I used to play a lot of collectible card games (CCGs) in the past so when my friends invited me to play games like Hearthstone and Clash Royale, I resisted, knowing that I may get hooked. But I’ll be honest here, I tried downloading Hearthstone but my phone didn’t have enough space for it. I did, however, download Clash Royale and boy, am I hooked on the game or what? Clash Royale is another competitive freeium mobile game from Supercell (the company behind the massive hit Clash of Clans) which has aspects of real time strategy, tower defense, and CCG elements.
In Clash Royale, you form a deck that consists of eight different cards from the card pool with which you battle other players with. The battles are done in an arena that’s divided into two sides – yours and your opponents. Both players have their own King’s Tower and a pair of Arena Towers and in order to win the battle you must accomplish one of two objectives – to destroy your opponent’s King’s Tower or to destroy more towers than your opponent by the end of the game. Battles last for three minutes but if you and your opponent are currently in a draw (you’ve destroyed the same number of Arena Towers) the game goes into overtime for a minute (or up to three additional minutes if you’re playing a friendly or tournament battle).
You try to accomplish your tower destruction by playing cards. These cards can either be Troops (mobile units), Buildings (immobile structures), or Spells (one time special effects). Troops and Buildings have hitpoints and can be played anywhere on the side of the arena that you control – your controlled area expands once you take out an opposing tower. Spells meanwhile, can be played anywhere (with some exceptions).
Once played, Troops automatically start walking towards the opposing tower that’s closest to them. The arena is divided by a river, so Troops that can’t fly will have to take the left or right lane and cross a bridge to get to the other side. These Troops will keep moving towards their target or engage opposing Troops that they encounter.
During battle you have a hand of four cards at any given time, the order of which is determined randomly by the game. In order to play these cards you need to use an in-battle resource called Elixir which replenishes at the rate of 1 Elixir unit per 2.8 seconds. Different cards have different Elixir costs and you can only have a maximum of 10 Elixir so a big part of the strategy of Clash Royale is in managing your Elixir usage.
What gives Clash Royale the feel of a real time strategy game is the lack of turn-taking. Battles run on a real time basis so both players can play cards anytime for as long as they have the Elixir to do so. The real time gameplay and precise positioning required makes me feel like I’m playing something like Warcraft 3 rather than a standard turn-based card game.
Clash Royale is still a card game though. Currently, there’s a pool of 58 different cards that you can choose for your battle deck. A big part of the strategy in Clash Royale happens outside of battling – its in how you build your deck. These cards all have different costs and functions and it’s up to you to find out which 8 cards out of all that’s available to put in your battle deck. Some cards work well with others, resulting in card combos that can help you mount offenses that are hard to stop or defenses that are hard to penetrate.
You obtain cards in Clash Royale through chests which essentially function as booster packs. There are different types of chests, each one can be obtained in different ways. You get Free Chests every four hours that you can open as soon as you get them. There are Crown Chests every 24 hours that you can open once you’ve destroyed ten towers or more. Finally, you can get chests by winning battles but these types of chests are locked when you get them and unlocking these will require a certain wait time: 3 hours for Silver Chests, 8 hours for Gold Chests, and 12 hours for Giant/Magical/Super Magical Chests.
You can also get cards by joining Clans. Once part of a Clan, you can request for a specific card (Commons and Rares only) once every 8 hours. This feature is very important as the cards that you get in chests are random, but you can choose to request for the cards that you really need from your Clan. Finally, the game has a Card Shop where random cards can be purchased using Gold, another in-game resource. Only three cards are available daily (one Common, Rare, and Epic; double the number of cards on a Sunday).
Unlike standard CCGs and card games, both the card pool and the deck size of Clash Royale is very small – you’re bound to end up with lots of duplicates. In order to account for this, Clash Royale follows a card upgrading system wherein multiple copies of a card can be used to upgrade the card to a higher level. This is why being part of a Clan is important – the more you upgrade a card, the more powerful and effective it becomes. Upgrading through Clan requests is much faster than relying on the random cards that you get from chests.
But wait a sec – uprading isn’t as simple as getting duplicates of your cards. Upgrades also cost Gold, one of the in-game resources of Clash Royale. The higher the level that you’re trying to upgrade a card to, the more Gold you’ll be required to spend. You can get Gold through the different chests and by winning battles (up to twenty times daily) but let me be honest – the Gold that you get freely will never be enough to upgrade all the cards in the game. So strategy isn’t limited to battles and deckbuilding – you need to be strategic when it comes to where you spend your Gold as well.
Those willing to spend real money on the game have the option to purchase Gems. Gems can be obtained freely through Free and Crown Chests too but you can get only a few Gems from this method. Gems can then be converted to Gold, used for purchasing unlocked Giant/Magical/Super Magical Chests, or to speed up chest unlocks.
There’s a lot more to Clash Royale that I can cover in one article like their new Tournament feature (came with this week’s update), Arenas, card rarities and Legendary cards. But I think I’ve covered enough to show how Clash Royale reminds me of the days when I was really into collectible card games. Waiting for my chests to open feels like saving up the money needed to buy booster packs, and unlocking chests give me that feel of opening said booster packs.
On top of the CCG nostalgia, I’m enjoying the strategic part of Clash Royale a lot. It doesn’t take a long time to finish a battle so this game isn’t a big time sink for me and it’s dynamic enough to keep me engaged for close to two months now. It’s a mobile game that I’ve been playing a lot and I’ve already made my way up to Arena 7 without spending a single cent. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoyed playing CCGs in the past, or even those who are currently into CCGs. Clash Royale is available for free on both iOS and Android.
Have you played Clash Royale? What can you say about the game? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment or two below!