This game follows the lives of six French soldiers in the trenches of the Great War. Can the constant threat of ‘going over the top’, shelling by artillery, mustard gas and the miserable weather destroy their friendship?
The short answer is yes. Yes it can. Mostly because they all die! And that seems like a very permanent friendship ending sort of arrangement.
This is probably the hardest most impossible game I’ve ever played. Weirdly that doesn’t make it any less fun. I had a really great time.
For me this game meant a faux French accent and quoting Top Secret while laughing at the insane difficulty level (and at my own jokes)
To start everyone gets a Frenchman and two support tokens. (The coffee cups) The first player is decided by the hairiest player. (Go figure)
Gustaves sense of snow
The game is pretty simple. But deadly. You draw from a card from the mission deck and set it down in the middle of the table.
This card for example adds an extra whistle to the card row. This mission means two cards are dealt to each player for the round from the morale deck. (Plus whatever cards you still have left over from previous rounds)
Players in turn have to add cards to the row. If you ever get more than three cards of one ‘type’ the mission fails and a whole bunch of extra cards are added to the stack. The point of the game is to reduce the stack to zero. If you run out of cards to add, or any player gets four card effects (like a physiological or psychological condition) everyone dies and the game is over.
For example in this round there are two whistles, two gas masks, one shell, and two night time cards and two snow cards (one because Gustave picked up a trauma card which adds a snow). Putting down another gas mask, whistle, night time or another snow card will fail the mission.
It sounds like a super simple premise…. but it’s really hard since you can’t strategize amongst yourself what cards you have in your hand and it’s really easy to quickly rack up a TPK (total party kill)
Once a player decides he can’t add anymore cards to the row without risking everyone’s demise he withdraws his character from the battlefield. Once everyone withdraws that mission is over.
Once back in the trenches you can support another character (with hot coffee). That player can remove some card effects on his character card, like Gustaves snow phobia and potentially get a ‘rousing speech’ token which can remove some card effects during the game.
There are a couple of other nuances, but those are the basic mechanics.
It’s a really quick, fun, cooperative game. I give this game a friendship ending rating of
*The cooperative Mage Knight rates 1/5 for losing friends, while Dead of winter will make you deeply suspicious of the people you’ve known and trusted for years and rates a whopping 4/5.
I highly recommend this game. Even if it does seem impossible to actually win.