Galaxy Control

Clash-like “Galaxy Control 3D Strategy” may be the best new clash-like, with the worst name. It grabs most of the good ideas from post-clash clash-likes, adds some nice ones of it’s own, and doesn’t screw it up too much. But boy does it punt on the art: your base is the galaxy’s grayest asteroid; don’t ask me to tell a level 1 cannon from a level 3 one, from a tool shed. The overall theme seems to be “generic SciFi” and that’s being generous.

Besides the art, they screwed up other easy things. In the PC port, keys 1-9 select the troop type (during a battle), and that’s it for keys. We can’t even press Enter to select the “OK” button. Then there’s the camera. The game uses real 3D, not just sprites, and the camera spins around and zooms in/out. Cool. But for no reason the maximum zoom is much too close. And it resets to all the way zoomed in whenever you come back from another screen. I’m used to it now, but it’s not good.

Now onto the good parts, starting with what it borrows. Like most newer clash-likes, your Barracks and Army Camps are moved off to the side, since we already have enough damage sponge buildings. Our few hidden land-mines work the “good” way — a smaller detection radius and a delay — giving a decent chance to catch groups. We get Boom Beach-style idols (enchantments like +3% more Ore). We also get Boom Beach style “Resource bases” to conquer (more later). Spells use a point system (but old-style, spell points are bought in advance and come back slowly). Only winning attacks get loot. Premature HQ upgrades are prevented using the old overall level requirement. Finally, you’re allowed to double your haul from an attack twice a day (and without having to watch an Ad, like the 40K clash-like makes you do). I realize these aren’t explained well, but they’re the best new ideas — each new clash-like invented like one of these.

Now onto new stuff. Other clash-likes have experimented with buildings that buff their neighbors. GC:3DS gives that to the humble, otherwise pointless Builder Shack (in this case, it’s an aura of bonus health). The AoE “wizard tower” gets a cool new ability — push-back. It can now annoy giants, or hold off barbarians while gradually whittling them down. It’s bugged and sometimes pushes attackers sideways or just sucks them in, but is super-cool the 80% of the time it works right. As usual, resource bases are occasionally stolen from you, but in this game it’s only by a ghost copy of another player; recapture it once and you’re done until next week (compared to the grueling back&forth battle in Boom Beach).

Then there are some nice tries. Upgrading storages requires you to max out the corresponding harvesters. At first that seems like that cheesy trick “X needs Y, but Y needs Z and Z …” which amounts to having to fully upgrade everything in lockstep. But harvesters are where battle loot comes from (or doesn’t, since smart-alec’s never upgrade them). So sure, make everyone max out collectors so we can steal more. We also get new “landing pad” buildings which receives deliveries from your resource bases.

Each Barracks is matched to one Army Camp. Let me explain: in every other clash-like, leveling one Barracks to Dragons allows you to grow an entire army of dragons. But here, that single dragon-making barracks can only fill its Camp. To put Dragons in the other camps you’ll need to level their Barrackses. It’s fun in practice. You rarely want more than one Camp-full of most units, like giants or wall-breakers, but for that flying army it makes you work a little harder.

Victory in Clan wars (Mon, Wed, and Fri) is determined using the point values of destroyed bases. Since lower level bases are worth fewer points, it makes lower-level clan members less important. I like it. A newish player can contribute, but no big deal if they mess-up. And it also makes it worth trying more difficult bases (since 75% of a tougher base may be worth more points than 100% of a weaker one).

Finally, every reskin needs a cutsie cosmetic addition. While anything is upgrading, little robots deliver a stream of elixer or gold (sorry — minerals or uranium) to it. Wall sections even drop to let them pass (which I could do without, since it looks like you left holes in your wall). I’m not in love with those five fresh additions, but the designers are trying, and they’re not bad.

Now onto exciting advances in monetization, because we know it has those! After an attack you’re hoping to find an idol-making crystal under a random destroyed building. That’s great. But rarely you’ll find an impressive glowing green orb. The game tells you how special this is aaand … takes you to the special cash shop. Next, and not as thrilling, our daily gifts for the month include a few of the troop production speed-up item (the thing which makes the game playable at high levels). Adding teaser like that is an old trick, but rare in clash-likes. And that leads us to the best thing: it has a true battle pass. As usual, the small free daily gift is displayed as a top track, and for $5/month you can unlock the lower, much better VIP track.

So, how does it play? For a clash-like it’s fine. A huge plus is having other players. I get attacked once every other day, and a few people do stuff in each clan war. That’s a feat in itself. But some draw-backs: you can’t train a back-up army, which means there’s a wait after every attack. I mean, yeah, you keep troops that live, but the “must win to get loot” rule ensures many casualties. There’s also no level limit for troops in the clan castle. Sometimes an easy mark has a deadly unkillable monstrosity come out of their clan castle, donated by their maxed-out buddy. On the plus side, there’s a Retreat button.