Clash.io is Ketchapp’s latest addition to the .io subset of arena domination multiplayer games. Players are dropped into a white-tiled room with six opponents and assigned a color. As your emoji avatar floats about the room, a trail follows behind it: whenever you touch a tile of your color, any other tiles touched by or bounded within your trail will fill in to match, adding tiles to your owned territory.

It’s essentially an .io version of Go. The goal is simply to control as much territory as possible at once, but the other players are simultaneously floating around and filling in blocks as well. If any of them touch your trail while you are traveling, you’ll be killed (and vice versa). The result is a careful balancing act of venturing out to acquire more blocks while not leaving yourself open for too long, but we’ve gathered a few other strategies below that can help maximize your colorful expansion.

Clashio_Guide_Edge

Use the edge to your advantage: If you spawn near an edge, focus on filling in blocks up to the end of the map. This limits the sides an enemy can attack you from while filling in; you know that they aren’t going to appear from the edge itself. It’s also harder for other players to cover your blocks with their own territory if those blocks are nestled in a corner. Once you’ve made a base along the edge, start working your way inward. If you don’t spawn near an edge, try to expand toward one from your starting blocks.

Make small trips and return to your blocks frequently: Although venturing out on a long jaunt can potentially net you more blocks in one trip, it sets you up for attack and leaves you vulnerable all along your ever-lengthening trail. Focus on smaller chunks at a time, creating little connected areas of 10-20 blocks at most.

Clashio_Guide_Diagonal

When you first start out, you’ll need to make U-shaped trips off of your starting block to expand. As your territory grows, however, try to focus on diagonal trips that send you along the edge of your blocks as opposed to straight out and away from them. Expand in small chunks and then travel diagonally between those chunks. Ideally, you never want to travel so far that you cannot see the origin of your trail. If you get to that point, start heading back to your base.

You’re safe when traveling on your own color: When moving on top of the tiles you have colored in, any opponents that run into your head will be destroyed. If you are traveling along someone else’s tiles and they hit your head, you will be killed. The exception to this rule is invincibility, which always protects the invincible player regardless of location.

If you’re expanding near someone else’s color, be very careful when moving into their space if they are present, darting out to add one or two blocks at a time and catching them if they enter your color.

Clashio_Guide_InvincibilityStar

Grab the invincibility star if you see it… …but don’t risk your life to do so. A flashing star will spawn randomly around the map; picking it up will grant you invincibility for a short period of time. While invincible, anyone you hit with your head will be destroyed, and anyone that runs into your trail will also die. The best way to secure large portions of the map safely is by darting out to pick up an invincibility star and then making a large loop back to your base. However, if the star is too far away, you are likely to get killed before you reach it. Stars will respawn regularly; grab one if you can but don’t sweat if you miss it.

While invincible, pay attention to the flashing meter that appears at the top of the screen. It ticks down to display how much invincibility time you have remaining; be sure you head back to your own blocks before it expires.

Clashio_Guide_Gems

Take your time picking up gems: Other players often drop gems when destroyed, but these gems typically land wherever their head was (so if you hit their trail far from their head, the gems might appear off-screen). If gems were dropped, a soft “dink” sound can be heard. Gems don’t vanish, so don’t rush to grab them and put yourself in danger: return to your base and work your way out toward the gems a few blocks at a time.

Gems are only used to unlock cosmetic changes via new avatars, but knocking off opponents is still a useful gameplay strategy. If you destroy someone who is currently filling in tiles near you, you’ll have a brief reprieve during which you know no one will be coming at you from that specific location. Destroying someone also removes all their tiles from the game, bumping you up the in-game leaderboard and leaving only safer white tiles behind.

Clashio_Guide_Skins

Pick a color you’ll remember: If you enter the skins menu from the first screen of the game (accessible via the shopping basket icon) you’ll be able to pick the color of your blocks (the default setting is “random”). We find many of the colors—pink and red, green and teal—to be too similar, making it hard to differentiate between which blocks actually belong to you in-game. Our preferred color is the blue on the far right, which stands out more than any other shade, but pick the color that jumps out most to you.

The menu right above this one shows the three skills currently available in the game that can be unlocked through specific challenges: increased speed, longer invincibility, and double earned gems. If you want these skills immediately without completing their requirements, you can pay $1.99 there to unlock them outright.

You can play offline: Despite being a “multiplayer online” game, Clash.io does not require an internet connection to play. If you exit the app to take a call or do something else, upon returning your place in the current game will be retained. The opponents are bots, and their behavior can often be predicted: they will almost always aim for your trail if it is exposed and they will eventually enter your territory if you get close enough to their blocks and are patient.