‘Sunken Treasures’ Expansion Takes ‘Clank!’ to New Depths

Clank! Sunken Treasures

After plundering the depths for valuable artifacts and surviving the dragon’s wrath in Clank!, what’s next? How about checking out those Sunken Treasures? Just remember: there’s a dragon down in these depths, too.

At a glance: Clank! Sunken Treasures is an expansion to the deck-building game by Paul Dennen and requires the base game to play. As with the original, it is for 2 to 4 players, ages 13 and up, and takes about an hour to play. Sunken Treasures retails for $25 and hits stores this month—look for it online or at your local game store. Although the box says 13 and up, I’ve played it with my 10-year-old without any trouble; it’s a fairly easy-to-learn deck-building game and doesn’t have anything too scary or inappropriate for younger kids that I could see.

Clank! Sunken Treasures is GeekDad Approved!

Clank! Sunken Treasures components
Clank! Sunken Treasures components. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Components

  • Game Board
  • Market Board
  • 35 Dungeon Deck cards
  • 1 Goldfish card
  • 1 Major Secret Tokens
  • 2 Minor Secret Tokens
  • 2 SCUBA Market Tokens

The biggest addition in Sunken Treasures is the new double-sided board, which introduces some new rules. There’s also a new market board, which is just a small cardboard tile where you can store all the market items—it’s a handy component that I think should have been included in the original, so it solves the problem of where to put market items. My only complaint about the market board is that it’s a long rectangle that barely fits in the base game’s plastic insert, requiring some creative arrangements.

Clank! Sunken Treasures
The market board gives you a central location to place all of the tokens. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

A few more tokens are included: two more minor secrets and one new major secret. The two minor secrets aren’t new types—one is 2 coins and the other is a 2-sword potion—but they are colored differently than the originals. I wonder if it’s to make them match the iconography on the cards better, but I have had new players ask me what’s the difference between the gold 2 coins and the silver 2 coins. The new major secret is a Potion of Heroism that can be used any time to gain one boot, one health, and one sword. There are also two new market tokens, the SCUBA gear.

There are, of course, a bunch of new cards to shuffle into the deck. The card effect area has a wave watermark so that you can sort out the cards if you want to play without the expansion. There’s also a Goldfish monster card, which is another always-available card like the Goblin.

Clank! box insert
The original Clank! insert holds all of the new components as well. Note the Market board at the bottom left only fits in the well diagonally. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The expansion comes in a smaller, thinner box—the box insert for the base game was designed to accommodate additional cards, so it’s easy to add everything … except the board. The plastic insert holds the original board snugly (also keeping the cards and other components in place) but it wasn’t designed for additional boards, so I just have my new board floating on top of the old one, and the box lid doesn’t shut all the way. Still, adding half an inch to the height is better than having a whole second box to keep track of.

Clank! Sunken Treasures
Card backs in my copy of the expansion (see the second card from the left) were significantly lighter than the base game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

I ran into two component quality issues that may not affect the final print run, since I received an early copy. One was that the game board does not lie totally flat when unfolded—it seems that the cut edges are a little rough. Since I didn’t have this issue with the base game, I don’t imagine it will be a problem in the retail copies. The other is that the card backs are visibly lighter in the expansion, so that you can tell from the backs which ones are new and which ones are old. It hasn’t made a huge difference to me in terms of gameplay because knowing whether a card comes from the base game or the expansion doesn’t always help you, but it does stand out and looks odd, and there are instances where a player could use that information. I suppose if it really bothers you, you could use card sleeves with opaque backs, but I’m leaving mine as-is.

How to Play

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The expansion adds a few new mechanics, but for the most part it follows the same structure as the original. If you’re not familiar with Clank! already, check my original review for more details, but I’ll give a very brief overview here, and then explain what’s new.

Clank! is a deck-building game, in which all players start with the same basic set of cards, and over the course of the game will add more cards to their own decks. The goal is to accumulate the most valuable hoard by the end of the game and—if possible—get back to the exit. At the very least, if you run out of health and get knocked out, you want to be above ground, or else your body is never recovered and you score nothing at all.

The game uses a “clank” mechanic in which you add cubes of your color to the clank banner on the board whenever you take actions or play cards that make excessive noise. Every so often, the dragon wakes up and strikes—the cubes go into a bag, and then a number are drawn out at random. Each cube of yours that’s pulled from the bag is a wound—too many wounds, and you’re knocked out.

Clank! Sunken Treasures board
The reverse side of the board. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The new board has a lot of familiar icons, but with a couple additions. The biggest change is the flooded rooms—about half of the rooms on the board are underwater (it’s pretty obvious which ones). If you start your turn in a flooded room, sometime during your turn you must move to a non-submerged room to take a breath, or else you suffer one point of damage. If you have the SCUBA gear from the market, you can ignore this restriction. In addition, the tunnels between flooded rooms have a new icon, showing a swim flipper and footprints. That means you need either the SCUBA gear or an extra boot to move through those tunnels.

There’s another new symbol in some of the tunnels, a starburst looking icon. (You can see three of them in the waterfall on the left side of the board in the photo above.) Those represent noise that you make when moving through that tunnel—in this case, because you’re splashing into the water. If you travel through a tunnel with starburst symbols, you add clank.

Finally, there are some rooms with gold coins in them. As you’d expect, you gain a coin every time you enter one of those rooms.

Clank! Sunken Treasures
The discarding mechanic makes some cards more powerful. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

There’s one new type of action: discarding. Normally, you must play every single card you draw—so if you draw a Stumble card, you’ll be adding clank this turn. In Sunken Treasures, there are cards that force you to discard cards for particular effects. If you discard a card, it goes directly into your discard pile from your hand, and does not have the play effect. So, for example, you could discard that Stumble and avoid the extra clank. However, there are also cards that will give you bonuses if they are discarded. For instance, the Coin Purse gives you 2 coins if you play it, but 5 coins if you discard it. Once you’ve acquired some of these “discard bonus” cards, you’ll want to be sure to look for corresponding cards that will let you discard.

Clank! Sunken Treasures
The Goldfish can only be fought underwater. Incidentally, we all took a lot of wounds in this three-player game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Goldfish is added to the “always available” cards. It costs three swords to defeat and gives you 3 coins, so it’s a better deal than the Goblin, but it can only be defeated in a flooded room.

The Verdict

I liked Clank! when I first played it and picked it as one of my favorite games of 2016, and it’s continued to grow on me. It’s a nice blend of deck-building and map exploration, and I love the press-your-luck element: go deeper into the depths for more valuable treasures, or grab something near the surface and get out? One of my friends has been trying a strategy where he just doesn’t care about making noise, because once all of your cubes are in the bag, you don’t make any more clank—and the cards that make clank tend to be more powerful than those that don’t. If it works, it can pay off big—but it can also get you killed pretty quickly.

Clank! Sunken Treasures
Some of the new cards in Sunken Treasures. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Sunken Treasures adds a nice selection of new cards—monsters, companions, devices, and actions. Some are specifically water-themed, but not all of them are. Since you’re shuffling 35 new cards into a deck that already had 100 cards, you won’t necessarily see all of them in any given game, but there are enough there to change the flavor a little. I particularly like the new discarding effects, which let you manipulate your deck and skip over undesirable cards.

The one thing that is still in short supply is the ability to weed out cards from your deck, and that’s something that some players have complained about. In many deck-building games, a key tactic is getting rid of weaker cards from your system so that what you have left is stronger. But Clank! only has a handful of effects that let you destroy cards, so having a bloated deck is a common problem. That new card you just bought may not turn up in your hand for quite a while … or not at all. Still, there are many cards that will let you draw extra cards, like the Rebel companions, and if you can combo a few of these, you may still be able to churn through your deck quickly to play your more effective cards more often.

The SCUBA gear adds another tempting option to the market, and is often among the first ones purchased. It’s a double bonus, being able to move through flooded areas more quickly and avoid coming up for air. But since there are only two SCUBA gear, if you’re playing a 3- or 4-player game, it means that some players are going to be stuck without it. Earning enough money and getting to the market quickly can be an important move, but it doesn’t guarantee you victory, either.

Overall, I’m still really enjoying Clank! and I like the tweaks that the Sunken Treasures expansion makes to the game. With four maps to choose from, not to mention the Renegade Games companion app, I have a lot of options open every time I play. If you liked the original, you’ll definitely want to add Sunken Treasures to your collection. And if you haven’t played the original yet, what are you waiting for? Go pick up a copy now!

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this game.

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit.