Are you excited for this game review, because the game sure is. Yes, Clank! In! Space! has all those exclamation points in the title and it’s really excited to have a TableTopTake written about it! So let’s get jazzed, people, and jump into this game review.
Clank! In! Space! is a deck building game at it’s core, but beyond that, you’re doing something more with your cards to just purchase more cards. In the game, you are on Lord Eradikus’s ship as a bunch of different adventurers. You’re trying to break through his security, steal some artifacts that he’s stolen and get back out without bungling around too much and making too much noise. This is easier said than done, because some of the good cards that would allow you to fight more or move more are going to give you clank as you make noise. If you’re too noisy, there’s a better chance of Lord Eradikus’s henchmen finding you and punching in the face.
That seems like a bit more going on in Clank! In! Space! than in Dominion. The various resources on your cards all make sense as you are getting money/recruitment power, movement, and fighting abilities versus the more generic money, action, and buy. Your movement, the equivalent to Dominion’s actions, actually moves you around a board, and you have to plot out how you’re going to go and how you might be able to get through the space ship quickly and gain access to the treasure vault on one end of the ship. The buying of cards does still have the thematic disconnect, though, if the argument is that Lord Eradikus has a giant ship, and why wouldn’t he, these are people working or prisoners on his ship, or could even be people you’ve hired to show up to help you, some of them are just showing up later rather than at the beginning. Definitely not the strongest ties for the people you recruit, but the items make a lot of sense to be there, lying around the ship. And the bad guys are definitely out there patrolling the corridors.
While the deck building part is the biggest part of the game, it isn’t the most fun. The most fun part of the game is the Clank! (Just feels like it should always have the exclamation point). The noise that you make is denoted by cubes, and when a card with Lord Eradikus shows up in the adventure area, all the cubes you’ve added to a pool get put into a bag, and depending on how mad Lord Eradikus, a number of cubes are drawn from the deck. If you’re color of cube is drawn, you take damage, and if your damage track ever fills up, you are knocked out. So you’re trying to make as little noise as possible, but it’s still possible, even if you are the noisiest one on the ship that your color won’t be drawn. And there are things that make Lord Eradikus madder and drawing more cubes. Once you’ve breached his security system, he gets madder, once you steal and artifact, he get’s madder, and if you find one of his personal diaries, he gets madder.
So, in case you haven’t picked up on it, another good part of Clank! In! Space! is how seriously it takes itself. There are nods on basically every card to some Sci-Fi TV Show, Movie, or Book, or if not that, some pun being made. Star Wars, Star Trek, Tron, Chronicles of Riddick, Enders Game, The Fifth Element, and more show up and they are really well done. I didn’t get a chance to read all of the extra text on cards that I got in the game or that were out there, but each of them has a little line at the bottom so if it wasn’t already obvious what Sci-Fi thing it was spoofing, it would be clear. Even the adventurers you are playing, their meeples (wooden figures) are nods to sci-fi characters. That keeps this game from becoming too intense while playing it, but you still do feel the pressure of trying to gather points on the ship and trying to get off as quickly as possible so that you can score the most points and hopefully stop the other players from escaping the ship.
This is a well designed game and has a few differences, so I’ve heard, from the original game of Clank! which was a dungeon delve where you were trying to avoid a black dragon who was after you. To me, the theme of space and sci-fi makes more sense than a dungeon delve would as there are more things to Clank! about with on a space ship. And once you’ve played a few hands of this game, you start to know what you are doing right away, the biggest question is always what you’re going to buy or recruit and if you can fight someone. But everything is limited by the cards so that makes it simple. Even the card combo powers, where having a tech guy might cause another tech character to be better, those are easy to spot. The fact that there are only three different factions of cards means that you don’t have to think about the combos as much.
Finally, one fun thing about the game is the board. The board is set-up so that it slightly looks like a spaceship, but that’s not really the fun part of the board. The fun part of the board is the fact that three parts of it are modular. That means you can adjust the configuration of the board, and not just that, t hose three parts are double sided, so you have six potential modules to throw in the board. That means that you can change up the board from game to game, even by just moving the same modules into different positions. We played with the recommended starting game, but by just moving things around slightly, the game could be quite different.
Clank! In! Space! is a very fun game. It does run a little bit longer than some games. With three players, I think it took us an hour and a half, however, that was with us learning the game as well. I think once everyone knows the game, it would probably take an hour or less because the hands play out quickly once you know what cards you have. I do wonder a little bit about the long term replayability of the game, but there’s an expansion out there that I’ve heard adds some more interesting parts to the game, and with the modular board and a large deck of cards to recruit and fighting bad guys from, I think it’ll stick around for a while. I also like it because it has more of a game to it than Dominion does so while the hands play themselves, it’s way less auto-pilot than Dominion is.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: B
Casual Grade: B+
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