Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dead Man's Hand - German Edition from Stronghold-Terrain

Stronghold-Terrain have released the German edition of the Wild West skirmish game Dead Man's Hand and I take a look at the rulebook.

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.

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