Clash Royale : An Overview
Introduction : It is a simple one to one battle game. Game has a set of battle cards, each having its own power. Every player has access to same set of cards which are initially inactive, as you progress in the game and win battles, some of them are activated. You can choose to battle anytime and game’s matchmaking algorithm matches you with a player to start battle. Each player has three towers, you need to defend yours and destroy other’s with a strategy to use the cards that you have. After the 3 minutes battle, whoever has more number of intact towers, wins. There is a tie-breaker, which gives additional 1 minute, whoever destroys enemy’s tower first in this overtime wins the battle. That’s the whole game.
Arenas : It is the land where you battle. When you win the battle, you are rewarded with some trophies from loser’s trophies. The count of these trophies defines the arena of a player. When you enter a new arena, a set of cards related to this arena are activated for you which were inactive so far.
Cards : These are one of the most fundamental entity of game. They have three categories, Common, Rare & Epic, it depicts the probability of their availability. Common cards are more readily unlocked and are available in the early stages of game, while Epic cards are unlocked once you start to reach a certain level. Cards have ability to attack towers, like bombs, soldiers, arrows, fire, zombies etc.
Cards also have the ability to upgrade their strength. If you collect certain amount of duplicate cards, you can pay some gold coins and those cards to upgrade strength of that card. The card deck screen is beautifully designed, here it is
A lot of information has been given about cards in tiny space without cluttering,
- Face of card.
- Elixir required to activate on top left corner.
- Current level at the bottom.
- Background color of Level tells rarity of card
- Below the image is number of duplicate cards required to upgrade it.
User can create three different set of battle decks from his active cards for quicker selection before battle, a well thought design. Every deck shows the average Elixir of deck at the bottom, a very important aspect of a deck, it decides how quickly can cards be played during battle.
Tapping on any card of deck brings an Info button below it, which can open stats of this card like damage, power, level etc.
Adding/switching cards in a deck is also very easy. Click on new card that you want to add to deck, it shows Use button. Clicking on ‘Use’ asks you which deck card should be exchange with it, tapping on which completes the task.
Coins : This is primary currency of the game, it is used mainly to upgrade the cards. A major source of earning coins is by opening the chests (described in next point). You can also get coins by donating your extra cards to others, but that gives very small amount of coins.
Chests are the source of cards and coins in game, which can be earned by winning battles. Yeah, every battle you win, gives you some trophies and a chest. There are 5 type of chests available, Silver, Gold, Magical, Giant, Super Magical, arranged in order of their rarity. There are documents available online (unsure about the source), which says the rarity of these chests is in the ratio 180 : 52 : 4 : 4 : 1
The chests have a locking time, after you win the chests, you need to wait for sometime before it can be unlocked. It is 3hours, 8hours, 12hours, 12hours, 24hours respectively. The amount of coins & cards that a chest gives on the chest type as well as on player’s arena. There is also a limit that at any point, player can have atmost 4 chests in unlocked state. There are two special types of chests other than these five,
- Free Chests : This is a good way to bring user back to app frequently. A user gets one free chest every 4 hours, so you are getting 6 chests everyday even if you do nothing. Free chests can atmost be stacked to 2, so unless you open atleast one of them, you will not get any more free chest. When user opens the chest and finds a few cards, he is most likely to upgrade cards and eventually go to battle. So a good element integrated to bring people to battle.
- Crown Chests : This is a good way to make people play more battles. Everyday you get one Crown chest which can be unlocked if you save your 10 crowns that day, a crown is same as a tower. So weather you win or lose, as soon as the number of towers that you were able to defend add up to 10, you unlock a Crown chest. Users will fight more battles so that they can unlock this chest.
XP : It defines the player’s level. The more XPs you have, the more powerful are your towers thus higher chances of winning battles. XPs are primarily earned by upgrading cards. You also earn XP by donating cards and by completing some achievements, but the amount of XP awarded is almost non-significant.
Clans : The concept has been inherited from SuperCell’s another famous title Clash of Clans. You can join any Clans, where you can help each other with cards, train yourself for battles by playing friendly battles. Clan is a great extension of social element in games beyond Facebook etc.
Matchmaking : So how does the matchmaking algorithm work for this game! On what basis are players matched with each other for battle! I do not know the exact algorithm, well nobody except Supercell programmers know, but from what I have understood by experimenting it seems based on the Trophies that a player has. It tries to match you with player of almost same trophies, which sounds somewhat unfair to me, I’ll explain why.
As you know the Trophies decide Arena of the player and Arena decides what all cards are available for you to fight. The higher the Trophies, the higher the Arena and thus more powerful cards unlocked for you. But one more catch, if you are losing battles, you will lose trophies, which will eventually degrade your Arena. Yes! Arenas are degraded if you lose enough trophies, but you still have those powerful cards which were unlocked at this Arena. Now Imagine, a new player just reached Arena 3 and you lost so many matches this week that you were degraded to Arena 3 from Arena 5. Since you have similar trophies, you are matched! You have an upper hand in battle, because you have powerful cards which were unlocked for you in Arena 4 & Arena 5. You will very easily beat that poor player, this is unfair matchmaking.
Though Supercell may have done it intentionally so that the degraded player can beat the less powerful players and upgrade back to higher Arena quickly. It also serves a psychological advantage in monetization, the less powerful player who lost battle might want to upgrade his cards to become powerful by paying money. But it should be redesigned, because of its unfair nature.
This screen is kept extremely simple still it has one very good feature, you can see a small game Tip just below the Cancel button. The game gives game related general tips to user while he is being matched with other player. This way user is not bored even if it takes a little longer than usual sometime.
Final thoughts : The duration of each game is small enough (3 minutes) that you can always steal this much time and play a battle. Not to forget, push notifications about your Chests try their best to bring you back for a short engagement in app.
Update : I have also written a detailed post on Monetization Strategy of Clash Royale. Do read that and let me know what you think of it.