Sometimes, a game comes along and it makes you lose faith in humanity. Storage Wars is one of those games. From the creepy sneers of the cover art, to the “Based on the A&E Hit” splash icon…everything about this game screams “cheap media tie-in.” Yet, here I am, with this game in my collection. I have read the rules, I have even played the game! And I’m here to tell you, this is not your typical media tie-in game. Well, actually it is…but there is a glimmer of hope for the game out there that you can’t say about most tie-in games.
The TV Show
To explain the game, it does help to look at the show it is based on. The basic idea of the show is that we as viewers follow the exploits of several people that are in the business of buying abandoned storage lockers at auctions. Once the auctions are over, most of the rest of the show has us watching them rifling through the lockers, looking for valuables. Each episode declares a “winner” based on how much profit they estimate they can make on the items they found. Honestly, I’m not a fan of the show for one main reason. I kind of hate all these people (with the notable exception of Barry, who seems like a pretty cool guy). But the rest of the people are whiny, rude, or just plain spiteful…and that’s just not something I find entertaining. So why did I buy this game? Because I’m a sucker for auction games, and I just had to find out if it stacked up at all alongside some of my favorite games such as Ra, For Sale, Vegas Showdown and Modern Art.
In the game, each player takes on the role of one of the stars of the show. Each character has two types of goods that he or she is considered to be an expert in. Gaining items in these categories will get you double the money during scoring. Once characters are chosen, each player gets three item tokens, which they look at, then secretly play into the four storage lockers. Once all the tokens are placed, the auctions begin! The auctions are open, just like on the show. Anyone can bid at any time. Whoever bids the most on each locker wins the contents. This happens for each of the four lockers in a round. The game lasts three rounds (or “episodes”) and whoever has made the most money wins. There are a set of negative tokens (such as broken or fake tokens) that can affect the amount you make, and there are two Black Mold tokens that will completely eliminate a locker after it has been bought. And that’s about it for the game.
Thoughts on the game
Even though this is a basic auction title, and a media tie-in game, the designers really missed some easy opportunities to make the game authentic to the show. For example, on the show, once a locker is opened, they get a few minutes to look inside (without touching anything) and try to ascertain the price they want to pay for the locker. That isn’t here at all. Every auction is a totally blind auction. Honestly, you could be bidding on an empty locker for all you know.
What I would have liked to have seen (and indeed, if I can find people that will play it again with me, I will try this) was that after each player had seeded the lockers, the auctioneer would throw in a number of tokens (perhaps a number based on the round?), and then shake the lockers around a bit, causing some of the tokens to flip and hide under other tokens etc. After that, lift the lid of the locker for 10 seconds or so…give everyone a chance to look, THEN go into an auction. Not only would the players have a better guide for their bids, but I think the bidding would be more competitive. As the game sits now, there’s barely even incentive to bid, simply because there isn’t any way to know what’s inside any of the lockers. Also, thanks to the negative value tokens, it is possible to do very well, if not win, this game by not playing.
So, while I’m not necessarily happy with myself that I couldn’t resist paying $20 for this game, I am slightly heartened by the fact that I may have actually come up with a variant that would both be more fun, and be more faithful to the source material. Of course, let’s be honest… who really wants to play a game starring the YUUUUUUUUUP guy?