Clash of Clans: “What Should I Upgrade Next?” Exploring Viable Options For Developing Your Base

Benjamin Way
Jun 3, 2020 · 14 min read

Maxing everything each TH level is not the only reasonable choice!

Table of Contents:

(i) Noob Rush
(ii) Max For THX
(iii) Pirate Rush
(iv) Engineering
(v) War Blitz
(vi) CWL Blitz
(vii) Some Hybrid Of Any Of These
(viii)Conclusion: Choosing What’s Right For You

Preface: The History of Anti-Rush Culture

Playing this game and perusing r/clashofclans, I often get the sense that most players believe that there are only two viable ways to upgrade your base: maxing everything, or engineering. And engineering is seen by most as a form of cheating.

I’ve been playing this game from almost the beginning, so I have some contextual knowledge that is relevant for understanding why these beliefs are incorrect. Simply put, they used to be true, for years, but Supercell has addressed many of the issues and and there are now more viable choices.

There have been 10 updates that included “training cost” being reduced for at least one kind of troop over the last 8 years, the most significant being in Spring of 2019.

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A lot of things saw major price reductions. Here are three of the bigger reductions.

Specifically, armies are cheaper; loot and magic items are more plentiful; war matching has been redesigned to be fair under more nuanced conditions; offensive and defensive weights were rebalanced to reduce the effectiveness of engineering; war league was introduced as a weightless competitive aspect; and the game got much longer.

These days, looting is much easier if you are rushed, and upgrade prices are reduced at lower levels, so you won’t get stuck like you used to. Elixir prices for troops used to be more than double what they are, quadruple for some things! It was very hard to turn a profit if your troops got too far behind your town hall. No longer the case! Rushed bases can now farm easily enough to advance.

These days, engineering mainly just ends up pitting you against other engineers, for the most part. You really have to know what you are doing to achieve engineered win rates. Not the same opportunity for taking advantage that there used to be!

These days, regular war is no longer the only competitive focus of the game. Trying to maintain weighting balance for regular war actually puts you at a disadvantage in Clan War League, which gives an advantage to whoever picks the strongest things regardless of weight. It is now a choice which kind of war you prioritize, so engineering for one is no longer “amoral” in the same way.

These days, it takes years to cap everything. Literally years of playing before you unlock some parts of the game! That is an unreasonable amount of waiting time.

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Those first 5 didn’t used to be (as) major benefits of rushing; some didn’t even exist. Rushing still is not great for regular war matching.

There are many sets of player priorities which would encourage you to rush your base selectively. Unless your main priority is regular war, you probably should rush your base. No, really!

~ ~ ~

The thing about cultural beliefs is that they can become devilishly challenging to change once they have become entrenched. There is an interesting phenomenon here where all of the experienced players know first-hand that rushing a base is a terrible idea. They may have done it themselves, or they may have seen somebody do it. It always ended badly.

The more experienced a player is, the more they will remember how bad it was, because it was actually worse the longer ago you started. New players, who look up to experienced players, accept the old wisdom that “rushing is bad” even though they don’t experience it the same way now that the game has changed; because they don’t rush, they don’t know it’s not bad, and nobody corrects the experienced older players. The older players don’t take the opportunity to rush a new base now and find out that everything has changed.

Thus, the old cultural belief remains despite the new circumstances. (Note, this has implications beyond Clash of Clans that are critical for inter-generational understanding between people.)

So, anyway, I am writing this article in an effort to chip away at that entrenched, no-longer-true wisdom from a bygone era of Clash of Clans, and thereby free newer players to follow the many viable paths now available to them, that didn’t used to be for more experienced players.

(i) Noob Rush

The name says it all! It’s never quite clear what the guiding principle is for this style, but usually it comes out approximately as “I upgraded whatever was the most expensive thing I could afford, or sometimes saved up for the town hall.”

This style works out really well until about TH5, and then you start to get wrecked. If you don’t notice or care, you could keep going this way all the way to TH13! There is no benefit other than that it takes literally no thought.

(ii) Max For THX

Standard troop and spell levels for the TH level.
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No priority, really. Just get everything capped out before you upgrade TH.

Capping everything is the one that is culturally understood to be the only “correct” way to progress through the game, and it is not hard to see why! One of the main things is that the game is balanced around capped out THs. That is, the offensive and defensive powers of each TH are about equally matched at the max levels for that TH level. It gets weird if you don’t stay pretty close to the expected path.

Not only the game’s offense and defense matching, but also war matching and the ladder matching will be a lot more balanced if you stick pretty closely to the standard upgrade schedule.

The main drawback of this is that it takes a really long time! It takes a year to cap out TH10, and another year to cap TH11, so you’ll spend two years before you get to build siege machines! That’s a long time to wait to play the full game.

Another drawback of this is that if you don’t manage the hero upgrades by farming hard early on in each TH, you’ll end up with just the heroes at the end and idle builders. Those idle builders will make it take you even longer to max your account.

So, if you don’t have the time to put in to max out the walls and heroes during the time the towers are defending, it might become prohibitively long to wait maxing out once you get to TH9 and above.

There is another, less obvious drawback. Loot from all sources is lower the lower your TH level. Clan games, clan wars, regular raids, and even collectors all give more potential loot to higher TH players. CWL and star bonus don’t do so directly, but you end up in a higher league the stronger your attacks are. Ultimately, waiting for all the defenses to upgrade might slow down the rate you acquire loot and magic items, which could slow down your account progress as well.

(iii) Zergling* Rush

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These are going to be your main priority buildings in this upgrade path.

Segueing directly from that last paragraph, this is the exact opposite mentality. With zergling rush, your focus is on maximizing the amount of loot that you receive in the shortest amount calendar time.

The best way to get loot is just through a lot of cheap raids, so barch or goblin make excellent upgrade choices. You can rush just the army camps, castle, lab, and resource buildings, keep your barch and gob capped, and rush all the way to TH13!

The loot improves at higher levels, and super goblins unlock at TH11, so it is advantageous in that sense to rush rapidly at least to that point, as long as your raid attacks are upgraded before each move.

The main things you could miss out on would be clan war and clan war league, unless you are very skilled with those basic units, get your heroes very advanced, and find an open-minded clan.

*Shout-out to all you who know what “SC” used to mean in strategy gaming.

(iv) Engineering

6/3/8:25 pm U.S. Pacific Significant edits made to reflect criticism.

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i.e. ONLY Dragon, baby dragon, and spells!
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Notice, dark spell and barracks. You may want to limit unlocking offensive units and spells if you aren’t going to use them, as they just add extra weight.

For those unfamiliar with the term, engineering your base used to mean using information about the war weighting system to choose a set of upgrades for attack and defense that would result in your clan being regularly set against a much weaker set of mirror opponents. For instance, you could upgrade all the way to TH11 without building any defenses but teslas and traps, and then have the defensive weight of a TH4 but the offensive power of a maxed out TH11! Changes were made with the introduction of TH12 that changed what engineering is.

Engineering is not done individually, but as a clan, and you will need to work within a coordinated group in order to achieve what is now generally meant by the term. The sooner you find a group and the less you have upgraded, particularly on offense, the more useful you would be likely to be. Note that this guide is not about engineering, and you will need much more information if you want to be an engineer.

As some basic information, TH weapon levels have a large amount of war weight, as does the eagle artillery and inferno tower. Multi target towers have a lot of weight, single target towers have much lower weight, traps and walls have virtually no weight.

So, if you want to punch above your weight in war, you would upgrade all of your traps, and then just enough towers to have the level of defensive strength to stand up against some certain level of enemy TH.

Then you would try to upgrade only the specific units and spells you were going to use for the specific attacks you wanted to defeat a specific TH level you expected to face, and you would choose low weight units and spells when selecting your army compositions.

If you and your clan all do this well, you can match yourselves consistently against opponents who will struggle at specific certain of your lower bases, limiting them to only 1–2 solid attacks for your top few bases, while your team will easily have surplus attacks at every tier of the enemy defense.

The main drawback of this is that you have to be very careful about what you upgrade, give up control to a team, and then once you get there, you just have to stop upgrading. It might be fun to win with an advantage for a while, but there’s no in-game individual progress because you can’t upgrade or you’ll mess up the engineered balance. If you only have one account, you’ll probably not want to stay engineered for long.

Also note that Supercell tries to arrange the matching system to pit you against other engineers, with indirect methods, so instead of an advantage, you might just end up against other engineered clans a higher proportion of the time. For example, they easily find my legacy engineered bases with impossible builds and put them against other legacy engineered bases with similarly impossible builds. I don’t know with what proportion they are able to match engineered clans against each other, and where one draws a line on what “engineered” is.

As a final word of caution, Supercell also changes the weighting sometimes, and they actively discourage engineering, so don’t be surprised if they randomly do weight changes just to mess with your system, or for other reasons. You may have to start a new engineered base from scratch! Thankfully, they don’t take that long to make, actually, so all in all this is really more likely a project for a mini.

(v) War Blitz

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This is a lot like engineering, but it’s different because the primary goal is actually to max out your base one day, as soon as possible. The concept is that you rush your offensive capabilities as rapidly as you can so that you can participate in a higher CWL and get more out of books/hammers and free events.

In order not to suffer a loss of war capability during the process of rushing, you apply engineering techniques to establish a correct order of upgrading such that you do not end up matched against a maxed base with your rushed base.

Thus, you simply start with clan castle, lab, favorite unit upgrades, spell factory, barracks, and anything else for your attacks, and then after that you apply your loot toward traps and walls, then single target towers, then multi, then lastly the major ones inferno/eagle/scattershot.

In fact, when you reach each new TH level, you don’t even buy the new defenses until you’ve capped out the traps and single-target stuff or are pushing to the next TH level already. That way, you keep your war weight as low as you can while still advancing with every worker and the lab busy at all times.

The main drawback of this style is that you are moderately less competitive in regular wars than engineered or capped bases, and slightly less competitive in CWL than a CWL blitz base! These are somewhat marginal differences, however. This is my recommended base progression.

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A note on heroes. They will start out very low relative to your town hall, so you will not be able to 3-star a fully capped out base at your own level. That’s okay, because you will likely be paired against somebody rushed like you, which will be a good match for your hero level, and if you use your troops well you can 3-star them.

If you attack in the first hour of one war and the last hour of the next war, you will have three days of builder time to work in a clan that does back-to-back wars. If they wait a day between, you’ll have four days.

To maximize participation in war, save up builder potions (and have a store of backup league medals to buy more as necessary) and a hero book. Upgrade heroes while you are in war as long as you have enough magic items to ready them instantly if you need them. If you can just do clean-up attacks or do well enough without the heroes or your attacks aren’t even needed, just save the items for next war.

If you tag team with a peer in war, you can both be upgrading your heroes most of the time, often without even needing to use any magic items. The longer between wars in your clan, the easier it is.

(vi) CWL Blitz

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Pick one attack to max first. Edrag/balloon/rage/freeze, for example, because it’s only 4 elixir things to upgrade. Upgrade everything else as you have time and resources, in the order you like them.
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This is very similar to the Blitz base, in that you focus primarily on getting your offensive power maxed out as rapidly as possible. That means, of course, that you will rush the TH as soon as your camps, clan castle, lab, favorite troops, and spell factories are upgraded.

However, this differs from the standard War Blitz method because CWL does not actually take war weight into account, except for your clan’s initial placement into a league.

Therefore, the CWL Blitz will not focus on power per weight; It will instead focus on power per upgrade. This will basically result in the opposite order of defensive upgrades, starting with the whatever gets the most power per upgrade and doing those first. Typically, that’s going to mean the TH itself, inferno towers, eagle artillery, and scattershots. Note that traps are prioritized still, though. That is because traps are freakin’ OP. Get them, weight or not!

I think it was really quite brilliant of Supercell how they managed to reduce engineering for regular war voluntarily by making it the exact wrong way to engineer for CWL. You can literally only engineer for one of the two! And CWL is more valuable but less frequent, so it’s really a very interesting choice.

(vii) Some Hybrid Of These Choices

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Professional level war goblineering. (See Gobs Limited)
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Donationeering.
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Zergling Rush With War Attack Capability And Whatever Felt Good

I like to put things into categories, and then I like to blur and break those categories to keep myself from getting stupidly attached to the categories I created in my imagination.

So, here is a reminder that none of these is in any way a concrete form. You can bend them however you like to fit your own priorities and play style and idiosyncrasies, and there is nothing wrong with that. These are the different ways of achieving each of various different objectives without regard to the other ones. If you value multiple different objectives fairly equally, you’d probably want to combine multiple different approaches to upgrading that I have present here.

For example, maybe you would combine Pirate Rush and War Blitz together because you like to raid and get your walls done rapidly, but you also like to play competitively in wars. Sounds good! Do it. Do whatever you want to do!

(viii) Conclusion: Choosing What Is Right For You

Okay, suppose you aren’t really sure which of these you want to do. There is a lot to consider here, after all. So, I’ve given them all ratings in all of the different ways that you can interact with the game:

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If you just want to unlock everything and max as quickly as possible, go with Zergling Rush.

If you want to win regular war no-holds-barred, go with engineering.

If you want to win regular war in a more balanced way, max everything before each TH upgrade.

If you want to advance your base rapidly and not be too “rushed” for war, use the War Blitz.

If you want to advance your base as rapidly as possible, especially for CWL success, then use the CWL blitz. Note: you’ll be out-matched in regular war.

If you want to combine some of the elements of some or all of these styles into one, then that is exactly what you should do!

~ ~ ~

There are many options, and what is “best” for each player really depends on their own personal priorities. I hope you enjoyed this exploration of the different ways you might choose to upgrade your base! If you did and would like to see more of my thought and analysis about this game, check out and follow Mr.Way’s School of Clash!

Want to chat with me and/or others about the game? Join our discord! You do not need to join one of our clans, but we welcome you to!

https://discord.gg/ZekS3uEFNs

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I also write about personal finance. Check it out here!

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Mr. Way’s School of Clash

An Econ teacher’s analysis and recommendations for Clash of Clans players.

Benjamin Way

Written by

Stay-at-home dad of three. BA in Econ from UC Berkeley 2009, MA in Education from Pepperdine University 2011. 5 years classroom experience, 8 years dadding.

Mr. Way’s School of Clash

I will post all of the things I have learned and worked out over six years playing with as many as 15 accounts at a time. Lots of information will be presented in quick, visual format! Eh, who am I kidding? Put on some reading music.

Benjamin Way

Written by

Stay-at-home dad of three. BA in Econ from UC Berkeley 2009, MA in Education from Pepperdine University 2011. 5 years classroom experience, 8 years dadding.

Mr. Way’s School of Clash

I will post all of the things I have learned and worked out over six years playing with as many as 15 accounts at a time. Lots of information will be presented in quick, visual format! Eh, who am I kidding? Put on some reading music.

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