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Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Some mechanics are good but in general a very bad game rss

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Gustavo del Gerbo
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The ugly rules and mechanics of this game can lead to fun or boring and frustrating experiences.
I expect games to be fun 95% of the times I play them, even if I lose... but this is not such a game.
You can win and be very bored during 2-3 hours or also lose and be bored.
Some items of note:
1. If you play with bad players, the game will be boring. This means, new players will probably ruin the game, which leads to another problem which is that you need to play 2-3 games with new people to start having some expecation of fun the next game.
2. People can easily ruin the game for everybody by being a traitor and not knowing how to win.
3. The game is extremely confusing in the secret objective mechanics, since you may be a traitor, get exiled and later on maybe win the game, but the other players who detected you and exiled you may even lose that same game.
4. Traitors are very dependent on which turn they play, for ex. Traitors can win easily if they are the last player of the round, but they have no way to manipulate who will play first or last, so in a 5 players game, you probably get to be last in the round 1 time during the WHOLE game... so that means traitors get a chance to easily complete their objective or not decided by a RANDOM factor. This specific point is to me the WORSE mistake in design.
5. The game has many others game wreckers elements based on RANDOM dice rolls. For ex. you start with 2 survivor. If you move a survivor you roll a dice and you have 1 in 12 chance of dying. In a 5 player game there are 10 survivor, so very probable at least 1 player will being the game with 1 less survivor during the first move (which you need to do otherwise you basically can´t do anything useful). There is also 0.7% that you will lose BOTH your survivor in the first turn just because of a RANDOM roll... again, very very bad design.
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Chris Merritt
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Guver wrote:
The ugly rules and mechanics of this game can lead to fun or boring and frustrating experiences.
I expect games to be fun 95% of the times I play them, even if I lose... but this is not such a game.
You can win and be very bored during 2-3 hours or also lose and be bored.
Some items of note:
1. If you play with bad players, the game will be boring. This means, new players will probably ruin the game, which leads to another problem which is that you need to play 2-3 games with new people to start having some expecation of fun the next game.
2. People can easily ruin the game for everybody by being a traitor and not knowing how to win.
3. The game is extremely confusing in the secret objective mechanics, since you may be a traitor, get exiled and later on maybe win the game, but the other players who detected you and exiled you may even lose that same game.
4. Traitors are very dependent on which turn they play, for ex. Traitors can win easily if they are the last player of the round, but they have no way to manipulate who will play first or last, so in a 5 players game, you probably get to be last in the round 1 time during the WHOLE game... so that means traitors get a chance to easily complete their objective or not decided by a RANDOM factor. This specific point is to me the WORSE mistake in design.
5. The game has many others game wreckers elements based on RANDOM dice rolls. For ex. you start with 2 survivor. If you move a survivor you roll a dice and you have 1 in 12 chance of dying. In a 5 player game there are 10 survivor, so very probable at least 1 player will being the game with 1 less survivor during the first move (which you need to do otherwise you basically can´t do anything useful). There is also 0.7% that you will lose BOTH your survivor in the first turn just because of a RANDOM roll... again, very very bad design.


I do not consider any of these points "bad design" though I can understand they may not be your cup of tea.

1) If you play any game with bad players, the game will be boring. Ideally the friends you regularly play with are not bad players. Now if you mean "bad" as in "inexperienced with DoW" I am still going to disagree. As long as the goal of the game (accomplish your secret objective and the colony objective) is made clear and the players actively pursue that, the game should work as advertised.

2) I don't see how a incompetent traitor ruins the game for everybody, unless you mean they just sabotage everything (you know, like a traitor is supposed to do) without first accomplishing their secret objective, so everybody loses.

3) I have had no one ever be confused about the secret objective mechanics. They are very straightforward in what you have to accomplish (minus a few particular objectives that required a bit of errata). The exiling mechanic allows a discovered traitor to stay in the game without automatically attempting to ruin the colony's remaining chance at survival.

4) The traitor should be planning when to make their move for the whole game, and since the turn order is completely predictable, they will know when they will have the last turn of the round. Depending on when they first get to be last in the round, they could very well have multiple rounds where they are last, though likely the first time will not be an ideal time to strike, it being too early in the game. As it stands, many people find the betrayer can remove morale too easily and you will find multiple variants here to limit that, though most of them focus on eating the food.

You say it's easy for traitors to win if they are the last player of the round, but then complain they can't control when that happens. Really, do you want the traitor to win every game? That's what your argument says to me here.

5) There are plenty of items to influence when you need to roll the die, so I don't see how the 1 in 12 chance of dying wrecks the game. You have gas in order to move safely, and you can ask for it from other players if you don't have any in hand. Even if you lose both of your survivors because you chose not to hedge your bets and use some fuel, you just get a new survivor, and there are a lot of survivor cards in the location decks.

Additionally, depending on the survivor, there may be plenty of "useful" things they can do without moving away from the colony. The cook just produces food as an action at the colony. The soldier can kill zombies with no exposure roll and no weapon at the colony. The janitor removes excess garbage at the colony. These survivors rarely ever leave the colony in my games because they are useful where they are.

It is perfectly fine to play and not have a good time with Dead of Winter. Everyone has different opinions on what they find fun. I get annoyed when I see "bad design" though on a game that is not poorly designed. Some things can be improved, no question, but as a whole DoW is not a "bad game".
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My thoughts:

Quote:
1. If you play with bad players, the game will be boring. This means, new players will probably ruin the game


I have played with new players often. Never have they ruined the game.

Quote:
2. People can easily ruin the game for everybody by being a traitor and not knowing how to win.


Not experienced this either.

Quote:
3. The game is extremely confusing in the secret objective mechanics, since you may be a traitor, get exiled and later on maybe win the game, but the other players who detected you and exiled you may even lose that same game.


I don't understand the issue here. This to me just suggested the winner(s) may swing back and forth during the game. I expect this from all the games I own.

Quote:
4. Traitors are very dependent on which turn they play, for ex. Traitors can win easily if they are the last player of the round, [...] This specific point is to me the WORSE mistake in design.


This is potentially an issue in some games, although we have found it presents interesting moments when a suspected betrayer comes round to that advantage. It was fixed in The Long Night.

Quote:
5. The game has many others game wreckers elements based on RANDOM dice rolls.


Use fuel. Much of this is about taking acceptable risks, and losing a survivir is not the game killer you make it out to be and can in fact be strategic.

Quote:
There is also 0.7% that you will lose BOTH your survivor in the first turn just because of a RANDOM roll... again, very very bad design.


If that is in fact the percentage it is incredibly low. I.e. Once in every 143 games? And you immediately get a new survivor if this were to be the case?
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Brian Baier
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As stated above, and in responses to similar posts, you're perfectly welcome to dislike a game.

However, "I don't like this game, so it must be bad" is not a valid critique. You note which elements you don't like and why. That's fine. Yet, on a technical level, you misrepresent or misunderstand the gameplay.

Guver wrote:
1. ... new players will probably ruin the game...

Complex games with a lot of rules overhead are going to live and die by who you're playing with. In open information games, you only need one experienced player to guide the others and make it enjoyable. In a game like this, with a lot of secret information, yes, you probably need savvy people who are up to the task of reading through the rules, preferably ahead of time.

Guver wrote:
2. People can easily ruin the game for everybody by being a traitor and not knowing how to win.

Guver wrote:
3. The game is extremely confusing ... secret objective mechanics, ... traitor, get exiled and later on maybe win the game, ... other players who detected you and exiled you may even lose that same game.

I'll reiterate: When choosing a game, consider your fellow players' experience and aptitudes. Not all games are for all people. If you do pair the wrong people with a game (I have certainly done so), then you have a perfect opportunity to learn from failure.

Guver wrote:
4. Traitors are very dependent on which turn they play ... This specific point is to me the WORSE mistake in design.

Guver wrote:
5. ... game wreckers elements based on RANDOM dice rolls. ... very very bad design.

I may rightly infer that you don't like too much randomness your games. If so, avoid them. Just remember that the acceptable degree of randomness in a game is entirely a matter of preference. Even games of 100% pure chance, like Candyland, have their place, even if they're roundly disliked by anyone over age 10.

Have you ever played a role playing game? I would guess you're not a fan. You probably wouldn't like Betrayal at House on the Hill or Tales of the Arabian Nights. Dead of Winter has enough in common with these. It is more a semi-cooperative story-telling game than it is strategic and tactical. Expecting something else is your mistake, not the game's.
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Carter Burke
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My recommendation is you should play Galaxy Trucker.

It will make Dead of Winters exposure die seem soft and cuddly.
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Chris Merritt
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Carter_Burke wrote:
My recommendation is you should play Galaxy Trucker.

It will make Dead of Winters exposure die seem soft and cuddly.


Eh, I don't know. I'm certain there are at least six Bite icons on my exposure die, though I've examined it numerous times to verify there is only one.
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Matthew Burgess
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OP doesn't understand / hasn't read ALL the rules of the game, therefore can't play it properly, therefore it must be a bad game... right? I mean whose fault could it possibly be otherwise?
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Jeremy Goodwin
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COMaestro wrote:
Carter_Burke wrote:
My recommendation is you should play Galaxy Trucker.

It will make Dead of Winters exposure die seem soft and cuddly.


Eh, I don't know. I'm certain there are at least six Bite icons on my exposure die, though I've examined it numerous times to verify there is only one.


We may have gotten the same dice. I do feel that the 1 in 12 chance of instant death can cause frustration if it comes up repeatedly, as it did last night. After losing 4 survivors on nearly sequential rolls he pulled Sparky, said 'eff it' and did nothing but put up barricades for the rest of the game. It is part of the strategic choices; when is it worth the risk.
 
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Chris Merritt
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ncrugbyprop wrote:
COMaestro wrote:
Carter_Burke wrote:
My recommendation is you should play Galaxy Trucker.

It will make Dead of Winters exposure die seem soft and cuddly.


Eh, I don't know. I'm certain there are at least six Bite icons on my exposure die, though I've examined it numerous times to verify there is only one.


We may have gotten the same dice. I do feel that the 1 in 12 chance of instant death can cause frustration if it comes up repeatedly, as it did last night. After losing 4 survivors on nearly sequential rolls he pulled Sparky, said 'eff it' and did nothing but put up barricades for the rest of the game. It is part of the strategic choices; when is it worth the risk.


Yeah, one of my friends refuses to play DoW because of the "bullshit" (his word). This came after one of his survivors died on his very first turn.
 
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JonnyRotten
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COMaestro wrote:
ncrugbyprop wrote:
COMaestro wrote:
Carter_Burke wrote:
My recommendation is you should play Galaxy Trucker.

It will make Dead of Winters exposure die seem soft and cuddly. :D :p


Eh, I don't know. I'm certain there are at least six Bite icons on my exposure die, though I've examined it numerous times to verify there is only one. ;)


We may have gotten the same dice. I do feel that the 1 in 12 chance of instant death can cause frustration if it comes up repeatedly, as it did last night. After losing 4 survivors on nearly sequential rolls he pulled Sparky, said 'eff it' and did nothing but put up barricades for the rest of the game. It is part of the strategic choices; when is it worth the risk.


Yeah, one of my friends refuses to play DoW because of the "bullshit" (his word). This came after one of his survivors died on his very first turn.


But... The option was there to use/request fuel.
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David "Davy" Ashleydale
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ncrugbyprop wrote:
COMaestro wrote:
Carter_Burke wrote:
My recommendation is you should play Galaxy Trucker.

It will make Dead of Winters exposure die seem soft and cuddly.


Eh, I don't know. I'm certain there are at least six Bite icons on my exposure die, though I've examined it numerous times to verify there is only one.


We may have gotten the same dice. I do feel that the 1 in 12 chance of instant death can cause frustration if it comes up repeatedly, as it did last night. After losing 4 survivors on nearly sequential rolls he pulled Sparky, said 'eff it' and did nothing but put up barricades for the rest of the game. It is part of the strategic choices; when is it worth the risk.


Make sure you check your Exposure die closely. Some of us got malformed dice.

Exposure Die Unbalanced?
 
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Dan Smith
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I will agree that the game was badly designed. But for me it's due to the objectives that are completely imbalanced between players.

Some are actually impossible if you don't have the right order in the turn sequence, and some can't be achieved because they are dependent on other player's decisions.

Others are so easy that you just have to do what you would do anyway.

My brother's objective for example, was to have the team vote and find the traitor. Except I wasn't sure who it was, and the traitor sure wouldn't encourage us to vote. He was not amused.
 
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David "Davy" Ashleydale
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Phaseshifter wrote:
My brother's objective for example, was to have the team vote and find the traitor. Except I wasn't sure who it was, and the traitor sure wouldn't encourage us to vote. He was not amused.


That objective is to discover the betrayer if there is one. If there's not (over 50% chance), he will automatically complete it. If there is one, he has to figure out who it is and convince the non-betrayers. Personally, I think it's fun to be in that position. It's a different kind of challenge than just having a certain number of items.
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Brian Baier
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Phaseshifter wrote:
But for me it's due to the objectives that are completely imbalanced between players.

Congrats: You've nailed one of the strengths of DoW!


Of course, imbalanced is not the term I would use. Unpredictable? Varied? This is the type of game in which the difficulty level and (overall) goal are a moving target. That's what kind of game it is intended to be, and it's pretty well implemented.

Once again, that's not a factor of design flaw but design preference. A lot of co-op games are designed to be lost a majority of the time. That makes the odd win a cause for celebration! On top of that is the story-telling aspect, the emphasis of which depends entirely on your group.

It's absolutely fine that you don't like a game, but it will benefit you to recognize your biases when offering criticism. I have never been a huge fan of Pandemic, though I don't think there's anything "wrong" with the game.

See what I'm saying?
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Dan Smith
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randomlife wrote:
Phaseshifter wrote:
My brother's objective for example, was to have the team vote and find the traitor. Except I wasn't sure who it was, and the traitor sure wouldn't encourage us to vote. He was not amused.


That objective is to discover the betrayer if there is one. If there's not (over 50% chance), he will automatically complete it. If there is one, he has to figure out who it is and convince the non-betrayers. Personally, I think it's fun to be in that position. It's a different kind of challenge than just having a certain number of items.


The problem is that the other players get to decide wether you can achieve your objective or not. While another player might have "Have each of your characters carry a weapon" as their objective.

It's completely disproportional.
 
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Dan Smith
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elucidarian wrote:
Phaseshifter wrote:
But for me it's due to the objectives that are completely imbalanced between players.

Congrats: You've nailed one of the strengths of DoW!


Of course, imbalanced is not the term I would use. Unpredictable? Varied? This is the type of game in which the difficulty level and (overall) goal are a moving target. That's what kind of game it is intended to be, and it's pretty well implemented.

Once again, that's not a factor of design flaw but design preference. A lot of co-op games are designed to be lost a majority of the time. That makes the odd win a cause for celebration! On top of that is the story-telling aspect, the emphasis of which depends entirely on your group.

It's absolutely fine that you don't like a game, but it will benefit you to recognize your biases when offering criticism. I have never been a huge fan of Pandemic, though I don't think there's anything "wrong" with the game.

See what I'm saying?


No, I don't see at all.

That disparity doesn,t make it harder for the group to win. It simply makes it harder, or sometimes impossible, for ONE PLAYER to achieve an objective as opposed to another.

After playing the game a few times, I would quickly figure out that a player has that objective. Then all I have to do to make sure he never achieves it, is just say "No" whenevr he asks to vote.

I should not be able to make them fail their objective simply by disagreeing to a request.

That is an imbalance. It's like we're both challenged to win a race, and I'm up against a 3rd grade kid with a limp, while you're racing against the last olympic champion.

People don't like being setup for failure. Even the winning player of our game didn't think that made sense.
 
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Brian Baier
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Phaseshifter wrote:

No, I don't see at all...

I see your point. Maybe it's a game that should be played with some time between so that certain objectives aren't so obvious to routine players.
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Dan Smith
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elucidarian wrote:
Phaseshifter wrote:

No, I don't see at all...

I see your point. Maybe it's a game that should be played with some time between so that certain objectives aren't so obvious to routine players.


Personaly, I think a good game should make you want to play it.
 
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David "Davy" Ashleydale
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Phaseshifter wrote:
After playing the game a few times, I would quickly figure out that a player has that objective. Then all I have to do to make sure he never achieves it, is just say "No" whenevr he asks to vote.

I should not be able to make them fail their objective simply by disagreeing to a request.

That is an imbalance. It's like we're both challenged to win a race, and I'm up against a 3rd grade kid with a limp, while you're racing against the last olympic champion.

People don't like being setup for failure. Even the winning player of our game didn't think that made sense.


But there's no reason for you to care if other players complete their secret objectives or not. Why would you actively try to stop someone? Whether or not that player completes their objectives has no bearing on whether you win or lose. Wins are individual in this game.

Besides, if one of the players is actively trying to figure out who the betrayer is and banish them, that's actually good for you. You can concentrate on completing your own objectives -- let them do their own investigation and bring the evidence to you. If the evidence is good, vote Yes, and you will get rid of the betrayer, which will get rid of the player that was trying to stop you.
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Jeff Weber
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OP, thank you for your helpful review. I won't be buying DoW unplayed.
 
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