- Release Date: October 24, 2013
- Publisher: Progrestar
- Developer: Progrestar
- Genre: Strategy
It’s interesting to follow the progression of games originally inspired by Backyard Monsters. If you’re not in the know, these are free-to-play, real-time strategy games where you build up a base, train an army, and then head into various campaign and multiplayer modes to take on other bases — all the while ensuring your base has the automated defenses it needs to survive any incoming attacks from other players. Years ago, Backyard Monsters strategic gameplay drew tons of players on the Facebook platform which was absolutely laden with mindless click-fests like Mafia Wars and Farmville. Since then, Clash of Clans (iOS) has been the biggest success story, raking in well over $1 million daily at its peak. Clash of Clans dominance on Apple’s Top Grossing Charts has inspired tons of clones on iOS, Android, and even back full circle to Facebook. Whereas most of Clash’s mechanics can be traced straight back to Backyard Monsters, new Facebook games in the genre are clearly borrowing straight from Clash of Clans.
So is the case with Nexters Limited’s newest title, Throne Rush. It’s available on Android (which just got Clash of Clans) and Facebook (which is still Clash-less). It has more realistic graphics that evoke a more serious tone, but otherwise it is almost identical mechanically and thematically. Like Clash of Clans, Throne Rush has a medieval fantasy setting. Its units lean further on the mythical side. Like Clash, you can train Goblins, Mages, and Dragons. Beyond that, you can also recruit the likes of Elves, Trolls, Wraiths, and Ents. Although they are apparently different units, they each have a Clash counterpart that serves roughly the same role.
A tutorial will guide you through your first few raids, constructions, and upgrades, but you’re left to your own wiles pretty quickly. Your buildings take real time to construct and upgrade, your army units take time to recruit, and your resource buildings take time to generate food and gold. Like all of its genre cousins, Throne Rush is meant to played in multiple short bursts throughout the day. This type of compulsive gaming definitely works better on mobile devices which are always with you and can send push notifications when timed tasks are completed. Then again, the success of so many hit Facebook games over the years indicates that people check Facebook often enough to make short play sessions work there too.
Throne Rush currently has a 45-stage single-player campaign as well as an active multiplayer mode. The campaign’s difficulty shoots up really quickly, so it’s something to work on slowly as your offensive might increases. Raiding bases in both the campaign and multiplayer rewards resources based on how much your opponent has to steal in the first place and how much damage you can do to their base. You can advance through the game just fine by waiting on your windmills and gold mines, but you can increase your income significantly by sending armies out on raids on a regular basis. You don’t keep units you deploy during a raid, so regular raids means constant recruiting (and so checking in on your game more often). The multiplayer is the heart of raiding. It’s why you put up defensive towers in your own base and it’s the best test of your abilities.
Once a troop is deployed, they are out of your control. Still, you maintain control over choosing which unit to deploy when and where, which is enough to add some solid strategic depth. Just like all the other games in the genre, each unit has its own traits and priorities. Some units are bulky and slow while others are fragile and fast. Some units indiscriminately target the nearest building while others target defenses or resources first. The best offensive strategies use a blend of different units to take advantage of their unique qualities. Choosing how to compose your army is just as important as learning how to use it. Experimenting is a lot of fun and it’s extremely rewarding when you come up with a new strategy that reliably works for you.
Throne Rush has an equivalent for just about everything in Clash. Instead of a Town Hall, it has a Castle. Instead of Clans, it has Brotherhoods. Instead of Trophies, it has Morale. Perhaps the one thing it takes to the next level is its Immortal Heroes. Clash of Clans has a Barbarian King and an Archer Queen which are special units that can be reused in battle — they just require hours of time to heal back to full health. Throne Rush has similar heroes that can be hired, but they are more extreme and more plentiful. They play almost the same way, but I think players will enjoy using four or five Immortal Heroes instead of just two, as long as they don’t throw off the balance of the game too severely.
The final thing to address is Throne Rush’s free-to-play structure. Gems exist to let you hire more builders, buy resources, or instantly complete timed tasks. The primary way to get more is to buy them with real money. You start off with about three dollars’ worth, which unfortunately is not even enough to buy a second builder (allowing you to construct/upgrade two buildings at a time instead of just one). Extra builders go a long way in accelerating the advancement of your base. In Clash of Clans, you can generate gems by completing achievements and by clearing debris that spawns around your base. Throne Rush hands you a few gems by completing in-game missions, but there’s not reliable source like Clash’s debris. If you can convince a Facebook Friend to play long enough to complete the fifth campaign stage, you’ll be rewarded with some free gems, but that’s going to take your buddy several hours at best to get that far.
Throne Rush is shamelessly one of the truest Clash clones I have ever played. That’s probably the best thing going for it, though, considering Clash’s massive popularity. Assuming Throne Rush can establish a player base, it will let gamers who don’t have an iOS or Android device have the Clash of Clans experience on Facebook instead. Throne Rush players will miss out on the charming graphics and light-hearted humor of Clash of Clans, but the games play almost identically. It’s definitely a solid game, but it’s very shallow in the personality department. If you’re looking for a good time-killer that will let you have a somewhat strategic experience as well, Throne Rush could be worth checking out. iOS and Android users should pass though, Clash of Clans has the advantage in both heart and player base that makes it leaps and bounds ahead, despite nearly identical gameplay.
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