I eagerly accepted my friends invitation to pop over and play a game of Dead Man's Hand escaping the mess at home. We'd played Warhammer Historical's Legends of the Old West a lot and love it and we were both interested how these rules would compare.
Legends of the Old West has a lot more character and a lot more detail than Dead Man's Hand and naturally is therefore a slower game but richer in atmosphere. For example Legends of the Old West gives your characters special attributes and you have a choice of lots of weapons. Legends of the Old West also caters for campaign play where you can build up the size and strength of you posse/gang etc. Dead Man's Hand I believe is bringing out campaign rules but the core rule book is a fun and fast game of gun fighting (or fisticuffs which we didn't get to try). If you like character you can still create story lines and name your figures but the play is simple. The game uses cards to dictate initiative and cards to create atmosphere by playing the action written on them to affect play and results are decided by dice. As with any good game you still need to think tactically in the movement of your figures but also in the use of your cards to gain maximum advantage.
From the above you can tell I enjoyed myself. We played for an afternoon and got 2 games in with a result.
Game 1 The Stranger
I played the drunk bad men about town against the lone good guy. The scenario dictated that the sides set up 20cm from each other and the terrain needed to be 20cm from them. Quite straight forward we then dealt the cards and followed the turn sequence. The special rules were that my guys had a minus on their shooting I think because they were drunk, this vanished once a character was down.
|Both sides line up. The figures are mainly Dixon and the buildings 4Ground|
|I love the 4Ground hanging platform|
|The town with no name|
|My friends spare cowboys in the cantina|
|My special card that I could play once to affect the game. Once I'd played this I could draw another card from the pack to replace it. This card didn't help as the good guys only had the one guy, so I couldn't swap initiative cards and effect who goes when.|
|Initiative is decided by drawing a card and placing face up against one of your characters. The highest card goes first then you flip all the cards to see what order everyone plays. This is not a IGOUGO game.|
|The scenario had the good stranger go first and he moved in the fire at close range|
|The tokens and measuring stick are from Great Escape games.|
|The strangers target falls and my guys sober up quick.|
|They move in and and both blaze away and the stranger is left standing|
|Depending on character type 4 to 5 hits are required to take a character out. After the first go The stranger had a hit, the local ruffians one down and one with a hit. We forgot we could dodge back 10cm and fire off a quick shot when targeted in expense of a turn. |
|The stranger plays a card to make it harder for me to hit him with one of my ruffians|
|I've now lost 2 men and my gun is jammed|
|So I run to the Marshall's Office for safety|
|I traded my useless action card for another one at the beginning of the turn and then used it to give my man a double move|
Game 2 Revenge
|I didn't make it and the good gut shot me in the back repeatedly. Game over. The good stranger wins.|
We played the scenarios in the rule book but I can't remember the exact names so my scenario titles just give the gist of the game.
Since the stranger whooped my boys the family return to town looking for some pay back. we got adventurous with 7 figures each. Both sides had a boss, a gunslinger and dudes (the rules phrase not mine). The bosses started in buildings letting their men sort things out, they activated on the death of one of their side.
We had to deploy on 4 groups, 20 cm a part from the opposite side and the boss.
|2 of my ruffians moved in to the half made building and drew a bead on the good guts. This game the sides were armed with shotguns, repeating rifles and 6 shooters. These chaps had a guy with a pistol and a guy with a shotgun.|
|My second group at the other side of town. A rifleman in the Marshall's office and a pistol shooter in the alley|
|The good guys. Their boss was having breakfast in the building on the right|
|My boss was in the building bottom right|
|Cards a played and my chaps scrabble for cover. I have a chap behind some wood with a hit or under fire marker. You can use an action to recover an under fire marker. The chap peaking behind the building is my gunslinger which makes him a good shot. I liked the mechanism that whoever get their cards down first goes first when both sides have the same value initiative card. Towards the end we were positively throwing the cards down.|
|My chaps having traded shots for a turn rush out when one of my guys go down. The scenario ends when the good guys kill 2 ruffians or the ruffians kill 3 good guys. By running out they get to shoot at close range and the shotgun can use both barrels. Sounds deadly. Both sides repeatedly missed even with the plus 6 to the dice. I did get the good guy an under fire token as you can see.|
|The good guys boss is their first casualty, revenge for my gunman dead in the alley.|
|In the background my boss and gunslinger burst out of a building miss lots and survive the good guy with the rifle and the return fire from the goody chaps in the blue building|
|My boss and gunslinger being fired on by the stranger at the tops of the stairs and an upstanding citizen peeking around the corner.|
|Meanwhile in the Marshall's office a goody has snuck in the back and fires at my rifleman who snap fires both receiving under fire markers.|
|Not content with one sneak the goodies bring up another feller.|
|My gunslinger moves in to close range and hurts his opposite number but doesn't take him out.|
|My rifleman takes another under fire marker from the pistolier and the shotgun misses with both barrels and needs reloading. |
|The carnage outside. That's the good guys boss on the duck board|
|Meanwhile in the street 2 goodies are down and my 3 are still standing. I used actions to reduce my under fire markers to stay in play and keep firing which won the day in down town.|
The pictures don't show all the actions but the game cam down to the wire. We actually thought it had finished the turn before in the Marshall's office with the death of the goody pistolier. In the heat of the action we'd applied close range pistol bonuses to my chap, but when I took t he triumphant photos of my victory I spotted the rifle. The pistolier lived and to our surprise so did everyone else in the room when continued the game. The next shootout was my boss and the gunslinger against 2 goodies and the stranger. The stranger was the main target and survived due to his higher number of under fire tokens required to take him out.
The finale was downtown where I had already killed a goody outflanking the building site so I was now 3 on 1. It took all 3 men shooting to take the last man out and a victory and revenge for the ruffians.
Great stuff. We found that the cards with actions added the flavour of the period, where Legends of the West used character attributes. If we'd played this 2nd game using Legends of the West it would have taken us all day (we're not quick) so I liked the speedier pace. Another bit of flavour as I was playing the baddies I could declare I was cheating and gain the initiative by a mechanism I forget. I used it to get the last kill.
It's great to say I played a baddy, cheated and won. All in character!