I have mixed feelings about Clank! — and that’s a sentence that would sound much less dramatic without the obligatory exclamation mark. When I wrote about it way back in 2017, my stance veered wildly between “This is an approachable and clever hybrid deck-building game” and “This feels deeply artificial, and also there are way too many dead turns.” I haven’t touched its offshoots: no Clank! In! Space!, no expansions, not even the legacy-game version. Ask me what designer Paul Dennen has been up to and I’ll excitedly tell you about Dune: Imperium instead.
In a way, that remoteness gives Clank! Catacombs the air of a reunion. Not a high school reunion, and certainly not a creepy polygamist ancestors reunion. Rather, a reunion with an old friend — more of an acquaintance, really — who’s become way cooler than you remember.
The best thing about Clank! is that it’s a deck-building game, which is one of those phrases I didn’t see myself using, right alongside “I wish I could take the bus more often” and “Cabbage tastes better when burnt.” And yet it’s the gospel truth. Clank! is a good game, maybe even a great game, and largely because it’s a deck-builder.
Then again, the worst thing about Clank! is also that it’s a deck-building game, so there’s that.