Theme and What is it?
You are a wealthy collector bidding on these relics from history, and you long for these treasures. You dream of riding the magic carpet, while wearing the golden fleece and wielding excalibur. Be careful, though, some items were swapped for counterfeits.
In the beginning of the game, depending on the number of players, a number of counterfeit cards are laid between each player. You can look at the cards to your left and right in order to know what cards in the actual relic deck not to bid on. Counterfeit relics do not score points for your sets. Also, you start the game with 10 ingots each worth a billion dollars!
Starting with the youngest player, and the auction winner on subsequent rounds, a card is flipped from one of the four decks and an auction will commence. There are two types of auctions, determined by a symbol on the card. The first type is an open auction where, starting with the player to the left and working clockwise, players bid or pass until all but one player has passed. The second auction type is a closed auction in which all players place as many ingots in their hand as they wish to bid and simultaneously open their hands to find the highest bidder with the tie-breaker going to the closest bidder, clockwise, to the card-revealer starting with the card revealer. Finally, the auction winner pays their ingots to the player to their left.
Play continues until all cards have been drawn and all actions have been resolved.
The fanboy in me started coming out as I fanned through the cards, seeing Mjöllnir, Aladdin’s Lamp and Pandoras Box. I couldn’t wait to try to own them.
Quality of Components and Insert
As I already mentioned, the cards and chits are lovely. The insert is a molded plastic and it holds everything nice and neat.
Warehouse 51 has beautiful art. The backs of the cards look like crates that would have stored the relics. Every relic is illustrated relevant and compelling setting. The book sets the time of the game in 2038, which is reflected in the slightly futuristic vault on the box and hinted subtly throughout.
Warehouse 51 is enjoyable, but not an overwhelming experience. The blind auctions and seeing the relics that get flipped can be exciting. Also, the end when you see what relics are counterfeit can add some thrill, but my experiences with the actual game weren’t always positive. If someone keeps passing on bids, they can accumulate all of the money and nobody else can bid. This doesn’t always happen, of course, but if it does, nobody has fun. Some of the games went well and were entertaining, but this game wont come off of the shelf before other games will.
Difficulty and age range suggestion
This game is very easy to learn and to teach. The official age suggestion is 10+ and that feels accurate.
For some reason, this game was good, but didn’t live up to the expectations that I had. With the name Bruno Faidutti on the box, I had the bar set higher. This is a tough one, because I don’t openly recommend Warehouse 51, I wouldn’t say avoid it either.