If you are playing in Arena 5 or 6, chances are you are starting to see familiar combinations of cards being played by your opponents. Below is a brief description of the 6 types of decks you’re most likely to come across, and strategies you can utilize to counter them.
1) Golem/Elixir Collector
What is it: Your rude welcome to Arena 6. Golem is the hardest troop to take down in the game, but it’s very expensive to play, slow and easy to take down by towers. Elixir Collector then is the best partner for Golem, as it allows players to recover their Elixir more quickly and deploy support troops to distract tower and ranged troops to deal damage while the Golem absorbs everything in its path. And why play one Elixir Collector when you can play 2? Many players go all in and Mirror their Elixir Collector so they can generate Elixirs at twice the rate. Make one wrong play against these guys, and you can kiss your tower goodbye.
How to play against it: There are two parts of this combination: the Elixir Collector and the Golem. If your opponent plays an Elixir Collector, there are 2 things you should do, depending on what cards you are playing: 1) think about how to damage the Elixir Collector, or 2) try to catch them off guard with a sneak attack. If you are playing spells such as Lightning, Fireball, Rocket or Goblin Barrel, you probably want to blast the Elixir Collector while dealing some damage to the tower. Ideally you want to do this when you have a tower or enough elixir to defend yours, and/or you can wipe out the Elixir Collector AND something else (ie. if they happen to play a Baby Dragon next to the Tower, or play 2 Collectors within your spell radius) so you get the most value out of your blast. Don’t have a spell? Well then pray that your opponent won’t be hoarding Collectors, otherwise you’re going to have your hands full defending the Golem…
The sneak attack is a risky proposition, but one that can pay off handsomely if done well. The idea is once your opponent has spent 5 Elixir on their collector, you spend all 10 of your Elixir for a Hog Rider/Prince/Whatever you have that moves fast to do some major damage before they can recover their Elixir! Prince is especially good for this as he can take out your opponent’s tower while the others do damage. Pretty much the only cards that your opponent can play to “almost” completely stop your attack are Barbarians and Minion Horde, but chances are you will be able to recover if you play smart, as your opponent needs to spend Elixir to stop your attack and save up to play Golem. Be sure NOT to do this if they already have another Elixir Collector in play!
As for defending against the Golem, you’ll need a defense tower in your deck. Inferno towers are obviously the best at dealing with Golems, but Tesla, Cannon, or Bomb Tower would suffice. Best practice for placing the tower: be sure to play it in the middle of your Arena to give your Crown Tower some distance from the Golem, and don’t play it too soon! The latter point can’t be stressed enough; if your opponent sees your Interno Tower sitting all pretty waiting for their Golem, of course they will send their Goblins/Minions/etc. in first to take the hit and get Golem one step closer to destroying your towers. And on that note, you can definitely expect your opponent to surround their Golem with a combination of small troops (Goblins/Minions) for distraction and ranged troops (Baby Dragon/Musketeer/Archer/Spear Goblins) for ranged damage. Be prepare to take out the troops hiding behind Golem, as they can do massive damage in a short period of time. Best way to do this is will a spell (Zap/Arrows/Lightning), but it that is unavailable to you, then you can strategically place your melee troop to attack them from behind once they cross your side of the Arena. Make sure the ranged attackers are already targeting something else before you do this though, otherwise the troop you place will just be a sacrificial lamb!
2) Prince/Hog Rider
What is it: Two fast moving troops charging at your towers constantly. Hog Rider goes straight after your towers, Prince hits anything but deals double damage when charging. Just when you thought you got these cards figured out, your opponent might just decide to screw with you and mirror their Prince or Hog Rider.
How to play against it: Contrary to popular belief, defense towers are not good against Prince at all. If Prince hits your tower while charging, it will win the exchange and leave you panicking for the next card to play to defend it. The best defense against Prince is any kind of Skeletons (Skeletons, Tombstone, Skeleton Army); Goblins and Spear Goblins are a secondary option if you don’t have Skeletons. Let your cheap small troop take the hit, and play other troops/defense towers to deal the rest of the damage to take it out. Meanwhile, your defense towers are a magnet for Hog Rider, so just play them in the middle of your arena and try to protect them from taking too much damage. Almost just as good at defending both Prince and Hog Rider are Barbarians and Minion Horde. If you have either in your deck, try to save it for defense.
The key to play against Prince/Hog Rider decks is defense. Your opponent will try to not play these cards until you over-commit on offense. Play your cards patiently and win your exchanges, and always keep your counter card in your hand with enough Elixir to play it if you think they have the attack cards in their hand. If the game is close and your opponent has Mirror (you might not know until the last minute!), your opponent may try to swarm you with 2 Hog Rider or 2 Princes and catch you off guard. Again, react fast, play smart defense, and if your troops survive on defense while taking out your opponent’s attackers, you will be in a good position to counter-attack.
3) Hut Swarm
What is it: Your opponent will try to overrun you slowly with the troops produced by Barbarian Hut and Goblin Hut. They may also play Elixir Collector to speed up this process. Once your opponent has both towers on the same side, they will play Barbarians and a mix of other range/AoE troops (Spear Goblins/Goblins/Baby/Dragon/Musketeer/Bomber/Minions/etc.) and overrun your troops by sheer number, as they have the additional troops generated by the Huts. Also your opponent may surprise you with a Rage once all their troops are over on your side, speeding up their attack and movement (especially scary for Barbarians!).
How to play against it: Like Elixir Collector, the key to Hut Swarm decks are the towers, and you should try to take them out if you have damage spells. Lightning is especially great at dealing with Hut Swarm and the radius is large (you could potentially damage both huts and the Crown Tower if your opponent misplays the tower location) and damage is high. On defense, AoE damage troops such as Wizard, Baby Dragon and Valkyrie are your best options against the incoming swarm. Zap and Arrows are obviously great against the weak troops, but also don’t hesitate to blast the swarm with a Fireball once it builds up – keep in mind that your opponent will always try to bunch up their troops, so don’t just fire a Fireball at only a few Barbarians! If you also happen to be playing a Bomb Tower, then you probably don’t have to worry too much. Always try to lure the incoming troops to the center of the Arena so that both your Crown towers can help deal damage to the troops.
So with all the defending, when will you attack? The best window to attack is when your opponent plays their first Barbarian Hut, as that would cost them 7 Elixir with only the immediate benefit of summoning 2 Barbarians. Keep your Elixir count high until that drop, then go for an aggressive attack on the lane that is not populated with Huts. Chances are your opponent will be scrambling on defense, and your push should allow you to deal enough damage to take out the tower with incremental damage.
Be sure to check back here tomorrow for Part 2!