What Is Warehouse 13: The Board Game?
Warehouse 13: The Board Game is a semi or fully cooperative board game, depending on player preference. It is based on the SyFy channel show Warehouse 13 and is currently gathering funding on Kickstarter.
Warehouse 13 is a top secret government facility in South Dakota run by the Secret Service. It houses thousands of dangerous, fantastical objects which the warehouse agents risk their lives to obtain and store safely away where they cannot be used to harm others. In the game, players act as warehouse agents attempting to gather artifacts and store them safely inside the warehouse, however, in the semi-cooperative variant, one agent is working against them.
Warehouse 13: The Board Game Components
The base game contains:
- Field Agent Training Manual
- Warehouse Board
- Lost Artifacts Board
- Five Warehouse Agent Shields
- Five Warehouse Dice Covers
- 13 Clue Dice
- Three Goo Dice
- Two Warehouse Dice
- 80 Trait Cards
- 25 Stress Cards
- 39 Traitor Cards
- 13 Consequence Cards
- Five Loyalty Cards
- 20 Ability Cards
- 26 Ping Cards
- 26 Artifact Cards
- 8 Adversary Artifact Cards
- 13 Plots
- Five Warehouse Agent Tokens with Stands
- 18 Obstacles
- Five Obstacle Rings
- One Broken Gear Token
- Five Wound Tokens
At this point, the cards and board contain images taken from the TV show itself, although, as with most Kickstarters, the final artwork is subject to change. Kickstarter backers will also receive a bonus playable character, Leena, who ran Leena’s Bed and Breakfast on the show. This bonus pack will include an extra Warehouse Agent shield, four ability cards, and a character token. There are no stretch goals associated with the campaign.
How to Play Warehouse 13: The Board Game
Note: I have not yet received a review copy of the game, so I am yet to play it through myself. This section is based on a thorough read through of the official rule book which is available to read via the Kickstarter page.
Warehouse 13: The Board Game can be played either as a semi-cooperative game with three to five players or as a fully cooperative game with two to five players. In the semi-cooperative game, one player acts as a traitor working for former warehouse agent James McPherson–known as The Adversary. A game takes approximately two hours to play.
The warehouse agents can win by either:
- Retrieving three artifacts
- Stopping two plots
The traitor can win by:
- Depleting the stress deck
- Filling up the warehouse maintenance track
- Executing two plots
Starting a Game and Ping Phase
A game of Warehouse 13: The Board Game is played over a series of Episodes; during each Episode, the agent team attempt to retrieve one artifact. An Episode begins with a Ping Phase where the artifact’s location is revealed and the clue dice marked on the ping card are rolled, excluding any locked dice from previous rounds/Episodes. These dice are placed on this Episode’s artifact and become Field Clues accessible only by agents who choose to move into the field. The remaining clue dice are then rolled and placed on the area marked Leads on the main board. These leads can be accessed by any agent, whether in the field or in the warehouse.
Once the Ping Phase has been completed, the Investigation phase begins. The traitor acts first. If the traitor has not yet been revealed, they take a traitor card from the deck and resolve it. If they have, then the traitor can take an action then draw a new traitor card.
Each agent then acts in turn by performing one action from the following:
- Heal a KO or wound (mandatory if possible)
- Play an action trait
- Perform a warehouse action
- Perform a field action
- Perform a ping action
The agents may also come across obstacles that must be resolved in order to perform their actions. These can be combatted using the warehouse dice, special items, and with help from other agents.
The agent must then attempt to claim a clue die or, if this is not possible, neutralize a die for the remainder of the Episode. Finally, they draw a free trait card. Once each agent has performed these steps, the cycle begins again and repeats until all the clue dice have been claimed or neutralized. This triggers the Retrieval Phase
Each artifact displays symbols which correspond to the symbols on the clue dice. During the retrieval round, the agents secretly roll their clue dice and choose one to apply to the artifact, the traitor will roll goo dice which can be used to neutralize clue dice. If enough clues are applied to an artifact, the agents successfully retrieve that item, otherwise, it is lost to the Adversary.
After this phase, the next Episode begins. If the agents successfully retrieve three artifacts, they win the game. However, if three are lost to the Adversary, this triggers the Finale.
If the finale is triggered and the traitor has not yet been revealed, then they must do so immediately following the rules as indicated in the guide. The traitor then draws two plots and decides which one he or she wishes to play. The agents then attempt to defeat this plot using dice, exactly as they would during the retrieval phase of an Episode.
If two plots are stopped by the agents, then they and the warehouse wins the game. If two plots are successfully executed, then MacPherson and the traitor win. Game over.
Why Should You Play Warehouse 13: The Board Game?
First things first, let’s get one thing settled. This is a game for fans of Warehouse 13. Every aspect of the game is tailored around events, items, characters, and lore from the show, and many things–such as “bronzing” an agent suspected of being a traitor–are unlikely to make much sense to those who have never watched an episode*.
That being said, this is a game with enough about it to appeal to a wide variety of players, regardless of whether or not they are Warehouse 13 fans. The basic concept behind the game, “there are dangerous items in the world and we need to find them and store them away safely before the bad guys can get to them,” is a simple enough idea for anyone to understand and makes for an ideal game experience.
In many ways, the game reminds me of Elder Sign with the way players assign themselves to different areas then use dice rolls combined with their own skills, items, special abilities, and help from other players to gather the items needed to successfully win the game. I will admit that the traitor element is not something which appeals to me personally, however the immensely popular Battlestar Galactica game which employs the same mechanic has been widely praised and, if you can only play as a two or simply do not want to play with the traitor mechanic, it is simple enough to go without it.
I especially like the variety of different options available to customise the game to your own group. Not only is there the option to play with or without the hidden traitor, there is also a variant with a traitor who is revealed from the beginning, variants for both increased and decreased difficulty–perfect for tailoring the game to more or lesser experienced gaming groups–and a variant for a shorter overall game. As the rule book says, “this is your game. Play it however best suits your group’s play style.”
I very much hope that Warehouse 13: The Board Game reaches its funding target, as I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy and start snagging, bagging, and tagging some artifacts.
*Go and watch the show. Now. It’s one of the best family shows of recent times and I consider it a travesty that it never became more popular than it did.