Clash Royale: Life Lessons from a Mobile Battle Arena Game

Good morning and welcome to another edition of “Games with Coffee.” How’s everyone doing?

While I consider myself a traditionalist in the sense that I play games mainly on consoles, handhelds and sometimes on PC (*cough*emulation*cough*), I do enjoy the odd smart phone game here or there. The ones I’ve played recently are usually single-player freemium games that involve little-to-no Player vs. Player (PvP) interactions.

So I blame my third cousin/best friend/blood brother Anthony (he’ll be mentioned a lot here), for getting me addicted to this game that clashes elements of a collectible card game, tower defense and multiplayer online battle arena together to bring forth a mobile sensation that can only be described as “A Most Ridiculous Duel.”

Yep, I’m talking about Clash Royale.


I was at a small Christmas dinner at Anto’s last year when he introduced me to Clash by showing it to me and saying, “Yo, I’ve been playing this game, man. It’s awesome, you should check it out.”

Naturally, I was intrigued. I’ve heard of the game before on YouTube ads and pre-movie trailers in the theaters, but after showing it to me, I thought ‘Why not?’

After I downloaded it from the Google Play Store, I spent the rest of that evening being trained in the ways of Clash instead of playing Smash Bros. or Monopoly (We are hardcore when it comes to Monopoly) like we usually do whenever we meet up. Since that day, I’ve been hooked on it.

Below is a primer on “The Rules for the Duel”:

Screenshot_2017-03-10-15-11-44.png

This is a replay, since normally you wouldn’t be able to see other player’s cards, otherwise I would’ve smoked this guy.

  • You fight one on one in a battle arena. Each player has two smaller towers called Crown Towers and a larger one in the middle called the King’s Tower. Crown Towers defend by shooting arrows and the King’s Tower uses a slow, yet powerful cannon.
  • Each player has a deck consisting of eight cards that can be reused indefinitely. At the start, four cards will randomly be selected from your deck to your hand, with your next card showing up just to your left.
  • At the bottom of your screen is your elixir meter, which continuously fills up as the battle progresses, up to a maximum of 10 units. Elixir is what you need to play your cards.
  • Each card has a type (Troop, Building or Spell), a rarity (Common, Rare, Epic and Legendary) and an elixir cost.
  • Each battle lasts three minutes. In the event of a tie, a one minute sudden death happens: the first player to destroy an opponents Tower at that point wins the match.
  • The winner wins trophies (currency required to either advance to the next arena or join a clan), gold (used to level up your cards, or buy new cards in the shop) and a time-released chest (contains some gold and some cards).
  • Also, the number of towers destroyed awards you ‘Crowns,’ which are used to open a ‘Crown Chest;’ a special chest that contains lots of gold, cards and gems, special currency used to open chests quicker, enter tournaments and buy premium items in the shop. Free chests (available every three hours or so) also contain gems  on occasion.

Sounds simple on paper, but there’s a lot of strategy behind the scenes: what cards should you put in your deck? Should you build a well-balanced team? Work on creating a defensive wall with a few heavy hitters to get your Crowns? Go spell-crazy to really mess up someone’s game? Go with the all-out, offensive approach? Or employ my personal favourite: Divide and Conquer. The possibilities are endless.

Screenshot_2017-03-17-09-35-42

Actually, at the time of writing, there are approximately 9,440,350,920 deck combinations, but it’s not like I counted or anything…


In the short time I’ve played Clash Royale, I realized that some of lessons I learned in-game could easily be applied to real world experiences and vice versa. For instance:

Sometimes, it’s better to wait:

One of the tips shown on the waiting screen as the system searches for an opponent says: “Sometimes, holding on to a card is the best play to make.” It’s a tip that, I feel, is overlooked, especially for beginners (like myself) who play cards as they came up in my hand. The message here is patience – should I either play my best card now, combo it with other complementary cards or have something set up first before playing it.

Screenshot_2017-03-17-09-35-52

Easily one of my best cards

Sometimes, waiting for the right moment can mean the difference between victory and defeat, both in the game and the real world. When you’re in a difficult situation, such as the critical team meeting before starting a new project or a sales presentation to secure a major contract or even just the school debate team, do you rush in to play all your cards at once and leave yourself open to counterattacks with nothing to back you up or secure your victory? Or are you patient enough that you can play your best card at the right opportunity and establish yourself as a pro?

Screenshot_2017-03-17-22-43-50

Hmm… What to choose? Decisions, decisions…

Develop a strategy:

Going back to my first point on waiting for the right moment, you also need to build a strategy around playing your best hand to achieve victory. For me, I seriously started thinking about strategy when I was trying to get into Arena 7 – up until that point, I wasn’t thinking too hard about it; I just played cards whenever I had enough elixir and was lucky enough to have a few win streaks to coast through Arenas. However, it was after I left Arena 5 that I felt that my luck ran out.

Screenshot_2017-03-17-23-46-34.png

The Builder’s Workshop: the arena that separates the amateurs from the pros.

My usual tactic of throwing everything and the kitchen sink just wasn’t working for me at all; the players at this stage either had higher level cards or had a strategy that I fell for hook, line and sinker. I started hitting a string of losses and I hovered between Arena 5 and 6 for a good long while. At one point, I lost 400 trophies, almost downgraded to Arena 4 and I was feeling pretty discouraged, since nothing I played worked. It was at that moment that I remembered something:

Just like if I was writing a major paper for school, or preparing a presentation for an important client, or even unveiling a product or service to the public that can change lives, running into each of those situations flying through the seat of my pants would cause me to either fail my class, lose my client or instigate a public hanging (not joking on the last part – engineering is serious business). To get that A+, to land that ultra-important client and to get the people to understand how this product or service will help them, I needed to execute a strategy for the task at hand. This too, applies for Clash Royale.

And so, I needed to re-tool my deck and focus on an actual plan to victory. I started out by thinking “What approach should I use?” (Hint 1: It’s said that Alexander the Great’s daddy first uttered these famous words. Hint 2: I mentioned it before). Then, I weeded out the cards that weakened my deck and played around with a couple of combinations that I enjoyed (example: Rage + Lava Hound + Hog Rider = instant devastation!). I then supplemented that combination with troops that had a cheap elixir cost AND were adaptable to air and ground combat (Skeleton Army, Minions, Musketeer, Baby Dragon etc.). Finally I added spells to use to either thin crowds (like Zap or Arrows) or to take a chunk of HP off of a serious target (Fireball or Lighting come to mind). I then practiced my plan of attack using the Training Arena, tweaking my deck here and there before hitting the main battle circuit. It didn’t take long for me to hit Arena 7, thanks to all that planning.

Recently. there was a post on the News Royale feed with a link to the Clash Royale Deck Shop: a site that can help build a deck from cards you currently own, or show you the best decks most suited for the arena you’re on. It’s also used to determine the pros and cons of your current deck and what you can do to make it better. Use it to your advantage!

Don’t get discouraged, but take a break if you do:

Your patience and strategic planning are starting to pay off and you’re suddenly hitting a hot win streak. You’re on fire and nothing can stop you! But, as the saying goes, you win some, you lose some.

Suddenly, your opponents are reading your moves and deploying effective counters, stopping you in your tracks. Then, they whip out their big guns, all the while keeping you at a standstill. At that point, all you can do is watch in despair as your towers fall one by one.

Screenshot_2017-03-17-23-47-37.png

Goddamnit! Not again!

‘No problem,’ you think to yourself. ‘I’ll win the next match for sure!’ But it happens again. And again. AND AGAIN. It’s there you realize that you’re stuck in another rut, which, understandably, will make you pretty mad.

My point here is that at some point while you’re playing the game, you’ll find yourself feeling pretty discouraged, frustrated and thinking the system is against you, much like you feel when you have an impossibly tall mountain of work to do at your job with very little time to do it, or when you have backstabbing coworkers who stonewall you every chance they get. Or perhaps even a difficult friend or family member that just won’t listen to reason, no matter how many times they complain.

And honestly, it’s OK to feel like that.

So the best thing you can do is to settle down, take a break, brew a cuppa, hang out with loved ones and then get back on that damn horse when you’re ready. Stepping away from what’s frustrating you, even if it’s just from getting your butt royally whooped in Clash, can help give you a fresh perspective on things, and it’ll help open your own royal can of whoop-ass on whatever life (or the arena) throws at you.

Most importantly – Have fun:

Ever been down 2-0 in the middle of a battle, only to pull off a come from behind win? Or when you’re in an epic sudden death match and if you only had played a card a second earlier, you would’ve taken out your opponent’s tower before they took you out? How you feel in either of those situations?

To me, feeling the euphoria of an upset-of-the-century win or the determination to win my next match after suffering a crushing defeat makes this game worthwhile. Bottom line, Clash Royale is fun. and I’m sure you guys will enjoy it too. So what are you waiting for?! Give it a try!


Play Clash yourself? Let me know of your experiences or if you agree with me in the comments below. I’m going to take the next couple of weeks off, but the next post is going to cover one of my favourite topics: Video Game Music!

Until next time, this is Ryan from “Games with Coffee,” telling you to keep gaming and keep brewing.

This content is not affiliated with, endorsed, sponsored, or specifically approved by Supercell and Supercell is not responsible for it. For more information see Supercell’s Fan Content Policy: www.supercell.com/fan-content-policy

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