Let’s talk more about Clash Royale, because it’s good. Really good. SuperCell today is where Old Blizzard was back in the day; the games they make are easy to pick up, lure you in with the promise of more enjoyment if you get into them, and ultimately have the ability to consume way more of your time than you had thought possible. Clash of Clans is straight-up one of the best games out right now. Boom Beach is its more casual, wacky cousin, and now Clash Royale is the real-time, 2-3 minute adrenaline shot of goodness. If SuperCell ever makes an MMO, god help us all.
Unlike CoC and BB, the matches in Royale are real-time, meaning you get matched up with your opponent and all the lovely technology factors like lag and whatnot are in play. The amazing thing? I’ve yet to have a SINGLE hiccup during a match. Zero lag, zero rubberbanding, zero disconnects. It sounds so simple and basic, but when you consider the fact that even a monster like League of Legends isn’t perfect in this area, the fact that Royale basically has been is really amazing. The near-instant loading times and everything else working as expected are pretty nice too.
The UI is near-perfect. Again it’s a basic thing, but how many mobile games have a UI that you would call great? Hell, how many games period have one? The UI in Royale is one that you can understand almost instantly, everything feels like its one click away, and again switching between menus/views is so fast you forget you are playing an online mobile game.
I like the graphics a lot as well. Initially when I saw screen shots of the game I wasn’t a huge fan, but now having played the game they really do work. Plus not only is the game good-looking for a mobile title, the graphics actually aid in gameplay. Placing a unit exactly where you want on the board is easy, which is huge and if done wrong, would be a game-killer. Seeing what units are on the board and what they are doing is clear. Units don’t blend together (no “what unit is that?), and even when there is a huge melee going, it never looks or feels like total chaos (or graphic-lags on my iPhone 5s or older iPad).
Most importantly, the matches can be tense as hell, even at the lower levels. While the complexity certainly does ramp up as you get more options, even with just the starter cards you have a ton of choice/control over the match. This isn’t CoC where until mid-TH8, derp-dropping dragons is a sure-win. Royale matches feel like TH9-ish depth, but because they are real-time, you can do well without having the year+ of knowledge buildup that a skilled TH9 CoC player has, because you are most likely facing and reacting to a similar-skilled player. As mentioned before, the action is fast without feeling twitchy-fast.
The game’s structure is solid as well. Every win gets you trophies, while a loss costs you some. As you hit certain trophy milestones, you move up in arena ranks. The higher your arena, the better the chests you can open. This not only means more gold and cards, but also more card variety, as each arena opens new cards for you. This makes every match mean something, without any one match being a life/death situation. There are no promo series like in LoL that really put the pressure on, but at the same time trophies mean a lot more in Royale than they do in CoC or BB. This structure also means that a skilled player will move up faster, while one that isn’t as good will also eventually move up due to deck power (leveling up cards). I’ve beaten opponents with higher level cards, but the larger the gap, the more you really have to out-play them. The good thing here is that in every match, there are so many player decisions to make, you almost never feel like you simply lost due to deck power.
Speaking of decks and power, I think comparing Royale deck building to rock/paper/scissor is selling it far short. For example, the skeleton army card is certainly instantly countered by the arrow card (one summons a large swarm of weak units, the other is a large AoE ability), but even in a match where you know your opponent has the arrow card, you can still wait until they use it to throw out your skeleton army, or use the skels as bait on one side while you throw down another unit spam on the other side. In short, while certain cards are great or very weak vs others, the combat and gameplay isn’t nearly as black/white as it might be in more turn-based or deck vs deck card games.
Being in a clan in Royale is also something that means more than just a friends list or chat room. You can request cards, and donating a card to a clan-mate nets you more gold than that card would cost to buy (you get 5g for donating a common, they cost 3g to buy once daily, for example, though which common you can buy daily is random, so you can’t abuse the system really). This is a good way to progress a bit faster in your deck power, while also being a nice source of gold, especially for cards you don’t use.
The other benefit of being in a clan is you can spar your clan-mates. You don’t gain/lose anything from these matches, but they are a great way to test a new deck or to get more comfortable with a card, or to just have some casual fun with your clan. I can easily see our clan setting up a tourney once we all get a bit more established.
Another strong built-in feature is Royale TV, which shows all of the latest high-ranked matches that have happened for you to watch in replay. The UI around this is nice, letting you see card information and levels, plus being able to watch high-level play so easily (no need to search Youtube or Reddit) makes learning advanced strategies so much easier. The replay feature also works for all other matches (your ranked play, clan sparring), which also makes sharing a match or seeing a clan match quick and easy, while also proving you all the info you could want.
As mentioned previously, the one big flaw in Royale right now is the timers on the loot chests. The lowest chest being 3 hours is a bit crazy, but I’d be shocked if sooner rather than later something isn’t done in this area. Either the timers are reduced, a small reward is added to all match wins, or the chest inventory restriction is lessoned/removed, I just can’t see SuperCell leaving things as they are today, because this is the one, but immediate and highly noticeable, flaw of the game. That said it’s not a game-breaking flaw IMO. Once you are in a clan, you will have enough to do to make the game more than a “one match every 3 hours” affair, and it’s only even that if you are like me and your brain simply can’t turn off having to min/max at all times.
I highly recommend giving Clash Royale a shot. It really is surprisingly fun, and if you stick with it, join our rapidly expanding clan, “Supreme Cream!”, while spots still remain (cap of 50, we are at 34 right now), just mention the blog when you app so we know you aren’t a random.