Clash Royale Review: A King’s Ransom


Photo by Luis Badillo

The field can often be a frantic barrage of magic spells, flying arrows and explosions.

Luis Badillo, Writer

If you’ve played “Clash of Clans,” you’ll see many of the same characters such as barbarians, goblins, witches and a whole slew of other cartoony fantasy staples in Supercell’s new mobile game “Clash Royale.” Only this time, the developers have put forward a deep strategy game for smartphones.

It’s the same charming aesthetic as before, but instead of focusing on building structures to defend, the game focuses more on the offensive play.

In “Clash Royale,” players go head to head into the field of battle to destroy enemy towers by spawning units on their halves of a field divided by a river. These units then autonomously march towards either a left or right enemy tower. Spawning units also eats away at an elixir meter that slowly refills as the battle endures.

Learning each unit’s autonomous behavior becomes the key to winning. Giants, durable units that attack only buildings, can easily be countered by a swarm of skeleton, fast weak units that are cheap in elixir cost. Those skeletons can then be countered by a Valkyrie, who specializes in swinging her giant ax to attack multiple units at once. The attack-response pattern ends up defining the rhythm of the game, and each opponent’s mission is to push through enough to destroy their enemy’s three towers.

When an opponent’s attack breaks through, you feel a real sense of panic as your units explode into a puddle of blue goo, and the enemy units standing in it are pummeling your towers. Likewise, overcoming that attack and seeing your opponent’s towers crumble in a fiery explosion grants a sense of satisfaction few other mobile games can match.

“Clash Royale” resembles an intricate strategy game at its core. Matches with players can be intense and frantic experiences may occur. Wins feel like earned rewards for good decision making while losses feel like opportunities to learn from. Well, at least most of the time.

Instead of all units operating on a level playing field, players are able to upgrade their cards over the course of the game. These upgrades happen when players earn cards found in chests that are obtained after winning matches – and they can’t be opened immediately, either.

The most common chest gets set on a three hour timer before it unlocks, while the rarest one takes an entire day. But, if you want to open them faster, you can pay in Gems, a premium currency that can be bought with real money.

This inevitably leads to a frustrating obstacle, as the game is constantly ranking you as a player. Instead of hitting a skill-wall of players that are better opponents than you, prepare to encounter players with better units than you.

Though by virtue of playing the game every day, you can eventually get those leveled-up units, but this will likely agitate anyone who wants to take the game a bit more seriously than the average player.

The reason that level up system is so annoying is that there is a genuinely enjoyable and thoughtful game built around it. Building up the perfect deck of units and constantly tweaking that to progress is fun. Plus the game has interesting social integration that allows players to share their coolest matches, or view top level players and see how they play. But, ultimately the free-to-play realities of this game may turn off certain players who don’t want to pay to progress. But, if you can stomach those realities, “Clash Royale” is at least worth a download.