There are many board games marketed towards families at the holidays that truly embrace those themes. Now the holidays are over, all the kids are gone, it’s still too cold to go outside, and there’s still a month or so left of winter. Thus, we have compiled a list of winter-themed board games, in order of overall rank by our friends at BoardGameGeek, that help you feel the chill while keeping you safe and warm indoors.
1. Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game is a survival horror board game for two to five players, set during a dismal winter in a disease-ridden, post-apocalyptic colony. Gameplay is “meta-cooperative,” meaning that the players need to work together to win the game, but there is a twist: each player has a secret objective that they must complete, as well. This mechanic brings bluffing and betrayal into play: one of the secret objectives is to sabotage the group! The players must keep their characters alive by moving pieces around the board, rolling dice, and picking up cards to find food and supplies. You must also beat back the zombie invasion that is shambling its way into your colony
2. Snow Tails
In Snow Tails, two to five players play as sledders who control a sled of huskies and race against each other along a track to reach the finish line. Players draw from their “Dog Decks” and play cards to increase their dogs’ speed, which not only enables the sled to go faster but also allows you to steer by increasing the speed of one of your dogs. You must be careful, however—move too quickly around corners, make a sharp turn into another player or off the board, and you could crash and take damage. The board is composed of modular track pieces, so you can create many different types of racetracks: you can make one only from straight lines, add multiple winding curves, or throw in obstacles such as chasm pieces or forest pieces on which you place cute, little tree-shaped figures that your sleds must avoid or risk damage.
3. Arctic Scavengers
Arctic Scavengers is a deck-building game set in a snowy, post-apocalyptic wasteland where 90% of all human life is dead. Two to five players each lead their own gang of survivors, which functions as their deck. The goal is to have the most humans in your deck by the end of the game, achieved by adding cards to your deck from the shop, using your existing cards to search through the junkyard pile, or building up the most combat points to beat other players in skirmish battles and win contested resources. To gain an edge in the game, your gang members can use tools to increase their stats, thereby letting you draw more cards or increase your combat points, for example.
4. Winter Tales
Another thematic board game, Winter Tales is a storytelling game along the lines of Once Upon a Time, but with an even more competitive, confrontational spin. In this game, three to seven players separate into two teams (the evil Winter versus the good Spring) to control classic fairy tale characters. Players move their characters around the board and complete quests using narrative cards to tell the story of how they achieved victory—but the opposing team will be able to play their own narrative cards to try to turn the story in their favor. Visually, the game’s pale, colorless board and gaunt, morose characters chills you to the bone.
5. Dwar7s Winter
A sequel to the game Dwar7s Fall and its own standalone game, Dwar7s Winter is a deck-building, resource management, worker placement game in the style of tower defense in which players must work together to protect their dwarven kingdom—yet the ultimate goal is to gain more victory points than the other players. Gameplay is separated out into seven weeks, and each week winter’s monsters spawn and move closer. One to four players can prepare their hands, hire heroes to add to their decks, and use heroes to gain resources or defeat enemies. Also, the multitude of highly detailed miniatures is worth a look alone.
Winter is Here
Whether set in fantasy winter wonderlands or arctic, post-apocalyptic badlands, these games immerse you in the season, and you never even have to take a step outside—which is just as well, because there could be zombies out there.