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Sunday, 15 March 2015

A cold day in the 'Dead of Winter'

It's been some time since I have managed to set up a game on a Sunday afternoon for the family. Mum and dad have slowly been encouraged to try boardgames. Their initial skepticism of the 'Monopoly' effect and learning lots of new rules has slowly been changed with the new generation of involving, thematic games which are beautifully illustrated to increase the involvement of the players.

Today we played the wonderful 'Dead of Winter' by Plaid Hat Games. This is a great story telling journey set in a frozen world where survivors battle to ensure the safety of their meager colony. Despairingly, Both the icy weather and even colder zombies threaten their very existence.

This was only our second try at this game.Our mission today was to collect medical supplies in the hope of finding a cure to the undead plague. Each of us began with a varied set of characters, from janitors to fitness instructors, police controllers to amateur ninjas. All wanting to aid the survival of the small, weak community.

Whilst contending with the impending doom of failing the main objective, each round also saw a crisis to be addressed. Our first one involved the collection of yet more medical supplies to fend off an outbreak of natural illness within the colony. Already a strain was placed upon the characters to search for additional supplies.

The game features several locations to search out the items needed, from routine junk to more useful items such as padlocks. These locations include the gas station, grocery store and hospital but to mention a few.

As part of the game each player has a secret objective. Most need the main objective to be completed successfully before a secondary one can be achieved (such as having each character equipped with an item). The spicy sauce to the gaming main meal is the possibility that one player maybe set to betray the colony for them to win the game; not a guarantee but a real threat all the same.

The game round went along with no serious issues. Random crossroad cards were not activated due to the actions of the characters. Supplies were collected and secretly added to the crisis and no zombies were encountered as the characters safely moved from location to location. The end of the turn was reached where The team felt secure. Except for Mum who suspected Will of his motivations as he spent some time at the police station, searching for weapons...

The food was adequately provided for to feed the survivors and we confidently expected to resolve the crisis with enough medical supplies. The cards were shuffled to reveal...some food instead of medicine - betrayal! With all our usual powers of reasoning, accusations immediately began to fly! Mum, following up on her initial suspicions accused Will. Being young and wonderfully innocent, he was unable to convince the players that it was not him. Whilst the debate continued each of our characters received a wound for failing (three wounds kill) and colony morale was lowered by one.


The next turn of this six turn game was decisive and you can probably guess in which direction...Will continued to protest his innocence and was given the benefit of the doubt by not being exiled immediately. The new crisis for the turn required for the 'team' to collect additional food supplies. Fortune was not to shine on the survivors. Initially the start was positive with new strangers joining the colony including a doctor to Lucy's group. Will began to protect himself by heading to the police station and gaining more firearm support. My characters were asked to build additional barricades too late in the turn which lowered morale again. Lucy's turn was the most fatally eventful...


Lucy used her new found doctor leader to heal herself and head out into the wastelands. Before this happened a small family tried to join the group. Unfortunately they were turned away as they needed additional food which we had to commit to our current crisis. Whilst required, It was a harsh decision which lowered the morale of the colony. Knowing looks of 'I'm glad that wasn't me' was shared around the board. Another strange incident occurred when Lucy's janitor character was found keeping strange artifacts from his cleaning activities and received a beating from Will's ninja! Positively, Lucy decided to send her doctor to the hospital to gain supplies. The doctor was exposed to more than just the cold On her journey and was bitten! (A 1 in 12 chance on the dice) sadly she died lowering the confidence of the colony again with morale reduced. With morale now at one we needed to lift the spirits of the survivors by contributing more food to the crisis.

When my turn began my police controller immediately had a crossroad event where she had the option of rescuing some family pictures from a previous police case. With 2 'fifty fifty' chances of success to avoid being wounded, the intrepid police women strode forward bravely...and succombed! This was the final straw for the characters and the colony collapsed, game over. We had lasted just two of the six turns before accumulated disaster caused our downfall.

The real irony of the game was that Will was not a traitor, but placed the food in the medical supplies to draw out a traitor if they were within our midst, and paranoia and misfortune did the rest. A fun game full of twists and turns where the story weighed more heavily than a victory. We look forward to applying our snowshoes again for another installment.




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