Dead of Winter

edited October 2014 in Tabletop Gaming
This one has been hitting the table a bit lately, and has been universally loved by everyone. Indeed, it has replaced City of Horror as our go-to negotiation game.

In a nutshell, everyone starts the game with two survivors at the colony. Things are bad out there, winter is coming and everything is scarce. Each player begins with a hand of starting cards, which represent their hidden cache of supplies, and more cards are obtained by leaving the colony and searching nearby locations. You may equip items you find, find other survivors or simply more gas, food, medicine, etc. Additionally, there is a colony objective, one which the group must work towards in order to win.

You WILL have to leave the colony, as every round there is a crisis which must be resolved. And moving can be bad, as that means that you must roll the "exposure" die. It's a 50/50 shot of bad stuff on that die, as six sides are blank and the remaining six sides contain wounds, frostbite and the mother of all bad stuff, the bite icon.

You see, when you are bitten you instantly die, but not before biting someone else at the location you moved to (or reside at if you were simply attacking a zombie). That player now has a choice. They can roll the die and hope for a blank (50/50 shot there!), as any other result means you perpetuate the bite. Conversely, you can choose to kill yourself and stop the chain reaction right there. Do you really care for the group enough to do that? Do you have an alterior motive? Is Mike Cho the next guy in line and you just really hate that guy? Decisions, decisions....

Which brings us to the bread and butter of the game itself. You see, everyone is given a secret objective card in the beginning. Most of them require the completion of the main objective. In addition to that, you have a personal objective, which is the ONLY way you can win. Perhaps you are a "loner" and must have only one remaining survivor at the games end. Maybe you hoard food, or are a natural leader. And maybe you are a serial killer, a traitor to the colony driven by your own perverse needs. You can NEVER divulge your own objective, so while your friend across the table hasn't been contributing food to the colony in order to ward off starvation, maybe it's a quirk, a compulsion to collect those cans to meet their own needs.

Or maybe they aren't really with the group, and seek the end of the colony. Maybe they want to eat your liver.

On your turn you can vote to exile. It is a simple thumbs up, thumbs down system. Be wary however, as the character you exiled might be innocent. Exile two good members and morale hits zero and the game ends. Which could also be advantageous if you have already met your own traitorous objective.

The last thing to note is the Crossroads cards. On your turn, the player to your right draws a card from this deck. They read the conditions outlined on top and then only read that cards aloud if those conditions are met. They are almost always a risk vs. reward decision. For instance, you find a tanker full of gas. Do you drive it back to the colony, thereby also bringing a mass of walkers with it. Or do you leave all that much needed fuel there, feeling that the danger of being overrun is too great?

You might have trouble deciding, but rest assured, everyone else at the table will have an opinion.

The game is a little fiddly, and I greatly encourage printing up some player aids from BGG and going through a couple of 3 persons games first, before teaching it to the larger group. Regardless, this one has been fully embraced at our table with an enthusiasm I have rarely seen. Even our non-gamer friends have taken to it. And while zombies are perhaps a little over done, this is the closest I have experienced the Walking Dead at our gaming table.

It's infectious


  • kronovan
    GT Member
    I've never played it, but have heard great things about it. The fiddly nature of it is the only criticism I've ever heard anyone make of it. I hope someone in my gaming group picks it up soon - my gaming budget is spent until
    the New Year.
  • WorkingMike
    GT Member
    It's great fun. I'm a sucker for a strong theme, and it doesn't disappoint. Indeed, the theme and gameplay are strong enough to overcome my minor criticisms.

  • vencelylalas
    It's great fun
  • Ralph-Wiggum
    GT Member
    I had been looking for this game for awhile but it's always seemingly in high demand and out-of-stock (unless I want to pay outrageous prices). I did find a great deal for it at B&N, but a few days after I ordered it I got the dreaded "order has been cancelled" notification. :disgust:
  • Lordnine
    GT Member
    I recommend as well and I don’t normally like co-op games. The second time I played this I ended up as the traitor with a goal to have 5 food cards in my hand at the end of the game. I did everything I could to help the colony normally except not playing my smallest food items and no one ever expected they had a traitor in the midst. By the end of the game everyone was starving and morale dropped to zero.

    After everyone else had consoled each other over the loss and how bad their luck had been to find no food, I silently flipped over all the cards in my hand and laid them face up in front of me in order; six food total. One by one they turned to stare at my cards with mouths agape and almost in chorus shouted out, “you asshole!” Then I flipped over the traitor card and smiled.

    After that, I flipped to the back of the rule book to read the epilogue text that told the story of how my character had slowly gotten fatter and fatter in the last couple months while everyone else had gotten sickly thin. He liked to stand naked in the mirror, admire his physique and then rub his horde of food all over his body.

    It was glorious. I had a bag of dice thrown at me. :icon_biggrin:
  • Harkonis
    GT Member
    picked this up at Gencon, excited to play it soon I hope
  • Ralph-Wiggum
    GT Member
    I picked this up about 2 months ago and have played it 4 times (I think). I really like it but man is it a hard game to win. In all four games, only one player ever completed all their objectives and that was in the first game when we pretty badly messed some of the rules. In every other game, no one has won.

    I also just got Battlestar Galactica (on sale at B&N for $12!); clearly Dead of Winter took a lot of their mechanics from BSG. I've only played one game so far (again messing up some of the rules) and it was fun, but I think I got the most out of it since I was the only player who had seen the show.
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