So here’s a story that’s kind of weird: Supercell (the developer behind two monumentally successful apps, Hay Day and Clash of Clans) has joined the scores of developers that have cloned Clash of Clans. Supercell’s third game, Boom Beach, is a military game set in an uncharted archipelago… and it draws major inspiration from Clash of Clans. Despite Supercell’s short gameography, there’s precedent for the development team cloning its own successes — Clash of Clans itself is heavily informed by Digital Chocolate’s Galaxy Life. Digital Chocolate, by the way, happens to be the company that a majority of SuperCell’s founders came from. This story has a happy ending though — Boom Beach is both fun and different enough to stand on its own.
So, the in-game archipelago consists of hundreds of unique island bases. You set up your own base on one such island, while the vile Blackguard army has set up shop on just about every other island. It’s your job to build up a military force that can wipe out the Blackguard one island at a time. As you clear out enemy bases, you will free the native islanders who had been enslaved by the Blackguard. By doing so, you’ll earn their trust, and they’ll help in your effort to rid the archipelago of the Blackguard by donating gold to your cause.
You construct and upgrade various buildings to improve your cash flow and the might of your army. Resource buildings generate and store resources while defensive buildings fire on incoming enemies. You can train and upgrade your own troops then send them to raid other bases for resources and glory. Each construction, training, and upgrade takes real-time to complete, but can be skipped by paying premium currency (Diamonds). So far, so Clash of Clans, right?
Very commendably, Supercell has made significant gameplay tweaks to make Boom Beach feel like its own thing. This is most notable in combat. Before a battle, you load your landing craft with ground troops. Once in battle, your single Gunboat has a bunch of skills it can use to help your landing party’s chance of success. Gunboats can unleash several rounds of fire on enemy buildings to weaken them and then you can send your landing craft in to unload your troops on the enemy beach. Like Clash of Clans, your troops are out of your control and they’re not very smart. Your troops automatically target the nearest building, destroy it, and then look for the next closest building. Sometimes, moving to the next closest building means that your troops will walk right through a tower’s firing range or a patch of landmines. Fortunately, your Gunboat has other tricks up its sleeve, including signal smoke that you can launch onto the island to rally all your troops to move to a certain location or attack a particular building.
The Gunboat — a sort of central command during battles — is an awesome addition to base raiding. It enters each battle with a set number of Ammo coins. Each of the Gunboat’s abilities cost a few Ammo coins, so you have to be smart about how you use them. Crippling one of your enemies important towers can make all the difference, but if you don’t save a few coins, you won’t be able to direct your troops with signal smoke. As your ground troops destroy enemy buildings, they’ll occasionally find more Ammo coins that you can use during that battle. You can unlock more abilities for your Gunboat by upgrading your Headquarters and you can increase the number of Ammo coins it brings into each raid by upgrading the Gunboat itself. The addition of abilities you can deploy in real-time and managing the Gunboat’s ammo adds a lot of interactivity and strategic depth to raiding.
Another major change in combat is that you get to keep any troops that survive in battle. Whereas you lost any units you deployed in Clash of Clans — even the ones that survived a raid, in Boom Beach, you can invest in one expensive set of tanks and then use them over and over again assuming you can keep them alive. It’s a pretty significant change, because keeping your troops alive is more important than ever. If you can keep them alive, you don’t need to spend the resources or time to train more. To stress that difference, you can go on multiple raids back-to-back instead of waiting 30+ minutes to retrain your army after each run.
There are a few notable changes off the battlefield too. There are now four resources to generate — gold, wood, stone, and iron. The game introduces stone and iron later though, so you’ve only got two major resources to worry about at first. One change I’m not a fan of is that your villagers are only capable of constructing or upgrading one building at a time. For comparison, Clash of Clans lets you spend premium currency on buying up to five builders who can work simultaneously. A couple of specialized buildings add new mechanics to the mix. The radar lets you explore islands further away from your base as you upgrade it. The sculptor lets you construct special statues that provide boosts to your entire island such as increasing your gold production rate or bumping the health of all your buildings.
Like Clash of Clans, Boom Beach has a major multiplayer component where you can raid other players’ bases for loot. Success against other players earns Victory Points, which is really just a ranking system that automatically matches you against similarly ranked players. The single-player campaign plays a more pivotal role in Boom Beach than it did in Clash of Clans. Each Blackguard base you eliminate frees another island of native islanders from their tyrannical rule. Each free island increases your resource income permanently, so there’s great value in exploring the archipelago and wiping out the Blackguard you encounter along the way. As you expand, you’ll encounter Blackguard bosses and a plot surrounding their evil plans and the ancient powers of the archipelago.
Boom Beach is ultimately and unquestionably a direct descendent of Clash of Clans. You really can’t fault Supercell for this — everybody else is doing it and there’s no reason to fix what’s not broken. That said, they’ve provided more than enough gameplay twists to make it worth playing, even for those players who grew tired of Clash of Clans or never liked it in the first place. The combat improvements are both the most significant and the most welcome. I liked the combat in Clash of Clans, but increasing the interactivity during a raid makes Boom Beach that much more engaging. Other developers should pay close attention to Boom Beach. This is the proper way to make a clone — use another game’s great gameplay as a foundation, but add on some mechanical twists to make your clone different enough to stand out in the first place and more fun so your players actually stick around. Boom Beach is a lot of fun and I think it’s very safe to say that Supercell has yet another hit on their hands.
Boom Beach is only available in the Canadian App Store, Check this post to learn how to get access to the game.