Every so often a game comes along that completely changes your attitudes to a genre or a game mechanic. I have several friends who previously wouldn’t look twice at a game with a zombie theme but who love Dead of Winter. For me, Clank! was a similar epiphany game.
In my case, it wasn’t the theme that was issue. The original Clank! game adopted a traditional Tolkienesque fantasy theme, and I’ve enjoyed lots of games with that theme, way back to the early days of Dungeons & Dragons and Tunnels & Trolls. What initially put me off Clank! was being told it was a deck-building game. This has always been my second least favourite game mechanic (after ‘roll and move’). It was Clank!, however, that helped me to see the light. Since playing Clank!, I no longer run a mile when someone cracks open a deck builder. I’ve been converted.
Clank! in Space - The Game
So what’s all this got to do with Clank! in Space? Well, Clank! in Space is almost exactly the same game re-themed to a space setting. In both iterations of the game, players start with 10 basic cards from which they draw five, all of which they have to play. As in most deck-builders, discards are recycled and you’ll be adding more powerful cards to your deck as you progress through the game. Unlike most deck-builders, you won’t, in the main, be expecting to ‘trash’ (remove from play) your starter cards: with few exceptions, the starter cards are likely to remain in your deck throughout the game.
The cards in both versions of the game all have icons representing their value in acquiring other cards, movement and/or combat. The publishers (Renegade Game Studios) have cheekily retained the same movement and combat icons in Clank! in Space that they used in the original Clank! The rule book may describe the swords as ‘laser swords’ but they look rather more like medieval shortswords than lightsabres.
Some cards also cause you to stumble or otherwise make a sound (Clank!, geddit?). These require you to contribute a cube of your colour into what will eventually be a ‘boss bag’ from which cubes are drawn to dish out damage. In the original Clank!, the bag represented the dragon whose treasure horde was being robbed by the players; in Clank! in Space, the bag represents ‘Lord Eradikus’ – who is essentially the dragon in all but name.
The cluttered looking modular board in Clank! in Space represents Lord Eradikus’ space ship. Players will use their movement cards to traverse the ship, collecting tokens and credits for their special effects or victory point value, and buying cards, some of which also give victory points. Players have to seize whatever loot and artefacts they can get and then make their way off the ship, because if they still in the main part of the ship when the game ends then they lose, regardless of how many victory points they have otherwise accumulated.
Thoughts on Clank! in Space
Part of the appeal of this version of Clank! is in the tongue-in-cheek treatment of the genre. Pretty much every card parodies a character or meme from a popular SF franchise: close enough to be recognisable without going so far as to actually infringe on any patents, copyrights or trademarks.
However, the game doesn’t depend on this humour to carry it: you’ll still want to play Clank! in Space long after you’ve stopped chuckling at, for example, the card that combines into a single character Princess Leia from Star Wars and Leela from Futurama. The modular board and the large pile of tokens to randomly place out means that no two games of Clank! in Space are ever likely to turn out exactly the same – adding to the game’s replay-ability.
If you like Clank!, you’ll certainly like Clank! in Space. The gameplay differences are slight so you probably don’t need both versions, but many Clank! fans won’t let that stop them from buying this one too.
You can see more reviews by Selwyn Ward on Board’s Eye View.