1-4 players, Competitive, Dungeon Deck Building
Designer: Paul Dennen
Artwork: Rayph Beisner, Raul Ramos, Nate Storm
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
Overview of Gameplay
Your mission is to crawl into the depths of a dungeon and even deeper into the dragons lair and to collect artifacts and other treasures and make it back up and escape before you are killed. This is a victory points game but not in the sense that you need a VP tracker along the board. You just move around the board collecting tokens that reveal something under them when flipped. Move even deeper down the board to find artifacts, the deeper you go, the more valuable the artifact. There are also ways to collect money which you can use to buy things from a market on the board such as keys to unlock certain routes on the board, a backpack that allows you to collect more than one artifact and crowns which are worth a good amount of vp’s. Other random loot awaits in the depths such as golden monkey idols!
All the while you are doing this you are building up your personal deck of cards. Each player starts with the same 10 cards. You draw 5 cards at the beginning of your turn and play all 5 cards. These cards will, depending on what they are, allow you to move on the board, attack monster cards and gain rewards or even buy more cards for your personal deck! When you buy more cards you add those to your personal discard pile and once you have fully drawn your personal deck you then shuffle your discard pile and start drawing again. Since you only start with 10 cards you will be shuffling that after your second turn. Over time the shuffles become less frequent because you are adding more powerful cards to your deck to be drawn. It’s a really cool mechanic and I love it. Also there are SO MANY different cards in this game you will be hard pressed to see them all.
Win Condition /Length
So this game has a pretty simple win mechanic, which is just whoever has the most VP’s tallied up at the end. The end though is where the game gets pretty intriguing. So as I mentioned above players are all working to explore down and collect a high valued artifact and other treasures and make it back above ground and out of the dungeon alive. The first player to either escape successfully OR dies, triggers the Countdown Track. Basically you will place your pawn on this track and all other players will continue to play normally. You on the other hand must move your pawn one space on this track and execute the effects on the space such as executing instant dragons attacks and drawing additional cubes out of the bag. Once the token reaches the 5th space on the track, all players still in the dungeon are knocked out and the game is over. You then tally up points normally for everyone.
This is another thing I love about the game. It doesn’t drag on forever, there is a bit of urgency in getting down and finding the best path to the artifact and getting out. And regardless of what happens there is an endgame trigger that will speed the end game up a bit so the first player to either die or escape, isn’t waiting around forever for the others to finish. It’s very clever. I think a typical game lasts about an hour to an hour and a half.
Setup is pretty standard, slap the board down and shuffle the cards. Place the starting Clank cubes on the board and sit the Clank bag close by. Create the few different piles for the base draw and the Dungeon Row you draw from. Each player starts with the same few cards in their hand so that’s all easy peasy and BAM you are ready to play.
The game board is outstanding. At first glance I thought it was rather messy looking what with all the arrows and strange little icons all over the place in seemingly no specific order. However after playing it through once I see there is a method to its madness. Whereas one direction may be faster looking….there is always something there to balance it out. Such as monsters to fight along the path or maybe a locked door. It’s very clever in its design and did I mention it’s double sided? On the reverse side is a more complex version with more ways to move about the board for those of you looking for a greater challenge. If there was one thing that I would have preferred, I wish there was a spot on the game board itself for the Dungeon Row of cards. I think this would have looked better personally with the obvious down side of making the board even bigger. I won’t dock any points for that as it’s just a personal preference.
The components are also pretty good. The colored cubes used for the clank are wood and the dragon token is wood as well. The bag to hold the clank tokens is a nice felt bag and is large enough to accommodate most hand sizes unless you are of Andre the Giants bloodline. The other random tokens used for the treasure and artifacts are your pretty basic cardboard. Nothing too crazy about them, pretty standard.
The Box is pretty standard but the insert is great! It’s a plastic insert that has large spaces to store the bag and clank and tokens. You will need to bag up all the different cardboard tokens though as well as separate the different colored wooden tokens. There are card slot spaces to keep and separate the different decks as well which is really nice and it actually holds everything in place even when stored on its side.
Visual Appeal /Theme
I am a huge fan of theme in games and this one hits all the right notes. I mean you are explorers sneaking around a deep dungeon trying to plunder a dragons treasure. What’s not to like about that? As I mentioned earlier at first I thought the game board looked a bit messy but after one play through it all came together for me and I actually enjoy it quite a bit now. Just everything in this game meshes so well together from the artwork to the theme to the style of the board.
I didn’t much care for the rulebook to be honest. I found it rather confusing the way it was laid out. The setup section was fine but everything after that was confusing to me. It is setup in a way that it’s like telling a story almost, which of course was trying to add to the theme, but for me it just made the instructions more complex than they needed to be. There were a lot of pages of just words. This might sound silly but when you turn to a page and see endless words that are not broken up enough, you kinda glaze over a bit.
Table Talk/Fun Factor
HUGE amounts of table talk and fun to be had here. You are all not really working against each other persay but also not working together either. So there will be lots of banter between players on the artifacts and the groans when someone snatches a particular artifact you have been eyeballing etc. Plus all the grabs from the cards in the Dungeon Row. It’s a really fun game to get a group together and play.
Optimal Player Count
4 for sure. I wish it went up to 5 honestly. It is such a challenge to beat my wife on this one that I am always happy to give it a try at 2 players as well. Man now that I’m thinking about it I have had a ton of fun playing the game solo using the app too. It changes it up a little bit where you take turns normally and the app will tell you certain cards to remove each round and give you quests to do in a certain amount of time or bad stuff happens. At the end of it all you tally up your points and log it on the scoreboard in the app.
This game for me is one that is fun, thematic, not too long but not too short, replayable and colorful. This game hits all these notes plus more. It’s not exactly a cooperative game but also you are not trying to defeat other players as well. It creates a very nice mix of a lot of things and does it extremely well. I love how the theme of the game is intertwined throughout every game play aspect. I love the fact that there is a double sided game board to change things up a bit with game play length and complexity. The amount of different cards and the deck-building is great. The little tokens the game comes with are fun and of a good quality.
I cannot recommend this game enough and what’s more there are a number of expansions that add totally new game boards, mechanics and new cards to even further keep this game going long into the future.