Pass Royale

Another new and rather large update has been implemented in Clash Royale, and it brought with it some interesting changes. The first and most obvious portion of the update is called Pass Royale, and it essentially breaks down to being a new subscription option. You can look at it as sort of the battle pass idea we’ve seen in many free to play titles in recent years too. I’m comparing it to a subscription because it is attached to a season number, and that season will obviously reset at some point, and I’d assume you’ll have to pay again. The fee is only $5, so it’s reasonable compared to some of the battle passes out there, and it seems to be more reasonable to complete as well. Battle passes in other games usually require playing a shit ton of games more than you usually would to get the full value, but this pass has tiers that are unlocked at the same rate as crown chests, which is something I try to keep up on daily anyway. For normal players, you just get the crown chest, but pass holders will get additional rewards, including new emotes and skins. These are supposed to be exclusive to the pass, so you won’t be able to buy them indirectly like you’ve been able to do with emotes in the past.

A new legendary card was added, this time we get the Fisherman who is reminiscent of a combination of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat and Nautilus from League of Legends. The Fisherman carries with him a big anchor, and when he gets into range of enemies, he pulls them to him with it. Conversely, if he gets within range of a building first, he’ll use the same anchor to pull himself to it. He’s weak to air cards, but he’s looking pretty strong otherwise. My favorite interaction so far is pulling a golem to you into the other lane so my opponent’s split push didn’t work out so well.  The new emotes available have to do with the Fisherman, and the tower skin is sort of related. The Legendary arena has been reimagined as a boat as well.

Beyond getting access to these new emotes and skins, the pass gives you a gold tinted name in clan chat, allows you to queue chests for opening, and unlimited free retries for challenges. You’ll also be able to use a strike on crown chests through all of the tiers, so perhaps you’ll get better value out of the normal chests, but it’s still all random. I’m getting to a point where many times I open up cards I already have maxed out and end up with star points + gold instead, which is probably better to be honest.

Overall I think the pass is good value for the price. It’s not giving us things that are overpowered or pay to win, so I’m on board. I don’t really care about the emotes and skins, but the other perks are nice and extra rewards help max out cards faster so I’m all for that. Here’s a video version of the update if you’re too lazy to read the above linked patch notes.

P.S. Happy Independence Day if you’re in the States! MURICA!

Clash Royale: Trophy Road

The next big update to Clash Royale arrived earlier this month. The April update brought with it a new spell card — Earthquake — and general changes as usual. The big portion of the update is the way the ladder now works, and how matchmaking has changed a bit in the process. Dubbed “Trophy Road,” the new ladder is pretty much the same as the old ladder, except now you get rewards along the way while pushing through each arena. For those of us already past 4000 trophies (aka where the ladder actually starts) we were able to follow the trophy road from arena one all the way up, and collect a ton of rewards. I ended up with a bunch of extra gold, trade tokens and unlocked the new spell card just by collecting all of the goodies.

It seems that now when you get a win in a ladder match, you’ll still earn roughly 30 trophies and move up in rank. However, losses are mitigated quite well (net loss ~15 trophies), and it seems my entire clan has elevated to higher levels than they had before. I had previously made it to Challenger III, but I’m already a full 100 trophies beyond my prior best, and I think I might actually be able to push up into Master before the reset. Whatever the case, after the reset, we lose 75% of our trophies above 4000, so I’m likely back in Challenger I if I don’t push further in the next couple of weeks. We won’t get season reward chests anymore either, but do get to unlock the trophy road rewards again after the reset.

Speaking of the ladder, my ladder deck is nearly maxed out. I currently only need two more Electro Wizards to have all 8 cards at max level. As you can see I’ve also put some star points into a few cards, and I’m not too far off from being able to do so again. I still love this deck and it hasn’t changed in quite some time, but I do get bored playing it all of the time. The reason it works is because Hog and Loon are effective ways to take buildings down, but they are both vulnerable so I’ve included answers to the worst threats. The deck still struggles sometimes against 3 Musketeers and Golem decks, but usually ekes out wins regardless. It works well in other game modes as well, along with clan wars, but because I don’t have to worry about putting gold into it anymore I’ve started playing around with other options.

I’ve been trying to find a good Pekka, Royal Giant, or Mega Knight deck, and have experimented with them all. I have a Golem deck that is solid and another deck I’m going to share shortly, but I really wanted to make one of these other decks work. As such, I have a few experimental builds but I straight up copied this RG deck from my clan leader and it actually works pretty damn well, despite also including Pekka in the deck. Bonus, he’s used some of the same cards as I have, so I already have some max level cards, along with being close to maxing out RG itself. I’m not sure it will replace my ladder deck anytime soon, but it’s fun to toy around with.

Here’s a deck that I’ve created myself. I picked up the “Giant Double Prince” idea from from the classic deck battles, but then decided to run a deck around Goblin Giant instead. I pretty much chose cards I wasn’t using but still found strong. It is a little weak against air swarms, but you can combo things like Ice Wiz and Zap to take them out. It works well against other meta decks as well, but I’m still mainly playing it in 2v2 battles. I like it, just need to get some card levels before it’s really going to be any use to me. Now that I’m not focusing everything on one deck anymore, I have the time to test and grow.

Just thought I’d share some thoughts on the new update. The game is still going strong!

Clash Royale December Update

I’ve been playing Clash Royale for a couple of years now, and each December brings a large update. Last year, it was the addition of a new arena along with new chest options (with the big Clan War update happening a couple of months later). This year, we have a few new features that change up the game pretty significantly. Supercell put together a couple of videos that break things down, and since the update is now live, I’ll provide some of my own feedback afterwards. Check out the videos:

I’ve checked out the new features, and can confirm that having been King level 13 for a while now, I did end up with quite a few star points with which I can upgrade max level cards. At this juncture, I only have a max level Balloon and Zap, and the points I had accrued I used for leveling up my Balloon twice. Zap will have to wait a bit.

Currently, if you upgrade a card one star level you get a gold border around it, but I leveled my Balloon twice so I’m not sure what the difference is between 1 and 2 star levels. In-game the star level 2 Balloon appears with gold colored patches and gold lettering. I have seen what I assume to be star level 1 cards, they have a different colored level marker above units’ heads; red as opposed to blue for my level 2 Balloon. These are simply cosmetic differences and nothing amazing.

The other major feature released with this update are “Global Tournaments.” These seem to be a tournament that you don’t have to organize (unlike the tournament system that existed prior, where you would have to sign people up to have it go off). On the main screen, the bar is listed near the middle and you can play at will. You’ll earn medals for wins, so crowns don’t really matter. You have 4 losses, and can compete until you hit that amount, but earn prizes based on the amount of wins you accrue. What’s a little strange though, is that you earn “free” rewards for hitting particular milestones on your way up the leaderboard, but then there are “bonus” rewards that you must pay 500 gems to unlock. Current pricing on that many gems is $5, so it’s not a huge investment to get some extra rewards but it’s probably not worth the money unless you are placing high enough on the leaderboard. To boot, there are “exclusive rewards” for those who place high, but that probably won’t be you or I.

There have also been some tweaks made to the trade token system, and this is one part of the update that I’m unhappy with. Prior to this update you were able to trade with clan members as long as the person offering the trade had a trade token. Trade tokens were introduced a while back, and come in common, rare, epic and legendary flavors. You can trade 250 commons, 50 rares, 10 epics or 1 legendary per token. Anyone who had the cards requested was able to trade with you. Now, they are requiring each party to have a trade token, so if you want rare cards, you have to wait for someone to earn a rare trade token and be willing to trade the particular card you want for whatever it is they want. Before you could basically blindly trade with people who wanted cards you cared nothing about, and only really pay attention to the trades you wanted to make. This benefited me in maxing out my Balloon and Zap, while getting rid of cards that didn’t matter as much. The trade off was supposed to be that you’ll earn more trade tokens since the update, but in a couple of days I haven’t noticed a difference. We’ve been earning the majority of our trade tokens via Clan Wars, and the only other way I’ve had them was by buying bundles that come with them, so I don’t see where we’re really getting an increase, unless you’re counting the “bonus” rewards that I have to pay gems for. I assume we’ll probably see further tweaks to this system after community feedback, because trades should be happening more often than they do, particularly when you’re requiring a token from each party to do so.

Some other minor features include Emotes being on sale for Gems, meaning those of you who have the patience to save up can grab some emotes if you haven’t already dumped some cash on them in the special offer bundles. Emotes are kind of a dumb idea, but I still use them nonetheless. You can also speed up some features for gems, like card requests and quest reset timers. This is nothing new to the mobile genre, but still a nice bonus if you have some banked gems and can’t stand a particular quest or want to speed up your card progression.

Overall I’m happy with the direction the game has taken. I may spend some time with other mobile games, but Clash Royale has definitely held my attention for the longest period of time. I’m also looking forward to Supercell’s newest game Brawl Stars, and will report on that once it’s released. I’m pre-registered, so I should be among the first to know when that happens.

Clashmas Update

It’s been a while since I talked about Clash Royale, so I thought I’d take the time to do so. Another big update occurred a couple of weeks ago, and it brought a lot to the table, like the Epic Quests Update a while back. I also thought I’d make note of my progress in the game, which I’ll touch on later on in this post. I’d also like to point out that despite not releasing this year, Clash Royale has been the only mobile game I’ve played for over a year now, and I would have gladly nominated it for my game of the year. It’s definitely my favorite mobile game of all time, and I’m not sure when something might come out to dethrone it.

The new updated added some new cards to the game along with a new arena. The Electro Valley arena slotted in between Hog Mountain (arena 10) and the Legendary Arena (arena 11, which is now arena 12) becoming the 11th tiered arena in the game. I was sitting in Hog Mountain, but automatically bumped up to Electro Valley due to my trophies being in the 3600 range, and this arena starting at 3400. I’ve actually broken into 3700 recently, but haven’t quite made the 3800 required for Legendary. Then there’s the 4000 mark which means you’re really climbing the ladder and it resets periodically.

The Hunter and Zappies were added in this update, and more recently they’ve revealed the Royal Ghost. I’ve played with all three in their challenges, and so far the only one I really like is the Royal Ghost. Hunter comes equipped with a shotgun with a really wide spread. Good at countering low health targets or to support from behind a higher-health tank unit. He does have a decent range though, so the spread isn’t super effective unless you place him close. Zappies are basically mini versions of Sparky, in that they take a couple seconds to charge up, and then they shoot electricity bolts that damage and stun. If all 3 are charged up and lock onto the same target it’s pretty much stun locked, but they seem rather ineffective for the most part. Finally, the Royal Ghost is a new stealth unit that targets ground units and is invisible unless he attacks. This means he can go undetected around air units and sneak in on towers. However, if someone places a ground unit near him, he will attack and then take damage in return. He does fair damage and takes a few whacks to go down.

There were also changes to the store, with some new chests added. The lightning chest is the only one I’ve tried, but it’s neat in that you can “strike” (re-roll) cards from the chest up to 5 times. A nice feature considering that lock boxes are fairly annoying, but they had a sale on a big chunk of gems and gold that I went for, so I decided to try one out.

I mentioned my trophy progress in the game, but there were a few other new developments. First off, I hit King level 12 finally, so that means my Towers have more health and do more damage. Getting to level 13 is going to take forever, so I’m not even focusing on that for now. I’ve also started to get into the habit of tweaking multiple decks. Having 5 slots and only using one seems silly, so I have my main deck that I use in competitive 1v1’s (the main ladder), another couple that I use to switch things up when I’m playing 2v2, and a couple other experimental ones that I sometimes use in challenges. Recently there was a triple elixir challenge that I used a deck that simply wouldn’t work with normal elixir fill times, but in this case it worked out okay. As such I have spent more gold on upgrading some cards that I don’t normally use, only to have a little more variety in my life. I enjoy the aggressive Hog/Balloon cycling deck that I main, but having a deck that uses poison over fireball and the Mega Knight is interesting and breaks up the monotony.

It’s safe to say that with regular updates like these, I’ll be playing this game for a long time to come. As long as I feel like I’m progressing in some way, I continue to want to log in daily (multiple times a day, really). Good job, Supercell.

Clash Royale: The Epic Quests Update

Clash Royale has quickly become the only game I play on my phone. I keep up on my crown chests and clan chests, logging in daily. New cards keep coming out, special events occur weekly, and developers SuperCell have certainly kept me busy. That isn’t to say that you can play the game non-stop for hours, but in a sense that is what keeps it appealing. Just like my desire for participating in MMO Raiding for 6+ hours a sitting declined and lead to a desire for more lobby-based bite-sized gaming sessions, I have found that only really “needing” to play the game for 20-30 minutes a day with occasional check-ins is low pressure and entertaining. Of course, this is a basic design of the game, as the rounds are meant to be 3 minutes a pop and though you can keep playing as much as you want, after a time you are no longer earning crowns towards rewards, nor are you rewarded with gold until after a cooldown. So I typically have a stint in the afternoons to complete my crown chest and then log in for clan donations and occasional matches at other times in the day. It’s a solid formula, and I don’t think I’ve played another single mobile game for such a long period of time.

With that said, it’s pretty obvious that my go-to mobile game has held my interest for a while. Today a new patch went live introducing some interesting new ideas (and some old ones too). Coined “The Epic Quests Update,” the devs have added daily/weekly quests that are basically the same as the achievements in the game, but that will provide points towards extra chest rewards. This screen should look familiar to most — repeatable quests are present in nearly everything these days. At the top there you’ll notice a purple quest that appears to be a designation color for temporary ones, in that the 2v2 Touchdown Draft was announced last week as is a limited time event. Quests end up being a sort of “meh” feature only because it’s been done a thousand times before and the reward being a Golden Chest is fairly weak in my opinion. It does give you extra reason to play 1v1 again though, as I’m sure many players have found that they can earn their rewards without risking a loss of rank by playing 2v2, which itself was a limited time thing until recently when the button was added permanently. The same might happen for modes like Touchdown (here’s hoping) but it made it so that if you aren’t pushing the upper echelon of the leaderboard you might get complacent enough to leave 1v1 behind (the main reason you’d want to reach at least arena 10 is because you can then open up all cards). The quests that I received all had to do with 1v1 Arena matches, so if you want that extra reward, you’ll have to play that mode and go back to worrying about your rating. I think were the chest a Magical+ perhaps that would be more of an incentive, but at the same time I will likely participate despite sounding negative about it.

The Touchdown game mode is a blast. I love football, as I’m sure regular readers will know, so naturally making a football themed game mode in CR tickled my fancy. It basically plays the same as the normal game, but because there aren’t towers defending the end-zones, you’ll have to provide the defense for yours while also trying to run a creature into theirs. The same creature rules apply, in that building-haters will ignore normal troops, some troops can’t attack air targets and vice versa, etc. I found it to be a nice diversion from the regular game modes, and I like the fact that SuperCell is attempting to branch out a bit. I’ve loved it over the years when games have added additional game modes, from shooters to MOBAs, sometimes you need a break from the same old thing. Diversity is good.

As far as the main game goes, I haven’t advanced beyond Arena 10. I know there are quite a few levels of the rating system to go, but I’m not in any rush to get there. I have hit a bit of a wall when it comes to gold generation and the ability to upgrade cards though. I have something like 10 cards that need 20k gold each to upgrade, a few more at 8k each, and one of the cards that I’ve finally earned enough copies of via clan donations is in that 20k category. It seems that eventually your rating will stagnate due to the fact that you need more gold to upgrade the cards in your deck. My deck hasn’t changed in months. Upgrading is slow and expensive. Perhaps after a few more upgrades occur climbing the ladder will resume, I know I’ve hit spots like this in the past. That isn’t to say it frustrating either, it’s just taking a while. Overall I really enjoy this game and look forward to all of the new things to come.