Hi, I'm terminally gullible and I like to play Project Winter because it reminds me just how bad I am at games like this. If you're like me and you need a lot of help figuring out how not to be the first one killed, read on!
So I love games with hidden traitors. I love them because I'm terrible at them. From boardgames like Secret Hitler and The Resistance to video games like OBEY and this, I actively seek out games like this so I can try very hard and still fail.
This is not a tongue-in-cheek guide. This is an honest effort to chronicle the dumb ways in which I have gotten myself killed in Project Winter, in the firm belief that becoming an expert is simply a matter of finding all the ways to fail, and not doing those.
Being A Survivor: Food, Tools, Ore, and Wood
It's very easy to get killed being a survivor. This is because there's at least one player who can only win if you're dead. The very title survivor is a bit ironic, given how rarely I survive a game of Project Winter, but that said, let's identify some strategies I've employed and how they have failed me:
Early on, I saw I could get a chef's hat by making food. In real life, people like you when you make food for them. In Project Winter, people take your food, including the traitor, and the traitor thanks you by using your food to spend more time outside getting guns and energy drinks until they're high on Monster and ready to murder you. Don't hand out food.
After I realized what a crock making food was, I decided I'd be helpful and make some tools for people. Tools are great, tools are useful. Survivors make their own tools if they want tools. Traitors pick tools up and use them to kill you. Don't hand out tools.
After I realized what a crock making tools was, I decided to use the tools to gather raw parts. It turns out that the pickaxe is pretty easy to make and there's usually some ore just lying about near the cabin. It turns out that landmines and bear traps also need ore, and if you stock the cabin crate full of ore the traitor will just use it to make those and trap the escape route so they don't even have to try very hard to kill you. You'll survive longer, but you'll still lose. Don't hand out ore.
After I realized what a crock farming ore was, I decided to go for wood instead. Can't make traps out of wood, after all! But you can make campfire kits, which the traitor will make with your spare wood and use to to spend more time outside getting guns and energy drinks until they're high on Monster and ready to murder you. Don't hand out wood.
Being A Survivor: Scraps, Gas, and Gun Parts
After I realized what a crock farming wood was, I decided to keep the wood and ore myself and make mechanical scraps. We needed scraps to fulfill the objective, after all! People were always asking for cogs, which is I guess is easier to say than 'mechanical scraps.' There is no equivalent for 'electronic scraps.' I've tried to make 'tiny piles of blinking circuit boards' happen, but for some reason, it isn't catching on. Sometimes this tactic is VERY helpful, especially if the first objective needs cogs! Most of the time the traitor will take the cogs and use them to make gun parts, which they will then use to shoot me. Don't hand out cogs.
After I realized what a crock farming cogs was, I decided to craft chips instead. (That's what I've decided to call 'electronic scraps,' since it's a million times easier.) They can't be abused, and if they're not the main objective, you can use them to make radios, which everybody loves! Sometimes this works, if an objective needs chips, but radios aren't always as helpful because the traitors just *start* with radios, so there's a 50/50 chance you're inviting the traitors to overhear your conversations. They'll use this info to identify when you've split up, locate, and kill you. Don't farm chips.
After I realized what a crock farming chips was, I thought about farming gas, but then immediately thought better of it. Gas doesn't help the survivors at all unless it's part of an objective, and even if it is you're better off finding it in bunkers and cabins. The traitor hardly ever needs it too, so it's the resource most likely to get left behind by the traitor, so more for survivors. Plus gas needs berries, which people need to live anyway. Don't farm gas.
After I realized what a crock farming gas was, I decided to just make gun parts. As long as they weren't the first objective, cogs weren't doing us much good, and the traitor was going to hoard them to make gun parts anyhow. It turns out, though, that cogs are a pretty common objective, and using them to craft gun parts is way more inefficient than just going around in bunkers and cabins and finding them. Even if you do manage to craft a gun, chances are the traitor A) also has a gun by now, B) has more health than you thanks to energy drinks, and C) has had time to lay traps and do devious things. Don't farm gun parts.
Being A Survivor: Even More Ways to Fail
After I realized what a crock going with a single, item-focused strategy was, I sat down and had myself a good long think. (My good friend whiskey helped out a bit.) I realized that this game maybe wasn't so simple as to enable easy survivor wins by just blindly making one item. That would've been nice. Also, other people kept killing me, often while I was minding my own business. So I decided screw other players, it was time for me to shine. I didn't need them. I didn't need anyone. I had a pickaxe, I could find the objectives, and I could source the parts myself. Time to lone wolf it up. Except... I wasn't very efficient. I could solo the first objective, but at some point people would accuse me of being the traitor because I was out on my own, or the real traitor would find me all alone and shoot me, or a bear or pack of wolves would tear me limb from limb. I would die alone, again and again. Don't try to go it alone.
After I realized what a crock trying to play a team game like it was singleplayer was, I noticed other survivors were occasionally actively recruiting others to follow them over to bunkers and cabins instead of sitting outside the cabin farming and crafting, and that seemed way more exciting. So, I decided to follow other survivors around and help them access stuff! This was a pretty solid strategy which got me my first survivor win- other survivors were better than me at the game, seemed to amass guns quickly, knew where stuff was, and knew how to spot traitors. I was useful to the survivors' cause by opening stuff and by carrying extra scraps for objectives. Plus I learned an awful lot by just following people around like a lost puppy. I was still losing more than I was winning, but at least I was occasionally winning!
I wasn't taking the bonus objectives, though. I was not brave enough for those. They all seemed counter-productive, and while they seemed to be worth a lot, mostly I wasn't nearly good enough to achieve an objective *and* survive until escaping. I had enough trouble just following people around, being useful, and not getting shot by traitors or triggering landmines. Also, sometimes I followed a traitor and befriended them, which really meant I was placing my trust in someone who would repay me in bullets. Don't just blindly trust whoever talks to you.
After I realized what a crock trusting people blindly was, I decided to really dig into this game and be a little more flexible than going in with a set strategy. If people were looking to open bunkers, I helped open bunkers. If nobody seemed particularly friendly, I made a tool and gathered some scraps until people felt more talkative. Sometimes I even went looking for a bunker, then asked people to help me open it, as though I was good at the game and knew what I was doing. Here are some other things I learned not to do, usually by getting killed:
- Don't give people guns.
- Don't announce you're low on health and need to go find some herbs.
- Don't offer to stay behind in the cabin and call for the rescue by yourself if you're not already near the cabin.
Being a Survivor: Etiquette
In addition to learning how to avoid poor play, I also (started) to learn how to avoid poor manners! There's an existing culture and set of behaviors which, while not a hard-and-fast set of rules to follow, would've been nice to know going in, and would've prevented me getting needlessly killed by other survivors:
- Don't make a bunch of radios and hand them out to just anyone. It makes you look like a traitor for handing out radios!
- Don't take the solo escape pod. It makes it more difficult for the remaining survivors!
- Don't accidentally punch people while gathering ore at the start. Experienced players know better than to stand near someone while punching!
- Don't fire a shotgun at an animal who is in melee with another survivor. Collateral damage is frowned upon!
- Don't craft a bunch of things just to see what they do- some things, like smoke grenades, are pretty much only useful for traitors, and will make you look super shady!
- Don't vote to exile people without talking it over first. The traitors might jump on just to exile someone, and the other players might assume there's a valid reason to exile, thus exiling a perfectly innocent person over nothing!
- Don't joke about being a traitor, loudly announce you're a traitor, or pretend to chase someone with an axe above your head. It seems like fun, but people often take this game fairly seriously and will take a 'better safe than sorry' approach that will leave you dead. I haven't done this, but I've seen others do it.
- Don't initiate take-off from an escape vehicle if you're not certain every survivor is on board! Once you're in the vehicle, you're completely safe, and your warmth and hunger won't decrease, so there's no reason not to wait until the very last minute to take off. (Except the escape pod. That can be sabotaged. If the helicopter or submarine or caterpillar can also be sabotaged, please let me know.)
- Once the first objective is completed, don't enter the building to place traps or mines! Often people will place traps or mines just inside the doorway, or they will guard it until someone else can trap/mine it, so you will look like a traitor and you might even die to the mines. Even if you're a survivor, nobody will believe you, and you will die while everyone dislikes you.
- Don't take other people's farmed stuff! If someone spent the time on cutting a tree down and you swoop in and grab their wood, they will be mad, and might even call you a traitor. If they want you to take it, they'll probably tell you well before they finish.
Being a Traitor: Dying the Hard Way
So sometimes, fairly infrequently, you'll end up as a traitor. You'd think this was a very easy way to die, being outnumbered and all, but since they have no idea who the traitor is, survivors will frequently decide to do any of the silly things I've mentioned earlier and forget all about the objective, which means you might not have to do any sneaky stuff at all! Just wait, and sometimes the survivors will accuse each other and get guns and shoot each other to death and fail the objective all on their own. Even if the survivors do succeed, they might not kill you! Your death, unlike theirs, is not required. It's just an optional sidequest they have no obligation to undertake and will probably forget about once they get to killing each other. Really, even just taking one of the total crock strategies will make you look like a vaguely inept survivor and people probably won't suspect anything. Here's some dumb strategies that will probably work until people wise up:
- Farming gun parts is great because it uses up wood and ore and makes you look like a helpful gatherer and by the time people figure out what's going on, you've probably got a gun!
- Farming radios is great if electronics isn't the first objective because if everyone has a radio, everyone will use the radio! Be sure to give people the same color radio you already have. Plus you can just say you're doing the helper progression, that'll work for a couple games!
- Opening bunkers with people is great because you can nab mines and gun parts without having to craft them! Nobody else wants them, and nobody else will see your cool swag unless you pull it out and show everyone!
That said, here's some good ways to get killed real fast:
- The first time I tried to be a traitor, I opened a traitor crate during a mega-blizzard. Turns out people inside the cabin could totally hear it, so they just waited outside the cabin for me to come out and beat the everliving snot out of me. Don't open crates unless you're certain nobody can hear you, or if you know you can get away before anyone starts identifying you positively.
- The second time I tried to be a traitor, I made an axe and waited for people to head out alone with me. They ran away because melee weapons aren't great for that unless they're already low enough health to die in one or two swipes, they ran back to base and told everyone, and I got hunted down pretty fast. Don't openly aggro with just a melee weapon unless you're very, very good at it.
- The third time I tried to be a traitor, I took a bonus objective and explained that I was just doing my bonus objective. Turns out, some bonuses are traitor-only! Oops. Don't announce your bonus objective if you take one.
- If someone suddenly comes on the radio and you don't recognize their voice as that of the other traitor, definitely don't say 'hi, you finally got a radio, awesome!' They've probably taken precautions, and will realize that you had a radio long before it was cool. I've pegged a traitor that way. Nobody believed me, because I'm not real good at this and I was the one picking up the radio, but I still figured it out.
And here's one way to get killed real slow:
- If you don't actually do anything traitorish and you wait until the very last minute to use your one gun and shoot people as they're escaping, they've all probably got guns and will mow you down. Maybe pick some people off before the very end, don't wait until they've completed the second objective, called for a rescue, and made it to the helipad.