In another of our regular board game spotlights, Zatu Games re-imagines itself through the rose-tinted lens of idealism, maybe as a happy, blue-collar dad, one with a hat and good shoes and aftershave. But none of it’s real. What is reality, anyway? It’s Dead of Winter, the 2014 release from publisher Plaid Hat Games and designers Jonathan Gilmour and Isaac Vega.
Dead of Winter combines the apocalypse with the coldest of seasons to create a combination bleaker than house. Sadly, most of humanity has devolved into fleshnommers, and a small, understandably tired group of survivors must make it through the eponymous mortal wintertide.
It’s a co-operative game, but one with a twist: as well as a group objective, each player has a hidden one of their own. Maybe it’s something simple and harmless. Maybe it’s something irresponsible that could inconvenience other players. Or maybe it’s something that will involve betraying your dearest friends. The game is therefore all about the balance between the individual and the many, a balance that seldom ends in roses and tiffin.
Gameplay itself consists of two-phased rounds. First, the player turns phase, in which players simultaneously roll dice to determine what actions they can take; killing zombies; searching the area surrounding the colony; building barricades to keep people safe. They may also move, share and tackle story crises, though these don’t require dice rolls.
Next comes the colony phase, in which the game tries to kill everyone. Players must respond to whatever it throws at them, all whilst keeping in mind their own agendas.
It’s a heavily thematic experience, like turning your loft into a 50’s diner. Perfect for anyone looking for something psychologically and intellectually taxing.
Plaid Hat Games was founded in 2009 by Colby Daunch to publish his original design Summoner Wars. They pride themselves on publishing games that are thematic, challenging, and allow players to engage with one another.
Their latest, hugely anticipated release, Seafall, is available for pre-order from Zatu now!
Isaac Vega is a board game designer working with Plaid Hat Games. He is known for the card game Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn and Dead of Winter.
If Life of Summer was a bit too ‘up’ for you, buy this game from Zatu today!