I finished this hollow-body Bass during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine. Luckily, the weather warmed up a few times so I could finish the body. Similar to my previous semi-hollow, this fully hollow bass uses Basswood around the perimeter with Maple top and bottom surfaces. The neck is Rosewood.

I soaked the top surface in paint thinner and ignited it with a welding torch. I carefully navigated the flames with thick gloves to control burning around the edges. This resulted in a beautiful charred appearance that was finished with Watco Danish Oil and about a dozen coats of lacquer.

The guitar uses 2 hummbucker pickups at the neck and bridge positions. The pickups are wired though their own volume pots, into a selection switch, then to a final volume and tone control. The selection switch allows for neck, combined, and bridge pickup settings.

This guitar is extremely easy to play. It frets super-easily and has great feedback. The hollow body picks up a lot of extraneous sound, pick scrapes, and sting buzzes, so a little extra care is needed for a clean sound. It is much richer than the semi-hollow bass, deepening the gap with the growl and thump of the Disco Boss.

It still isn’t finished. A graphics designer is working on a logo for the headstock and I have some upgraded tuners to install once the logo is ready.

Appalachia Semi-Hollow Bass Guitar (2019)

This is a semi-hollow 4-string Bass guitar with in double hummbucker configuration. The perimeter of the body is Basswood, the top and bottom of the body is Maple, and the fretboard is made of Rosewood. It is setup for 33.75 scale with 20 frets. The back of the neck is finished about a dozen coats of polyurethane and sanded to 1000 grit for maximum hardness. You don’t want a guitar with a sticky neck when your hands get sweaty.

I used a welding torch to burn the body before finishing with Watco Danish Oil followed by about 20 coats of Lacquer. This gave a wonderful natural look.

The knobs are setup as neck volume (logarithmic), neck tone (linear), bridge volume (logarithmic), bridge tone (linear), selection switch, and final volume (logarithmic). I spent a lot of time in headphones when wiring the guitar, using a VOX 1/4″ adapter amplifier and noise-cancellation cans to resolve the smallest details.

The guitar has a nice, rich, open sound, very unlike the tight punch of the solid-body Disco Boss.


2×4 8″ Bass Cabinet (2018)

So I had a pile of old Stryke Audio 8″ Fiberglass drivers and though, maybe I’ll make a bass cabinet. Pine wood is not the best for a cabinet, but I had some laying around. So this whole cabinet is for “free” using spare materials.

It’s not finished yet, but I thought to post some few pictures of the progress. I’m going to finish it during the COVID-19 quarantine period.

Disco Boss Bass Guitar (2017)

So this isn’t a Clash article but I’m going to make a series of posts about guitar-making. I’m going to start with my Disco Boss Bass that I made circa 2017. I asked my daughter what type of guitar I should start with, and she replied “Disco!”. So here it is, the Disco Boss Bass Guitar.

It uses solid Ash for the body and a recycled neck from a trashed unknown brand guitar. It uses EMG active pickups in P-J formation. The bridge was taken from another recycled guitar of unknown origin.  The knobs are wired for P-J blend (logarithmic), tone control (linear), and output volume (logarithmic).

This guitar is very punchy, great for four-on-the-floor work. The solid Ash body gives a lot of grunt, especially when driving on the P pickup.It is painted matte iridescent gold to be the ultimate Disco Boss.

Best War Castle Defense Troops (October 2018 Update)

There are a few basic rules when considering castle troops.

Immunity to Poison Spells

Assume that the enemy will use a poison spell to deal with castle troops. Your war castle defense troops should be built around a fundamental core that is relatively immune to poison spells. These troops are in order:

  • Lava Hound (7600 HP)
  • Golem (7200 HP)
  • PEKKA (6300 HP)
  • Electrodragon (4200 HP)
  • Dragon (3600 HP)
  • Baby Dragon (1700 HP)

The poison spell does a maximum of 220 HP per second and decreases troop movement and damage speed by about 50%. For example, an Electrodragon takes 3.5 seconds between attacks. Under a poison spell, it will take (3.5 x 150%) = 5.25 seconds to attack. Combined with the DPS of the poison spell, the DPS of a high-level Archer Queen can take out the Electrodragon before it can attack.

The fastest attacking tanking troops are the Dragon (1.25 seconds) and Baby Dragon (1 second). Both of these troops have advantages. All Dragon-type troops have splash damage and the Baby Dragon has rage mode. The Electrodragon has longer splash radius plus relatively insignificant death damage (60HP per exposed troop).

  • Baby Dragon (1 second)
  • Dragon (1.25 seconds)
  • PEKKA (1.8 seconds)
  • Electrodragon (3.5 seconds)

Therefore, against enemies with high-level Archer Queens, the Dragon and Baby Dragon are preferred.

Against enemies with moderate or low-level Archer Queens, the Electrodragon is a candidate.

Ground troops (i.e. PEKKA) are generally ineffective against air attacks, so I don’t recommend a ground troop as the core defense troop.

High DPS

The best attacking troops will have a combination of tanking hitpoints (HP) and damage per second (DPS). High hitpoints allow the troop to remain on the battlefield longer, absorb more damage, and allow surrounding defense weapons to inflict damage. Golems and Lava Hounds have high hit points but low DPS. If the enemy lures the Lava Hound away from defensive weapons, it is basically useless. The castle troop needs to have high DPS.

The highest DPS troops by housing space is illustrated below. I used the Geometric Mean of each troop’s DPS and HP to calculate a relative rank:


For example, the Balloon occupies 5 housing space and offers 236 DPS. This is 47 DPS per housing space. It has 840 hitpoints, giving it 168 HP per housing space. Calculating the geometric square is sqrt(47 x 168) = 89.

Below is the relative rank of each of the key troops:

The Balloon is the undisputed champion of the most DPS and HP per housing space. I had to add in the DPS and HP of spawned troops for the Witch and Lava Hound. The Lava Hound ranking is deceptive because all of the DPS comes from the Lava Pups, which are easily killed with a poison spell. Therefore, a Lava Hound is not recommended because the DPS (pups) are decoupled from the HP (Hound). The PEKKA is only effective with ground troops and doesn’t protect against air attacks.

Movement speed is a major issue that should be included in the analysis. Slow-moving troops are easy targets, especially under a poison spell. Below is a geometric square ranking of troops including movement speed:

Again, the Lava Hound is deceptive, because the high Pup movement speed (32) skews the results. The Valkyrie fares extremely well.


  • The Dragon is resistant to the poison spell and deals splash damage. It consistently beats the Electrodragon (per housing space) for DPS, HP, attack speed, and movement speed.
  • The Baby Dragon in rage mode stands out. However, no other air troops can be used because the Baby Dragon must be alone to achieve rage. The Baby Dragon’s relatively low hitpoints make it an easy target for high-level Archer Queens.

Possible Troop Combinations

Here are some recommended troop combinations and supporting calculations using the geometric mean equation:

30 Housing Space

  • Baby Dragon, 2 Valkyrie, 1 Wizard (score: 65)
  • Baby Dragon, 1 Witch, 1 Valkyrie (score: 72)
  • Dragon, 2 Balloon (score: 68)
  • Electrodragon (score: 37)

35 Housing Space

  • Dragon, 3 Balloon (score: 71)
  • Dragon, Baby Dragon, Balloon (score: 58)
  • Baby Dragon, 2 Witches (score: 74)
  • Baby Dragon, 3 Valkyrie (score: 62)
  • Electrodragon, 1 Balloon (score: 47)


The basic rules of this analysis can be summarized by:

  • Each defensive combination needs to be built around a high HP core troop resistant to poison spells.
  • The core troop should also have high DPS.
  • All Dragon-type troops have splash damage to affect attacking troop clusters.
  • Attack speed is important, especially with the speed penalty of a poison spell.
  • Movement speed is important, especially with the penalty of a poison spell.
  • Versatility of attacking both ground and air is important.

The best core troops, in order, are:

  • Raged Baby Dragon
  • Dragon
  • Baby Dragon (combined with other air troops)

The best supporting troops, in order, are:

  • Witch (ground and air, spawns skeletons)
  • Valkyrie (ground only)
  • Balloon (ground only)

What about the Electrodragon?

The Electrodragon appears to be a feasible defense troop for enemies with moderately low-level Archer Queens. Higher level Archer Queens can kill the Electrodragon with relative ease, especially combined with a poison spell. Electrodragons would also be effective against attacking LavaLoon armies if not lured out of the clan castle prior to launching the attack. Skilled LavaLoon attackers should always be expected to lure the Electrodragon using a killsquad before releasing the Balloon army.

What about the PEKKA?

The PEKKA is a formidable tanking defense, but has slow attack speed (1.8 seconds), slow movement speed (16), no splash damage, and inability to attack air troops. The PEKKA would be useful against TH8 or TH9 attacking ground armies (i.e. GoWiPe), but otherwise generally ineffective.

Why I think Dawn of Titans is Dying

Dawn of Titans had the global launch on December 8, 2016. I joined the game on global launch day and quickly found an alliance. As a long-time Clash of Clans player, I recognized the value and fun of joining an active clan. Dawn of Titans was developed by Natural Motion from the UK. The online gambling giant Zynga (ZNGA) had purchased National Motion for $527M a few years earlier and was having trouble managing their new acquisition. Zynga had never seen a profit since floating in 2011 and the expensive Natural Motion acquisition was seen as a financial disaster: the purchase price of $527M was a staggering 26 times of NM’s profit value. NM had never managed to profit over $20M. When Dawn of Titans was released, Zynga was massively underwater with NM, still posting $125M losses.

However, new acquisitions in 2017 (such as Harpan and Peak Games) have bumped the Zynga stock into profitable territory. Zynga’s profits are now coming from gambling apps. Wizard of Oz: Casio Slots, Zynga Poker, and Hit it Rich: Casio Slots are ranked as the number 46, 61, and 67 top grossing apps.

Words With Friends 2 is current Zynga’s best game, dithering around rank 120 on the top grossing chart. Dawn of Titans is considered by market analysts as a failure, hovering around number 180 on the top grossing chart (from Seeking Alpha):

In this context, the shadow of Dawn of Titans – a much anticipated game but ultimately a commercially disappointing one – looms large …. Dawn of Titans on December 8, 2016, points to a systemic failure across Zynga’s development and business strategy operations. Dawn of Titans prolonged development has resulted in a game that looks and feels dated. Dawn of Titans launched on December 8, so it’s much earlier in its lifespan, but has already fallen out of the US iPhone top-grossing top 100 chart, and is only ranked as a top 100 iPhone app in 22 countries … Clearly, no one would spend $527 million for a company that could provide that level of annual revenue.

When I started Dawn of Titans on global launch day, it was horrendously buggy. The game would crash unexpectedly in battle, causing the loss of troops and relic usage (relics could only be used a few times before expiring). It would drop connections, titans sometimes didn’t show their skills, relics would crash the system, and more. Beta players (early test players predating the global launch) were insanely high levels with maxed castles and maxed titans. The game started on day one unbalanced.

Cheats were rampant and trivially easy. Users could easily download patched .apk files and run cheats on rooted androids. Early players got a huge advantage if they cheated by collecting an impossible amount of high-level titans that would take a present-day player months to level.

Exploits were rampant and trivially easy. The simplest was to use “airplane mode” to force the game off-line when rolling for random titan skills. If a good skill was rolled, disable airplane mode, and the game would register the skill on the server. If an undesired skill was rolled, the game would timeout. Reconnect to the internet, and try another roll. Repeat until only desirable skills were rolled to make an optimized titan with a perfect skill set.

The beta players had special “shard” islands that generated crystals that could add a star to their titans. This feature was disabled on global launch day, but the islands persisted for months until the Lands Awakening update (June 14, 2017). The island update gave hit points to islands, so the shard islands slowly lost their hit points and disappeared forever. But those beta players out there have things like 4* Kobars.

Zygna was under a steady stream of fire and criticism from the extremely hackable, extremely buggy release of from their extremely expensive acquisition of Natural Motion. The developers patched the biggest bugs with the Lands and other summer 2017 updates but several obvious bugs remain, now 9 months later:

  • Occasional dropped connections.
  • Crashes on some Samsung Galaxy tablets.
  • Some icons must be touched several times before registering.
  • Badges and icons on the victory screen sometimes appear incorrectly or don’t appear at all.
  • Panthers.
  • Troop AI.
  • Relic forging system displayed percent chances have been analytically proven incorrect.
  • Some relics refuse to be forged altogether.
  • Goliaths walking off the edge of map.
  • No confirm screen when spending gems.
  • Food and gold icons sometimes appear sideways over the mines and farms.
  • Throne Wars crashed and the event was cancelled.
  • Cheats and exploits still exist, although at a reduced intensity.

These are indications that the developers are not committing any time on Dawn of Titans. Some of these bugs are trivial: button presses, icons appearing wrong. Others might be more thoughtful, such as troop AI and Panther behavior, but these are inexcusable bugs for a global launch mobile game. The most inexcusable was the Throne Wars event failure. The relic forging system is a flat-out lie. Users have posed Bayesian statistical analysis of relic forging results that are massively different than the percentages displayed on the screen.

There are other indications that the developers are not committing any time on Dawn of Titans:

  • No new adventures for the Adventure Guild. The only Adventure is the one that came with the launch.
  • No efforts to balance the game. The attack meta is grossly imbalanced with Ranger titans, relics, and panthers. Now approaching 1.5 years, re-balancing will be difficult without alienating players who have spent months upgrading their titans and relics. The imbalance is baked into the game.
  • The only new content are re-skinned events.
  • It has been 4 months since the disastrous Throne Wars failure with no signs it will be fixed.

It is the author’s opinion that no developers exist to support Dawn of Titans. Whoever was the creative force behind the Adventure Guild and the events is gone. They tried to implement the Throne Wars but failed and appear to lack the ability to fix it for another attempt. The only content is recycled events with ever-increasing powerful reskinned titans (aura x) that serve no purpose but to exacerbate the already unbalanced gameplay meta.

TH10 Upgrading

I prioritized my TH10 upgrades in opposite order of war ranking, saving the inferno towers for the final addition before the home stretch to TH11. There were long periods of dumping excess Gold and Elixir into walls and getting raided by far stronger enemies for loot. Despite these downsides, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with TH10 using this upgrade path.

Phase I

Early TH10 proved to be very Elixir intensive. The most important upgrades:

  1. Spell Factory to unlock additional spell slot
  2. Barracks to unlock Miners
  3. Dark Barracks to unlock Bowlers
  4. Laboratory to unlock new troop upgrades
  5. Clan Castle to 35 troops
  6. Army Camps for a total of 240 troop space
  7. New Gold Mine, Elixir Collector, and Dark Elixir Drill
  8. New walls and new base layout
  9. New Cannon, Archer Tower, and Xbow
  10. Upgrade Traps

During the early phases of TH10 upgrading, I spent my time in Crystal II using mostly GiGob with focus on Elixir. Naturally, a lot of Gold and Dark Elixir were also farmed.

2-3 Builders – working on priority Elixir upgrades (Laboratory, Spell Factory, Barracks, Dark Barracks, Army Camps)

1 Builder – Hero upgrading. Between Hero upgrades, build and upgrade new Gold Mine, Elixir Collector, and Dark Elixir Drill.

1-2 Builders – Upgrading Traps and Weapons

It’s very tempting to start the Inferno Towers because during this period, you will be raided mercilessly. Stick to the plan. Here are the defensive structure war ranking of upgrading an individual defense to maximum TH10 level as of last known values, in order of war ranking:

400    Air Defense

800    Tesla

1207   Cannon

1222   Archer Tower

1275   Xbow

1720   Bomb Tower

2760   Wizard Tower

3690   Mortar

7900   Inferno Tower

It is apparent that installing an Inferno Tower is equal to adding a lot of new weapons!

I stared by adding the new Cannon and Archer Tower. It took several weeks (and two builders) to advance the new baby defenses to equal the levels of my other weapons. I alternated builders to upgrade Giant Bombs, Air Bombs, and Seeking Air Mines. During this time I was elixir farming to upgrade Barracks and Army Camps, spending extra gold on these defensive upgrades and extra Dark Elixir on Hero upgrades or troop upgrades in the Laboratory. Any extra Gold can go towards getting your new walls to Level 8.

After the new Cannon and Archer Tower were upgraded, I added the new Xbow. It takes about a month to install and upgrade the new Xbow.

About this time, the Barracks and Army Camp elixir upgrades were about finished. At this point, my base was pretty solid:  three new resources Gold Mine, Elixir Collector, and Elixir Drill, all fully upgraded. Three new defenses, Archer Tower, Cannon, and Xbow, upgraded to equal my other defenses. Upgraded Barracks making Miners and Bowlers, Army Camps with 240 spaces, another spell slot (and the Clone Spell), and the Laboratory churning out upgrades. Any my Heros had a few new levels, too. Phase I complete.

Phase I summary:

  • Several Barracks upgraded to Miner
  • Dark Barracks upgraded to Bowler
  • Spell Factory upgraded
  • Army Camps upgraded to 240 troop space
  • Clan Castle upgraded to 35 troops
  • New walls (> Level 8) and new base layout
  • New cannon, upgraded to equal my other Cannons
  • New Archer Tower, upgraded to equal my other Archer Towers
  • New Xbow, upgraded to equal my other Xbows
  • New Gold Mine, Elixir Collector, and Dark Elixir Drill, fully upgraded
  • Some Giant Bombs, Air Bombs, Seeking Air Bombs fully upgraded

Phase II

Starting Phase II, I switched modes and put my attention to upgrading Hidden Teslas, Air Sweepers, and Air Defenses while still spending some Elixir on the last few Barracks upgrades:


  • Upgrade Hidden Teslas to maximum TH10 levels
  • Upgrade Air Defenses to maximum TH10 levels
  • Upgrade Air Sweepers to maximum TH10 levels
  • Continue Laboratory upgrades
  • Continue Hero upgrades
  • Continue upgrading walls

When you finish Phase II, you should have no Elixir upgrades remaining except Laboratory upgrades and walls!

Phase III

Phase three is a lot easier. By now your base is solid. You might be getting badly raided occasionally but get accustomed to it.

  • Upgrade all Cannons and Archer Towers to maximum TH10 levels
  • Upgrade remaining Bombs or Air Bombs to maximum levels
  • Continue Hero upgrades
  • Continue Laboratory upgrades
  • Continue upgrading walls

This Phase will last a few months to get all the Cannons and Archer Towers finished. In the meantime, you’ll have the time for some serious Laboratory upgrades and Hero upgrades. The Laboratory upgrades for TH10 take about 1 year, so expect each one of these phases to last several months.

Phase IV

Your base now looks like a serious contender, just without Inferno Towers. I did not add mine until the end, but you may be considering them now.

  • Upgrade Xbows
  • Upgrade Bomb Towers
  • Upgrade Wizard Towers
  • Upgrade Mortars

Phase V

Now your base is complete. The only thing lacking are the Inferno Towers and remaining Laboratory upgrades. I spent a few months in Phase V, and they were very enjoyable months. I raided often for wall and hero upgrades while patiently waiting for my Laboratory upgrades to slowly tick away.

  • Install and upgrade Inferno Towers
  • Upgrade Heros
  • Upgrade Walls
  • Keep Laboratory running

There you have it! The five phases of TH10. It was my favorite TH of the entire game.

Clash Royale: 6 months review

This post is about Clash Royale, the Supercell game released in January 2016. I started playing Clash Royale when it was first released. This is significant: by starting at the release date, I can track my progress relative to everybody else. We all started at the same time.

After a six months of playing and reaching Level 8, I can say one thing: Clash Royale is a terrible game. It’s the closest thing in real life I’ve seen to the Ktarian Game. Clash Royale ties together the best attributes from CCG and MOBA games with an absurdly fun playing style, but with draconian time-gating and extremely aggressive monetization psychology.

Clash Royale sets up intricate barriers to impede game progress. The biggest barrier is time. Everything is time-gated. Free treasure chests appear every 4 hours (with a maximum of 2 chests stacking after 8 hours). Every 24 hours, a Crown Chest is made available for scoring 10 field points. Clan mates can donate cards to you every 8 hours. Winning a match increments your trophies and awards you a treasure chest, but it can take anywhere from 3 to 24 hours to open, depending on the type of chest awarded. There are slots for only 4 treasure chests, and you’ll lose out on additional treasure chest awards on subsequent match victories if your slots are full.  So you wait 3 to 24 hours to open a slot before playing another match. But you’ll login anyway, just to snatch the bonus treasure chests every 4 hours and cards donated by clan mates every 8 hours. What? Did I just login to a game not to play it?

Of course, you can gem everything to speed things along. And gems are expensive. Like, really expensive. I purchased a few dollars of gems to write this blog post. I wanted to know how much a boost purchasing a “magical chest” would provide. Categorically:  insignificantly minuscule. Spending $5 is utterly insignificant to gameplay. I wasted money that could have purchased a few meals to support disaster relief areas around the world. A gamer would have to purchase a lot of gems to reap in-game benefits. Let me explain what a lot means.

Your level is basically determined by how long you’ve been playing and how often you login to get the free-to-play daily bonuses and clan donations. I’ve mostly captured all of the bonus chests, daily crown chests, and kept my slots full since game release date. I’ve been able to reach Level 8. There’s simply no way to change this trajectory, except gems. In other words, I’ve been capturing all of the free-to-play upgrades and chests since game release date. Anyone who has more upgrades has gemmed it. It’s doesn’t seem possible to reach higher levels since game launch without gemming: the game’s time-gating controls your upgrade speed. Reaching Level 10 at this point in the game requires approximately $1000, and a Level 12 deck requires approximately $12,000. Levels get progressively harder, so the difference is huge between 10 and 12! The forums discuss $100 as “spending a small amount of money”. To put this in perspective, it requires $25,000 of gems to obtain maximum epic cards in the game. This is equivalent to 30+ years of collecting free-to-play items. A lot of the top players have at least some maximum epic cards. The free-to-play gamer will never be able to compete at these levels. And the game periodically introduces new and exciting cards, which means they will need upgrading, too. This is very different from Clash of Clans, where free-to-play gamers regularly compete at the Town Hall 10 and 11 levels.

So I’m a small fish (free-to-play Level 8) in a big ocean with no hope of advancing to significantly higher playing levels. I routinely get pounded by guys with high-level wizards, or some other absurdly high-level troops, obviously gemmed. I can’t compete with that, and for good reason: that’s how the game is designed. It has an addictive playing style that is impossible to progress without spending money.

The matchmaking system puts you down a dangerous psychological road, appealing to the proper neural pathways to make you insane. The game learns your strategy and deliberately arranges matchmaking with opponents that can effectively counter you. It’s terribly infuriating. You win a few times. As the system learns your strategy, it progressively matches you against opponents that can defeat you. Before you know it, you’ve dropped 400 trophies and into the next lower league. Your treasure chest slots are full of low-level league awards, and you’ve blown your chances of winning higher-level cards until you empty out the slots (taking between 3 and 24 hours per slot). But you keep playing to get back into the higher league. The game fights back with progressively more impossible opponent matchups.  The opponents aren’t necessarily better than you. They just have the infuriatingly exact combination of troops to counter yours. And they all laugh at you as you mercilessly lose.

The matchmaking algorithm is so obvious, I can tell within the first few cards the opponent plays how the match will conclude. Oh, he’s playing the exact cards that counter my deck. There needs to be a “forfeit” button, because the next 2m 50s is a waste of time. The match result is a foregone conclusion to the matchmaking algorithm, yet I continue to vainly defend against impossible odds, thinking somehow my superior strategic troop placements will somehow reverse the tide. My opponent keeps invoking the laughing face, occasionally showing the crying face, presumably because he’s laughing so hard at my vain efforts it bring him to tears. I hate those 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

The pay-to-win force is strong. The adaptive matchmaking ultimately pits your troop selection against one deliberately selected to defeat yours. After you get stomped a few times, you start looking to either acquire one of the winning cards (using gems), or to strengthen your own (using gems).

That’s right: the game psychology is structured for you to give them money for you to lose less painfully (by the way, this is a great link).

More psychology: if you accumulate 10 points on the playing field, you are entitled to a daily “Crown Chest”. Note that you can score points on the playing field but still lose the match. It’s entirely possible to score enough field points to earn a Crown Chest while losing every match. I’ve done it. The game makes you feel better by earning a Crown Chest while ruthlessly stabbing you in the back with its adaptive matchmaking system. This has an enormously powerful psychological effect. You’ve just lost 400 trophies, put into a lower trophy league, tired and frustrated, opponents keep invoking the laughing face, lost your last match, but you scored the one last field point to open the daily Crown Chest! You are rewarded and frustrated simultaneously. You finally got that damned chest open, but it’s loaded with lower-league level cards. You tell yourself that when you play tomorrow, get back up into the league where you belong.

Clash Royale is synchronous gameplay. You never know your true win/loss ratio, but statistics require it to be around 50%. If you win 51%, you will increment trophy leagues. If you win 49%, you will decrement. The game is built around the frustration of losing and purchasing gems to compensate. Eventually, you’ll reach a league with similar players to you, and your win/loss ratio will stabilize at 50% again until you spend more money. Because of the game’s adaptive matchmaking, you’ll go on disastrous losing streaks followed by long climbs back uphill. Round trip: loads of frustration and resentment on the long climb  uphill. When you get back to where you started, the round trip ultimately averages a 50% win/loss ratio. You didn’t actually win at anything, but you got a lot of free bonus chests and a crown chest, so you feel like you won something.

I suspect that using a randomly selected deck each game and simply dropping troops on the playing field as they become available would eventually stabilize with >50% win ratio. Your ability to win would be based purely on the strength of your troops and the inability for the game to adapt matchmaking opponents to your randomized strategy. You would hover in a trophy league corresponding to your troop levels until the accumulation of daily bonuses and treasure chests gradually grant upgrades, resulting in advancement to a higher trophy league. I can envision a bot that sits there all day, opening daily treasure chests and randomly dropping troops. I return in a few months, a Level 9, a deck loaded with cards, and in a higher trophy league.

In these terms, Clash Royale is a terrible game. If you play it, I suspect you agree.

December 2015 Update: Fallout!

The December 2015 update was so bad, several global news organizations took up the story. Clash of Clans plummeted on iTunes from 5 stars to 3 stars, falling to no.82. Even the local Finnish news agencies panned their hometown game developers for disastrous gameplay changes: (Finland)

Yibada (Global Chinese)

Supercell’s response has been equally as bad. So many threads have been censored or removed on the Supercell forum that users have moved to Reddit to speak freely. Supercell’s censorship, silence, and lack of response results in losing the public’s trust, including their hometown newspaper.

Thankfully, Supercell responded today with some tweaks and bug fixes. These tweaks do not fix the underlying gameplay problems of the update, they are merely band-aids. Increasing the PBT from 3 to 4 hours isn’t exactly a gameplay fix.

So here they are. What’s up with nerfing skeletons? Hasn’t Supercell screwed up enough?

Bug Fixes (Dec 17)

  • Fixed a bug in the Personal Break system that could force players into Personal Break even after being offline for a while
  • Fixed a bug that could allow exceeding the limit of donated Clan Spells
  • Grand Warden ground/air mode is now always correctly saved

Gameplay Tweaks (Dec 17)

  • Personal Break online-time limit has been increased from 3 to 4 hours
  • Personal Break limit now fully resets when being 15 minutes offline without Shield or Guard (was 30 minutes)
  • Personal Break limit extensions increased to 30 minutes (was 15 minutes) after taking a defense without shield or getting kicked out without being attacked
  • Free Guard when Shield expires has been increased for all Leagues:
    • Titan I / Legend: 4 hours Guard (was 3 hours)
    • Titan II: 3 hours Guard (was 2 hours)
    • Titan III: 2 hours Guard (was 1 hour)
    • Champion (all levels): 1 hour Guard (was 30 minutes)
    • Below Champion: 30 minutes Guard (was 15 minutes)
  • Clan War matchmaking parameters have been updated for Town Hall 9 through Town Hall 11
  • Skeleton hitpoints have been slightly decreased
  • X-Mas tree is now spawning

Future Fixes (Week of Dec 20?)

  • 1-Gem Resource Boost!
  • Added Winter theme along with an option to disable snowfall in Settings
  • Added an info screen when tapping the Shield icon that shows exact Personal Break timer status
  • Added a Clan badge icon for donated Spells in the deployment bar
  • Fixed a crash when trying to tap the Town Hall while all elixir-recharged defenses are under upgrade
  • Fixed a crash when fighting Lava Hound and Pups near the edge of the map
  • Fixed a crash when trying to donate to the war map while a troop or spell production building is under upgrade
  • Fixed the request/full/timer tips not showing correctly above the Clan Castle in certain situations
  • Fixed player profile bug where Level 1 Grand Warden could be incorrectly shown as unlocked
  • Various UI cleanup and fixes

December 2015 Update: Get Ready!

How to Prepare for December 2015 Update

Clash of Clans always has a pickup in December and June. This is because many players have holiday time from school and work. Supercell plans their updates to encourage players to logon to check out the changes. Many idle gamers play for a couple weeks after a major upgrade, then go idle again after the holidays are over.

The December 2015 Update, combined with the holiday season, will result in a huge uptick. A lot of players will be active online. Loot will probably “dry up” in December as millions of clashers are looting and spending it on upgrades.

Redesign Your Base – Now!

  • Design a new base today or tomorrow (Dec 8 or 9).
  • Put the Town Hall inside. It now counts as an additional storage, holds 20% of your Gold and Elixir, and will hold 15% of your DE. It only gives loot if completely destroyed. Partial destruction yields no loot. Protect it.
  • Arrange trash buildings outside of walls so an attacker can score an easy 30% destruction. This is the new way to get a shield.
  • Put your mines and collectors interspersed among other trash buildings, so attackers will destroy more buildings during collector attacks.
  • Create a strong core to protect your storages and Town Hall. The outer layer of trash buildings should be weakly defended.
  • Over the next few days, spend your loot on some final upgrades. Try to have low loot when the update goes live on December 10.

What to expect

  • Expect to be raided a lot over the new week as millions of users logon over the holidays to check out the new updates. Don’t assume the new shield system is not working. Instead, assume it is a surge of new and idle players logging in over the holidays. Wait until January to make your assessment of how the new shield system is working.
  • Expect to see a lot more TH10 bases in your farming leagues (mostly in Gold). A lot of TH10 players are dropping down for the update.
  • Expect to see TH9 players upgrading to TH10.
  • Look for n00bs rushing to TH11. Try to attack the new Eagle defense.
  • TH11 will have increased storages, therefore, more available loot!

Some Things to Try

  • Take note of how often you are demolished (>70%) or collector raided (~30%). If you are demolished too often, consider a new base layout. You may ultimately need to add or upgrade defenses.
  • Leave some loot in your collectors. Experiment with ways to attract attackers to destroy 30% of your base without losing too much loot. The new shield strategy might require you to trade some collector loot for 30% destruction. This is the new way to get a shield. Get it?
  • Practice collector raids. Experiment with scoring percent base destruction against opponents. Can you loot bases with less than 30% destruction? Learn which base layouts can be looted without triggering a shield (>29%). Don’t make your base like that.
  • Practice looting with Goblins, especially since Goblins now target the Town Hall. This might also affect your war tactics.