Doug's Dungeon - Clank!
KALOO KALAY IT’S FINALLY THAT DAY! THEY HAVE CLANK AND THAT’S OKAY!
A little background here: I only write for items Hobbymaster sells. And sometimes I’ll get my grubby mitts on a real gem. A gem they don’t have. But then, I’ll wander in to dump 300 bucks on dungeons and dragons books that I’m only using for a single session. And Jack will be “Hey, we got ‘Clank!’ In just for you!” Now I don’t blame the poor boy. How could he possibly know I had the game brought in from Canada by my sister months beforehand (making me possibly the sole owner of the title in the country)? Either way, they now have it. I have it. And I love it. It, of course, being Clank!
If I were a beholder, and my dreams spontaneously materialized into reality as I slept, I’d spawn Clank!. It’s a deck-building dungeon-crawler game for 2 to 4 players. The aim being to loot the old castle more than everyone else. Oh and you have to get out before a dragon murders you. The game builds on an older deck-builder by the name of Ascension, adding onto it a board players traverse throughout the game. Along the way, you interact with cards representing allies, weapons, tools, small treasures and a menagerie of menacing monsters.
Like any good deck-building game, there are 2 important parts: Your starting deck of cards, and the cards you can ‘purchase’ to improve your deck. Your starting deck contains cards you’ll play, discard, reshuffle and play again. Said cards feature two of the most important resources. Movement, and skill. Movement is what you need to move around the dungeon. Funnily enough, you’ll need it to get out, too. Skill is used to buy more cards from the buy row. Cards in this area (and a few stacks of ‘always availables’) are better than what you start with. That means when you use them, you’ll gain more of the things you need, along with other neat abilities.
Take the ‘Lucky Coin’ for instance. It gives you 1 skill when played (the blue diamond), just like the ‘burgle’ cards you start the game with. But the coin draws you an extra card to play, potentially making your turn better than average! Of course you could draw into a ‘stumble’, which, along with the coin itself, gives you CLANK! CLANK is a negative resource that gets piled up on the board. When the dragon decides it wants to attack the players she’ll tend toward the guy making all the DAMN NOISE.Thus, the cubes go into the soft, velvety dragon bag. Oh it feels good to hold it, but when your coloured cubes pop out, it hurts. Quite literally, in fact. Take 10 cube hits and you’ll die… maybe.
Before we get into the deep and complex topic of mortality, you need to know about the loot. The dungeon is sprawling with secrets to uncover. Relics, potions, one-time deck improvements. They’re all there! But it’s first come, first served. On top of that are the game-ending artifacts; the victory point heavy hitters. Taking these makes Nikki (the dragon) … (No really, her name is ‘Nictotraxian or Nikki for short’. You think I’m being a dang ol’ Doug but I’m straight up quoting the manual). Taking these things make NIKKI quite the woman scorned, causing more fierce attacks.
Should she knock you out, you’re out of the game. If you’re up top with an artifact, the townsfolk come to save you. You might be a bit beat up, but you’ll still score at the end of the game. But if you were a greedy gobbo... deep in the depths below, no one is coming to save you. You die a cube-y death, and Nikki makes a square meal out of you. Either way, the first player out (even if they escaped with an artifact) becomes a countdown timer. Each time that player would have a turn, Nikki’s fury becomes more savage until she up and kills everyone! Once a player is out, the game switches to a desperate race to the exit!
Once everyone is out (or moidered), count up those green victory point numbers. Whoever has the most wins! And that’s Clank!. Even disregarding its rarity here in New Zealand, it’s quite a gem for any collector. I didn’t even talk about earning gold, or the marketplace to spend said gold, or using keys from said marketplace to go through locked doors, or teleporting through said doors with cool cards, or one-time devices you can use to do said teleport, or earning combat to fight monsters. Or, ooooooor, the other side of the board, which is an entirely different castle! There’s so much to discover in Clank that it’ll take four or five plays just to see all the cards in the deck!
Comparing it to other deck-builders, Clank is a slam dunk. I do take personal issue with many victory points being earned through usable cards and tokens that don’t clog your deck. Sometimes this causes a player to run away with the game as a result. But that’s not enough to detract from the experience. Once you pick some premium cards from the buy rows, you can morph your strategy around them. The idea of having clank generators in your starting deck is a great way to curb the value of extra card draw (the true king of the genre). Those bursty turns where you get a lot of value don’t mean much when you’re dead! As such, you’re always pushed to add more cards to your deck to lessen the effect of stumbles. I like the idea of a game that pushes you to explore it, and punishes you for not taking part in it.
Clank comes highly recommended from me, a connoisseur of deck builders. If you want more Clank! You can pick up the watery expansion (true to NZ fashion, it has been available well before the core game). Another double-sided board and a fat pile of extra cards go a long way to keep this game top of my list. But the wife and I agree, the expansion should have been called ‘SPLASH!’
Come on guys.
I'm an avid lover of all things table top. I also have a growing collection of board games which inspire me to create my own. I put my loud and expressive personality to good use as a dungeon master for my friends, having run many campaigns through 4th and 5th edition D&D.
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