[Game]All-Star Troopers

All-Star Troopers is the first true childrens’ clash-like. The creators have a nice article explaining how it started as something completely different, which makes it even more impressive. All-Star Troopers looks exactly as if someone decided to make a simplified Royal Revolt, with some Clash Royale thrown in.

First off, everyone advances at about the same rate. There’s a limit of 3 loot chests a day, which is where you get most of your progress. You need to win them in battles, but you can keep trying. Eventually you get 3 anyone anyone can win. You don’t get much else past that, and don’t lose much if you have terrible defenses and get beat a lot. Anyone can make the same steady progress in this game. Which is nice for kids.

Bases are pre-made paths to the HQ with pre-set waves of defenders, and 1 big wall midway. In an older game, Royal Revolt, you can create the path and set each wave of defenders from a dozen troop types. In this game — you can move the wall. You also get to place guns and cannons and traps, but it’s simplified. There’s no need to actually build cannons. You always have all you need and can change defenses at any time, using a point system. Upgrades are on a whole class of items at a time, such as “upgrade cannons to level 2”. It’s quick and worry-free.

As with Royal Revolt, you control your leader while supporting troops run in to help. In RR you pre-select which troops you want, and call them in as needed. In this game it’s simply timed generic waves of good guys.

The result is less busywork, and almost no need to plan. Which is fine. The action part is fun enough, vaguely. Your hero is fully controllable and the waves of attacking and defending enemies make it interesting. Even though you use 1 hero at a time, you can instantly switch back-and-forth between 3, giving you 3 special attacks to choose from. There aren’t even that many different heroes to collect.

One feature that really sticks out — whenever you level up enough, you’re moved to a new area. The path is a little longer, the various obstacles move around, and obviously, your guns are gone and need to be placed again. This is their way of giving you longer and longer paths, without you needing you to do any work making them. Defenses are easy enough to place, and don’t really matter, so having to redo them occasionally isn’t a problem.

Finally there’s the theme. Your base is a spaceship floating over the planet (with your defense base on the planet. We’re never told why). The attack/defense minions are bipedal pigs, while the heroes are various human/animal mixes. Kids like that stuff, right?

Flying healers are the best

In Clash-likes it’s fun to have units which do unique things, and healer troops fit right in. But it seems strange how the original, Clash of Clans, has such odd rules for them. In Clash healers are large, flying and only heal ground troops. It turns out that’s great. The thing other games do with healers — having them walk behind your army like priests — that’s no good at all.

There are plenty of games where you have a lot of other things to do besides the tactics of a battle, and your army is just your army. Maybe yours has slightly more cheap infantry and fewer horses, but it’s not all that exciting. But in a clash-like all we have is our army and 1-time attacks. If we have a boring army we have a boring game. We need different armies with all sort of different troops to keep things fresh.

Clash of Clans’ big, flying healers aren’t boring. You can’t park them safely behind the rest of your flying army, since they can’t heal flying troops. But in a ground army your flying healers are the only target for those deadly air defenses. Hmmm… . And since they’re so expensive, using even 1 is a commitment. Healer have their uses — at first in an army with giants. They can be in winning armies. But there are plenty of other good armies where you really wouldn’t want them. They’re an interesting troop that makes you think.

A walking priest-style healer is the opposite which makes them boring. Any army is better with a few walking healers safely in the back. It’s an easy decision and doesn’t take any strategy. Sure when you unlock healers it’s exciting. Your army is going to be so much better with them, and when you try it, it really is. But then healers are just an automatic part of any army. Then don’t add any extra fun to designing an army or to attacking with one.

Some games manage to use this otherwise-boring style of healer well. In the Star Wars clash-like you mostly lose because of time running out. You’ve got lots of slow, tough tank-like units that hardly need a healer. Replacing a few troops with healers makes the time problem even worse. Healers are back to being a special case unit, useful in some clever armies. They make the game more interesting.

Empires&Allies uses healers to solve an old problem, which is how the starting infantry unit always becomes useless later in the game. E&A cleverly solves that by having a mid-game upgrade add a medic to each infantry unit (it will heal anything nearby, not just the infantry it’s with). Now infantry is useful again, and their healer is just great in some armies. But since the medic is attached to the infantry, which likes to get fairly close to the enemy, it’s terrible in other armies. You really have to think.

But all-in-all too many clash-likes don’t get it. Even Rival Kingdoms, innovative in so many other ways, has a healer so useful that it ruins the game. There’s only one viable army.

My favorite thing about Clash of Clans healers is how the flavor text ties it together. It seems impossible to explain why healers are big, flying, and can’t target the ground. But … Angels! As we all know, angels are impressively large, can fly, and it seems likely they can heal. And in Clash flyers are evil — imps and dragons and skeletons in balloons. Angels wouldn’t heal evil things like that. Never underestimate the value of a hand-wavy plausible explanation.

[Game]Plunder Pirates

“Plunder Pirates” is a terrific example of an overstuffed Clash-like which beautifully hides staid gameplay. I saw it just after minimalist “Mini Castle” and they make a great contrast. Plunder Pirates adds side-missions, lots of Leaders, 2 unique bonus resources; and good lord did their art department do a great job. Only a crybaby like me would want it also to be fun.

The clash-like part starts as unimproved old-school: no reserve army or training queue means you need to wait 6+ minutes between attacks; traps still need to be hand-reset; and the best attack is the old gold raid which “loses” on purpose. Even worse, your leader does most of the work. But they add 2 fun defenses. The Bunker is a long-range machine-gun which only shoots in a 60-degree arc. It’s fun to try to place well. The Pirate Ship is similar, firing very long range but only straight out from the sides. This game also adds troop specials, for example, a 1-use button to make all pistol pirates shoot 50% faster for 6 seconds. But all-in-all, attack and defense is blah.

Besides requiring Gold or “Grog” (stored in big beer barrels, so cute), upgrades require 2 new things: Battle or Resource points. That sounds promising, but you get them through a busy-work quest system. Each of the 8 quests uses some or all of your 4 quest minions for 3-30 minutes. It’s fun to try and keep your little guys always working, but quickly becomes a 2-hour chore.

The other quest system is the exploration map, which is also tap-and-wait. It takes 5-10 minutes to sail 1 square, and about 1/2-hour to fight a sea monster or enemy fort. The random rewards for exploring include … upgrade materials for your already too strong leaders. Aaarg! It turns out the real point of this very slow mini-game is to frustrate you into paying cash when you realize just how many upgrades you need and how slow you’ll get them here. Oh, and the people sailing the ship? It’s the army you were planning to attack with in the regular game. Bye. Wait 10 more minutes to train new ones.

Other than that, Plunder Pirates is magnificent. You can spin the base view to examine the 3D buildings. There’s an auto-tour button that walks around your town, watching your quest-doers act busy. Your first leader has a unique and fun zip-line animation. Attackers come with cute little boats, paddling to the beach. Your base may have a few islands, no problem — attackers have a swim animation. You can actually see them swimming. Dead buildings shake and collapse, with a cloud of smoke and a cheer.

There’s more. It can rain. Each exploration map map monster is 3D with a unique attack animation (the shark shakes you in its mouth). The simple quest descriptions are funny and are on lovely scrolls. The buildings look great, the water on your base map makes you want to take up scuba diving. The obstacles (which take longer to clear than normal) are brightly colored ocean detritus.

The menu art style is almost too stylish to be in a game. The theme is “things made of paper cut-outs” (note to self: how have I not seen the movie “Isle of Dogs”?) Troop upgrade trees visually look great and have fun bonuses: extra health, +1 range, gain a special ability (yes, Clash’s “Builder bases” did this first, but it’s nice this game noticed and copied).

I feel like the people who were supposed to tune the troops, and who beefed-up the leaders to monetize — I feel like they really failed the great art department here.

[Game]Mini Kingdoms

“Mini Kingdoms” at first looks like a typical rushed halfway Clash clone, but once you get past the art, it’s a nicely done, original, tight Clash-like.

At first you get warriors and archers, then giants. Yawn. The only resource is gold. There’s no theme and sloppy art. But then you notice how it actually plays. Attacks use tokens – no training. You place 3 squads, which can be changed at the start of the attack. Time stops while you’re placing one, and arrows show what they’ll attack, and the next two buildings after that. That’s pretty nice. There’s a toggle for x2 or x4 speed on the battles, which is good since there’s nothing to do once you place your squads.

The wizard troop is pretty neat. It does less damage than archers, but hits an extra building touching the first (a simple but pretty 2-part electric beam). Overall it’s better than an archer. But if the nearest target is killed first, it won’t necessarily keep on the second, and players have learned the anti-wizard tactic of having buildings not always touch. In practice you look at the base and decide: archers or wizards?

Defense-wise, you get some guns, but the third defense is great – a short-range giant-killer that you really need to plan for. It fires a huge shot every 5 seconds. If you let your giants get close, they will die. But archers can kill it with only a few losses since it fires so slowly.

The bombs look like garbage – triggering them produces a red circle for a second, then troops take damage. But they work great: you can see them, there aren’t many, and they trigger at 6 spaces and affect 7. It will reliably damage most of an archer squad. You’ve got to think about who will be where when they’re set off. The chicken-trap is anti-giant. The tool tip is wrong – it turns one unit into a chicken. It’s kind of funny since the chicken keeps attacking and runs pretty quickly. Sometimes it can stay alive for quite a while (but it always eventually runs ahead and is killed in one shot).

All-in-all, you have to look over the enemy base, check locations of everything and carefully place your three squads. The game gives you time for this. And you have to work for gold in this game. Build times are fast and gold costs go up fast. You get 3 attacks in an hour and opponents give predictable fair amounts of gold, mostly for winning. I think my longest Next-ing streak for a good base is 3.

Higher level troops are a flying archer and flying giant. Yawn, except the terrible art style is hilarious: one’s an archer riding a huge bat, the other’s an armoured guy riding an armoured bat. Then it gets very strange. There’s a ground fire-mage that spawns air troops when it attacks. And an air troop that does the opposite. Some of the high level defenses seem extra whacky, but I haven’t seen them in use.

It’s an interesting no-frills Clash-like. Quick to play, not too much to do, but all good stuff.

[Game]Monster Castle

The only thing you need to know about Monster Castle is that your base is a cutaway side-view of a multi-floor castle. Attackers come in through the only door, walk across the ground floor smashing things, make their way to the stairs and repeat. You get a decent troop selection, hero special abilities, and spells. Maybe that makes up for only having one entrance and a single path. And the animation of the front door getting kicked in is just darling.

Defenses are a little interesting. You can slide around the ladder on each floor. Monsters seem to clear one floor before going up, so you can try to make them walk across and back, hitting every trap twice. The short-range bolt gun is best placed on the floor above a tough obstacle, a little in front. The mortar should be placed even higher (it’s funny to watch it arc up though floors, back down, then finally decide the target floor is solid enough to cause it to explode). As you level, three customization options unlock for every defense. The bombs have an option to be wider, or stun, or knock victims down through the floor. The “barricade” (just a strong 1-space obstacle) can turn to tougher steel, reflect some damage, or explode on death. There are cute pictures for each.

The dragon trap is a fun gold sink. It’s basically a bomb — your dragon flies across that floor, breathing flames. Off-the-clock, your dragon lives in a cool cavern below your castle, asking you to plow extra gold to level it. If you have extra “wine”, you can use it to water your magic beanstalk (which levels up the quests it gives).

The troops are the usual – close-range orc warrior, gnoll archer, bearman tough-guy, healer, 2 floaters (they go through floors, which I assume means they get quickly slaughtered). 9 troops total, plus 5 spells. And every troop also has 3 customization options. The bears can get extra HP, reflect some damage, or a chance to resist the spring-away trap. That seems like plenty to play with.

As you upgrade your Throne (your HQ), the floors get wider and you sometimes get a new one. This is also a problem, since attackers can also be dropped in vacant spaces. Plenty of abandoned bases have an empty top floor with a straight route to the Throne Room.

The game suffers from the usual hero inflation. You’ll eventually be slaughtered at the front door of a castle by a bought epic hero, upgraded using tokens from bought chests. It’s difficult to know how fair it is. In some games the $3 hero is practically required, and the $50 hero isn’t that much better. But the dangerous heroes here seem to have lots of paid upgrades.

The theme is monsters uniting against humans, the main baddy is an over-proud big-jawed Duke, who constantly mocks you in cut scenes. It’s cute and cartoony. As you admire that, have another look at the loading screen — it’s lovely 2-1/2D with depth planes that shift as you tilt your device. Lemix game studio did a nice job. But the publisher is TenCent – a huge Chinese internet conglomerate. I’ve seen them in the news, but this is the first of their games I’ve played.

[Game]Craft Warriors

On first look, “Craft Warriors” looks like another minecraft-themed barely-a-game. But once you puzzle it out, it’s a good, very original clash-like.

The main thing that stands out is attacking with only 6 units. The cool part is that left-over points can buy replacements, for when the first copy dies. Some people like to buy 1 extra copy of each, using the army in 2 waves. Or buy all expensive units and when they’re dead, they’re dead. I used to use 2 back-up archers, since so many accidents happen.

Even cooler, spells use the same system, out of the same pool. If you want 2 fireball spells, that uses 1 troop slot plus the point cost, coming out of your troop budget.

The units are nicely done – unique and none clearly better that any other. The second ranged troop out-damages archers, but can’t shoot things on top of towers (explained later). The Bandit is a tank/warrior hybrid with a small area attack (like CoC’s Valkyrie). The Paladin is tougher than your first tank, but more expensive, does less damage and slower. The ninja is mostly good against other troops, and climbs walls. There are 18 unit types, total. People seem to use them all about equally. My favorite is the spearman. If it has a straight line it charges for extra damage. Placed well, it can destroy one building after another. But anything blocking the path, or not enough distance, prevents a charge.

Defenses have a few clever bits. For the buildings full of defensive troops there’s no nonsense with clan donations or training. You set the troops for it, and you’re done. The AI is also pretty good at having them not rush to their deaths, and running them back to cover. There’s a trap that tosses attackers a few spaces away. The secret is throwing invaders into your base where they can be quickly killed (Clash of Clans “builder” bases did it first, but great artists steal). Another “trap” involves a pop-up wall. It works because the apparent gap lures troops in, then they’re stuck where you wanted them when the wall snaps into place.

Several defenses are line-of-site. If you put them next to something taller, they can’t shoot in that direction. Luckily, we have weapon towers. They’re just tall flat-topped blocks, but you can place a weapon on top. A few ranged troops can shoot directly at the weapon, but most need to beat the tower up first (the weapon drops to the ground, takes some damage, and keeps firing. It’s so cute).

Other nice features include automatic free trap resets, and no troop training times — you use attack tokens. Attacking doesn’t break shields. Building unlocks are based on your overall level, gotten from upgrading anything. The game even allows you to watch replays when the computer has someone attack a copy of your base (which happens a lot).

It’s called Craft Warriors because players can build the troops, lego-style, from lots of tiny blocks (yes, they’re 3D). There’s even a shop to buy other people’s models. As you’d guess, trademark violations are the most popular: DeadPool, Batman, DragonBall Z. Plus, of course, Nazis. The game has a dozen different races, but all they are is different character models. You can re-edit them with little tweaks, if you want. The weapons always stay the same, and are large, so you can figure out what the weirder designs really are.

[Game]PlanetStorm : Fallen Horizon

“PlanetStorm: Fallen Horizon” is mostly a 1/2-done version of Boom Beach, but it has some very nice parts.

It has two unique races. The troops are different, and they’re fine. But the defenses are really cool. The humans have a flamer — units take damage for a few seconds after being hit. The space-elves (more on that later) version is an electro-tower. Hits jump to several further targets, shredding archers hiding behind a tough-guy. The humans longest range weapon is an area-effect shotgun, while the space elves is a continuous-damage single-target beam weapon. The humans second cannon is pretty cool – every few seconds it picks one target and, over a second, fires 4 red blasts at it. The trickiest part is remembering how the other side’s weapons work.

The resources are carbon, iridium and uranium, mined from your asteroid (you base is a small asteroid). Wikipedia says carbon and iridium are what actual asteroid miners would probably dig for. This game is educational.

The intro is really something. First your derelict spaceship’s AI snidely rebukes you for fighting every scavenger you meet, sustaining all this damage. Your only hope is crash-landing on an abandoned mining asteroid (where the remains of your space ship become your HQ). A gruff drill sergeant yells at you for trespassing, then offers you some advanced units for an attack. You play through the battle. Next, a woman in low-cut space-elf armour does the same thing. After that battle your ship’s AI relays an overheard conversation about you being the chosen savior of the galaxy. Then you choose your race. Humans have “overwhelming power” and space elves have “high-tech”. Huh.

Next are some duds. You get 1 leader. There’s no explanation, no building, no way to upgrade it or even see stats. It just shows up for battles. This game also half-way uses the people/mech upgrade building idea. You get an overall upgrade building, then one for only machine troops, and a third for only human troops. The better scheme loses the first building — heavy tanks are completely serviced in the heavy tank building, and so on. There are also frequent guild events where only the top-scoring guilds get anything. I’m not a fan of those (even though my guild full of randoms came in 8th).

The most impressive things about PlanetStorm are the battle maps. The game studio, Aykiro, lists employees under two categories, Game Developers and Artists. Now I see why. One battle map is a raised rocky ring surrounded by talon-like rocks, a round pit-like moat then the blackness of space, with scorpions crawling in the pit. Another is an asteroid top in a beautiful panoramic view of an asteroid field, with meteors streaking by, exploding when they hit something. Another is a grassy island in a river with waterfalls – 2 baby dinos wander along a ledge and check you out; while a rare spiderpion walks out of a cave and back. The ice-floes area has a fat lizard man walking behind the ice piles, while angry yeti wander the snowy edges, roaring. My home base has a giant prowling sandwurm and a migrating dust tornado.

Even the main map has a Barbarella feel with churning brightly colored dust clouds and parallax as you slide the screen. It’s by far the most work I’ve ever seen on the environment in a game like this.

[Game]Interplanet

Interplanet starts off as a clever outer-space clash-like. Then it swerves when you realize your army is just a bunch of heroes, slowly leveling up. Then it goes nuts and turns into a persistent guild vs. guild conquer-the-galaxy.

The bases are very creative. Every building needs to connect through tubes, eventually to your HQ. Buildings come in different sizes, and 60-degree 3-way connectors exist, so things aren’t on a grid. There’s a real art to putting things where you want, connected. There are 2 races. The non-human one uses 5-way connectors — their bases are very geodesic-looking.

As a space game, everything attacks from longish range but it’s balanced nicely. Your “tough” spaceships still fly in front of your offensive ones, and about the usual number of defensive guns come into range as you advance. For spells, every ship has a 1-use special. Tough guys get a 6-second shield, archer’s get a mega-shot, the missile-ship launches a wide arc of doom. Traps are wonderful. You have 2 or 3 space mines, and that’s it, but the explosions are huge and deadly. Luckily the mine-sweeper special skill disarms mines in a large radius (as all skills, it has 1 use).

The army limit is funny. At first you have the basic point limit, allowing more and more ships. But there’s a hard limit of 15. I’m not sure what harm an army of 25 small ships would cause. But once you hit 15, all you can do is replace your cheap ships with more expensive ones. Now we’re in the problem area. The newer ships you get are simply better visions of tough-guys and archers. There’s not a lot of variety.

And we’re finally at the real problem. It’s a hero game. Your ships don’t die, and need to be leveled-up and upgraded from C to B to A to be useful. It takes lots of time and space-gold to get a useful ship. You’re locked into using your 15 good ships in every attack (I tried easy raids with 15 cheap-o ships. Died too fast without getting much loot).

The game is old-school about how often you can attack. Damaged ships need time to repair. At mid-level destroyed ships take 12 minutes, and at least one ship is always destroyed. It’s a 12-minute wait between battles. It also costs money, lots of money. A fully destroyed fleet will bankrupt you.

The game has some minor silliness. The buildings, even the guns, look alike – lots of shiny grey. I think they realized this too late, so now defensive buildings have crisp icons over them during attacks. Weapons also have a paper/rock/scissors mechanic against types of armour. You can’t do much with it though. It’s best ignored. The gold-targeting “goblin” spaceship doesn’t even have the weapon type that hurts gold vaults more.

There’s a really cool feature allowing you to fly your base next to a planet. Normally you’re in black, empty space. If you build and upgrade the planet-finding building and do a day-long planetary survey, you can move your base. All you have to do is beat the computer-controlled base guarding it. Once there you get bonuses to production for a few days. You see the bonuses in advance, so you get into a cycle of researching a few candidate planets before you have to move again. The art is beautiful “majesty of space” 2.5D style. Finding a planet is worth it for that alone.

Eventually, you unlock Conquest Mode. It’s a different game. There’s one big map where every guild fights over the best planets. You bring in your spaceships but they’re completely different: the stats are different, attacking a planet takes hours of travel, and battles are text reports. It’s another version of Game of War:Fire Age. As usual, the strongest guilds camp out on the best planets, getting the best spaceship equipment, pilots, and so on. You need to keep on with the clash-like part since ships come from there. So now you’re playing 2 different games at once. I don’t see the point. How many people want to mix a 3-minute casual action game with an ultra-competitive action-less one?

I should have known there was a problem early on. The game showers you with free gold. That’s always a bad sign. After a full month I had upgrades I couldn’t possibly steal enough gold for, except for the saved-up free gold packs in my mailbox. When a game isn’t interested in having you just play it that’s a sign they know it’s not fun.

[Game]Cloud Raiders

“Cloud Raiders : Sky Conquest” isn’t the most fun game — the troops are the same as CoC. But they added interesting stuff, good and bad.

Their base-defense mini-game has 4 stages, with a break in-between. You’ve got 3 special defensive spells and are allowed to deploy your army. After an attack you’ll probably need time to retrain killed troops. The second is the same, but the third wave includes a unique pirate boss (a pauses mid-attack announces its arrival). The fourth stage is a counter-attack — you attack their pirate base using your normal army. That’s a fun little story. But you’ve got 24 hours to complete them all or you get nothing. It can be too much of a commitment.

There’s another defense mode they call a “Titan Invasion” — a single huge monster attacks. When you finally beat it, you go to a screen showing you’ve passed 1 out of 5 stages. You can pay real money to collect your winnings now, or keep going (which realistically will be next week, since it’s tougher). That rubs me the wrong way. I understand that games need to monetize, and there’s nothing wrong with unlocking a new way to spend cash. But they should be more clear about it.

I really like their new reserve idea. Every so often the game gives you random troops for free, set aside in a “reserve”. They last for a few days, then vanish. Sometimes they’re troops you normally wouldn’t use, but they’re free and you can’t save them for later.

All games try to push you into joining a clan. The idea is you’ll make friends and play the game longer. Some force you to join, but most try to impress you with the benefits. Cloud raiders idea was giving you 25 wall sections and 3 traps for joining. I’m not sure that really works, since it won’t encourage you to stay there. But it sure is creative.

The aesthetics are great. Instead of evenly spaced fake-random junk to clear, it comes in realistic clumps — some grass around bushes or trees. There’s lots of whispy fog drifting over — you’re an island floating over the ocean, in the clouds. The elixir is even named “clouds” with collectors pulling it out of the air. When you change island skins there’s a lovely animation showing floating pirate ships lifting buildings and dashing to your new home. It’s really impressive.

The walls use hand-made pictures. A stand-alone wall section is a big post. Line them up and the posts are replaced by a log-fence picture. There are hand-drawn T-sections and 4-ways. The ends parts of long wall sections slope down into the ground. Two touching wall sections, along, makes a low berm. Just beautiful. 30-year-old ACSII maze-games used that trick: “the picture is based on what other walls you touch”. It’s nice to see someone remembered it.

Something I really didn’t like: the game starts out showing you how the Beacon spell works — the thing where you can make all troops walk to a spot, usually to regroup them to another side of the base. But it’s a consumable. After you cast it once, it’s gone. You can’t use it in any more battles until you somehow get more. The only way seems to be with gems. The other annoyance is a beautiful tentacle rising from the ocean, shaking gold out of a chest. Tapping it brings up the daily gem deal. After choosing NO there’s a second window with Cancel/Skip. It turns out that Cancel cancels skipping, which returns you to the previous Yes/No screen. When you tap it by accident, the proper sequence is “No, Skip”.

This is advertised as cross-platform: Android, iOS, Windows and FaceBook. It’s from 2014. Was cross-platform a new thing in 2014? Were Windows games still big then? The studio, Game Insight, is based in Lithuania. Was Windows big then in Europe?

Army Tanks Aren’t

People love army tanks. They’re tough, fast, and do high damage at a long range. If your clash-like is modern or futuristic it’s gotta have tanks. But a clash-like can’t have realistic army tanks. The amazing thing is we can make something that’s nothing like a tank, call it a tank, and players will agree it’s a tank.

The problem is that in a point system, everyone instinctively thinks of units pound-for-pound effectiveness. A tank doing the damage of 10 men but costing 20 is a low damage unit. That’s not just math. Your last army had those 20 soldiers and you can clearly see the tank is killing at 1/2 the rate.

You can make a deadly, tough unit — costs 6 but has the damage of toughness of 10. All you need to do is give it some horrible drawback. But tanks only have advantages. Their high speed is nice, and long-range is a huge advantage. They suffer in rough terrain, but clash-likes don’t have terrain. You can’t have a unit that’s above-average in every area. It’s a super-troop that ruins the game.

To make tanks fit into a point system, we’ll need to give them drawbacks. We’ll change their speed from fast to slow. That seems crazy, but treads feel slow and everyone’s seen war movies where a tank crawls along city streets. Next we’ll give them low damage. We have to make a big cut somewhere. We preserved toughness and long-range. It turns out that’s almost enough to make them feel like tanks.

We use the rate-of-fire trick to make tanks shots feel stronger. Instead of firing for 50 damage every second, they fire for 100 damage every 2 seconds. That’s the same low damage, but when they first drive up to something and deliver that double-strength hit, it feels strong.

The net result is a group of tanks slowly rolling to within long range of a building, then slowly knocking down its health. The tanks are taking very little damage in return. Then slowly moving a bit to the next. These tanks feel like an unstoppable force. The entire effect is so … well … barely acceptable as an army tank, that it’s widely copied.