A long time ago, one of my favorite card game apps, Star Trek Rivals, stopped providing support and updates on their trading card game. I had a good run on that game and gained experience posting in the Facebook community on their official webpage. It was a fun game that coincided with the movie releases of the Star Trek reboot. So, that was quite entertaining leading up to the second movie.
It’s hard to remember the exact gameplay structure, but it was both entertaining and frustrating. Like most trading card games, there’s a monetary system which allows you to buy digital cards. Real money can always be “exchanged” for in-game currency. So it quickly becomes a “money-game.” Where the best players with the best cards in the highest leagues are just dropping tons of money to get there and maintain.
I’ve played Hearthstone a tiny bit, so my knowledge of it is lacking. But from what I’ve seen, the mechanics are very similar. I mention it because (other than Magic: the Gathering) it’s one of the more popular digital trading card games at the moment. Some cards are common, some less common, and some are very rare. The more you play, the more cards you get by various means. The more money you spend, or time you give the game (sometimes over the span of years), the better cards you can collect. So, it usually comes down to two play options: time or money. There’s a happy medium for both if you play freemium games. You should spend at least a little money to support the game and its staff, and keep updates and new content flowing. But not so much that you’ve basically cheated your way to the top because of your high socio-economic status.
In recent months, I’ve been talking a lot about +GET games, specifically Clash of Clans. The formula that Supercell has used from app games thus far has been very successful. Especially with me. Because I’m married, teach full-time, have long commutes, and spend most of my free time writing and designing games, the bits of time I do devote to playing games requires specific criteria. I also live in a foreign country with a large time difference from my gamer friends back home. Keeping in touch with them is essential. Clash of Clan fit those criteria perfectly. It helps that my students in Japan also play it. It’s a nice talking point in English that motivates them.
The clan system is great. I have a nice group of 15 friends (so far undefeated in Clan wars) that continuously play the game at all hours of the day and night. We are spread out over 6 different time zones, which keeps our clan active 24 hours per day. The game has a chat function so we can just talk whenever and leave each other offline messages. If we have nothing interesting to talk about, there’s always gaming.
I’ve reached a pretty high level in Clash of Clans, and it’s a time-based game. So I can’t really play it constantly anymore. I’ve burned through two accounts on different devices to try and get more playtime. But 14-day build times, week-long farming sessions, and 2-hour army build times limit continuos play.
Last month, Supercell world-released their new game in the Clash universe, Clash Royale. It’s a trading card game, real-time strategy tower defence game, and has the clan system and social aspect. It filled my need for more continuos play and now I have all my gaming needs fulfilled!
All 15 clan members slowly migrated to Clash Royale and now I’m the leader of both clans. It’s wonderful. The best thing, that’s different from Clash of Clans, is that we have different cards and different strategies. Friends of mine from other countries got the game weeks before the rest of the world and have leveled up quite a bit. They have excellent strategies to share from experience. We can donate cards to one another and even have practice sparring matches within our own clan. It’s amazing.
Clash of Clans players can easily migrate into the game. It features the same characters and some of the same army strategies and resource management. But there are new, more-powerful characters, as well. Like the Prince, Giant Skeleton, and Musketeer.
The trading card aspect of the game is fun for many of my gamer friends back home because we played Magic: the Gathering. The format is nice because we can duel and critique one another. Or brag about our epic cards (like the mythic rares in MTG).
Clash Royale is still in its infancy, so I hope it doesn’t go the way of Star Trek Rivals. Right now I’m seeing the same configurations of cards in most matches, and am having trouble finding variants of my own deck that are dependable in battle. There are some “broken” cards, as well. Specifically the Prince and Balloon. At low levels, there are only 1 or 2 cards that can trump them: Skeleton Army, Minion Hoard. So, naturally everyone uses the 2 broken cards, and the 2-3 trump cards in their deck. Or at least some configuration of them. The repetition can be boring while trying to farm treasure chests and trophies.
I’m curious to see how they plan to introduce longevity and new cards. I’d like to see some sort of alignment for players to take with their decks: whether it be dark vs. light, fire vs. ice, big stompies vs. swarms of minions, air vs. ground, chaos vs. order, life vs. death, manipulation vs. brute force, etc.
It’s interesting to see a hybrid game like Clash Royale because I’ve had similar ideas in the past. I’ve wanted to combine the match-3 style puzzler with tower defense for a long time. So, seeing tower defense and trading card genres combined gives me some encouraging ideas of how to design and implement it. Other than Puzzle Quest, it’s one of the best hybrid genre games I’ve played. It also does service to Clash of Clans and continues the legacy of the Supercell brand. I can’t wait to see the updates they roll out in the future for Clash Royale.