That’s right. I’m branching out a bit. While my main focus on this blog has been Lords Mobile, I’ve spent some time playing other games. Yes, people can enjoy more than one game at a time. And honestly, Clash of Clans is one of the most well-known online freemium games on the market. It’s also similar to Lords Mobile in some regards, but also quite different, which is why I gave it a try.
Clash of Clans was released way back in 2012 (man, it’s been a while) and is still going strong, mainly due to a constant influx of new players and content. Although the game mechanics have changed little over the years, the underlying publishing strategy still exemplifies the best (and worst) parts of mobile gaming.
Here’s my (slightly late) review of Clash of Clans.
Once you install the game on your mobile device, you’re greeted with a mostly empty field and a few basic buildings to get you started. You get a basic town hall, army barracks, and resource-generating facilities. The game hand-holds you through the start of the game, which might be expected considering its primary demographic is on the slightly younger side than Lords Mobile.
The game revolves around PvP combat, specifically Clan-against-Clan attacks. The underlying game mechanics all support these, and the game makes that quite clear from the start. You’re more or less relegated to gathering resources and building up your defenses and army for upcoming matches.
The first battles you engage in will be AI-only, and they’re pretty easy to go through. You only need to build enough of an army to overwhelm the enemy, and there’s very little tactics, or thinking, involved in the process. However, as the game goes on, the AI bases start getting more defensive in nature and you’ll need more effort (and army) to beat.
This is where the game sucks you in. You need resources to construct better buildings, and you need time to get better units into your army. Basically, everything requires time, resources (and money) to complete and upgrade. As one of the hallmarks of the mobile gaming genre, Clash of Clans has this aspect pretty much nailed.
Of course, while the AI battles can be a great introduction to the basics of the game, PvP is where the real fun begins. Your castle is your base of operations and must be defended against other players. The game starts you off in single combat, where you either raid other players’ castles or get raided by them. Your success in attacking or defending gives you trophies that raise your rank on the leaderboard, as well as earns you precious resources to speed up your progress through the early stages.
You don’t get any control over your army or base in the raid itself. Once the troops are plopped onto the plot of land, they will attack the nearest enemy or their priority target, like lootable buildings. The same goes for defensive buildings. Most of them have some attack pattern and prioritization, and the game’s AI will take care of the rest for you. While you don’t get directly involved in raids, you can still watch to learn where your army failed and what you need to improve.
Other players can attack your base only when you’re not actively playing the game. At the start of each session, you’ll receive a status update on previous raids and how they’ve affected your trophies and resources. You also get a chance to watch replays of all the raids that happened in the meantime. Use them to see where your defenses failed and what buildings will need an upgrade to withstand attacks in the long run.
Overall, the raids aspect of the game is where fun is. It’s an ongoing process of learning new offensive and defensive tactics and an arms race to see who can build a better base. Since the game has been live for a while now, most players have upgraded their castles pretty well, but there is always an influx of new players to prey on.
While single-player raids are fun, the game’s real action comes with clan formation and combat. You need a special building called a clan castle in your base to get a chance to build a clan from scratch or join an existing one.
When you actually get into a clan, the game regularly pits two clans against one another in clan wars. Your base, alongside everyone else’s in the clans, is replicated on a war map. The members then get 24 hours to deal as much damage to the opposing bases. The winner gets loot and prestige, while the loser gets to lick their wounds.
The other benefit of joining a clan is that your fellow clan members can help you defend against enemy raids. They can station troops in your base to increase your odds of repelling an attack.
The attacks are the only way to actually have some fun in the game. While resource collection and building construction take a while, gathering troops is a relatively quick process, and you’ll have something to do.
The Pay to Win
Overall, Clash of Clans presents you with a few lucrative options on which to spend your hard-earned money. First, there is the option to get more builder huts. More builder huts means you can upgrade more buildings at once. The waiting times for building upgrades are among the most annoying parts of the game, so it might be a wonder why the game has been so profitable. But once you start paying for one thing, matters can quickly get out of hand.
The game also allows you to finish upgrades or get more resources by using Gems which can, you guessed it, be purchased with real money. You do get a trickle of Gems for free every once in a while to incentivize you to spend some and buy more. Since the entire game is built around the Gem economy, you can’t really fault Supercell (the developer) for trying to lure you into microtransactions.
Compared to Lords Mobile, I actually think Clash of Clans is not that bad when it comes to monetization. Sure, it costs you either money or time to finish something, but you get very few essential things with paid content. It’s all based on whether you’re willing to compromise.
Clash of Clans Today
Since the game was released in 2012, it has received plenty of updates, and the developers don’t seem to be stopping that trend any time soon. New content is released pretty much every few months, which either changes some of the game’s mechanics, introduces new buildings and troops, or just gives you more cosmetic options.
The player base has naturally shrunk after eight years of gameplay. You can still encounter long-time users in the game, but fewer new players are coming in to boost the competition.
While Clash of Clans has been one of the pivotal moments for mobile gaming, representing a breakthrough in mobile game design, its time has long passed. Its features have been updated plenty over the years, but the core content can still get boring after a while.
If you haven’t checked the game out yet, you can give it a go for free. But I’d recommend you stick with new games that are more likely to have better content or put you on a more balanced footing against other players.