Clank!: Sunken Treasures
Time: ~50 minutes
Times Played: 10+
Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure was a surprise smash hit for us and when we got our hands on the game, it ended up coming with the first expansion, Sunken Treasures, as well. Sunken Treasures does require the base game to play and is not compatible with Clank! In! Space!, which is set in a different universe.
The base Clank! has a lot going for it and with the sheer amount of cards and the double-sided board, players may not feel the need to venture out into the expansion world for quite some time.
The expansion introduces a new double-sided game board, a marketplace board, thirty-five new cards for the Dungeon Deck, one new perpetual monster (the Goldfish), one new Major Secret Token, two new Minor Secret Tokens, and two SCUBA Market Tokens (Just in case you’re curious of what the acronym SCUBA stands for, it’s Sorcery-Created Underwater Breathing Apparatus). Sunken Treasures does not fundamentally change the game or introduce new concepts that are hard to remember during the course of play. If you’re curious about how the base game plays, I’m going to refer you to my original take on Clank! and leave the remainder of this review to speak about what the expansion adds.
The Double-Sided Board
The biggest inclusion is that of water. Players can take a dive into the water, pressing their luck that they’ll be able to surface during their next turn. If they cannot, they’ll be taking a wound. Movement under water is the same as movement above ground where it takes boots. SCUBA gear will offer some assistance (more on that later). The water is also laid out in a way that the true high-value treasures are now in harder to reach spots.
The new boards also introduce paths that force a player to take Clank!, which are noted with a star icon. This is a welcome addition as it keeps the push your luck motif alive as players have to decide which path to take and some of the paths that feature Clank! are incredibly thematic, like the towering waterfall.
The addition of the Clank! on the pathways gives players additional choices and strategic decisions that they need to make and it’s definitely an inclusion that I’m fond of. Like the base game, the risk/reward really comes from how many players are currently exploring as in a three- and four-player game, the dragon will attack more often and thus that additional Clank! will add up quickly.
In addition to the rooms with a heart (for restoring health) that was offered in the base game, there are additional rooms with bonuses in Sunken Treasures. The expansion brings rooms with gold to the game that grant wealth for entering them.
The two sides of the board both offer fourteen flooded/underwater spaces with the major differences being that the boat side allows you to get into the water quicker and the monkey idols are submerged. We don’t necessarily have a preference as to which side is “better” but we feel the boat side uses the SCUBA more and we typically play that one first when showcasing the expansion so people get their feet wet quicker.
There is SCUBA gear available at the marketplace that allows players to swim without worrying about surfacing. But is that SCUBA gear more worthwhile over the traditional key to unlock passageways or the backpack for storing additional treasures?
On the map side with the waterfall, I don’t think we’ve ever bought SCUBA gear as it just isn’t needed to navigate the map whereas the boat side of the map offers players a higher probability of needing the gear, but still not technically a necessity if you’ve been able to load up on boots. It’s occasionally a second or third purchase if you have the money and are chasing something in particular since the return on investment is negative (since spending seven gold is only worth five points and gold is worth one point per at the end of the game).
However, SCUBA offers one additional benefit. Along with the inclusion of the star symbol for adding Clank! between pathways, there is now a flipper on some water pathways. The SCUBA gear allows players to travel freely through this pathway whereas if you are SCUBA-less, you will need to exert an additional boot icon.
As there are only two SCUBA’s to buy (like other Market items minus the crown), the value of them increases with the more players involved in the game. At two, there’s no rush to purchase the gear unless the path you want to take is easier to navigate with gear. It will always be there as no player is buying two SCUBA’s. We’ve thought about experimenting with only having one item of each (except crowns) in a two-player game as it would make everything more important but we haven’t had a chance to introduce such scaling yet.
At three and four however, players will have to make a decision, especially if they’re the first person to buy as the market is completely stocked. I typically don’t go after SCUBA as I feel the better value is the backpack and/or key (for either map) but it can be a useful way to escape the map once you’ve collected the treasure you set out for.
Sunken Treasures adds two new Minor Secrets and one Major Secret. The Minor Secrets are a two-value gold coin and a double sword potion that allows you to utilize two attacks whereas the Major Secret features a boot, a health potion, and a sword that can be used all at once.
There’s nothing wrong with what these additions bring but nothing about them speak to the theme of water. I’m quite shocked one doesn’t have a flipper or something specific towards the lack of air when being underwater.
This really seemed like a small and insignificant addition to the game as it doesn’t add anything of actual value to the decision making but it really helps with keeping everything organized and tidy once playing. It is also thematically appropriate with the wooden dock-like artwork.
The Marketplace is also perfectly sized to fit in the base game box!
Like the Goblin from the base game, the Goldfish is always available to fight. It costs three swords to defeat but nets you three gold coins, which is a much better return than the Goblin offers. However, the Goldfish can only be defeated in a flooded/underwater room.
The Goldfish offers more risk/reward due to the location needed to fight it, which is perfect for a game that revolves around pushing your luck.
The heart of any deck-builder is the cards and Sunken Treasure made sure to pack as much variety in the thirty-five additions as it could. The biggest addition to the cards is the action of discarding. Clank! stood out as it had players playing every card that landed in their hand, whether they wanted to or not. Sunken Treasures has players being forced to discard a card in order to claim an effect. This is great when a Stumble is in your hand but less great when you want to utilize each card. Regardless, it’s a much needed inclusion to the deck you’re building and further drives home the “push your luck” aspect of the game as it’s a players choice whether they purchase these cards or not.
This is the only way to remove cards from your deck and honestly, I don’t mind it. I’ve mentioned this several times in this review but this game is centered around the idea of “pushing your luck” and that involves purchasing powerful cards that have negative consequences associated with them. If you want to play it safe, you have that option by purchasing the Explorer and the Mercenary but then you’re not really playing the game as designed.
The only issue with the new cards is that I personally don’t think there’s enough of them. Adding thirty-five cards to a deck that was already around one hundred means you won’t necessarily see all of them during a game. I understand that seeing everything would lessen the feel of expanding upon the base game as it would then be more of a replacement, but not seeing the cards makes this feel like the weakest of the new inclusions.
There have been many comments about Sunken Treasures component quality, from players reporting on ripped boards, cheap card production, and different card backing colors compared to the base game. I unfortunately have to validate those claims with my experience with Sunken Treasures.
The card backs are clearly different and noticeable to the naked eye. This isn’t terrible in the grand scheme of things but knowing you’re clearly getting an expansion card in the next draw is a disconnect between the base game and Sunken Treasures and removes the randomness of the draw since you’ll have an idea of what’s coming up. The quality of the cards feel less “sturdy” compared to the base cards but that’s a personal opinion as opposed to something I can verify with quantifiable data.
The bigger issue that I have is with the board. After roughly six plays the board started to show signs of separating. Since then, we’ve been extra diligent with our handling of the board but it wasn’t like we were throwing it around all willy-nilly. I wonder if it has something to do with the double-sided nature of the board and not having a true back?
For record, we have some experience with a board splitting in half as our Twilight Struggle board suffered that fate, but that was only after almost seventy playthroughs which involved several Kramer and Newman-style games on the move.
*Edit: I spoke too soon. Last night our board broke.
For the positives, the art still fits the feel of the base Clank! and the tokens and marketplace are still of the high value that we came to enjoy from the base game. The tokens match their contemporaries so there isn’t any giveaways that one is from the expansion and one is not.
The art, while still a major boon for the game, doesn’t feel as thematic compared to the base game. Actually, that might be an incorrect statement. The art for Sunken Treasures feels much more appropriate for the base game than for the expansion. In looking at the cards, Sunken Treasures includes sixteen cards (of thirty-five) that I would say have a water/sunken room-like theme. Of those sixteen, three are Pearls and five are duplicates. So of a deck of over one hundred cards, only eight feel like truly unique, thematic immersions.
Also of note, the added cards and tokens fit comfortably in the box but the additional board will make the lid lift half an inch. As a solution, I keep the all the boards in one expansion box and all components sit in the base game box.
Sunken Treasures did not address my main complaint about the game, notably the same starting turn structure for every player. I still understand that the first few steps are a way to bolster your hand for the adventure that awaits but it feels lazy that we spend the first two rounds of the base game and this expansion doing the exact same motions.
On the bright side, with all the new additions, the gameplay doesn’t suffer time wise. A game of Sunken Treasures shouldn’t take any more time than a game of base Clank!.
I really liked Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure. 2016 was an absolute stacked year for board game releases (Scythe, Great Western Trail, Arkham Horror LCG, Imhotep, Inis, Terraforming Mars, Kingdomino, and more!) but I think the base Clank! is one of the best games released that year and it has stood the test of time. Sunken Treasures offers a slight increase in challenge and doesn’t just appear to be Renegade Games striking while the iron’s hot. While I do have issues with it, the price point and variability offered by the new board make it a worthwhile addition.