What's a game like Clash of Clans but without the nickel and diming?
December 10, 2020 8:23 AM   Subscribe

I want to get my kids a strategy game that scratches the same itch as Clash of Clans, but CoC is clearly designed to get you to open your wallet as much as possible. Is there a similar mobile game that doesn't include all those cursed in-app purchases?
posted by malhouse to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I asked myself this same question a while ago - I want the exact same thing. Something addictive, fun, multiplayer, and polished. Unfortunately there's no perfect answer. Supercell, the company that makes Clash of Clans, does just an amazing job on games, with so much polish, multiplayer, fun.

While other, paid games are good, very few are multiplayer or have that same polish.

Similarly good, but some payments
Supercell's other games are much better than CoC, with more strategy and multiplayer, and less payments. Clash Royale is a magical game that has co-op and 1v1. Brawl Stars is a good game, less good than Clash Royale, but with a great variety of playstyles. It is structured around 3 player co-op too, so great for them to play with you/together. I highly recommend trying both games. Neither of them force transactions to win or be good. Neither game is AS strong about in-app purchases.

Less good on mobile but less microtransactions
Mindustry is a great game that's a little complicated. Lots of designing things and conveyor belts. It's kind of like Factorio meets tower defense.

Warbits, Lost Frontier are games that are a knock off of Advance Wars, and are both fun.

Kind of unrelated, but good nontheless.
Minecraft is an amazing game, no microtransactions, and your kids probably already want to play it. There's strategy... in a way.
Stardew Valley is a peaceful animal crossing-type game with some light combat, which is very cooperative in nature. Both are great experiences, but I'm not sure how their mobile adaptations are. Probably excellent!
posted by bbqturtle at 8:48 AM on December 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Its a little different, but feels like less pay-to-play, but I like Bloons Tower Defense 6. It's more standard tower defense than player vs. player, but it doesn't have any of the "army training" built in time lag that nudges you to purchase.
posted by mercredi at 9:17 AM on December 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: For mobile multiplayer strategy I love Polytopia, which is kinda a slimmed-down Civ.
posted by crazy with stars at 9:28 AM on December 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

I've been playing a lot of Polytopia with friends. The nickel-and-diming is limited to purchasing new tribes, so about $20 or so if you want them all.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:00 AM on December 10, 2020

Polytopia is excellent; one of the best mobile games.

Currently I am addicted to PixelStarships, which is both free and semi-massively-multiplayer-strategy (you can only battle other players when they are logged off), with clans/fleets that compete with each other. I've been playing a couple of months without spending any real money and there is still lots to do.
posted by demonic winged headgear at 10:49 AM on December 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

My strategy with these games is to have more games to play for the times when my current game is in stasis due to build times. I play Boom Beach (also Supercell), CoC, Clash Royale, and there are a hundred games like it. (Here are 10. And 10 more.)

Every game has a lot of interesting stuff to do for the first few levels, and then the timers get longer and longer and that's when you start spending whatever resource that they sell in their store. When one game slows down, add a new game. Eventually you'll hit a point where you've got as much to do with the games you have as you want to spend gaming.

And you know, games will be there for you; there's no urgent need to maintain them, or maintain a perfect pace for leveling up. Put the gaming time in that you want, and don't put in time out of obligation.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:32 AM on December 10, 2020

I don't know if any of the included games are what you're looking for but Google Play Pass costs $5 a month (which is good for uo to 5 users in a "family") and gets you access to a fair number of paid apps/games and takes the IAPs away from some number of otherwise free games. Well, it doesn't exactly take away the IAPs, it just makes them free.
posted by wierdo at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2020

I haven't played clash of clans, but I want to second mercredi and recommend Bloons Tower Defense 6. It's a full game, for around 5 USD, that receives regular updates and has quite satisfying tactical challenge past the "hard" difficulty. Its definitely easy enough for kids to not get frustrated with below that level though too. It does also have true online multiplayer that lets you play with randoms (or your friends).

I've also played some Fire Emblem Heroes, which is technically free to play but is so thoroughly drenched in mechanics by this point that I find it utterly incomprehensible. In order to complete in the multiplayer aspect you definitely need to dump either a lot of time or a lot of money (or both) to rank near the top. That said, it does include a whole much of content for free and you can probably make it through that content without paying for anything. It is turn based strategy.
posted by boredoms at 6:32 AM on December 11, 2020

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