Dungeon delving is a dangerous hobby, especially when you’re competing with several other noisy thieves. That’s the core premise of Clank!, a popular board game franchise published by Renegade Game Studios and Dire Wolf Digital. With two core games (the fantasy-themed Clank! and the sci-fi focused Clank! In Space), multiple expansions, and an Acquisitions Incorporated Legacy version coming out later this year, Clank! is a fantastic game for those who enjoy the exploration aspect of a dungeon crawl with the flexible strategy of a deckbuilding game like Dominion.
In Clank!, 1-4 players enter a dungeon to steal treasure from the hoard of a dragon, with the goal of earning the most victory points. The game shares many of the same features of traditional deck-building games – each player starts with the same 10 card deck, and players buy new cards from a shared row of cards known as the Dungeon Row. However, Clank! is unique in that it features a board, which serves as a map for the dungeon players are exploring.
Players draw cards from their deck to generate one of three resources – Skill, Boots, and Swords. Skill gives players the ability to purchase new cards for your deck, which can give your Victory Points or add more resources over time. Boots allows players to actually move around the board, collecting items that earn players Victory Points. Swords give players the means to defeat the random monsters that appear in the Dungeon Row, which usually results in players gaining Skill or gold that can be spent on cards or items.
Players also “generate” Clank as they explore the dungeon, which represents the noise they make as they stumble through dark tunnels and caves. Whenever a player generates a Clank, they put a small colored wooden cube into a Clank pool. On its own, Clank isn’t dangerous, but it comes into play when a card with the “Dragon Attack” symbol is placed into the Dungeon Row. Whenever the Dragon attacks, players place all the generated Clank into a small black bag and then randomly draw out a number of cubes. Players take damage when one of their colored cubes is drawn, so you’re more likely to take damage as generate more Clank.
One key to Clank! is that players have to determine how much risk they’re willing to take when diving deeper into the dungeon. Players can’t leave the dungeon without grabbing an Artifact, each of which are worth a different amount of Victory Points. The better Artifacts are found deeper in the Dungeon, but you’ll risk other players choosing to escape and triggering the end game or finding yourself stuck in a room without the cards you need to advance further.
The most valuable cards in Clank! are probably the Teleport cards, which allow you to move through the dungeon and ignoring certain movement rules, and the items that allow you to draw additional cards. Like in other deck-building games, players should also aim to eventually weed out their deck of basic cards in order to have their better cards appear more often. While these are great cards to have in your deck, you’ll also need to consider what treasure to collect (or add to your deck) as you’ll need to keep pace with the moves of other players if you want a chance to win.
Another strategy to consider in Clank! is to trigger the end of the game by escaping the dungeon alive. Not only do players who escape the dungeon automatically earn 20 Victory Points, the dragon will also start attacking automatically on subsequent turns. Not only does escaping the dungeon guarantee you a big chunk of victory points, you’ll also screw your opponents because they’ll have to suffer the wrath of the dragon while you sit pretty outside of the dungeon. If you see an opponent start moving towards the exit, you’ll want to hurry up with your own plans, because you’ll be dealing with an angry dragon in a few turns. If you’re caught too deep in the dungeon and die, you’ll automatically lose as no one will want to venture too deep to collect your body and loot.
Clank! has enough elements to satisfy just about every type of gamer, from the cut-throat strategists to the deck-build lovers to the folks who enjoy lighthearted fantasy games. The game is simple enough to learn after just a few rounds, but the random elements of the Dungeon Row and Dragon attacks allows for a different experience every game.
The base Clank! game comes with a double-sided board to mix up dungeon delves, and expansions offer alternative dungeons to explore, additional monsters that roam the dungeon, and more cards to add to the Dungeon Deck.
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