Clash of Clans is an online social strategy game that follows the formula of Kixeye’s popular Backyard Monsters Facebook title, itself set to arrive on iOS soon. Players alternate between building up their own settlement to produce resources and troops and then attacking either computer- or player-controlled bases with the army they have built up. Leveling up allows the player access to additional buildings and upgrade possibilities, in turn allowing them to expand their army and take on more formidable opponents.
The “building” gameplay involves purchasing items from the in-game store using a combination of the two resources gold and elixir, then placing them on the map and waiting for them to be constructed. Alternatively, production may be hurried by expending the game’s hard currency of green gems, a generous number of which is provided to the player at the outset of the game. There is a degree of strategic gameplay in that defensive structures only cover a certain area so must be placed carefully, though this part of gameplay is somewhat undermined by the unrealistic ability to pick up and move buildings at any time without penalty.
The player is able to train units for their army using specific structures, beginning with a barracks. Available units begin with simple warriors but possibilities expand over time as the player upgrades their buildings using resources. When an army of sufficient size has been mustered, tapping the “Attack” button in the corner of the screen allows the player to challenge either the linear single-player campaign or assault other players’ strongholds. In both cases, the view shifts to a map of the area the player is attacking, and simply tapping in an empty area summons army units, who then charge into battle and attack the closest destructible structures or enemy units. Attacking certain structures allows the player to steal gold and elixir resources, assuming they have enough space available in their (upgradeable) storage units to house their ill-gotten gains.
The player is protected from attack by other players for a period of three days after starting the game, and may renew this protection at any time by expending green gems. The “shield” period is immediately lost if the player attacks another real person, however, meaning it’s possible to jump right into PvP if the player so desires.
Social features include the ability to connect to Facebook to find friends, an in-game chat facility and the ability to band together into “clans.” The latter function is only available once the player has rebuilt a ruined “clan castle,” which costs a significant amount of in-game gold to achieve. As such, the player is encouraged to find their feet and get to know the game before jumping into the team-based play that the Clans feature offers.
Clash of Clans is a solid game, but like many of these self-professed “hardcore” strategy titles it walks a difficult path. The relative complexity of the game and lack of explicit directions on what to do next after the initial tutorial may see casual players finding themselves somewhat daunted and confused, while the actual “strategic” elements of gameplay are far too lightweight and “hands-off” to satisfy fans of more traditional strategy games.
Despite this, the game is well-presented and easy to play, with a smooth, clear interface and animations that are packed with character. Given the long-term popularity of Backyard Monsters on Facebook, Clash of Clans’ similar style of gameplay is likely to pick up and retain a large number of users over time so long as initial user acquisition efforts pay off. Early Canadian App Store reviews have been very positive so far, with users praising the game’s addictive qualities — though a few have complained of occasional crashing issues.
Clash of Clans, then, is a good addition to Supercell’s growing library of quality games on both social networks and mobile. What some of the company’s titles lack in originality, they more than make up for in polish and user-friendliness — and such is the case with this title.
Clash of Clans is not yet available outside the Canadian App Store. Check back following its worldwide release to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.