Saturday, December 5, 2015

Today was "Backstab Your Buddies Day" in Dead of Winter

Tonight's boardgame night had an interesting RPG-like boardgame set during a Zombie Apocalypse in the middle of Winter. Bad enough the Zee's are after you, you got Ol' Man Winter to contend with.

First though, we tried a light but enjoyable card game named Bomb Squad Academy by Tasty Minstrel Games.

I believe it's an "extra" one receives if one kickstarted the game Bomb Squad, but they also decided to sell it in stores.

It's a push your luck game, with players taking a 3 fake bomb test. Players cut the wire, which accelerates the timer on the bombs.

Every turn, you play a colour-coded card to cut that type of coloured wire, and you hope it doesn't result in the bomb going off.. 

There are timers on the four types of coloured coded wires, and you basically hedge your bets, trying to score as much points as possible before the bomb goes off.  An interesting mechanic is that you basically score on the backs of other players who went before you on that coloured wire.

When the end is near, one can try and play a chicken card to score points when someone else sets off the bomb.

Anyways, it was fun light card game. Not bad.

The main game tonight was Dead of Winter, by Plaid Hat Games.

It's the Zombie Apocalypse, and you control a bunch of survivors holed up in a colony, with abandoned buildings on the periphery, like a library, police station, garage, etc, where you scrounge for supplies and more survivors.

The center board is the main colony, and the surrounding Zombie-infested buildings are on the periphery.

The main colony..

Zombies on the outside of the colony at the start of the game..

Surrounding buildings.. monuments to the old world..

I got 2 starting characters, a soldier and a fireman, and later, a truck driver..

My firefighter guy didn't last long, as he got bit when scrounging around in the old gas station.. I'm sure the Zombies found him tasty.


Characters in this game can get wounded, bit, and frostbite. They are also affected by morale for the whole group.

The whole group is all the players' characters, plus "civilians" who are basically mouths to feed. When people die, the group morale goes down.

And there is a crisis every turn, such as illness, etc.

A typical crisis involves the group pooling resources to stave off even more disaster.

In this crisis for example, the group must pool medicine by the end of the round, or else morale drops. If morale drops to zero, the game is over.

No problem.. we're all a team, fighting the good fight against the Zombie hordes, pulling together for the group mission.

Our group mission was to build 10 barricades after 6 turns.

Only, there is a problem. There is a small chance one of the players is a selfish assh*le who only thinks of him or herself, and has their own agenda, group colony be damned.

I'm sure in most games, all the players are working for the group goals, with a small chance to pull the secret personal goal where you are the jerk.

My first time playing it, I got to be the secret jerk by drawing the betrayal card.

I could not believe it. To win, while everyone was building morale and such, I was trying to tear it down.

Only, I couldn't let the other players know, or else they would exile me, which will make me winning a lot harder.

I had 6 turns to get morale down to zero and equip four of my guys with weapons, while not trying to draw the other player's suspicions.

I even tweeted about it while we were playing, all smiles to everyone.

I first started to sow doubt that Jim was the traitor, making insinuations about his acts, and playing on the suspicions of CB...

And then, I refused to help out, pretending I was still trying to understand the rules.

I did not, for instance, add to the pooled food we scrounged...

 hoping it would cause deaths, and thus lower morale, even though I had plenty of food.

I did the same when there were crises. For instance, when unending hordes were at our door, and junk equipment was needed to be pooled, or else 8 Zombies were going to be added and moral drop...

I pretended, mumbling apologies, that I didn't have any to pool, even though I did..

Slowly but surely, I did all I could to lower morale, meanwhile trying to deflect my backstabbery unto others..

My other secret goal, in addition to sorta helping out with the main group goal, was to get 4 survivors and arm them..

However, I kept rolling badly, and only had 2 characters, but I armed them both with switch-blades when the game ended at Zero morale, when the Zombies broke in and killed two.

Anyways, this game is very thematic to the Zombie apocalypse theme, and has very RPG-like elements. The cards bring out stories you would normally see from a GM.

One card I pulled was to search for a missing child.. with a decision by the players to search for the child and take a risk going outside, or not..

Another such card,  was stealing from fellow survivors, with 2 options. Steal your buddies equipment or be a tattle-tale to everyone.

Ethical questions in a boardgame.

This game is thus not a Zombie shoot-em-up, but has some rich RPG thought to it, which I liked. I've played other Zombie games, with only Zpocalypse coming close.

There is some tension on top of any backstabbery as one takes risks going outside, as well as keeping an eye on the food supply.

Plus, Zombies are hovering on the edge of your perimeter at all times.

They finally broke through at the end, into our compound, killing two.

The game itself has nice components, but takes up some room to play.

That being said, this was an enjoyable game, and even tempted myself, though not a big horror fan, to buy it given it's rich RPG elements.

Thumbs Up!


  1. Excellent, Christos was pleased at your acceptance of the Zombie game genre

  2. Its always bowb your buddy week ;-)