It’s seems appropriate that I should visit Dead of Winter in the dead of winter. (Dead of winter in Ireland is around 2 degrees c but that’s neither here nor there)
This game has been getting a lot of hype and with good reason. It’s a great game. It’s also hard to lay your hands on and children are being openly sold to purchase it (the current rate of exchange is three children in case your wondering)(but that’s for an unopened copy you can probably get a used one cheaper)
Due to a friend’s* forum post I’ve come to realize that In the same way as letters from white chapel is of a particular genre and sits in between Fury of Dracula and Scotland Yard in terms of complexity and ‘weight’. DOW (not to be confused with dawn of war) sits between Battlestar Galactica and Shadows over Camelot. It’s a semi (oh err missus) co-op game with the ever present threat of a betrayer.
There are a lot of zombie games out there. A lot. You know that. There aren’t a lot of good zombie games. This is the latter. The zombies are a backdrop to story that plays out. The real brains and potatoes is completing the overall mission. This is chosen at the start and they come in tall, grande and venti variety. This I like. You can set the length of the game you’re going to play. A short game will last you anything from an hour up depending on how many players (Max five) medium and long obviously longer (only played short and medium so far).
I’ve spoken about the difficulty setting in Nations and I like this trend of having adjustable parameters in a game. Its a welcome feature. More of this please
In addition to the main mission each player gets a random objective card at the start which will usually have you completing the main mission and a secondary objective, (because it’s all fine and dandy winning coop but you really gots to know who won won). Added to this there’s a possible betrayal objective in the mix and you now have a ingredients for a nice paranoid adventure. The best type.
There’s similarities to Battlestar to Be sure. A lot actually. Each turn there’s a crisis to be solved by secretly throwing your limited resources at (some help some hinder and it’s done face down so you don’t know if and whom the bad dude is). Players can be exiled (unlike the brig in BSG they can’t come back) making their mission more difficult. Exile two non traitors and you lose
There’s a lot of ways to lose this game. Don’t complete the primary mission in the short time provided BOOM! you lose. Morale drops to zero BOOM! You lose. Run out of good, don’t tidy the waste up, lose too many characters. You guessed it all paddling offences. It’s a hard life being a survivor. Actually I bet after a zombie apocalypse, life would in fact be quite sweet, free stuff, no work, unlimited Boardgames, set your own bedtime but I digress. In this incarnation life is hard and you’ll lose a lot. Couple that to a possible betrayer actively aiding the Zees and you’ll lose. A very lot.
One of the sizzles of this game is the sort of mini crisis cards called crossroad cards (expect more of these, plaid hat have another few games with similar mechanics on the drawing board). The player to your left takes it and monitors your actions in your turn to see if you match the criteria. It could be a particular character doing a particular action in their turn and so on. The result might be more zombies appearing or finding some extra items. It might be a choice the individual or group have to vote on. There’s a lot of theses cards in the game so you won’t see the same regularly appearing. It’s a nice mechanic, not dramatic, but it means every game is different
The game plays out fairly quickly. You spend your time between foraging for resources, building defences, controlling zee numbers and if you’re the betrayer secretly ruining everyone’s day. Now there can be a bit of downtime between your moves, we found that the last time we were playing however I think that may have been more us than the game, so I’ll let it slide.
Each of the characters in your group (you start with two but may pick up more) have a special ability. Good at searching, fighting, immune to cold, I really like the town drunk who’s special ability is if he tops himself morale goes up 🙂
This game has proved very hard to get but more and more copies are coming into supply. It’s overhyped for sure, but it’s still a good fun solid game. It’s well worth getting your hands on.
That said don’t take my word for it. I could be the betrayer. Actually, I probably am.