The Whatnot Cabinet: A Kickstarter Preview

Game: The Whatnot Cabinet

  • Publisher: Pencil First Games
  • Designed by: Eduardo Baraf and Steve Finn
  • Illustrated by: Beth Sobel
  • Ages 8+
  • 2-4 players
  • 30 minutes

Remember when you were younger and would go outside? The fresh air was like a stirring to the soul, encouraging us to explore. Along the many paths we’d take there would be little trinkets. A smooth stone here, a little toy left behind, maybe a leaf that had turned a beautiful red shade would come across you as you went along. Some things you would take home to put on a shelf, and that collection of trinkets and knickknacks would pass into memory…

The Whatnot Cabinet brings back that feeling of being a kid again, and sharing those feelings with our own children has been a great reminder of our youth.

Gameplay

In The Whatnot Cabinet, you are collecting objects and scoring points for having the best Whatnot Cabinet.

Each player receives a Cabinet and a pawn of their matching color. (In a two player game, the player will use two pawns.) Then each player will place their pawn on the action board according to their position. Over the course of six rounds (three for two player), players will be collecting curio tiles, items of value such as gems, bottles, small animals and leaves, in hopes to fill their cabinet with the best collection. These items may be found in the curio tile bag or the outdoors, an area where adventure awaits.

In order to collect tiles, the player must pick one out of the five possible actions. These actions could be adding to your collection from the bag, adding to the outdoors and then to your collection or even resetting the great outdoors and collecting two tiles from the newly available pieces.

Scoring on your cabinet depends on colors and objects. A row of similar objects (ie all gems) will result in 3 curio tokens (points). A row with different objects will result in 1 curio token.

Columns are based on colors. Different colors equals 2 curio tokens while the same colors equal 4 curio tokens. How you place your tiles makes for an interesting strategy that will succeed or fail miserably depending on how you play.

Once players have all played on an action spaces not taken by another player, they will clear the outdoors and reset. Then they will move their pawns to the turn order space matching the action spaces.

Throughout the game there are Wonder Cards and Curiosity Cards which could help a player find a strategy to win. Curiosity Cards are cards that can be claimed by a player who has met a condition. For example there is a card with conditions of playing each color on the cabinet. Once someone has done so, they can take the card as their own and score for it at the end of the game. Wonder Cards are cards that give an edge to all players as it pertains to having certain objects. These objects will gain extra points for each one you have.

Having a large amount of objects related to the Wonder Card will pay off greatly in the game.

Lastly there are tiles with crowns and point/clearing tiles that you will encounter. Curio tiles with crowns get you more points. Point Tiles will have you do certain conditions and then place outside of your cabinet. The clearing tiles will have you resetting the outdoors and claiming tiles from there.

Each crown is worth an additional point.

Once all rounds are complete, players will score their cabinet, wonder cards, crowns, curiosity cards and where they are on the turn order spaces at the end of the game. The player with the most points is declared the winner!

Elijah collecting his Curio Tiles
Components

This artwork is beautiful. Each tile has just the right amount of detail and the cabinet looks like a Kallax shelf, perfect for a board game enthusiast. The pawns are a nice wooden design and the overall production is well worth having at the table.

Each piece has its own little detail down to the carpet under the cabinets.

One note, we were able to play with the Fascination Expansion and it adds a challenge to collect specific colored objects. This is a nice addition to change up strategies.

Our Family’s Thoughts

Abigail (not a hoarder or particularly fond of animals, but appreciates quality time together): it was a good game, easy to learn and easy to play and fun. It is fun with the family or just 2 players. Recommendation: Try it.

Beth: I feel like this game had a little bit for everyone. I was focused on strategizing placement while my kids had fun with their collections and we still had fairly similar scores. It was important to remember the cards that give you extra points for accomplishments, those gave the extra edge to the game. We enjoyed it and it went quick enough that everyone stayed focused (big plus for a family game). Recommendation: Buy It!

Chris: I love this game. It’s quick to play, easy to teach and fun for the whole family. There is something great when you get that feeling of your younger days. This game brought back memories of collecting sticks and leaves and seeing as my kids have done the same on walks. The artwork and gameplay fit well with our family and I would recommend this be a game your family backs. Recommendation: Buy It!

An example of a two player game where Abigail defeated me. Those leaves are what got her the win!

Daniel (11 year old hoarder of anything collectible): I like how the game is about collecting things because I like collecting rocks and gems and finding things that are unique. I liked the design of the tiles and the cabinet looked cool with the pieces in it. Recommendation: Buy It!

Elijah (9 year old with a cat obsession): I liked how there were kitties in it. I collected gems and animals because the gems looked cool and I like kitties. Recommendation: Buy It!

The Whatnot Cabinet deserves to be on your table. It’s a quick filler full of fun and we give it a 4.6 Goodlets out of 5.

The Whatnot Cabinet hits Kickstarter June 9th, 2020.

Echidna Shuffle: Stress-Induced Fun

A six-player game of Echidna Shuffle led to some wild fun.

Game: Echidna Shuffle

  • Publisher: Wattsalpoag Games
  • Designer: Kris Gould
  • Illustrated by: Damon Brown
  • Game Pieces: Mike Raabe
  • 2-6 players
  • 10-20 minutes
  • Ages 6+

One move. Only one move to reach victory, but it was not to be. I was near my trunk, my last beetle on my back in hopes to have that sweet end. The leaves were scattered everywhere as I had changed paths thanks to another player. There would be no victory today.

Roll one way and on the next turn you move the opposite roll. If you rolled a six on the first roll, you may move three spaces on the next turn.

Echidna Shuffle is a game where you are trying to bring bugs back home in the form of bees, ladybugs, beetles and others related to the color you choose. On your turn you roll the Echidna dice and get to move on the board any of the twelve Echidnas. As you move them, you may pick up bugs from pick-up zones. Then if you are lucky enough, you can reach them to one of your three colored stumps to be closer to a win.

Why are you blocking my ladybug-loving Echidnas? I just want to take them home.

The key to this is that you can move ANY Echidnas on your turn. This leads to hilarity, stress and laughter. See that player’s Echidna is too close to their stump? Move them onto a different path. You could potentially set your opponent’s Echidnas on a never ending loop.

When the game starts, everyone places a bug pickup spot on an empty leaf. Then you pass your stumps to the opponent on your left. They get to place your stumps anywhere on the board. Echidnas cannot jump or move through other Echindas, so movement is important. You will have to move the Echidnas of other players and if you pass over their pickup spot, you will put a bug of theirs on the Echidna. If you move an Echidna with their bug onto a spot with their stump, they will be closer to victory. When you have placed all three bugs on your stumps, you win!

Each player gets their special stumps matching the color of their bugs.
Components

This is a beautifully made game. The Echidnas are adorable and the bugs are well made. Each component, from the dice to the board, were well though out. The opposite side of the board has a snow-themed board where winning can be even more complex, yet still enjoyable.

These components are gorgeous. Mike Raabe did an amazing job!
Our Family’s Thoughts on Echidna Shuffle

Abigail: I like how you can majorly screw people over, but it is chaotic because it’s all over the board and hard to see what you are trying to do. I like how cute the Echidna playing pieces are. I find it weird that the Echida are taking the bugs home and not just eating them, I don’t understand that part. But try it because it can become fun. Recommendation: Try it.

Beth: I liked the orderly circles of the one side, but could not figure out what was going where on the snowy side. On the flower side I had a great time, moving other people’s Echidna out of the way and putting them on other loops. It is appealing and fun to look at. Try it though because the chaos stressed a couple of my kids out. Looks like for kids, but better for adults. Recommendation: Try it.

Chris: I like this game, but there is a deep feeling of “take that” that it is in the game that makes it possibly stressful for kids. Watching my kids get stressed out over one’s moves brought to light that this can become cutthroat. This game is great, but I am going to recommend to try it first. See if this is good for you and your family. I love the cutthroat nature of the game, but it may not be for everyone. One suggestion for playing with kids is to encourage helping each other when moving one another’s Echidnas. Recommendation: Try it.

Placing the stumps of your opponents can really mess with their strategy. Moving the Echidnas away from them messes them up even more.

Daniel: It is chaotic and stressful. The Echidna are cute and so are the bugs. Just don’t try the snowy side. It is long and exhausting. I like putting the bugs on the logs, and I like how if you go 7 on one turn you go 2 on the next, it’s fair. I’d say try it. Recommendation: Try it.

Elijah: The Echidna are cute and some of the bugs maybe. I might like it, I might not like it, but I don’t know why. Recommendation: Try it.

This game is fun for all ages, but the cutthroat nature of moving other player’s Echidnas can sour the game for others. Try it out and see for yourself.