Clank in Space is one of my favourite games.
As you would know if you read my Top 25 Games Played of All Time!
While it certainly didn’t need anything additional added to it, there is always room for more cool cards and concepts, and Clank in Space: Apocalypse (Almost forever after just called Apocalypse because I’m a lazy git) delivers that in spades.
Apocalypse is designed by Andy Clautice and Evan Lorentz with art by a number of people (Rayph Beisner, Ralph Beisner, Raul Ramos, Le Rastislav, Nate Storm, Franz Vohwinkel). It’s published by Renegade Games Studios and Dire Wolf Digital and came out in 2018.
How awesome is this expansion?
Well, it falls just short of awesome into the almost awesome category.
Which is still pretty good.
I’m not going to explain how to play the game. For that, you can see my wonderful (if I do say so myself, and I do) review of the parent game.
What does Apocalypse add?
In the base game, players are rogues who are infiltrating Lord Eradikus’ pleasure cruiser to steal some priceless artifacts. If you go in, hack two data terminals, steal an artifact, and get off the ship, then you get points.
If you die before getting off the ship or making it to the cargo hold, then you get no points.
With the expansion, you are becoming even more like Han Solo.
In addition to hording artifacts, Lord Eradikus is trying to wipe out the resistance against him through some kind of nefarious scheme. While you’re on the ship getting loot for yourself, why not try and defeat his scheme as well?
He’s already pissed off at you.
The eight schemes are divided into Category 1 (even a protocol droid could do it), Category 2 and Category 3 (maybe they might make a movie out of this!) difficulties.
In the base game, when Eradikus really gets pissed off and rages at you, you pull a certain number of cubes out of the bag. If they are a player colour, those are wounds that could eventually kill you.
Black cubes are just set aside. Nothing happens.
Now that we have schemes, something does happen to the black cubes.
Each scheme has a level. When you draw a black cube, you place the cube on the current level in a blank space.
Once that level fills up, the scheme has progressed. Something happens (usually bad) and it proceeds to the next level.
In the Global Interment scheme above, once the first level is filled, all Master Keys are removed from the Market (if you’ve already bought one, you’re fine).
The second level will allow players to trash a faction card from their hand for 5 credits (which could be good!).
If the scheme completes (level 3), then from that point forward, all cards cost one skill more to buy.
How do you prevent the scheme from going forward?
Each scheme has a way to “purchase” a black cube from an uncompleted level of the scheme. For Toxigenic Plague, you can spend 3 skill (2 if you’re in the Viral Lab module) to buy a cube. This will set the scheme back a bit.
As a bonus, there are certain things you can do with black cubes, depending on the cards you have and where you are in the ship.
Some cards will let you spend a black cube to do something. The FRY-ALL 9000 gun will give you one sword, but if you spend a cube, you get four more! The Water Bear will let you teleport to a space adjacent to the module you are currently in.
If you spend a cube, then it will be placed back in the bag, which is always a good thing.
In addition to the schemes, the expansion comes with 35 new cards that will be available in the market row. Many of them have effects using the black cubes, though some of them are just cool in their own right.
There are two new module boards (double-sided, so four new modules) that will be available for the variable map, which can be important for the schemes. Many of them (like the Toxigenic Plague) refer to one of the new modules so you should definitely make sure that module is in play.
Finally, there is a new boss marker, Haldos (Eradikus’ Homicidal AI) for the rage meter instead of the old one. (You may have to order a new one depending on when you buy this expansion, as many of the first printing ones came with Haldos having a broken arm)
Is Clank in Space: Apocalypse like adding mustard to your bacon and eggs? Or is it like adding bacon to your already scrumptious cheeseburger? (or whatever non-meat eaters will add to their tofu burger)
I have to say that Apocalypse is a great expansion to Clank in Space, but there is a missed opportunity here.
I love the new cards and the schemes are an ingenious addition to the game. Why not make some use out of those black cubes that just get drawn and set aside? The ideas behind the schemes are pretty cool too, and the increasing effects of them give players another reason to take black cubes from the scheme.
While some effects are relatively benign (trashing all Prisoners from the Market Row doesn’t really matter if there aren’t any there), some can be pretty harsh.
Trashing a non-starter card from what you played that turn can be pretty brutal! And cost you points.
The missed opportunity with this expansion is that there is really no deck-thinning ability added with these new cards. There may be one or two cards, but ultimately you have 135 cards (base + expansion) and the trashing capability almost nil. A few cards will let you trash a program, but I don’t think there are any new ones with that ability, which means it’s even further diluted with the new cards available.
I’m not talking about thinning your deck to an extreme, but it would be nice to be able to get rid of some starter cards. While I think “Stumbles” are important to have and should be difficult to get rid of (if there is no chance of you generating Clank, then the game becomes too easy), decks get pretty large and unwieldy.
That’s my only real complaint about Apocalypse, however.
The new cards themselves are much in the same vein as the base game cards, with some great sci-fi parodies added to the mix. The schemes and black cube usage really adds to the game, but yet it doesn’t add any additional time.
A Category 1 scheme may not impact you much other than giving you a way to purchase black cubes, but a Category 3 one can be extremely difficult! So they can add difficulty, or they can just add new things to be aware of.
This is the best kind of expansion: one that adds more interesting things and choices but doesn’t add any complexity or time to the game.
Even the rulebook is pretty good! It’s kind of hard to mess up 3 pages, though I could comment on how some things really should be highlighted.
It took me 4 readings of the book to discover that a black cube that you have at the end of the game gives you one point because it’s buried in a paragraph about taking black cubes from the scheme. Yes, careful reading of the rulebook is important so I should probably have noticed that, but it still would be nice to really make note of some important concepts.
Other than that, Clank in Space: Apocalypse is an expansion that I will never play without. It’s easy enough to pick up for newcomers to the game (though maybe if you’re introducing it to people who don’t know hobby boardgames at all, I would suggest leaving it out and just doing the base game).
Is it essential? No, it’s not. It’s cool and I think it’s worth buying, but if you’re completely satisfied with the base game and do not want to buy anything in addition to it, you don’t really need it.
It’s not like it fixes a broken game or anything.
It just gives you more toys to play with.
And who can say no to more toys?
(I played Clank in Space with this expansion three times before doing this review)
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