Clash of Clans brings a fun mix of PvE and PvP strategy maps
Online strategy games seem to be enjoying the same surge of interest that casino titles were savoring just a couple of a months ago, and as was the case then, it sometimes gets hard to tell one apart from the other. You could be forgiven for thinking that Clash of Clans was a modded reskin of the recently released Galaxy Life: Pocket Adventures. While they differ in visual styles, both games center on building up a base in a persistent online environment and then defending it from other players. Feeling feisty? You can attack other players as well. The good news, though, is that there's enough to distinguish Clash of Clans as a game worth playing (despite some missteps).
The big difference here is that Clash of Clans doesn't employ the tired energy limitations that define so many other freemium games. Instead, advancement depends on the gold and elixir stores you amass through mines you place throughout your encampments, which has the welcome effect of rewarding effort and dedication rather than slamming a door in your face the moment the gameplay gets interesting.
The problem, of course, is that the system ultimately has the same effect as an energy bar. Get too far ahead in the game, and quests will start requiring insane amounts of gold or elixir that sometimes take entire days to amass. Even worse, some of these simply involve removing a piece of debris from your playing field. Ultimately the point is to get you to break down and purchase some premium currency to speed up the process (once you run out of the free stash you get at the beginning), but the modified design reminds us that we're probably stuck with the energy bar for the time being.
Thankfully, this doesn't mean that you're stuck waiting for quests to complete--you can always go out and attack either NPC goblins in single player maps or battle other players on their own territory. It's a fine compromise that allows inexperienced players to practice against easier challenges and hardcore players to test their mettle against a living, thinking person. Deploying troops is usually just a case of tapping on various spots on your screen and letting them do the rest of the work, but there's some strategy involved in the actual placement.
It's fun stuff, for the most part, but it's hampered by the fact that you can't see the entire battlefield until you've deployed all your troops, and that you lose all your troops whether you win or lose.
Clash of Clans is thus a simple game, but that's more of a strength than a weakness. It's simple enough to provide quick, painless matches on an iPhone in an idle moment, and there are enough different units to choose from in the battle mode to make playing against other players endlessly rewarding. Best of all, the option to fight against NPC goblins gives Clash of Clans a small edge over similar strategy games that rely almost entirely on player-versus-player combat.
- No energy bar limitations. Simple but satisfying strategy gameplay. Both NPC and PvP options available for combat. Real-time chat and combat.
- Resource requirements get a little ridiculous.