We’re taking tentative steps into the Cursed Earth lest we set upon by Raiders, and meeting one of its most infamous crims, Mean Machine Angel.
Hit and Run: Mutant Sky Raiders Plunder Mega-City One
The pressure of a burgeoning population saw the mid-21st century United States of America create two mammoth cities along the east and western seaboards, and a third in the south. Known as Mega-Cities one and Two, and Texas City, these colossal conurbations would come to house millions of people.
Come the Atomic Wars of 2070, these millions would be protected from not only the devastation of nuclear war but the effects of the resulting radiation. Whilst the mega-cities survived, the rest of America became an irradiated wasteland. What survivors remained in this so-called Cursed Earth were denied entry to the mega-cities and left to fight for survival.
The bitterness and enmity those survivors felt toward the mega-cities would fester for generations. Equally, the radiation of the Cursed Earth would see those generations warped into increasingly bizarre mutants, or ‘muties’.
The inhospitable nature of the Cursed Earth also demanded these mutants learn how to scavenge, repair and adapt not only what pre-war relics they found in the wasteland, but also what they could take from the mega-cities. Raids on civilian ‘Helltrekkers’ seeking either a new life in a different mega-city or the Cursed Earth itself would continue to provide rich pickings for mutant scavengers, as would raids on Justice Department sorties into the wastelands, not least in the form of the training exercises required by cadet judges.
The raids which yielded the greatest results, however, were—and remain—those on the mega-cities themselves. Made possible by adapted or purpose-built machines, these assaults are conducted by raiders with jet-packs, powerboards or anti-grav vehicles. Armoured and weaponised, these vehicles provide the raiders with a fast and robust means with which to fly over the massive walls which encircle the mega-cities. Once inside, the raiders steal and pillage before returning to the vast wilderness of the Cursed Earth.
Recent moves to allow mutants a home in Mega-City One have done little to abate these raids, and many of the mutants who have tried to settle in MC-1 find themselves returning to their former homes, embittered against those in the city who treated them with a violent hatred and mistrust. Many of these outcasts are only too happy to join subsequent raids and take not only revenge, but that the resources those in the city begrudge them.
Tour of Duty: The Backlash
Having levied for the inclusion of mutants in Mega-City One, Judges Dredd and Hershey now deal with the reality of this bold new policy.
Extract from Dredd’s Comportment
‘These sky raiders are bad news for the city. Not only are they a danger to our civilians and a drain on our resources, but they’re also indicative of how far we have to go before the citizens of MC-1 are ready to welcome continued immigration of mutants.’
As with all gang or pack-based models in the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game, the Sky Raiders’ strength lies in numbers. Individually weak, those muties who work together gain the benefits of the Sky Raider Pack Leader’s Take That, Norm! skill, which allows that leader to return Action chips to the draw per turn; this alone makes a Sky Raider force a much deadlier proposition. Similarly, the Pack Leader’s Mutant Insight skill gives the player more options when drawing Big Meg cards, letting that player draw two cards and choose one.
All Sky Raiders also possess the Scary Mutant special rule, which penalises models other than Judges with a -1 modifier to tests made against their Cool stat; that’s a great bonus in those scenarios which see Citi-Def forces defending their block against a Sky Raid! And, as only Judges are immune to the effects of Scary Mutant, even arch-villains like Orlok, Mean Machine et al are disadvantaged against these mutated marauders.
It also goes without saying that Sky Raiders have access to a decent armoury and have speed on their side in the form of various bat gliders, sky cycles and other vehicles. Players fielding Sky Raiders should take advantage of this speed and firepower to make the norms’ lives as difficult as possible!
Raid from the Cursed Earth
A Cursed Earth Raider force makes for a particularly characterful and striking force on the tabletop, and that’s before you consider the weaponry and transports available to them. Such a force is rife for conversion too, such as Warlorder Dave has done with his very own Cursed Earth Warband led by Mean Machine himself:
Dave has used the Strontium Dog Build-a-Mutie Box set to create his warband. The customisability of these miniatures really lends itself to the denizens of Judge Dredd’s Cursed Earth.
Alternatively, you can begin your raids with this menacing lot. Descend on the defenders of the Mega Cities in lightning-swift airborne raids.
Dial ‘M’ for ‘Mean’: Mean Angel and the Path to Redemption
Of the pantheon of villains that have plagued Mega-City One over the decades, ‘Mean Machine’ Angel has proven to one of the hardiest. Mean has repeatedly returned from incarceration, and even beyond the grave, to harry Judge Dredd. His durability and just plain ol’ orneriness ensure his place beside Judge Death as one of the lawman’s most notorious—and enduring and—enemies.
Born Amongst Angels
Born into a family of vicious Cursed Earth criminals known as the Angel Gang, Mean had been an exception amongst his brethren: he was nice. However, the patriarch of the gang had Mean fitted with certain cybernetic ‘enhancements’, and the formerly peaceable young man—now fitted with an oversized, clawed arm and an armour-plated head—became the crazed brute his father had always wanted him to be.
Going up to 4!
The most noteworthy alteration made to Mean was a dial in his forehead. Created to control Mean’s level of aggression, this dial ranged from 1 (a mere ‘SURLY’) to 4 (‘BRUTAL!’). However, as with most technology hailing from the Cursed Earth, this dial was not 100% reliable, and could become stuck on 4½; if this occurred, Mean would go into a frenzy, headbutting anything and anybody in his path!
The Judge Child
Mean and the rest of the Angel Gang would first come to Dredd’s attention after kidnapping the powerful psionic Owen Krysler. The so-called ‘Judge Child’, Krysler had been predicted to save Mega-City One from a future disaster. Krysler’s importance, therefore, saw Dredd lead a mission to recover the Judge Child, and in doing so clash with the Angel Gang.
The gang died in the confrontation, Mean included. Dredd, sensing great evil In Krysler, sentenced the boy to solitary confinement on the distant planet Xanadu. In an act of revenge, Krysler used his powers to resurrect Mean. Reunited with another of his brothers, Fink, Mean was then sent on a mission to kill Dredd. Not only did the two Angels fail, Dredd killed Fink and arrested Mean.
Life in Custody
Sentenced to life in the iso-cubes of Mega-City One, Mean made numerous attempts to escape. None met with any prolonged success, and Mean would always be returned to custody. In fact, Mean’s only prolonged periods outside of his iso-block were spent being co-opted by Dredd to serve Mega-City One. One such mission even saw Dredd and Mean work with Judge Death!
During this time Mean was introduced to his son, who had been conceived during a brief relationship with the notorious criminal Seven-Pound Sadie Suggs. Mean’s dial was removed by Justice Department, and he settled into a new life with his son.
During the events of Chaos Day, Mean was infected with the so-called ‘Chaos Bug’. Like all those infected with the bug, Mean regressed to into a state of extreme psychosis and became uncontrollably violent. Only after a spate of bloody encounters with other, similarly infected citizens, did Mean—unlike others affected by the bug—recovered his composure. He realised the potential danger he posed to his son and fled Mega-City One.
Mean’s fate remains unknown, but rumours suggest he died in the Cursed Earth.
Travels with Muh Shrink (2000AD progs #730–736 / Mean Machine: Real Mean)
Stealing a time machine to escape rehabilitation in Mega-City One, Mean Machine comes face-to-face with his younger self. A classic clash of heads ensues…
The Three Amigos (Judge Dredd Megazine vol. 3 #2–7 / Judge Dredd: The Three Amigos):
Dredd pressgangs two of his most implacable adversaries, Mean Machine and Judge Death. Together they infiltrate and destroy a gang of murderous mutants in the Cursed Earth.
Extract from Dredd’s Comportment
‘You can have my badge if Mean is not only one of the toughest and most aggressive perps I’ve ever faced, but also one of the gentlest. The way he changed after he met his boy almost … almost … gave me some hope for mankind.
‘I know Mean’s supposed to have died in the Cursed Earth, but I’m a Judge, and I’ll believe that when I see some evidence. And even if he did die out there, so what? He’s been dead before.’
With his dial set to a mere 1, Mean is unimpressive. His Notoriety and stat line at this setting are eclipsed by those of a Block Gang Lieutenant, and are hardly those befitting a member of the notorious Angel Gang. However, even at this stage he benefits from the skill Izzat So! (which allows Mean to ignore the effects of Judges’ skills such as Respect the Law, Intimidate and Drokk Me, it’s Dredd!!!). However, Mean’s real potential is unlocked by I’ll Go Up to 4 on the Chump!!!, which allows players to set Mean’s dial to either 1, 2, 3 or 4. Each of these settings decreases his Shoot and increases Fight stats, allowing players to tailor Mean to both the scenario being played and the current state of play. Still engaging your opponents at range? Then you need the Surly setting (Shoot 3, Fight 1). Up close and personal? Then turn that dial up to Brutal and not only enjoy the benefits of Fight 4, but also see Mean suffer no stat loss for accumulated Injury or Stun markers!
Mean’s potential for in-game chaos is further increased whilst set at Brutal. Every time he takes an injury, there’s a chance his dial may get stuck on the notorious 4½! At this setting, Mean will immediately gain a free Charge action against the opponent who affected his dial. From this point onward Mean will only engage the nearest model, be it friend or foe…
Mean is also a versatile model in that he can be fielded alongside Judges. This, however, could well backfire, as it is assumed Mean has been drugged or hypnotised. This being the case, there’s a chance Mean may suddenly see through this deception and switch sides mid-game!
In the Game
Recruit Mean Machine Angel to your Judge Dredd tabletop campaigns. The Arch Villians of Mega-City One box set contains five classic villains straight from the pages of 2000 AD. Ideal to lead your tabletop criminal enterprise or give even the staunchest of the Justice Department cause for concern.