Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth review
The Lost Expedition was one of the small-box gems of 2017, with Peer Sylvester’s compact card game capturing the challenge and beauty of surviving – and dying, and dying again – in the rainforest.
Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth, themed after 2000 AD’s notorious arm of the law, remains just as punishing and visually breathtaking, swapping lush plant life and colourful creatures for brilliant comic-book artwork from Dredd artists Rufus Dayglo and Dan Cornwell, showcased magnificently on oversized cards.
The core of the action remains the same: players lay down cards from their hands to collectively form a row, hoping that their combination of symbols to spend and receive resources such as rations, ammo and expertise – rearranged consecutively in the ‘dawn’ round, left as-is at dusk – can be survived in order by Judges Dredd, Anderson and Giant. The added complication of radiation that must be balanced against health and the potential to use psi powers, which puts an interesting twist on the restricted co-operation with your fellow players, feel like natural additions given the setting and give more to consider without muddling the simple central gameplay.
The landscape takes on more of a role here too, as locations that the team travel to add one-off or ongoing effects, marking them out against the relatively samey forest cards of the Amazon. Applying even more pressure and changing up the pace is the fact it's a race against a game-controlled gang of criminals to reach the slightly randomised destination of their target – the returning competitive mode pits the players against each other.
If you’ve played The Lost Expedition, it’s familiar territory but there’s enough here to present a new challenge and different feel. Though a few unlucky draws can still leave you doomed, you’ll be heading back out on the hunt as soon as you can.
PLAY IT? – PROBABLY
Designer: Peer Sylvester
Artist: Dan Cornwell, Rufus Dayglo
Time: 30-50 minutes
This review originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.