*About 45-210 Minutes
*Jonathan Gilmour & Isaac Vega
*Fan Made Crossroads Companion App (Digital version of the crossroad cards)
Dead Of Winter is a cooperative game where you choose a scenario to play, then decide to play the hard side with no secret objectives, keeping it completely cooperative, or the easy side where everyone is then given a secret objective to complete and one person may be a betrayer. At the beginning of each round a crisis card is drawn that give the players a task to complete before the round is over or there are negative consequences that happen at the end of the round. The player whose character has the highest influence goes first, taking as many actions that don't require dice as they want, and using their dice to perform actions that require them. Sample actions are searching a location for items, killing zombies, and playing cards. The player to their right looks at a crossroads card for the active player and reads the card only if the active player triggers it by performing a specific action. Play then continues to the left until all players have had a turn. At the end of each round, players must pay food, add zombies, resolve the crisis card, check the main objective, and move the round tracker down, until the round tracker hits zero or the main objective has been completed.
With Dead of Winter: The Long Night, you have several new modules you can add in like Bandits, Improvements, and the Raxxon zombies. They change the game in little ways so you can slowly add them into your base game to learn without it getting too complicated.
Favorite Number To Play With: I like this game as a four player game. That keeps the rounds from feeling too long, and you have plenty of people to get objectives done. With only two people, getting the objective and crisis cards done gets really hard, and with five people it just seems to take too long to get through a round.
Favorite Character And Why: I have always liked Kodiak Colby (You do not count him in the night phase for zombies or food). (A promotional card.) I enjoy that he does not add zombies to his location. From just the base game I'd pick Alexis Gray (Once per turn you can keep two cards when you search at the library). Being able to go to the library and find all the blueprints for the other locations is a lot of fun. From The Long Night I like Emma Han (Once per turn look at the first four cards at the location you're at and you can keep one book). I love reading the funny titles for the books and they can be very useful.
Least Favorite Character And Why: Forest Plum! (Take him out of the game to raise the morale by one.) It can be nice to have him if you are low on morale, but it leaves you with less dice to do other things with.
Mechanics I Like And Dislike: There are so many parts of this game I like. I enjoy that, on top of the main objective, each round there are mini objectives in the crisis cards. I also like that the crossroads cards can trigger and change everything for better or worse. And for dislike, I really enjoy cooperative games, so for me, I'm not a big fan of the possibility of having a betrayer in the game.
Favorite Art Or Pieces: I don't have any that really stick out as my favorite.
Strategies: Discuss with your group what needs to be done, so you know who can accomplish which goals, or which crisis cards you can ignore and not hurt the group.
Final Thoughts: I am not a fan of zombies, so I really didn't think I would enjoy this game. I was very wrong! This game is cooperative which I love, and it has so much going on with it, so there's rarely a time when you feel like you are just wasting your turn doing nothing. We have replayed it many times, and it's always fun. Overall, it's just a really great game! The Long Night expansion is a great addition to this game.
9 out of 10 Stars
Favorite Number To Play With: I like playing with 4 people, because that is what we normally play with, but 2 players is ok too.
Favorite Character And Why: I have 4 favorites right off: Mike Cho, Bev Russell, Talia Jones, and Loretta Rogers. Mike Cho is an awesome ninja that kills zombies without rolling the exposure dice. Bev Russell because 1) she a BA mother who kicks zombie butt and 2) my maiden name was Russell, so that is like brownie points for her. Talia Jones is great because it is huge to look at top 2 cards of the crisis deck and pick between them, so you can push down crisis you don't have the supplies for, or if you know the group have a lot of one kind of card to meet the requirements it is an easy pick. Loretta Rogers is nice because she gives free food each round.
Least Favorite Character And Why: Forest Plum (remove from the game for a morale) or Felicia Day. Plum because I don't like killing off my person, I want to use them for their dice and benefits. Felicia Day because she makes the game harder by triggering crossroads cards.
Mechanics I Like And Dislike: I like the mechanics of secret objectives, but I don't like there being a betrayer. I really don't like people being shady and I want to trust people, so I do not like not knowing if there is a betrayer or who it is. I am working on this because I think that the secret objectives are really fun, I just don't want to betrayed. :S
Favorite Art Or Pieces: I like looking at all of the character cards, and how unique each person is, just like in real life. And the new zombies all look really cool too!
Strategies: The strategy depends on the scenario. But here are some things that I feel like need to be done with any scenario- 1) feed your people 2) put out barricades 3) clean the waste pile 4) search for weapons/food/blue prints 5) if at all possible, try to not have to roll the exposure dice
Final Thoughts: I really like this game! When Shannon first got it we played it A LOT because there are some many scenarios and secret objects, so the replay value is high. Then we took a break for a while, and now that they have the expansion, we will probably play it more again :D
8 out of 10 Stars