I am very much into cooperative strategy games at the moment, so I was interested to play Dead of Winter, which combines my love of board games with another love of mine: post-apocalyptic worlds. In the game, players must work together to source food, weapons and supplies to keep their colony of survivors alive, whilst working towards a bigger goal that will win them the game.
There are many, many great elements to this game. Firstly, there are an awful lot of pieces. There are standees for a whole range of different playable characters and zombies, as well as various tokens and decks of cards. It is visually appealing (even in the sprawling mess of our game in the pictures below!), and set up is fun. I loved how it was easy to lose myself in the post-apocalyptic world with the styled board, and additional locations players can travel to, like the school or the grocery store. It was like playing out an episode of The Walking Dead.
Secondly, actions are performed by utilising a set of dice, with each character requiring different numbers to perform combat or to search. Even with the RNG element of the roll of the dice, it takes strategy to decide how to spend those numbers, prioritising characters based on their individual abilities, and utilising low numbers to perform smaller yet still vital actions, like clearing some cards from the discard pile.
I have few criticisms for this great game, but it was annoying how easily characters could be lost. When travelling between locations or killing zombies, players must roll an exposure die, and a bad roll can lead to instant death for your character. Once or twice this happened fairly immediately after expanding my team, and it just seemed like a waste of time having beautiful standees for characters who were barely in play, or not at all. There are also Crossroad Cards, which add quite a fun story element to the game based on whether players meet the requirements of the card. In the game I played, we actually kept forgetting to draw these as it didn’t really feel like an integral part of the game experience, especially as we frequently didn’t meet the card’s criteria. I appreciate that it does offer additional world-building though!
I played this game with just my friend, but I’ve been told the game is very different with a bigger group. With more players, the secret objective cards come into play, and you can also exile characters that you suspect of being traitors. However, I think it was great fun anyway with just the two of us, and I’ve added it to my long list of games to buy for my collection, as I’m sure it will be a popular choice for board game evenings.