Games of the Decade: Clash Royale - less a game, more of a place

Cards across.

To mark the end of the 2010s, we're celebrating 30 games that defined the last 10 years. You can find all the articles as they're published in the Games of the Decade archive, and read about our thinking about it in an editor's blog.

I love Brighton, where I live, with a passion. Which is to say that I'm always falling in and out of love with it. Sometimes it is too much. Sometimes it is just right. Sometimes I cannot face it in the morning. Sometimes I think I never want to leave.

This is where Clash Royale lives, I think. It is one of those games that is less an activity and more simply the place where I find myself. Clash Royale is the place where I live. I play it on buses, in cabs, on the sofa, in the queue at Tesco's. I play it at my desk and I play it sometimes in meetings. And always that shuffling in and out of affections with it: I love it. It's too much. It's just right. I cannot face it.

I always wanted a game like this - something where I could spend a long time learning and getting better at. Yet it seems so simple! Clash Royale is a multiplayer game in which two players - or four - meet on a board with a set of towers at each end. I try to take down your towers. You try to take down mine. At the end of three minutes, who is the winner?

You take down these towers by playing cards. Spells, buildings, troops. Spells might be a lightning bolt or a giant snowball - I think that one is a spell. Buildings might be a zappy turret or a goblin in a cage. Troops? Troops are all sorts.

There are 95 cards by this point, and you take them into battle in the form of a deck of eight. That eight is the magic number. Hearthstone's thirty cards is the reason I quit: I couldn't hold that much in my head. Eight is where things get interesting. Suddenly I can think about the basics of deck building: where's my attack and where's my defence? Suddenly I can try stupid stuff, like a deck of really cheap cards or a deck of absolute monsters. 95 cards, and I honestly think I've used them all at one point or another. And I have weekends where I'm gripped by sudden manias. Heal is a lovely card - a honeyish elixir that seems to glow. It radiates! Put it down and any troops in its range will be healed as long as they stay in its range. I spent three days recently as an absolute Heal monster. That has passed. I don't use it anymore.

I'm in a clan, which I never thought would happen, and I'm in the end-game, which I also never thought would happen. I also read about the game constantly and watch videos and read balance notes and do all that jazz. Clash Royale could just about be the only game I ever played, but of course it works so well because it's more like the mortar than the bricks. It's the game that keeps all the other games separated.

Actually forget all that brick and mortar stuff. Let's stick with my first thought. Clash Royale is the place where I live. I am always in there somewhere.

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About the author

Christian Donlan

Christian Donlan

Features Editor

Christian Donlan is a features editor for Eurogamer. He is the author of The Unmapped Mind, published as The Inward Empire in the US.

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