Chat by the Arena: Thoughts on Clash Royale’s latest strategies, meta and top players from the game’s Top 100 players

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It has only been less than 2 months since Clash Royale’s global launch, but already we have seen a flurry of developments in and around the game.  In our new segment Chat by the Arena, MoEsport will have guest panelists weigh in on various current topics relating to the game.  This week, we welcome Top 100 players Bosshogg and CWhit to chat with us.


MoEsport: Alright gentleman, let’s kick things off!  In your opinion, which card is the most “OP” (overpowered) in the game right now?

Bosshog: I don’t think anything is necessarily “OP” given equal levels.  Obviously if one player has higher upgraded card than another player then many things can seem OP.   The one card I would say that is somewhat annoying, given all levels equal is the Elixir Collector, simply because if you don’t use one and your opponent does (and knows how to use it), you’re at a significant disadvantage.  I find myself using it only in the case that my opponent uses it, so there’s an even playing field.  And at high levels, they are very common.

CWhit: I think a case could be made for several cards to be considered extremely powerful for their cost.  This game is all about elixir advantage.  With that concept in mind, the most powerful in my opinion is Freeze. It’s a card that can create game breaking elixir swings on offense and defense.  Extremely versatile and lots of great ways to play it.  For example, I see your P.E.K.K.A, Prince, and Ice Wizard coming for my tower.  I’ll Freeze them all and then throw down Goblins or 3-elixir Minions to destroy your army and gain a huge advantage.  Because troops scale higher in comparison to towers in the late game, Freeze enables something as simple as Goblins to lay waste to a tower on offense.  All of this combined with it being one of the only cards that is time based (which is a whole other topic) makes it extremely good at 4-cost.

And nice choice with Elixir Collector Bosshogg.  Very hard to win against someone who has one if you don’t have one.  Similar to Freeze in my opinion.

Bosshogg: Yeah, they are both cards that if you don’t happen to have, it puts you in a bind.  I think any card that the only counter to is the same card is something that the game should consider adjusting.  Freeze and Elixir Collector are both good arguments for that in my opinion.  For example, I hate Mortar, but there are many counters to Mortar aside from the Mortar itself.

CWhit: Exactly!  Mortar isn’t even close to being imbalanced, it’s just annoying.  I think looking at the TV Royale replays will just further prove us right.  So many decks have at least one of the two card we mentioned, and most of them with both.

Bosshogg: Meanwhile, if someone has a Elixir Collector or Freeze and is skilled in its use, it’s not fun to beat if I don’t have the corresponding cards.  If a Balloon/Freeze attack comes and they freeze my counter, I am dead in hand if I’m not able to freeze their Freeze in response!  And this is coming from someone who uses Freeze 99% of the time.  And Elixir Collector too *shy face*

CWhit: Oh for sure.  I’m too competitive not to use them myself.  But the game forces us to if we want to stay on the leaderboard.  Especially as level 11s fighting level 12s all the time.


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“I think any card that the only counter to is the same card is something that the game should consider adjusting.” – Bosshogg


 

MoEsport: And I think that’s why the both of you are top players, you know how to identify and use the top cards in the game.  Leading to the next topic then: you guys have faced a lot of players in the Top 200.  Has there been any particular player(s) who stood out to you in terms of their skill?

Bosshogg: I’d say the guy who players some of the HKEsports and Yota Phone accounts, I can’t recall his Chinese name but he has played a lot of friendlies with me (MoEsport: I think he’s referring to Derek 鍾培生).  Win trading or not, he’s one of the best in the game, no question.  Also I think Ryan (Light Wing) in InTheLight is as tough as there is in the game.  Granted I don’t get to play too many InTheLight players, but Ryan was in particular a “mofo” to play before I joined 🙂

Still, I would point out that it’s kind of MMA or Boxing where styles make fights.  In the case of Clash Royale, Decks make fights!  Some players I beat like a drum beat people I can’t beat with a stick *LOL*.

CWhit: I have a few tough-to-beat opponents that come to mind.  Opposing clan members would be Fishlol and CC (长孙CC and/or 长孙CC的打手)Both have excellent micro and hardly even make mistakes.  In our clan, Groover and Light Wing are both monsters in friendly battles and are consistently tearing up the leaderboard.

Bosshogg: Yeah CC is very tough for me too.

CWhit: Bosshogg makes a good point regarding the styles of play.  It is so different from person to person, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly who’s the best.  I bet you get very different answers if you asked 20 other people the same question.

Bosshogg: Absolutely.  There are some top players that cry when we match-up because they know they’re in trouble; they know how we both play in our styles.  Similarly, there are some lower players than may me cringe when I see their name as my oppoennt.

CWhit: *LOL* same here, happens all the time.  And it’s interesting right now because there is still a relatively small player pool near the top, so you’re guaranteed to get to know how people play.  It’s also easier to spot alternatives of certain people because of that.

The whole game is set up like a fight, like your MMA/boxing analogy.  High level play is like a minute per round for 3-4 minutes.  You throw your cards at each other, slowly revealing more and more each minute.  You trade blow-for-blow and counter attack.  Good players also let their Elixir build up, so that adds to the boxing match feel.  Little breaks in the action haha.

Bosshogg:  And if you don’t feel good about it, you may take a risk and unexpectedly cut the break short for a low elixir baby rush just to try and force them to play something out of order to change the momentum.  It’s like a chess match at the top, one surprise you can pull on your opponent can win the game regardless of what has happened up to that point.

CWhit: It really continues along with how things change as you get into the late game.  We both have mini accounts we play so it’s not like we’re always playing on these almost maxed accounts.  My little mini is only level 5.  Early game towers are so powerful, and your mistakes are not punished as much.  Late game though, the troops can flatten towers with ease, so placement, timing, and surprise cards you’ve held can easily turn a match around in seconds.

MoEsport: Love the analogy with Boxing/MMA as well, and I think a lot of us want to see Clash Royale evolve into something more like a competitive sport where millions can watch the best-of-the-best go at each other.  The Clash Royale team has said recently that “Tournament Rules” will be the standard moving forward.  As top players with cards that are well exceeding these cap levels, how do you feel about these rules in general?

CWhit: Even though I’ve invested a substantial amount of money to have a Level 11 account, I can’t express how excited I would be if they had capped modes for more than just friendlies.  I love this game and it won’t get to the level it could potentially reach without capped modes.  To be an eSport you need equal footing, end of story.  I would say it would be nice for even maxed players to not have to worry about investing thousands of dollars more each time new cards are introduced.

I also think Supercell can still make substantial amounts of money despite capped modes.  You’ll still have a lot of players willing to invest 100-200 dollars to stay in the game, and continue to invest smaller amounts of money over time – and not to mention the revenue Supercell can make from big events!  Capped modes showing who really have the best skills could make this game into a true global phenomenon.

Bosshogg: I don’t mind the level caps, but I just want them to be on par with the balance of gameplay that top players are used to, or else it’s clearly putting top players at a disadvantage –  and this is coming from a level 11 player playing most against level 12s.  All things equal, I would think it should come out as a similar gameplay for all, granted that it’s done right by Supercell.


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“I also immediately through of poker as an analogy.  It should be possible to get into the “championships” without having maxed cards, but some who’s maxed everything should also have access to tournaments that reward their money spent.” – CWhit


 

MoEsport:  In other eSports games like Hearthstone, we see that the top players from the ladder are very much the same guys in the competitive scene.  With how thing are currently structured for Clash Royale, this will likely not be the case as tournament rules open up the competition to many more players.  Any thoughts on how Clash Royale can make the competitive scene work?  For example, in Hearthstone, players accumulate championship points from ranked play as well as officially sanctioned tournaments.  But again the problem with Clash Royale is the ranked trophies obviously favor those who max out their cards.  I guess a fair comparison would be to Professional Poker: you need to buy your way into high stakes tournaments, but you still need skills to win it all.

CWhit: That’s an interesting point.  Although I would say that any top ladder players should have the skills to adjust very quickly to capped modes.  It will be hard to get away from the fact that this game has “whales” that would be very disappointed if their big shiny level 8 epics didn’t do anything special anymore.  A balance would definitely need to be struck like what you’re talking about.

I also immediately through of poker as an analogy.  It should be possible to get into the “championships” without having maxed cards, but some who’s maxed everything should also have access to tournaments that reward their money spent.  Another argument for that would be that the true best players would always be able to win the world championships in that kind of format.  As long as there is a balance it wouldn’t matter for the best player in the world which tournaments they qualify for.  Hopefully when the competition heats up and become real there will be sponsors, and teams that would sponsor top player accounts to get into high stakes tournaments anyway.

Bosshogg: For me, I guess it depends on who you ask.  I chose and have chosen to rely mostly on common cards and low elixir decks for my strategies.  For some reason though, the crossover with that strategy to friendlies have been abysmal.  I don’t know why, maybe commons and epics and rare scale up at different rates, and in turn scale down differently in tournaments.  I haven’t done the math, nor am familiar with tournaments of friendly battles to speak either way with certainty, but I can say that when I have played friendlies against people using epics I have faired much worse than I have against some of the top ranked players using the same epics.

MoEsport: OK final quick answer question: play card first, or wait for your opponent to make the first move?

CWhit: I honestly think a case could be made for either line of thinking.  Personal play style could also sway you to one side of the fence.  Personally, I’m a big fan of playing the first card in general, BUT that comes with an asterisk.  Playing the first card doesn’t mean committing 10-elixir worth for army down a lane, leaving your other lane entirely exposed.  Playing something first usually means you start with a small elixir advantage, assuming you are not playing something that could result in a huge net loss right off the bat.  Another pro of staring first is that even if they do have the perfect counter to your card, they only have a 50/50 chance of starting with that card in the first place.

Bosshogg: Yeah I agree, I think it’s all circumstantial.  If I have the cards I want up, I prefer to dictate the exchanges and have them respond to me, even if they have the proper counter.  But it all depends on what deck I’m playing and what deck they’re playing.  I think that’s where it comes back to our point earlier that styles make fights.

Generally, I think leading first is ideal because you can somewhat dictate the pace of the battle, which can be invaluable.  For me, I play a low elixir deck, so I am generally not looking to 3-crown for a win, and I don’t want to get into a 2/3 crown battle with someone.  So if I can dictate a slow pace with smaller attacks and counters to make it a one-crown battle.  That definitely benefits me again an opponent who mat be using a double Prince/P.E.K.K.A strategy, for example.  I don’t want to deal with all that they have at once in one lane, so by going first I have the possibility of forcing them to maybe defend two lands and split up a potential counter attack.

Obviously there can be advantages to playing second, but I think once both players’ elixir fills up at the start, it’s in both players’ best interest to play something, unless you have an odd deck or only spells or something like that in your starting hand.  Waiting until your opponent plays realistically will put you at around a 2-elixir disadvantage, which is more than enough to decide the outcome if you both play well from that point on, in my opinion.

MoEsport: Wow a lot more thought put into that question, I was expecting a short answer!  Really great insights there.

Bosshogg: *LOL* well it is a question that has a lot to it!  I hope that was helpful.  A lot of people don’t think about 1/2/3 Crown strategies or 1/2 lane strategies by that all plays into the deck and approach.

 

 

 

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