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.
By OctaVariuM, Mar 12, 2016 | |
  1. OctaVariuM
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    Image Credit:Clash_Royale at blogspot.com​

    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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    Image Credit: supercell.com​

    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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    Image Credit: gamezebo.com​

    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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    Image Credit: kinja-img.com​

    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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