Can You Survive The Dead of Winter?

The wind blows so cold that I need to keep my jacket on even indoors. It’s said that we’re safe within the walls but nobody ever talks about how long the wall is going to last against the outside horrors. I keep my knife close just in case. If the snow ever bothered to slow down, I might go out in the yard for some wood. Perhaps if it gets even slower and anyone suggests it, we go out for some resupplying. The exploration group are all exhausted. It’s barely been a week since we had to fight off the raider party and now this. The storm that’s already lasted ages, or so it seems.

I open the back door to get some burning material into the house. The stock is almost finished. I don’t blame the group for being tired but there’s not much surviving for any of us inside the walls. We’re bound to go out sooner or later. There’s much to discuss with the others. I know the sweet days of trusting others died when our sick relatives turned into flesh-hungry monstrosities yet, it’s impossible to survive alone out here. Especially in the winter. Even in a blizzard like this you never know when the dead might be in your blind spot.

Just as the wood is finally all chopped up and ready to go into the fireplace, all the front doors and windows suddenly open up in response to a loud roaring sound at the gates. Followed by excessive shooting. Screaming. I drop the pile of chopped wood and with my knife close at hand I run towards the gate. I know those roars. A horde has found our walls. We can keep them away from the inside for now, just as we have before. In this godforsaken freeze however, I don’t know how long we can last.

Maybe I should take all of this happening at the same time as a sign. The colony is in real danger. Soon the exploration units will have to go outside and look for supplies. They’ll have to divide the soldiers and leave most of them here to protect the walls. All of that means it’s the perfect opportunity for me to execute my revenge plan on the bastards who took away my son. They said he was bitten. That he was going to turn into one of them. What I saw in front of me getting shot was not a monster. At least yet. They will know what insanity a man might face as a result of lack of sleep. They will know my pain. Even the Dead of Winter won’t be able to stop me.



Two to five groups of survivors are stuck inside the walls with hordes of the undead at their gates, pushing their way forward. They’re just as hungry as the people inside, if not more. Each group has been assigned a leader, who will have to make some extremely difficult decisions along the path. I know how it feels to be torn apart between doing what’s good for the colony and what’s good for my own. It’s never as simple as you expect it to be. And I for one, haven’t gotten used to it yet.

The exploring parties each have their own assignment and the right set of skills to complete it. Food, water, energy and medicine are of prime importance to the survival of the colony but that’s not all we look for in the blistering cold out there. We need weapons, ammunition and tools. Upon our adventures in the wild we sometimes pass by other survivors. The ones who don’t try to kill us, ask for shelter. You never know who you can trust these days, but most of the strays we find are in no condition to harm anyone anyway so we take most of them in. Unless the party leader decides against it that is. We don’t question their decisions. Tough choices need to be made and we’re all on board as long as they’re the one making them.

They say going outside the walls in such a cold is madness. I say staying inside to wait for inevitable doom is. We go out there and we fight for our survival like we always have. The technicians will repair our power stations and the nurses will tend to the ill. Hell if we’re lucky, we might even find enough material for the scientists to develop some kind of protection or even cure against the flesh-craving disease. Like I said, you never know what you may find out there. So it’s crucial that we always remember exactly what we’re looking for and why we’re out there.

Oh and by the way if I don’t see you again, good luck scavenging. The survival of humanity depends on it, as well as your own. And one more thing. Perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give you before we head out there. Be very cautious about the people you call friends. There are more dangers in the dark than dead men walking.

About The Game


Dead of winter, first published by Plaid Hat Games in 2014, is a game of story-focused cooperative survival with a healthy amount of social deduction thrown in for good measure. The game has 2-5 players team up to fight for their lives in the deadly harsh winter of a post-apocalyptic weakened colony of human survivors.

The zombies are crushing the doorbell and despite being forced to team up with a group of strangers, who quite frankly should all be thinking about what’s best for them, to ensure you come out alive from the upcoming 90-120 minutes, it’s still going to be your challenge to find out who can help you achieve your own personal goal and which one might end up betraying you all.

This exceptionally exciting survival adventure was designed by Jonathan Gilmour and Isaac Vega and for its own benefit, the only way of experiencing its thrill is in tabletop. It’s a title that’s been praised for it’s challenging yet not too difficult to learn gameplay and been chosen the winner of the Dice Tower Gaming Award for the Best Game of the Year back in its initial release year, 2014.

The game could end with everyone losing, everyone winning, or some losing and some winning. It all depends on the public and secret objectives that have been assigned and how you handle them, the survival expert that you are of course. Beware the other players and beware the Dead of Winter.

Game Components


The game provides you with resources to manage, mouths to feed, health bars to keep up, decisions to make according to your position, objectives that have unique valuable rewards and of course a place to sleep at nights. In addition to all that, you also get a safe space where you can keep the numbers on everything. More than most of the others got before their corpses began shaking. Let’s go over everything we’ve got real quick.

Game Board

This is your map. You will use it to locate your way around the dead-infested village and find your way back home if you need to. It also marks the location of the hordes. Stay as far away from them as possible.

Player Boards

This is your personal space and where you keep tabs on things. You manage your resources here and decide on what you want to carry with you. It also works as your ID card since it has all your personal information written down on it so it’s best if you don’t lose it [this time].

Crossroads Cards

These are the dilemmas you’re going to face. The morale challenges, if you will. To test out whether you fight for your own survival or the colony’s, the Crossroads will have you choose the path your survivor party takes.

Survivor Cards

In this deck you can keep information on the colony members you want to recruit. And also if you can recruit them or not. Not everyone is willing to risk their life working with you so keep a close eye on these profiles.

Item Cards

These are the resources you need to keep your group going. Food, medicine, fuel and the such are all kept together here. It doesn’t sound hygienic because it’s not, but we can’t really worry about hygiene since the undead can smell anything hygienic from a mile away. Seriously though, be careful how you use these.

Crisis Cards

Here is where you can see the colony’s top priority crisis at hand and how long we have left to resolve it before having to suffer its consequences. The harm is dealt to all of us so to avoid crisis, we all work together.

Exile Cards

I pray it never gets to it but if anyone is ever suspected to have turned their back on the colony, they may be cast into exile, sentenced to never return from the eventual death that awaits all outside the walls.

Betrayal Secret Objective Cards

If a traitor hides among us, they will carry one of these assignments. Hopefully if they do, we’ll realize it before it’s too late.

Dice and Tokens

These are used as tools for combat and location markers for certain things on the map. They can mean different things that you will pick up during your journey.

How To Set Up


Step 1: Choose a scenario

Dead of Winter can be experienced in a variety of scenarios and difficulties which you’re free to choose from according to your preference. Each scenario offers a unique experience and it’s freshly thrilling every time you engage in. The game has also been supported with 2 expansion packs by the names of Warring Colonies and The Long Night which are both worth checking out.

Step 2: Select characters

Choose the character that matches your play style and strategy. Each character offers their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages that you’ll need to be mindful of if you intend to play them to their full potential.

Step 3: Set up the colony

Set the map up with all the starting positions filled. Place the morale tracker and the first of the crisis cards on the crisis tracker. The crisis will be updated as the game moves forward.

Step 4: Sort the Card Decks

Shuffle and divide all the different decks of cards and place them in their designated spot on the game board.

Step 5: Place starting Items and Zombies

Place the starting items and zombie tokens on the game board according to your scenario card of choosing. Each scenario starts off differently and ends differently.

Step 6: Roll for first player

Roll the die to see who goes first. It should all be good to go from then. Just proceed according to the guide. Happy Surviving!

Final Thoughts

What would you do in the middle of the freezing dead winter with flesh-eating animals on the lose and dangerously short on supplies? Would you save yourself, or your people first? Dead of Winter offers you a chance to see if you’d survive in the zombie-infested blizzard.

What are your opinions about Dead of Winter? Any memorable moments from playing? You are more than welcome to share your thoughts with us down in the comments!

Join Instinct list!

Get all latest news, exclusive deals and academy updates.