Dead of Winter
The snow lies thick and heavy on the ground, but that hasn’t stopped the dead who prowl the town and clatter against the walls of your colony. You’re only safe behind the walls, but you need the supplies outside… and can you really trust your fellow survivors? Even if they’re not crazy, or trying to burn the colony to the ground, everyone has something they can’t live without.
Dead of Winter is a story-centric board game that puts you and up to four other players together in the tortured aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. The dead are pushing in on every side, but mere survival is not enough. You’ll have to venture beyond the confines of the colony to gather vital supplies, resolve crises, keep up morale, and fulfill your own secret objective. Whether you plan to betray the colony or lead it to safety, you can’t trust anyone. Everyone has a secret…
The Good of the Colony
Every game of Dead of Winter invites you and your fellow survivors to tell your own harrowing tale of survival in this wintry apocalypse. It all starts with the main objective for your colony. Each main objective has unique setup instructions for this specific scenario, and it tells you the victory condition for the colony—whether that means setting up camp and barricading your colony or venturing out to collect enough medicine that you have a chance of finding a cure to the zombie plague. Importantly, however, this main objective does not tell you how you—the individual players—will be able to win the game.
For you to win as an individual, you’ll have to refer to your secret objective, which you also receive at the beginning of the game. For the majority of these secret objectives, the main objective must be completed, but you have some additional tasks that are unique to you alone. For example, you may have a compulsion to Burn It All Down, requiring four barricades on the colony and one fuel card in your hand, in addition to completing the main objective. Even for players with the best intentions, these secret objectives can create difficult decisions as you choose between the good of the colony and your own needs.
Not every player has the best of the colony at heart, however. Some secret objectives create a betrayer—a player who will surreptitiously work to drain the group’s morale and undermine the colony and the other players. If you can identify the betrayer, you may vote to exile this player, but even once they’re cast out, they may continue to be a thorn in your side!
Fight for Survival
Even once you know what you need to do to win a game of Dead of Winter, there are countless twists and turns along the way, commonly arriving in the form of crisis cards. A new crisis card is revealed at the beginning of each round with a challenge, whether that’s a Fuel Shortage or a Zombie Surge. In each case, players must work together to contribute a specific type of item to combat the crisis, but all contributions are made in secret, making this the perfect opportunity for a betrayer to sabotage the community.
If you’re going to find the items that you need to stave off a crisis, however, you’ll have to send your band of survivors out of the colony to nearby locations, such as the school or the grocery store. Each turn, you’ll roll a number of action dice, and by allocating those dice, your survivors can kill zombies, rummage for items, set up barricades, lure zombies to their locations, or perform other actions.
The locations outside the colony walls offer the cards you need to stave off crises, fulfill your objectives, and give your survivors the edge in the frozen hellscape of Dead of Winter. Of course, venturing out is not free from risk. You’ll be coming face to face with the undead, and you’ll need to fight to keep your supply lines clear. Battling zombies or moving between locations forces you to roll the exposure die, which can lead to a wounded survivor or worse, a deadly bite that could spread the zombie plague through the entire colony! Danger is everywhere, but if you’re not willing to take a few risks, the colony may be doomed long before the snow melts.
A Fork in the Road
If the apocalyptic plot in your game of Dead of Winter is told across the crisis cards, your objectives, and the actions that your survivors take each round, the individual story moments are plucked out by the game’s crossroads cards. At the start of every turn, the player to your right will draw one of these crossroads cards. Every crossroads card has a specific trigger, and if that trigger happens during your turn, you’ll have to face the choice on the crossroads card.
You may have to choose between venturing out in a blizzard or staying safe at the colony. Perhaps you need to decide if the colony will spend the food to have a real Christmas celebration. Or maybe you must weigh whether or not you’ll allow a flatbed of refugees into your community. Every player must weigh their own objectives carefully in light of these crossroads cards, and no decision is as simple as it first appears.
Deeper into Winter
If you’ve already played and love Dead of Winter, there are plenty of places you can go from there. For starters, you may explore Dead of Winter: The Long Night, a new standalone expansion that can be played on its own or integrated into the core game. The Long Night ultimately offers more of everything that made Dead of Winter an epic struggle for power and survival, including a new colony full of new survivors and new gameplay elements. You can fight off bandits from another colony, build improvements to your colony, and most intriguingly, unravel the mysteries of the new Raxxon Pharmaceutical location, which is full of Raxxon’s twisted human experiments that show up in the game as disturbing new enemies.
And finally, you can enjoy Warring Colonies, an expansion to both Dead of Winter and The Long Night with new survivors, items, crossroads cards, and crisis cards. Additionally, if you own all three, you can play the epic colony vs colony variant for four to eleven players! With a wealth of new content and variants for you to explore, Warring Colonies ratchets up the intensity as the world grows ever colder.
The Dead Are Coming
You’re no longer human beings. You’re survivors—and you’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Choose carefully who you can trust and make the tough decisions it takes to reach the finish line in Dead of Winter!
Ages: 14 and upArtist: Thaddeus B. KubisDesigner: Richard H. BergMechanics: Hex-and-CounterPlayers: 2 to 2PrimaryName: Dead of WinterProduct Title: Dead of WinterPublisher: Simulation Design IncorporatedTime: 360 minutesYear: 1989