Release Date: 10/18/2013
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Clash of Clans is probably one of the most guilty for microtransactions. It’s right up there with Candy Crush Saga, many coin dozer games, and various other “free-to-play” games. However, at its core, Clash of Clans is a solid strategy/city-building game.
There’s no story here and there really doesn’t need to be one. You end up making your own story and memories with the various friends you will add to your guild and clan battles. You start out with just two builders and some gold to break out the city. The game lets you level up to around 3 or 4 without really putting much effort or time into the game. Once you build your town hall you can start on resource gathering which are mines and elixir extractors. When you level these up they will collect more elixir over a period of time. These resources are stored in gold and elixir vaults which are also leveled up to increase your storage cap. Soon you can build walls around your most important resources which are your town hall and vaults. Eventually, you can start bringing in defense against attackers such as archer towers, cannons, and mortars. Once you spend a long time in the game you can eventually get other defense towers.
Once you hit level 3 or 4 this is where people’s patience and dedication will really start to wear thin. Once you upgrade something to a higher level, not only did it take many battles to collect the gold, but upgrading will eventually take hours, days, and then weeks. Yes, real-time days and weeks. My least favorite part about all this is the fact that once you send your troops into battles the survivors are also gone for good. This means waiting again for troops to build up. Once you get high-level troops such as healers, dragons, and wizards it can take up to 30 minutes just waiting for everyone to train.
Let’s take a break from talking about all the waiting and get into the core of the game: Battles. Battles are all nearly based on luck and AI. Towns will have red barriers in which you can’t deploy troops inside that area. This means really knowing your units and what they are capable of. For example, it’s a good idea to send in giants, bombers, and hog riders first to tear down the walls and then send in the barbarians, archers, and other units to clean up. Here’s the problem. Once you deploy them they just run loose by themselves. You can’t direct them or command them after that. Sometimes they will go for the buildings or units you want, and sometimes they completely go the opposite way getting killed or ruining your whole attack. This gets frustrating when you have to wait 15 or more minutes to train more troops to try again.
If you can stomach all that, the absolute worst part is upgrading. Sometimes I will spend less than 1 minute in the game per day. You get two builders but it costs 500 gems to get more which is about $5 apiece. If you really love this game then it is a good financial investment, but otherwise, you will collect your mined resources, upgrade a tower and a vault and have to wait for hours or days if you get high enough in the leveling.
Outside of all that the game looks great and has a unique sense of style that other games have tried to copy since. The clan battles can be really tense especially if you have a full 50 person clan against another 50 person clan. Scoping out their villages and trying to coordinate in the chat to see who is best to attack which village can be a blast, but that’s only if you can find 50 other people who have the patience that you do and will actually cooperate.
For experience reasons, no I didn’t just play the game for a week and call it quits. I have actually been playing with a few friends for over a year. While I have had to come back after long breaks I do find it enjoyable sometimes and other times just downright a waste of time. This isn’t a game you sit down with for a few hours and chip away at. It takes months and even years to get to the highest levels and have amazing villages. Or just a lot of money if you want to waste it on that.
With that said, Clash of Clans is a love-hate of free-to-play games. It’s a fantastic game at its core but is one of the worst offenders when it comes to microtransactions. I wish it wasn’t so heavy-handed on those and let the player have a bit more freedom.