Dead of Winter in the dead of winter

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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)

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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

Yes that is alchemy the other end of the table
Yes that is alchemy the other end of the table

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.

Huzzah !

Vic

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It’s all about that Base, bout that base, No zombies

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I MAY have lied earlier when I said I was done with zombie games for a bit. A week or two is a long time and not really scientifcally measureable, so chances are I actually told the truth and I’m not over my sabbatical, but seriously this is my last zombie game for a while.  no takey backys

I got to play a game I’ve had my eye on for a while now and is as hard as something very hard indeed to get your hands on. (air as an e.g.) Dead of Winter.

Dead of winter is the first in a series of games by Plaid Hat, the first one is set in a colony that’s holding out against the zombies in, you guessed it a zombie apocolypse in (bonus points if you guessed it) the Dead of Winter.

It’s a semi co-operative game which with the gamers I play with means not co-operative at all. At all.  Each player starts with a secret (they might be a loner, a traitor, a something else I haven’t seen, I only played one game) and to win they need to complete their objective which may not be in conflict with the overall health of the group.

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When I played I was secretly the loner so I had to complete the overall objective which everyone else had to, but when it was complete I had to be the only one alive in my group (no followers). I didn’t win btw we were swamped by Zees mid game

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Each player starts with their own little group, a leader and one follower and this may grow as time rolls on. Each of the players have their own party trick, a skill at fighting and scavenging and a number which indicates how tasty they are to zombies. if you wind up in a room with zombies and you have a higher number than your companions they get eaten first. So were dealing with zombies with a descerning palate. (if indeed they have a palate left)

Each turn your group of survivors muck in and try to help the colony survive, this could be by scavenging food, fuel, weapons, building barricades, taking out the trash (it’s true), killing zombies or contributing to a group problem (well the solution to it one hopes)

The game plays a little like Battlestar Galactica insofar as there are bad things that happen every turn and sometimes as a group you have to deal with them, keeping in mind you don’t really know what everyone’s secret agenda is, so there’s a fine level of paranoia throughout.

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Also like Battlestar you have a number of resouces (weaknesses) that you have to keep an eye on. Morale being the big one. It this runs to zero it’s game over man and it’s very easy for this to happen. Losing survivors and various dilemas affect it and it’s hard and costly in resources to get it back up.

All in all it’s a BIT like BS with you and your ‘team’ juggling limited resources and rearranging the deckchairs whilst keeping a storm eye for traitors in your midst. It’s brillant.

it captures the feel (I imagine) of a desperate struggle. It starts off easily enough but within a very short time you’re making hard choices and both the time I played it and the game I observed it was rock hard. it was also hugely fun.

I can see why this game sold out so quickly. If you can lay you hands on it before xMas you’re doing well and the manufactures have a lead time of a number of months before a reprint. It’s going to sell again like hotcakes. I find a lot of zombie games, slow and repetitive, not this, this is the business. The model they have for the game is going to be reused. I understand the next themed game is going to be set in space and I can see it working perfectly.

If you can get this game, get it. If you don’t like it I’ll buy it off you

It’s a winner. Now excuse me while I some followers I need to arrange accidents for (evil chuckle)

Huzzah!

Vic

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