Gating is game designer slang for just-because restrictions. Originally it meant adding a “real” locked gate. Suppose low-level players didn’t read the signs and kept wandering into The Forest of Deadly Monsters. We’ll add a fence around it with a magic gate stopping beginners. We often gradually introduce features so as not to overwhelm new players. Also gating. Then we sometimes gate out a game just to be mean. My favorite gating in clash-likes is Gold Vaults.

The goal of the game is getting enough gold to upgrade your stuff. Your Town Hall is the most expensive. You’re looting your way there but … your gold hits the maximum. What? I’ve never heard of a game where you have a maximum amount of gold. Even a role-playing game that tracks weight doesn’t track the weight of coins (it turns out pen&paper Dungeons and Dragons did. Treasure was sometimes in pennies and nickels, just to be funny). Clash-likes convince you that even though you have an entire island, there’s no possible way you can store a single gold piece past 3,000 until you build more shelves.

One of your valuable builders needs to waste 6 hours upgrading your Gold Vault. Then comes next level. Shockingly, your vault is too small and needs another long, expensive upgrade. But now your problems are solved with a second Vault. Nearly unlimited storage, right? Amazingly, not. You’ll need to fully upgrade both vaults to reach the next total. At some point you get a third vault which no longer fools you. You know you’ll need to buy multi-day, even more expensive upgrades for all three. Elixir is the same. You’ll be up to 3 Elixir Barrels, for a total of 6 buildings that need upgrading each level. Just so you can hold more stuff that you already have to work hard to steal.

The really impressive thing is how the games spread out this busywork and make it almost fun. At first your old Vaults are enough for some gun upgrades. A 3 million gold mortar requires just one Vault to be upgraded. Each pointless Vault or Barrel upgrade is enough for one or two more things, until you need to finish them all to get to the next level.

The only drawback is in games where you have wood, stone, iron, and … god no … there’s something after iron! More warehouses than you can count on both hands.