Friday, June 28, 2013

Clash of Clans

So my time that was once devoted to such things as a quest to beat Zelda (I haven’t quit yet, I was just delayed) and Minecraft on both my iPhone (I deleted my game level by accident) and Xbox has now been taken over with a new obsession: Clash of Clans. Somehow I managed to escape Farmville and Mafia Wars, but I was sucked into Clash of Clans by a co-worker. At first I thought this was going to be just a brief obsession that would quickly fizzle out. The game is pretty simplistic, but somehow something that started out as a time waster back in February has turned into a juggernaut. I’ve made it thus far without spending a single dime on this “free” game, but the temptation is growing. I mean, who doesn’t want a Barbarian King, right? And I now find myself asking just how bad do I still want Dragon’s now that my wife has gone all Daenerys Targaryen on me? Oh yeah, that’s right, even my wife is sucked in now…

It started out innocent enough back in February (queue the dissolve) when Brandon (winner of the mustache bet) came into drill and said, “You have to play this new iPhone game.” He walked me through the tutorial and I didn’t think much about it.  The game seemed okay I guess, but nothing to write home about. His level looked neat and part of me was jealous over how much stuff he had already amassed, but overall I just thought the game was kind of dumb.  In the end though, he did get Mini and I to both download it and we were off to the races. Throughout the day I continued to check in on my level, upgrading stuff as I did with the ultimate goal being to join Brandon’s clan. I was pretty sure once I joined the clan that it would be the end of the game for me, but hey it wasn’t hurting anything to play for now, right? I continued to struggle through the beginning watching the time to upgrade each new mine or defensive building grow longer and longer. Brandon mentioned you could spend money on the game to buy gems and speed things up, but why would I want to do that when I could just slowly wait for everything to build for free? Then, as drill came to a close, my shield went down for the first time and I was attacked; my village destroyed and my resources stolen. I can’t even remember anymore what I was saving up for, but I remember being pissed that I had lost so much ground overnight. It was a virtual arms race between Mini and I now to see which one of us would get to join the clan first. 

We started on the same day at the same time and I knew I wanted to be in the clan first and since Brandon hadn’t spent money on the game, I didn’t want to either. Sure it would be easier to catch up or exceed him if I dropped a couple of bucks on some gems, but why would I want to do that? He created his village without spending real money and now I needed to as well. I think this has to do with the sting of losing $50 over the mustache and I knew I couldn’t be defeated again (damn pride). Somewhere in the first week in I managed to save up the $40,000 gold to fix up my clan castle and I was able to join Brandon’s clan, The Deltas. Not the most creative name and more of an inside joke in my former shop, but I was officially in the clan (I’m in the goddamn club, aren’t I?). I think Mini joined around the same time and we were a clan of three. Meanwhile, Brandon was actively recruiting other members of our shop into the clan. I had no faith this would ever happen. We’re talking about hardened sports fanatics that own gaming systems, but only to be sure that they can play the latest versions of Madden or maybe MLB 2K13  To be fair, they also are known to break out and play Call of Duty or SOCOM  but these are anti-gamers. They don’t want to hear me wax nostalgically about Legend of Zelda, or the first time I beat Final Fantasy Adventure or what I’ve been up to in Minecraft. They eat, breathe, and sleep sports and play fantasy leagues in the same way my friends play Dungeons & Dragons but would never admit they are living out similar fantasy lives. But to my surprise, the clan continued to grow and more and more of these non-gamers were sucked into a world that should’ve been foreign to them and even stranger was the fact they were spending real money. And not just a ninety-nine cent download fee either, but actual cash to not only catch up in the game but to take the lead in it. Daily work conversations quickly changed from what was going on in the current sport being played to strategies for resource farming or how badly they were attacked and/or how much damage they managed to inflict on another player. Something was amiss; I couldn’t believe my ears and eyes as more and more of my co-workers were sucked into the game. One of the newer members of my shop dropped seventy bucks in one sitting: this was madness. But still, I couldn’t believe that this would last. Even as the clan number grew to twenty members, I couldn’t write this off as anything more than a passing phase.

And then after a particularly interesting evening at the Vermont Sports Grill where the conversation not once deviated back to sports but remained on Clash of Clans all night with each member of our party pulling out their respective iDevices in order to check on resources or share troops, I knew that something was really up. These Supercell guys are brilliant; they managed to take a simple game and rob a group of non-gamers of their hard earned money with a free game by playing off of the most basic of human emotions: jealousy and impatience. Jealous that your buddy has three builders and you only have two? Spend some cash and poof, now you have three as well. Jealous that you can’t have a level 7 town hall? Spend some cash on gems and now you can have one, too. That level 7 town hall taking too long to upgrade? Simple: spend some cash, get some gems and upgrade now, no muss, no fuss. I can say it even caught me off guard that I got my wife to play the game and even she spent money. Yes, I had to walk her through the tutorial, and I thought that would be the end of it. But no, somehow she started playing, then spent a little money and then, well, she spent a little more. Just like all the other non-gamers, she was hooked and our Draw Something game fell away as she started exclusively playing Clash of Clans, and yes as I prefaced she has Dragon’s now and I do not.

Then the deployment happened. I was sure that would be the end of the game, but it wasn’t. Thanks to the Wi-Fi provided overseas, the members of my clan that were deployed were still able to play, upgrade and suck even more people into the madness. I thought that playing it overseas would bring an end to the game; I mean how much Clash of Clans can anyone really play? I guess the answer to that is a lot because it’s still going strong and hell, while writing this I’ve donated troops at least four times and checked on my resources. I still have an eight-hour shield, but maybe as Jaclyn edits this for grammatical errors I’ll say the heck with the shield and go out and attack for resources because those Dragons aren’t going to buy themselves. That’s right, as of now I haven’t given in and spent any money yet, and boy have I been tempted now more than ever. My jealous side wants Dragons because Jaclyn has them and even more than Dragons I want the Barbarian King that Mini has. That Barbarian King looks so cool, and imagine the battles I could win with that. But thankfully Brandon never broke down and spent money and thanks to the sting of losing the bet, neither can I. So for now I have to sign off, I’ve got battles to win and another 670,000 elixir to raise because to answer my own question: just how bad do I want Dragons? Pretty darn bad!