Game Buzz: Clank!

Today’s game has been getting some good buzz since its release last fall, and I just haven’t gotten around to taking a look at it yet.  So here’s

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Clank! is a game from designer Paul Dennen that was published in 2016 by Renegade Games.  It’s for 2-4 players, and takes 30-60 minutes to complete.  The game is a deckbuilding dungeon crawl adventure where you are trying NOT to make the most noise and thus attract the attention of the dragon.

Clank! comes with a  double-sided game board; 43 Reserve cards (Mercenary, Explore, Secret Tome, and Goblin); four 10-card starting decks (containing Burgle, Stumble, Sidestep and Scramble cards); a Dungeon Deck of 100 cards; 7 Artifact tokens; 11 Major Secret tokens; 18 Minor Secret tokens; 2 Master Key tokens; 2 Backpack tokens; 3 Crown tokens; 3 Monkey Idol tokens; 4 Mastery tokens; 120 cubes; a Dragon marker; 24 Dragon cubes; a Dragon bag; 4 player pawns; and gold.  Each player takes a pawn and 30 cubes of their color, as well as a starting deck, and places their pawn by the entrance of the side of the board you choose to use.  Artifacts, as well as Monkey Idols, Market Items, Major and Minor Secrets, and Mastery tokens, are placed in their spots on the board (Secrets are placed randomly and unseen).  The 24 Dragon cubes go in the Dragon bag, and the Dragon marker is placed at or near the start of the rage track.  Six cards are drawn from the Dungeon Deck to form the Dungeon Row, face up.  You’ll also have stacks of the Reserve cards available.  Each player will draw a hand of five cards from their deck, and the first player will add three Clank! cubes to the Clank! area (second player will add two, third will add one, fourth will add zero).

image by BGG user Vargeth87
image by BGG user Vargeth87

On your turn, you’ll basically play the cards from your hand.

  • Some of the cards will give you Skill points, which are used to acquire other cards for your deck.  Skill points can also activate Devices, which don’t go into your deck, but rather are used and then discarded.
  • Some cards have Sword points, which will be used to defeat the monsters that come out of the Dungeon Deck.  The Goblin is always available to defeat, and defeated monsters give you various rewards.
  • Some of the cards have Boots points, which allow you to move around the board.  Some paths will need extra Boots to cross, others will have a monster in the way, and still others will be locked and impassable unless you have a Master Key.  Moving into a room with a token (Secret, Monkey Idol, or Artifact) allows you to take it.  Taking an Artifact increases the Dragon’s Rage, and you can only have one for the entire game.  Also, if you enter a Crystal Cave, you may not use any more Boots for the rest of your turn.
  • Some cards give you Gold, which can be used for points at the end of the game or for purchasing items at the market.
  • Some cards give you Clank! points, which means you have a higher chance of attracting the Dragon.  You’ll add one of your cubes to the Clank! area per Clank! point you get on a turn.  When these cards come out in your hand, you must play them.

Once your turn is done, refill any empty spaces in the Dungeon Row.  If you draw any cards with a Dragon symbol on it, the Dragon attacks.  Take all cubes in the Clank! area and place them in the bag.  You then shake them up and draw the number shown on the Dragon Rage track.  If you draw any player cubes, they are placed on that player’s health meter.  Dragon cubes are not put back in the bag.

If a player’s health meter is ever completely filled, they are knocked out.  A knocked out player who has grabbed an artifact and made it out of the Depths (top half of the board) is rescued by the townspeople and will be able to score.  A knocked out player who has NOT grabbed an artifact, or who is still in the Depths, is out of the game.  The first player who is knocked out (or escapes the Dungeon under their own power) places their pawn on the countdown track, and advances it every time it would be their turn.  The second through fourth spaces trigger an instant Dragon attack, while the fifth space knocks out anyone still in the Dungeon.

The game is over when all players are either knocked out or have escaped the Dungeon.  Score your Artifact, other acquired points from tokens, total Gold left, and points in your deck.  The high score wins.

image by BGG user Arachnode
image by BGG user Arachnode

Ever since Dominion came out in 2008, people have been trying to put their own spin on the deckbuilding genre with varying levels of success.  Clank! is not the first game to try to introduce a board element to the mechanism (see Trains), nor is it the first to add the dungeon-crawling theme (see Thunderstone).  But the important thing is not so much innovation as the question, “Is it fun?”  And from most accounts, it is.  People really enjoy the different paths you can take, as well as the push-your-luck aspect of trying to control how much noise you make.  The game looks like a blast, and it’s one I want to play sometime.  Hopefully soon.

Thanks for reading!

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