The Wild West skirmish game Dead Man's Hand was originally released by Great Escape Games and later on translated into French by Studio Tomahawk. Now Stronghold-Terrain have released a German version of the rulebook which includes the latest updates and optional rules introduced by Studio Tomahawk.
|One of the many beautiful photos you can find in the German version of The Legend of Dead Man's Hand|
starring the exclusive "Buddy" and "Nobody" miniatures
The 96-page hardcover book is fantastically produced and chock-full of beautiful photos. It is worth purchasing for the eye candy alone. It comes with a paper reference sheet and a sheet for markers, both of which can be downloaded from the Stronghold-Terrain website as well (somewhat hidden, though, on their blog).
Because I preordered the book from Stronghold I received the "Nobody" figure for free. In addition, Nobody's companion "Buddy" was also included as a little apology for the book being late (due to a delay in production).
I did not know the Dead Man's Hand game before so the rules were a very interesting read. I was actually suprised to find reading the rules this engaging. There are many aspects about the rules that I like a lot. The rules appear to be very fast-paced and capture the feeling of quick gun-slinging perfectly. You need very small gangs of no more than 10 models - often much less. As shown below in the image from the rulebook you play on a 3'x3' gaming board and need only a few buildings. So for a rather small committment to the setting you get the full Wild West experience. I was also very impressed by how great the laser-cut buildings from 4Ground look in the book. With this few figures and houses needed how could you resist giving this game a try?
|Sample setup of Dead Man's Hand district one|
What I liked most about the rules (granted, after the first read-through) was the campaign system and the way scenarios are connected and played. Dead Man's Hand provides some very detailed rules for playing campaigns - an aspect of skirmish gaming that is often shamefully neglected, or - if it is present - executed rather dull and uninspired. Not so in this game. There are so called Episodes that tell a story over three connected scenarios. These take place in one of four different districts of the city, each with its own terrain setup and random happenings. Furthermore, when playing a full campaign you try to build a career in the ragged city and take on different jobs. This looks all very very promising. As if this wasn't enough already, there is a scenario generator for creating random scenarios with lots of different and interesting aspects.
So, all-in-all, I am very happy that I bought this book. It is a great gallery of Wild West wargaming photos and the rules appear to be great fun. We'll see if I can resist the urge to buy an appropriate 3x3 gaming mat and a few laser-cut buildings from 4Ground (or Sarissa Precision who also make nice buildings and a cool looking Wild West train) so I can build my own version of Dead Man's Hand and see if my gang can make it there.