The landscape got even richer back in 2016 with the introduction of Clank!, a multi-faceted and rewarding deck-builder that pairs its board-based, dungeon-crawl theme with a ticking clock element, resulting a compulsively-playable game.
In Clank!, players are "master" thieves who are looking to infiltrate a subterranean dungeon below an abandoned castle in order to steal artifacts from a sleeping dragon. Aaaaaand we all know that always works out well. To that end, players begin the game with an identical deck of mediocre cards, five of which are randomly drawn and played out every turn to get your character moving into the maze. This also generates the Skill required to draft new, and generally superior, Dungeon Row cards into your deck.
Starting decks also include the titular "clank" cards, which represents the noise players make while they drunkenly careen their way through the dungeon.Whenever these cards hit the table, the owners have to contribute an equal number of their colored cubes to the board's "Clank Banner." Later, when the Dungeon Row is refilled with cards bearing the "Dragon Attack" symbol, these cubes are dumped into a black bag and then "X" number are randomly drawn based on the dragon's ever-increasing Rage level. Any cubes that match a player's color are placed on their respective Health Meters, which simulates the dragon going after the noisiest interlopers. When this meter fills up with cubes, you die.
Well, not quite. If you die in the castle portion of the board, the locals drag your sorry ass out and you can still count your points. However, if you get knocked out in the dungeon level, the villagers are all like "Fuck dat!" and leave your charred carcass down there as a jerky treat for the dragon.
Since the goal of the game is to snag at least one artifact and get out, the first person to achieve this goal actually triggers a terrifying endgame countdown. On every subsequent turn, the escapee presides over an increasingly-nasty dragon attack and, after four rounds of this punishment, the dragon goes completely HAM on all the remaining interlopers, killing them wholesale. Needless to say, this mechanic really drives up the game's growing tension.
For a deck-building game that downright wallows in its blatantly-Ameritrash theme, it sure sports a lot of interesting chrome. Such as:
- Boot symbols generated by your cards let you move efficiently through the maze, but the board itself throws in a few wrinkles. Certain passageways have impassible locked doors, difficult terrain (requiring double movement costs), "wandering monsters" that guard corridors and cavernous Crystal Chambers that soak up excess movement. The board also "wraps around", Pac-Man style, yo!
- You're encouraged to incorporate cards featuring Swords into your deck to deal with those pesky, aforementioned wandering monsters. You can also use this potential damage to gank Dungeon Row as well as the poor, eternally-renewing Goblin, for profit.
- If you can reach one of the four mid-board Market spaces, you can then spend all of that stolen lootz on cool upgrades. This includes Keys to unlock doors, Backpacks to ignore the "one Artifact per intruder" limit and Crowns, which dovetail nicely with certain cards that appear in the Dungeon Row.
- Adventurers can recover Major and Minor Secrets which feature helpful perks.
- Some chambers have a Fountain of Healing to provide much-needed rest and respite.
- The sheer variety of cards that appear in the Dungeon Row gives the game a crazy amount of variety, including the ability to Teleport to inaccessible parts of the maze.
- The flip-side of the game board features an even more challenging layout!
The really great thing about Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure is that neophytes to the hobby won't find the rules overly daunting but it's just meaty enough to keep veteran gamers amused. This one scores five pips out of six with a slight tilt down towards the subterranean depths!
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