1-4 players, Competitive, Deck Building Adventure
Designer: Paul Dennen
Artwork: Rayph Beisner
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
Overview of Gameplay
For those wondering right off the bat how much different this is from the original Clank! I can tell you that it is very similar with some added (awesome) tweaks. Overall the biggest difference is going to be the space theme when compared to original Clanks! Fantasy dungeon theme. I’ll go more into those differences later on.
The way this game plays is in my opinion a masterpiece of game design. Disclaimer, I love the original Clank and low and behold I love Clank! In! Space! as well. Up to 4 players sneak aboard Lord Eradikus’s ship and plot to steal some of his precious artifacts and try to make it back to the escape pods to freedom. To do this you will draw a hand of 5 cards from your personal deck of cards, which, all players start with the exact same 10 cards in their deck at the very beginning so everyone is basically on equal footing. Then on your turn you play all of the 5 cards you drew and take the actions listed on them. The three main actions are Move, buy more cards and attack monsters. Any cards you buy from a row of 6 cards go directly into your discard pile and these all get shuffled back into a draw deck once your draw pile depletes. So over time your deck of cards gets stronger and you can effectively mold your deck the way you want based on what cards you choose to buy.
So ultimately you are moving around the tiled board trying to retrieve an artifact and then move back to the beginning close to where you started and get on an escape pod and get the heck outta there. All the while this is happening you are making noise aka Clank and adding your specific colored cubes to the Clank area on the board. Now remember those cards you bought from the row of 6 cards earlier? Well at the end of your turn you refill that row up with cards drawn from the general deck. If any of those cards have an emblem of Lord Eradikus on them, he enrages and attacks! You then add any clank cubes from the board to the included velvety bag and draw as many cubes as Lord Eradikus demands! Which is to say whatever spot his token is on his personal track on the board. Now there are already a bunch of black cubes in that bag which are a help to you. Over time you will end up adding more and more of your colored cubes based on how much noise you make, which is usually determined by the cards you play. If you draw out any of your colored cubes you are damaged and those cubes are placed on your personal damage track. Fill that up and you are dead.
However if you manage to make it to AT LEAST the docking area of the board before you die you can keep you acquired points. Not only that but player death isn’t the end in this game. The first player that dies controls the Clank bag from now on and draws from it on their turn, it’s a neat mechanic to speed up the end game if someone dies or escapes. Anyway, so once the game comes to a close, everyone counts up their points which are a smorgasbord of things including the units you have collect, the cards you purchased and the artifact and other small treasures you found. The person with the highest number is the ultimate winner!
Win Condition /Length
I’m going to go on record and say I’m not the biggest fan of victory point conditions in games. However that’s not to say they are all bad by any means. Some games can do them right. The Clank! Series is one of them. There are a few different ways to acquire VP’s in this game but they are all interesting and thematic. It’s not just some track along the edge of the board. In this game you are collecting rare and exclusive artifacts and other treasures. You are buying cards to strengthen your deck and also as you are looking those cards over, you are making a judgement call on whether you want to buy that card that gives you those great abilities but is worth zero VP’s. The way they intertwine the VP mechanic into every fiber of this game doesn’t make the game feel like a VP game, and I love that.
The game takes a pretty nominal amount of time to play. For those familiar with the original it takes a little longer than that version, which is to say about an hour and a half generally. Of course as with most games the more players you have playing, the longer the game will last.
Setup is both fun and kinda nerve-racking in this one. So the board is broken into many different tiled pieces that you assemble. 3 of these pieces are the same every game but 3 others are different every game. Which is to say that the 3 in the middle are double sided and can be placed in any order so that creates a HUGE replayability factor with this one. There is also a Clank! app that has a neat board randomizer that auto changes it up for you if you so wish. The rest of the setup is pretty standard for Clank, which is you place down the row of 6 cards and create piles of tokens that you will be using. The board setup is by far the longest because even after you get it assembled you have to place all the major and minor secret tokens and artifact tokens around all over the board. Give yourself some time for the board setup before you play it.
Now to the nerve-racking part. The board pieces fit together SO snug that I am almost positive that the edges will become frayed after a few plays of this. You will want to be very careful with how you put these together and take them apart so not to damage the edge of the boards. Luckily they are some really thick and sturdy cardboard. Once assembled it does create a really cool looking shape of a space ship which just adds even more to the already awesome theme.
The components are looking good as ever and I really love the little player tokens in this game. Especially the little purple dude, with his giant ears. The tokens are all cardboard pieces and nothing spectacular per say but they also have a good thickness to them as well. The player cubes are all wooden and there are some plastic pieces as well. The Lord Eradikus token is wooden and the bag to hold the Clank! Is a really nice oversized bag which you can easily get your hand into. All in all the components are above average.
I talked about the game board a bit earlier. And even though I do think it will become damaged after a few plays, I still love it. It’s a really awesome idea to keep the replayability high and to be honest I think the art looks neater than the original Clank! board. Just the way the lines connecting the different rooms look are more streamlined and organized. The old one they looked more drawn on and it didn’t really grab me like these do. That’s an extremely small quibble in the grand scheme of either game however.
The box has a nice insert that is Identical to the original Clank! insert and works almost just as well. The spaces for the cards are the same with 3 dedicated spaces to keep stuff organized. There are a couple bigger spots to place all the tokens and the baggie. You will need to find some baggies as well to sort out and bag up all the many tokens. So since the board is broken into tiles it doesn’t just easily plop in on top of everything like before. Luckily though the biggest tiled piece is large enough to fit over all the cards to keep them in place which is a lifesaver. Because of this you can easily store this on its side if need be. The other tiles just lay on top of that and with the instruction manual the box lid closes all the way with no issues and very little gap inside.
Visual Appeal /Theme
I mean it’s just great. The artwork on the board and the cards is fantastic and the theme is just as awesome here in the space version as it was in the fantasy version of the original Clank! The few changes they made to this version of the game really work to make the theme even more awesome. For example you are not just rushing in and grabbing an artifact and getting out anymore. Now there is a force field around all the artifacts, in fact around the whole back end of the ship. You must place these cool little plastic data cube tokens on two different data hub spaces in two different sections of the ship to bring the force field down before you can proceed. Not only does this add to the already stellar theme, but it enhances the gameplay by making the game more strategic. Not only that but it adds to the game length as well which can be a boon to some. It will give you more time to enhance and personalize your deck building.
Sadly the rulebook hasn’t changed from the original game. Up the up side if you have played Clank! before then there is a nice little section at the front of the book that explains the few differences and those Clank! veterans should have little trouble learning the new stuff. Took me about 10 minutes to go over all the new stuff and start playing. However for those that have never played a game of Clank! before, this rulebook isn’t the greatest. There are a lot of confusing parts and some things that are not even really explained. You will find yourself more often than not flipping back and forth through the book trying to find something or reference something you thought you saw earlier. A prime example are the new blue gem tokens. There is little to no explanation of what those are or how they work in the instruction manual. How do you collect them? Are they spent like credits when you use them? Do you need more than one to use multiple cards that have the icon at the same time? None of this is explained and it wasn’t until I came to the forums did I find the answers to these questions.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
I have a blast playing this. The table talk is decent but more often than not you do end up kinda in your own world managing your deck and what you are playing. Plotting out what you are going to buy and where you are going to move. The player interaction is pretty low other than when you grab an artifact or major secret that someone else was eyeing. That said I have so much fun building my deck and just chatting about the game with other players during play that I don’t even mind the low interaction. Even though the game is a competitive game, you are never attacking one another.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
This is one of those rare games that succeeds in all player counts. At four players there is more tension to get those major secrets and the market items. At two players you remove a few tokens during setup to keep that tension level high. There is only one of each different item in the market in a two player game so the first of the two that buys it, gets it! Also the solo play is AMAZING. They really upped their game from the first Clank! in this aspect. Utilizing the Clank! App there is an entire campaign mode you can play solo and it’s just the bees knees. It has a little story it goes through and takes cards away from the row after you take a turn. It keeps the tension really high as you play and even scores you at the end of each game based on how well you did. On top of that there is a mode that changes the base game up for multiplayer as well incorporated into the app and has a minion chasing you around the ship.
As I mentioned a few times the replayability is superb in this one. The Original Clank! has a double sided board to increase replayability but this one takes it a step further and has 3 different double sided sections for a total of 6 different sides that can be interchange into different positions and sides. Add to that the 100 different cards in the general deck that can be drawn and the 3 different types of faction cards in that deck that can be synergized together and you have a HIGHLY replay-able game.
This game is in my top 5 favorite games. I love the deck building aspect combined with the board play. What’s surprising to me is that this game naturally has a few game mechanics that I don’t typically like in boards games such as victory points and low player interaction, however this game wraps such a compelling theme and incredible gameplay around those that I don’t even notice.
The game stays much the same so that Clank! veterans can easily swing in but changes a few things to still keep it fresh. It feels more strategic because of these changes but also plays a bit longer which could be great things to some. I do feel the game is a bit more complicated than the original as well as there are new card mechanics to learn. That said they are not THAT difficult.
For those wondering which of the two Clanks! I prefer……well that’s difficult. So the original Clank! is fast, easy to pick up and straightforward. It has an amazing fantasy theme and really scratches that itch for a deep dungeon crawl deck builder. Clank! In! Space! is slower, has more options with the cards and strategic. There are many more pathing options on the board which create more choices. It also does its theme very well but with this one being more Sci –Fi on a space ship. I think Clank! In! Space! edges out original Clank! but just by a tiny margin. I prefer the fantasy theme with the dragon but the mechanics and the strategy of dropping the force field in Space! is really amazing. It forces you to visit different parts of the ship and really draws you into the game.
That said both versions are excellent and I would for sure check out which ever one of the themes interests you the most.