What a great zombie killing game. There is so much going on in this game that is great and fun. This is a co-op, deduction, decision-making, story-telling, planning, potentially-sabotaging, zombie-killing, game for a mature group looking for a good time. This is not a family game. This is not a light game.
Setup is time consuming. There are a ton of pieces. Is it worth it? Yes. As long as someone’s setting it up for me. I don’t usually like games that take 20 minutes to set up and explain. If I can’t be playing the game in less than 3 minutes you’ve generally lost me. That being said, I had a great time when we played this game. It took 5 of us about 4 hours to play the game and everyone ended up losing in the end.
The artwork is great, and every character (of which you can play many) has their own unique, matching stand for wherever they are in the game. As you can see in the image below, there are lots of character pieces.
So, for hours, you’re running around from place to place searching for gear — every time you leave the compound, you’re at risk to become infected or straight-up killed (roll the die). Attacking a zombie? You might get goo on you that exposes you or your entire party to the zombie-virus. It gets a little slow when you’re waiting for slow people to take their turns because there isn’t much for simultaneous play. One person does have to watch the actions of the active player because there are decision-based consequences (mixed with a little chance) that may cause some kind of potential catastrophe. The decision mechanic in this game makes it feel a little like a choose your own adventure book with zombies.
Co-op must manage morale, food, junk, zombies, and each other — because someone MIGHT be a traitor. I would play this game again, but I still wouldn’t want to set it up. I’d give this one a solid 8/10 — I’d say 9 if it wasn’t so long and time consuming to set up (and play, and put away).
Board Game Geek‘s Description:
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game, the first game in this series, puts 2-5 players in a small, weakened colony of survivors in a world where most of humanity is either dead or diseased, flesh-craving monsters. Each player leads a faction of survivors with dozens of different characters in the game.
Dead of Winter is a meta-cooperative psychological survival game. This means players are working together toward one common victory condition — but for each individual player to achieve victory, he must also complete his personal secret objective. This secret objective could relate to a psychological tick that’s fairly harmless to most others in the colony, a dangerous obsession that could put the main objective at risk, a desire for sabotage of the main mission, or (worst of all) vengeance against the colony! Certain games could end with all players winning, some winning and some losing, or all players losing. Work toward the group’s goal, but don’t get walked all over by a loudmouth who’s looking out only for his own interests!
Dead of Winter is an experience that can be accomplished only through the medium of tabletop games. It’s a story-centric game about surviving through a harsh winter in an apocalyptic world. The survivors are all dealing with their own psychological imperatives, but must still find a way to work together to fight off outside threats, resolve crises, find food and supplies, and keep the colony’s morale up.
Dead of Winter has players making frequent, difficult, heavily- thematic, wildly-varying decisions that often have them deciding between what is best for the colony and what is best for themselves.