Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated, released in 2019, takes the core deck building adventure gameplay of Clank! and unsurprisingly gives it a legacy twist. Designed by Andy Clautice and Paul Dennen, published by Renegade Game Studios, the game sees 2 – 4 players journey through mines, across an overworld map and into the underworld. With the playtime of each game double that of the original Clank! this is certainly a commitment to play the 10 game campaign. However, do all the tweaks and changes Incorporate(d) with the core game? Let’s find out!
[Note: Images featured in the review are only up to playing game 1 of 10, as to not reveal any of the unlocked content.]
Straight out of the box the basic Clank! experience is added to. Following the rulebook through setup leads nicely into the first passage in the Book of Secrets. This is a large booklet full of story elements, where game prologues, epilogue and more come from. Players journey through the world with Acquisitions Incorporated is about to begin. It’s time to pick who will be who character wise.
Like with the original Clank! players start out with 10 basic cards, with new cards available for purchase from the adventure row. At the start of each game the player shuffles their 10 cards and places their character miniature onto the starting HQ space on the board. Taking it in turns, players will draw the top 5 cards from their deck each game and, in any order they wish to, activate each card. This is mandatory as some cards, including the basic card Stumble, have both positive and negative effects.
Cards will supply the player with a variety of symbols. Symbols can be spent from multiple cards together or separately as the player sees fit. For example, boots allow for movement. Many linked spaces cost one boot symbol to perform the movement. Still, some denoted with extra boots cost two or even three to cross. Some paths have monster symbols, needing a sword and a boot to be used, else 1 damage is taken. Swords can also be used to defeat monsters from the adventure row for quick rewards. Skill points are the other majorly used symbol, which allows for new, stronger, cards to be purchased from those available in the adventure row – or standard Explore or Mercenary cards which are always available.
Technically the aim of the game is for the plucky adventures to get retrieve an artifact from below ground and then get back above ground to somewhat safety. Artifacts, gold, items and cards along the way can help and also award points – with escaping back to the HQ also worth points. This is all made harder by the dragon Malathrex.
Cards can make the characters clank about. This can be seen as them attracting the attention of the dragon. Represented by cubes, these build up in a pile until a dragon attack card appears in the adventure row. When the dragon attacks these cubes are added into the dragon bag, which thankfully also has neutral blank cubes already inside. Depending on the dragon rage tracker a number of cubes are pulled from the bag, with player colour cubes pulled being received as damage. Get above ground before your health hits zero, else you score 0 regardless of what artifacts or items you have.
Getting in and out, while collecting points, is pretty much the limitation of the original – though this sounds far more negative than how it is meant. Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated introduces contracts and events. Without going into detail, contracts can require players to go to specific board locations, deliver items, spend resources or own specific items. These in turn reward the player, unravel into additional contracts and/or unlock new content. The new content often comes from reading passages in the Book of Secrets or from the Cardporium – a huge deck of cards.
Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated is almost as much of a story driven exploration title as it is a Clank! experience. During play it is almost easy to forget players are in a competitive game and not cooperatively exploring and fulfilling contracts. Unlike other legacy games while a lot changes there aren’t copious new rules to pick up along the way. The core experience is always there. This helps the game to be packed away, brought out at a later date and be easy to pick up and play. Immersing players from the start of each game, instead of waiting for a few rounds while the additional rules are remembered.
Deckbuilding is still the core of the experience. More cards and content come as part of the legacy experience, with some cards altered. Still, players start each game with their 10 starting cards. There is minor character growth, alas at the start of each game players once again feel like a lacklustre version of how they ended the previous game. This keeps things more balanced from one game to the next, though after the 3rd/4th time of limited movement from the starting HQ each game, it would be nice if the start had been sped up a little.
The 90 – 120 minutes on the side of the box is very accurate. Compare this to the 45 minute games of Clank! and players may wonder how this is the case. The story aspect calls for a lot of text. Driven by quest like contract cards and the large book of secrets there is a good chunk of reading to be done each game – prior as a prologue, after as an epilogue and during as events unfold. There are also components to open, stickers to find and cards to locate in the Cardporium. This all creates a lot of bookkeeping. I could see how this may put some off, however it means there is a constant stream of new, engaging and exciting content.
Not every objective rewarded players equally, however this could drastically change if a group were to be playing differently. For example, some objectives are effectively pick up and deliver missions. If the right player triggers this style mission with a deck full of boot symbols it becomes very simple for them, potentially with a big reward. Another player in that game could gain a similar objective and not have much movement. Therefore, for the number of turns spent they’d find the reward worse in comparison. This led to a few occasions where it felt more as if players were a bit lucky they got an “easy” objective. In reality it just suited the deck they’d constructed that game.
The inclusion of the Acquisitions Incorporated theming has certainly not come at the expense of component quality. Miniatures are included for the four playable characters and the dragon tracker. The cards shuffle with ease, even when the adventure deck is fuller than it initially is. The artwork will be subjective, using a lighthearted cartoony style. The style however fits the theme perfectly, with awesome details on each card. It is also a positive that the style is consistent across all components.
Looking past the epicness of the magnetic close box that is the Cardporium and the additional components there are a couple of things to note. It would have been nice if the sticker sheets were dual layered like in Pandemic Legacy Season 1, just to stop glancing at future unlocks. This isn’t game breaking, nor will it spoil the experience – it would have just been a small improvement. The only other aspect is if you are a player that would hate slightly misaligned stickers, as it is easy to slightly skew them in the excitement.
The branding of the online series Acquisitions Incorporated is there fans. Yet, going in knowing little to nothing about it, not once did it feel as if I were missing out on anything. Pandemic Legacy Season 1 has until now been the campaign experience to beat. Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated has firmly taken that title. Due to the engaging, unravelling storylines, and uses of witty writing, it is elevated beyond the solid deck building gameplay. It’s got choices left, right and center, with the legacy aspect constantly adding exciting, new, things. At no point did we want to stop, making it a must play for fans of the original and perhaps even those that were on the fence too!
(Editor’s Note: Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated was provided to us by Asmodee for the review. The game is currently available from local board game stores, find your local store here.)