Dead of Winter board game – Game Review

A quick bit of background about the board game “Dead of Winter“. Designed by Isaac Vega and Jon Gilmour, “Dead of Winter” is a meta-cooperative 2-5 player board game that sees the players pitched together in a small, weakened colony of survivors in a zombie filled post apocalyptic world. Where the game gets its name is its frozen setting. Not only are the survivors dealing with a zombie outbreak, lack of food / resources and possible betrayers within their own colony, they’re also dealing with bitter cold.

Dead of Winter board game review by Gameapalooza Australian tabletop news and reviewsDead of Winter, the usual cards, tokens and mini boards… and fun, a lot of fun.

Setup & Gameplay
Setup of “Dead of Winter“ is the usual fare, there’s boards and cards to set up, character placement, token placement etc. you all know the drill.

As with most zombie stories there is great tension within “Dead of Winter”, not only are the zombies a threat to life and limb, but if you have a ‘betrayer’ in your midst, you need to worry about this also. This aspect adds suspicion of other players and when played out well can really be a ripper of a moment. You all thought you were working together and BAM! someone has been screwing over the colony for their own means the entire time. Fantastic stuff.

Players though living in the colony, need to head out to other locations to find food, fuel and other useful items. The board consists of these different areas and each area can be strengthened to stop those dastardly zombies finding their way inside. Given how fraught the gameplay is, barricades never last long and sometimes, nor do survivors, one 12-sided die is your friend or foe and each time you roll it, there’s a one in 12 chance of instant death.

As with all of our reviews here, we’re not going to go into every rule, the gameplay and feeling of playing is more important. For the most part the rules are great and you’ll have no problem following them if you’re a veteran gamer. There are aspects of chance that in the overall arc sometimes make no sense, but you can cap that with one simple house rule (see below).

You might be wondering why this is subtitled ‘A Crossroads Game’. One of the game mechanics revolves around “Crossroads Cards”. Every turn the player to the right of the player taking their turn picks up a Crossroads Card. These are trigger cards that come into play if the player taking the turn fulfills what’s written on the card. Fulfilling the event triggers whatever is stated on the card, this can be something minor, or something that forces the players to make a difficult choice. Overall a wonderful mechanic that deepens the story.

We’ve played this with veteran gamers and also recently with a total n00b (check out out n00b Look! for Dead of Winter) and one thing’s certain, don’t bother running through the rules, just start playing if one person knows them. Explain as you go, it will make everyone’s lives easier.

Dead of Winter board game review by Gameapalooza Australian tabletop news and reviewsDead of Winter, make noise when you’re searching, it might bring out the zombies!

Game Build Quality
“Dead of Winter” is a really lovely game, the box is sturdy and everything is drenched in thematic wonder. The character art is well done, as are the cards, tokens, even the dice. Text on some of the cards is slightly small (for one of our decrepit players) but that is a minor gripe. There’s really nothing negative to say about the game build short of that, it’s more absolute class from Plaid Hat Games.

Gameapalooza House Rules
That one in 12 instant death rule upset you like it did our n00b? Try this house rule. If your character has a weapon and you roll death, the weapon is discarded (broken over the head of the attacker) and the character takes a wound, but is not killed. No weapon, instant death still counts. We use this to take into account the weapon and that a character would utilise it in survival.

Overall
The zombie genre has been done to death, in TV, tabletop gaming (so many zombie games!) and video gaming. If you rolled your eyes at yet another zombie game, no one can blame you. Don’t be put off by the deluge of zombie tabletop games, “Dead of Winter” is special and to miss it because the assumption is “oh gods not another zombie game” is pure folly. “Dead of Winter” is a wonderfully made thematic game, that – for the most part – has a cohesive set of rules and sublime gameplay.

2-5 Players
Ages: 12+
Setup Time: 5 minutes
Play Time: 60-120 minutes

Australian Tabletop Gaming News and Game Reviews- Gameapalooza Critical Hit!

[author] [authorimage timthumb=’off’]/content/images/2016/02/gameapalooza-micro-review-icon-sm.gif[/authorimage] [authorinfo]Micro Review – A zombie game with depth, that sums up Dead of Winter. A really cool story mechanism leads a thematic blood soaked ride that can last hours and that’s about the only negative we have. A great game. Buy it![/authorinfo] [/author]