Clash Royale: Micro-Transactions Done Right

In this article, I offer up a mini-review of the new Supercell game, Clash Royale, which appeared on the Play Store and Apple Store on March 1st.
  1. OctaVariuM
    Image Credit:Clash_Royale at​

    Alright, I’ll be the first to admit: In general, I hate gaming on my smartphone. I don’t really know why either. I guess the small screen just never really clicked with me the same way it used to when I brought my Gameboy with me everywhere.

    That being said, when I heard TotalBiscuit waxing lyrical about the fun he’s been having with Clash Royale since its full release on March 1st, I thought I should give it a try since I tend to agree with his taste in games.

    It started out slow. The game is essentially a mash up of a lot of gaming genres. For those of you familiar with Supercell’s other smash hit, Clash of Clans, they share some of the same characters. However, unlike Clash of Clans, this game focuses more on a mixture of tower defense, MOBA, and trading card game elements.

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    The very basic goal is to destroy the opponent’s three towers before yours are destroyed. This is done by spending “elixir” which regenerates every few seconds to cast spell cards that place units on the battlefield. They run forward, sieging the opponent’s towers and defending yours, and once either all three towers are down or the timer runs out, the game is over (the person who has destroyed the most towers wins if it goes to time).

    While that sounds like a simple premise (and it is), the devil is in the details. Much like in MOBA games, each unit has its own style and personality, preferring to attack certain types of units, and often they have their own special abilities associated with it. For example, the five elixir cost Prince card has a special ability where, if he goes untouched, he is able to build up some speed on his horse and deal additional damage to the first target he encounters.

    This adds a nice bit of additional strategy to the game, as you can set up attack patterns to distract opponents with smaller elixir cost creatures and then rush a Prince in on the opposite side of the field and utterly destroy a tower in a few hits.

    In addition, the concept of EV (expected value) is rooted in the game’s design. Do you want to spend a total of six elixir to stop their five elixir card? Well, if you do, you are losing out on value, and thus tempo. But, sometimes it’s necessary to keep a tower alive. The choice is ultimately yours. In fact, some high-level Chinese and Korean players have adopted a strategy of letting the opponent take one of your towers with little resistance, only for them to steamroll over the opponent’s tower with a massive surge of units.

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    The thing with units is, the decks are very small, so each unit decision matters. This is something that some trading card game fans may dislike, but I actually find pretty refreshing (and I’m speaking as someone who has played Magic: The Gathering passionately for over fifteen years). Since you only have eight slots to work with, the limited space allows for recurrence of cards to be a factor in how you build your deck. While this does limit your options (you have a lot more individual cards than just eight), the game is smart in giving players three deck slots that they can tinker around with.

    Now to address the Trump in the room: The game does have micro-transactions, but it’s smart about it. It never limits you from playing the game itself (I’m looking at you, Candy Crush). Instead, it allows players to skip over the time block needed to unlock the chests (which contain gold, gems, and cards) you collect in game. The time isn’t so long/annoying that it essentially forces your hand, so I’m alright with it. In fact, I feel alright with admitting that this is the first game on mobile I’ve actually put money into ($20 so nothing crazy, but I’ve already played it for over 20 hours so it’s good value for money in my opinion).

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    However, regardless of all of the micro-transaction debates that inevitably stem from this game’s release, it’s just good fun. Remember back when League of Legends advertised its now defunct mode Dominion as “fast and fun?” Well, Clash Royale could steal that slogan. The games are only a few minutes each, and it’s a constant onslaught of different units, defending structures, and game strategies.

    The nice thing is, it’s free, so you don’t have to commit anything other than some of your time to learn the game. I played for fifteen hours without spending a penny and I was as happy as a kid in a cotton candy factory. The only reason I even paid real money for anything was because I joined one of the in-game clans and wanted to be able to help people out with the cards they need while getting some myself (this is another element borrowed from trading card games).

    If I’m honest, it’s a hard game to describe properly, so I’d suggest that if this mini-review piqued your interest at all, go onto the Play Store or Apple Store and give it a shot. Let me know what you think of Clash Royale in the comments below! I always like hearing others’ opinions on games.

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  1. ItsMar10n
    Your title is completely wrong. It should stand: micro transactions vs skills. Micro transactions are climbing over skill. How can you say that the micro transactions in clash royale is done right?? So you think its fair people can buy themselves up to max level in a game in 2 minutes, when people who are free to play use a half year to reach max level. In Clash of Clans, Clash Royale and Destiny you can buy yourself up to max level. All you dont get is the experience. It's unfair that people can level up to max th in clash of clans, while I would use what it takes. In Clash Royale you can also buy yourself to max level. You just upgrade your troops. Then you get to a new area because your troops are so much better than mine. Then you open chests and upgrade troops.

    Levels and town halls should be based on your skill and play time. Example 1: Halo Reach lightning effect. It cost 2 million cr. Only pros and people who have played the game for a long time are able to get this. Example 2: Inheritor in Halo Reach (max rank). You need 20 million cr to get to max rank. In the future people would probably be able to buy themselves to max rank. Experience and skills are no longer important in gaming, MONEY is everything.

    BTW: The game released a lot of days before 1st March. Not globaly, but in some countries.

    Im sorry, but I dont like this review, its based on your own opinions. When you write an article/review it should almost never be based on your own opinions.
      Keeley Hazell and zawwee88 like this.
    1. OctaVariuM
      A review shouldn't be based on my own opinions? Isn't that the very nature of a review? What exactly would I say if not for my opinion? You can dislike what I have to say, but at the end of the day it's my review. If you want to write one as a counterpoint, please go ahead and do so.
    2. (-_-)
      Not saying microtransactions are done right or anything, but at the end of the day skill trumps. True those with better cards will win and climb the top but that will only get them so far. Only those who actually know how to use the cards and properly place them will be on the very top. You can spend $50k on this game to get every card but that doesn't make you the best player. I do think it's crazy how top dollar box is like $45 dollars or some **** though...
  2. AlienFreek01
    Micro transactions in this game make it un-fun. You can't win if the enemies troops are three levels higher than yours and they have op types of troops
    1. View previous replies...
    2. AlienFreek01
      Not when you spend $300 on cards and have them all. Sure it's luck but I doubt people have what they have without spending money
    3. ItsMar10n
    4. (-_-)
      Not really, $300 will only get you so far. They will stomp all the kids at the bottom sure. But they can only push so many trophies before seeing people with the same level of cards. At that point it's all skill.
  3. Planetmaster
    Whatever happened to just buying a game & playing it. Microtransactions have started to & will continue to ruin gaming. All it does is let the developers send out an unfinished game & expect the consumers to pay for more content. *Cough* *Cough* Destiny & many, many others

    It's like they offer us half a game, if we get to like it they sting us for more money to carry on playing.
      Gods By Machine likes this.
    1. OctaVariuM
      I still think it is worth supporting games that don't ship out half-finished though, like this one. Everything is here, and you can get by just fine without spending money. Supercell even soft-launched the game to make sure things were going to be the best they could for the actual launch (not something I think is particularly common in the mobile market).
      Chazay likes this.
  4. denz
    "In fact, I feel alright with admitting that this is the first game on mobile I’ve actually put money into ($20 so nothing crazy, but I’ve already played it for over 20 hours so it’s good value for money in my opinion)."
    SMH. Paying 20$ to increment a variable.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. OctaVariuM
      Same logic can be applied to any free to play game. All you are doing in League is paying money to change the way your character looks which is all code (or even Dota or CS:GO...the latter of which isn't even free to play).
    3. denz
      I don't know, imo cosmetics are not same as gems or w/e in mobile games because they don't offer any benefit to owning them other than 'epeen/show off'.

      In mobile games, they are imo specifically made to 'encourage' user to spend money by making them grind longer/get **** quicker etc.
    4. OctaVariuM
      That's definitely a valid point. I think though that as long as whoever is spending the money is happy with the purchase, it is justified. I know that sometimes it is just to avoid a grind or get something done faster, but other times it's because you want to play a certain deck and lack the cards needed. For example, Magic: The Gathering. Sure, you could just draft and eventually get all the cards you need to play a competitive deck, but it is going to take a lot longer than just buying the cards you need individually.
      Chazay likes this.
  5. 3xTiNcT
    Micro transactions could never be right but that sounds better than most.
      PSGAndr3w likes this.
    1. Chazay
      I don't think you can ever have a card game whether its real life or not, without micro transactions, its just how it works. And this game does it right by making it completely optional to purchase the boost that basically speeds up the time it takes to open a chest. This is the best way to do the card gaming on mobile IMO. Even on Hearthstone, its basically a P2W game, this is not what so ever.
      OctaVariuM and 3xTiNcT like this.
    2. 3xTiNcT
      True, but like I said, it's better than most.
  6. televisedfool
    I won't spend a dime on mobile games.. Just doesn't feel worth it to me. Yet I'll go and drop $50-80 a month on World of tanks. :roflmao:
      PSGAndr3w and Darklumiere like this.
  7. Videogamedingus
    I just can't get into it. I guess it's just due to playing games like boom beach and clash from supercell that makes it just weird for me.
    1. Aqua
      I find pretty fun to be honest
      zawwee88 likes this.
  8. (-_-)
    The thing I really dislike about this game is that your progression is limited by time. This is like Clash of Clans where you are limited by your builders and upgrade time, however you could always have one sitting around to upgrade your walls. You could also farm and save up your resources to use later. In Royale though, your progression is completely based on time. I basically play till I get all 4 of my chest at the bottom and my freebies up top then get off for the rest of the day. There isn't any motivation for me to play anymore than maybe 7 games a day, unlike CoC where I spent multiple hours playing. I wish there was a way to play and still be able to progress without having to spend $ on gems...
      zawwee88 likes this.
    1. Salus
      You can easily continue playing while disregarding the fact that you can't get chests and try to see the max trophies you can get to
    2. (-_-)
      You can only get so far without having to open up more chest.
      connor12568 and Salus like this.
  9. Feyfolken
    I'm with you in that mobile gaming never really struck a chord with me. This is coming from someone who took their DS with them everywhere as a young Pokemon fan, too. That said, this game looks pretty interesting and it's definitely more my type of game than Clash of Clans is. I may just have to check it out and it's even more encouraging that their approach to micro-transactions isn't one of forcing you to purchase them to play the game.
      zawwee88 likes this.
    1. smelly02
      I know right! I use to bring my DSI everywhere I went, and I can't stand mobile gaming. I think the reason is we use our phones for resources and communication more as with the DS, we only game on it and we can game anywhere. My DSI used to save me from family reunions and long car rides.
      zawwee88 likes this.