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Royce Roeswood
United States
Denver
Colorado
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Clank! is a deck-building dungeon crawling treasure heist for 2-4 players. Like many deck-building games, players start with a deck of 10 starter cards which they use to acquire additional cards for their deck. However, the game departs from other deck-builders in two key ways: 1) the board and 2) the eponymous clank mechanic, both of which add a push-your-luck element to the game.

The Board

One of the resources your deck generates is movement, which you use to move from square to square in the dungeon, exploring mysteries, collecting an artifact to steal-- and then getting out as fast as you can. There are many paths to take on both boards (the board is double-sided), so the path you choose will change from game to game depending on your opponents' actions and what cards you are able to acquire for your deck.

The more valuable artifacts are deeper in the dungeon, which sets up a push-your-luck mechanic. Should I play it safe and grab a less valuable artifact? Or should I go for the good stuff knowing I might not make it out alive?

Clank

This mechanic is the really interesting part of this game. Your deck starts with two Stumble cards, which generate 1 Clank each time you play them (like other deck-builders, you have to play all the cards in your hand each turn). Many of the cards you can add to your deck also give you Clank in addition to being valuable in some other way. For each Clank you generate, you add a cube of your color into a communal pool and, at various triggers, called "Dragon Attacks", all of the cubes are added to a bag and some are drawn. Each cube of your color that is drawn counts as damage, and if you accumulate too much damage too deep within the dungeon, you can be knocked out of the game with zero points.

The secret bag is what adds the tension. It is reasonably easy to track how many cubes you have in the bag, but you never know when they are going to be drawn. This adds the second push-your-luck mechanic. Should I grab that card that will go great in my deck, at the risk of adding more Clank? Or should I pick up the less valuable card because I've taken enough damage already?

Decisions

These two push-your-luck mechanics are what makes the game exciting and separates it from other deck-building games. Some might balk at the random element posed by the dragon bag, but for my money, with only a few damage left and all of your points on the line, waiting to see what's going out of that bag creates an excitement that's hard to find in other games.

There's so many factors and resources to manage and balance. There's Skill, which is used to acquire more cards; Swords, which can defeat monsters to get gold and other rewards; Boots, which help you move around the dungeon, turning over secret Mystery tokens, and eventually acquiring one of the artifacts; Gold, which you can use to buy additional equipment at the market, and which also counts toward victory points; Clank, which we have discussed; and finally Victory Points. It's hard to have a set strategy from game to game because of the cards that are available change each game. You really have to adapt to the current situation based on what your opponents do.

Variety of Cards

Like some other deck-building games, cards are acquired from a communal stable of cards available to all players. However, there are many kinds of cards that can show up in this stable. In addition to the cards for your deck, there are monsters to fight for gold and devices that give a one-time benefit. Some monsters trigger the Dragon Attacks and others increase the number of cubes drawn on each attack until defeated. You're really watching to see what comes off the top of that deck, because it might be a great new card or a terrible monster that ruins your plans!

Player Interaction

Most of the player interaction in this game is like a race: since each artifact can be acquired only once, whoever gets there first gets the artifact. I found myself constantly switching objectives because my targets kept getting snatched up by my pesky opponents!

Overall
Clank is a game that satisfies that deck-building itch while playing like a different sort of game entirely. I've played it three times in the last two days and would happily play it again.
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Dan
United States
Rancho Cordova
California
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Thanks for the review!

How long does the average game actually take? I like my push your luck games short, so beging the first to die doesn't feel too bad because you can play 2-3 games in a short game night (ala Incan Gold).

How many players have you played with so far? It seems like it would be far better with 4 than 2 or even 3.
 
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Michael Christenson
United States
Vancouver
Unspecified
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oddbod wrote:


How many players have you played with so far? It seems like it would be far better with 4 than 2 or even 3.


I find it plays equally well with 2, 3, or 4. The two-player game has you remove 2 artifacts at random before placement (and the three-player has you remove 1), so there is some additional variety involved just in that.

My 7YO daughter enjoys this game immensely, and she beats me at it frequently. She quickly understood the importance of boot-cards in the deck (as she says, "speed is best, and trumps the rest"). I often get too greedy for victory point cards that are the "gems" (draw a card, worth good VP, but give you clank when you buy them). Inevitably I add too much Clank to the bag and get killed quickly on the way out.

This is a VERY good "Need vs. Greed" game.
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corum irsei
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Sounds like an interesting and thematic twist on the typical deckbuilding game. Thanks for the review!
 
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