One Board Family: Clank! Review
This ancient lair holds treasure beyond your wildest dreams. Only the stealthiest of thieves will make it to the most precious artifacts. That is if you survive the deadly dragon attacks. Your job is to grab as many treasures and artifacts while moving quietly through the depths of the dragon’s lair.
For the past year CLANK! has been a regular staple of game nights with family and friends. When Renegade Game Studios released the game in 2016, people around the hobby took notice. CLANK! has been nominated for a number of awards from Board Game Geek, the Dice Tower and other outlets. So what makes this a must-have game for your family game shelf? Let’s find out!
Build Your Deck and Grab the Treasure
Up to 4 adventurers dive into the dragon’s lair with a deck of 10 cards. The blue icons on these cards will give you “skill points” that allow you to purchase new cards that will be added to your discard pile. Like other deck-builders, this discard pile will be shuffled and become a fresh deck that you’ll draw from each turn. Players will always start their turn with 5 new cards from their draw pile. These cards will allow you to move from room to room using the boot icon, defeat enemies with the sword icon or give you special bonuses that are in the text area of the card.
Collecting a diverse deck of cards is big in this game. You want to be able to move regularly through the lair and also have enough skill points to purchase the great cards that appear throughout the game. Getting a good mix of cards is crucial.
As you move into the depths of the dragon’s lair, you will produce “clank”. Your gear will attract the attention of the dragon who will attack the adventurers throughout the game. “Clank” is represented by colored cubes that are thrown into a black bag when the dragon attacks. A player will draw a specific number of cubes blindly from the bag and all the players’ colors that are drawn take damage.
Players can grab an artifact and run back to the surface or they can travel through the rooms, collecting more treasure and building a deck with loads of valuable cards. You cannot exit the lair until you have one of seven different artifacts. Don’t get greedy, because that dragon is really hungry for tasty adventurers.
Don't Wake the Dragon
The theme of “dungeon diving” for treasure is nothing new to the world of gaming. I think what sets CLANK! apart is that they have merged some great mechanics to make this a very unique experience. Not only are you working to build a stream-lined and efficient deck of cards, but you also have to watch your back. Some cards like the “Tattle” card forces opponents to add “clank” to the board. Each of the artifacts are worth different amounts of victory points so chances are that someone else is eyeing the treasure you’re planning to take.
I really like how Renegade handles the dragon attacks throughout the game. As you refill the skill cards, if a dragon icon shows up, all the “clank” goes into the black bag and someone draws a specified number of cubes. These random attacks mean that you have to be cautious about how much “clank” you produce on your turn. You may get a single turn or multiple turns before the dragon’s attack.
There’s a market available in the lair that allows you to purchase perks for 7 gold coins. The key will allow you to travel into locked rooms, the backpack gives you room to carry a second artifact and the crown gives special abilities that are linked to specific cards. These market items are limited so this can be a game changer in the hands of the right adventurer.
Strategy and Components
There’s definitely some strategy in how you approach CLANK! and it’s been fun trying something new each time. I’ve been the guy who runs in, grabs an artifact and runs out with the hope of my opponents being destroyed by the dragon. I’ve also been the guy that hits every room hoping to find valuable items to pad my win. Sadly, I’ve also been the one that collected so many cards that I moved like a sloth from room to room while my opponents moved around like ninjas.
CLANK! is a game that allows everyone to stay engaged no matter how bad you’re doing. Your final score will take into account the amount of victory points collected from cards, treasures, artifacts, market items and also the gold you have on hand. It’s rare that I’ve felt like I didn’t have a chance against my opponents. Even in games where I felt like I was losing, I still placed 2nd or 3rd which came as a shock to me.
The component quality is fantastic and it really does feel like a premium game. The game comes with a double sided board with one side being more difficult than the other. It’s more difficult mostly because of the number of monster attacks in the caves and where everything is laid out. In 2017 Renegade released a CLANK! Companion App (Apple | Android) that also changes up game play and gives you new ways to encounter this great game.
There’s really only two things that I’m not a huge fan of in this otherwise fantastic deck-builder. The rulebook has a certain charm to it but definitely feels vague at times. As an example, I was playing a rule incorrectly for the first 3 months we had the game. Others I’ve talked to have had issues with the rulebook as well. With so many gaming resources online now, this isn’t a huge deal.
The end of the game can also be an issue since player elimination is a factor. The dragon can kill a player when they take 10 damage from the dragon without healing. We’ve had a couple times where someone was killed in the last 3 or 4 turns of the game. This is a good chance for them to grab a snack from the kitchen honestly.
There is so much to love here and Renegade has done a fantastic job supporting this game. Since 2016 they have published two expansions and even another stand-alone game called CLANK! IN! SPACE!. We’ll take a look at that one later.
CLANK! is one of Erin’s top 5 games of all time and a game that we play with seasoned and casual gamers alike. The game takes a couple minutes to setup and teach and plays great at 2, 3 and 4 player counts. This is a game that every gamer should consider owning.
You can pick up a copy of CLANK! A Deck-Building Adventure at your local game shop or order it order it today on Amazon.
- Great artwork and theme works really well
- Deck-building, dungeon diving and a little luck in one package
- Plenty of ways to indirectly interact with your opponents
- Rules for simple play, advanced play and a harder map are great additions
- Player elimination may turn some people off
- The rulebook lacks clarity at times