The Whatnot Cabinet and the Best Knickknack Antiquary

February 18, 2021 | Sessions | 0 comments

Explore the beautiful artwork in The Whatnot Cabinet and see how the solo opponent presents unique challenges.

Back to the fun of The Whatnot Cabinet! I wanted to take a closer look at how some strategies might work and I was most definitely on the hunt for the coveted elephant tiles. Ha! I was most interested in gauging the variety present with the tiles and goals. Was there enough here to keep me coming back for more? I was about to learn the answer!


For full transparency, I’m the sales manager at Pencil First Games. This copy was paid for in full by me prior to starting this role. The following opinions are my personal, honest thoughts about what I like and don’t like about the game.

Game Overview

Game Name: The Whatnot Cabinet
Publication Year:
 Eduardo Baraf, Steve Finn, and Keith Matejka
 Kim Robinson and Beth Sobel
Publisher: Pencil First Games
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game

The solo scoring tiers have excellent names, including the clumsy collector! Over the course of 3 rounds, objects are added to a collection housed in a cabinet. There are a lot of tiles and cards, but as I mentioned, I wanted to find out if the game had enough staying power for me. Onward!

A Lucky Clover to Work Up from the Depths of a Clumsy Collector

First Play

February 13, 2021



Latest Play

February 17, 2021



Setup Time

5 Minutes

Lifetime Plays


Play Time

10 Minutes


High Score



Game Area

20" x 18"


Low Score


Collecting Objects

Perhaps there’s something of a collector in many of us. After all, my board game shelves form something similar to a whatnot cabinet. Ha ha! Plus there are Calico Critters…

Even duplicate tiles aren’t a bad thing: The same colors can be quite useful, and I like to think of myself as a specialist in an area. Like the elephant tiles, for example!

This is a gorgeous and colorful game, yet iconography makes it colorblind-friendly and more accessible.

Truth be told, I often rely on the type icons to make sure I know how to organize a collection. Hint: I do not. Ha!

A Bright and Colorful Collection from The Whatnot Cabinet

In the First Round

Off to the races! Technically, I automatically won at this point because you might notice a very important object hanging out in my cabinet. Let’s just call it right there.

I wanted to focus on crystals since they were worth an extra 1 point each. Hence that glorious top row!

The first round is always very interesting. It’s wide open, yet it’s important not to back yourself into a corner. Unless you need to complete all 4 corners for points. Ha!

The only major downside was the fact that the middle column could only be worth 2 points, not 4 points.

A Great Day for Crystals and an Elephant in The Whatnot Cabinet

Second Thoughts

The next round was rather terrible. Why didn’t I have all of the yellow objects aligned in a column? I don’t even remember. My organizing skills are questionable.

Columns made up of the same colors are worth 4 points, while 1 of each color is only worth 2 points. Great job.

The positives were the tiles with crowns, worth 1 point each, plus even more crystals. All was not lost yet!

I had a chance to see the tension rise, if only subtly. This is not a stressful game, but it can be interesting to see how a cabinet will be set up for success or failure.

Even More Crystals and a Little Color Trouble in The Whatnot Cabinet

Onto the Finale

Things didn’t go so well, especially without some more elephant tiles! I also ended up with some blank tokens for utterly failing a column and a row. But…

That bottom row wasn’t a disaster. The 2 crystals and crown were the equivalent of 3 points. I had some poor placements but it wasn’t a total embarrassment!

I earned a lot of points from choosing the crystals and some of the riskier action spaces. Hence the extra tokens.

Knickknack Antiquary. Excuse me, but that title might be the best one on the list! It was a good outing, indeed.

Making the Most of Bonus Crystal Points in The Whatnot Cabinet

A Pile of Point Tokens

So many points! On a quick side note, all of these tokens come pre-punched and bagged. Just another surprise!

This might look like a lot of tokens, yet it makes sense for a 4-player game. Solo requires just a small amount. And preferably just a couple of blank tokens. Thank you. Ha!

Sometimes I like scoring tracks because my math skills only turn on at a certain time of day. 12+12? Oh, that’s definitely 26 until a kind soul came along to correct me.

Yet these are some very nice tokens and pretty easy to add up in the end. Unless you’re me early in the morning. Ha!

All of the Tokens from The Whatnot Cabinet

The Rival Actions Deck

The path to collecting isn’t without its challenges, of course. There’s a rival! But this solo opponent is simple to operate and takes a few seconds twice per round.

A card gets flipped over, which indicates 2 things. At the top, it shows the action space the rival will block. On the bottom, it defines which tiles to remove.

Sometimes, this works out well! The available tiles often range from about 2-5, or more in rare cases.

Blocked action spaces can present tricky situations. Maybe it means taking bigger risks or settling for other tiles.

Following the Rival in the Solo Mode of The Whatnot Cabinet

Session Overview

Play Number: 9 and 10
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Outcome: 37 and 38 (2 Losses)

So close to my victory threshold of 40 points! But at least I was all fancy with my player level. My other collection wasn’t anything too exciting, although it was very bright. It’s a joy to admire a final collection. I almost wonder if it would ever be possible to have a cabinet filled with objects of the same color… Maybe that’s a little goal to try to work for! Or I could just, you know, try to actually score well. Ha! Bottom line: There’s variety galore here. Love it!

The Lovely Colors and Object Types from The Whatnot Cabinet


10 Plays


Price & Value



Challenges & Mechanics



Design & Theme



Components & Rules



Achievement & Enjoyment



Distinctness & Randomness


+ Pros (Positives)

  • Each round flies by with almost no downtime and a straightforward sequence of play and set of rules.
  • Iconography makes many elements language-independent or colorblind-friendly for better accessibility.
  • Multiple ways to earn victory points change a little bit with each play and present interesting decisions.
  • The act of filling up an empty cabinet with beautifully illustrated objects is very fun and satisfying.
  • Since each action results in 2 new tiles, it’s nearly impossible to lose track of the sequence or current action.
  • Everything fits inside the included insert perfectly with a space for everything, including the wooden pawns.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • The size of the tiles is a little smaller than what might be expected, although this is easy to get used to.
  • Internal fraying of the tile draw bag happens quite a bit since the edges aren’t entirely stitched together and fray.
  • Reliance on luck can feel a little too important during the final round when the object tiles aren’t ideal.
  • There are not enough elephants… Or in other words, it would have been nice to see a little more artwork variety.

More The Whatnot Cabinet

Explore related posts about The Whatnot Cabinet!

Victory Conditions

Score 40+ Points

  • Overall Goal Progress 50% 50%

Goals and Milestones


Score at least 40 points.


Score at least 45 points.


Complete the perfect cabinet with 24 victory points.


Score at least 50 points.

Continue the Conversation

Do you enjoy playing The Whatnot Cabinet? How high have you scored in the solo game so far? I originally wondered if there might be a limited lifespan with this game. It might not jump into my top games, yet there’s something to be said about games that occupy a space in the good category. They’re often very consistent and fun. Hurray for collecting!


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