With Tournament Rules being a major emphasis in Clash Royale competitive gameplay heading into the future, MoEsport will be deep diving into game strategies specifically based on the tournament caps and rules. To start off, we will focus on arguably the most effective card in tournament play: Hog Rider.
Crown Towers! With its Very Fast speed and concentration on targeting buildings, you’ll be relying on the Hog Rider to deal most of the damage against your opponent’s Crown Towers.
Cannon – At 3-elixir, a well placed Cannon will stop your Hog on his tracks and put you down 1 elixir
Barbarians – Likewise, a well-placed Barbarians will not only completely stop your Hog, but leave you vulnerable to a counterattack
Mini P.E.K.K.A – Mini P.E.K.K.A also only costs 4 to play, and will take down your Hog with only 2 hits with some help from the Crown Tower
Freeze – Wait for your opponent to plop down troops or buildings to defend against your Hog, then drop the Freeze to give your Hog some extra time to deal its building damage
Zap – Slows down defending troops and buildings for 1 second, giving your Hog time to get in that extra hit. Also VERY effective at clearing out Goblins and Skeletons.
Minion Horde – Effective if your opponent does not have spells to clear out the Horde. Crown Tower will be busy targeting the Minions while your Hog gets in the damage
1-Crown Hog (Suggested Combo Cards: Zap, Fireball, Minions/Minion Horde, Musketeer, Goblins)
If you are playing Hog and are counting on him to be your main source of Crown Tower damage, accept the fact that you’re probably going for a 1-0 victory, and you’ll be concentrating solely on attacking that one tower. The moment you play Hog Rider for the first time, your opponent will be preparing to defend against it the next time around, so make your first run count! Don’t play the Hog first unless your opponent commits too much Elixir on high cost cards (ie. Golem, P.E.K.K.A, Lava Hound) or an Elixir Collector behind a tower, and have a Zap on stand-by if your opponent uses Goblins or Skeletons to defend against it. Otherwise, play other troop cards such as Musketeer/Spear Goblins/Valkyrie/Baby Dragon to lure out your opponent’s defense, and wait for the opportunity to counterattack with the Hog once your opponent’s Elixir is low.
If you run into Barbarians, then let the Hog die and get ready for the next run: have a Fireball or Freeze on standby, and time the spell so that it hits the troops right as they get deployed. The timing of the Fireball is crucial, as you’ll have to fire blindly at the spot at which you think your opponent will play his troops (chances are it’ll be at the same spot as where he placed it the last time). Get this right though, and your Hog Rider will be freed up for at least 2-3 more hits on the Crown Tower.
From the Hog Rider alone, it will take almost exactly 9 hits (9.02, to be exact) to take down your opponent’s Level 9 Crown Tower, so any run in which the Hog fails to get in at least 2 hits can be considered a failed run. Don’t try to hit for the home run and overspend your Elixir to protect the Hog: if it looks like your Hog is going to be stopped dead on his tracks, save your Elixir for defense, note how your Hog was stopped this time, and cycle through your cards differently the next time around to see if you can free up your Hog through other means.
Hog Rider can actually take down Cannon and Tesla 1-on-1, but with the added damage from the Crown Towers he will not be able to get off any hits on the Crown Tower before getting taken down. If you have no choice but to attack a defense building head-on, try to send in small troops such as Goblins and Minions/Minion Hordes to absorb some of the attacks and let your Hog deal its damage. Also keep in mind that if your opponent places his buildings too far off the center, you can use your Goblins/Skeletons to bump the Hog towards the Crown Tower – a tactic now made famous by Youtuber Orange Juice.
Building Wrecker (Suggested Combo Cards: Giant, Royal Giant, Golem, Zap)
Hog Rider is also a great way for you to clear your enemy’s defense buildings for your other building-targeting cards, given that your opponent is only playing with one defense building. With this strategy, you’ll want to send in the Hog as soon as your opponent preemptively plays a building in the middle such as Cannon, Elixir Collector, Tesla, or even Inferno Towers/Bomb Towers. As the goal is to clear out the defense buildings so your bigs have a direct opening to attack the Crown Tower, make sure your Hog can finish the job! Zap again is a great spell to allow for your Hog to get that extra hit in, as well as deal out a bit of damage to the defending troops. Lure out your opponent’s defense buildings and defense troops (such as Barbarians and Minion Horde), defend the counterattack, then send in your bigs to deal the big damage.
You can also alternate the strategy to let your bigs deal out the defense building damage (especially Royal Giant v.s. Cannons, as the Royal Giant has the range advantage) and free up your Hog for the Crown Tower attack. Do NOT play your Hog and Giants together at the same time though, as that will just leave you open to a big counterattack.
Hog Freeze (Suggested Combo Cards: Freeze, Zap, Valkyrie, Elixir Collector, Musketeer, Cannon)
If you are playing Freeze with Hog, then you’ll be looking to get in more than just 1 or 2 hits with each run. Instead, you will be looking to build up an Elixir advantage with your Elixir Collector, defend with Valkyrie and Musketeer, then turn the table with a Hog leading the charge, finishing off with a Freeze on your opponent’s Crown Tower and defending troops. Keep in mind that Hog Freeze is only effective if you can build up an Elixir advantage, otherwise you’ll be caught with little Elixir to spend against a big counterattack from your opponent. Cycle through your cards until you can play your Elixir Collector, and be on the look out for charge attacks from your opponent’s Hog/Goblins/Prince/Dark Prince/etc. while you wait for your Elixir to build up.
Once you play your Freeze for the first time, the element of surprise will be gone, and your opponent will likely try to time his deployment to avoid having all his troops and buildings frozen. With that in mind, make your first run count! The ideal set-up will be to have your Musketeer shooting from the back, Valkyrie dealing AoE damage from the middle, and Hog dealing out the Tower damage while everyone else is frozen! The upcoming Freeze and Elixir nerf will have a major impact on the effectiveness of this combo, but even with the shortened duration, Freeze will always be one of the best ways to free up Hog Rider for an attack.
Playing Against Hog Rider:
If you are playing a tournament, chances are you will be playing against Hog Riders, if you are not using one yourself. Despite the nerf, Cannon remains the best card to stop Hogs, with Tesla and Tombstone as viable alternatives. With more and more players carrying Zap in their arsenal, be vary of trying to stop an incoming Hog with just Skeletons and Goblins. And even if Zap can’t kill your Minion Horde, it will still free up the Hog for another hit, and leave your Minion Horde as Crown Tower bait with little health left.
Aside from using buildings, another effective way to counter Hog Rider is with hard hitting troops such as P.E.K.K.A, Mini P.E.K.K.A and even Prince. Deploy the hard hitters on defense, let them take out Hog Rider with a few hits (while absorbing some damage on your defense tower), then build up for a big counter attack with whatever else that you are playing in your deck. Be on the lookout for Freeze, though: if both your Crown Tower and troop get caught in the Freeze, your Crown Tower will be absorbing a lot more damage than you’d like.
If you defended well against the Hog the first time, don’t expect the same result the second time around: your opponent will adapt to your defense and try to catch you off guard the next time around. Similarly, if you defended poorly against the Hog the first time, expect your opponent to pull off the exact same move the next time around (ie. Hog with Goblins/Minion Horde) and have your best counter cards on standby.