SNAP Review – Junk Drawer
[Anitra] Hey honey, have you seen my headphones?
[Andrew] You mean THESE headphones?
[Anitra] Oops. It might be time to reorganize the junk drawer.
[Andrew] This is a SNAP review for Junk Drawer, a game for 1-4 players designed by David Smith, published by Winsmith Games and 25th Century Games. It plays in about 20 minutes, and although the box says it’s for ages 14+, we think it’s fine for ages 8 and up.
[Andrew] So Anitra, let’s talk about what that art is like in Junk Drawer.
[Anitra] It’s exactly what you’d expect. Illustrations by Asha Farmer combine with excellent graphic design to somehow balance the cluttered look of a real junk pile with the satisfaction of organizing it.
The tiles all represent the kinds of random stuff you’d have floating around in your house – bag clips, a flashlight, car keys, pencils, chargers… and the rules and the cards look like a spiral bound notebook.
Each player gets a board with a wood grain that represents their own drawer, of course.
[Anitra] So what do we do with all this… junk? Let’s talk about the mechanics of Junk Drawer.
[Andrew] To start this game, you’re going to set out the central board with four organization cards. These represent how different areas of your junk drawer will score.
Then give each player their own junk drawer board and an identical set of 21 item tiles. That’s right, this is a polyomino game.
[Anitra] At the start of each round, set out four item cards, face down, and flip them one at a time. As each item card is flipped, all players find their matching item polyomino tile and place it in a compartment that has not yet received an item this round.
[Andrew] So, the first item of a round can go anywhere, but by the third item, you’re choosing between just two areas, and the last item must go into the compartment with the least items.
[Anitra] And you only get to see one item at a time! Everyone has to place that item without knowing what the next one is going to be.
[Andrew] At the end of a round, set the four cards aside and set up for a new round with four more cards.
[Anitra] So how does the game end?
The game ends on the turn when someone cannot legally place the current item in their drawer.
[Anitra] Everyone else should still try to place that item, but then the round immediately ends and players proceed to scoring.
[Andrew] Players can use the handy scoresheet to tally up their scores for each of their four compartments, following the organization cards laid out at the beginning of the game – anything from “Cover Many Spaces” to “Place Items of Different Sizes” to “Create Gaps of 3 Spaces.” Whoever has the highest combined score is the best organizer and wins the game.
[Anitra] That means it’s your job to clean up, now, right?
[Andrew] I guess you know who wins this game.
[Andrew] So Anitra, what did we expect from this game?
[Anitra] I generally like tile-placement games, but this is, like, the third game I’ve seen this year about organizing stuff on shelves or in drawers. I’m also wary of games where everyone has to do the same thing at the same time – like the way you place tiles in Scarabya or Karuba. You usually need some way to force variety so everyone doesn’t just make the same choices.
I was not excited for this game at all.
[Andrew] I try to look at these things with an open mind. Scarabya, you mentioned, that was a dud for us, but Karuba is a classic. So I didn’t really know how this one would fall into that mix. The different goals seemed like they might mix things up, which I was kind of excited for.
[Andrew] And there were some things that surprised us about this game. Do you want to talk about those, Anitra?
[Anitra] Unlike some of those other organizing games, I found Junk Drawer incredibly simple to understand. You draw a card, everyone places that item. But the different goals mean there’s a lot of room for strategy.
I would try to use small items to get points for this “Create a Large Gap” goal – but YOU might focus on larger, flatter items that you can keep around the perimeter of that compartment.
There’s also a ton of goals to choose from; there’s eight easy, eight medium, and eight hard. And there’s some suggested combinations in the rulebook, like “A Sprint Not a Marathon”, where nearly every item placed will make you lose points – so you’ll want to end the game as quickly as possible!
[Andrew] I love the various goals. To me, they’re kind of the core of the game. The simultaneous placement stuff is fine, but it’s the different ways you have to think – four ways at the same time, actually – that make this game shine for me. You could even play side-by-side with your kids where the adults have hard goals and the kids have easy ones, but everyone is still driven by the same deck of cards. It’s a really cool and clever way to allow for flexing the difficulty while still playing together.
[Anitra] The puzzley nature of Junk Drawer also makes it a great option for playing solo! You set out your four goals as usual. And as you play, you are trying to beat the sum of those four example scores shown on those goals.
[Anitra] We recommend Junk Drawer for families. It’s incredibly easy to explain and it plays very fast. Like many tile-laying games, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you get things to fit JUST RIGHT – and the variety of goals – even within a single game! – will give you interesting decisions to make.
[Andrew] If you’re playing this game with younger kids, stick with the easy goals. But it’s definitely something that most 8-10 year olds can handle.
We’re going to give Junk Drawer 4½ drawers out of 5.
And that’s Junk Drawer, in a SNAP!
The Family Gamers received a copy of Junk Drawer from 25th Century Games for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Age Range: 14+ (we say 8+)
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: 20 minutes