The Whatnot Cabinet and the Best Knickknack Antiquary
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 Name: The Whatnot Cabinet
Publication Year: 2021
Designers: Eduardo Baraf, Steve Finn, and Keith Matejka
Artists: 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!
February 13, 2021
February 17, 2021
20" x 18"
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!