Solo Gaming: Clank!

I’m a huge fan of Clank!, so I was excited to try the solo mode. It requires an app to play solo, but the app is free and available on both iTunes and Android. (The app also adds a new mode for the multiplayer game, but I haven’t looked into that yet.)

Game play

The game set-up is almost identical to the multi-player game except that you only place one small secret on each of the appropriate spaces on the board. You keep the spare small and large secrets in a pile nearby. You also keep the red cubes nearby.

When you start the app, it will also have you remove two of the artifacts from the board from play — one higher value one, and another lower value one. You’ll place your normal three clank cubes in the Clank area (as the first player) along with three red cubes. The red cubes represent “threat” — when these are pulled from the dragon bag, they’re added to the red player health track. If you reach 10 threat on the board, you indicate it on the app and the end-game clock begins (as if someone had exited the dungeon or were knocked out in a dragon attack).

When you start the game, the app shows a main screen. There is a short-term goal at the top — something like “Clear the 4th card in the Dungeon Row in 4 turns” or “Enter a Crystal Cave in 1 turn.”

If you complete the goal, then you indicate it in the app and you get a reward, things like removing clank, extra gold, a small or large secret from the ones not used in the game, etc.

Each turn, before you re-fill the Dungeon Row, you indicate the end of your turn. The app will usually have you discard certain cards from the Dungeon Row and perhaps add clank or new Threat cubes. occasionally it will trigger a dragon attack instead.

If you don’t complete the current goal in the allotted amount of time, you’ll get a penalty, such as additional clank, losing gold, or a potion (that one hurt!).

The game ends either when you are knocked out (your health meter is full of clank cubes) or you exit the dungeon. When this happens, the app will walk you through scoring. The goal is to exit the dungeon — or at least get knocked out above ground with an artifact — and get as many points as you can, trying to beat your last score.

How did it work?

The app adds an interesting twist to the game. It works well enough when I need a Clank! fix and there’s no one around. The way the app removes various cards and causes extra clank after each of your turns simulates what happens in a multiplayer game. And the mini goals keep you on your toes, having you change your strategy throughout.

However, the game has my least favorite mechanism for winning the game/scoring — simply trying to best your previous score. I prefer when there’s a specific goal, or (even better) if there’s some mechanism for your own decisions affecting the score you need to beat. Plus, I find the solo version easier than the multiplayer game – I’ve soloed 3 or 4 times, and have managed to exit each time AND come out with two artifacts and loads of secrets because I took my time running around the dungeon.

That’s not to say I won’t solo it again — I love Clank and everything about the experience of playing. It just isn’t a replacement for the multi-player game, though.

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