your own try-outs of this method to see if it works for you guys! Comment below to let us know!

Till next time, see ya!
-G
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1 - Introductions

Do you enjoy Playing Judgement with good friends and beers? Do you like to use miniature games to brutally crush the hopes and dreams of your closest allies? Do you relish in 'schadenfreude', the delightful sensation of seeing a fellow person's misfortune when they come up double 1's on their game-winning dice roll?

You've come to the right place.

Here at "Bob Loblaw's Law Blog: A Dutch blog about Judge Judy" we will keep you informed and hopefully entertained and more excited to explore the wonderful world of soul-harvesting with axes, mining salt with dice and obsessive-compulsive theorycrafting. 

For the first real content-containing article keep your eyes peeled for a brief look at how I run my demo games in an attempt to convince more people to partake in this most glorious of past-time pursuits. 

Till next time, see ya!

-G

 

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