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Dead Of Winter Board Game Variants

Dead of Winter (read our Dead of Winter review) is usually played as a semi-cooperative game. When handing out secret objective cards, you add two non-betrayal objectives per player, plus one betrayal objective card. Players then take one of the secret object cards at random. As such, there is a less than 50% chance of there being a betrayer in a single game. Because the objectives are kept secret from other players, nobody but the betrayer knows if there is a betrayer in the players’ midst.

Dead Of Winter Objectives

When choosing objective, players can choose which one they want to play or draw one randomly, typically opting for the normal difficulty.

2 Player Variant

The rules for the two player variant are basically the same as for any player count, but deal seven starting items to both players, instead of the usual five. And players keep three of four survivor cards handed out at the beginning of the game.

Co-Operative Variant

Although Dead of Winter is meant as a semi-cooperative game, you can play it full co-op. Look for the cards that have the non-co-op logo in the bottom corner. It is a white square in a red circle, with a line through it. There are survivor and crossroads cards that need removing. To play co-operatively, you don’t deal any objectives cards and you should use the hardcore side of the main objective. There’s no exile, even if it would benefit the group.

No Betrayer Variant

In the co-operative variant, there is no betrayer, but there are no secret objectives either. Either all players win or all players lose. In the no betrayer variant, don’t add a betrayer card but still choose a random secret objective to each player. Don’t vote to exile players. There is no risk of a betrayer thwarting the group’s efforts, but there is still the risk that some players won’t win even if the main objective is successfully completed.  

Betrayer Variant

The betrayer variant increases the chance of their being a betray. Where you would normally shuffle two non-betrayer cards per player, only shuffle one per player, and then add a random betrayal objective card. There is a very high chance that there will be a betrayer in the game. You could even remove one of the non-betrayer cards so you’re guaranteed to have a betrayer.

Hard Variant

There are two sides to the main objective card. As well as the normal difficulty, there is a hardcore side. If you find you’re regularly beating the normal side, flip the objective card and play the harder difficulty.

Elimination Variant

I’m not a fan of elimination games. It’s not fun if you’re eliminated halfway through the game and everybody else plays on. But you might like elimination games. In the elimination variant of Dead of Winter, if a player loses their last named survivor, they are eliminated from the game rather than taking another survivor and playing on.

Solo Variant

Plaid Hat Games designed Dead of Winter as a game for two to four players but with a little manipulation, you can play it solo. Use one hardcore main objective and one non-betrayal secret objective card. Remove all the non-co-op logo cards and give yourself 10 starting items. Choose 6 survivors from a selection of eight and use two action dice plus one for each survivor. You won’t be able to use crossroads cards and, obviously, you can’t vote to exile yourself. When it comes to crises and objectives, treat them as though there are two players. So, you will need to gather two food, gas, etc…

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