There’s no denying it: Clank! is one of the most successful new games we’ve seen in recent years. Since its release in 2016, the deck-building adventure game from designer Paul Dennen and publishers Renegade Game Studios and Dire Wolf Digital has gone from strength to strength.
Renegade has since released two large expansions, one small expansion and has a legacy expansion in the works. The spin-off game, In! Space! has also been a big hit and has an expansion of its own, though I’m not going to be covering it in this article.
If you’ve never played Clank! before, my hope is that this article will give you everything you need to jump right in. If you like the game but you’re wondering what expansions to go for next, then you’ll also find the information you need here.
What is Clank!? The Basics and Core Mechanics
In Clank!, each player takes on the role of a daring thief, searching for treasure in a forgotten dungeon. However, that treasure is not easy to reach. Each player will need to improve their skills as they go to navigate tricky passages and fight their way past savage monsters. But the real danger is the boss monster that lurks within each dungeon. There is no way to fight this one - if they catch your scent too many times your fate will be sealed…
To get out of the dungeon with treasure, players need to build up their starter deck of basic cards to improve the amount of skill (the resource used to buy new cards), combat (used to fight monsters), speed (used to move through the dungeon) and gold (used to buy new items) that they have available to them each turn. You’ll cycle through your deck multiple times, with better cards available as the game progresses.
The main thing to remember is that you can’t make too much noise! If you clank around too much, the big monster will know exactly where to find you and you’ll start taking damage. Clank cubes are a cost that you pay for various card effects. The more you pay, the more chance there is of damage being dealt to you when a dragon attack is triggered.
The winner of the game will be the player with the most points from treasure and cards when all is said and done. The end of the game is triggered as one player leaves the dungeon (either through death or a successful escape). At this point there is a countdown of four turns, with any players left in the dungeon after this point instantly killed by the monster’s range.
Playing Clank! well is all about crafting a deck that’s well suited to the route you take through the dungeon. If you want to go deeper for the better treasure, you’ll need to make sure that you have enough speed that you don’t languish in the depths whilst your opponents escape. If you’re planning a quicker route, you need enough skill and combat that you don’t end up with a pitiful points haul while you’re opponent ventures further in, even if you get out before them.
All of the expansions play on the importance of different resources and add new twists to the game. Now you have the basics, let’s look at them in more detail.
Sunken Treasures Expansion
Sunken Treasures was the first Clank! expansion, released in 2017. It adds two new maps, 35 new cards for the dungeon deck, a new persistent monster and a handful of new tokens. The core mechanic of this expansion is the underwater caverns, that see players diving into the watery depths to find treasure in sunken ships and hidden caves.
Water caverns come with danger - if you don’t surface at least once in your turn, you’ll take damage. Water-logged tunnels are also harder to get through, requiring two speed unless you own the new SCUBA mask, which can be bought from the market.
There is a mechanical sub-theme in some of the new cards, as well. Several cards give powerful effects when discarded, which gives you some excellent options for resource-gathering and hand-filtering with base game cards and some new discard enablers.
Sunken Treasures also starts the trend of making gold easier to come by, whether it’s through finding a gold cavern or defeating the persistent Goldfish monster instead of the Goblin for three coins. More coins mean you can buy more great stuff and have more fun!
The Mummy’s Curse Expansion
The second large expansion for Clank! was released in 2018, taking players out of the briney deep and thrusting them into the equally inhospitable Egyptian tombs. In The Mummy's Curse, players have a roaming mummy to battle as they run around the interior of pyramids and sphinxes. While the gold they can gain may be more tempting than ever, they need to watch out for painful curses...
Curses introduce negative points into Clank! for the first time and can be picked up from card effects, fighting the mummy and travelling through certain tunnels. Players need to find ways to get rid of them, or they risk watching their precious points melt away once they’ve escaped. Balancing gaining curses to get better stuff versus shedding them through card effects is one of The Mummy’s Curse’s unique challenges.
In addition to the curses, another cool mechanic is the addition of the Pyramid D4, with sides corresponding to four regions of the board. This die is rolled whenever the mummy is defeated, moving the mummy to a new location and cursing any players that are there. Some cards and items also roll the die and move the mummy. This roving monster feature gives players greater impetus to move around the dungeon, as opposed to sticking to their chosen route.
Finally, I have to say that the theme of this expansions cards is great. There’s a real Indiana Jones feel to a lot of them, created by bold, colourful relic-hunter art. The visuals compliment a fantastic expansion.
Expeditions: Gold & Silk
The second half of 2018 saw the release of Clank’s first small expansion, Expeditions: Gold & Silk. Unlike the two previous expansions, Gold & Silk appears to be the first in a new Expeditions series, though no others have been announced at the time of writing. It is also the first small expansion, lacking any new cards.
However, Gold & Silk is still packed full of dungeon-diving goodness. The main feature is a new double-sided game board. One side features the spider’s lair, while the other features an abandoned dwarven mine. Along with the board, players also receive four brand-new dwarf player meeples and a new spider monster meeple.
Each of the new boards emphasises an as-yet unexplored part of the game. The spider’s lair encourages players to invest in combat more than normal so that they can hack through web-filled tunnels and free precious items from webbing in caverns. There’s also an opportunity to spend eight skill to buy some powerful abilities instead of simply buying Secret Tomes.
The dwarven mine, on the other hand, foregrounds the collection of gold. Gold can be mined by spending extra speed in certain rooms and the amount of gold you mine is tracked, leading to bonus points for the most prolific miner at the end of the game. As speed is normally so coveted for moving around the dungeon, it’s intriguing to play a game where it provides a different bonus.
What else will the Expeditions series bring fans of Clank? We’ll have to wait and see.
What’s coming in 2019?
We may not know of any new Expeditions, but Renegade Game Studios and Dire Wolf Digital have given us a glimpse of what 2019 has in store: Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated. This new expansion will introduce “legacy-style gameplay” to the Clank! system as players progress from amateur dungeon explorers to the leaders of powerful corporations.
This information from the publishers is the best glimpse we have into the world of Clank! Legacy so far:
“Your game board, your deck, and your world change as you play to create a unique campaign tailored to your adventuring party. Be cunning, be bold, and most importantly be ready.”
The new expansion will be available in the second half of 2019. You can sign up for updates at www.clankacqinc.com and be sure to check Zatu’s blog for our thoughts on this new direction for the game.
Other than the legacy expansion, my hunch is that we’ll see at least one other expansion, possibly two more. I would be surprised if Renegade and Dire Wolf don’t release a second Expeditions expansion, and I also think it’s possible that we’ll see a new large expansion in the vein of Sunken Treasures and The Mummy’s Curse.
In the meantime, good luck in your treasure hunting and remember, don’t wake the dragon!