10 Life Lessons from Clash of Clans

Image of a playful dog jumping into the air with the text overlay: Good Game.

I’m not a gamer and I only heard of Clash of Clans three days ago. How can I discuss knowledgeably about today’s topic then? You will have to read on to find out. 

Clash of Clans, a real-time strategy game, is like a miniature version of today’s cut-throat world. To stay in the game, you must possess a multifaceted skill set, from being a shrewd strategic planner to a team player of value. 

Three days ago, my nephew was at my place to use my printer. As it was close to dinner time, I invited him to stay for a meal. Mr Wow was making his famous chicken cordon bleu and my nephew wouldn’t want to miss it. We hanged out in the living room while Mr Wow cooked up a storm in the kitchen. 

Halfway through our conversation, my nephew suddenly whipped his mobile phone out of his pocket and said with a note of urgency in his voice, “Sorry, I just remembered that I HAVE A WAR! It’d just be a minute…”

“Sure, go ahead…” (rolling my eyes)

A few minutes later, I learnt that he was playing Clash of Clans, a real-time strategy game by Supercell. Apparently, the game became hugely popular after its 2015 Super Bowl commercial starring Liam Neeson. It was the highest-grossing app on both the App Store and Google Play that year, with an estimated revenue of $1.5 million per day! HOLY COW! I have since watched the famous commercial, of course. If you have also been living under a rock as I was, you should definitely check it out because it’s super cool!

Anyway, after listening to my nephew talk passionately about Clash of Clans for almost an hour (ok, I’ll admit that my mind did wander at times), I came to the conclusion that the game is actually highly educational! There are obvious parallels between the game and real life, and important lessons to be drawn. Here are 10 lessons: 

  1. He Who Has the Resources Has the Upper Hand
  2. Strategic Planning is the Key to Success
  3. Defence Keeps You in the Game 
  4. The Best Defence is a Good Offence
  5. Know Your Enemy and Know Yourself
  6. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work (Most of the Time)
  7. Leadership is Action, Not Position
  8. It’s Not What You know but Who You Know 
  9. To Lose Patience is to Lose the Battle 
  10. Adapt or Die

Note: Fret not if you are not a Clash of Clans player. Neither am I! I had to read up on how to play the game just to be sure that I understood my nephew correctly. You can be rest assured that I will write simply with no gaming jargons whatsoever.

1. He Who Has the Resources Has the Upper Hand

The ultimate objective of Clash of Clans is to gain power so as to move up to the next level. To achieve that, you need to build your base (aka village), train your troops, defend your turf and attack other players for their resources, e.g. gold. Whenever you attack an enemy successfully, you get trophies so that you can rise up the ranks. 

There is a way to fast track your success. If you have money and are willing to spend on the game, you can visit the in-app store to purchase resources to upgrade your troops and buildings faster. To quote my nephew, “Those who can afford to buy resources have an unfair advantage over others.” I responded by saying “But that’s life.”

Life is not fair. Some people are born into poverty, while others are born with a silver spoon in their mouths. When you have money, it’s easier to progress. That doesn’t mean your life will be smooth-sailing, but you won’t have the problems faced by the poor. 

For instance, a rich kid can attend expensive private schools and have the best tutors to coach him in his studies, whereas a poor kid will have to rely on himself. During the summer break, the rich kid has various attractive options including a month-long vacation in the Bahamas and an internship at one of his father’s companies. The poor kid has no choice but to take on two jobs so that he can pay for tuition next semester. 

The rich gets richer because it takes money to make money. Here’s a simple example: $10,000 at 4% per annum makes you $400 worth of interest on your savings. $1 million makes you $40,000. Little wonder that disparity between rich and poor is growing. 

Does that mean if you do not have the financial resources, you can never rise up the ranks in life? Relatively speaking, it’s more difficult but it’s NOT impossible. The odds might be stacked against you but if you work hard and, more importantly, smart, you can still win the game, both in the virtual world and in the real world. See subsequent points.

The odds might be stacked against you but if you work hard and, more importantly, smart, you can still win the game, both in the virtual world and in the real world.

2. Strategic Planning is the Key to Success

In Clash of Clans, building a formidable base that houses a strong army is key to winning. To develop the ability to defend yourself and conquer other bases, you need to design your base, harvest resources to build different kinds of structures, lay traps, upgrade your troops, think about attack formations and the list goes on. A lot of strategic planning is involved. 

In many ways, life is also a game that requires strategy. When you strategise, you decide what to do about your future. When you don’t, others will decide for you. As the chief strategist of your life, you need to come up with a plan to attain success. You will then carry out the plan with courage and tenacity. Even if you fail, it’s not the end of the world. It’s better to try and fail than never to try at all. Pick yourself up, regroup and work out a new plan.

Image of a chess board with the text overlay: Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. - Sun Tze, Art of War.

3. Defence Keeps You in the Game

Building up a strong defence is extremely important in Clash of Clans. If your defence is weak, your base will be looted and destroyed by hostile forces easily. I understand there are a number of defensive strategies and one of them is to build walls to make it harder for your enemies to close in on your town hall. 

By the same token, we need to know when to play defensive in life. That’s why many of us buy insurance. It’s a defensive measure to protect ourselves against unfortunate events like accidents and injuries. This reduces financial uncertainty and gives us peace of mind to pursue our life goals. 

It’s the same with investing. To defend is to assess and manage risk well. Therefore, you should never allocate 100% of your assets in stocks even if you think you know what you are doing. That’s not aggressive investing but financial recklessness. A more prudent way is to maintain a diversified portfolio that includes defensive assets such as bonds and a healthy percentage of dry powder. This will keep you afloat during periods of steep market decline. 

4. The Best Defence is a Good Offence

Then again, the main way to progress in Clash of Clans is to attack enemy bases and steal their resources. In order to have a victorious attack, you will need to deploy your troops efficiently against your enemies’ defences. 

This is similar to life too. You can’t win just by playing defensive. Sometimes, you need to take the risk (calculated risk, of course) or lose the chance. Let’s go back to the example of investing. The polar opposite of total recklessness is extreme circumspection. Holding all your assets in low-yield cash and equivalents does seem very safe, but your money will hardly be able to outpace inflation, let alone increase in value. 

Sometimes, you need to take the risk or lose the chance.

If you want to build wealth and achieve financial independence, you may want to be a tad more aggressive and invest in assets with growth potential. True, there’s risk involved, but you can limit your financial exposure and increase your success rate by diversifying among different investments and asset classes.

5. Know Your Enemy and Know Yourself

According to my nephew, many Clash of Clans players often overestimate themselves or underestimate their enemies during a war. They choose an enemy base that is way too powerful and end up losing badly.

Don’t we all make these mistakes in life? Think about a time when you underestimated what you were up against and failed to prepare yourself adequately. Was your poor judgement a costly mistake? It’s even worse if you lack self-awareness and overestimate your abilities. How can you possibly influence outcomes if you do not even know yourself? You are standing in your own way!

How can you possibly influence outcomes if you do not even know yourself?

Come to think about it, this could be the reason why some businesses failed. Their competitors ran them out of business and they didn’t even know what hit them.

Image of 2 cranes fighting with the text overlay: If you know your enemy and yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles - Sun Tze, Art of War.

6. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work (Most of the Time)

As the name of the game suggests, you can join a clan of players or start your own clan. This makes the game highly interactive. Your clan can pursue greater riches for all members by waging war with other clans. The problem is some clans can be quite problematic and political. You get all sorts of clan mates, from overly critical ones to those who simply refuse to cooperate and follow instructions. 

Does this sound like the corporate world to you? Sometimes, you get to work with pleasant, motivated and competent people. Your team keeps producing amazing results and everyone is happy. Other times, you have to put up with really shitty people who make your working life a living hell. They remind you of what George Washington said, “It’s better to be alone than in bad company.” Unfortunately, that’s not up to you but your boss. Sure, you can pray for deliverance that your tormentors will quit their jobs, but who’s to guarantee that their replacements will be better than them?

When you are lucky enough to be part of a dream team, you will automatically feel inspired to achieve success. Cherish the experience. Learn and contribute as much as you can. When the situation is reversed, you can either try to change others or change yourself. I reckon the latter is easier. If both ways fail to work, there’s still hope if there’s good leadership. See next point. 

Image of row boat with 8 rowers sweep rowing with text overlay: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together - African Proverb.

7. Leadership is Action, Not Position

For a clan to succeed in the game, good leadership is imperative. The leader must know how to keep his or her clan together and grow the clan. He or she must be a good communicator and an excellent military strategist. When the leadership of a clan is f***** up (pardon my French), members will start to leave. 

Again, we see this a lot in the corporate world. More often than not, when there’s widespread dissatisfaction in a company, it’s due to poor leadership. Some leaders do not seem to know what they are doing; they are more lost than the new temp in the data-entry room. Some leaders do not know how to exert their influence; they can’t seem to galvanise their employees into action. Some leaders confuse staying on top of things with micro-managing; they drive their employees crazy. Some leader tolerate bad employees; they end up losing the good ones. 

The worst leaders, in my experience, are those with big egos because they think they are always right and they don’t ever listen. Soon, they will only be surrounded by yes-men and the organisation will fail. If you ever come across such a leader, RUN! The structure is going to collapse! If you are such a leader… ahem… you need to learn from Colin Powell: 

Image of a sniper's rifle with the text overlay: Don't let your ego get too close to your position so that if your position gets shot down, your ego doesn't go with it. - Colin Powell

8. It’s Not What You know but Who You Know

In Clash of Clan, you can request for reinforcements, i.e. troop donations, from your clan mates. If you have high level clan mates, you will receive high level troops (imagine Rambo x 50) and this will improve your chances for success. But high level clans do not usually accept players who are too low level because these players are too weak to make any significant contribution to the clan.

Such is life. If you are well connected, a favour is just a phone call away. If you know the right people, you will get your foot in the door. If not, be prepared for rejections. I’m not saying that it’s unimportant to acquire knowledge, skills and experience. But the right connections can make all the difference, especially in professional settings. 

Such is life. If you are well connected, a favour is just a phone call away. If you know the right people, you will get your foot in the door.

If you are doing sales, establishing a wide network is a crucial part of your referral marketing strategy. If you are an entrepreneur, knowing the right people can take your business to the next level in many ways, e.g. finding a venture capitalist to fund your expansion plans. So don’t forget to be gracious to everyone you meet at and outside of work. You never know. They may be in a position to help you in future.

9. To Lose Patience is to Lose the Battle

Clash of Clans is a never-ending game. That means you are in for the long haul. Success does not happen overnight. It takes months and years to upgrade your base. If you are impatient, you will either spend money to buy resources or simply give up. 

As the old adage goes, “Good things come to those who wait.” We need patience in every aspect of our lives: when we are commuting during peak hours, when we are queuing up at the supermarket, when we are dealing with our co-workers and family members, when we are building a business, when we are investing…

Patience increases our happiness as it helps us see things in a positive light. Patience also paves the way for success as it not only prevents us from making rash decisions, but also keeps us from quitting. So yes, everyone should cultivate more patience. 

Image of a surfer watching the sea waves with the text overlay: Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.

10. Adapt or Die

No matter how good you think you are, success is not guaranteed in Clash of Clans. You need to be adaptable and change your attack strategies, especially when you upgrade to the next level. Sometimes, you will meet a very strong enemy and you will learn from your failure. 

In life, the only constant is change. To stay relevant and competitive, we must adapt to the ever-changing world. Being adaptable is not about changing what’s around us. It’s about changing ourselves from within so that we can thrive in all kinds of conditions and handle whatever life throws at us. It’s survival of the fittest. He who best adjusts to the environment is the most successful in surviving. 

And that’s it! Is Clash of Clans an intelligent game or what? After writing this article, I think I might try my hand at the game. I hope it’s not too addictive! If you are interested to learn more about the game, you can check out the videos by Clash of Clans guru, Judo Sloth. His YouTube channel has more than two million subscribers! Yes, TWO MILLION! I bet he’s making shitloads of money! Respect. 

In so many ways, life is a game. There are rules, goals, strategies and obstacles. Thankfully, winning is not a single roll of the dice, draw of the cards or attack on an enemy base. You have multiple chances of winning. You can expect ups and downs, hopes and doubts, smiles and frowns. Don’t give up. There’s no victory without suffering.

More about life: Why Being Knowledgeable is Important | Why It’s Important to Enjoy Boredom | 13 Timeless Quotes to Help You Navigate Life Joyfully | 10 Motivational Quotes to Fuel Your Success | Dying to Learn: 5 Things Death Teaches Us About Life

Mrs Wow

Mrs Wow (aka Lynn) became debt-free in 2018, achieved financial independence in 2019, and retired in 2020 at the age of 42. She believes in staying invested even if there’s a level-5 shit storm. A homebody, she spends her free time reading, blogging and listening to music. Follow her on 𝕏 (@wowpursuits).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts