How to play Clash Royale
Supercell's Clash Royale is wargaming in microcosm, and our Clash Royale tips and tricks will help you be a smash on the battlefield, whether you're a new player or an old hand.
Two sets of towers face each-other on a single-screen battlefield. Players use elixir to dispatch troops, aiming to fight their way to a tower and do it some serious damage. Although a simple game to grasp, Clash Royale has depth and nuance.
You must carefully consider the units you choose for your eight-item deck, and make the best use of currency — virtual or otherwise.
1. Balance your Clash Royale deck
It's no good having a deck entirely comprising ground-based melee scrappers or fragile range-fighters. Ensure your deck includes a balance of units, to counter varied attacks: 'tanks', splash damage units, and long-distance weapons for finishing off towers.
Also have a range of card values, or you'll get duffed up waiting for elixir refills.
2. Use units that only attack towers
Specific units are designed solely to attack towers, such as the sluggish but powerful Giant and the river-leaping Hog Rider.
Having one of those in your deck is useful, because they're resolutely focused and aren't distracted should your opponent plonk a unit nearby on the battlefield.
3. Figure out how to pair units
Don't keep sending units out solo, or they'll get clobbered. Instead, figure out combinations that are stronger together. Giants take loads of damage, so stick one in front of a balloon, protecting the latter until it reaches a tower.
Hog Riders are vulnerable to swarms, but can be devastating when paired with Fire Spirits, Goblins or Ice Spirits (or all three).
4. Consider using spells
Spells within Clash Royale exist to scupper advances or boost troops during an attack. Our favourites are Freeze, which stops opposition troops for a few seconds (and is commonly used to give a Hog Rider a free smashing spree when next to a tower) and Zap, which for a piffling two elixir nukes weak enemies and stuns others within its range for a second.
5. Use swarms to take down big foes
Elixir trades are key to winning in Clash Royale. In short, defeat opposing units using cards with lower values. Swarms often help — powered-up Goblins (two elixir) or Skeletons (one) can take down a Mini P.E.K.K.A. (four).Minions inflict masses of damage from the air. Swarms are vulnerable to arrows and fireballs, note, bar toughened Barbarians.
6. Play Clash Royale with audio on
You might be tempted to silence Clash Royale on the train. Instead, wear headphones. The game might not have the most inspired sound effects, but they're useful audio cues that attract your attention when units are plonked down, not least when a Hog Rider screams its entrance.
7. Take your time — or don't
The temptation in Clash Royale is to immediately hurl units into battle. Often, it's best to let elixir build, and see what your opponent has before blazing in.
But if your initial cards are a tempting selection that could surprise (such as a Mini P.E.K.K.A, Hog Rider, and Fire Spirits), try immediately dispatching them all, and you might wrongfoot the opposition and take down a tower within seconds.
8. Build pushes from the back
With more considered pushes and slower units, such as the Giant, it can pay to start from behind your King's Tower. By the time the dropped unit nears the river, your elixir will have regenerated to the point you can add support troops.
There's a danger in opponents using projectiles to scupper such pushes, but it's a risk worth taking.
9. Learn how to distract enemy troops
As touched on earlier, units in Clash Royale mostly don't make a beeline for towers, and they can be distracted. If a powerful unit is heading towards one of your Arena Towers at the side, drop a cheap unit towards the middle of the field.
Most units will take the bait and wander over, enabling your towers to shoot at them and for you to deploy further counter measures.
10. Don't get greedy when in the lead
The number of crowns you get for a one-tower win isn't significantly lower than for three. Often, if you've destroyed one tower, it's not worth risking the win going for another; defending until the clock runs down is smarter.
An exception is if you're playing a powerful opponent and/or one of your own towers is looking creaky.
11. Sacrifice towers when all is lost
If things aren't looking good for one of your towers and your opponent's making a major push that way, consider sacrificing it and sending loads of units up the other pathway.
As long as you don't risk your King's Tower in doing so, this can keep a game alive, rather than you losing one-nil.
12. Be a Clash Royale clock-watcher
Timing is everything. Matches are three minutes long, but during the final 60 seconds, elixir regenerates at double speed.
Time attacks to align with this surge and you can cause serious damage. Also, if the score's level but an opponent has a very weak tower and you're armed with a projectile (like a Fireball), defend until the last few seconds and blow up their tower in the final moment, ending the game and stopping overtime.
13. Learn effective elixir trades
We touched on this earlier with swarms, but with every attack you make, be aware of the elixir trade. There's no sense using expensive projectiles to take out low-cost troops, but also be watchful for powerful lowish-cost units.
A high-level Valkyrie can rampage through a number of troops and annihilate weaker swarms (such as an entire Skeleton Army) unscathed.
14. Use Clash Royale trainers
In the Cards tab, select a battle deck (you can store up to three) and tap the target button to play against a trainer.
The trainers are awful on the whole, but you can at least get a feel for how a new or adjusted deck works, rather than risking losing crowns in proper battles.
15. Take a break during losing streaks
Sometimes, you'll find you just can't win. The best thing to do after four or five straight losses is quit the game for at least a few hours.
When you return, perhaps the match-making will be kinder.
16. Join a Clash Royale clan
Clans are a vital part of Clash Royale. Beyond chat and friendly battles, you can make card requests and donate cards to other players.
The former can be a quick way of improving your deck, while the latter swells your coffers. It's win-win, given that many cards you get from chests won't be useful to you, but might be to someone else.
17. Spend money wisely
Although you gain XP for upgrading units in your collection, there's no point in doing so for all of them. Instead, prioritise cards you use often, with an aim to get basic cards up to level 8 and above, and rares beyond level 4.
As for spending real money, ignore chests — they're a waste of time. If you want to invest, buy gems, convert them to coins, and grab specific cards you need when they appear in the store.
18. Maximise Clash Royale chests
Chests reward you with bling and cards. Free Chests appear every four hours and up to two will stack for when you next open the app. The Crown Chest has a 24-hour cooldown, and is opened by destroying ten towers in battle. Otherwise, chests are won through victories, and are placed into one of four slots.
Each chest type (selected by algorithm rather than decisive wins) has an unlock time, and gems are required to speed this up. Our advice: *don't pay*. Instead, play regularly, topping up slots, opening chests throughout the day, and taking a break when all slots are full.
19. Watch your own replays
The Battles tab in the Activity Log of Clash Royale (the scroll button in the Battle tab) houses replays of recent battles. Watch them if you get a surprise win, to see how you managed it, or to figure out improvements if you keep getting horribly killed.
20. Make use of TV Royale
The same tab houses TV Royale, which lets you watch battles from any of the nine arenas. This is useful for picking up tips on units, decks and battle strategies. Be aware, though, that the game is very different at higher levels, so don't imagine tactics that work in arena 8 are going to make you unbeatable in arena 1!.