SNAP Review – Winter
Anitra, it’s cold outside.
This week, winter began. Puddles are frozen in the mornings, sometimes thawing during the day, but they’re frozen in the morning again. It’s cold, and the air is frosty. Actually, it’s a perfect time to pull out Winter!
Winter is an abstract strategy game for two players that captures the freeze and thaw cycle of a mid-winter day. It was created by siblings Maria Blasco and Enrique Blasco. This version is published by Devir.
The box says it’s appropriate for ages 8 and up, and it takes about 10 minutes to play.
So Anitra, it’s art time! Let’s talk about the art.
I love the art on the box. It makes me think of a peaceful walk in a snowy winter wonderland… the kind that lasts for about 10 minutes before you’re either cold or wet.
Winter is a micro-game with just 18 cards and some tokens. And while the illustrations are simple – just two sets of snowflakes – they have detail and depth that keep the game visually interesting.
Each of the 18 cards has four snowflakes on it, but the arrangement of light and dark flakes varies by card.
So Andrew, what are the mechanics of the game?
You play Winter over two rounds. But before getting started, you need to decide which player will use the light blue snowflakes and which player will use the darker blue snowflakes.
In the first round, we are “freezing”. On your turn, you may either take a card from the deck and place it next to other cards on the table, or, if there are four snowflakes in your color forming a square, you may place one of your tokens in the middle of that square – covering the border between at least two cards.
And that’s it – players continue the freezing round until the last card is played onto the table. Now it’s time to thaw.
In the thawing round, there are no more cards to place. Instead, players may either remove one of their own tokens (and return it to their stash), remove an open card (which discards it from the game), or move an open card and place a token.
If you choose to move a card, you must move it to a place where it will complete at least one square of snowflakes in your color. Then put a snowflake token on the newly created square (or squares).
If removing an open card orphans some of the board, the smaller section of the board that’s left simply goes away – tokens, cards, and all.
The game ends when one player is forced to remove their last token from the board.
So Anitra, what did we expect from Winter? Other than it being cold.
I generally like the light card games I’ve seen from Devir. And an 18-card game that’s not about plants or animals or buildings? It sounded fun.
It seemed simple enough from a component perspective, but when I started flipping through the rules I was actually kind of worried. I was afraid this was going to be some simple looking game with a lot of weird, twisted up mechanics.
You see those a lot with 18-card games.
I know, right?
So, what surprised us about this game?
I absolutely love the freeze-thaw-refreeze cycle depicted in this game. Living in New England, it is true to what we see for much of the winter – every time the ice thaws, less of it freezes back, as a reminder of spring.
I found out that Winter is the first in a series of seasonal games by the Blasco siblings, and I can’t wait to see the rest of them!
I do think the players playing this game should be mindful to not necessarily play to a stalemate – this is a game, you’re trying to have fun!
At some point someone needs to be aggressive or make a move that doesn’t perpetuate the standoff. (Remove more cards!) Sometimes those aggressive moves can pay off – maybe if you’re a better planner than me you can make them pay off more consistently than they did [for me].
This kind of strategy makes so much sense for an 18 card game, though. If there were more cards, this game would last forever. So I think it’s just the right size.
So Andrew, do we recommend Winter?
I don’t know if we could recommend “winter” – maybe not the season.
But we’d recommend the game Winter as a great, short, head to head game. It’s perfect for short bursts of time, whether you’re at home or on the go.
And with only three rules and no text, it’s a great fit for kids who want a strategic game but struggle with reading. Or a couple on a cozy date at a warm coffee shop.
We are going to rate Winter four and a half snowflakes out of five.
And that’s Winter, in a SNAP!
Find Winter on Amazon, direct from Devir Games, or at your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Winter from Devir Games for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Number of Players: 2
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: ~10 minutes