Publisher: Renegade Game Studios / Direwolf Digital
Release Date: March 2017
Game Designer: Paul Dennen
Format: Board Game
Number of Players: 2 to 4
Playing Time: 60 minutes
Age Rating: 12 and up
UPC #: 8-59930-00569-8
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
Expansions can be a great way to breath new life into an older title, or act as an opportunity for the designer to address some unforeseen issue that only became apparent once the game was "in the wild." But expansions are best when they introduce new ways to experience a favorite game, like bumping into an old friend and discovering that they have grown in ways that you could never have predicted. So, does the Sunken Treasures expansion for the deck-building dungeon-diving board game Clank! show us a new way to enjoy the game? Or would it have been better left at the bottom of the sea?
Summary: For those unfamiliar with the base game, Clank! is a combination deck-building card game and dungeon-diving board game in which the players (as adventurers) try to sneak into a dragon’s lair, steal a priceless artifact (and anything else they can carry), and hopefully make it back to the surface before the dragon wakes up and incinerates everyone. It’s a fun, fast-paced, and often-humorous romp with a high luck element and a good dose of dramatic tension.
The expansion adds two new dungeons for players to explore, both of which have extensive underwater areas that add new challenges for the would-be artifact thieves. New monsters and treasures expand the deck, and the all-important "Sorcery-Created Underwater Breathing Apparel" is added to the shop inventory.
Originality: For an expansion, the concept of "originality" is somewhat restricted, since it is, by definition, an expansion to an idea that already exists. Creativity in this area comes from taking the game in an unexpected direction. In a lot of ways, Sunken Treasures falls under the "more of the same" category, mostly adding new maps and treasures for players to discover. But it also adds a very interesting discard mechanic that can give players a lot more control over the flow of cards through their hands, allowing them to avoid bad luck or improve on good. This I thought was quite clever, and an unusual feature in deck-builder games.
Presentation: While the almost cartoony style of the artwork may put some off, I find the artwork for Sunken Treasures to be delightfully evocative of the game’s theme (if perhaps implying a bit more cooperation between adventurers than the game itself promotes…) and built-in humor. The box is really not much larger than it has to be to hold the components, which is always a plus in my book, and all of the information a potential player would want to find is clearly communicated.
Quality: Like the base game, the components are quite good. The cards are flexible and sturdy, though like any deck-builder with a high degree of re-shuffling, serious players are going to want to sleeve them. This is particularly recommended here, as (at least in the copy I was sent) the card backs are noticeably different in color than those in the base game. I think that’s a pretty serious offense when it comes to an expansion. The other components and the gameboard, however, all mesh perfectly with the base game. I particularly appreciated the addition of the tiny little market board, which provides a convenient place to keep the goods on sale, instead of cluttering the already-crowded game board with stacks of tokens. The rules sheet is a double-sided glossy and full-color page with nice illustrations and clearly written text. Knowledge of the base game rules is, of course, assumed. The new discarding rules could have been clearer, and would have benefited from a few more examples, but I think any fan of Clank! will have little trouble getting up to speed.
I do have two complaints, however. The new components are not identified in any way as coming from the expansion, which would make it very difficult to remove them if the players should, for any reason, want to return the game to its original state.
[Editorial Update: Renegade informed us that there is a watermark in the text box behind the text on just the new cards. The new tokens are not watermarked, but the cards should be easily extracted based on this identifier.]
Also, the base game was furnished with a well-designed insert tray that has ample space for the base game and a number of potential expansions, but no room for the new game board. There is simply no way to fit the board from Sunken Treasures into the base game box without discarding the insert, which is unfortunate, considering how well all of the other components fit.
Marketability: The demand for an expansion is always going to be dependent on the popularity of the base game, and Sunken Treasures will be no exception. However, this expansion does offer a lot of neat little enhancements that are likely to attract any fan of Clank! It does not "break" the core experience in any way, while offering more of the good stuff that makes Clank! fun in the first place, so it is likely that any fan of the game will want to pick up a copy of the expansion as well.
Overall: I really rather enjoyed playing Clank! It does a great job of scratching that itch for a quick, easy-to-learn dungeon dive with a little bit of a "stick it to your neighbor" element, but not so much that the game becomes mean-spirited. To be honest, I like it even more with the Sunken Treasures expansion. And really, when it comes down to it, that’s the best recommendation one can make for an expansion: it makes the game more fun. Sunken Treasures adds a lot of cool and nifty things to fiddle with that were not in the base game, without adding an unnecessary layer of complexity or corrupting the features of the core game that make it fun. While minor production issues and some concerns about play balance prevent it from being perfect, it is all-around a solid and worthwhile expansion. And that’s why I give this expansion 4 out of 5.
-- William Niebling