It was recently announced that Renegade Game Studio would be rolling out a Scott Pilgrim deck-building game, which made us all kinds of excited as fans of the comic book series and board game players. But when you're a fan of a property, you're always paranoid as to how the company running the show will handle things and if they'll pull off something awesome for what you love or drop a dud onto the market. So in the spirit of trying things out, we got ourselves a copy of the game Clank! from Renegade and tried out one of their other deck-building games.
The first thing to take note of is that this isn't your average deck-builder, it actually combines that genre with dungeon crawling. The game itself is two to four players and gives you a board with two sides: a normal dungeon and a hard dungeon. For the sake of doing a review, we went with the easy version. And I'd like to thank my friends Henry, Jeff, and Nick (who I just finished playing Scythe with earlier that day) for taking part in this leap into the unknown with me. You start the game off with ten specific cards that give you a few specific abilities based on the symbols on them. A blue diamond which acts as a type of proverbial currency, a yellow square that gives you mobility, and a red circle which determines how powerful you are against monsters. You'll draw five of these cards and use them to gain more cards to build your deck up with from one of two rows of card: Standard Items which includes people to help you get where you need to go, and Specialty Items that includes monsters, magical trinkets, and heroes to help you.
The objective of Clank! is to make your way down through the dungeon and retrieve as much gold as you can, as well as one valuable loot item, and make it out without being killed by the dragon. The reason the game is called Clank! is because some of your moves and considered noisy and make your character's armor clank, which in turn alerts the dragon you are there. Each time you make a clanking noise, a small wooden block with your color on it is added to a bag. When a card with a dragon comes out, you reach in and pull out, however, many blocks are indicated on the board during that time. If your color comes out, you take a hit of damage. Take ten hits under the surface and you die with your lost treasures, but if you die above ground, the villagers can find your body and tally your score upon death. The person with the highest total of items wins the game.
Early on in the game, we weren't entirely sure we knew what we were doing. As detailed as the instructions are in giving you a premise and explaining all of the items you have, there's some gray area as to whether or not you're doing the right thing sometimes when going through rooms or utilizing your items properly. Trying the game out for the first time, we're willing to admit that maybe we missed a couple things. But there are instances when traveling and dealing with monsters that came up that didn't leave us much of an explanation of how to proceed, which led us to guess and moving forward.
Clank! seems to end up having three different kind of adventurers: Conservative players who realize the danger and play it safe getting the quickest treasure, lucky players who manage to get to large pockets of treasure with little effort, and risky players who go for the most dangerous stuff first and realize risk is part of the journey to victory. If you fall into the first or last, the game can be trying and test your ability to cope with pitfalls, while also knowing full well you may be damning yourself or your fellow players to doom. The middle, as weird as it sounds, is the one you want to aim for the most, as it gives you the most rewards (shy of the highest treasure) with the least amount of risk. But the reason we call it lucky is because it takes a certain amount of things to happen to put you in that position.
Overall, Clank! turned out to be a pretty fun game once we got the kinks worked out and rounds started to speed up. There are moments where you'll find yourself burning through your entire hand and then some through random draw-three cards but be left in situations where you wish you had just one more card to do something. Other times you'll be frustrated as you look to buy a key to make it through doors but just don't have the cash to purchase. But once you get past the frustrating moments, you'll find yourself really getting into the game and enjoying the possibilities. It may not be for everyone who enjoys deck-building games, but this is definitely worth playing a couple times to see how you enjoy it.