Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game - Board Game Box Shot

Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game

| Published: 2014

Dead of Winter is a meta-cooperative psychological survival game. This means the players are working together toward one common victory condition--but for each individual player to achieve victory, they must also complete their personal secret objective. This secret objective could relate to a psychological tick that's fairly harmless to most others in the colony, a dangerous obsession that could put the main objective at risk, a desire for sabotage of the main mission, or worst of all: vengeance against the colony! Certain games could end with all players winning, some winning and some losing, or all players losing. Work toward the group's goal but don't get walked all over by a loudmouth who's only looking out for their own interests!

Dead of Winter game in play
images © Plaid Hat Games

Dead of Winter is an experience that can only be accomplished through the medium of tabletop games. It is a story-centric game about surviving through a harsh winter in an apocalyptic world. The survivors are all dealing with their own psychological imperatives but must still find a way to work together to fight off outside threats, resolve crises, find food and supplies, and keep the colony's morale up.

Dead of Winter has players making frequent, difficult, heavily- thematic, wildly-varying decisions, that often have them deciding between what is best for the colony and what is best for themselves.

User Reviews (13)

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7
I'm Completely Obsessed
Book Lover
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17 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“An excellent zombie genre game”

What makes this game stand out for me is that it has a number of fun mechanics that can lead to some subtle game play, interesting social/group interactions, and bring out some of the popular elements of the zombie apocalypse genre.

Secrets and Lies
One part of the game that I particularly like is the secret objectives. The colony as a group has a main objective that everyone (or almost everyone) is working towards, but in order to win each player must also complete a secret objective. As an added complication, there is a chance that one of the players is holding a Betrayal secret objective and is working against the rest of the group. There may not be a betrayer at all, though. At the start of the game, secret objectives equal to twice the number of players are shuffled together with a single betrayer card and one is dealt to each player, so no one knows for sure if there is a traitor among them or not.

Players can try to identify a betrayer and vote them into exile, but this isn’t as easy as it sounds. The betrayer will be doing their best to hide their secret agenda as long as possible, and a lot of the non-betrayer secret goals can lead to some suspicious-seeming behavior, such as hoarding supplies that could benefit the rest of the colony. Also, since for a non-betrayer player to win they need to complete their secret goal as well as the main objective, there will be times when someone is not working towards (or deliberately slowing down) the completion of the main objective.

Additionally, you only get to vote out one person per game. Vote out a second and the game ends. To further complicate matters, exiled players get a modification to their secret objective–which can include looking to get vengeance on the colony, or seeking redemption.

Time is Limited, and so is Morale
There are a few ways the game can end, and when it does everyone checks the win conditions on their secret objective. Usually this will be to complete the main objective and an additional requirement, except for the betrayal objectives which do not need the main objective to be completed. Each scenario (main objective) has a certain number of rounds that it goes for, and a certain amount of Morale that the colony starts with. When the turn counter hits zero, the game ends. Complete the main objective, the game ends. Run out of morale (you guessed it) the game ends. Morale can drop for a number of reasons, such as when a survivor dies, as a result of a Crisis or Crossroads event going badly, or by having too many cards in the waste pile (discard pile) at the end of the round. Doing especially well on a Crisis can increase morale.

Crossroads Cards
Another fun element of Dead of Winter is the Crossroads cards. Each turn, the player to your right will be holding one of these that has a secret “trigger” event on it. If at any point during your turn the trigger requirement is met, that player reads out the card, which usually presents a choice of two or more options for dealing with a situation that has arisen.
Crisis and Survival
The people at the colony need to be fed, and this can include Helpless Survivors who consume food but don’t contribute anything to the colony. The more people at the colony, the more food you need to have in the stores each turn. When the colony starts to starve, morale begins to drop, and the more times people go without food the faster morale goes down.

Each round there will also be a crisis card to resolve. This will usually require the survivors to gather a particular type or combination of resources and contribute them to the crisis. This is done face down, and at the end of the round the crisis contribution cards are shuffled so no one knows for sure who put in what. If enough of the correct items are there, the crisis is resolved–put in a couple extra and morale may even go up. Fail to avert the crisis, and something bad will happen. The catch: if someone contributes the wrong thing to the crisis, each such item deducts from the total contributed, so this is a potential way for the betrayer to sabotage the colony.

Dramatis Personae
The game has a host of unique survivors to make up each player’s group. Each has a special ability, an influence rating (which determines things like first player and who gets eaten when zombies overrun a location), an attack rating, and a search rating.

Game Play
Each round, players roll a number of dice equal to 1 plus the number of survivors they control. Each player begins with 2 survivors, and thus 3 action dice, but this changes as new survivors are found or existing ones succumb to the perils of the apocalypse. Dice can be expended to kill zombies, search, barricade locations, and clean out the waste pile. Players can spend their dice however they wish each turn.

Moving around is risky. Unless a player has a card (such as fuel) to spend or an ability that allows them to travel safely, each time a survivor moves between locations they have to roll the exposure die. This is a twelve-sided die that can come up blank or result in a wound, frostbite (a wound that adds an additional wound each turn that it goes untreated), or worst of all a zombie bite. Three wounds will kill a character; a zombie bite kills the character and then spreads to another survivor at that location, who must either choose to die (thus stopping the spread) or roll the exposure die for themselves and risk spreading the bite to someone else.

The exposure die also is rolled when a character attacks a zombie.

Conclusion
This game has a lot of fun mechanics and interactions, and is true to the feel of the zombie apocalypse genre.

 
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10
113 of 120 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“A zombie game without zombies (almost that is)”

Intro

DoW or the zombie game that really is not about zombies. In DoW everyone is part of a tiny colony of humans in a post apocalyptic winter doing their best to survive day to day while at the same time being hunted by zombies, but the zombies is just a sidekick while the main issue in the game is survival and completing a main goal.

Setup:

Each player starts of with two survivors in the colony and 3 dice that will allow you to perform an action. Characters will have two stats. one for search and one for fight and a number equal or higher on a die will allow a character to perform those actions. In addition, there are several possible actions you may perform on your turn, some independant on number on die and some without a die at all.

The players select a winning condition (main goal) which must be completed to win. Every player will also have a personal goal to fulfil to achieve complete victory which is hidden from everyone else and often is about having enough of sudden objects. Of course, there is the possibility that one player could be very selfish and caring only about him/herself (aka betrayer).

At the start of the game 2 personal objectives pr. player and only one betrayer objective are shuffled together and one card is handed out to each player so in any given game there is less than 50% probability of a traitor being present.

Around the colony there are 6 locations which the survivors may travel to and search for items of need, but beware, travelling in this world can be deadly.

Gameplay:

Dow lasts for a given number of rounds according to the main goal with each round following the same path.

Start of by revealing a crisis cards, which mostly is about collecting a type of good equal to the number of players. Each player may add cards on their turn. Cards are added face down.
Roll action dice
Player actions

A player turn starts off by drawing a crossroads card and looking at the top part in italic sees what triggers the card. If the active player triggers the card during the turn you’ll read the rest of the card and perform/choose whatever it says. Some trigger easy and some are almost certain not to trigger but it is a major and exciting part of the game.

Some actions require use of an action die: Fight, search, build barricade among others and some can be done without a die: Move, play card, add cards to crisis, vote to exile and more.

Both moving and fighting can be dangerous as you must roll the exposure die which may cause a wound, a frostbite or the worst, survivor dying.

After all players have taken their actions there is a colony phase where survivors at the colony must feed (1 food/2 survivors), check waste and resolve the crisis by shuffling and revealing the cards players added to the check.
Add one zombie pr. survivor at each location.

Betrayer:

Some words need to be said about the betrayer as well. A betrayer will have an own goal of dropping morale to 0 and thus end the game, but he also needs to complete the personal goal on his betrayer card so you really can’t sabotage to early and too obvious. Too obvious and others are sure to vote to exile you, which really isn’t the worst case but you will draw a new Exile personal goal and disband your betrayer goal which may cause a major change of plans.

Winning:

The game can end in 3 different ways:
Morale drops to 0; only the betrayer may win if he has completed the personal goal.
Time drops to 0; all lose
Main objective completed, non betrayers with completed goal wins.

Conclusion

I may just be a little biased as every game I’ve played have been a blast. This may because of the group of players or maybe because every game having a betrayer. I’ve spoken with friends who tried it without having a betrayer and although they enjoyed it it wasn’t at the WOW level I experienced.

In my book this is one of the absolutely highlights from last year. It is very thematic and the zombie theme, which I think is generally overused, works very well as a background here. What really takes this game to the next level for me is the crossroads cards. The shear amount of them and that you’ll never know how/when they trigger, nor whether it will be good or bad just is an awesome mechanic.

 
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111 of 121 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“Finally a true Zombie game.”

So here we go again, another bloody zombie game! I understand the eye rolling, the board game market has been flooded with Zombie titles over the last couple of years and disappointingly very few of them have honestly nailed this genre, the one exception being City Of Horror that came pretty close.

They all make the same mistake by focusing on the dead when really its us the humans who are the biggest threat in these final dark days of civilization. Fortunately designers Jon Gilmour and Isaac Vega understand this the dead in Dead Of Winter are just as they should be an unstoppable tide of doom, they gather at the fences patiently waiting for us to screw up, to get greedy, to be human. They could be robots or rabid weasels that’s not the point here they are needed for the story that Plaid Hat wants to tell. So if you are of the oppinion that the world really doesn’t need another Zombie game then I have to strongly disagree with you, there is always a place for a really good one.

What Dead Of Winter does so very well is take the tense meta game of Battlestar Galactica with its twisty turny traitor mechanisms and a dash of resource control and apply them to the world of Zombies, so far so so right? The ace in the hole for DOW is in the addition of the Crossroads cards, now if you’ve seen the box you will notice that below the title it states that this is a crossroads game. So what is this crossroads stuff then? Well its a deck of cards linked to either characters or events that may or may not occur on a players turn, which are triggered whenever a survivor moves somewhere or performs a specific action. When that occurs then the card stops play and the magic happens. These cards all come loaded with richly thematic text that will set a scene and either give a specific character a choice or the group as a whole leading to tense votes. These cards are intrinsically linked to the survivors that you are playing in this world and all of them have repercussions to single characters or potentially the whole camp.

But let me hold up and back up a tad before we get into those, I need to set the scene some more. To get the most out of DOW you need to approach it with the same head-space of Eldritch Horror or Robinson Crusoe, your’e here to tell a story. If you can’t allow yourself to slip into your characters roles and embrace that, to make their decisions from that perspective then you’ll be missing half the game. You’ll be left sitting to the side with a confused look scratching your head trying to figure out what all the fuss was about.

Life is pretty cheap out here in the post apocalypse winter, you start the game with two random characters each will have a couple of stats for searching and fighting and one special skill. This being a co-op (of sorts) everyone has a goal and there are a bunch of mission cards that set a scenario of what you are attempting to do to win the game. These cards are linked to a small piece of story in the rule book which should be read aloud to set the scene and get everyone in the mood for whats coming. There is also another glorious addition, each player begins with a secret objective that will allow them to win the game. It might be hoarding a set number of food cards or equipment, whatever it is it will be something that eventually will be a test of your character whether you keep items that will allow you to win over helping the colony out of a tight spot. And worse there is the possibility of someone getting a Betrayal card these will give a win condition that will see you chuckling merrily while you watch the world burn. So from the very beginning the seeds of distrust have been sown which has the potential to derail choices that might be for the good of everyone down the road.

Once the game is underway in addition to attempting to fulfill the main goal every turn there is a Crisis, these represent the ongoing issues of trying to survive in this frosty environment and will revolve around the colony having to secretly add specific items to a pile to complete this challenge. Failure to meet the goals of these cards come with hefty penalties whether it be more undead piling at your colony, injured survivors or the cold touch of desperation as your morale is drained.
So lets set the scene, supplies are sparse you start with a scattering of basic equipment but to sustain the colony you’ll need food every round or risk starvation. Then a crisis hits we need fuel for the generators before they stutter and die, things look desperate and then someone stands up and agrees to go scavenging.

David Garcia was an accountant before the freeze but he’s keen to prove his worth, so throwing one final look to the small group he leaves behind he sets off across the bitter tundra to that old gas station on the edge of town, the hopes and dreams of the others going with him.

This is the point when the cruel hands of fate may intercede, you see whenever a survivor moves anywhere or performs an attack you roll the Exposure Die (an incredible apt name for this) on this monstrous creations twelve sides rests your survivors fate, it might be a blank and nothing happens, a wound, not terrible but three of them will kill you, frostbite okay worse and untreated will add a wound each round, or a bite which equals death. And worse if your travelling to a populated area the bite can spread which will result in the deaths of more and should that occur when your returning to the colony the results could be catastrophic. OK so the dice is bad got that, you will come to fear this evil little twelve sided beast.

Anyway back to David our heroic accountant, you remember hopes and dreams and all that. So Davids sets out and roll’s the dice. Its a bite he’s dead. What? Wha..? But hey. Nope he died, gone. Back at camp everyone sits around as the lights begin to fade and die, David didn’t make it back and the fuel is running low the morale of the colony drops and then everyone looks around at who’s next. And that could very well be the first action of your game, all bets are off.

Every decision in DOW is loaded with these terrifying consequences and not just for that player, but the whole camp and before long you get attached to your small group of survivors. And as the crossroad cards start to resolve building a tapestry of tales that enhance the story your telling it can truly hurt when someone dear to you bites the dust.

As an example in the game I played last night I was lucky to count Sparky the stunt dog among my happy few. Faithful old Sparky scampered out to forage for supplies (**** clever that dog, makes Rin Tin Tin look like a moron) on his way out a crossroads card was triggered and a helicopter crashed with the pilot wounded and trapped calling for help. Now Sparky had the option of rescuing the pilot or just leaving them and taking the supplies. The gamer’s response would likely be to take the stuff and scamper and put the colony and main objective first, after all we don’t need another mouth to feed at the colony we need that equipment. But this is Sparky the ******* stunt dog! No way he ignores somebody in distress, so I did the right choice for the story I was telling and ole Sparky pulled the pilot from the wreckage and brought her back to the camp. This little moment is a prime example of how this game should be played, it brought some humor to proceedings and lets be clear this game can get pretty dark, some of those cards are grim (we’re talking HBO Game Of Thrones grim) with terrible decisions to be made. But this was a spot of light during the bleak days we’d had. And as it turns out Sophie the pilot ended up being terribly useful as she went on to become a stand up member of the colony.

played as just a game then you’ll find the mechanisms actually pretty simple (aided by a well put together rule book) and you can whiz through proceedings and potentially leave mildly satisfied, but if your not willing to stop and smell the flowers you are going to miss half of the game or more importantly the whole story.

There are a couple of gamey issues that threaten to derail proceedings, items scavenged from locations become instantly available to all from your hand wherever they are located. I get that this decision was made to avoid over complication of hand management and bookkeeping. If you really needed to it could easily be explained away and to be honest I welcome the decision by the designers. There is also the point that you can’t un-equip items, but again to allow this would break the carefully created threat that the game sneaks up on you. There’s a worry that some of the card pools aren’t huge and may lead to an over familiarity with continued play, there are however plenty of objectives and the option for hardcore rules so it will be dozen’s of games before you ever exhaust those. And whilst the box lists this as playable by two, the sweet spot is three or more, with two of you its a straight co-op removing the distrust and potential betrayal from proceedings which guts the heart of this game from it.

But that’s nitpicking what Plaid Hat have achieved is something special, the art and design of this thing is spectacular and most importantly it totally nails the world and theme it set out to. This for me is the first true Zombie game to come out of the hundreds that litter game store shelves. If your a fan of the Romero films or read the Walking Dead comics or played the incredible video games by Tell Tale then you are going to lap this up.

I should probably end right there, but I’d be remiss not to mention you can vote to exile players whereupon they receive a whole new set of missions to mess with you, or the desperate resource management and defense of the colony you need to maintain whilst everything else is going on, or the sudden desperate realization that somebody has snuck damaging cards into a crisis and plunged the colony into turmoil, I could go on and on. I cannot wait to see what further adventures Plaid Hat have planned in this Crossroads series and hopefully we’re see an expansion or two for this game.
So as summer draws to a close I know what game will be slouching to my table as the dark nights close in, its going to be a*uva winter.

Originally Published @ http://www.whodaresrolls.com

 
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Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
Military Service
10
111 of 121 gamers found this helpful
“Shadows Over Zombies”

Like another reviewer on here and others on the internet that question is asked “Do we need another Zombie game?” I do feel the zombie theme is overdone, but Plaid Hat has made an excellent game in Dead of Winter.

First off, this is not zombie killing fest. The zombies are not the primary antagonists, but instead an obstacle the players have to deal with throughout the game. In the game the players represent a group of survivors that have taken shelter in an abandoned warehouse in the dead of winter (hence the game’s title). In this environment the players and the dynamics of their choices is where the conflict arises in the game. The player’s have a choice of numerous objectives that must be achieved to win the game. Objectives can be chosen for a desired game length, anywhere from 45 min to 2 hours. Each player is then given an individual secret objective that if they complete along with the group objective allow them to win the game. Also, one of the secret objectives can/will make him/her the traitor. This dynamic makes the true antagonists of the game the players themselves as they try to complete the story objective as well as their own objectives.

After several plays I find the game is much more satisfying if there is indeed a traitor in the group. In the base rules 2 secret objectives are drawn for each player and one betrayer objective. These are then shuffled and randomly distributed amongst the players. To make a traitor more likely I draw one regular objective per player and shuffle in the drawn betrayer objective.

Although the game does scale whell for 2 players all the way to 5 players, the 2 player game can really only played cooperatively as the traitor player would be obvious.

I love this game, and at the time I write this it is #44 on the Dice Tower’s People’s Choice Top 100. If you like Shadow’s over Camelot and/or The Walking Dead, you will like this game.

 
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“Baby, it's cold outside...”

In terms of theme and immersive gameplay, Dead of Winter is second to none.

This can be attributed to the components of the game, including the grimy, snow-covered artwork and the high-quality components.

It can also be attributed to the Crossroads system, which adds a wonderful story-driven element to every turn. At the beginning of a player’s turn, the player next to them will draw a Crossroads card and, depending on the circumstances, will read a snippet of story that enhances the dire conditions they are faced with. These cards also offer a choice to the player, and whatever decision they make will often have an impact on the rest of the game.

In our last game, a Crossroads card was drawn for me that *SPOILER* gave me the option of saving a horse from certain death. If I chose to save the horse, we would have to feed it, sacrificing precious food. In return, the horse would give me the ability to more easily travel between locations. I could also choose to let the horse die, in which case I would harvest its body for meat, supplying our colony with extra food for that round.

These decisions, and the flavor they lend the gameplay, are part of what makes Dead of Winter such a fun and immersive game. The other major element, of course, is the possibility of a traitor lurking within the group of survivors. This has been one of the biggest selling points of the game, and it adds so much delicious tension to the experience. On top of that, each survivor has a secret objective that he or she must complete. These secret objectives can be as innocent as needing to have a certain number of cards in your hand by the end of the game, or they can involve much darker motivations.

Every game of Dead of Winter has been a different experience for our group, thanks to the Crossroads cards and the random secret objectives. Plus, there are so many fun survivors to take control of that each game feels fresh and compelling.

The one aspect that keeps Dead of Winter from being a ’10’ for me, and the one that others have been critical of as well, is the fact that a traitor can sometimes too easily affect the endgame. Some might argue that this is thematically ok, but it throws off the balance of the game a bit. Basically, a traitor can do nothing to give himself away until the very last turn, allowing himself to sabotage the game without the other players having enough time to recover. The saving grace is the simple fact that this game is so fun to play even when you lose.

 
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53 of 59 gamers found this helpful
“If you love The Walking Dead, you will enjoy this”

If you combine the film Snowpiercer with The Walking Dead, you have Dead of Winter. Imagine a post apocalyptic winter where you are trying to stay warm and out of starvation in a warehouse. Meanwhile, the people you are with have their own motives and ideas. While you are figuring out what their personal agendas are, zombies are approaching and your supply of food, medicine and other resources are running low.

This is the relentless theme of Dead of Winter. It is the most immersive tabletop gaming experience that I have ever had. I cannot think of any other game that can re-create such an experience. It feels extremely thematic due to the intense nature of the game. You are always on edge because even though it is not your turn, you are still completely involved in the game not only during the discussions but also when you are trying to understand what the other players are trying to achieve. Are they on your side or are they going to betray you? Or are you just paranoid? While you think about this, the zombies are getting closer and closer.

Throughout the game, there is always something happening. Everything you do involves risk. And you need spend the actions during your tun very wisely. There is not time to waste. Just like Pandemic, you need to be very efficient otherwise things will go bad.

During your turn, you can do a number of actions. But what is most intense about the game is the psychological aspect of it. Once you find out there is someone else who is trying to sabotage your main objective, everyone will be suspicious. And that is what makes this game so much more intense.

Anyways, I think this game is absolutely brilliant. There was lot of thought put into the design of this game. It has very interesting and clever mechanics and it felt like they took a lot of existing mechanics that worked and they added all those mechanics into their game as well as created a few of their own.

I really enjoyed this game when I played it and I can’t wait to play this one again.

 
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USA
I play blue
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Guardian Angel
5
114 of 130 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Another Mediocre Zombie Game”

INTRODUCTION
Dead of Winter takes place in an ordinary town in present day. Each player controls a number of characters trying to survive a zombie apocalypse. Dead of Winter is a semi-cooperative game with a traitor mechanic. Players are required to work together to complete the scenario objective in order to have a chance to win the game. The theme is well represented in the game. Dead of Winter is for 2 to 5 players but is best with 4 or 5 players. Game length is about 100 minutes.

COMPONENTS
The component quality is average. The main board is mounted on thin cardboard while the secondary locations and character cards are cardstock. There are thick cardboard tokens and character/zombie playing pieces with plastic stands. However, the stands do not fit the cardboard playing pieces well. The cards are of marginal durability. Overall the artwork is above average at best. The rulebook is fairly well written and organized. As a whole, the components are acceptable; however, this game has a high price point, and I feel the quality of the components is not a good value for the price.

SET UP
Set-up for Dead of Winter is quick and easy. Players draw two starting characters, the location and other decks are shuffled and the crisis deck is constructed. Players are dealt a few starting items and you’re ready to go!

GAME MECHANICS
I’m going to skip my usual detailed game mechanics write-up in favor of the following summary.

All players roll their D6 dice pool simultaneously. Players receive dice according to the number of characters they control with a minimum of two dice.

Then in turn order players use the dice to perform actions. Each character has a fight and a search stat plus a special ability. For example the search stat may require a die roll of 3 or better to take that action and the fight stat may require a 5 or better. A character can be moved to a location such as the gas station and then a die spent to take a search action. The player then draws a card from the location’s deck and adds it to his hand. The cards are generally items such as gasoline, medical supplies or food.

A fight action can be used to kill a zombie at a character’s location. A fight action automatically kills a zombie. However, the player must roll a D16 to find out if the character was bitten during the fight. If he is, then the character is eliminated from the game and any other characters at the location check to see if they are bitten. Whenever a character moves to a remote location, an Exposure check is required. A character can suffer frostbite, a wound or get bitten on an Exposure check.

Players can also perform other actions during their turn such as construct barricades, play cards from their hand and contribute cards to the crisis. Any die roll can be used to construct barricades at a character’s location. A player can play a card from his hand such as a medical supplies card to heal a frost bitten character. Cards can also be played towards the current crisis.

At the end of the round, all characters and helpless survivors must be fed. A check is made to determine if the current crisis has been completed, then a new crisis is drawn. Zombies attack the colony and new zombies are placed on the boards.

The game ends when the players meet the scenario objective, the number of rounds for the scenario run out, or the morale track reaches zero. If the rounds run out or the morale track reaches zero, then all players lose except the traitor. If the scenario objective is met, then the player who has also meet his secret objective, excluding the traitor, is the winner.

THOUGHTS
I am going to play Devil’s Advocate here as all the other reviews are glowing. This game received a lot of hype and in my opinion did not deserve it. The mechanics are borrowed from other games and nothing new. The Crisis event aspect and traitor mechanic are very watered down versions of Battlestar Galactica mechanics. The traitor mechanic is so watered down that there is virtually nothing for the traitor to do in this game. It is difficult for the traitor to try to sabotage the crisis contributions or hamper the survival effort without getting caught. Therefore, the traitor lets the crisis events and zombies reduce the morale track to zero. This game could also do without the secret objectives. Many of the scenario objectives are difficult enough without players doing goofy things to meet their secret objective. I feel the secret objectives also hurt the coop aspect of the game.

The dice mechanic is extremely similar to the mechanic in Castles of Burgundy, Alien Frontiers and Stone Age. In these games, a player rolls his dice, and performs actions based on the numbers rolled. The downside of the dice mechanic in Dead of Winter is that it is based on the number of characters a player controls. Unfortunately this game suffers from what I call the ‘Snowball Effect’. The more dice you have the more actions you have and the more likely it is you’ll find other characters to play which will give you even more dice and so on. I have played games where players are reduced to one character and games where characters are killed on the first move made with them. This game becomes torture if you’re stuck with only two dice. You need to get very lucky at this point to find another character to get more dice. Unfortunately, the team needs you to find another character fast too, so that you can start contributing to the survival of the colony. The dice mechanic also naturally makes some characters unbalanced due to their special ability. This game will almost always be won with characters that draw an extra card on searches. Drawing an extra card allows a player to find additional characters easily, thusly gaining more dice, feeding into the snowball effect.

Onto the good stuff about this game. This is a theme heavy game; if you like zombie themes, then this could be the game for you. Dead of Winter is a fairly light game and will not burn your brain from heavy planning. As with all coops, this game has heavy player interaction, but beware the alpha player. I like the fact that if the fight action is taken, a zombie automatically dies. I’ve played zombie games where you’re just as likely to kill your character as much as the zombie. It should be easy to kill them, right?

Overall, Dead of Winter is a mediocre game; however, in my opinion it is the best zombie themed game out there. I suggest you try Dead of Winter first before you buy it.

 
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“Hey, Who let the Mall Santa in here?”

Dead of Winter is the new board game from Plaid Hat Games. It boasts a new game mechanic, called Crossroads, that will be the start of a series of board games from them. This game was the darling of both Origins and GenCon this year, selling 400 copies in the first and only hour it was on sale at GenCon.

The objective of the game is to survive the hazardous winter. It’s complicated by the fact that you and your friends are also smack dab in a full blown zombie apocalypse. You control a group of survivors that are there to help the colony, but you can also be there to hurt or disrupt the colony’s chances of making it through the winter alive.

What do we like about this game?

The Crossroad cards are the coolest feature of this game. When they are activated, that is when the stories of survival get interjected into the game play. The look and feel of this game is spot on and all of the game components scream cold zombie apocalypse.

What don’t we like about this game?

We wish the Crossroad cards would trigger more often then they do. They’re usually just put back into the pile. Also, if you’re playing with several people, the game play drags a bit while waiting for your next turn and can be tough to hold your interest. This is especially obvious when a player is down to only one survivor, while others are still controlling groups.

Video Review

Dead of Winter has a lot of things going on, but once you get everything set up, it’s pretty straight forward. We are putting it just a little higher than normal to pick up and learn.

Check out our video review of this game: Gettin’ Higgy with Dead of Winter!

 
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2
9
5 of 5 gamers found this helpful
“You're a man of God. Have some faith.”

I can’t profess to understand God’s plan. Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.
Dead of Winter is a meta-cooperative psychological survival game. This means the players are working together toward one common victory condition–but for each individual player to achieve victory, they must also complete their personal secret objective.

This secret objective could relate to a psychological tick that’s fairly harmless to most others in the colony, a dangerous obsession that could put the main objective at risk, a desire for sabotage of the main mission, or worst of all: vengeance against the colony!

Certain games could end with all players winning, some winning and some losing, or all players losing. Work toward the group’s goal but don’t get walked all over by a loudmouth who’s only looking out for their own interests!

Luck:
In Dead of Winter, your biggest enemy isn’t the traitor hiding in plain site ready to throw anything away, nor is it the unending hordes of Zombies (although, these issues shouldn’t be ignored), but rather the Exposure Die, the evil little 12 sided die that offers a 1 in 2 chance of ruining your day. In Dead of Winter, almost everything you do requires a roll of this die, and this is the hardest obstacle to overcome. The game also uses decks of random cards to keep everything fresh which is another degree of luck.

Strategy:
Depending of what side of the fence you are on, your strategy will differ. For the majority, players will need to work together decided when to take a chance and when to play it safe. Often, the game will be won and lost due to the decisions made by the team, sometimes it might be best to let a crisis go un-averted so to ensure the colony doesn’t starve. If you are the betrayer however, you are going to need to focus on both your end goal, ruining the other players chances of winning and of course remaining hidden. Due to the way turn order rotates, each player is given a chance to take a ‘double turn’, this is a great time to make some big moves towards sabotaging the other players hopes of survival.

Complexity:
While the game is rated on the heavier side of the scale, the game doesn’t actually have too much going on. Quite simply all you will find yourself doing on a turn is playing cards, searching for more cards and killing zombies. There are other action that can be taken and the game is quite fleshed out, but its never too much for the player to handle at any one time. Someone being on top of the core mechanics of the game will help avoid constant referral of the rule book.

Replay Value:
The game is always so randomized and never fails to feel fresh. When picking random starting players, random objectives and drawing from a large pool of crossroad events, you will be hard pressed to find the game stale. That being said when you come across a crossroad that has already embedded itself in your memory, you might find it lackluster to already know the outcome of the card before a decision is even made.

Components:
The components are fantastic, the game comes in a sturdy box with gorgeous artwork and everything inside is just fantastic quality. The standees of both the characters and the zombies are wonderfully designed, the tokens in the game are clear and stunning in there presentation and the game has got to win the award for “Coolest First Player Marker Ever!”.

Learning Curve:
The game has a decent weight to it but the game is actually quite easy to teach to anyone willing to invest into it. Dead of Winter is a mostly thematic game so a lot of the game play revolves around decision making and pure luck rather that calculated min-maxing. The only struggle you might have is the introduction of the Traitor mechanic which may go over the heads of players not well versed in games such as Werewolf or Shadows Over Camelot.

Scaling:
The game does work from 2-5 players but honestly if you are going to play this, I think it is at its very best at 4 or 5 players. Not only does this give more room for the Betrayer to hide, it also greatly improves on the odds of the Good players being able to win an already immensely hard game. If you only have 3 players there are much better suited games that you should play so leave this one on the shelf until someone else comes around.

Theme:
Dead of Winter hinges off its story telling, the game requires you to invest into the story being weaved by the decisions you make and the crossroads that come up. Every scenario starts with a small snippet of story that sets you up and in our plays we have found that everything carries so much more weight when we have invested into the characters and who they are behind the little bit of text and portraits on the cards.

Final Thoughts:
Dead of Winter is a must have for anyone serious about Board Gaming, the game is a masterpiece and brings a fresh idea to the Zombie apocalypse genre. If you are looking for a good 5 player game, don’t go past this one!

 
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5
Canada
10
114 of 132 gamers found this helpful
“Top 10 reasons Dead of Winter hits a the sweet spot for me. ”

Top 10 reasons Dead of Winter hits a the sweet spot for me.

10 – It is as much fun to play with two people as it is to play with five.
9 – Playing multiple characters gives you a lot of options for your turn.
8 – The story elements and flavor text keep everyone immersed in the theme of survival.
7 – The possibility of a betrayer keeps everyone on edge.
6 – It’s a highly strategic game with a lot of rules but they are presented clearly enough that my 7 year old can run the game.
5 – The characters are plentiful and their abilities are varied.
4 – The crisis cards put just enough pressure on the group to cooperate but also leads to frustrations and doubts when someone isn’t contributing as much as the group thinks they should.
3 – The crossroads cards keep the player who just completed their turn engaged in the game because they are responsible for triggering it.
2 – Rotating the starting player each round means you’re not always the one at the end trying to clean up waste or complete the crisis objective because other’s before you have played more selfishly.
1 – The main objective cards allow for a “scratch your gaming itch” short session or a “settle in for the night” longer session.

 
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6
Smash Up: Dinosaur Faction Fan
Knight-errant
Tomahawk
9
44 of 59 gamers found this helpful
“Survival Game that has Zombies”

This game is a zombie game, but it’s not the only focus. There is a psychological thriller aspect that is much more apparent.

Mechanics

Crossroads cards, these cards give the game a new flavor each time you play. After your turn you pick up a card and read it, you share the information if certain criteria are met. If not you don’t. They can be good or bad, depends on your standpoint.

Hidden Traitor, there may be one, there may not be.

Gameplay

Take turns searching for different survival gear, food, etc.

Share your findings. Or don’t. Depends on your goal.

Try to complete tasks as assigned by the mission card.

In the game you have your own secret objective, your attempt to complete the goal people may think you are a traitor.

The game is a blast. You accuse your best friend of being a traitor because they won’t share their tools. You may also exile them if you choose.

The game is great. Almost perfect if you ask me. You need the right group to play for sure.

 
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3
Denmark
10
67 of 130 gamers found this helpful
“An Excellent Dive into the Survival Horror Genre”

Dead of Winter is a game that focuses on the survival of a colony in a frozen wasteland beset upon by zombies. The survivors of the colony are tasked with a goal which generally requires that they go out into the town and risk life and limb to gather resources.
The games Exposure Mechanic gives each choice made a real tangible risk; whenever a person takes an action that puts that at the mercies of fate, the player must roll a d12 to see what unfortunate side effects (if any) are attributed with the result of that action.
In addition to this, there is often a high chance of any player being a betrayer whos primary goal is self survival.

 
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2
Private eye
9
3 of 8 gamers found this helpful
“Great Game.... Depending on the players”

Dead of Winter is one of those games that is great based on who you play it with. Those who are Alpha gamers will find this game frustrating with players who have never played. Likewise, those who are new might will find this game had to play with people who have played before.

However, Dead of Winter has the great potential to be an amazingly fun and challenging game when played with people who are able to be ruthless and cunning at the same time. This game is incredibly fun when played with people who willing to enjoy the time spent playing and let the game dictate the outcomes.

 

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