Clank! Expeditions – Temple of the Ape Lords (Game Review by Brandon Kempf)

“Welcome to the Jungle, we’ve got fun …. Games”

                                                              -Axl Rose during his board gaming phase

First off, if you need an explanation of how Clank! plays, please see this review right here. Right on, good review, right? Great game as well. Now, if you want to know more about the Clank! Universe of games, check this out, it even mentions Temple of the Ape Lords briefly, but we’re going to expand on that a bit. Those two links should, for the most part, get you up to speed on everything Clank! up to this point, with the exception of Clank! Legacy, which I am hopeful to have a crack at sometime in the new year. 

My general feeling on Clank! is that it is a fun deck-building adventure game. A game of push-your-luck done with cards instead of dice. Wonderfully thematic and entertaining most every time it is on the table. Part of the joy of Clank! is that it is so expandable. New cards, new maps, new tokens, and even new bosses and adventurers. It’s a really entertaining way to keep a franchise fresh. There are some expansion elements that hit, and some that miss, but Dire Wolf and Renegade have done a great job of keeping more hits coming than misses. 

Now enters another Expeditions expansion. The Expedition expansions simply add new boards, tokens and some fun wooden elements —  they don’t add any new cards to the mix. Which I think is good, as too many cards can kind of lead to deck bloat in the games where you mix expansion cards in with base cards. There are just too many cards to see everything, and things don’t always mesh quite perfectly. This Expeditions expansion is called Temple of the Ape Lords.

Temple of the Ape Lords brings a couple of really notable changes to Clank!, but first we’ll talk about some of the small things. FIrst off, the board is double sided, on one side is the jungle. This side is seeing the explorers traversing through the jungle looking for the Temple of the Ape Lords. The other side of the board is — you guessed it — the Temple side. One unique thing that they have done here is that they have kind of created a way for you to play both sides and connect them as a two-part adventure. On the Jungle side of the board, you can pick up these new “Ape-aratus” tokens. There are three different tokens to collect as you pass by them on paths. There are also tokens on the new monster that you can fight, The Bronze Guardian. One of each type of “Ape-aratus” token is placed on the monster and when you defeat it, you gain one of those tokens. Once the three are gone, you can no longer fight it, and must go back to bopping that Goblin on the head for one gold. 

These tokens on the Jungle side of the board create a set collection element for the game. You gain points for each of the different types, based on how many of them you have at the end of the game. Temple of the Ape Lords also adds a couple of new items, first up it adds a 33 point artifact, which is really enticing, but also really dangerous to venture that far out for it. It also adds a new item for the marketplace, The Time Winder. You can buy it from the market just like any other item, but along with giving you points at the end of the game, The Time Winder allows you to remove three clank cubes of your color from the dragon bag. There are also vines to swing along. These paths will cause you to make a bit of noise, so in order to swing on a vine path, you have to add a clank token to the board. 

Flip over the board and the explorers are in the Temple. Things operate a bit differently here as well. If you are playing a one-off game, i.e. not continuing the story from the other side, you will be dealt three of the “Ape-aratus” tokens at random, those will be yours to use during the game. They have no value at the end of the game on the Temple side. There are now RNG — Rotation of Numerous Gears —  tokens on the Rage Track. They are placed face down, and will be revealed as the boss advances on the Rage Track. 

The biggest difference you will notice on the board are the nine spaces for the Gear tokens. These Gear Tokens have paths on them, and they are in between locations on the map. You still follow the paths as normal, paying the cost if necessary to pass through, but these Gear Tokens are special and they allow the path to change over the course of the game. Each of these Gear Tokens on the board has an icon on it that matches one of the three “Ape-ratus” token symbols. When you are adjacent to one of these Gear Tokens, you can spend an “Ape-ratus” token that matches that symbol to rotate the Gear Token to the path that you choose. Usually making it easier on you, but sometimes you may do it just to make things a bit more difficult for the other explorers. These Gear Tokens will also rotate whenever the Boss advances on the Rage Track and reaches an RNG token. The Gears of the corresponding symbol are then rotated one rotation clockwise. 

To tie these together, you play the Jungle side as normal, with the first place player gaining a twenty point Campaign token, second getting a ten point token and third place gaining a five point token. Fourth place, or anyone who failed to escape the depths, gain zero. All of those “Ape-ratus” tokens that you gained on the Jungle side are carried over with the players to the Temple side to use to rotate the gears. Total your points for the second game, plus your Campaign Token from the first game, and the winner is the person with the most points. Viola! You have just played a campaign. 

While I have enjoyed each of the expansions for one reason or another, I rarely enjoy everything about them. Temple of the Ape Lords is seriously trying to buck that trend. You play the game with the base cards, and that’s great as you have some familiarity. You know most of the cards and what they can do, so no new learning curve there. The learning curve comes on the board that is out there and exposed for all to take in. 

The new paths, with new way to circumnavigate from one place to the next, are kind of refreshing here. I wasn’t quite sure that I would like the rotating pathways, but they add some variety, and even some ways to mess with your opponents at times, and that’s always a welcome thing in games for me. In our plays, these maps felt a bit quicker to me. This may partially be due to the availability of certain cards early on, or possibly our newness to the boards, but they did seem to warrant faster movement, less exploration deep into the depths, and more run in, grab and go. 

The set collection of the “Ape-ratus” tokens adds something new to score at the end of the game, and thus gives you something new to try to accomplish, which is always a welcome sight in a new expansion. I really enjoyed the Temple side of the board with those rotating paths as well, they kind of make sure that folks don’t follow your path too closely and also allow you to blaze your own path a bit more quickly when used properly. 

Of the two Expedition expansions for Clank! so far, I prefer Temple of the Ape Lords to Gold and Silk. I think it offers more changes that affect the game for the good than Gold and Silver does. Honestly, it may be a better expansion than both boxed expansions. I know that deck builder purists will always want more cards, but I haven’t been a huge fan of how Clank! integrated the new with the old, it always felt like I wasn’t getting to see the new, more often than not. That’s what an expansion is supposed to be, right? It’s supposed to be a new twist on an older favorite that refreshes it and brings it back to the table, and I think that Temple of the Ape Lords is doing just that for us. 

Thoughts from the Opinionated Gamers:

Mark Jackson: Brandon does a great job of describing the goodness in the “box” (well, clamshell packaging) of Temple of the Ape Lords. If you enjoy Clank!, this is an excellent addition to your collection.

Michael W.: Clank! Is a mainstay in our house (all expansions, but not yet sucked into Legacy), and this is a good one. The gears didn’t turn quite as much as I thought they would, so they didn’t really impact the game enough, but that could be groupthink of us being too coservative in their use. TotAL isn’t my favorite expansion (that would be Mummy’s Curse), but it is by far the punniest, which is a good thing. Definitely happy to have it in the box.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers:

I love it. Brandon, Mark J, Michael W

I like it. 


Not for me…

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