Dead of Winter Strategy

Dead of Winter Strategy (To Survive The Undead!)

Dead of Winter is a zombie survival board game with co-op, individual, and saboteur objectives. To win, you need to work with other players (or against them, if you’re playing as the saboteur) while making sure you complete your own secret objectives and keeping an eye out for any treacherous activities from others. 

There are a lot of potential angles to watch, so we’ve included strategies that will help you beat the game, whether you’re playing as a functional member of the team, or a cheating, lying saboteur. 

Dead of Winter Strategy

Protect Your Best Characters

Zombie Survival Game Concept

Dead of Winter has 30+ character cards. Some survivors (cough cough… Forest Plum) are next to useless. In fact, you won’t just be willing to let the zombies take them, you will gladly welcome it. 

Other characters demand protection:

  • Loretta Clay – Sure, Dead of Winter is a zombie survival game, but the undead are rarely the cause of my demise. Hunger has been my number one killer during the zombie apocalypse. Loretta is a cook and she can provide two food every single turn, which will prove invaluable. Keep her alive at all costs.
  • Olivia Brown – With that said, the combination of zombies, frostbite, and treacherous players, means that there are plenty of ways to get hurt. Olivia Brown is your medic and she can heal a survivor once each round.
  • John Price – As a student, John is a quick study, and he can mimic the action of any character at his location. On the face of it, this doesn’t sound that great, but if he shares a location with Loretta, you can add four food tokens to the food pile. Every turn. If he’s with Olivia, that’s two characters that can be healed. 
  • Sparky – Sparky is a firm favorite in our household. He is a stunt dog, after all. Which apparently means that he can do everything a human can do. Which includes carrying a sniper rifle and other equipped items. He only needs a two to search, and although he can get injured, he won’t get infected. Ignoring the question of how he carries any equipped items in his paws, he is a really useful scavenger, especially if he is carrying blueprints.

Don’t Be Afraid To Use Item Cards

Zombie Card

After you’ve failed your first crisis, it is too easy to get carried away holding on to your item cards. After all, you never know when you might need six fuel cards to prevent a loss of two morale. But some items have a primary purpose. 

Fuel, for example, lets you move from one location to another without having to roll for exposure. If you’re heading back to the colony or to a crowded location, this can prevent a zombie infestation from wreaking havoc and decimating a throng of useful survivors. 

Just don’t forget that some secret objectives demand that you end with certain cards in your hand.

… Unless You’re The Betrayer

If you’re the betrayer, you have to reduce morale to 0, and one of the quickest ways to do that is to open the door and invite the zombie apocalypse in. Keep hold of your fuel cards, move your character back to the colony, and prepare to fake distress when you roll a zombie bite. For every survivor that falls to the undead, you will be one step closer to glory. 

There are also several betrayal cards that demand you have one or more fuel cards in your hand when the game ends. 

Two birds, one stone, no friends, and ultimate glory.

Zombie illustration

Check Where Item Cards Came From

Aside from starter items, all items come from one of the six primary locations. The location they came from is marked at the bottom of the card. 

If, during a crisis check, you find one or more cards that did not meet the criteria, and therefore caused you to fail the crisis, take a look at where those items came from. This should give you a better indication of who was guilty of the subterfuge. It’s highly unlikely that every player will have had a survivor pass through that location.

Be Mindful Of When You Check Your Objective Card

Unless you’re the betrayer, it should be easy enough to remember your objectives. The first is to win the game as a group, and there is usually one single additional objective. Try to memorize it so that you don’t have to check it every time you search the item deck or equip a card to one of your survivors. If you’re playing in an ultra-competitive group, somebody will notice, and they will take steps to prevent you from completing your objectives.

If you are the betrayer, things are a little trickier. Some of the betrayer objectives include two or three additional criteria, and some of those include multiple parts (e.g. have one food and one fuel card in your hand). You may need to check these objectives periodically, but try not to make it too obvious, lest your teammates figure out your deception and exile you before you have the chance to claim victory.

Dead of Winter Expansion

Plaid Hat Games Dead of Winter The Long Night Board Game Expansion - Post-Apocalyptic Survival Game, Strategy Game for Kids & Adults, Ages 13+, 2-5 Players, 1-2 Hour Playtime, Made

Dead of Winter – The Long Night

A standalone expansion for Dead of Winter that adds the Raxxon location and new characters.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I use noise tokens?

Noise tokens allow you to take an extra card from the item pile, which can prove useful if you’re one card off fulfilling a crisis. But you run the risk of having to add an extra zombie during the colony’s turn. If the location is already awash with the undead, it isn’t worth the risk of becoming overrun. 

Where can I get school blueprints?

Blueprints enable you to look at and keep one additional item card at the named location. All blueprints, except those for the school, are found in the library. School blueprints are found in the school itself.

How often will I find food at the grocery store?

Food is listed as the first item at the grocery store, so you should expect to find it 30% of the time.

At the top of every location card is a list of five item types that you will find in the item deck, listed in order of how often they are found. There are 20 cards in each pile. The first item is found 30% of the time (6 of 20 cards) while the second and third items are found 20% of the time (4 of 20 cards) and the fourth and fifth items are found 15% of the time (3 of 20 cards). 

Last update on 2024-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API