What’s with all this clanking around?
When you’re making such noise, you’re sure to draw the attention of the big bad boss and make it much harder to steal his loot and escape.
Well, you truly can’t avoid being noisy when you’re playing Clank!
But that’s the fun of it!
Just over 10 years ago, Dominion took the tabletop game world by storm with its innovative game play introduction of deck-building. Players start with a certain number of cards in their deck and over the course of the game they add more cards to their deck to make it more powerful and better equipped to gain victory points.
Because of the sweeping success of Dominion, deck-building games burst out from every corner of the industry. The great news is that some of those games have really hit it out of the park with the ways they’ve enhanced deck-building.
And Clank! is one of those hits!
In Clank! players grow their deck of cards, but it’s not just a card game like deck-building games before. The purpose of deck-building in Clank! is to traverse a board and steal artifacts from a dragon. And as they move around in the depths, players also make noise. Not only does this noise attract the dragon, it also increases their odds of being knocked out.
Players first decide which side of the game board they want to play on. Each side of the board presents a slightly different challenge based on the way the rooms are laid out and ways players can traverse the rooms.
Players begin the game with their pawn at the top of the board and with a hand of 10 cards. Various artifacts are placed in the lower sections of the game board and secret tokens are also placed randomly face down on different spaces throughout the board.
The dungeon cards are shuffled to form a draw deck and the top 6 are placed to form the Dungeon Row. These are the cards players can purchase on their turn to add to their personal deck.
On their turn, a player will draw 5 cards into their hand and play them in any order. The icons on the cards indicate how they can be used. Boots are used for moving from space to space. Swords are used for fighting enemies. And Skill points are used for buying more cards.
Some pathways between rooms toss in extra challenges as well. For example, some require additional boots to pass through, some have additional enemy icons to fight, and some require a Key to get past.
In addition, some cards cause players to gain Clank!
When this happens, players add that many of their color cubes to the Clank! area on the board. (more on this shortly)
As players land on spaces with Secret tokens, they claim those tokens and can use the ability it grants during the game. In addition, players can also purchase items from a market that will also aid them in their adventure.
Once players have played all their cards and used all the resources they want, their turn ends. They discard their cards (those played and those purchased) and draw 5 cards from their personal deck to their hand in preparation for their next turn.
Any empty spaces in the face up Dungeon Row are filled with new cards from the dungeon deck. If a card shows the dragon icon in the bottom right, the Dragon attacks!
When the Dragon attacks, players take all the cubes from the Clank! area and place them in the dragon bag. Then they draw a number of cubes equal to where the Dragon is on his track. Any color cubes drawn are placed on that player’s health track.
If the last space on a health track is filled, that player is Knocked Out.
Once a player captures an artifact in the depths, they can begin their escape. If they make it back to the top of the castle, they’ll earn bonus points. Once the first player escapes, time starts ticking even more for the other players.
Once all players are out of the dungeon or knocked out, the game ends. All the players who make it out of the depths total their score. (Any players knocked out while still in the depths of the dungeon are out of the running.) The player with the most points wins!
Clank! In! Space! plays very much like the original Clank!
It’s still a deck-building game with movement around a game board for artifacts and victory points. There are still secret items to find that will help along the way or grant more points. And players still need to get past a certain point on the board in order to be considered for winning.
But in addition to that proven, fun game play, there are also plenty of things that are different with Clank! In! Space!
For starters, the game board itself is modular instead of fixed. In the original Clank! the board is double-sided with variations in the layout of rooms and such. But with Clank! In! Space!, the game board is constructed from multiple sections as part of set up. The 3 central board pieces are double-side, making many different ways for players to construct the spaceship board – making it different every time you play.
Since the theme/setting of Clank! In! Space! is obviously set in space, the components all have a sci-fi theme instead of fantasy adventure theme. The hefty deck of adventure cards is full of popular sci-fi references including the names on the cards, the flavor text, and the artwork. Likewise, the artifacts, secret tokens, power crystals, and data cubes all speak to the space theme as well. For example, there are spaceship plans, sonic grenades, and vaporizers.
Another addition that carries a sci-fi theme is the inclusion of Factions on some of the cards. Many cards have an icon in the upper left corner that mark them as a member of one of three Factions. These cards can become more powerful depending on other cards that reference those Factions.
In addition to the altered theme from the original, the flow of play has changed as well. Instead of players just rushing in, grabbing an artifact, and escaping, players must now traverse more of the board before they can turn around to exit.
All the artifacts in the game are placed in the far-right section of the game board. Players cannot enter that section of the board until they have “hacked” 2 data ports. The 3 central board sections each have spaces where players can place their data cubes to indicate they’ve “hacked” those ports. Players must place both of their data cubes (in two different board sections) before they can access the final board area and claim an artifact.
As with all good spaceships, there are also teleport spots and hyperlifts that can help players move around the board more quickly (as long as they have the item that helps them do so).
Like the original game, players move around the ship by playing cards from their hand with movement icons (boots) and attack enemies with the sword icons on their cards. Some passageways are also locked and require keys to pass through. After a player has moved, attacked, and grabbed any goods, they can buy more cards to add to their growing deck.
The namesake of the game is also ever present – Clank! As players move and do other things during the game, they will generate Clank which will infuriate the Boss. Like in the original when they Clank, players add one of their colored cubes to the Clank area. When the boss activates, all Clank cubes are placed in the bag and a certain number of cubes are drawn and placed on the matching color health track. If a player’s Clank cubes fill all their health spaces, they’re knocked out.
Once a player has claimed an artifact, they can head back across the board to the escape pods. Getting away in an escape pod will grant 20 additional points.
Once all players have either escaped or been knocked out, the game ends. All players who reached an escape pod or at least the Cargo Bay add up their points. The player with the most points wins the game.
Thoughts on Clank! and Clank! In! Space!
We can’t help but comparing these games to another deck-building favorite of ours, Thunderstone Quest.
Thunderstone Quest is another deck-building game with a purpose. Instead of just adding cards to our deck to get victory points, we get to add heroes, weapons, and spells in order to fight monsters in dungeon areas. Plus, we get to upgrade those heroes to be more powerful along the way.
In a similar vein, the cards in the Clank! games have a more tangible reason behind them than just being cards. Deciding which cards to add to our decks to make them more helpful is a key part of the game.
Another key part of the game is deciding which routes to take through the board. Along with that planning comes the inevitable change of plans when you don’t get the cards you’re hoping for into your hand. You may come up short on movement cards to make it quickly to the area you’re shooting for. Or you may come up short on swords to get past an enemy and will have to add more Clank cubes.
However, it shakes out, you can bet you’ll have to adjust your plans throughout the game. And we love that variety.
But the best part of both games is the ongoing tension in the game as you add more Clank cubes. It’s an odds game as to which colors will be drawn from the bag. But odds are fickle things. And even if there are fewer of your cubes in the bag than the other players, yours may still be the cubes pulled. That’s just too bad.
While we love both Clank! and Clank! In! Space!, the big inevitable question is “which game is better?”
That will depend on what you’re looking for.
For me, I prefer Clank! In! Space! because I love the variable board set up and the need for all players to traverse the board more before making an escape.
But that being said, we’re still keeping both versions of the game!
Because if we want to play a quick race-and-grab game, we’ll go with the original Clank! If we want a bit more to do in the game, we’ll play Clank! In! Space! And if we’re playing with friends that enjoy a particular theme, we’ll simply go with the theme they prefer (dungeon-diving or space).
Of course, like with most widely successful games, Clank! has spawned a number of expansions as well. Each expansion adds more cards and other unique elements to the game.
- Clank!: Sunken Treasures
- Clank!: The Mummy’s Curse
- Clank! Expeditions: Gold and Silk
- Clank! In! Space! Apocalypse!
Clank! In! Space! game insert
Last year we reviewed a game insert of Clank! from Insert Here. We shared photos and our thoughts about the foam core insert. Today we’re going with a more active display and sharing a short video of the Insert Here game insert for Clank! In! Space!
Check it out!