Clank!

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Burgle your way to adventure in the deck-building board game Clank! Sneak into an angry dragon’s mountain lair to steal precious artifacts. Delve deeper to find more valuable loot. Acquire cards for your deck and watch your thievish abilities grow. Be quick and be quiet. One false step and CLANK! Each careless sound draws the attention of the dragon, and each artifact stolen i…
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Category Tags , , , , , SKU ZBG-RGS0552 Availability 3 in stock
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Awards

Dice Tower

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • The innovative blend of different mechanics.
  • A very good thematic experience - I feel nervous if I'm high on damage!
  • A good range of strategic options are available throughout the gam

Might Not Like

  • The limited randomisation of the board - may become repetitive for some.
  • The power curve of the dungeon deck - it could be spread out more.
  • It's a lot to take on for a newcomer who isn't familiar with deck-building.
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Description

Soft, quiet, cautious, you sneak through the dungeon, searching for loot, until CLANK! Your bumbling attempts to rob the joint fail in epic proportions. You wake the terrible dragon that rules this labyrinth, and like Bilbo Baggins, it’s time to hot-foot it out of there! Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure comes from Renegade Games. You’ll play as plucky adventurers exploring the depths of a dungeon. You’ll compete, moving from cavern to cavern, trying to pick up the most treasure and artefacts. But there are monsters down here, and some paths have locks. Need dungeon supplies, like master keys or a larger backpack? Visit the subterranean marketplace! The game features – surprise! – a deck-building mechanism. This means players begin with a starter deck of 10 default cards. Your turn consists of drawing five cards from your deck and playing them in any order you wish. Some cards grant you point-to-point movement. Others are like currency to buy new cards. Others provide swords that allow you to overcome nasties that lurk underground. Turns become bigger and more powerful as your deck grows! Some cards, when played, mean a player has made noise. Clank! They have to add a cube of their colour to a growing pile. There are further triggers that wake the dragon, entirely. When this happens, all cubes get placed into a bag and a number get revealed. If your colour emerges, it means you take damage. Take too much damage and you’re toast! The Clank! board has two sides – a beginner side and a more complex one. Either way, the aim remains: try to steal as much loot as possible, and stay alive! If you escape the dungeon altogether, you score an extra bonus and trigger the end-game timer. At this point, tally your deck value, along with your loot and artefacts, and the most points wins. Player Count: 2-4 players Time: 30-60 minutes Age: 12+

Combining the familiar deck-building mechanic with press-your-luck dungeon thievery, Clank! has become a widely-loved game in the short time since its 2016 release.

Designed by Paul Dennen and published by Renegade and Dire Wolf, Clank! is a different take on the deck-building genre for 2-4 players. It can also be played solo with the help of the free Renegade mobile app.

Fans of the deck-building mechanic will recognise several features from established games in that mould, but the additions of a dungeon to explore and the ever-present threat of the dragon mean there’s plenty going on in this game to make it feel completely different to the likes of Dominion and Star Realms.

Are you daring enough to escape with the treasure?

Clank! sees its heroes venturing into the dark depths of the dragon Nictotraxian’s subterranean dungeon. Nictotraxian is the most dangerous creature in the realm, but the opportunity to steal her treasure is too tempting to pass up!

Each player is a brave (or stupid) burglar, risking Nictotraxian’s wrath to enter her dungeon and steal her precious artifacts. If you’re skilful enough you could escape with an extraordinary tale to tell and wealth to last the rest of your days!

However, if you draw too much attention to yourself you’ll be lucky to escape with your life...

What are the components like?

When you open the box, you’ll immediately see that Clank! is no ordinary deck-building game. You’ll find a well made, double-sided board and a number of punch-out token sheets. You’ll also find four wooden player pawns, a wooden dragon marker, 54 coloured wooden cubes and a very nice looking drawstring bag. All of this comes alongside the 183 cards that make up the game’s deck-building element.

The quality of the components makes it immediately obvious that the actual board game aspect of Clank! is not an afterthought or a gimmick. The wooden pieces are well made, the board looks gorgeous and the cloth bag with a red embroidered dragon is a great touch.

The card’s themselves also look the part. Personally, the art isn’t my favourite, but it’s good quality and the playful, cartoon style will appeal to a broad audience. The cards are standard size and, in a shrewd move, the game’s box has been made to hold sleeved cards, which is a great little quality forgotten in many similar games.

All in all, the components are excellent, especially considering the game’s moderate price point.

So, how does the game play out?

Before you start playing, you need to set-up the board. You can choose either the beginner’s dungeon or the more advanced dungeon on the flip side of the board. You then assign tokens representing artifacts, hidden secrets and a couple of other valuable items to their places, which are all clearly marked on the board and labelled in the rule book. The number of artifacts changes slightly with the number of players to keep the games competitive.

The aim of the game is to get into the dungeon, grab at least one artifact, and get out without dying. The winner is the player with the most points at the end (although it’s possible for all players to lose, more on that shortly).

As I’ve already mentioned, the deck-building mechanic is a core gameplay element. You set-up the cards much like other games in the genre, with a 100 card face-down ‘dungeon deck,’ that replenishes a six card ‘dungeon row’, four 10-card starter decks, three piles of face-up reserve cards and a single face up goblin that’s probably going to get whacked a few times over the course of the game.

All of the cards you start with or acquire produce some combination of five resources:

  • Skill: The trade element of the game, used to buy new cards.
  • Combat: Used to defeat monsters in the dungeon row (defeating monsters gives rewards of various resources) or monsters in tunnels.
  • Movement: Used to move your pawn around the dungeon.
  • Gold: Used to buy items in the marketplaces and worth points at the end of the game.
  • Clank: Generates Clank! cubes, which makes the dragon more likely to catch you!

All of the cards, except monsters and starter cards, have a skill cost that you have to pay to acquire them, and many of these cards are also worth points at the end of the game.

Using your increasingly powerful deck, you need to move your pawn around the dungeon. Various symbols on the board represent obstacles to work around, leading to interesting decisions as to which path through the dungeon your deck is best suited to help you take.

Your goal is to pick up one of the 5-7 artifacts that will be scattered around the dungeon. You’re not allowed to make your escape until you’ve picked up one of these. Each artifact has a points value ranging from 5-30, and players can only carry one unless they have a backpack, which is one of several items you can buy with gold from the marketplace. Other marketplace items give you points, power up certain cards and can make it easier to move around. And that’s almost all the basics of the game, but I can’t help thinking I’m forgetting something...

THE DRAGON! Yes, never forget that you’re raiding the dungeon of the fearsome Nictotraxian. Every time a card enters the dungeon row with a dragon symbol on it, Nicki attacks! When a dragon attack is triggered, all the Clank! cubes the players have generated up to that point get scooped up and added into the cloth bag with 24 black dragon cubes. A number of cubes are pulled out as specified by the dragon marker’s place on its rage track, which increases as artifacts are stolen throughout the game.

If a cube of your colour is pulled out, it goes on your damage track. You can also take damage from monsters in tunnels if you don’t have enough combat to fight them off. Get 10 cubes on here, and, sorry, but you’re dead (a fate I’ve experienced far too many times)!

The endgame begins as soon as the first player leaves the dungeon due to dying or escaping with an artifact. Each turn that player would take from then on results in increasingly dangerous dragon attacks, until the fourth turn, when all players left in the dungeon die.

If you die in the subterranean levels or without an artifact, you’re completely dead. You lose all your points. If you ‘die’ above ground, helpful villagers will save you! You’ll keep the points you’ve gained so far, but you won’t get the 20 point bonus given to any player who gets out unscathed.

All players then add up points from their artifacts, items and dungeon cards. The player with the highest score wins! But if all players were killed without gaining points, everyone loses and Nictotraxian reigns smugly until your next game night.

Clank! - The Verdict

I love Clank! It’s a great take on the deck-building genre and has entertained me again and again. Navigating around the board adds a strategic element that pure deck-building games can’t really replicate, helping it to stand apart as something unique.

The Clank! mechanic, where some cards generate Clank! cubes, is also very effectively used to balance more powerful card effects. Cards that would otherwise be under-costed, often generate Clank! as a way to offset their greater power. It also adds interesting decisions for players who have to weigh up how many cubes they want to risk going into the dragon bag. I’ve found that different people will naturally be more or less averse to taking these risky cards, which creates a great opportunity for each player to play the game in a way they enjoy.

How interactive the game is really depends on the player count. In general, the only way to interact with other players is to beat them to a location on the board, buy cards you know they want or attempt to trigger dragon attacks when they’re on high damage. The more players you have, the more crowded the board will be, which will lead to higher chances of different strategies clashing. If you’re someone who doesn’t like direct inter-player aggression, playing Clank! with two players will be perfect.

However, if you want more interaction you should stick to the higher player counts. I personally find three players to be a sweet spot, but also enjoy the game a lot at two. That said, even at four, Clank! is never going to be as interactive as some deck-builders; it’s much closer to Ascension and Dominion in feel.

On the whole, I’ve found that the game works well with people who have all sorts of different tastes. Fans of deck-builders will inevitably find something to love, but its appealing looks and fun theme give it a much broader appeal. I could see it taking a while to learn for players who need to learn the deck-building mechanic from scratch as well as all the other rules, but it’s by no means a weighty game. The rule book is very clear and thorough as well, which should help new players get to grips with it faster.

Clank! is one of my favourite games, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes board games.

Before you can get started with Clank! there's a bit of set-up that needs to happen. First, you have to choose which map you want to play - if it's your first time, you should use the more basic game - then you need to lay out all the necessary tiles. This means randomly placing one major secret on each of their spots spot and two minor secrets on each minor spot. You'll also need to choose and place out the artefact tokens (five for two players, six for three players or all of them for four players). Finally, place the Monkey Idols on their spaces and place all other tokens within easy reach of the board.

Next up are the cards. Each player needs a starter deck containing six Burgles, two Stumbles, a Sidestep and a Scramble. Then place place the reserve cards (Mercenary, Explore, Secret Tome and Goblin) below the board and shuffle the 100 card Dungeon Deck. When the deck is shuffled, place it next to the reserve cards and deal six cards face-up into the Dungeon Row. If any of these cards have a dragon symbol on them, shuffle them back in and replace them for now.

Now place the dragon marker (we'll call her Nictotraxian, or Niki, from now on) on the appropriate starting place marked on the rage track, and put her black cubes in the bag. Finally, assign each player a colour and place each pawn on the starting point just outside the dungeon. Now you're ready to go!

The Objective

The goal of Clank! is to get into the dungeon, steal an artefact and as much other treasure as you can get your hands on and get out again before Nictotraxian kills you. Sounds simple enough, right? Here's how it all works.

Player Turns

Cards get everything going in Clank! and if you're familiar with deck-building games like Dominion and Star Realms, you'll pick up the core mechanics quickly. Players start each turn with five cards in hand. They have to play all of these cards (not necessarily simultaneously) in their turn, and will gain some combination of five core resources (explained below) and a few additional effects.

At the end of the player's turn, all cards go to their face-up discard pile, and they draw a new hand of five cards from their face-down deck. If they don't have enough cards in their deck to draw the full five, they shuffle their discard pile and it becomes their deck once again, before drawing the remaining cards they need. Now let's look at the main resources these cards will generate, shown by the symbols on the left hand side of the card and text in the lower half:

Skill

Skill, represented by a number in a blue diamond, is the main currency in Clank! It's used to buy cards from the Dungeon Row and the Reserve which have a cost in their top right corner. When you buy a card from the Dungeon Row, it is only replaced by a new one at the end of the turn. Any cards you buy go straight to your discard pile, though some cards have an 'Acquire' effect that activates immediately.

Combat

Some cards in the Dungeon Row and the Goblin in the reserve can't be bought. They must be defeated by paying the combat cost in their bottom right corner. When defeated, these monsters are discarded from the Dungeon Row and replaced at the end of the turn. They'll also give you some kind of bonus - often gold, which we'll get to later. The single Goblin is always available to be killed, and combat can be used to defeat the monsters that lurk in tunnels, shown by the monster symbol on the board, that will damage you if you can't beat them off.

Movement

Movement is represented by a black boot in a yellow square, and is crucial to the game. One movement symbol allows you to move through one regular tunnel, which is how you get around the board. A new player's pitfall is not realising how valuable movement is - it's possibly the most valuable of all resources.

However, not all movement is regular. Some tunnels have a double foot symbol, which means you have to get two moves in a turn to move through them. Others have to be unlocked with a key, and the crystal cave rooms prevent players from moving on that turn. This is why it's important to be able to see more than one movement symbol in your hand most turns, giving you the flexibility to go down different routes to the artefacts that are the goal of your exploration.

Gold

Along with skill, gold is one of the in-game currencies. At the end of the game, each coin you have is worth one point, but it can also be used to buy market items. These items each cost seven gold, and have various abilities, such as allowing you to unlock passages and carry more than the usual limit of one artefact. Some cards generate gold as a resource, and many monsters drop it when they die.

Clank!

The final resource is negative, which is why you have no choice but to play all your cards. If a card gives you +X Clank! you have to put that many of your coloured cubes in the Clank! banner. This is bad, and I'll explain why shortly.

Other card abilities

Like all strategic card games, Clank! cards can do all of the above and more. Some of them will let you draw cards, while others will let you break certain movement rules. The key is to be aware of what the strengths and weaknesses of your deck are that game, and buy cards that help you to achieve your strategic goals.

Sometimes you'll want to favour combat if you're going down a lot of monster-infested tunnels, while in other games you'll want to focus purely on movement to get in and out of the dungeon as quickly as possible. The beauty of this game is that your deck will never look exactly the same from play to play.

Secrets

As you move around the dungeon you'll be able to pick up major and minor secrets, which are worth mentioning here because they offer bonuses that are very similar to one-time card effects. The existence of secrets is why I always complete my movement for the turn before buying any cards or killing any monsters, as the benefits from them often bolster the resources you have available and could give you the boost you need to buy a particularly expensive card or kill a particularly tough monster.

Nictotraxian and the End Game

Now let's get to the really interesting part of Clank! - the dragon attacks. Nictotraxian doesn't like you stealing her stuff, and every now and then she'll attack to try and scare you off or even kill you. Dragon attacks are triggered at the end of player turns if a card with a dragon attack symbol is added to the Dungeon Row.

At this point, all the cubes in the Clank! banner are added to the dragon bag, and one player randomly draws out the number of cubes specified on the dragon track (plus any more specified by certain cards in the Dungeon Row). Nictotraxian moves up the row every time players steal an artefact or find a Dragon Egg (a type of minor secret). Players must add every cube of their colour pulled out to their health track, but don't worry - at least in the early game, many of the cubes will just be the black dragon cubes that don't do anything.

The health track

There are 10 spaces on the health track, which are added to whenever a player's cubes are drawn from the dragon bag or whenever they take damage from a monster in a tunnel. Players can heal themselves by landing on special healing spots or finding healing potion secrets. If any player hits 10 damage, they're knocked out...

Death and near-death experiences

If a player hits 10 damage, one of two things happen. If they're in the subterranean part of the dungeon, below the grassline, they die in the dragon's jaws. This means they're out of the game and get no points. If a player is above ground, however, daring villagers manage to save you and you can keep all the points you've gained up to that point.

The end of the game

The end game begins whenever the first player is knocked out in the dungeon or manages to escape with an artefact. At this point, the player moves onto the endgame track at the top of the board, and all that happens on their turns are successively powerful dragon attacks. On the fourth turn, all players still in the dungeon are killed instantly. When all players are either dead or out of the dungeon, scoring begins.

Players who get out alive are awarded a Dungeon Mastery token (worth 20 points). Points are also scored on any card or artefact that has a white number in a green circle. Some secrets, all artefacts and most cards score points, as do the Monkey Idols also available in the dungeon. Remember, if a player dies underground they get nothing! The player with the most points is the winner.

 

Tips and Tricks for Clank!

A large part of the enjoyment in a game like Clank! comes from discovering strategies and ideas for yourself, but there are a few things you can be aware of to make those first games go a bit more smoothly and gain an edge over the competition.

Buy movement cards

In general, you should prioritise cards that generate movement. These will give you the freedom to pursue a number of different strategies, and ensure that you won't die in the depths of the dungeon. It's easy to pass over them because they don't enable you to buy even cooler cards or kill the big monsters, but none of that will matter if Nictotraxian gets her jaws on you. Even Explore, the 3-cost reserve card, is a good addition to most decks if you don't have loads to spend, giving you some extra movement and a skill boost.

Look for ways to minimise your Clank! production

If you're not putting much Clank! in the bag, you're less likely to die a painful death. While it might seem unavoidable to play your basic Stumble cards or even Dungeon Row cards that generate Clank!, there are many ways to mitigate its impact. Cards that let you discard from your hand, like Sleight of Hand, are favourites of mind as this means you don't actually have to play the discarded cards. Some other effects in the game will allow you to trash your Stumbles, while other cards will give you negative Clank!, actually taking it away from the banner (but not the bag).

A trick to building a decent deck is to balance your cards that cause and mitigate Clank! You might think that it's a good idea to avoid buying any new cards that generate Clank!, but remember that Clank! is used as a balancing tool for more powerful effects. These cards are often some of the best value for money in the game, but they'll come back to bite you if you don't have a way of getting rid of Clank! or healing yourself.

Gold is good

Cards that generate gold (the coins, not the blue skill currency) are easy to undervalue because gold has limited use in the game. It's also easy to underestimate the value of killing monsters that drop a lot of gold. However, having easy access to gold is a great way to gain some powerful items from the market and give yourself a little points boost at the end of the game.

Both the Master Key and Backpack market items can give you a serious advantage over your opponents, especially if you can buy them on your first visit to the market squares. The Crowns are also good, but you need to really want them to make them better than the key or the bag.

Don't be afraid to experiment

I'll leave you with a short tip that will make you a better player in the long run and help you have more fun: experiment each time you play. Try different strategies; buy different cards. Sure, it won't work every time, but you'll learn the ins and outs of the game a lot faster and you'll be enjoying a different experience each time you play. What more do you want from a game?

That's all for now. Have fun, and don't get eaten!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • The innovative blend of different mechanics.
  • A very good thematic experience - I feel nervous if I'm high on damage!
  • A good range of strategic options are available throughout the gam

Might not like

  • The limited randomisation of the board - may become repetitive for some.
  • The power curve of the dungeon deck - it could be spread out more.
  • It's a lot to take on for a newcomer who isn't familiar with deck-building.