Mini Review: Dead of Winter

It’s Boardgameapalooza month here at Geek of all trades and the folks at Plaid Hat games (The folks who brought us Summoner wars and Mice & Mystics) have come out with a new series of co-operative traitor games that we think you should take a look at! The Crossroads series, which Plaid hat aims to eventually expand into a whole series of games using the same ruleset, aims to test a group of survivors’ ability to work together and not die horribly whilst facing various crises and challenges from both external factors and inside the group of players.

Dead of Winter Boardgame

Dead of Winter Boardgame

Isaac Vega and Jon Gilmour’s Dead of Winter is the first game in this series. Placing 2-5 players together in a cramped, barely surviving colony of survivors in a post zombie apocalyptic world where most of humanity are either dead or infected, brain-craving, monsters. Each player leads a handful of survivors with dozens of different characters in the game. This is immediately a slight twist on the usual “one player one character” approach that most games take, as suddenly you have a different set of character combinations for every game, adding greatly to the replay-ability. (Some folks also get a kick out of trying to rationalize why their particular survivors are working together as well. After all, the Pirate is of course romantically involved with the lawyer due to her shark like nature.)

Dead of Winter is a somewhat-cooperative psychological survival game. This means that whilst on the surface, all the players are working together toward one common victory condition, each individual player also must complete a secret personal objective as well in order to win. This objective could be a simple psychological tick that’s fairly harmless to most others in the colony, such as building lots of barriers to keep zombies out, to a deadly obsession that could possibly put the main objective at risk, such as hoarding all the medical supplies and placing the others at risk or even a desire for sabotage of the main mission out of misguided beliefs or destroy the colony!

The combination of Crises and Crossroads cards means the game never has a dull moment

The combination of Crises and Crossroads cards means the game never has a dull moment

As a result, some games could end with all players winning and pattign themselves on the back, or only some winning and some glaring in their direction after losing, or all players losing horribly as zombies feast off their delicious flesh due to group infighting or just pure bad luck. As a result, each game boils down to working toward the group’s main goal on the surface, all the while keeping a close eye on their companions, either to betray them when the time is right, or perhaps curtail a traitors actions before they spiral out of control! Careful wordplay takes place throughout the game, least you cast suspicion on yourself as a traitor. After all, if the entire group agrees a player clearly doesn’t have the colonies best interests at heart, they can vote to exile them during the course of a turn, ending any chance of a victory for him and hopefully cutting their potential reign of terror to an early end (or possibly playing right into the TRUE traitors hands!)

Like most board games nowadays, there is a lot in the box!

Like most board games nowadays, there is a lot in the box!

The crossroads mechanic itself, functions like a sort of a random event “Choose your own adventure” generator for each player. This is on top of a round based “Crises” card that the players have to work together to solve, providing them with interesting side stories and helping to build the tale of your particular session as it goes along. From mysterious Ninja’s swooping in to save the day, to creepy old grannies doing disturbing things, the deck provided is large enough to provide ample replay-ability.

Shying away from the popular "Plastic Minis" approach, Dead of winter has some great artwork standies instead

Shying away from the currently popular “Plastic Minis” approach, Dead of winter has some great “artwork standies” instead

Overall, Dead of Winter is heavily themed about surviving through a harsh winter in an apocalyptic world. The art direction and story telling approach favors this greatly, with a large number of good quality components coming in the box. Each survivor  has their own imperatives at the end of the day, but must still find a way to work together, least the colony fall to outside threats. All the while,  finding food and supplies whilst keeping the colony’s morale up.

Essentially, as you play you will make difficult thematic decisions, that will either help the colony or your personal goal. All the while trying to not draw too much suspicion on what exactly you’re doing.

Probably one of the best horror games on the market currently, It generally retails for around R899 or so



Keen to give it a try?

Geek of all Trades and DeeTwenty are going to be hosting an international Boardgames day on Saturday, April 11, 2015 from 9:00 AM. Register here, or join the Facebook Event Here Come join us and give the game a go!

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