Type: Co-Operative / Tile Placement

Time to play: < 30 minutes (Teaching: 5 minutes)

Best played with: 2-4 players (Best with 2)

In the Dead of Winter series you get the full experience of the zombie apocalypse; from the outbreak of the disease to the latest war between colonies in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Raxxon takes place right at the start of that sequence, and despite being only released by special promotion codes it looks like it’s set to go to full retail release later this year.

So what is this game, and why the special launch? Well, it’s a basic tile placement game where you manipulate the small grid or crowd to evacuate the healthy and either kill or contain the disease. That all sounds nice and easy, but the characters you and the team you are in are quite limited. Each attempt will take days to manipulate the crowd, and all the time the virus will grow and the power of Raxxon, the “benevolent” sponsor of this effort, will grow. If either of these threats gets out of hand, you and your team will lose.

This is a smart game of tough choices and all this happens in a relatively short play time. Each day you have a new crowd, and each day you need to clear the healthy ones. There’s a few ways to approach it and enough different characters to give you some variation in path selection. Plus, like any good co-op/solo game, this game can be made more difficult with a simple change to the set up.

Taking just the basic game mode (there’s more online from the publisher) this gives you a nice filler game which always feels in your control. There’s luck to the draw, but there’s so many ways to manage the cards that turn up, you feel that any win or loss is owed to skill and not just the turn of the cards.

The game adds to the basic swapping cards, removing cards and adding cards buy limiting each type of action and adding consequences that re-occur based on your choices. This light system of tracking and limiting choices pushes you to solve the puzzle quickly and efficiently each time.

If all of that sounds good, then perhaps you are wondering the downside? Well before the retail launch occurs; the cost for shipping for what was a reasonably priced game was a significant one. Now that’s in the past, the main issue is the replay-ability of the game. The puzzle is interesting but it’s short and whilst I have not gotten to the end of the replay value of this game, I am close.

It’s also notable that turning up the difficulty on this game doesn’t change the mechanics, or bring a new level of challenge; it brings more infected into the game. This is harder, but the concept is the same, the card counting likewise. Even the archetype of disease control, Pandemic, feels a bigger step change when you add that last epidemic.

So all-in-all, its a well balanced, highly enjoyable filler game. However, it’s value for money for the games you get, and a good limited action mechanic.

Last notes:

  • If you like quick co-operative games with easy to explain mechanics and a part of the zombie apocalypse universe
  • If you want to get a game that’s going to last through the years and give a more comic / challenging experience – I would stick with the other Dead of Winter titles
  • If you win at this game, try switching a few of the characters around and going again!