March Game of the Month – Dead of Winter

The Game of the Month series will highlight one of the many games in our library at Ravenwood Castle. We will briefly describe the game, how to play it, and why we like it.

Game: Dead of Winter

Publisher: Plaid Hat Games

Last weekend at the Hoop & Stick Convention we were treated to a sneak peek of Plaid Hat Games’ upcoming release, Dead of Winter. It may be a bit unfair making an unreleased game our game of the month… but we’re doing it anyway! What can I say, the game is just that good.

The core objectives of Dead of Winter will be familiar for fans of zombie survival games. Gather resources. Kill zombies. Doing either exposes you to a variety of bad things that can happen to you.

If Dead of Winter stopped there, it would still be an enjoyable game. But this is a Crossroads game (the first Crossroads game in fact), which means the game doesn’t stop there. Plaid Hat has added two mechanics to Dead of Winter which make the game something special: secret objectives and crossroads events.

Secret objectives are fairly self-explanatory. While all of the survivors ostensibly have the same general objective (to survive), each also has a secret personal objective. These do not always align with the group’s overall objective, leading to some pretty interesting game play. I’m not going to get into the specifics of any of the secret objectives that came up in our plays at Hoop & Stick, but the goals we saw had some pretty significant impacts on the game’s dynamic.

Crossroad cards are the other addition to Dead of Winter. On each player’s turn the player to their right pulls a Crossroads card and reads the secret conditions on it. If those conditions aren’t met during that turn, the card goes back into the deck and nothing happens. But if the conditions are met, the player is presented with a scenario and is forced to make an immediate choice. These choices affect the game play in a variety of ways, ranging from providing additional resources (at a cost!) up to completely changing the victory conditions for the entire group. These cards are superbly written, and give you the unmistakable feeling that the decision you’re about to make will have momentous consequences for you and the group.

In all of the conversations I had with guests at Hoop & Stick about Dead of Winter, two things quickly became clear – everybody loved the game, and we were all having completely different experiences. Though we were all playing the same mechanics, the secret objectives and the choices presented to us during the crossroads events made each game unique. So much so that I can’t wait to get my hands on my pre-ordered copy and see what other stories we come up with!

While you may not be able to play Dead of Winter yet, you can make sure you have it as soon as it’s released. Visit the Plaid Hat Games website to preorder it today. Unlike many of the crossroad choices you’ll face, pre-ordering Dead of Winter isn’t a difficult decision at all!

Jim Reed

Jim Reed is a lifelong gamer who started with the original red box Dungeons & Dragons. After spending 20 years in the corporate world, he decided it was high time that work be fun and struck out on his own. Jim now owns and operates Ravenwood Castle, and spends his days ensuring his guests have as much fun as he does.