In Dead of Winter, players are a colony of survivors trying to survive a hazardous winter in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. A game of Dead of Winter is split between rounds, and each round is split into the action phase, and the colony phase. Within the player turns phase, a crisis is revealed at the start, which should be fulfilled and contributed towards by the players (or else bad things happen), players roll dice which represent the actions available for use by each player's group of survivors, and then in turn order, players perform their actions. Actions include, moving locations, searching a location for useful equipment, fighting a zombie, building barricades, and so on. During each turn, Crossroad cards may come into effect, triggered only if the current player has performed a certain action or a certain requirement of the situation is satisfied. These crossroad cards bring the game to life, usually pitting players or the whole colony to make an important decision. Victory within the game can be twofold. The colony as a collective has an objective they are trying to complete, but each player also controls a group of survivors that has a secret objective. Often this secret objective requires that a player help complete the colony objective. Only players who have completed their secret objective when the game ends will win. The game can end in a variety of ways: If the morale track reaches 0, if the round track reaches 0, or if the main objective is completed.