RogerBW's Blog

Dead of Winter unboxing and first look 22 August 2014

My copy of Dead of Winter has finally arrived; I pre-ordered it in December of last year. With images; cc-by-sa on everything insofar as I'm able to assert it.

The box as delivered, obviously with labels obscured.

Plaid Hat Games took what's increasingly becoming the only sensible approach to international delivery: drop-ship the whole consignment to a games company within the EU, so that any customs fees can be dealt with between professionals rather than the usurious approach taken by Royal Mail and other couriers who deal with the end user. The receiving company then sends it out by local post from there.

Contents: one shrinkwrapped game box, one Kodiak Colby promo pack. The fancy gloss coating on the box appeared to have been slightly damaged by the shrink-wrapping.

Kodiak Colby, the ultimate survivalist. (Colby Dauch is the founder of Plaid Hat Games.)

Box back.

Under the lid: rules, and first counter sheet.

Player reference cards and subsidiary locations.

The counter sheets: survivors, zombies, and various trackers. Also the main colony game board.

Under the boards: cards, dice, and lots and lots of plastic holders for the various survivor and zombie figures.

Dead of Winter is a semi-cooperative game in the rough mould of Shadows over Camelot: each player is trying to keep the colony of human survivors going in the face of the zombie hordes and the freezing weather, but will also have a personal goal. For most of these, you can win if the colony survives the basic scenario and you complete that goal; in a few cases, you'll be actively working against the colony, while trying not to be revealed as a traitor. Maybe there'll be one of those among the group, maybe not. Even without that, you'll face lots of choices between advancing the overall goal (which other players will also be doing) and taking steps towards your personal success.

Even without a traitor, each turn is a balancing act between using resources to resolve that turn's problem, killing zombies, and gathering resources for future turns. Using resources creates waste, which needs to be cleared away or more zombies will be attracted to the colony. Gathering resources risks exposure or zombie attack, and attracts zombies to the location where the search is going on.

What particularly attracted me to the game is the crossroads card mechanic. Every turn, the player to the active player's right draws one of these cards, which will have a condition on it (e.g. "if the player receives a wound"); if it comes up, the main text is read, and the player has a choice to make (often choosing between two poor alternatives) which helps to define the character and build the story of that particular game.

I'm looking forward to playing this.

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  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 08:37pm on 22 August 2014

    Oook! Are you planning on taking this along on Sunday?

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 08:59pm on 22 August 2014

    Oh, I should think so.

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