June 06, 2013

This is a robbery!

Upplagd av Minondas

Well, just as I was ready to chalk up May as another month without any wargaming activity, Tony came to the rescue and not only invited me to push some lead and roll some dice but also gave me an opportunity to try a new western ruleset called ‘Dead Man’s Hand’.
For our game, Tony put together a bank robbery scenario with a twist – five robbers ride into town with bad intentions, but what they don’t know is that a bunch of Pinkerton men is waiting for them in an ambush. Luck is initially on the side of the bad guys and they manage to grab the cash without being noticed, but as they exit the bank, the teller runs after them screaming his head off. Anyone familiar with the western movies knows what happens next – a single shot rings out, the obnoxious teller drops dead, silenced forever by a bullet in the head… and then all hell breaks loose!

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Quick overview of the ruleset is in order. ‘Dead Man’s Hand’, just like most of the rulesets in this genre it’s intended for skirmish games with a single miniature representing one character. The activation sequence is decided by a card deck – each character gets a card, the lowest cards act first. Each character gets to perform three actions of out of following selection – move, shoot, aim,  reload and rally. It is also possible to duck back one movement length or take a snapshot out of the turn sequence if the character hadn’t acted yet in the turn. Shooting is done with a D20, the result can be a miss, a ‘hit’ in form of suppression, a serious hit causing a ‘hit’ and an additional morale check causing additional ‘hits’ if it fails and finally a killing shot. Chances for a hit are affected by type of weapon/range and can be improved (marginally) by one or multiple ‘aim’ actions. A character is out of action if number of ‘hits’ exceeds his toughness, which usually is between 3 and 5. Lucky ‘kill shots’ put the character down with immediate effect.

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To add a little spice to this vanilla mix, each side also has a set of cards with different events making life easier for your side or more difficult for the opponents. Players can play as many of those cards as they wish during the game turn, but they only get to pick one new card per turn – consequences for over-eager use of the card hand are obvious.

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I won’t go into details of the game, but it took us about two hours (including the explanation of the rules) to get two of the robbers and all the money out of the town. The remaining three were mercilessly gunned down by the Pinkerton men. All four players, including me, had a pretty good time – ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ provides a fun game of beer and pretzels variety with proper western feeling. If you’re into type of light-hearted games with emphasis on the ‘game’ rather than ‘simulation, I would recommend without reservations that you give it a try.

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Finally, a quick note about the buildings in the pictures below – they are all scratch-built by Tony. Yes, he’s one of those odd characters who’d much rather spend his time on making buildings or scenery than painting figures. And don’t even mention ‘painting horses’ to the guy! Ler
The reason why I mention all this is that Tony let me know that if you like his stuff, he’s willing to take requests… for a reasonable fee, of course. So if you like what you see and would like to get some of your own, drop me a line.

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