Thursday, 25 April 2013

First Look: Dead Man's Hand

One of my purchases at Salute was a copy of the new Wild West rules from Great Escape Games, Dead Man's Hand.  The rule book is 44 pages long in a softback, staple bound, full colour format.  It comes with a set of small cards in a plastic box.

Other than the contents page, the rules are laid out in a single column format with large section and sub-section headings and are interspersed with photographs of miniatures and comment bubbles from various line drawn characters.  The inner side of the front and back covers are a quick reference sheet with one in metric and the other imperial measurements.

The game appears to be intended as a cinematic take on the West and provides for 4 separate factions - Lawmen, Cowboys, Outlaws and Desperados.  Each faction is intended to be represented by a gang whose stats are similar but not identical and who have slightly different abilities.

The game uses the pack of cards both for initiative (using their number) and also as special events/actions (using the text printed on the card).  The card suits are allocated one to each gang.


Each player is dealt a hand of cards from their suit and then uses the remaining cards in the draw deck for initiative purposes.  You have some control as the first card is dealt face up but the remainder are face down; however, there are some switching and abilities which may affect the final allocation.

Each figure has three actions per turn including moving, aiming, shooting, reloading and recovering (removing the effect of markers).  Shooting is based on a d20 mechanism using ranges with some simple modifiers, whilst melee combat is based on a d10.  Target figures have some limited opportunities to interrupt an active figure and there are some morale rules when your gang reaches certain casualty levels.


Games are intended to be played as a series of linked "scenes"; however these can be played separately.    A selection of scenes is provided within the rules and these can be played in various combinations as they differ in size and duration.

The rules are rounded out with a page of markers which you can copy and cut out or a set of lazer cut MDF markers are also available:


The rules and cards are £20 and the markers will set you back another £8 (although you could cut out your own).  Great Escape have also commissioned a set of pre-painted laser cut MDF buildings from 4Ground (one of which I also picked up at Salute).  I am looking forward to getting these rules to the table and it has certainly reignited my interested in Western games.

8 comments:

  1. Cheers I have been thinking about purchasing these myself. would be interested on how you feel the game plays

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    1. I'm planning to give it a try over the next couple of weeks - so will report back.

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  2. I must admit I like the miniatures as well.

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    1. The minis do look nice but they are a little on the pricey side compared to, say, Foundry. I'd be interested to see how they fit with some of my existing figures though as a couple of the sculpts are particularly nice and that might tip the balance.

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  3. Yes, I got a copy of these rules too, and played a game while I was there. Looks nice and straightforward - fast, fun and easy!

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  4. many thanks for the cooments in the review...great help in deciding to go with these, now to persuade the wife, flowers or perfume??

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    1. Glad to be of help - I will do a proper review once I have had a few games with them - which is something I hope to do as soon as I've finished rebasing my figures and assembling MDF buildings!

      I suspect your approach to the better half will depend on how deep you jump into this new project! If you go the whole hog you may need both! :-)

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