Dead Of Winter: A Crossroads Game

Dead Of Winter: A Crossroads Game



Dead of Winter Crossroads Box Art.jpg

Strategic Depth: Intermediate
Setup Time: 15 -20 mins.
Play Time: 45 to 120 mins.
Players: 2-5 (Best with 4+)
Mechanics: Area Movement, Dice Rolling, Co-Operative, Bluffing, Hand Management
Production Info: 2014 | Plaid Hat Games | Isaac Vega/Jon Gilmour


In Dead of Winter, players are in a colony of survivors trying to survive the cold winter months in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. The colony has an objective they are trying to complete in order to survive, but each player also leads a small group of survivors that have their own secret goal for themselves to complete during the winter. 

Unfortunately, not all of the colonists want to work together for the betterment of the colony and there is risk of a traitor lurking among the survivors. This distrust creates an enormous amount of tension and skepticism between all the survivors in the colony. Can the group work together to complete their objective and stay alive? Or will the colony be betrayed by a selfish survivor who only cares about their own survival?

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- The Good -

Great Theme

The theme of this game immediately made me reminisce of my enjoyment of the Walking Dead TV series on AMC. The fact that I could work with a group of people to survive the zombie apocalypse while at the same time never being able to trust anyone was something I could immediately  get into. I mean let's be honest, we have all thought of what we would do if a zombie apocalypse actually happened and this game plays right into the survival instincts you would need to survive such an event!

The game does a great job of providing a backstory for each of the characters in the game and you can really immerse yourself in the story line behind the scenario your group is playing.

You Never Know Who's Really On Your Side

 This game is super intense and is going to play with your mind. With the possibility of one of the players drawing a traitor card combined with everyone needing to fulfill a secret objective that might completely look sketchy with the groups current survival strategy, you are going to be super paranoid during gameplay and will over-analyze everyone's moves. 

The playing environment Dead of Winter creates really brings the theme to life. Just think how you would be feeling if you were trying to survive a zombie apocalypse with a bunch of strangers with guns? You probably would be over-analyzing every single thing they did.

Variety of Actions To Take

Dead of Winter does a great job of giving players a variety of chooses to do during their turn. Each turn will be driven by a lot of factors including the characters you are controlling, the current crisis, your secret objective, how large your colony is, and so much more. This means that even when you are waiting to for your turn, you are constantly thinking through whether you need to search for new items, kill zombies, or bring back food to feed the colony. With the myriad of options given to you, you'll also need to interact with your fellow players to see if they can help you out or if try to pinpoint if their moves are looking suspicous. There is never a dull moment during the player turn phases.

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- The Bad -

The Setup Sucks...

There are a TON of components in this game and honestly it is never fun to setup. All the zombies and characters use the standee format and you need at least 20-30 of the standees put together during setup. There are also a bunch of cards you need to sort out by location which can be time consuming if your game components weren't stored thoughtfully.

Lots of Rules

Dead of Winter has a lot of rules and if you aren't playing this game on a regular basis, you're more than likely going to need to revisit the rulebook frequently. This can also be frustrating when you are trying to teach new players the game. While the player turns do play very naturally once you understand the game, this can be a hard game for people to pick up and carry out effective strategies during their first 1-3 times playing.

Crossroads Cards Seem Unnecessary

In Dead of Winter there are Crossroads cards that are read secretively by the player to your right and only get used if a trigger on the card is meant. A trigger could occur if the player carry's out a specific action during their turn or if a certain character is currently in play. I have a love/hate relationship with the Crossroads cards. On one hand they help contribute to the storyline of the campaign. On the other hand they slow down the gameplay and I have never played a game where the Crossroads Cards get forgotten about during a few player's turn.

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- Overall -

Dead of Winter is a great co-operative game to play with friends who love the zombie apocalypse genre and can handle (or enjoy) the stress of a possible traitor during the game. This game is drenched in theme and even if you aren't on the zombie-themed bandwagon, the game mechanics are strong enough to make the game enjoyable for all types of players. If you have a close-knit group of board gamers, this is definitely a game to pickup and learn together as a group, because once you grasp the rules this game turns into a whole lot of fun!

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The following summaries are meant to be a high-level reminder of how to play this game. If this is your first time playing, we highly recommend that you read your board game's included rule book which will go into much more depth. You can download a digital PDF copy of the official rules by clicking the button below. There are also a few video tutorials near the bottom of this section to help all you visual learners out as well.

- Setup Overview -

  1. Lay Colony Board and 6 Location Boards out
  2. Pick an Objective Card and setup the board as described on the card
  3. Collect 2 Non-betrayal cards per player and 1 betrayal card. Shuffle and deal one card to each player. Do not show anyone!
  4. Shuffle Crisis Cards and lay in designated area
  5. Place decks for Survivor, Exiled Objectives, and Crossroads off to the side
  6. Organize item cards based on location
  7. Deal 5 starter items to each player (7 for 2-player variant)
  8. Deal 4 character cards to each player. Keep 2 cards (keep 3  for 2-player variant). Shuffle discards back into Survivor deck. Make 1 character a group leader.
  9. Find the character standee for each chosen character card and place in the Colony 
  10. Player whose group leader has the highest influence value goes first
  11. Separate out all the different tokens and place them off to the side

- Game Play/Player Turns -


  1. Reveal a new Crisis Card.
  2. All players role their Action Dice (one die for each character plus 1 more).
  3. Person with the First Turn Token (Knife) goes first .
  4. Player to the left draws a Crossroads card and reads it if necessary.


  • Attack (Zombie or Survivor) - Die value must be >= characters Attack Value.
    • For Zombies: Roll Exposure Die and apply to that character.
    • For Other Players: Roll die, if number is <= that players Attack Value add a wound and take one of the players cards at random.
  • Search - Die value must be >= characters Search Value. You may make noise to look at the next card before making your decision on which one to keep.
  • Build Barricade - Spend 1 Action Die (any value) to build a barricade in a character's location.
  • Clean Waste - Spend 1 Action Die (any value) to remove 3 cards from the Waste Pile.
  • Attract Zombies - Spend 1 Action Die (any value) to move any 2 zombies to their current location.
  • Character Ability - Some characters may require an Action Die be used in order to perform their special ability.


  • Play a Card - You may play as many cards as you want during your turn.
  • Add a Card to Crisis Objective -Lay a card face down in the Crisis Area (players may be bluffing!).
  • Move a Person - Move a character to another location. Roll the Exposure Die immediately after.
  • Spend Food Tokens - Use 1 Food Token from Food Supply area to increase an unused Action Die by +1 (no limit; cannot go above a die value of 6).
  • Request Card - Request 1 or more cards from another player's hand. Cards must be shown to every player and played immediately.
  • Hand Off Card - If in the same location, players can exchange equipment between characters.
  • Vote To Exile - Once per turn can call for a vote (thumbs up/thumbs down) to exile a player.


  1. Pay Food - Submit 1 food for every 2 people in the Colony Area. If you cannot feed everyone, leave food alone, add +1 Starvation Token, and reduce Moral by -1 for every starvation token in the food supply (never remove a Starvation Token)
  2. Check Waste - For every 10 cards (rounded down), decrease Moral by -1
  3. Resolve Crisis - Shuffle cards that were submitted to address the Crisis and reveal each card to determine if the Crisis was prevented
  4. Add Zombies - Add zombie figures as follows. A Barricade gets destroyed if no empty spaces left.
    1. Colony: +1 Zombie for every 2 people in the Colony
    2. Non-Colony: +1 Zombie for every person at a location
    3. Noise Tokens: +1 Zombie per Roll  <= 3
  5. Check Main Objective - Check to see if the Main Objective has been met yet
  6. Move Round Tracker - Move the Round Tracker down 1
  7. Pass First Player Token - Pass the knife token to the right

- End Of Game -

The game ends if one of the following occurs:

  • The Main Objective is completed
  • Moral hits zero
  • There are no more rounds to play
  • All of the survivors die

- Winning -

A player is considered a winner of Dead of Winter if he/she completes their Main Objective and their Secret Objective.

- Great Instructional Videos -

Here's a few helpful instructional videos you or your group can watch to learn how to play this game visually.


Do you need to play an Event Card immediately when drawn?
No, you may choose to play an Event card whenever you wish at any point during the game.

When you pull an event card and get a new survivor, when do you add the extra action die?
At the beginning of the Player Turns Phase, after Reveal Crisis, each player receives & rolls 1 die plus 1 die for each survivor he controls.

What is the point of selecting a Group Leader?
The group leader helps determines who starts the first turn of the game, but other than that, the group leader doesn't impact gameplay at all. Here is a response from one of the game developers: "We found during play-testing that making the Group leader pivotal was too harsh if something happens to them. We had tons of different mechanics we tried out, and many of them failed. At one point, your group leader determined your secret objective. At another the highest influence group leader determined first player, and the first player had certain abilities. "

What happens if you exile someone who is not the betrayer?
Loyal players reveal and hand in their old card and get a new secret exiled objective which replaces the old objective completely.

How do you get rid of starvation tokens?
There is no way to get rid of starvation tokens and they stay in your food supply for the remainder of the game. Starvation tokens only cause a loss of morale when there is not enough to food to eat for that round. In that situation, you would lose 1 morale for each starvation token in the food supply.

Does an exiled player still draw a crossroads card?
Yes, the exiled player still draws a crossroads card and the player to the right still draws one for them.

>> View more FAQs from game developer HERE <<



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Highest Price: $56.98 (Aug 20, 2017)
Lowest Price: $36.94 (Jan 24, 2016)
Average Price: $49.89
*According to CamelCamelCamel.com (03/18/2018)

Expanding The Game

There are currently two expansions in the Dead of Winter series.

The Long Night is a standalone game with gameplay elements such as fighting off bandits from other colonies, upgrading your colony, and discovering a new research facility location where crazy experiments have been going on.

Warring Colonies combines both the Crossroads and Long Night games into an epic battle between two surviving colonies who are competing for resources and locations. This expansion can play up to 11 players!

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The Broken Token Box Organizer provides inserts for your Dead of Winter box to make setting up and storage much easier

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