Clank! is a 2-4 player game built around a deck-building mechanic in which players explore the lair of a dragon protecting its treasure – treasures players want for themselves. Steal stuff, sneak around, fight monsters, but try not to attract the attention of the dragon… we might not make it out alive if we’re not careful! The double-sided game board has tons of spots for treasure and secrets, both major and minor. During setup players place the treasures face-up and the major and minor secrets face-down on designated spots. As adventurers explore the cave looking for loot they discover these secrets, which can help them heal, give them extra movement or fighting power, or provide coins which can be used to buy useful items from market spaces. The main goal of the game is to collect a treasure, escape the cave, and gain the most points; there are some unique mechanics to Clank! which will be discussed throughout this review, including an unusual scoring technique. The cave players explore throughout the game is divided into upper and lower sections; if players can make it out of “the depths” (lower section) before the final end-game condition is met, they will be allowed to score points for any treasure they’ve collected, coins and equipment they’ve acquired, and so on. However, if a player were unable to escape the depths they would be forever lost and would simply lose the game, not even allowed to tally score for what they’ve collected to that point. Players who make it out of the cave entirely receive a bonus.
As previously stated, this game is built around a deck-building mechanic. Players receive an identical starting hand of cards used to move, fight, buy better/more cards, and attract the unwanted attention of the dragon. A bank of purchasable cards is laid out and players can buy these cards to improve their individual deck. There are also monsters which players can defeat for rewards. One of these monster cards will remain in play throughout the entire game – the Goblin. The Goblin can be fought repeatedly but does not leave play, providing the players an easy punching bag which garners a small reward.
As players are exploring the cave they will occasionally make some noise, which attracts the attention of the dragon; this comes in the form of “Clank”. Players who make noise must place one of their colored cubes in a special section of the board reserved for Clank. Then, when the dragon next attacks, these cubes are added to a cloth bag filled with black dragon cubes. Cubes are drawn based on number of players, any special directions on face-up cards in the bank of purchasable cards, and other conditions. Dragon cubes are simply removed from the game when drawn but the colored player cubes are placed on corresponding life meters for each player. If ever this meter would be maxed out that player dies and is removed from the game.
The rulebook for Clank! is sufficient; once or twice I’ve had a question about a rule or particular card that was not answered by the rulebook, but generally it covers all aspects of the game fairly well. The double-sided board is thick and sturdy and allows for varying levels of difficulty depending on which side is used. This is an area in which the game subtly shines – each side of the board features unique artwork and layouts. The tokens and the cards are of average quality materials, as are the colored cubes. The cards feature a lot of well-done, unique artwork. As with most deck-building games, players may wish to sleeve the cards to protect them against dings, nicks, and scratches caused by the excessive shuffling required (and if using the first edition of the expansion players will also want to sleeve cards to avoid being able to tell which cards are from the expansion and which are from the base game (there’s a slight but noticeable difference in the coloration of the card backs)). Each player has a meeple that they move around the board and this and the unique dragon meeple are top notch, as is the embroidered cloth bag. The box and insert fit everything perfectly and were well designed and produced. Because of the many tokens used in this game setup can take a little bit of extra time, but this is a double-edged sword – using tokens instead of simply printing the effects directly on the game board allows an incredible range of setups and lends a lot of replayability to the game. I think it’s more than worth it to trade a little bit of extra setup time for the ability to play so many different versions of this game.
As stated, Clank! is a 2-4 payer game and I find it scales well. With 2 and sometimes 3 players everyone gets a chance to explore the map extensively; finding lots of treasure, snagging some really cool cards, and getting to take advantage of more of the cave. With 4 players you don’t get a chance to explore as much, but there’s a feeling that the game is more of a race; grab something shiny, try to outrun the other players. This forces you to plot your movements and try to move as quickly and efficiently as possible. In games of any player count I find the game to be fun.
Clank! is not a difficult game to teach or to learn, but wouldn’t be my first choice if I was playing with someone who had never played a boardgame before. That being said, even players quite new to the hobby can pick up the rules and mechanics of Clank! fairly easily and quickly. If you are more experienced and are looking for a challenge there are ways to increase the difficulty of this game, from simply playing the difficult side of the board to playing with increased dragon attacks.
Clank! is an excellent game and I highly recommend it. From the superb artwork on the board and cards to the high-quality components like the dragon and character meeples and the cloth bag, this game is well made. With the interchangeable tokens and the numerous cards Clank! has tons of replayability. The mechanics are easy to learn and the game itself is fun to play. Thanks for reading my review; I hope you enjoyed it! S