Tiago Perretto
Brazil
Curitiba
Parana
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Hello!

I warn you all that the impressions bellow are the first ones, based in two plays, both with four players. I inclued a little session report of them in the middle of the whole thing to give a general notion of gameplay, dinamics and challenges of the game.





Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game is a game based in scenarios (divided in short, medium and long, considering playing time), each of them with a general objective to be reached by the participants. Well, at least for the loyal members of the colony, since there will always be the possibility to have one or more betrayers amongst the fine people of the colony. Each player has a personal and hidden objective, so you the player represents more a group than any individual person (but you can also consider yourself as the leader of the people you control since the individual objective doesn't change no matter the persons arrive or live, through death or events, your group). Usually this objective demands the player to have things in order to be fulfilled, so that, sometimes, a player won't help as much as he could in order to save/spare these things needed, which will will give more tools for the the betrayer to work and will keep him more difficult to be detected. Also, this allows for some sneaky plays, as if the general goal will be made, but you still has to complete your personal objective, you might have to tank a crisis or do some pretty bad things for the colony, for you to have one more turn and the chance to win.

In a simple way, a turn of the game works like this: the player rolls dice equal to the number of character he controls plus one (so, at the start of the game, with two characters, the player rolls 3 dice). Each die can be used for an action, but not all actions require dice. The actions that do use dice are: search, attack, make a barrier, clean the trash and attract zombies. Actions that don't require dice: play cards, move, add cards to the crisis, ask for cards, give cards, use food and vote to exile. So, for example, in his first turn the player can:

- Move 1 character to the Hospital. The player rolls the exposure die applying the effects, if any;

- Use one die to search in the Hospital (the number in the die must be equal or higher than the number given in the character card for the Search action);

- Use 1 die (no matter the number rolled) to build a barrier in the colony with his second character;

- Add two cards (without showing them) to the crisis;

- Use 1 die to attack a zombie that was around the Hospital (the number in the die must be equal or higher than the number given in the character card for the Attack action). The player rolls the exposure die applying the effects, if any;

The player doesn't have more cards to use nor other actions or die to use, so he ends his turn. The play follows clockwise.

Something else that might happen in the player turn (but isn't something he can control), is the Crossroads event. The person to the right of the player takes one Crossroads card from the deck and checks the condition for it to happen (for example, "If characther X is in play" or "If the player has 1 character in the colony"). If at any time during the player turn the condition is met, the event triggers - but, of course, this isn't something the player know and he can't actually try or not to fulfill the condition. The events can be bad, good or neutral - this will depend many times on the game situation. Sometimes an event that adds another person to the group and a helpless in the colony can be seen as a good things, in others, as a bad one. For instance, in one play, I had the opportunity to either take a horse under my care and use it to move around (without rolling for exposure), or to kill it for 3 of food. I choose to keep the horse, knowing that each turn we would have to feed it. At the time seemed a fine decision, to avoid dying to exposure, but as the game went by, I used little the horse, and the food was too much (since one of our goals was to have plenty of food in the end). I really liked the Crossroads events - you are there, minding your actions, when you move someone to the Grocery Store and "I will use this die to--" and is cut by your fellow player starting to describe "So then it happens that..."

Once every player had their turn, starts the Colony phase. Food is paid (1 food token feeds 2 people in the colony - people outside the colony don't count), and if there isn't enough, Moral drops. Garbage is checked - if there is more than 10 cards there, Moral drops. The crisis happens - the cards put there are revealed, and if the requirement is met, nothing happens, if don't, something bad will (usually Moral drops, but it can be other things). Then zombies are added to the board (1 for every two people in the colony, and 1 for each person in the outside locations), and people will die if there isn't enough space to put the zombies. The main objective is checked to see if it was fulfilled - if the game ends here, all the loyals that had also completed their secret objective, win. If the game continues, the round marker is moved (each scenario has a set amount of rounds). The first player markers passes anticlockwise (and this is a curious thing, because, since the first player goes anticlockwise, the last player in the last turn will be the first in the new round, which allows for some wicked stuff to happen).

The crisis require resources to be dealt with, usually things that the colony needs to survive and the players need to win. Some of them are: Blizzard, which demands fuel equal to the numer of non-exiled players; Raiders, which demands food; Zombie Surge, wich demands tool cards. If don't dealt with, crisis will usually lower the Moral of the colony, but if the players are able to not only deal with one, but also overachieve on its requirement, a benefit (also, usually on Moral) is gained.

About the exposure die, which is rolled everytime a character moves or attacks a zombie, it has four possible results: blank, normal damage, frostbite damage and death (tooth, meaning the person is bitten). Frostbite works as damage, but also gives damage at the start every round to the character that has it. The character dies if he has three damages. If a character or helpless person in the colony dies (for any reason: bitten, damage, event) the Moral drops 1 for each person dead.

If the survivors fulfill the general objective of the colony, or if Moral reaches zero, the game ends (in the proper moment, since this might be important due to some objectives and requirements). In the first case, all the loyal survivors that fulfilled their personal objectives, win the game. In the second case, all the betrayers that fulfilled their personal objectives will win. In each case is possible that none of the players wins the game (as if Moral reaches zero but none of the betrayers, if there is one, made their personal goal).

In our first play, I thought that this would be exactly what would happen, since our goal to built 12 barriers in the colony and one in each outside location (Home Sweet Home) seemed pretty dificult to be made, and we don't even got close to it. Some deaths happened early on in the game (due to rolling tooth in the exposure die), so Moral was pretty low - one situation was funny - I had a survivor with a shotgun, and I choose to take her to the Grocery store, where I already had to characters and want to keep them there minning for food. But the character died in the move, bitten, and spread the disease, killing another of my characters! Talk about a plan going wrong! Therefore moral was low, and one Crossroads event made (this wasn't one the player could choose) two characters to move to the Hospital, and since this happened in the last player turn before the colony phase, and the player already had spent their dice, we couldn't do nothing to prevent zombies to come to the Hospital and kill one character there. So I thought no one would win, as the end occurred somewhat early, but the betrayer's goal required 5 deaths to happen in the game! At first I thought this was an easy objective, but afterwards I pondered that this can't be reached really easily, as most of the deaths will have to happen due to luck (you can attack others, but if this won't lead the betrayer alone to the goal).

In the second play, the scenario was Stockpile - we had to stock on medicine, fuel, tools, build barricades and have a huge pile of food. Seemed easier than the last main goal. And probably would have been, but I made it a good deal harder when I decided to keep a horse (costing one extra food token every turn) instead of killing it for 3 food. Pretty soon we could see I should have killed the horse, but who wants to live in a world without horses?! Well, Bill, the horse, eated away our few resources, and even with the Farmer minning for food in the Grocery, things were difficult, specially when three crisis demanded food to be solved, and one required food or medicine. The colony had to starve. And when one of the survivors tried to return to the colony, she was beaten and another persons was infected in the colony, losing for us two characters, and 2 Moral. Still, if in the next turn we were perfect, we could win. But things weren't, since we left for the soon to be revealed betrayer to put the last card we needed in the crisis. He used all his actions trying to find people for his group, but couldn't. Since he didn't have medicine nor food in hand, we failed the crisis and the Moral reached zero. The betrayer couldn't fulfill his objective of having more persons in his group than anyone else. This was an unlucky objective to have, since the Fireman was from the start in control of someone else, and this player took several people cards and, wasn't this enough, a Crossroads event gave him one more person! And because of the main goal, we were holding persons in hand, as we don't wanted to feed more mouths, so the betrayer couldn't just ask for persons cards to use. There are days that nothing will work for you.

Anyway, let's go to the Q-A that might shed some light on some important things:

Q - The game works thematically?
A - Yes. The crisis follow a logic in what they are, do and require, and the same is true for the things the players do (moving around, searching for resources, trying to avoid zombies, surviving the cold). The Crossroads events, though they happen unannounced, due to the conditions they have, the events will make sense: only a person in the game will do something. You won't be able to have an event in the colony if you don't have someone there, for instance. By the way, the votes, when they happen for the group, can only be given by players that have people in the colony, otherwise the discussion will happen without you (as your group is outside). A player commented that one thing he didn't find thematic was the personal objective, since no matter who you find or die, the objective remains the same. But this is clear to me: isn't really a personal goal, as much as a group objective, but your group. Or, if it is indeed personal, is the objective of the leader of the group (you), and you don't die or leave in the game, so the objective remains.

Q - How much luck there is in the game?
A - A good deal, but is smaller than I expected. Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game has less luck built in than its colleagues like Zombies!!!, Zombicide and Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game. Sure, you roll dice at the start of your turn and they restrain somewhat your actions, but the use of them is given, there won't be any surprises here. If I rolled a 4 and my character attacks with 3+, I will surely kill a zombie if I want to. The same if I want to search and a character has 4+ to search - I will surely find something. But there is still plenty of luck - in the search you don't know what you will find, however each outside location has a chart showing which things are more likely to be found there - so, if I sent someone to the School, I know that I have a good chance of finding food and books, but a low chance of finding people. There is also chance in the Crossroads events - the conditions are arbitrary, you can't control them or prepare for them, but, at least, several of them, when they happen, give the player a choice. Also, there is luck in the objectives and crisis: sometimes you will search the whole game and won't find what you need, in others you will start the game with the objective completed (as I did in my second play: my objective required 3 medicine, and I started with three). And in some plays the crisis won't hit as hard in the very thing you want (personal or for the main objective), but others, as I mentioned above, you will want to stock food and three food crisis will turn up. Now, the main point of action of luck is in the exposure die, that you roll when a character moves or attacks a zombie. As any die worth its spurs, it is possible to pass a whole game rolling blanks, and in other (as again happened to me) you start your first turn, move a character and rolls a tooth - character dead. You have to accept this and just have fun. This is a game you must first play for the experience, not the end result.

Q - And how are miniatures?
A - The game doesn't have any.

Q - But I want miniatures!
A - Cardboard standees will do?

Q - Miniatures!!!!!
A - Well, Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game comes with 30 different characters. Thirty! Imagine the cost to make 30 different moulds (even more, because you would have to make at least one more for the zombies) and the size of the box to include everything plus 60 miniatures (30 characters plus 30 zombies). And I can only wonder what the MSRP would be. What I can't even think is the hassle to look for a specific character among 30 equal color miniatures (even if it was 30 different colors). Cardboard standees do the job just fine.

Q - If I don't think I will fulfill my objective, can I sink the whole game?
A - Hum, yes, yes you can. Now if you should do this is another question.

Q - Should I do this?
A - Well, ok, this is indeed another question. Anyway, only you can truly judge this. Thematically I can see it going both ways. For one side, if the colony survive, your group survives, which is, I guess, a good thing. And, being loyal, I think is expected of you (and the game) that you will do your part to help. But, on the other hand, people in desperated situations do stupid things, they don't think straight, choose wrong and are paranoid. So it would really go against the theme to not help as much as you can. However, as I said, I think it would go against the spirit of the game, which is that the loyals will be, well, loyal. So, even if you group didn't win, you still survive, you beat the game, the challenge of the colony, and this is worth something right here. After the celebration is that Rick will shake the hand of someone else other than you, saying they did a fine job - maybe next time for you. For the betrayer, is expect that he won't help too much, and even disturb, confuse, when you can. Can the betrayer help the colony in the last turn, when he knows he won't fulfill his objective? I guess so. Live to fight another day and things like this. Even in the game spirit I feel it works. But if the person sees the defeat of the colony, the destruction of its Moral, as a little win, well, go for it also.

Q - Can I play with green?
A - In spirit, yes, you can. In the game the players don't use color to represent them. They use characters. But some of these can indeed use more green than others. There are definitely some that go heavy on red.

Q - Can I attack the others? Because, you see, I so want to attack others. Is really important to me.
A - Sure! Is indeed possible. But mind that there is a good chance for your group to be exiled shortly after.

Q - Is language dependent?
A - Yes. The Crossroads cards have a lot of text; each character have text describing their special skill. Even though the game says is the person to your right that reads the Crossroads, you can have one player to read all of them (except their own, of course). But since there is a betrayer in the game, you can really ask to someone else in the table to help you read or understand something in a card, since no other player can know what cards you have.

Q - Is the game long?
A - It can be. The scenarios are divided into short, medium and long. I played two medium scenarios, and the first lasted around 90 minutes, and the other around two hours.

Q - Is the set up long?
A - If you compare it to Middle-Earth Quest or Arkham Horror, no. If you compare it to Bohnanza or Black Stories, yes. It is a little faster than the one for Zombicide, as you don't have to built the scenario.

Q - Is the art cool?
A - I liked. Isn't super awesome for me, but it do its job fine and, in general, I found it to be well made, and with a good graphic design for the components.

Q - Is the game complex?
A - Not much. The set of available actions isn't huge, and most of the time you will only use two: search and attack. Controlling several characters isn't too hard, because even with more dice (thus, more actions) you don't have to use everyone - the dice can be use just for one character if you want. Isaround the complexy level of is siblings in theme: Zombicide and Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game.

Q - What should I take to the zombie apocalypse?
A - A crowbar.

Any more questions?

And that is it!

Regards,


Image credits (in order):
edwalter
mikehulsebus
covex
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Wade
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tiagoVIP wrote:
- Use one die to search in the Hospital (the number in the die must be equal or lower the number given in the character card for the Search action)


The die used must be equal to or higher than the number given on the character card, not lower.
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Tiago Perretto
Brazil
Curitiba
Parana
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Thinking about my next move.
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So, if my only options are these, then I shall...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
braceletwinner wrote:
tiagoVIP wrote:
- Use one die to search in the Hospital (the number in the die must be equal or lower the number given in the character card for the Search action)


The die used must be equal to or higher than the number given on the character card, not lower.


Oh, yes, this is what I meant (the examples are correct). Thanks for noticing, I already corrected.

Regards,
 
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