When I hear that a new legacy game has hit the market, I feel a little bit like Pavlov’s dog. The main reason I love legacy games is because I get to play the same one multiple times while altering it as we progress: I can write on the board and cards, tear up components, and place stickers everywhere. Legacy games are just fun. Also, at the heart of all legacy games is a good story. A legacy game unfolds like a Choose Your Own Adventure game: when I make a decision, it takes me down a unique path. As a player, there’s nothing more compelling than knowing my choices have consequences, helpful or detrimental, and that certain opportunities have been closed to me based on which choice I made.
In Clank: Legacy, players take on the role of fantasy characters who work for Acquisitions Incorporated, exploring dangerous territory for the company. During the game, players move their character around the map, crossing into “no-man’s land” to find new locations, collect valuable artifacts, and risk it all to gather the most victory points. If your character becomes exhausted before exiting the Danger Zone with an artifact, you receive a zero for that game. During your turn, you might fight various monsters, move to locations, acquire new cards, buy helpful goods from the market, and take an artifact. There are other, unique actions that open up once you’ve played a couple games, but those will remain secret until you reveal them.
A wonderful storytelling element to this game is the overly dramatic and elaborate paperwork that is provided in the first game: a Mission Reports Chart tracks players’ scores as well as the Associate Spotlight (essentially the MVP); a greeting letter from the characters’ boss and CEO of Acquisitions Incorporated; and a Franchise Charter that requires players write and sign their character name and identify their role (which is selected in game). The stories don’t stop there, which I’m very pleased with as the consistency and the exuberance carries through each game’s prologue, checkpoints, and epilogue.
I’m playing Clank: Legacy with my husband, Louis, and our friend, Travis. Previously, we three played Charterstone, Rise of Queensdale, and Aeon’s End: Legacy together, so we’re not novices to legacy games. What’s fun about playing this game together is that we each have our “jobs.” When someone is reading a story element to the group and they say, “Fetch Card X,” Travis hurries to the Cardporium and fetches the necessary card. The Cardporium is a card box with a magnetic lid that looks like a treasure chest. When anyone says, “Fetch Sticker Card Sheet X,” Louis races to the sticker envelope and reveals our latest discovery. Lastly, my job is to replenish the cards in the Adventure Row after each player’s turn. It’s exciting to have this job because we never know if the new card will reveal a dragon image, resulting in an immediate dragon attack. These dragon attacks are both terrifying and agonizing because characters make noise throughout the game, which is represented by a cube of your character’s color. The active player then draws cubes from the dragon bag depending on how far the dragon has progressed. If a cube of your color is drawn, it is placed on the board to represent damage taken. Once you receive your tenth cube, your character is exhausted.
Clank: Legacy not only offers a game that changes and grows based on the players’ decisions, it also provides a top-notch story that is compelling, funny, and competitive. It also doesn’t hurt that each game is a different experience despite playing with the same core components, cards, and map. While the core game stays constant, there are so many stickers, cards, chits, tiles, cubes, and other items that continually add to and develop the game every time you play. There are numerous boxes of things, all related to the business-side of Acquisitions Incorporated: Vault, Filing Cabinet, Additional Components, and Cardporium .
I’ll start with how the game is compelling: The story is the core of this game and it offers a variety of choices for the players every single game. There is a story book aptly named the Book of Secrets, and there are lots of envelopes and packets that make you want to cheat (not really) and peek inside. Currently, I am waiting for another player to reach the position to open the “DO NOT OPEN” envelope with a giant X on it and the anticipation is nearly killing me .
Each character comes with a box that has unique personal goals on the back, of which players must accomplish in order to receive extra marks of commendation from the boss. What made all three of our experiences fascinating is that there were goals that we didn’t understand because those game elements had not been introduced yet. At the end of each game, we’d say things like, “Who’s a Dran agent?” and “Where are the shrines?” Our exasperation compelled us to uncover the story faster in our next game. It’s fantastically fun!
Next, the game is funny. Take a look at the starting cards for each player . For example, the Burgle card says, “A very small theft is called a ‘burglet.’” That’s cute. Or even better, the Stumble card flavor text, which every player groans when they reveal it from their deck: “Did it happen? Yes. Do we have to dwell on it? Also, yes.” The commentary at the bottom of the card strikes a light and goofy tone, one that carries throughout the stories provided in the Book of Secrets in addition to the additional cards that are added to the deck when prompted.
We have fully embraced the humor by writing goofy town names directly onto the board (our home town is called Ridge Ridge). They aren’t just nonsense, though; they play with the dragon/wizard/magic theme and embrace the existing language appearing on the board. We also have a strange “cheese” theme going on. I’m not sure what prompted that, but it’s great. I love the freedom of creating our unique game. The goofiness of the game allows players to embrace those “forever” choices with some levity: I feel like the game says, “Sure, it’s permanent, but there’s no judgment here. Just have fun!”
Lastly, the game is competitive. I feel like when I sit down to play, it’s anyone’s game. Every. Single. Time. We play to win. We all are good sports and have a good time, but each of us wants to build the best deck, acquire the most secrets, and activate the most checkpoints because the game isn’t as much fun if you don’t reveal as many story opportunities as you can on your journey. When Travis buys a card from the Adventure Row or Louis lands on a location that I was headed to this turn, I congratulate them on their choice but ultimately envy their gain as many of our games are very close in scoring and you never know if you should have gone left when you went right.
Ultimately, Clank: Legacy offers a dynamic experience that is filled with adventure, fun, and excitement. There is never downtime in the game; usually, there is too much to do that we might forget to activate a card when someone accomplishes a side task due to an overwhelming amount of events taking place simultaneously. There are always various levels of pressure bearing down on us as we play, which increases the intensity of each game. Overall, I’d recommend Clank: Legacy to a group who wants to read a lot (there are a lot of stories that interrupt game play) and who won’t get hurt feelings when they get unlucky with card draws or dragon pulls from the bag. I can’t wait to see what happens next time we play and how things will turn out. It’s a compelling story that, when over, I will miss.
One last thing. I dedicated a couple of weekends after we started the game to paint the four characters’ miniatures and the dragon marker that come with the game. That might be another reason why I feel so emotionally connected with our game and the story world. However, painted or unpainted miniatures, Clank: Legacy will not leave you disappointed.