Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure Review & Board Game Guide

The dragon’s keep is full of treasure and glory. Many have ventured in, but only the bravest and best make it back out alive.

Clank! isn’t just any ol’ game that’s been thrown out on a shelf. It was nominated for a Spiel des Jahres award and won, which is pretty impressive on its own, but it’s also a Mensa Select award winner.

Any game with those kinds of endorsements is at least worth a look.

Clank!
  • For 2-4 Players
  • A fast and intense dungeon delving experience!
  • Push your luck to collect more treasure but watch out for the...

We really like deck-building board games. This type of mechanic is so versatile, allowing for every game you play to be a totally new and unique experience. Try different combos to test different strategies and sometimes just make silly decks… either way, it’s going to be good fun.

For more deck-building games to try, make sure to check out our top picks for deck-builders here or get the low-down on the original deck-builder, Dominion, an amazing game with tons of expansions that has truly stood the test of time.

Brief Overview of Clank!

Clank! Board Game Dragon Meeple

Sneak into an angry dragon’s mountain lair to steal precious artifacts. Delve deeper to find more valuable loot. Acquire cards for your deck and watch your thievish abilities grow.

Be quick and be quiet. One false-step and — CLANK! Each careless sound draws the attention of the dragon, and each artifact stolen increases its rage. You can only enjoy your plunder if you make it out of the depths alive!

Clank! is a deck-building, dungeon-delving board game in which players take on the role of adventurers journeying into a dragon’s lair. The fearsome dragon Nictotraxian (or Nicki) doesn’t really like unwelcome guests, so you’ll have to be extra quiet when trying to steal her stuff.

Who’s the real monster here?

While building your deck, you may accidentally end up making some noise… and that’s when Nicki shows up. She will eat you and you will die. So take care and tread carefully.

Versions & Expansions

Clank! In! Space! & Apocalypse! Expansion

Clank! In Space! & Apocalypse Board Game Expansion

The Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG) has won! Damn.

Oh, well. During his victory cruise around the galaxy, you and your fellow space adventurers were able to sneak onboard his spaceship to steal his stuff!

Clank! In! Space! is a reskinning of original Clank! but with a few distinct improvements.

The board itself is now modular, adding to the replayability of an already fantastic game. The artifacts can’t be reached immediately, so that limits the amount of rushing in the game, and finally, there are factions that have been added to the game that can give bonus points to players.

If the Sci-Fi theme and added improvements have your interest piqued, you may want to start here first.

There’s also an Apocalypse! expansion in which you must work to thwart the plots of the evil cyborg, Lord Eradikus, and attempt to avert the Apocalypse! (or at least escape with some treasure).

Clank! Sunken Treasures & The Mummy’s Curse

Clank! Sunken Treasures & Mummy's Curse Expansions

What’s worse than an angry dragon trying to kill you? An angry dragon trying to kill you while you’re drowning! Wait, what?

Clank! Sunken Treasures introduces new enemies and several new map tiles to explore. The added twist is that the map tiles are either partially or completely flooded. So… you better know how to swim. You just know there’s some good loot stashed away in there. Grab it quick before you drown!

Ancient tombs in cursed pyramids always have the best loot. You’re not squeamish about a little grave robbing, are you?

In Clank! The Mummy’s Curse, a new board is added with new monsters and cards, and along with a dragon looking to eat you, you’ll also have to deal with a wandering mummy. Try to steal as much treasure as you can, while avoiding the mummy guardian, Croxobek, who’s coming for you with a special curse reserved especially for grave robbers.

You didn’t really think it would be easier, did you?

Clank! Expeditions: Gold and Silk & Temple of the Ape Lords

Clank! Expeditions Board Game Expansions

Clank! Expeditions are mini-expansions that come in little plastic sleeves instead of an actual game box. Don’t underestimate them, though. There’s a surprising amount of content jammed into these little blister packs.

Each one comes with new meeples and tokens, new enemies, and a brand new board. If I opened this up and was expecting a big box expansion I would be a little upset, but for around $15 dollars, these mini-expansions bring a ton of gameplay to a game I already love.

Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated & Upper Management Pack Expansion

Clank! Legacy Acquisitions Incorporated & Expansion

I have a weakness for legacy games. I don’t think every game needs to be legacy-ed (legacized?), but they do offer a completely unique gaming experience.

Soon to be released, Clank! Legacy puts players at the helm of Acquisitions Incorporated, a dungeon-delving organization dedicated to stealing stuff from innocent dragons. In this unique iteration, you can now found your own franchise of adventurers and teach them everything you know about treasure-hunting. Guide them through a tailored and ever-changing campaign to achieve corporate immortality!

It’s scheduled to be released sometime in November of 2019, so I’m following it and looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Unboxing Clank!

Clank! Board Game Set Up Unboxing

Components:

  • Double-sided game board
  • 182 game cards
  • Cloth “Dragon Bag”
  • 4 Thief meeples
  • 120 player Clank! cubes
  • 1 Dragon Rage meeple
  • 24 Dragon cubes
  • 32 gold piece tokens
  • 11 Major Secret tokens
  • 18 Minor Secret tokens
  • 7 Artifact tokens
  • 3 Crown tokens
  • 2 Backpack tokens
  • 2 Master Key tokens
  • 3 Monkey Idol tokens
  • 4 Mastery tokens
  • 1 Rulebook

The components in Clank! are quite nice and well made.

You’ll find in the box a double-sided board for different player counts, which is always a nice touch.
The meeple and additional components are well done. I particularly like the dragon meeple and bag. The art direction they went with works well with the game and the meeple clearly looks like a dragon instead of a giant chicken… like in some games.

They’ve paid attention to the details here and everything fits back into the box. There’s a bit of room in the box for a few additional expansions, so overall, I’m pretty impressed with what they’ve managed to do here.

How to Play Clank!

Clank! Board Game Cards

Clank!

When you’re looting a dragon’s lair it’s probably a good idea to move silently. Of course, that’s not always easy.

In your starter deck, you’ll notice 2 Clank cards. When you play these cards, you’ll make noise while sneaking through the dragon’s lair and every little clank will draw Nicki closer and closer to your location. Try to keep as quiet as possible while balancing risk and reward. Sometimes there’s just no other way to get that sweet, sweet loot other than making a ton of noise while running like hell through the dungeon.

Every time a player makes noise using a Clank card, they’ll add 1 colored cube of their color to the Clank area of the board. If you’re sneaky enough, you may be able to remove some of your tokens from the area.

Actions

On your turn, you’ll be able to perform several actions:

  • Buy Cards

The cards in the dungeon row on the board can be purchased during your turn if your cards have enough value to cover the cost. You’ll notice a little number in blue in the corner of your cards.

  • Use Device (Purple Banners)

The purple cards on the board are devices. You’ll purchase them using the same blue number in the corner of your cards. The purple device cards are a little different, though. They don’t become part of your deck. They’re one-use items. When you use a purple device you’ll follow the text on the card and then immediately discard it. These can be incredibly powerful but again, are only single-use. Use them wisely.

  • Fight Some MONSTERS!

Monster cards will have a red banner on them. You’re going to run into a lot of these bad boys, so make sure you can deal with them. The sword icons will determine your strength and the strength of the monsters. If you’re able to match the strength of the monster by using cards in your hand, you’ll be able to defeat it and you’ll get the reward that’s listed on the card.

  • Dungeon Market?

Who sets up a market stall in a dungeon? True entrepreneurs, that’s who.

If you find yourself on a market square, you can purchase one of the items available. Everything costs seven gold, so if you’re a little light don’t bother. They won’t haggle. These items are all different and unique and go directly into your play area.

  • Move

One does not simply walk into a dungeon. One must use cards with boot icons to move.

DRAGON ATTACK

Each turn, you’ll refill the dungeon row with cards and replace the ones that have been purchased or used. If a dragon card shows up, that’s when Nicki attacks.

You’ll take all of the Clank tiles on the board and put them in the dragon bag. Shake that bad boy up and draw tiles equal to the number of tiles shown on the dragon rage section of the board. Each cube drawn is one damage against that player.

If you’re the red player and all of the cubes are red because you were too loud, OUCH! Black cubes are just set off to the side. As the game goes on, Nicki will become increasingly angry and start to do some serious damage to the players. It’s best to be gone with your loot by then.

ICONS

Skills:  Skill icons are basically your currency in Clank! These are what you are going to use to buy newer more powerful cards to add to your deck.

Swords:  Swords icons are used to attack the minions of the dungeon. As you explore the Dragon’s Keep, you’re bound to run into some nasty creatures. Sword icons are what you are going to use to kill them and steal their loots.

Boots:  The movement mechanic is rather interesting in Clank! Instead of dice or set numbers of spaces, players will use cards in their deck (with the boot icons) to move about the board.

Some turns you’ll be able to run halfway through the dungeon like the Flash, and other times you’re just stuck. Ah, adventuring. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

STEAL!

While looting the Dragon’s keep, you’ll only be able to escape with 1 artifact, so you better make sure it’s a good one.

Why not just go for the most expensive one? Well, you shouldn’t run when you’re burgling anyway and remember, in order to reap the benefits of thievery, you actually need to escape.

Grabbing something near the exit may not give you the most money but at least you’ll be alive to enjoy it. The deeper into the keep you can venture, the better the loots you’ll find, but the higher the risk of running into Nicki.

END GAME

The first person that’s either knocked-out from damage or successfully escapes the dungeon with an artifact triggers the end-game.

You cannot attempt an escape from the dungeon if you haven’t grabbed an artifact and you can only carry one. Make sure it’s worth risking your life for!

If you’re knocked-out all hope isn’t lost. Where your unconscious body lies determines whether you can be saved or not. If you make out of the depths of the dungeon with an artifact, the townspeople will be able to save you and you’ll be able to score points normally for the end-game.

If you have no artifacts or haven’t escaped of the depths, the townspeople won’t do anything to save you, and you’re dead. They’re townies, not adventurers. What did you expect?

Your First Game of Clank!

Clank! Board Game Action Cards

As with most deck-builders, every player will start with the same cards in their deck.

  • 6 Burgles
  • 2 Stumbles
  • 1 Sidestep
  • 1 Scramble

On your turn, you’ll draw 5 cards from your deck and play them in any order: buy cards, move around, or make some noise (try not to).

You can try and plan out where you want to go but you won’t be able to see exactly what treasures are where. You will, however, know that the further you go into the dungeon, the better the loot.

Keep your health in mind and how many Clanks you’ve generated and placed in the dragon bag. If you know for sure that there are a lot of your colored cubes in the bag, you may want to start planning your exit strategy. If you die in the lower dungeon, you don’t get anything. You’ll at least need to make it to the upper levels to score.

Don’t discount the bonus points for making it outside alive. It’s a whopping 20 points, which definitely can tip the scales in your favor.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Great family board game
  • Has a companion app that actually works!

I really enjoy Clank. It’s labeled as a deck-builder but I think that shortchanges the game a bit. It’s way more than just a card drafting game. The added thematic elements along with dungeon-delving create a fantastic atmosphere of theme and competitive gameplay.

Cons:

  • Can be very aggressive
  • Player elimination

But… it doesn’t necessarily have to be overly-aggressive. It all depends on the players themselves. Players can simply each take a different route and do their own thing, but alternatively, if your game group is feeling froggy you 100% can jump in and try to mess with each other.

TL;DR

Clank! is a competitive deck-building/dungeon-crawl board game for 1-4 players.

It is best played as a single-player game with the companion app, or with 3+ players.
With 2 players it feels a little too light of a game and limits the experience.

Players will compete to steal loot from a dragon’s keep, while the dragon, in turn, will become increasingly annoyed and try to kill the players.

Players need to steal 1 artifact and make it to the entrance for bonus points or at least to the upper areas to be able to score at all before dying.

Conclusion

Ever since I first played Clank! I’ve been fascinated by the concept. I love the idea of mixing a deck-building mechanics with other game genres. I always like games that are highly-thematic and I love walking away from a table with a story.

There are times that Clank! will give you some serious drama. Players may have the most valuable loot in the game and might be just a turn away from escaping when Nicki the dragon shows up to snatch victory away.

It’s all about managing risk vs reward, and Clank! does it beautifully.

If you’re a fan of deck-builders, I highly recommend you give it a try.

Clank!
  • For 2-4 Players
  • A fast and intense dungeon delving experience!
  • Push your luck to collect more treasure but watch out for the...

Have you tried Clank! or any of its expansions? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think!

Stats at a glance

Players: 2-4

Ages: 12+

Medium

30-60 Mins

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Published: 2016

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