Mobile Game Design – Gameplay Case Study of Clash of Clan Vs Warcraft 3

mobile game design case study warcraft 3 vs clash of clan

Strategy games have evolved from desktop computers to mobile devices over the decade.

Previously, I talked about the gameplay of Clash of Clan and what makes it engaging.

This post will focus on comparing the gameplay of strategy games between two different platforms, Warcraft 3 as desktop strategy game and Clash of Clan as mobile strategy game.

These are design insights I've found after playing lots of popular strategy games for many years. I make use of these insights to help me improve my own mobile game design which I'm currently working on.

I'll start off with drawing similarities on game mechanics, followed by comparing 7 game elements found between both games.

As in app purchases (IAP) do kill mobile game design, I'll be ignoring aesthetic and monetising aspects for this comparison exercise.

Let's dive straight in.

Mobile Game Design For Strategy Games

What Is Strategy Game?

CoC, W3 or Starcraft 2 (SC2) are considered war strategy games. The main objective of the game is to deploy troops, destroy opponent's base and win the game.

However, opponent's base is likely to be defended by some troops or defensive tower. Thus, player has to strategize their attack by using different troops at appropriate location, appropriate timing.

So what makes a strategy game strategizing?


In Game Variables

All troops has many variable attributes which I'll list them out in a while. Strategising begins when each unique troop has different strength and weakness in their attribute.

I'll go through the different variable attributes followed by some examples of troops found in Clash of Clan and Warcraft.


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Health (Hitpoint or HP)

HP marks the amount of damage a unit can take before it is eliminated. Lower HP units get eliminated very easily compared to high HP units. Many gamers refers units with high HP as 'tanks' and units with low HP as paper or glass.

Examples of high HP units:

WC3: Tauren, Abominationtauren warrior orcs wc3 abomination undead wc3

CoC: Giant, Golem.giant level 6 coc golem coc



Damage refers to the amount of HP is reduced from the opponent on a successful attack. The higher the damage a unit has, the faster it can eliminate its target.

Examples of high damage units:

WC3: Rifleman, Crypt Fiendrifleman human wc3 crypt fiend undead wc3

CoC: Wizards, P.E.K.K.A.wizard cocpekka level 5 coc


Attack Speed (Rate of Fire, RoF)

Attack speed sets how often a unit strikes an attack at the opponent. Slow RoF with high damage can possibly inflict the same damage as a fast RoF with low damage.


Damage Per Second (DPS)

DPS refers to the multiplication of damage and attack speed of a unit. This values gives a rough idea how much damage a unit is able to dish out over a certain amount of time.


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Clash of Clans Ultimate Guide


Attack Style

Attack style is how a unit attacks. Below are some examples of different unit's attack style.



Melee attack refers to attacks made within close range of the unit's target. Melee style is typically used by units with swords or bare hand.

Example of melee units:

WC3: Ghoul, knightghoul undead wc3 knight human wc3

CoC: Barbarians, goblinsbarbarian coc goblin coc



Range or projectile refers to attacking the unit's target from a distance. Weapons such as bow, missiles and magic are examples of range attacks.

Example of range units:

WC3: Dryad, Sorceressdryad night elf wc3 sorceress human wc3

CoC: Archer, Witcharcher coc witch coc


Splash or Area of Effect (AoE)

Splash damage inflicts damage to many units at the same time. The splash area refers to the area size which will affect the opponents. This type of damage works best against units that cluster together.


Nova Splash

Nova splash style refers to area surrounding the unit itself. This style is very similar to melee except it affects more than 1 unit.

Example of nova splash units:

WC3: Tauren Chieftain's War Stomptauren chieftain orcs wc3

CoC: Wall breakerwall-breaker-coc


Projectile Splash

Projectile splash works just like a missile. When the projectile travels a distance and hits it's target, it explodes and inflict damage to other nearby units.

Example of projectile splash:

WC3: Mortar teammortar team human wc3

CoC: Wizardwizard coc


Target Selection

Targets that a unit aims to attack is generally the nearest target. To make the game more interesting, most games have some troops with selective target. For example, giants in CoC aims at defensive towers while wall breaker aims to only destroy walls.


Movement Speed

This sets how fast or slow a unit moves. Slow units might fall behind in battle while fast units rush towards the front line. This might not necessarily be desirable.
Most game designers set fast units to have lower hp and die faster. Examples wizards in CoC which are powerful units but they can't last long when they are hit.


Special Abilities

Some advance units has special abilities to make the gameplay interesting and challenging. In CoC, dark barrack troops have their unique abilities.

For example, hog riders are melee troops which have the abilities to jump over walls. This renders the wall to be useless against them.

Witches have the ability to summon some skeleton warriors to fight for her. As long as the witch is alive, she will continue to summon the skeletons when they are eliminated.

Variables are not limited to those that are listed above. Different games have different variables which makes their game troops unique.


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7 Comparisons Between Clash of Clan and Warcraft 3

Let's analyze the differences between mobile and desktop strategy games in terms of player's gameplay progression.

For each game element, I'll briefly talk about how they exist in each game. Then I'll share my analysis by comparing the two types of game.



1. Resource Management

Strategy games have a basic element of harvesting resources to fund war troops. Players will need to learn to manage their resources.

WC3 Resource Management:

peasant wc3 peon wc3

Players starts the game with very low resources. Each player have some harvesters such as peons (Warcraft) or probes (Starcraft) to collect resources from nearby resource nodes.

As the game progresses, players would have harvested more resources. Players can then use their resources to build more harvesters or build advanced buildings and troops.

Resources are limited in each game. Once all resources are harvested, each player will have to win the game with all the resources they have.

When resources are harvested, they belongs to the individual player and cannot be taken away by opponents.

CoC Resource Management:

coc resource

Resources are collected from drills. Drills provide resources to the player at a certain rate. For example, 1 hour 100 gold value.

Each drill has it's maximum capacity, e.g. 2000 gold value. When the drill collected resources to its maximum capacity, it will not produce any more resources.

Players will have collect the resources from each drill before the drill will start producing resources again.

Drills can be upgraded to increase it's rate of production and it's maximum capacity. As players advances, they can build more drills to collect resources as well. However, at each townhall level, there is a limit to the number of drills that a player can build.


Resource Management Analysis

Desktop strategy games mainly starts all resources from scratch for each game. They are considered real-time strategy game, including the resources.



Desktop strategy games requires full attention by a player throughout the entire game in multiplayer mode. Each game can last from 10 minutes to 1 hours. It makes total sense for long duration and high quality graphics for playing desktop games because of powerful desktop computer's capability.

Desktop gamers gets to use keyboards for lots of interactivities. This allows players to have high control abilities and create complex manoeuvres in the game.

On the other hand, strategy games in mobile devices are much simplified. That is because of the lower processing power and lower battery capacity of a mobile device. Thus, mobile game design must factor these technology boundaries before designing a mobile game.

Mobile devices are also limited to touch screen, therefore strategy game interactivities will need to scale down. This allows user to play with ease and convenience.

Mobile devices had become part of a person's lifestyle. That is why mobile games are designed to have shorter game play for player's convenience.



Have any thoughts? Feel free to comment and positively discuss using the comment box below!


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