The game's premise consists of two to four players acting as thieves attempting to plunder a dragon's castle of treasure. The most important treasures of them all being the Artifacts, of which you can only carry one. The game ends when the players all successfully escape with their Artifacts or die trying.
Gameplay involves moving around the board with to grab an Artifacts, as well as Major and Minor Secrets along the way, by moving their game peice into the room they are in. Each turn, they may also Acquire cards to both use immediately and add to their personal deck from both the Reserve pile(cards which are always available) and the Dungeon Row (cards which are dealt from the Dungeon Deck and represent monsters to face, items to steal, potential companions to persuade to your side, etc. that your character finds along their journey). Moving around is primarily done with Boots icons that are found in the cards of your deck, while Acquiring cards is done with cards that give the player Skill (for everything but monsters) as well as Swords (for monsters). Players begin with a 10 card starting deck of six Burgle cards worth 1 skill each, 1 Sidestep card worth 1 Boot, 1 Scramble card worth 1 skill and 1 Boot, and 2 Stumble cards, which gives the player Clank.
In addition to these three primary resources to manage, the player must be careful not to build up Clank, representing the noise the player would make as they move about the castle, alerting the dragon to their presence. Clank is represented by colored cubes that eventually get put in a bag, shaken, and drawn. If the dragon successfully detects a player (which happens whenever the player's cube is drawn), the player is dealt damage that will eventually result in defeat. The goal of the game is the acquire one artifact and as much loot as they can and successfully escape. The winner at the end of the game is a combination of Victory points on cards, secrets, the player's artifact, and any acquired gold.
The base game has 5 expansions:
- Clank! Sunken Treasures
- Clank! The Mummy's Curse
- Clank! Expeditions: Gold and Silk
- Clank! Expeditions: Temple of the Ape Lord
- Clank! Adventuring Party (Is an expansion of both the original game and Acquisitions Incorporated)
In addition, there are 2 related games.
- Clank! In! Space!. A space-themed variant of the game.
- Clank! In! Space! Apocalypse. An expansion of In Space.
- Clank! In! Space! Cyber Station 11. An expansion of In Space.
- Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated. An expanded world-building campaign version of Clank!.
This deckbuilding game provides examples of:
- All Webbed Up: One of the gimmicks of the Silk section of Gold and Silk is that some treasures are bound by webbing, requiring extra Strength to free.
- Artificial Gill: Sunken Treasures introduces SCUBA - (Sorcery-Created Underwater Breathing Apparel) which lets the player safely traverse flooded rooms without damage.
- Bag of Holding: The Backpack will let you carry one extra Artifact. If you buy one but fail to acquire that extra artifact it ends up as a net loss in points.
- Berserk Button: The dragon's rage will go up when three things happen: When an artifact or dragon egg is stolen or when a player with an artifact has successfully escaped.
- Clingy Macguffin: You can't drop an artifact after picking it up. Not even to pick up a better artifact.
- Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Some valuables that are worth a lot will cause the player to build up a lot of Clank, in particular most Gems (which give you a single time increase in Clank, and the Monkey Staff, which does nothing at first, but gradually alerts dragon to your presence.
- Draconic Humanoid: The Kobolds. While weak, their appearance both makes Dragon Attacks stronger and triggers a Dragon attack.
- Dungeon Shop: There are four shopkeeper spaces throughout the castle. Players can spend 7 gold to buy Crowns, Magic Keys, or Backpacks. In addition, the Underworld Dealing card can allow the player to trade their Gold for two Secret Books.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Nictotraxian the Dragon. "Nicki", for short.
- Fragile Speedster: The player characters start out with only skill and the ability to move, and zero attack power. They will have to rely on the stronger magical artifacts they find or their companions for the bulk of their fighting.
- Game Over: A player dying close enough to the exit is not quite lost - their body is recovered by others. With any luck, their lethargy in escaping the dungeon can be compensated by the sheer wealth they gained, possibly still making them the winner. However, a player that dies in the "Depths" of the dungeons (the lower half of the board) is truly lost - they end the game with 0 points, no matter how many victory points they gained. In Space is similar, but the area that counts as "game over" is a considerably larger percentage of the board.
- Increasingly Lethal Enemy: Nicki the Dragon will start out having a hard time detecting the player, represented by 24 black cubes in the Dragon Bag, so the chances of the players' cubes being drawn are quite low at the start. Since even black cubes are removed from the back if drawn, the probability of the dragon's attack hitting goes up each time it misses.
- Healing Potion: Healing potions are a minor secret that can be found that heals only 1 damage, though it can be saved for when you really need it.
- Healing Spring: Healing Fountains throughout the castle can heal the player for 1 every time they pass through it. However, they tend to be awkwardly placed and in a situation where repeatedly exiting and re-entering them is difficult.
- I Meant to Do That: The Swagger card allows the player to gain Skill for their turn depending on the amount of Clank they have. This can be interpreted as playing off the noise they make as intentional in a show of bravado.
- Killer Rabbit: In Sunken Treasures the dragon's pet Goldfish are more dangerous than Goblins themselves.
- The Maze: Crystal Caves will exhaust players with its mazelike passages, which in gameplay terms means that entering one means they can't leave the room for a full turn. They can still teleport out if they are capable of it.
- Mook: The Goblins are omnipresent in the castle, apparently always in every room, in as many number as needed, represented by their presence in the Reserve pile instead of the Dungeon Deck. As many goblins can be defeated per turn as you have spare Swords, in exchange for single coins each. Oddly, they are exactly as tough as Orcs, which are treated as more threatening, but Orcs give better loot.
- Mister Muffykins: The Dragon's pet cat is a "companion" that can cause the dragon to attack as an effect when it is played. It's most useful for getting other players killed.
- Monster Is a Mommy: The dragon is explicitly female, and one of the minor secrets the player can steal is a dragon egg, which will automatically increase the dragon's Rage.
- Mummy: The main threat of The Mummy's Curse. It can't die; fighting it only repels it to another section of the board.
- Only Mostly Dead: A Player that grabs an artifact and manages to make it back above ground, yet is defeated before they can escape the castle, doesn't quite die. They instead are rescued by villagers, although they no longer get the point bonus acquired when escaping.
- Oxygen Meter: If players end their turn underwater, they have to come up for air next turn, unless they have the Mermaid card, or scuba gear. Otherwise they have to take 1 damage.
- Random Drop: Minor and Major Secrets represent random items found in the adventure, which can be a brief power boost or an item you can hold on to.
- Rule of Three: The Monkey kingdom is noted to be obsessed with the number three. There are three Monkey Idol tokens, the Scepter of the Ape Lord causes the player's Clank to increase by three, and the robotic monkey companion is called the Monkey Bot 3000.
- Shared Universe: This game takes place within the same universe as Eternal Card Game. The dragon of the castle, Nictotraxian, is a monster from that game.
- Skeleton Key: The Master Key can be bought in the dungeon shop. Since it costs 7 gold to buy and the key itself is only worth 5 points, its usefulness is offset by a net loss in victory points.
- Stalked by the Bell: Once somebody escapes, the dragon's Rage slowly increases for 5 turns upon which it will automatically knock out anyone in the aboveground castle and kill anyone in the Depths.
- Wall Master: Animated Doors. Defeating them rewards the play with quick passageway to an adjacent room.
- With Catlike Tread: Players that do this will find themselves eating a lot of damage. One card, Dead Run, gives the player a strong +2 movement for their turn, but also gives them +2 Clank, which is depicted on the card as forgoing stealth and making a mad dash.
Clank! In! Space! Provides examples of:
- Cat Folk: The generic alien race of the setting are yellow cat-looking aliens with antennae.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: The Ace Pilot will net the the player a nice chunk of victory points, but is a hindrance to your quest. His quote threatens to lock the player in the cell the player just rescued him from.
- Ensign Newbie: He just doesn't know when to shut up.
- Expy: Most characters and items are references to famous Sci-Fi properties.
- Guide Dang It!: The meaning of the cartoon-bomb looking symbols isn't explained in this manual, nor it is explained in the orignal Clank's manual - it was only explained in expansioins of the original game. They represent the player adding a Clank through a board action, instead of through a card.
- Hired Guns: The Mercenaries were good guys in Clank, but are bad guys here. They make the players more likely to be struck.
- Mecha-Mooks: The G.O.B.L.I.N robots are exactly as strong as the fleshy goblins from the original game
- Recycled In Space: It's in the name! Played for laughs.
- Remixed Level: Clank In Space's board is modular - that is to say, there are six sections of the board. Three of them - the Cargo Bay module, Corridor module, and Command module, are there every time the game is played. However, the other three are randomized per play.
- Teleportation Sickness: A player that uses a teleporter has to take a turn to shake the nausea off. The Hyperlift also causes the sickness, but not from teleportation, but from its sheer speed.
- Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: the Triple Agents count as whatever faction you need them to when you draw them. They're actually three seperate, identical people, each of which are on a different sides.