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Subject: Story Board reviews: Clank! rss

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Angelus Morningstar
New South Wales
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Originally posted here, do not replicate without permission or attribution:

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Synopsis: You are sneaking into a dungeon, to steal loot and escape before you wake the dragon. You’ll have to plunge into the depths beneath the castle, grab something and try to survive before you are rendered unconscious.

You win if you are the player with the most amount of points who is still alive at the end of the game. To complete your run, you will have to swipe one (and only one) artefact from the caverns below. The deeper into the dungeon the artefact lies, the greater the risk to retrieve it. For as soon as one player escapes, everyone has five more turns to leave.

Your game play is driven by deck building, which you will manipulate to move your pawn through the various rooms of the dungeon and recover one of the artefacts. Apart from specific text abilities, cards provide boots (movement), swords (damage to enemies), and skill (what you spend to buy new cards). However, some cards also create clank, meaning noise you generate from snooping around the dungeon.

Clank is comprised of cubes of your colour you place in a common pool. At certain trigger points, the dragon wakes and attacks. All accumulated clank is placed into a bag, mixed in with black neutral cubes. Several are drawn, and each coloured cube becomes damage for player. Damage is placed on your health track, and you become knocked out should this ever become full. As long as you are above-ground when you are knocked out, you are still in the running to win.

Commentary: When I first came across this game, I almost passed on it. Conceptually it sounded too much like Thunderstone, a la deck-building meets dungeon crawling, which did not do much for me. However, Clank! far surpassed my expectations. The constant pressure to get in and out creates a sublime risk, as well as the mounting dread as you clumsily make noise.

This means those sparingly few cards let you cull cards from your deck are incredibly valuable; because losing something can generate clank is extremely useful. I also love there are cards can offset the damage of clank by working with it. By far my favourite card is “Swagger”, which gives you skill points for every clank you make turn. This card just gives you all you need to know about the general tone and feel of the game.

What works well for this game is how most of the core mechanisms are fairly streamlined and straightforward. It takes very little explanation to get the game moving, and once it does the pace of the game has incredible inertia. There is not much in the way of downtime, because most players’ turns are quick and to the point. You can palpably feel the pressure to move quickly but surely.

Verdict: A wonderful game will easily find its way to my table time and again. The pacing of this game gives it life.
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Paul S
United Kingdom
West Yorks
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Great review, thanks. Wasn't on my radar before but certainly now is.
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