Monday, December 29, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: December Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 29: Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter (2014)

I just wrote a review on this for, so I'm going to share my review as my write-up for today. Today when we played, our group objective was to survive 8 rounds and it hilarious, because it was set on January 30 and. . . well. . . we were one day away. When we were done, we thought it might have been too easy, but it was so much fun and we had some close calls. It just reminded me how much I really love this game.


Dead of Winter was one of the MUST HAVE games at GenCon 2014 this past summer. Everyone was talking about it. It was in everyone’s hand. We saw it everywhere. My husband and I, though, had received the game a week before arriving at GenCon and were not surprised to hear all the praises being sung of it’s awesome game play. First impressions, the game looks spooky and dark, when in reality, it is spooky and dark. Dead of Winter is a zombie game set during the grueling months of winter and you need to find a way to survive. This game is part of a series being put out by Plaid Hat Games called “Crossroads.” These games are meant to test the survival skills of players, as well as their ability to work together for the good of the group and survive. It’s an intriguing concept, successfully executed with Dead of Winter.

Geeky Specs

Designer: Johnathan Gilmour, Isaac Vega
Published by: Plaid Hat Games
Year Published: 2014              Rough Game Time: 100+ mins
Players: 2-5                    Suggested Ages: 13+
Type: Co-Operative, Hand-Management, Action-Point Allowance

What’s the Story, Morning Glory?

You and the other people in the colony you’ve established have survived the zombie apocalypse, so far. You’ve set up a secure camp and are setting in to endure the long hard winter. Zombies are still plentiful in the streets, but you have to make sure you keep your colony stocked with food, ammo, and other supplies. Along the way other survivors will find you and you need to figure out if they can stay or if they must go. But watch out. . . there could be someone in your midst who is so embittered by the apocalypse that they are seeking to destroy everything and everyone. Will you survive the Dead of Winter?

What’s in the Box?

So… it’s a lot of stuff… but it’s worth it.

  • 1 Rulebook
  • 1 Colony Board
  • 1 Exposure Die
  • 30 Action Dice
  • 1 First Player Token
  • 2 Track Markers
  • 5 Player Reference Sheets
  • 25 Starting Item Cards
  • 54 Objective Cards
    • 10 Dual-Sided Main Objective Cards
    • 24 Secret Objective Cards
    • 10 Betrayal Secret Objective Cards
    • 10 Exiled Survivor Secret Objective Cards
  • 30 Survivor Cards & 30 Survivor Standees
  • 6 Location Cards (Police Station, Grocery Store, School Gas Station, Library, Hospital)
  • 120 Location Search Deck Cards
    • 20 Police Station Search Deck Cards
    • 20 Grocery Store Search Deck Cards
    • 20 School Search Deck Cards
    • 20 Gas Station Search Deck Cards
    • 20 Library Search Deck Cards
    • 20 Hospital Search Deck Cards
  • 20 Crisis Cards
  • 80 Crossroad Cards
  • 25 Wound Tokens
  • 20 Helpless Survivor Tokens
  • 20 Food Tokens
  • 20 Noise Tokens
  • 20 Barricade Tokens
  • 6 Starvation Tokens
  • 30 Zombie Standees & 30 Zombie Tokens (for when you get overrun with zombies)
  • 60 Plastic Standee Stands

How To Play or Not to Play, That is the Question

I had to forego my usual way of explaining how a game is played, because there is just so very much going on in this game. So I adopting a different approach instead of spending page after page going over each step of this game that you really just need to play in order to learn how to play it.

In Dead of Winter each player takes charge of 1 or more characters, who are members of a colony trying to survive during the zombie apocalypse. Players will control a leader and a number of followers and will be working together to achieve a number of agendas from keeping at bay hordes of zombies surrounding your colony to keeping your colony clean and its members fed. Each game will also provide a very specific and unique goal your colony is working towards, be it collecting zombie samples in the hopes of finding a cure or merely surviving the harsh winter in a longer than average game. And *on top* of all that, each player will have a secret agenda that the characters under their control are working towards. While most of these goals are self-serving, the majority aren’t entirely evil and the player still wants to see the colony survive. Several of these secret agendas, however, label the player that possesses them as a betrayer to the colony and they want to see the destruction of the colony and possibly the death of everyone within.

If that wasn’t enough, during each round of game play a Crisis will arise that will call on players to provide extra food, gas, medicine, or tools to the colony lest something absolutely horrifying occur.

Round by round players will roll action dice dictating the limits of their ability to search external locations for resources, fight zombies, or use their characters’ special talents. Players will travel to and from the colony, risking infection from zombie or frostbite from the harsh winter. They will choose whether to donate to the current crisis, provide food for the colony (including the helpless survivors your pick up on the way that are nothing more than extra mouths to feed), or clean waste.

At the end of each round, the zombie population increases, the crisis is resolved for better or worse, the colony checks for starvation, and all the while mistrust brews amongst the players. Choose your actions carefully or you may get voted into exile where you will no longer have access to the safety of the colony and you will be given a new goal and victory condition as an outcast.

The most unique aspect of Dead of Winter is the Crossroads Card system. On each player’s turn the player to the right draws a crossroads card and pays attention to the current player’s actions and choices to see if the events on the card trigger. Some of the Crossroads cards are fairly vague, but others are exceptionally specific down to a certain character performing a certain act or going to a certain location. While the latter of these is rare to trigger, when they do it is always exciting. The events of a Crossroads card always present a choice and the outcome can be both extremely beneficial or utterly devastating.

The End

Dead of Winter ends when one of three things happens:

          1) The morale counter hits 0.

          2) The round counter hits 0.

          3) The main objective is completed.

To determine the winner, you have to check your secret objective cards. Anyone who achieved their secret objective wins the game (so there can be multiple winners) and everyone else loses. If the morale or round counter hits zero, the only person who can win is the Betrayer.

Rules Weren’t Meant to Be Broken (Or Were They?)

You will be challenged to make decisions based on what is best for the colony and what is best for yourself. Do not back down and chicken out of making the hard decisions. Really commit to making the game realistic. With a betrayer on the loose, there’s no reason not be cutthroat in this game. Well. . . cutthroat in regards to the colony. No matter what you need the colony to survive, whether you’re the Betrayer or you have your secret objective to complete.

One thing you might forget to do, which also possesses it’s own problems for your leader and characters. At the end of each of your turns outside of the colony, you need to remember to roll for exposure. This could turn up an additional bit of being bit and infected or frostbite or you could just be fine. Just don’t forget to roll for this.

Best Played Under These Conditions

Dead of Winter is best played with at least 4 people. You want there to be a Betrayer, but for it to not be glaringly obvious. It also keeps the game challenging, because there are more things going on, more unknowns being added all the time.

The game plays fine with two people, but you can’t have the Betrayer. It is still just as challenging and enjoyable, it just removes that element from the game.

Spice Up Your Game

I had this totally crazy idea for how to spice up the game play for this game. Essentially. . . you make yourself a survivor. Get out cans of various foods, book the meals in the cans (you can use your oven, on a grill, or if you are really adventurous and have a safe space, over an open fire with a flame). Don’t forget to open the cans. But you’re saying to yourself, “No way, I am not cooking in a can and then eating it,” you can also cook the canned food ahead of time, clean and sanitize the cans and serve the food in the cans. I suggest sterilizing them in boiling water or putting them into a dishwasher. So you have two options for still using awesome cans to serve food.

Now that we’ve handled the cans and everyone can eat out of cans while you play the game, what about food I don’t have to eat in order to eat? Maybe open up a few tins of tuna or chicken or sardines, but seriously, the sky is the limit when it comes to canned food. Even get creative and pick some “mystery” foods or through some SPAM on the barbie. You could even channel Carl, from The Walking Dead, and eat a can of pudding!

If cans aren’t you game, make some hearty food, like chili or a beef stew to keep your guests full, happy, and warm during this tumultuous time.

If you’re into themeing out your outfits, you might as well dress in a hodgepodge of warm clothing. Wear a warm, fur-lined jacket with gloves that have open finger tips. Wear those work boots you have in your mudroom and even a warm, fur-lined hat. Just ask people to dress like it was the dead of winter and it’s a zombie apocalypse.

As with any zombie game, you would tie it into any kind of zombie movie or TV marathon you wanted to do. A friend recommended Dead Snow (2009) as a great wintery zombie movie that would pair nicely with Dead of Winter, like fava beans and a nice Chianti.


I love, love, love this game. I don’t love EVERY zombie game that comes across my table, but Dead of Winter is unique in its game play. You want your characters to survive and the strategies that you plan for them to cooperate or sacrificed are incredible! The fact that you even have a traitor in your midst makes the came even more stressful, as you battle with your inner morales and values, trying to make sense of the madness that is setting in. You even end up asking yourself questions about what you would really do in this situation. You might have always thought that you would be welcoming to all who need help, but in reality, they are going to suck your resources dry and do very little to help with the survival of the colony. How do you handle that situation? It makes the issues of The Walking Dead and even LOST seem a bit more tangible in assessing your own reactions to world-altering events. A must have in your game collection, no matter what level of gamer you are.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Tabletop Season 3 Cards Against Humanity Pack

I supported Tabletop Season 3. How could I not? The actual physical rewards came today in my mailbox. I have already been recieving the digital items, such as the HD Resolution Picture of the Wall of Names!

Here is the package I got, which includes the T-Shirt, 1 set of Table Top dice, a vinal sticker, a pin, and the special Season 3 CAH cards.

Here are the CAH cards:

Friday, December 26, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: December Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 26: Fortune & Glory

Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game (2011)

My husband and I have been wanting this game since we saw it played on Tabletop. It just looked so much up our ally that we HAD to have it. When my mom wanted advice on what to get my husband for Christmas, I immediately chimed in on this particular game. One, because she wouldn't be too offended by the price option and two, because I figured she'd appreciate that it plays into one of his passions (archaeology).

A Flying Frog game (AKA - The Most Epic of Epic Components and Excessive Set-Up and Directions Checking), Fortune and Glory has you playing characters who have to accomplish tasks around the world by collecting artifacts or completing secret missions. There are two variations, the cooperative and the competitive. We opted to play cooperative tonight, since we were learning to play and thought cooperative would be better. I think next time we'll play competitive, since there's only two of us. Instead of competing against each other, we were competing against the villains. Our villains were the Mob, instead of the Nazis. No Zepplin for us.

After you learn the rules, of which there are so very many, the games moves swiftly and is really intense, even when playing cooperatively. It was neck and neck at the end where we were trying to gain the money to win and the villains were rising up to 15 on the villain track. But the nice things about it are the amount of variations and the variety that the game provides. There are several different characters to play and with the cooperative or competitive play option, it allows for great flexibility to your mood for playing.

I don't know why, but I feel like some Moroccan food would be great to pair with this game. Some dates, some olives, baklava, and maybe some green tea with mint leaves in it. Spiced nuts and other regional foods would be good. For some reason, I want anything that would inspire thoughts of Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark. You also won't have to worry about a soundtrack to go with the food and the game. Fortune and Glory provides you with a soundtrack to help you through your game play.

What makes it the most fun is adding all the flare and drama to the game. Don't just read the cards. . . READ the cards. . . BE the cards.

I am so glad we were able to add this game to our collection and I am really looking forward to more plays, especially with more people (ahem Friend Jim). So thanks Geek & Sundry, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, and Tabletop for the awesome recommendation!

A Very Gaming Christmas

We had an absolutely lovely Christmas this year. My daughter and I did Lego Advent Calendars. I got my husband two geeky ornaments, but other than that we didn't have to really make any holiday additions this year. If I'm being honest, it was a bit rough getting into the holiday this year for various reasons, so our decorating was a bit lackluster, but we had enough to make our home a cheery little place.

Christmas Eve we opened a few gifts from each other and made cookies for decorating on Christmas. Took my daughter to look at lights in the neighborhood and then it was time for bed. We set up and got things straightened out and then it was bed time. Shockingly, I was not woken up and when I came downstairs, my daughter had not ripped into any presents! Apparently Santa forgot to wrap two of her presents and she was busy playing with them.

We did some Santa present opening and then it was time to get ready for my mom to arrive. When my mom arrived, then it was PRESENT TIME! And it was epic! Friends and family had sent up gifts for us and then my mom, who always splurges at Christmas, had many gifts to share. I won't share all of it here, but I'll share our game haul, which was seriously EPIC!

Santa, though, gave our daughter the Toy Story: Land that Time Forgot toys (not ALL of them, but the primary ones). She loved  them and she got several other awesome gifts from her Meemaw. That kid is seriously spoiled and I'm at least glad to say it's not by us. Now to deal with the day-after being overly spoiled.

So here it is. . . our Family Gaming Christmas Haul!

For Our Daughter
Tales & Games: The Tortoise and the Hare
Robot Turtles
Banana Party

For My Husband
Tales & Games Three Little Pigs (technically for our daughter, but was given to daddy from her.)
Age of War
Mr. Jack
King of New York
Ca$h n' Gun$
Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
7 Wonders: Babel
Machi Koro
Fortune & Glory
Elder Sign: Unseen Forces
Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm
Team Manager – The Card Game – Sudden Death
Dixit Odyssey

For Me
Legendary: Dark City
Legendary: Fantastic Four
Dominion: Hinterlands
Sentinels of the Multiverse
Shadows over Camelot
Mage Wars
Maha Yodha
Pathfinder: The Rise of the Runelords RPG Adventure

Kickstarter Arrival on Christmas Eve
Pie Factory
Brew Crafters: The Travel Card Game
The Fittest
Isle of Trains
Easy Breezy Travel Agency

Some other awesome geeky items of note:
Bag of Holding Backpack
S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
LG Wireless Samsung Blu-Ray DVD Player
A ton of comic books my husband got for me on my kindle.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: December Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 14: BraveRats

BraveRats (2011)

What sold me on this game was the fact that the rats were Scottish. My husband and I have such an affinity for Scotland after having lived there for 3 years that this felt like the perfect little special game for my husband's stocking.

Designed by Seiji Kanai, who is also responsible for bringing us Love Letters, BraveRats is a 2 player only game of dueling cards. The winner is the first person to win 4 rounds. Quick, fast, and fun! There are red rats and blue rats that are tribes. You lay your cards facedown and then reveal, following the instructions on the cards. Unlike 12 Days, which is also focuses on dueling cards, in BraveRats you want to have the higher card in order to win instead of the lowest card.

We played several rounds, just the two of us, and it played quick and fast. There isn't a great deal of strategy involved, as the game functions one some assumed knowledge of the cards in the other person's hand and trying to play to your advantage. It can get pretty funny when you play the same card over and over again. Probably an overly romantic sign that you weren't meant to be together.

A great little game to have on your shelf, especially for a quick break fro, those heavier games that tape all your brain cells. Plus you can do everything with an adorable Scottish brogue. Boy did it make us miss Scotland... and that was just the concept, not even the game itself. Good times!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: December Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 13: Steam Park

Steam Park (2013)

Steam Park had caught my eye a while ago. It might have to do with reading Something Wicked This Way Comes, but I added it to my want list. Then we went to GenCon 2014 and I saw it set up and I was just awed by how gorgeous and magical it looked. So once again, I mentioned it to my husband and got it for St. Nick.

Essentially, you are rolling dice hoping to roll the symbols that will help you to create the best theme park. You want to make sure you keep it clean and that you attract lots of patrons. The tricky thing about the game is knowing when to expand and how to expand, because you have to place your rides in a very specific manner. Also, you want to focus on matching up the colors so that you can benefit from having locked-in patrons.

The game plays in rounds and we found the rounds went really quick! All of a sudden we had to play our last moves and collect our final winnings. The key is really to keep the dirt down, because it'll hinder you in the end. To win, you want to have made the most money. Final collections are done at the end and you also collect money at the end of each round.

It was really a lot of fun and I enjoyed the game a good bit. The artwork is wonderful, but we had some problems with punching out the pieces on the game. They weren't cut very well and some of our pieces ended up ripping slightly, despite our tender touch. We've never had a game punch out with so much difficulty before.

But once it was done, it was fun to set up and has several options for game play in the future. We played two players with the two player rules.

We made some popcorn when we played and the smell was perfect. You would also splurge and make cotton candy, or just buy some awesome fair food, like hot dogs and sugared nuts. As I mentioned earlier, there is always Something Wicked This Way Comes and it's a Disney movie. Silly, but a great trip down memory lane for the 80's generation. Another fun connection right now is to tie it into watching American Horror Story Freak Show, but that's just carnival related. Either way, theme out your game night for this with some fun carnival memories.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: December Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 12: Pathfinder Adventure Card Game - Rise of the Ruinlords

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game - Rise of the Runelords (2013)

Our friend Jim got this game for my husband last Christmas. When he came to visit that spring, the two of them went nuts playing. I was too busy with work, so I couldn't stay up ALL night playing. But when school started winding down and summer break was upon me, I wanted to start playing the game. May 30, 2014 I fell in love with Pathfinder and have been a rabid fan. Time, though, is still not on my side, so it's been somewhat slow-going in-between everything else I've been wanting to play.

Tonight, we started Adventure 5: Sins of the Saviors (2014). My character is Merisiel and my husband is Ezran. Love it! This game also led me to look into the Pathfinder RPG. I'm hoping to actually use the Rise of the Runelords adventure for my next RPG campaign and see how the card game and the RPG can overlap and support each other.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: December Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 11: Mint Tin Aliens

Mint Tin Aliens (2014)

A while ago I backed this game on Kickstarter. I am always looking for quick games that would definitely appeal to the students in my Tabletop club. So when I backed this, I backed it for 2 copies of each game. Well, David Miller contacted me to compliment my Kickstarter image and I message him back explaining I was a teacher. He then also offered me extra pieces for the copies for my kids in the club. If you have ever extensively played with kids, you know how easy it is to lose pieces, even with the most well-trained gamer. I thought this was above and beyond awesome.

Because of this great experience, I couldn't wait to play the game when I saw it had arrived in my mailbox. I rolled to choose between Pirates and Aliens and Aliens won out!

Mint Tin Aliens is a mini game in a tin with a small set of cards, 3 mini meeples, and two 10-sided dice. The dice are counters for when you cannot play a set of matching cards. The meeples are to earn points for the first and second people to collect full sets of Merit Cards. The game itself is 2 players and a set drafting game to complete goals to earn points. It plays quick but offers enough challenge to play often. The artwork is very nicely done and the cards and meeples are well made.

I am definitely looking forward to sharing this with my kids at school.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: December Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 10: Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game

Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game (2012)

Legendary is a game I've seen around for a while, but it hadn't made it onto the purchase rotation until we made it to GenCon 2014. My husband grabbed a copy and the rest is history. It became one of my new favorite games to come home to after work. It could be already set up on the table and it plays quick enough that I can have a meaningful game session and call it a day without too much stress or mental fatigue.

Like the title describes, Legendary is a Marvel Deck Building Game. Not all Legendary are Marvel, but this particular one is. Players choose a scheme, then a Mastermind. Then Villain Groups and Henchman Groups are chosen and finally your heroes. We typically randomize  what is chosen, but you can plan out your campaigns.

You start with cards that let you purchase cards (have stars with numbers in them to give you an amount) and you have cards with scratch marks that you use to battle. The amount of damage is determined by the number in the scratch marks. As you recruit heroes to help you, there might be special skills on the cards that change the damage numbers. You draw 6 cards each time and reshuffle your discard pile when you need to draw more.

At the beginning of your turn, you flip over a villain card and place it on a location. You could, instead of a villain, draw a scheme-twist card and that will cause something to happen to players, hands, or the board. Then you can choose to hire heroes from Headquarters or fight one of the villains who are in the city. When you're ready, you will want to try to fight the Mastermind before too many villains start escaping the city.

While this game plays cooperatively, the winner is determined by the amount of victory points earned after defeating the Mastermind. The points are earned through saving bystanders, defeating villains, and defeating the Mastermind. The points are listed on the cards.

Tonight, our game was made up of the following:
Super-Hero Civil War Scheme Twist
Mastermind: Magneto
Heroes: Storm, Nick Fury, Cyclops, Rogue
Villain Groups: Spider-Foes, Brotherhood
Henchman Group: Doombots 

Every time a scheme card was drawn, it scrapped all the HQ heroes cards. If we had drawn one more, we would have lost. Storm was incredibly power and gave us the attack points needed to knock out Magneto 1, 2, 3, 4, (5). We had all X-Men and Nick Fury, which was very helpful against Magneto.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: December Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 7: Ninja Dice

Ninja Dice (2013)

Ninjas are a soft spot for me. Tell me ninja and I'm immediately hooked. That doesn't mean I champion all things ninja, but I do enjoy things that utilize the concept. So when I saw Ninja Dice, I knew we needed to acquire it. Not only was it a dice game, which is something my daughter has been enjoying immensely, but it seemed to be something that would incite a few laughs.

 2-5 players compete to be the greatest ninja warrior. . . without an obstacle course. Players roll house dice to find out what the task is that they have to complete. Then they'll roll skill dice to find out how their ninja is going to complete the task. After three rounds, the player with the most coins wins. Gain coins by defeating the obstacle house. There are many outcomes that could occur, so beware as you embark on your mission.

The first round, you only use 4 house dice, then the second round you use 5 house dice and the third round you use all 6 house dice. By the second and third round you want to try to roll for buffs so you can handle multiple dice with one skill. While you're rolling to achieve the task, the other person is rolling two threat dice (in a more than 2 person game, the other players each role 1 die). These are a little tricky, because the line on the "front" of the dice shows you the area that is affected by the threat. This also applies to your buffs. I know it reads weird, but if you decide to play the game, you'll notice the lines on the dice.

It's worth getting, because it is quick and fun. Also. . . the packaging is about as adorable as it gets. Who wouldn't want a ninja "bag" to store their ninja awesomeness in!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: December Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 6: Council of Verona

Council of Verona (2013)

I had actually purchased this for my husband's stocking for St. Nick. Sadly, I filled his stocking with other awesome games and my stocking was looking a little. . . bare. . . so I slipped this into my stocking. Treat myself and all that. Like many Lit-Chicks in high school and college, we fall in love with Shakespeare, especially the tragic romances. I grew up when Romeo + Juliet came out and I fell in love with Clare Danes as Juliet, the frantic pace of Lurhman's creative vision, and the soundtrack.

This game was a no-brainer to have as an addition to my collection and, after playing it this evening, it was quick, challenging, and enjoyable. Sure it would play better with a few more people, but it played well enough for the two of us.

Based on Shakespeare's Verona, you play council members who need to mediate the Montagues and Capulets quarrel. This 2-5 player game focuses on hand management and influence token placement to gain Victory Points. The most Victory Points wins the game. Earn points by playing influence on certain characters and meet their special agenda.