‘Clash of Clans’ Guide – How to Win Without Spending Real Money

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479190_larger-1The developers over at Supercell finally released an update that makes readjusting your Clash of Clans village way easier – especially, if you’re working with an iPhone and not an iPad. As you upgrade your Town Halls, earn more trophies and get raided, you’ll constantly find yourself restructuring your village. They’ve also thrown in a new inventory system so that you can clear your entire village layout all at once and start from scratch. Most importantly, you can lay down walls simply by dragging your finger. No more dropping walls one piece at a time. Thank the heavens.

With the quality of life boosted in Clash of Clans world, we’ve come up with a guide to help you get started and spend as little real money as possible.

Ever since my family turned Clash of Clans into a family event, it’s become something of a Game of Thrones war: House Lannister versus the North. Actually, that analogy stopped working when I realized that my sister was Cersei, my brother Jamie, my nephew Joffrey and myself Tyrion. Which made the whole Cersei vs. Jamie thing especially awkward whenever I saw my sister and my brother together. So, lets call it the Gold Cloaks vs. the North.

My sister and a few other friends are big IAP folks, who have no patience and like to fund company outings for Supercell. Myself, I proclaim the Iron Born banner, “We do not sow.” In this guide, I’m going to walk you through several ways to actively enjoy months of Clash of Clans action, IAP free.


Achievements Work in Your Favor

The first time you see someone with four builder huts in his/her village, especially when they’re still in Bronze or Silver League, you immediately know one thing: they’re gold cloaks. Beware. Jealousy can cost you. Building in Clash of Clans takes time and patience. But you don’t need to buy a bag-of-gems like a bucket-of-chicken at Popeyes to have a good time.

Achievements are your friends and you can wear them like a badge of honor through the Game Center. Just ask Lady Catelyn Stark, who’s calling your name on the top left corner of the screen (come on, you can’t tell me you don’t see the similarity, right?). Focus on earning achievements and reaping the gem rewards.

When you earn the “Sweet Victory” Achievement at 1250 trophies, you will be awarded with a hearty 250 gems. That combined with a little cleanup of trees, rocks, logs and mushrooms will help you to get your third builder hut. Along the way, you’ll get 10 to 50 gems here and there that you should conserve for the fourth hut. Also, work towards knocking out some of the easier upgrade achievements first, such as upgrading your Gold Storage, Busting down Walls with Skeletons, and unlocking the Dragon.

Thanks to the new “League All-Star” Achievement, you will also get 250 gems when you enter Crystal League. This will help you to nail that fourth builder hut the Gold Cloaks bought the minute they started playing. Don’t worry, getting to Crystal League isn’t too hard with a little help. We’ll get to that in just a bit.

Also, donate troops whenever you get the chance to unlock the “Friend in Need” achievement. You can only donate five troops, but your actually donation tally is based on Housing Spaces. So donating Giants works great. Dragons become a little more costly and time consuming to donate, but I’ll always try to have one ready. Donating troops is a lot of fun, especially since your clan can share replays now, which show off your troop support.

Cosmetic Upgrades are just that – Cosmetic

When you’re starting out in Clash, you can get a little disheartened when looking at your picket fences and rubble walls. Step inside another players’ village and you’ll see gold or crystal walls. Browse through the top players and there are all sorts of electric awesomeness going on. Here’s the thing… all those upgrades are cosmetic.

There’s a simple fact you have to understand and accept when playing Clash of Clans. There is always going to be someone stronger with just the right troop mix to break through your defenses. So, you just have to live with it. Those walls can be jumped, Raged through and flown over.

Prioritize upgrades that help you to raise capital. These include Army Camps, your Research Lab, troop and spell upgrades, resource mining and your Barracks. You don’t have to neglect your defensive upgrades, but don’t race to get the biggest and “baddest” mortar when your Army Camps can’t even house enough troops to pull off a decent raid.


Stagger Upgrades

It’s great to play Clash the first time you start it up. Upgrades take five to fifteen minutes. However, those minutes quickly turn into hours and days.

Always stagger your upgrades. Have one upgrade going that takes a short amount of time and another that takes a longer amount of time. That way, you’ll always have something to periodically upgrade. When upgrades start reaching three to four days, these staggered times become less noticeable. You’ll start to have only one upgrade a day. However, it still keeps the game more engaging to play. Also, when you hit the three-to-four day mark (or five-plus days in the case of troop upgrades), you’ll need more time to raid and raise funds to pay for those pricey upgrades.

Beware Townhall Upgrade Fever… It’s a thing

Some Gold Cloaks will go out and buy just about every upgrade imaginable before they even know how to use them. Don’t get caught with gold fever, relentlessly upgrading your Townhall. The developers at Supercell will always introduce new things to entice you. Keeping up is costly.

You can get to Crystal League with a level 7 or 8 Townhall by attacking intelligently. Don’t get caught trying to three-star a village every time. Instead, focus on targeted attacks that go after the Town Hall or fifty percent destruction of a village. If you get both, that’s great. Two stars will help you to make the steady climb to the Gold and Crystal Leagues. You can now end the battle early to save your non-deployed troops for the next battle.

Often, people will leave their Townhall on the outskirts of their village, allowing you to get a quick few trophies. You can take them down with a handful of archers. You can do these attacks multiple times within the span of an hour. It’ll cost you some negligible gold to skip around and find the right map, but it’s worth it. Just be ready for the random Hidden Tesla – Gold Cloaks think they’re so clever. Have a couple giants ready to demolish these annoying traps.


So you made it to Gold League, got your third builder hut and things are starting to get difficult. Now what?

Delevel. This means that you should sacrifice one troop to purposefully lose an attack… and thus trophies. Keep doing this until the maps become easier so that you’re paired with less powerful enemies.

Now, the word delevel has a nasty ring to it. When you think of deleveling, it almost feels as though you’re conceding defeat since it implies that you can’t fight at the current level you’re playing at. I always think of those guys on Halo who would delevel after a balancing update.

Just remember that you’re Iron Born and those kinds of rules and stigmas don’t apply to you. It’s your job to attack the weak (in a video game that is), because you “do not sow.” Now, you can pull off goblin heavy raids without paying too much elixir.

When you delevel, look for maps with players that are weaker than you. Don’t go out losing to enemies that are ridiculously powerful. Also, put your Townhall on the outskirts of your village. The goal of deleveling is to protect resources, while finding more villages to easily loot. If you delevel against “weaker” players, they are likely to check out your map… see the easy Townhall target… and just go for the quick one-star revenge victory. You’ll lose trophies, which was your goal and you’ll get a free half-day shield.


Archers are Better than Dragons… Long Live the Queue

The first time a dragon attacks your village or a defending dragon comes out of a clan castle, you may immediately think, “I need dragons to win.”

That’s not the case at all. Dragons are great, but they are also slow, take thirty minutes to make and take up twenty archers’ worth of space. There is strength in numbers. Level up your archers and camps so that you can tear through villages like they’re papier mâché. Also, by using archers you can pull off multiple attacks within an hour rather than waiting an hour for your troops to be ready again. Wait an hour to attack and somebody will probably attack you in that window of opportunity.

You should also level up your barracks so that you can better distribute the time needed to make troops. Also, leveling up Barracks allows you to train more troops. Before going into battle, you can queue up troops up for your next fight. So by the time you’re done battling, you already have more troops ready to go.

Skeletons are your Friends Against Raids… all about the Queue

I’m sure everyone’s been raided at least once when they went to sleep or just took a walk to the restroom. The Barracks are not only a means to fight, but they are also a great way to help you to defend your elixir.

Before taking a break from Clash, make sure that your Army Camps are full. Then, queue up skeletons in your Barracks. Max it out. These are costly troops that only take up two spaces. So you can queue up several skeletons, effectively diminishing your elixir. Enemies may rob you, but you’ve taken that elixir off the table so those thieves will only have access to a smaller percentage of elixir. Then you can take them out of the Barracks’ queue and see all that elixir restored.

Just remember one thing before you get back to attacking. You need to take your skeletons out of the queue. If not, you’ll finish an attack and find your camps swamped with skeletons. You may be able to sneak one or two into the Clan Castles of your crew, but you’ll make Clan enemies if they find out that it was you.

Don’t Neglect Goblins, Drills, Mines and especially Collectors

Goblins may be the weakest troop to use when you’re playing the trophy game, but they are a necessity when you need to raise funds for upgrades. Don’t forget about them, when you’re doing upgrades in your Research Labs.

The same goes for Drills, Mines and especially elixir Collectors. Although you can attack other villages to gain elixir, you’ll start hitting a roadblock once you upgrade troops. Whenever you upgrade a troop, they also cost you more elixir to make. At one point, you’ll find yourself paying upwards of 50K elixir. So, raiding for 90K elixir would only net you 40K. Always upgrade these Collectors, Drills and Mines when you have the chance. These feel like the least glamorous upgrades, but they are the most integral to your long-term survival and success. And if you haven’t done so yet, get in the habit of frequently collecting gold, elixir and dark elixir so that they go right into storage. This makes fewer resources available to be robbed.

Gold is always necessary since you can easily spend 10K gold just finding the right village to attack.

As for boosts, many players use boosts when they need more resources. I’ll only use a boost in the rare case when I’m just a thousand or so dark elixir away from an upgrade.


Use your Clan Castle Wisely

Clan Castles, especially at level 2 and up, are great to use when attacking targeted enemies – like a Barbarian King or Archer Queen.

If your team is using IAPs to get ahead, you can get some early enjoyment out of their troops without dropping a dime. On defense, ask for a Dragon or Pekka. When you’re on offense, skies the limit. There are several combinations that work well. If you’re castle is stacked with Giants, unleash them with a Rage spell. If you’ve got nine Barbarians and six Archers, go after the Barbarian King. If you’ve got a Dragon, set it loose on the periphery to get you to fifty percent destruction, while your main attack force takes out those pesky Air Defense systems.

Finally… Don’t Approach Clash of Clans like Sim City or Farmville
Enjoy attacking and raiding. Enjoy unlocking Achievements. Once you start trying to play for pretty looking villages and soldiers, you’ll find yourself dipping into your pocket to buy a treasure chest full of gems. If you have patience and simply enjoy the thrill of combat, you can make your way to Crystal League and beyond without resorting to Gold Cloak tactics.

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