Clank! is not only the name of the game it’s also one of the core elements of the game. In Clank! you play thieves sneaking into the dragon’s lair to steal the most valuable treasure. But beware if you make too much noise (Clank!) you’ll end up being lunch for the dragon.
What is Clank! like?
At its core Clank! might look like just another deck-builder. But it is so much more than that. As a player you’ll spend your turns improving your deck in a traditional deck-building style, but you’ll also use the cards in your deck to move your thief deeper and deeper into the dungeon. You might ask why you would want to go into a deep, dark dragon-infested dungeon, and you would be wise in asking that question. You see, dragons like treasure and shiny artifacts, and as a thief you like the same things. But of course the dragon isn’t making it easy for you and it has hidden all the good stuff deep underground. So you’ll have to decide how deep you want to go to get an artifact. The deeper you go the more it’s worth but that also means a lot more danger for you, and you might not make it out alive it you are too greedy.
Getting the most valuable artifact will score you lots of points, but you also get extra for getting out alive and certain cards in your deck. The winner is of course the player with the most points.
Skills, Boots and Swords
So how do you do all this? Let me tell you. Each player starts with the same 10 card deck and will draw 5 from that each turn. Cards will in general contain 3 different symbols: Skills, Boots, and Swords.
Skills lets you acquire new cards from the dungeon row (where 6 cards are always available). These cards will go into your discard pile (and your deck and hand on later turns). The higher the cost of the card the better it is, so getting more cards that provide you with more skills means increased buying power.
Boots let you move around the dungeon, the more boot symbols you have each turn the further you can move. This is a very important part of the game and neglecting it means you’ll be stuck with a cheap artifact and might not make it out alive. Having lot’s of boots symbols in your deck means you can go deeper into the dungeon and grab the high cost artifacts.
Swords symbols allow you to battle monsters that pop-up in the row of 6 dungeon cards. If you have enough of them you defeat the monsters and get the reward. It also allows you to move through specific routes in the dungeon without taking damage (I know I didn’t mention damage before but I’ll get to it).
So each turn you’ll slowly build your deck, making it better and better while moving around the dungeon to try to get artifact and get out of there.
Be very, very quiet…
It all sounds pretty simple easy right? But there is a twist and it’s a big one called Clank!. Clank! is the noise you make while you run around the dungeon and that noise will attract the attention of the most unwelcome dragon, the more Clank!you make the higher the chance that you will take damage when the dragon attacks.
The way that this works is simple, whenever you generate Clank! you put out a cube of your colour on the board. When the dragon attacks (this happens when certain cards are revealed from the dungeon deck) all cubes on the board (from all players) gets put into a bag you will love to hate. Then an amount of cubes are pulled at random from the bag (depending on how angry the dragon is, and this will increase as the game progresses). Each cube of your colour deals you 1 damage. If you ever take 10 damage you are dead and out of the game. The dragon bag contains lots of black cubes in the beginning and when they get pulled nothing happens, but as the game continues less and less of these will be in the bag and that means the players more likely get their cubes picked. So if you don’t want to die then don’t make too much noise.
To say that I think Clank! Is a great game would be an understatement. I think it is a fantastic game and I love it. For me it has the perfect balance of silly fun and strategy. It’s highly thematic and the art is great. Deck-builders in general can feel very abstract and theme-less, but Clank! adds purpose to building your deck and let’s you do so much more than just buying new cards for your deck. It has multiple ways to win as it’s engaging and tense from the first round. You are constantly keeping an eye on where people are on the board and as soon as someone has grabbed an artifact and starts heading for the surface you better think about doing the same or be left behind and get eaten by the dragon.
It has a great balance to it when buying new cards. You need boots to move around, skill to acquire more and better cards, and swords to fight monsters and get to some of the places on the board without taking damage. But you can’t get enough of all of them.
Even if you are not a fan of deck builders I think you might like this one since it actually does so much more than a “normal” abstract deck builder.
- It’s an evolved deck-builder, adding a board and using your cards to move around on it feels great
- The card art is just amazing and fits the theme of the game so well
- The theme of this game is really great and it really shines through
- Feels like Deep Sea Adventure and Dominion got together to make a beautiful little baby
- Can feel a little random sometimes
- Player elimination can be a problem for some (though the get to cheer for the dragon eating everyone else)
While the rulebook is a fun read, it could be more clear. The rules themselves are pretty straightforward, making the game a good choice for casual gamers. Clank! offers a lot of choices to the players, and there are a lot of critical decisions, making it a game you have to play a couple of times to get good at.
- Players: 1 – 4
- Playing time: 30 – 60 minutes
- Suggested age: 12+