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 increases its rage. You can enjoy your plunder only if you make it out of the depths alive!
- Ages 12+
- 1-4 players
- 30-60 minutes playing time
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.