iPhone time: Clash of Clans

If you watch TV I’m guessing you have seen the ad for Clash of Clans. I’ll admit I think the ad is pretty clever/cute, enough so that I decided to download the game on my iPhone (and also because CoC has been the top-selling game in the app store forever, and I wanted to see why).

I went into CoC expecting Farmville, and while it does have some click-and-wait aspects, it also has a lot of ‘game’ to it. Certainly a lot more than I expected. I’m also surprised how unobtrusive the P2W aspect is, in that you can play normally and fully enjoy the game, or you can play+pay and compete at the highest level (or just progress faster). Sure, whenever you hit a lack of resources or a timer, the game will let you know you can pay to hurry it up, but it doesn’t spam you with shop deals, isn’t full of ad loading screens, and (as far as I’ve seen) doesn’t include exclusive shop-only items of power that make it very obvious you are fighting against something who is going to beat you down with their wallet.

I’ve said before that I’m not fully against P2W games; there is a place for them and when done right can be enjoyable. What I certainly don’t like is when a game lies about its P2W aspect or downplays it; just be upfront about it and let me decide if I want to jump in, don’t insult me by trying to convince me the power in your shop isn’t power. I get a lot of enjoyment out of playing something like CoC and seeing how far I can get without paying (much: I did spent $5 after a few hours to ‘wallet vote’).

The core of CoC is building your base/city. You have resource gathering buildings (mines and extractors), resource holding buildings (that determine your resource cap), specialty buildings (unit training, your town hall, research buildings, etc), and city defenses (cannons, mortars, archer towers, walls, etc).

A huge part of the game is determining where to place everything to best thwart attacks from other players. If a player successfully raids you, they can take some of your resources and you lose some ranking points (they can’t actually destroy your buildings or seriously set you back, and after you have been raided successfully you can a protective shield for a certain number of hours to prevent chain-raiding). Depending on how many resources you have stored, and how successful the raid was, that can be a bit costly, so base defense is very important, as is knowing how best to raid other bases with your units.

Speaking of units, as your ‘level up’ your city hall, more units open up, and things are not as simple as “every new unit is stronger than the previous”. Instead, different units excel in different situations, and finding the right mix against the right base setup is a fun game within the game. The only thing you control while raiding is where you deploy your units, in what order, and when. Once a unit is on the field, the AI controls them based on behavior (giant go for defenses, goblins target resources, most other units attack whatever is closest).

What’s great about CoC is that it lets you replace your entire base whenever you want for free, so if you go with a certain setup but find it lacking, or as new defenses open up, you can redo it through a very friendly and helpful UI. Additionally, you can view (visit) the base of any player, so you can see what others are doing and get some tips. On top of that, anytime you attack or get attacked, you can view a replay of the battle to see how it went, and also share this reply with your clan, who can comment and give you tips as well. All of the above really makes for a social and fun experience, and all of it is included in the free game.

So yes, I’m enjoying CoC as something to tap at causally every few hours, and also as something to also spend 30 minutes or so if I want (to go raiding). I’m most curious to see how the higher-end, P2W stuff goes. I’m guessing the whales spent a ton of money to instantly buy troops to go raiding, and through that raiding achieve the highest ranks, but what I don’t understand right now is why. Is it really just to be the top name on a leaderboard?

Either way, if you are looking for something to do on your iPhone, and enjoy a bit of strategic city building/raiding, I’d recommend trying CoC out. I’m Syncaine on there, but I don’t use Facebook so I’m unsure if we can be ‘friends’. Maybe we can start a clan if enough people are interested…

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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3 Responses to iPhone time: Clash of Clans

    • SynCaine says:

      Yea I think a similar story could be written about any top player in most games. Besides it being online, not much different from a professional sports player in terms of commitment and how much it dominates your life.

  1. Pendan says:

    I was watching a recorded playoff football game two weeks ago and was skipping through commercials when briefly saw a few seconds of computer animation so I backed up and started watching. I was intrigued because it ran for quite a while and I had no idea what it was trying to sell and why it would be playing during a high cost commercial time. I watched to the end and find out it is for a mobile game called Clash of Clans.

    It just so happens that the Friday before I was given a Nexus 7 at work for development purposes. I am a strange software engineer that works for a company that does casual computer games but personally have avoided all mobile devices. On the other hand, I have been playing MMORPGs on PCs heavily since the 3rd month after release of UO. The next day I look up Clash of Clans to learn it trades off with Candy Crush for the top earning game on both iOS and Android.

    After being unimpressed with any game I could find to try free on the Nexus 7, a few days later I finally relented and downloaded CoC when I found the makers sold 51% of company for 1.5 billion last October. I have been pleasantly surprised. Base building is strategically entertaining and so is base attacking figuring out how to most efficiently use troops to maximize profit.

    I am now thinking about how to find a clan or how long I will last playing.

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