[Strategy] Clash Royale Defensive Guide (In-Depth, Updated) 2017

**Introduction**

Hey guys, this is the Grim Rapper and this is my new and improved defensive guide. I’ve brought with me some new tips, tricks, skills, and techniques to help you build up the perfect defensive arsenal for your deck’s strategy. A defensive setup may not work for every deck; it must be tailored specifically to fit the needs of your deck. A player’s first instinct is to blame their offense for being too weak, or for their opponent’s offense for being too strong, although the truth is that the winner is the player with the strongest defense. If your defense can counter the weaknesses of your deck, and still follow your strategy and playstyle, you can be sure to devastate your opponent on the battlefield.

**-=-=+ Part 1: Defensive Strategies +=-=-**

**Defensive Synergy**

A rookie mistake found in early Arenas is trying to defend an entire push with just one card. This may sound like an obvious mistake, but players, even in higher Arenas, do it more often than they think. Just about every experienced player, including myself, can admit that they have done this in earlier arenas, and are still to this day trying to break that habit. In fact, that one-card defense is so bad that the entire Royal Giant/Hog Rider deck was built around the fact that inexperienced players wouldn’t counter with more than one card per push, and instead would attempt to counter both at a time with a Skeleton Army. Instead, the experienced player’s move would be to drop an Inferno Tower to distract them and destroy one of them, then finish the remaining one off with a Goblin Gang. Not only did you spend 2 less elixir than your opponent, you also used two cards to work together on defense. Two or more cards working together is known as *synergy*. One card alone can have its weaknesses, but the beauty of synergy is that cards can cover for other cards’ weaknesses and act as one.

Another advantage to synergy is that you have more flexibility. For example, say you had been using Elite Barbarians in a deck, assuming their main purpose was defense, and possibly a counter push. Although it does seem like a waste of space in your deck, using the Knight/Skeletons/Ice Spirit combo is the safe choice. Not only does it save you one elixir when you play all three, but it also saves you the hassle of NEEDING to play all three. What if an opponent used a push that wasn’t deserving of 6 elixir? Using multiple cards over one gives you the flexibility to customize the strength of your counter play and give you the opportunity to make positive elixir trades and outplay your opponent.

**Defensive Card Types**

* Anchor: This card is the defensive equivalent of a tank. Cards commonly used in this position are the Knight, Lumberjack, Valkyrie, or sometimes even the Baby Dragon. The vast majority of Anchor cards deal melee damage, but it isn’t required. The Anchor’s role is to tank damage for a squishier ranged Marksman card behind it to keep the Marksman alive and deal heavy and/or splash damage.

* Marksman: This card is primarily used as a proactive (offensive) support or a reactive (defensive) support. Marksman cards deal ranged, usually heavy, damage and are played behind an Anchor card to deal damage from a safe distance. Marksmen are also capable of being played on defense, then used against the opponent even further in a counter-push. Cards commonly used in this position are the Musketeer, Archers, Executioner, and all 3 Wizards.

* Response: This is your cheap distraction card. Response cards are versatile troops that can be used for anything from aiding in the shredding of tanks to kiting troops into the kill zone. Response cards should cost no more than 3 elixir, and should usually be ground troops, such as Skeletons, any Goblin, or Skeleton Army. In some cases, an Ice Golem will work as a Response card.

* Tank Shredder: This role is crucial to breaking an opponent’s push. Tank Shredders are known for their heavy damage to single targets and can be either heavy-damage or swarm cards. However, many Tank Shredders are vulnerable to splash damage from support units such as a Wizard, so I personally recommend placing a strong Anchor card like a Knight near the support to distract its splash damage, and then lay the Tank Shredder on the tank. Examples of Tank Shredders are the Skeleton Army, the Inferno Dragon/Tower, and Minion Horde.

* Wave Clear: This is the second step to breaking a push. Wave Clear cards have the ability to deal splash damage to a wide radius. Some cards commonly used for Wave Clear are the Executioner, Bomber, and Valkyrie. After the Tank Shredder has taken out the tank, the next step is to send a Wave Clear unit to destroy the troops that had been protected by the tank. Because many Wave Clear cards are squishy ranged troops, it is wise to again take advantage of your Anchor card to take damage and maximize the lifetime of your Wave Clear card.

**Ground and Air Defense**

Over 85% of troops in the game are ground units. Ground troops can vary from slow and steady to pure speed. Because of this, ground defense must be able to cover a wide variety of attack styles. I recommend that ALL your defensive units should be able to help out in some way on ground defense, because many meta decks lately only include one air unit, if any. Because not all ground troops are capable of engaging air troops, I recommend using at least one ground troop at all times when defending against ground units. This troop should be either your Anchor (to tank damage so another ranged troop can finish the opponent off) or a Response (for quick defense, not recommended for large pushes). In some cases, you will only need your one card to defend, but often you will need another card to support your Anchor from a distance. Depending on what you’re defending from, your support will vary. For example, if I were confronted by a Sparky/Bomber combo, I would use Minions or a Mega Minion on support because neither the Sparky nor the Bomber are able to hit air troops. However, if my opponent used a Wizard instead to support his Sparky, I would drop a Valkyrie right between the two as an Anchor, then place an Electro Wizard at a distance to disable the Sparky and help reduce the Wizard’s hit speed.

Although they are at their peak of unpopularity, air troops should not be taken lightly. A Balloon that gets to the tower, even when Fireballed, can still get two good hits, not including its buffed death damage. First, I would like to point out that 5 out of the 9 air troops in the game cost 4 or more elixir. Because of this, one of the best methods for countering air troops is by simply outplaying the opponent on the ground level, because this forces the opponent to use up elixir on defense faster than they can build up enough to deploy their air troops. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work. Therefore, you’ll still want to have a backup plan for air defense. For the most part, this can consist of ranged ground troops, swarming air troops, and/or the Inferno Tower/Dragon.

**-=-=+ Part 2: Archetypes, Defensive Plays, and a New Slot Method +=-=-**

**Archetypes**

Part 2 isn’t as much about strategy as it is about you as an individual. During these last few chapters, you’ll be formulating your own defenses for your deck, and before you do that, you’ll need to know how to pick the right strategy that fits your offense and playstyle. The first step is determining your deck’s *archetype*. Archetypes have nothing to do with philosophy or fancy math, it simply refers to the category a deck falls into. The most common archetypes in today’s meta are:

* Beatdown: The most popular archetype by far. This is the archetype everyone starts with. The goal of beatdown is to build up an elixir advantage using positive elixir trades and then lay down a push on the opponent. Beatdown can range from slow to fast paced, depending on the cards used.

* Control: My favorite archetype. Typically runs only one or two cards on offense, focusing mainly on defense. Control decks try to use cards to counter the opponent and then continue to aid in attacking the tower behind an offensive anchor troop.

* Cycle: Speed is key. Cycle decks typically use the Hog Rider, Miner, or other fast troops to force the opponent to use up their elixir faster than they can save up enough for offense. Typically uses cheaper cards for defense and around 3.0 average elixir cost, if not less.

* Chip: This archetype uses a very strong defense, and uses weak offense to slowly chip away at the tower. This is usually accomplished using spawner buildings, the Rocket, or occasionally a Hog Rider.

* Bait: I prefer not to refer to this archetype as Spell Bait, mainly because many decks also bait out cards like the Skeleton Army or other quick defenses, rather than just spells. Bait decks often use cards like the Goblin Barrel to force the opponent to use a spell or response card early on and leave them defenseless against a bigger push, often with a Hog or Elite Barbarians. Any fake-push decks also fall into this archetype.

* Siege: One of the most unorthodox strategies in the game. Siege decks rely on buildings, spells, and usually a Miner or Princess to deal damage from the safety of the user’s side. Siege can include spawners, long-range weapons, and any other card that could avoid crossing the bridge.

**Formulating a Defense**

Your defenses should always reflect the archetype of your deck. For example, a cycle deck shouldn’t run cards like the Bowler; it should use the Bomber or The Log instead to minimize cost. Chip decks shouldn’t rely on spells for defense. A siege deck shouldn’t use buildings on defense, because it already relies on buildings for offense and more than two buildings in a deck can be problematic and lacking in mobility. Overall, the main thing to remember when creating a defensive play is that your defense shouldn’t hinder your offense. What this means is that your defense isn’t costing you so much time and money that you can’t launch an offensive push. Here are some general rules for creating a defensive play:

* This is the No. 1 rule of Clash Royale. Never spend more elixir than your opponent spent on a push when deploying a counter. This is known as the *Positive Elixir Trade Rule*.

* The one exception to the Positive Elixir Trade Rule is if you use the remaining troops in a counter push. Damaging the opponent’s tower is always worth extra elixir.

* Always keep synergy in mind.

* Make sure to include both ground and air defense, and keep at least one of each type of defensive card in your deck.

* Your defensive cards can play more than one role, although your Anchor cannot have a secondary role (except Wave Clear, in the case of a Valkyrie or Baby Dragon).

* Keep a mix of cheap and expensive, big and small, ranged and melee, light and heavy cards in your deck.

* Make sure one of your defensive cards (usually your Marksman) can act as *The Runner* (a counter-push card).

* Don’t put a card in the deck without knowing exactly what its role will be in your strategy. This is true for offense, defense, and support.

**The Slot Method**

Keeping those rules in mind, you should have a pretty good idea of the type of defense you want. The next step after determining the right defense for your deck’s archetype is to fit it into the Slot Method. However, as great as the Slot Method is, what I have found is that, for the most part, it only works with beatdown decks. For instance, most cycle decks don’t run a secondary win condition and instead use a secondary response card. The only thing about these is that because they’re more specific, they require more of “this OR that”, “make sure one of your cards covers this”, etc. Anyway, here are my new Slot Methods:

Beatdown/Chip:
* [Slot 1]: Win Condition
* [Slot 2]: Secondary Win Condition
* [Slot 3]: Offensive Support
* [Slot 4]: Anchor
* [Slot 5]: Marksman
* [Slot 6]: Response
* [Slot 7]: Flex (Wave Clear or Tank Shredder fits here, make sure to cover the remaining role too)
* [Slot 8]: Defensive Spell

Control:
* [Slot 1]: Win Condition
* [Slot 2]: Offensive Support (any spawner building would go here if used)
* [Slot 3]: Anchor
* [Slot 4]: Marksman
* [Slot 5]: Response
* [Slot 6]: Flex
* [Slot 7]: *The Runner*
* [Slot 8]: Spell

Cycle:
* [Slot 1]: Win Condition
* [Slot 2]: Offensive Support
* [Slot 3]: Anchor
* [Slot 4]: Marksman (stay cheap here)
* [Slot 5]: Response
* [Slot 6]: Flex
* [Slot 7]: *The Runner*
* [Slot 8]: Spell

Bait:
* [Slot 1]: Win Condition
* [Slot 2]: Fake Win Condition (Bait Card)
* [Slot 3]: Offensive Support
* [Slot 4]: Anchor
* [Slot 5]: Marksman
* [Slot 6]: Response
* [Slot 7]: Flex
* [Slot 8]: Spell

Siege:
* [Slot 1]: Win Condition
* [Slot 2]: Secondary Win Condition
* [Slot 3]: Offensive Support (Arrows work great here)
* [Slot 4]: Anchor
* [Slot 5]: Marksman (Wave Clear is recommended as a secondary role)
* [Slot 6]: Response (Tank Shredder is recommended as a secondary role)
* [Slot 7]: *The Runner* OR Flex (if you didn’t cover the two Flex roles already)
* [Slot 8]: Defensive Spell

**Conclusion**

As I said before, a good deck has a defense built around it, and a purpose for every card. I wrote this guide not only to help players build a good deck, but to teach them how to use the cards in it. Synergy, counter-pushes, positive Elixir trades, and archetyping are all key to winning matches. In the end, it all comes down to having both the offense and the defense working in synergy in order to gain the upper hand in battle.

“The best defense… is defense.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger



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