Finally, after months of waiting, the few survivors left in Carroll County, NH, sat down to play their first round of Dead of Winter. Newbie mistakes accrued like zombies, but what mattered most were a morgue, a pilot and an unexpected supply drop. (Warning: Spoilers for Crossroad cards follow, obviously. Also note that we played the German version of the game and I tried to translate the cards as best I could. Some cards or effects may actually be called something else in the English version.)
Everything started so well. We needed to get nine more samples of zombie blood to figure out why the dead kept rising. David Garcia was about to get them on his own. He had found a shotgun near the police station and was now ready to make noise, attract zombies and shoot them down two at a time. A perfect plan to get the samples he needed in no time.
Unfortunately, elsewhere, Jenny Clark was mugged by some strangers. (Crossroads alarm!) It turned out that they were a group of police officers and they keys to the police station arsenal. All they asked in exchange was that we kept the zombies off their backs. A high price to pay, but worth it. At least that’s what she thought at the time. It turned out that all that was left of the arsenal was one meek pistol. Perfect for Jenny, she had wanted this all along (Secret goal alarm!), but now we were stuck with the protection of three separate locations as well as the task to find samples.
But David with his shotgun could take care of that as well, right? If only he hadn’t gone down to the morgue. (Crossroads alarm!) David looked into the cooler and found a head … without a body. At least it was on ice, no worries then. But when the head started attacking him, he stumbled backwards, shocked. He pulled down the shelves at the side of the room. He had meant to make noise to attract some zombies, but not like that. When he returned to the entrance, it was swarming with zombies. First he lost his shotgun, then his life. So much for a great plan.
Luck would have it that right then a helicopter crashed outside the colony. (Crossroads alarm!) A woman was inside, Sophie the pilot. But more importantly, the helicopter was stashed with stuff. Still recouping from David’s death, we did what only a monster would. We left Sophie to die. Just then the Walking Dead soundtrack we had on repeat at the colony was playing “Sophia”. For a moment it felt like our morale dropped all the way down to zero. We felt miserable doing what we did, but the sniper rifle was just too good to ignore.
After having been able to avert a food crisis at the colony, we ran into more zombie trouble. To prevent it, we needed fuel. (Crisis alarm!) But reckless as we were, we had wasted too much on driving around, looking for stuff. There was no way, we could find enough fuel by the end of the day. Zombies kept coming, first three, then six, then twelve. A couple of barricades prevented most harm, but after David had died, so had Jenny and Jenny’s beau, sheriff Daniel Smith. Our morale was dangerously low.
Principal Thurston was no help at all. At least that’s how it seemed. He spent all the time outside the colony, looking for … something. We were sure he was following his own secret plans, but nobody knew what it was. He certainly couldn’t help out at the colony. It was left in the hands of Mike Cho, his rifle and of caretaker Brandon Kane.
That was when we heard a knock outside. We opened the door and let in a helpless little creature, a scared girl of eight years, and … Forest Plum. (Event card alarm!) They had run into each other just a mile from our old warehouse. With too many of us dying we needed the support, but had we known it was that dreaded mall santa, we would have chosen differently. Immediately he suggested some outrageous plan of ringing a Christmas bell to attract zombies elsewhere. (Crossroads alarm!) How and why it would help, we didn’t understand, but we decided, politely, to ignore him. Instead, we planned feverishly to get rid of him, but before we got there, we heard another noise up in the sky. (Crossroads alarm!) A huge airplane flew over the forests, and suddenly it dropped something. Some of us cowered in fear, but it turned out to be a blessing. A package filled with food. We sent Forest out into the forest to pick it up. He did it surprisingly easily, not a scratch on him. Annaleigh Chan translated the Chinese symbols on the box for us: It was part of a support convoy from China. Our morale lifted and we were happy for the first time in weeks.
Of course, after that, we kicked Forest out of the colony and morale lifted even higher.
But from then on everything went downhill. The colony was swarming with zombies and some of us didn’t make it. Principal Thurston tried to get back to the colony – with all entrances bubbling with zombies, why now?! What’s his plan? – but we were able to change his mind. “For the good of the colony,” we said. Andrew Evans made it out to the grocery store and somehow managed to find enough food to avert another crisis all by himself, but then he got himself in a jam with more and more zombies piling up outside. Morale started dropping again and despite Mike’s best efforts we only got one more usable sample from the horde, thanks to – of all people – caretaker Kane. If it wasn’t for him, we probably would have given up in that dirty warehouse, covered in trash and pieces of rotting zombie toes, with no scientist around to really know what to do with them anyway. Who had come up with the idea to go out hunting for samples anyway?!
We failed. But you know what? This was one failure that had us coming back for more. But next time we’ll bring more fuel and try not to make such a racket.