FTW Staff Picks - Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new.
Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure
Genre: Deck Builder
Designer: Paul Dennen
Player Size: 2 to 4 Players
Game Length: 45 minutes
For fans of: Dominion, Munchkin, Star Realms
We are always on the hunt for great new deck-builders. It's an easy genre to get hooked on, and there's no shortage of options when it comes to fun experiences. One of this year's big hits came from a relative unknown. Clank!: A Deck-Building Adventure is Paul Dennen's first foray into tabletop games, and with purely word-of-mouth pushing his game it has managed to garner a lot of praise. That's kind of what makes the industry so exciting. Here, the cream generally rises to the top, and Clank! is one of the finest offerings of the year.
As most deck-builders begin, Clank! starts players off with the same 10-card deck. There's a row of randomly drawn cards to available to purchase, alongside a few staples that are always present. The goal as always is to earn the most points. Where Clank! diverts from the formula is in its dungeon-crawling board with a bit of a push-your-luck element. In order to traverse the dungeon, players need combat and movement points to press through monsters and caverns. The deeper the players travel, the more bountiful the rewards. However, this is not an empty dungeon. This dungeon belongs to a vengeful dragon, who looks to punish any plunderers who dare challenge it. The more noise players make, the more likely they are to incur the wrath of the dragon. Push too hard, and it could spell doom.
Instead of having a round timer, Clank! gives players the ability to signal the end of the game by being the first to exit the dungeon. Timing this, can mean the difference between winning and losing. As the game draws to a close, the dragon becomes more and more fierce. The deeper the players are, the more likely they are to be killed and unable to score any points. As players sprint for the exit, the metaphorical walls close in on them. You get a total of 4 turns, to hopefully amass as much treasure as possible while finding an escape route.
The dungeon map that comes with the game is double-sided, with one side for more advanced play. The cards provide a lot of interesting and diverse strategies. There are certain synergies that play up the greedier elements of the game, which is unique to the genre. There are very few deck-thinning cards, which makes purchasing a more thoughtful process. You don't want to end up with too many cards, with not enough time to draw. The balance of the game is impressive for its kind. And each play has only made me want to try new strategies. With an expansion already out, and a spinoff on the way there's plenty of Clank! to go around. And I'm down for all of it.