Clash Royale Macro Play and Decision Making Guide
I have been playing CR for quite a while now. What I noticed during that time is, that the majority of people thinks deck compositions win games. There is a ton of resources about deck building, but I feel that there are almost no resources on the significant other parts that make you a good player. To name a few: mechanics, macro and decision-making.
In this post I will provide information that cover those areas. Many of what you will read here is common sense and already well known. But especially in lower arenas I noticed that players lack in game knowledge significantly. Even up to the point where you can steamroll any deck just by knowing how to play and which decisions to make.
This post will not cover the very basics, but requires the reader to at least have a grasp on CR.
2.0 Macro Play
On a higher Level you can think about CR as a combination of chess and a trading card game. Placing random troops will inevitably lead to losing a ton of games. Instead think about every game as a party of chess. In chess you win if you plan ahead, make strategical decisions and react properly to the opponents plays. CR is exactly that. Whenever your opponent makes a play, your goal is not to drop units to the battlefield, but to think through what your enemy just did and react properly. The first thing to master this, is to become a master in managing elixir.
Elixir is the component in CR, that enables you to make plays. Whether it is countering or initiating a play. Understanding the impact of elixir is the most fundamental and important part of Clash Royale.
One of your goals in every game should be, to have an elixir advantage over the opponent. That simply means that you should always have more elixir than your opponent. There are two ways to achieve that:
- Counter your enemies cards with cards that cost less elixir
- Counter your enemies cards with any cards that forces the opponent to waste elixir afterwards.
In order to be able to this, you need to know the elixir cost of every card in the game. I’m serious. You need to learn the elixir costs by heart. The reason you want to do this is simple and leads us to the next point. You need to know the amount of elixir the opponent has in any given point of the game. This hard to master, but I promise that if you master that you will climb faster than King Kong did.
The practice lesson is pretty easy but needs consistent practice: Watch your own replays and don’t look at the enemies elixir bar at all, try to guess the enemies elixir amount after every play. Afterwards rewatch the replay and see if you were right.
If you mastered this and can do it while you play, you will always have a huge advantage over the opponent. At any given time you will know when it’s better to play rather aggressive or defensive, which plays you can make and which you can’t make, if you can take a tower or you can’t.
2.3 Reading your opponent
Another thing you probably want to do in order to get better is to know which cards the opponent has at any given time.
2.3.1 The opponents deck
During your CR-Career you probably saw players that made the same moves over and over again, whole three minutes long. With all due respect to their persistence, they lack in a significant point: They don’t know what cards the opponent has. They copied a deck from the internet and play it by that formula. Eventually they lose because you counter the same play over and over again.
The first step in order to predict the opponent is to know what deck he plays. And by that I don’t mean the type of deck, or how to counter it, but simply which cards his deck contain.
This is important, because once you know it, you can start predicting what the enemy has got at hand, what play to make, and how to counter. Same pattern as with the elixir.
So what you want to do is, to memorize every card that is played by the opponent the first time. After he played eight different cards you know his deck. It’s as simple as that. Practice this by watching replays.
2.3.2 The opponents deck at any given time
As soon you have mastered knowing your enemies deck, we take it a step further. You need to know the cards the opponent has on his hand. Of all the macro plays this is the most difficult one. Keep track of your enemies deck cycle in order to know which plays and counters you can make. You don’t want to lose your minion horde to arrows, because you hoped he doesn’t have it at hand.
To practice that, also watch your replays and try to guess which cards the opponent has on hand, after he made a play. It’s rather unprobable that after he threw his arrows, the next drawn card will be arrows again.
Now that you know your opponents resources in and out, it’s time to make use of that knowledge.
Every once in a while I see players that would start a split push for no reason. They place a hog rider on one lane and a skeleton army on the other one. Sometimes I am so confused about such plays that lead to nothing, that I wonder why people even to that to me.
You need to master the art of making the right decision at the right time.
3.1 Basic Game Plan
Since the goal of the game is to either take more towers than your opponent, or to take the king tower, your decisions should always lead to two possible things: Either defending your own tower, or going for the opponents tower.
What to do and when depends on the current game situation. But a rule of thumb is: protecting your towers is always more important than taking the opponents towers. Of course there are exceptions here, but what you don’t want to do is to waste all your elixir on one lane, while your opponent is counter pushing the other lane for example.
There are three different types of pushes and all are used for different purposes.
3.3.1 Counter Push
A Counter Push takes place, when your troops that you used to counter an enemies push survive, and you use them to slowly build towards a bigger push.
For example: You counter the opponents prince with your witch. If you played it well, your witch survives without taking damage. It seems that the elixir between you and the opponent is evend out, but this is not the case. You gained an upper hand on the opponent, because the elixir cost for your witch provided a higher value than the cost of his prince. His prince was only used for pushing, so he burned 5 elixir. Your witch was used to defend the prince which also burned 5 elixir. But now you still have a witch to build a push with.
The more you can counter your opponents pushes and keep your troops alive and on your side of the map, the more troops you have to build a huge push on this side.
Counter Pushes should be performed, when you are under constant high pressure by your opponent and cannot afford to start a push by yourself.
3.3.2 Fast Push
A fast push takes place whenever you deploy troops with the sole purpose of taking an opponents tower.
You just defended and opponents push and have a significant elixir advantage. You deploy a giant and a valkyre to back it up while having zap/arrows/fireball at hand. Since your enemy cannot react properly due to his elixir disadvantage a fast push was the right choice here. (There are exceptions, for example defensive buildings which I will cover later).
You always should fast push whenever you know your opponent has not enough resources to defend the targeted tower.
3.3.3 Split Push
A Split Push takes place, when you deploy troops on both lanes in order to pressure the enemy and make him waste elixir rendering him unable to make plays.
A prime example for that is a prince Split Push. The prince is deployed on one lane, while other troops for a push are deployed on the other one. The prince will do a shit ton of damage to a tower if not taken care of, and your other troops are pressuring the other lane which leads unevitably to the situation that the opponent has to defend both lanes, being unable to start a push due to lacking elixir.
Split pushing requires a lot of skill, otherwise you will end up having the opponent counter pushing back on you. This sort of play should only be performed with decks that are actually able to pressure both lanes with viable elixir costs.
I have seen a lot of games where a player made wrong decisions in defense that led to his defeat. Defense is fundamental and needs to be mastered.
You agree with me, if I tell you it’s a good feeling when the opponent deploys a skeleton army into your valkyre, right? Such plays make me cry and here’s how to prevent them:
Know.Your.Deck. You need to know how counter every card properly, and not only that, you need to know how to counter efficiently too. A lot of players complain how matchmaking is broken. If I take a look on those games I often notice one thing: Their deck consists of cards that cannot counter properly. If you play against an opponent who has mostly air troops, you will lose if you have not a single card that can target them. It’s as simple as that. A healthy deck should consist of cards thate are able to counter most deck compositions.
Have cards that counter air units, have cards that counter defensive buildings, have cards that counter heavy tanks and cards that counter bruisers. And use your cards. A sparky adds no value if you hold it back to build a push, while your opponent is hard pressuring you. If the enemy is coming on you with heavy tanks, let your sparky shine in defense if you need to.
Simply knowing which card counters other cards is worth a lot. Try to play only counters if possible. Panick-deploying a Mini PEKKA into a graveyard isn’t going to do much. Also weigh if it’s reasonable to take tower damage in order to make a proper counter or not.
Another thing to watch out for are defensive buildings. If the opponent countered your 3rd giant with an Infernal Tower, god forbid, please don’t place the fourth one. Take care of defensive buildings first, before starting a push, or make sure the enemy has no resources to deploy defensive buildings. A good counter to defensive buildings are Counter Pushes. You bait out the building, counter the push and slowly go for the tower.
3.4.2 Prioritizing defense over offense
The math is simple: If neither you nor your opponent is able to take towers, the game is a draw. If your opponent manages to take even one tower, you lose.
That’s why it’s better to make sure you don’t lose towers carelessly. Losing a tower means to open up for plays the enemy can make on your side, like backdoring, or hard pressuring your kings tower while he slowly goes for your seecond tower. I often see aggressive plays in the very first seconds of the game. The opponent takes my tower and does not even care, that he also loses one. Afterwards I’m backdooring a giant, and get the other tower too.
Most of the times it’s better to play reactive, than proactive. You watch the opponent and react to his plays, when he makes a mistake you become proactive and punish him for that. Losing streaks often grow out of this very fact: Players are tilting and are playing overly agressive which leads to a lot of frustration because they’re so easy to counter.
3.5 Going for the Kings Tower or for the second Tower
A cruicial problem I see on many games is that players try to take the second crown tower while they should have gone for the Kings Tower and vice versa.
If you are at a tower advantage you have three options:
- You play overly defensive to make sure the enemy cannot get one of your towers
- You play at a normal-paced style, meaning that you try to defend incoming pushes and go for the second tower
- You apply hard pressure and go for the Kings Tower
The first option has to be considered if both of your towers are at considerably high hp and there is no option that you can take another tower for whatever reason. I try to avoid this option because you are not putting the enemy under pressure, allowing him to take his time to think about how to take the tower you are just defending.
Option 2 should be considered in the most cases. If you took the opponents tower and all of your troops died without touching the Kings Tower, you should focus on the second tower. This is due to the fact, that your enemy still needs to take one of your towers, while you are now in the position to place troops on his side of the map. This enables you to defend quicker, because you can kill troops before they even reach tower range. It also enables you to put more pressure on the opponent.
The enemy is in a bad spot right now. If he does not want to lose, he needs to take one of your towers, but if you’re pressuring the second tower too, he needs to make sure not to lose that one too. This is what you should do if you’re not at a huge advantage after taking the first tower.
The third option should be considered if you have a deck that can deal high damage in a short amount of time and your troops that took the first tower also managed to get off damage to the crown tower. It’s a risky play, because you need to spend a lot of elixir if you go for a push on the King Tower. If the opponent manages to defend his Kings Tower you’re left with barely no resources allowing him to take one of your precious towers.
Mechanics revolve around outplaying the opponent by your ability to place your cards correctly, position them correctly and do it quick.
I see a lot of players that place their troops right in front of their towers if the opponent is pushing. However what should be done instead is to lure the opponents troops. That simply means that you try to extend the path a troop must take in order to do any damage to your tower. Whenever you place a troop, always have a look on the aggro range indicator. For example if a prince comes at you, play skeletons in the middle of your field, so that he has to walk up to them. In the best case both of your towers are now targeting the prince. After your skeletons are dead the prince needs to walk back to your tower and probably has not much hp left making him a complete waste of elixir.
4.2 Never touch the King Tower
Your towers play a big role in defending because of it ‘s relatively high damage to troops. If you activate the enemies King Tower early, you are in a huge disadvantage, because now you’re facing 3 towers instead of 2. I see a lot of players that are casting spells on troops, but also target the King Tower with it. Never activate the King Tower early.
Bonus: mechanically gifted players can make the opponent activate the King Tower with a Fireball or Tornado. If you see an opportunity that tricks the opponent into activating your King Tower, take it.
Predicts are preemptive plays of cards in order to counter the card the opponent is about to place. This can win you games and this is the reason why it is important to know which cards the enemy has on it’s hand.
If you are pushing with a heavy tank and you know the enemy has a minion horde and enough elixir for it, cast your arrows/fireball/zap (maybe) on your tank and it will take no damage.
4.4 Get the most out of your plays
The more use cases you can cover with a single play, the more you will be in advantage. For example: don’t only try to target troops with your fireball, but also at least one tower.