RogerBW's Blog

Warehouse 13 Game 16 September 2017

Here's another boardgame kickstarter that may be of interest, based on a television series I quite enjoyed.

Warehouse 13 The Board Game, ending on 28 September, seems on the face of it like a decent design. It's very thematic (even breaking down play into "Episodes", individual artefact hunts, within a "Season"), and the plan is to drench it in imagery from the TV show; this worked well for Firefly.

I haven't heard of the designers (Michael Aldridge, Russell Rupe, and M. Shawn Smith II) before, and this is the first design for two of them; Rupe has a few other credits, though nothing I've heard of. And that may be why, although it looks good, I'm not particularly sold on this design; it's a combination of things that work well in other games, and things that I don't like the look of.

The core mechanic seems similar to part of London Dread: you take actions to accumulate dice (clues), and eventually you roll the clues to try to win the round (retrieve the artefact). Unfortunately I get the same negative feelings from that which I did with the other game: you can play perfectly and still lose because of dice luck, which seems like a bit of a shame.

One player has to sit out and be the Adversary – not a bad mechanic in itself (see the Marshal in Colt Express), but it looks as though they're mostly playing a different resource-management game that only touches the main gameplay at a few points.

And there's a traitor. There's always a traitor, rather than leaving room for the possibility that everyone's loyal (as Shadows Over Camelot and Dead of Winter do); eventually they'll be revealed, and all the clues they've been building up are lost. (There's a variant with no traitor or Adversary, but this clearly isn't the way the game is meant to be played.)

Again as in Shadows over Camelot, there are lots of things going on at once, and any of them can win the game for the Adversary. Apart from the basic artefact hunt, there's a Stress Deck which can run out, a Warehouse Maintenance track which can fill up, and Plots for the Adversary to try to complete. Everything eats resources, and the agents will never have enough.

None of these mechanics seems terrible in itself, but, well, I've seen Shadows and played London Dread, and in particular I own Dead of Winter already… and Who Goes There? is on order. This probably isn't a terrible game, but it has a few things that rub me wrong, and it doesn't look different enough from games I already own to be worth the roughly £45 for the Kickstarter.

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