A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (yep, 2019), I wrote about what I called the Clank-iverse and my general love for the game and all its expansions. As a part of that article, I noted that I needed to do a second article about Clank-in-Space-iverse.
This is not that article. (For those of you who spent great wads of emotional and mental capital on a TV show from 2004-10 like I did, this is Not Penny’s Boat.)
Instead, what follows is my impressions after two plays of the newest Clank! In! Space! expansion – Pulsarcade. I promise it’s still worth reading. (I apologize in advance for the obscure Tron references scattered throughout this post.)
My Clank CV
I acknowledge that two plays (each with two players) isn’t usually enough to get a good picture of the quality of an expansion – but I humbly submit that we’re not dealing with an untrained eye here. Since my first play of Clank! nearly five years ago (in January of 2017), here’s how much experience I’ve had with the system:
- 67 plays of Clank!
- 11 plays of Clank! Legacy
- 37 plays of Clank! In! Space!
- 7 with Apocalypse
- 3 with Cyberstation 11
- 2 with Pulsarcade
- 10 with solo campaign version on the Renegade Games app
What’s the thematic thread?
Evidently, everyone’s favorite intergalactic bad guy, Eradikus, is a big vintage arcade game fan. (I’ll be showing my age by noting that based on the arcade cabinets chosen, I would also be considered “vintage”.) We are “setting high scores” on his machines in order to fight our way to where we can purloin one of his priceless artifacts.
What’s in the Box (well, clamshell)?
Pulsarcade is packaged like the Clank! Expedition expansions – in this case, with multiple punchboards and 5 new wooden pieces:
- 8-bit Eradikus figure
- 4 “lightcycles” (one in each player color)
There is a new Command Module (where you go to steal, ahem, “liberate” the artifacts) that is called Master Control – Pulsarcade (yes, the MCP). End of line, indeed. There are six new modules for you to rampage through on your way to aforementioned MCP who does not look like a giant spinning red pencil.
There are new tokens as well – 18 classic arcade cabinets (with the ever-present puns you know & love from previous Clank games), a new market item and some research tokens for use with the Research Lab. And – I’m guessing because there was more room on the punchboards – more $ tokens to add to the supply from the base game.
And, of course, a well-written 4 page rulebook.
How does it work?
There are really two different ways to use Pulsarcade:
- Play the whole shebang – the MCP and the arcade cabinets, the new modules, and the Disguise Kit (the new market item).
- Simply add some number of the new modules into a “regular” game of Clank! In! Space!.
A couple of caveats – one of the modules (the Vault) doesn’t work with the Apocalypse expansion… and this expansion doesn’t work with Cyberstation 11. (Note: even though I like Cyberstation 11, I think it’s a really smart move on the part of Renegade Game Studios to create a simple expansion that adds variety without bogging the game system down with too many complications.)
If you’re playing the entire expansion, players add a new task to their already crowded thievery schedule – they need to satisfy the requirements on the various arcade cabinets in order to gather “credits” to pick up an artifact in the MCP. The more credits you have, the better artifact you take home. (It’s kind of like turning in tickets at Chuck E Cheese… only with less microwaved pizza and screaming children.)
There are limited amounts of each cabinet – so keeping track of what other players are doing/buying becomes more important. You’ll be working on tasks like “making 4 Clank in a single turn” or “playing a Memory Core”.
The new modules offer new ways to accomplish your mission and/or slow you down…
- The Black Market has market spaces with extra goodies or discounted prices (but, no surprise, extra Clank).
- The Cloning Vats offer you a sneaky way to protect yourself against bounty hunters (those pesky red cubes that show up near the end of the game).
- The Danger Theater and the Race Track both use the “lightcycle” pieces to track your progress in these arenas as you amass 3+ Clank in a turn (Danger Theater) or acquire/defeat additional cards in the adventure row (Race Track).
- The Research Lab lets you acquire extra knowledge when you hack a data port in the module… giving you a once per turn boost when you play a Reserve card (Boldly Go, FAZR, or Memory Core).
- The Vault is actually a pair of vaults that accumulate credits by using the black cubes drawn from the bag – which explains why it won’t work with the Apocalypse expansion.
So,.. do you like it?
Short answer: yes.
Long answer: Pulsarcade has moved to the top of the list of recommended expansions for those who love Clank! In! Space! and are looking for more variety. We played two games so we could try out all the new modules and had a blast both times.
Look… I think all three of the expansions are great – but both Apocalypse and Cyberstation 11 add more external changes to the structure of the game. Pulsarcade balances novelty and familiarity in a way that will make it easy for folks to pick up and enjoy regardless of their experience as a gamer.
Note: I was provided with a review copy of Pulsarcade by the publisher – but the rest of my Clank! In! Space! set was purchased by me.