OBJECTIVE OF DEAD OF WINTER: The objective of Dead of Winter is to complete your secret objective in order to win the game.  

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2 to 5 Players 

MATERIALS: 10 Objective Cards, 10 Betrayal Secret Objective Cards, 30 Survivor Cards, 5 Player Reference Sheets, 1 Starting Player Token, 1 Exposure Die, 30 Action Die, 1 Rulebook, 6 Location Cards, 1 Colony Board, 60 Plastic Stands, 30 Zombies and Tokens, 20 Helpless Survivor Tokens, 20 Location Deck Cards, 20 Police Station Cards, 20 Grocery Store Cards, 20 School Item Cards, 2 Track Markers, 6 Starvation Tokens, 25 Wound Tokens, 80 Crossroad Cards, 20 Crisis Cards, and 25 Starting Item Cards  

TYPE OF GAME: Hand Management Board Game 

AUDIENCE: Ages 13 and Up 


Dead of winter is a psychological survival game in which players will work together toward a common victory, allowing them all to win the game. While players are also trying to reach their common goal, they have secret objectives that they must try and complete as well. The dangerous obsession with completing their own secretive task could put the main objective at risk.  

Players should ensure that they are not being walked on by other players while attempting to meet their own agenda. Are you willing to throw everyone else under the bus in order to win the game, or will you work as a team so everyone can win? 


To begin setup, place the main board in the middle of the playing area with six location cards placed around it. Every player should then collect a reference sheet. Players will then choose an objective to play towards together. The card that is chosen is placed in the assigned space on the colony board and follow its instructions.  

The secret objective cards are shuffled, and two cards are set aside for each player, facing down. The rest of these cards can be returned to the box, because they will not be used throughout the rest of the game. The betrayal objective cards are shuffled, and only one of them to the other cards that were previously set aside. All cards that have been set aside are then shuffled together, dealing one to each player.  

Players must ensure that they keep their objective secret throughout the course of the game, or else another player may try to interfere. The crisis cards are shuffled and placed on the assigned space of the colony board. The crossroad cards, exiled objective cards, and survivor cards are shuffled separately and separated into decks beside the board.  

The starter item cards are shuffled, and five cards are dealt to every player. The rest of the cards can be placed back in the box. The other item cards are separated depending on their location, and they are placed on the location card that matches them. Four survivor cards are dealt to each player, and they will choose two to keep and two to discard. The players will choose one of the cards that they kept to act as the leader for their group.  

The other survivor card that they decided to keep is placed in the player’s colony occupants on their reference sheet. The standees and tokens are divided up and placed within reach of all players. The player who has the group leader with the highest influence will collect the starting player token. The game is then ready to begin! 


The game is played over the course of numerous rounds, with each round being divided into two different phases. The phases must be played in the following order: the player turns phase then the colony phase. The player turns phase consists of three effects that must be completed in order, and the colony phase consists of seven effects that must be completed in order.  

Player Turns Phase 

During the player turns phase, the players will reveal the crisis, roll the action dice, and then take their turns. The crisis is revealed to the group as a whole. When the players roll the action dice, they will get one action die for themselves and one for each survivor that they control. Once a player rolls, they must keep their results in their unused action die pool. When a player takes their turns, after they have rolled their dice, they will perform as many actions as they wish. The gameplay continues clockwise around the group until everyone has completed their turn.  

After each player has taken their turn, the colony phase begins. During this phase, the players will pay for food, check for waste, resolve crisis, add zombies, check the main objective, move round tracker, and pass the starting player token.  

Colony Phase 

The players will rake one food token from the supply for every two survivors that are present in the colony. If there are not enough tokens, then there are none removed, a starvation token is added to the supply, and morale is decreased by one for each starvation token that is found in the supply. After the food has been taken, the waste is checked, and this is done by counting the cards in the waste pile. For every ten cards, morale is decreased by one.  

Next, the players will resolve any crises that are present. The cards that are added to the crisis during the player turns phase are shuffled and revealed one at a time. For every item card that has a matching symbol in the prevention section adds one point, and for every one that does not, it subtracts one point. Once all of the points are tallied, if it exceeds the number of players then the crisis is prevented. If it is lower than the number of players, then it must be resolved immediately.  

Once the crisis has been resolved or avoided, zombies are added. One zombie is added to the colony for every two survivors that are found within the colony. One zombie is added to each other location outside of the colony for every survivor found there. For each location that has a noise token, the players will roll an action dice for each. For every role that equals three or less, then a zombie is added to that location.  

After all of the zombies are added, the players will check the main objective. If it has been achieved, then the game comes to an end, but if it is not, then the game will continue. If the game continues, then the round tracker is moved one space further down the track, and when it comes to zero, the game ends. The starting player token is given to the player found on the right of its current owner.  

The game will continue in this manner until it comes to an end.  


 The game may come to end for numerous reasons. It may end when the morale track reaches 0 or when the round track reaches 0. It can also end when the main objective has been completed. When the game comes to an end, the players will then determine if they have won or lost the game.  

When it does come to an end, if the players have completed their objective, then they win the game. On the other hand, if they have not completed their objective, then they lose the game. There are able to be many winners in this game, but there is also the chance for everyone to lose the game.  

Ellie Phillips
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