I recently had the privilege to play a prototype version of Warehouse 13: The Board Game with the developers Shawn Smith, Michael Aldridge, and Russ Rupe. We also, and here’s the really fun part, had the pleasure to play with Pete Lattimer himself, Eddie McClintock.
Warehouse 13: The Board Game has been in the works for roughly four and a half years according to Shawn Smith; furthermore, it has been a joint project of Infinite Dreams Gaming and Conquest Gaming. When I asked why Shawn had been drawn to Warehouse 13, in particular, he told me that it was one of the first shows he watched that just screamed “I’m a game” to him. And honestly, the game that he and his team created is incredibly true to the show and excellent for hardcore and casual fans alike.
The game is one-part co-op and one-part hidden identity; players will take on the roles of the Warehouse agents but one of you will be a traitor working for the dubious, James MacPherson. There are multiple ways that the either the loyal agents or the traitor can win. The loyal agents can win by retrieving three artifacts or by stopping two plots. The traitor can win by depleting the deck of stress cards, finishing out two plots, or destroying the Warehouse.
Players can choose one of six characters to play and then they will receive a loyalty card (in the same vein as Resistance or Secret Hitler). Only they will know where their loyalty lies until the traitor is caught. Playable characters include: Myka, Pete, Artie, Leena, Claudia, and Jinks. Unfortunately, H.G. Wells is not playable but that does not mean that she couldn’t get her own expansion at some point. For the six characters that are playable, each person has their own assets, traits, and abilities that can help or hinder the team. Once the player characters are chosen that will determine which player goes first. If Artie is in play then he will always be the first agent to go but if he is not, it goes to Myka, and then to Pete and so-on. Once the first agent is determined, it will move clockwise from there.
Each game is played in a series of Episodes, the first agent rotating per Episode, and five will culminate in a Season. Each Episode will consist of a Ping Phase, Investigation Phase, Retrieval Phase, and a Cleanup Phase. This is important to remember since each character has a “Once Per Episode” and “One Per Season” ability. The One Per Episode will be refreshed during the Cleanup Phase and lead into the next Episode, whereas the Once Per Season can only be used once during the entire game.
The Episodes all start with the Ping Phase; this is where players will draw a location card and roll the clue dice as indicated. Each location card will have a certain amount of colored dice featured on it. These dice will be used to guard the artifact while the rest will become clues within the Warehouse; which, you will want to pace yourselves on collecting. If you collect all the Warehouse clues before the artifact clues then you will receive the negative effect on the artifact card, should there be one.
After the Ping Phase, you will move onto the Investigation Phase. At the beginning of each Investigation Phase, your adversary, MacPherson, will get a turn. This just means that a traitor card is drawn and played immediately. If the traitor is known by this point then they will get to draw and play an action if they would like to. Then, all agents will get to take an action, starting with the first agent. This action can be to heal, use a card’s action, use a Warehouse action, use a field action, travel, or perform a ping action (if there is one). Once all players have taken their action then they will move onto working the case. Working the case means that all players must use a card to obtain a clue or the clue will be neutralized in goo. To obtain clues, a player must use a card of the same color with a number equal to or greater than the clue die. The goal here is to get as many dice as possible in the hands of loyal agents; this is especially difficult when you’re not aware of who the traitor is. Once everyone is done working the case, the Investigation Phase will draw to a close and each player draws one card in one of their focus traits (listed on their character sheets). However, everyone’s hands will cap at thirteen.
Now that all the players have their dice, you will move onto the Retrieval Phase. During this phase, at least one or more agents MUST be in the field to retrieve the artifact and stop it from going into the hands of MacPherson. In this phase, all players will roll their dice to try and match what’s listed on the artifact. Everyone will take turns doing this until all the dice are used. Now, during this time, MacPherson will roll purple dice to try and counteract other players. The purple dice can neutralize most dice (save for Claudia’s green dice) if it matches one of the player’s rolls. If the traitor has been revealed then they will roll in place of MacPherson. This is often tough because MacPherson only rolls one die, whereas the traitor will roll all three purple dice and choose which one to play (but they will lose the die once it neutralizes another die). If the conditions are met, then the artifact can be retrieved for the Warehouse unless the ONLY agent in the field is the unrevealed traitor; they can then make the choice to reveal themselves and take the artifact straight to MacPherson. So, I recommend more than one agent being in the field at any given time.
Ending the game can happen in a multitude of ways as stated earlier. So, if three artifacts have been lost to MacPherson then the end of the game will commence and the traitor is required to reveal themselves. This will kick off the finale and the use of Plot cards. This will mean that the traitor draws a plot, allocates dice, places any negative effects in play, and then actions will be taken. This part is tricky for the agents because every time an agent takes an action, the traitor will get to either draw a card or take another action. Once all actions are taken, the players will get to draw one focus trait card and then it will move on to players attempting to stop the plot. Stopping the plot is exactly like the Retrieval Phase and any cards that can be used during Retrieval can be used to help Stop the Plot. If the agents stop two plots then the Warehouse wins. If MacPherson succeeds at two plots then the traitor wins.
I ended up getting to play the game about three times with these guys and their passion for the show and game is contagious. I only watched two seasons of the show religiously but I found myself enjoying the references, the different artifacts, and the many jokes about whether or not Pete licked it. It made me sad that it’s no longer available on Netflix and that I can’t find a way to binge the whole show (at least not legally).
Overall, I had an excellent time getting to play the game and really enjoyed what Shawn, Mike, and Russ had managed to create. The game is an excellent homage to the show and it is very reminiscent of games like the Battlestar Galactica Board Game. It’s incredibly smooth, streamlined, and the rules never get too complicated. It seems like a lot at the start but once you get into the thick of it, it becomes easy for players to follow. I cannot wait to see a finalized version of this game and I’m looking forward to seeing what Infinite Dreams Gaming and Conquest Gaming can produce in the future! This game receives a solid 10 out of 13 artifacts.
Be sure to check out the game on their website and be looking forward to new updates and a possible Kickstarter page!
Are you excited for a Warehouse 13 board game? Which character would you want to play? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured & Blog Image Credit: Blythe Wiedemann, Infinite Dreams Gaming/Conquest Games, and NBC Universal
Editor’s note: Stills from the show are subject to change based on the availability of high resolution copies from NBC.