With the current state of the mobile game industry, there is no shortage of options for players looking for something to play on their phones. Many of these excellent games come from a Finnish studio called Supercell.
You probably know Supercell from games like Hay Day, Boom Beach, or the ultra-popular, long-running tower defense game Clash of Clans. Clash’s overwhelming popularity has turned it into a brand for Supercell, who have spun it off into several different, equally successful games in different genres.
One of those games is Clash Mini, a surprisingly well-balanced and fun action strategy game that uses the enchanting framing device of action figures on a gameboard. If this game’s existence is news to you, don’t be alarmed. Despite being available since late 2021 in some markets, it still hasn’t received a global release yet.
I got a chance to get some hands-on time with Clash Mini, so if you’re curious about what this game is, how it plays, and how its monetization works, read on for this review of Supercell’s hard-to-get game.
Jumping Through Hoops
Clash Mini presents its gameplay through the lens of action figures battling it out on a gameboard. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s possible you played a very recent mobile game that utilizes the same structure – Warcraft Rumble.
While it’s true that both games are eerily similar, there’s an interesting wrinkle to the whole situation.
Clash Mini was released in November 2021, while Warcraft Rumble came out two years later in November 2023.
Warcraft Rumble has definitely benefited from Clash Mini’s limited availability, but it might have some competition on its hands if Supercell ever gives it a wide release. In order to play Clash Mini (located in the US), I had to emulate Android on my PC and then use a VPN to change my location to Supercell’s homeland of Finland. It’s also available on iOS, but it’s not quite as simple to change your location on that platform as you also need a payment method in that region.
It’s a shame Clash Mini is available so limitedly still, since it’s really fun and has a pretty compelling monetization structure.
Break Out the Toy Box
Clash Mini’s core gameplay looks something like this: Every match starts with two hero units on the gameboard – the player’s and the opponent’s. Then, each player is presented with randomized mini units from their inventory, which require a certain amount of elixir to deploy (a resource that is replenished in between moves).
Each side gets a move timer that keeps the game moving along at a swift pace, and I found each of the many matches I played to be almost exhilarating in the speed of each round. You have to make decisions almost on the fly, so you really feel the pain when you slip up and the opponent’s decision-making outdoes your own.
The basic minis you’re presented with have some interesting mechanics, such as the long-ranged Spear Goblin or the Miner, which can dig behind enemy lines for a sneak attack. There’s no lack of strategy with the 50+ minis and their associated abilities along with in-match upgrades you can do when you deploy multiple of the same unit. However, you obviously don’t start with every mini at your disposal
Building an Army of Action Figures
From the research I’ve done surrounding Clash Mini, it seems that the reason that the game is still not widely available is due to Supercell still tinkering with the game’s monetization system.
I can’t say that I found any kind of inconsistencies or troubling points in Clash Mini’s monetization from my time with it, but it does seem incomplete for reasons we’ll talk about in a bit. It all seems kind of boilerplate to me, but I’m not a company that made almost five and a half billion dollars in revenue last year either.
In terms of currencies, this is what you’re dealing with in Clash Mini:
- Gems: an uncommon resource that is used to buy premium game items
- 50 Gems – $1.99
- 160 Gems – $5.99 (7% bonus)
- 450 Gems – $14.99 (20% bonus)
- 1000 Gems – $29.99 (35% bonus)
- 2500 Gems – $54.99 (82% bonus)
- 5000 Gems – $99.99 (100% bonus)
- Fragments: a common resource that is used to “refine” or upgrade your minis
- 20 Fragments – 100 Gems
- 100 Fragments – 500 Gems
- 300 Fragments – 1500 Gems
- Gold: another common resource that is also required to refine your collection of minis
- 10000 Gold – 100 Gems
- 50000 Gold – 500 Gems
- 160000 Gold – 1500 Gems
At the moment, Gold and Fragments are extremely useful. You need both resources to level up your minis, which contributes to your “Collector Level”, which in turn unlocks new minis for you at set intervals. This quickly became my focus in the game, because unlocking a new mini means literally breaking them out of the plastic (the game’s version of a loot box animation), and being able to add them to your team to test out their abilities in the next match just feels good.
As you can see from the list of currencies above, Gems end up being the most important as the Clash Mini’s premium currency. Gems are needed to buy both Gold and Fragments as well as other in-game content such as skins, emotes, and even minis after a certain point ( a point I never reached, I only unlocked minis by increasing my Collector Level).
The bonuses given out for purchasing more expensive packs of Gems do seem to be a little generous at first, until you realize that the cost of Fragments and Gold alone then equate to $4 all the way up to $47 even if you take advantage of the Gem package bonuses. That’s a little steep for me, but different players will have a higher tolerance for this kind of conversion shenanigans.
The good thing appears to be that the game’s battle pass – called the “Mini Pass” – is purchased with real money, at only $9.99. Progressing through the Mini Pass entitles you to a number of premium rewards, including 110000 Gold, 470 Fragments, 100 Gems, and plenty of different keys for the Toy Machine, which is a capsule dispenser that produces new minis in exchange for a key. With all that it offers, the Mini Pass is clearly a better value than buying Gems, but maybe Supercell is still working on balancing that value.
Good Things Take Time
Clash Mini is a downright fun mobile game that deserves to stand alongside other mobile greats like its highly successful clone, Warcraft Rumble. It’s not clear when the game will be allowed to exit this “beta” stage and become available globally, but I’m awfully excited for the day it does.
Its monetization system is sufficient but definitely still needs a little work, as does the balancing of value between its many moving parts. But hey, that’s the purpose of a beta, right?
Even one that takes over two years.