Pages

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

First try of Dead Man's Hand

I met up with my friends Hugh and Mark at Fantasy Flight Games Center to try Dead Man's Hand. Hugh kindly brought everything-figures, rules, buildings and terrain.  He had his Old West town up in 30 minutes.

That was time well spent as this game looks LOVELY on the table. 4Ground's prepainted buildings are gorgeous.  Each comes apart floor by floor, which allows you to fight from the ground floor to the rooftop. We had 6-7 people stop by to ask what we were playing.  That was a record amount of interest for us!



I ran the Lawmen and Mark ran the Outlaws. The game uses a small deck of playing cards for each gang. The cards determine initiative and activation order. Some cards are held in hand to be played for special abilities or interrupts. I loved that the cards break up the IGO-UGO.  They bring drama and uncertainty as you find yourself hoping for a turn of a friendly card.  Tempted as you are to play the cards quickly, you only get one new card at the end of each turn.

Sharp eyed readers will recognize these fellows from my painting table last fall. That's the bonus of "painting local."
The game is played with 3 linked scenes.  The first 2 are small affairs that build to a final showdown. In the first, 3 drunk Outlaws were giving my Lawman a hard time.  My gun ran out of ammo after my first shot so I ducked into a building for cover.  The Outlaws shot me dead anyway. Not a great start for the good guys.
In the second scene, my Lawmen got revenge by fighting through an ambush and sending the Outlaws packing.



The final showdown felt like a classic Western.  The Outlaws holed up in the Undertakers Office. As they ran in, I played a card that saw the undertaker pull a gun to defend his business.  It didn't turn out well for him as he became the first customer of what would be a busy day.

While the Outlaws were running to the rooftop, I rushed the first floor and dropped the Outlaw tasked to cover the front door.  In the picture below, the Lawman with the "Out of Ammo" marker has a sawed off shotgun.  His specialty is to run up point blank and shoot both barrels.  It's a high risk, high reward strategy. In close quarters, there's nothing better!
Dead Man's Hand gives you many decision points. When the enemy rushes you or through your line of fire, you can activate for a single quick shot if you haven't activated already.  You can also activate for a duck and dive as well, which is often the most sensible move you can make. The game plays out like a classic Western, with players crashing through doors, windows, and jumping off rooftops.  My Sheriff found himself outnumbered and in a bad spot. I played a "Bullets Can't Stop Him" card and kept him alive for that turn.

The end was played out behind the Undertaker's Office.  The Outlaw boss jumped down from the roof and drew my gang into the alley.  The Outlaws up on the roof had a good line of fire on my Lawmen and all the lead was making it hot, hot, hot.  Try as I might, I could not drop the Outlaw boss and losses on both sides mounted until each gang had to take a "Big Morale Test."  Hugh told us both "Don't roll a 1!" to which I replied, "Isn't that the name of a famous blog?"  And just like that, Mark and I tossed 1s.  Both sides broke and ran, resulting in a tie.  Like a good cliffhanger, we'll have to wait until the next episode to see who wins.
I'm completely smitten by Dead Man's Hand.  The rules were easy to grasp and the game moves very quickly. It builds a tense and colorful narrative. As someone who's gamed, lived in and loved the Old West, these rules hit all the right notes for me.  Very well done, Great Escape Games.  I'm off to get my copy and I can't wait to get another game in! Next time, I hope Mark will be singing, "I fought the Law but the Law won."  
Hugh and the Outlaw Mark in green
Fantasy Flight Games Center-aka Gaming Nirvana!

36 comments:

  1. Very nice game and AAR Monty! The town does indeed look great!

    Christopher

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Christopher. I'd live there if I could!

      Delete
  2. Great report. Looks like it was a lot of fun.
    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kiwi! It was a very nice change of pace. There are rules for melee but I completely forgot about them.

      Delete
  3. Wow! The buildings are really handsome. Much better visual impact than my gunslinging days using ERTL Cowtowns.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The buildings really are wonderful eye candy. I believe we're the only historical gamers at Fantasy Flight and the Old West town really did turn heads.

      Delete
  4. Great Wild West set up Monty!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow......... what a great looking game.

    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey John! You're a fan of C of C and DB as I recall. I think you'd like the card driven aspect of this as it is similar to DB.

      Delete
  6. Nice write-up. I've been eyeing this game for awhile and this has put it on the to-do list. So that's a gaming center up there? Going to get the Mrs. to rethink living in the twin cities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Iowa! FF Game Center has become my home away from home. Local craft beer on tap, short order chef with great food, huge open space with many tables...it's a wonder I come home at night. If they had cots, I might not!

      Delete
    2. Dude...I might have to actually suggest that we visit her relatives.

      Delete
    3. LOL! The things we do for love...of the game!

      Delete
  7. well that was something different.... great AAR..and great looking miniatures..
    Hey Monty is that Mark of Fog of War blog?

    cheers,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Phil That's me. Thanks for remembering. I've been kind of inactive for a while.

      Delete
    2. Great eye, Phil! I'm lucky to have a friend as good as Mark!

      Delete
    3. Glad to know Mark your still around and active playing war games! I do miss your blog though...Yeah I know what you mean Monty, regarding to friendships, very important to have these days...anyway
      all the best to you guys...

      cheers,

      Delete
  8. Excellent figures, but wow! what terrain! Best, Dean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like you, I'm blown away by how good the 4Ground laser cut buildings are!

      Delete
  9. This town is simply great, love the terrain and the removable roofs...looks like a wonderful game!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The removable roofs are cool. And Hugh tells me you can buy furniture for the buildings. But might make this a little too close to playing with a doll house, lol.

      Delete
  10. I really enjoyed the AAR! Thanks for that. Figures as well as table look great. Dead Man's Hand seems to be a great game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Moiterei, thanks! This one will be on the regular rotation, I'm sure. Now to try Chain of Command...

      Delete
  11. I thought that gang of desperadoes looked familiar! Looks as though a good time was had by all, except possibly the undertaker.

    And the town of... I dunno, Dead Liver Gulch, Arizona? looks like a dangerous place to cross the duly-authorised representatives of the Law. Or a dangerous place to BE a duly-authorised representative of the Law...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ev! The town sure does add character...a bit more than the hex paper we used to use in the Boot Hill RPG.

      Delete
  12. Greate write-up Monty !!! Stunning pictures and especially good painted minis;)

    I´m realy tempted to get in to the Dead Man's Hand...but I still have a hard time with the cards besides the minis...and the fact that there wasn´t to many cowboys in Sweden during the 19th centery...

    Best regards Michael

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very good points, Michael. I tell my wife that you're the fellow bringing Swedish history to life, one post at a time! And it's worked, I'm listening to 17 hours of lectures on the Vikings as I paint.

      Delete
  13. Very rarely can you say a set of rules are just plain fun. And by fun I mean there was plenty of laughing, cheering, jeering, taunting and suspense amongst the players. Everything a game should be. Definitely not a serious, "furrow your brow" and fixate on strategies, tactics and weapons, type game. And it shouldn't be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Mark! I still marvel at how your Outlaw boss was nearly bullet proof.

      Delete
  14. Oh wow! That looks amazing; I had spied this from afar but not really paid much attention to it before - I must resist!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is our "curse," isn't it? Too many choices? I can live with that hardship. :-)

      Delete
  15. Hi Monty ,
    I'm jealous ;-)
    fabulous!!!!!
    magnificent ! and more than seven!!!!!!
    you also seem to have some good friends
    a new terrain to experiment some paint works with the triads ;-)
    playing Rio Bravo and all the great movies with John Wayne! wow!!!!!!

    All the Best

    Gilles "Western fan"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gilles! I do need to get those Foundry paints and get cracking on triads.

      Thanks for the kind words, pard'ner!

      Delete
  16. Smashing set-up Monty! The game sounds like fun too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jonas! I hope you're surviving the Long Winter well. It's been a tough one and we're only half way through. :-(

      Delete