Hello and welcome to my blog! Today I would like to talk a little bit about strategy guides, and pass along some advice for potential strategy guide creators out there.
Here on the Clash of Clans Wiki we have a lot of guides for new players, experienced players, guides on running clans, farming for loot, trophy pushing, and many more. Many of these guides are very helpful, and we very much encourage people to share their game knowledge with their fellow Clashers. If you wish to write a strategy guide on any subject, I invite you to check out the Strategy Guides page for more details.
However, I would like to take some time to point out a few things to potential editors that should not only be helpful to anyone deciding to write a guide, but also to the community at large, hopefully ensuring that we make better and more useful guides.
Reviewing the existing guides
Before deciding to write a guide, I strongly encourage you to familiarize yourself with the guides that currently exist, as well as guides that are already under development. Finished guides can be found in the Strategy Guides category, while the guides still in progress are typically in the Maintenance category listing. Not only is this a great way to supplement your own knowledge about the game (hopefully resulting in a better guide) but you can see where the wiki already has a great deal of information and where we have very little or none. This knowledge will hopefully help you in the next step of actually selecting a subject for your first guide.
Selecting a subject
Now that you know what guides already exist, the next step to writing a guide is selecting the subject matter you wish to cover. Below are some key considerations when deciding what topic(s) your guide will cover.
Write what you know
The most important consideration when choosing a subject is making sure you know enough about it to write a guide about it. The wiki has dozens of examples of very short, cursory guides that make it clear that the writer knows only a little about the topic, and they just don't have the depth of knowledge to do it justice. Make sure you know what you are talking about when you are writing your guide, and it really, really helps to have first-hand experience. For instance, if you are only Town Hall 6, I would probably refrain from writing a guide on farming dark elixir, even if you believe that you know how to do it. If you've only ever been in Gold II, I would suggest not writing your guide on farming in Masters League.
Be broad, but not too broad
When choosing your topic, don't pick a subject so narrow that there really isn't much to say on it, like "attacking abandoned TH6 bases in Gold III". Conversely, don't choose a subject so broad that you could write for weeks and not cover it sufficiently ("From tutorial to top 200: a journey"). Ideally you should be choosing a subject matter that you can write at least five or six good paragraphs on, and probably no more than ten. Too little and the guide is nothing more than a couple of tips. Too much and it's likely that people simply won't read the whole thing.
Be different (at least a little)
You may already have had a subject in mind before you started reading the existing guides, which is perfectly fine, but in doing so you may well have found that there are already several guides covering that subject. That is actually reasonably typical; we get a lot of people deciding to write newbie guides, or farming guides, or base design guides.
Does this mean you can't write one yourself? Of course not. But keep in mind that simply rehashing the same material is really not very helpful for the community. Having multiple guides that all say essentially the same thing just wastes people's time and discourages them from reading other, potentially more useful guides.
So what can you do if you have your heart set on a particular subject but there are already multiple guides on it out there? If you don't want to pick a different subject, then make your guide different by taking a different viewpoint. Or offering an equally good alternative strategy, or make it appeal to a different audience than the existing guides. It is easy to think that there is only one way to play Clash of Clans, but that's simply not true: there are many ways to play, so write a guide that may take the reader down a different path than, say, Flammy or BlazedDragon. These players' guides are both excellent but they were both written a long time ago and even their strategies and tactics can be (and have been) improved upon.
Writing a good guide
Okay, you've picked a subject you know really well and have decided on a unique point of view. So how do you write a guide that your fellow Clashers will find useful? Here are a few things to keep in mind that will help your guide stand out from the rest.
It's all well and good to write a guide that tells the user, "Do this, but don't do that. First upgrade this and then upgrade that." That's useful to a certain extent, but what it doesn't do is explain why the player should or shouldn't do certain things, or why the upgrade order is important. You don't need to treat your readers as idiots (unless you a writing a newbie guide you can assume they know the basics, and quite a bit more if your guide is for advanced players), but you should be giving a pretty detailed assessment of why what you are explaining is important, not just a short sentence. If something is obvious enough that a short sentence is enough to explain it, it probably doesn't need to be in a guide.
The best guides make the topic personal. Don't just explain how to do something and why; write about some of your own experiences. If you are writing about a particular technique, talk about some of your own examples of how it worked (and perhaps even more importantly, times that it failed and how to avoid similar situations).
Don't limit the guide to so few situations that they rarely come up. These guides have very limited usefulness, because even if the techniques work, players will have very few opportunities to put them in action, and will likely end up causing nothing but frustration when they seemingly have no luck. For instance, I have seen a lot of farming guides that consist of some form of "Look for bases with huge amounts of resources, all in collectors. Use this technique and you will get lots of loot." To those writers, I submit that just about any technique is going to be successful against those easy bases. Furthermore, those bases come up rarely enough that if you waited to attack only them, you'd be spending most of your evening (and a large portion of your profits) pressing the "Next" button. A much more useful guide would be how to farm effectively against more common bases, while still explaining how to exploit the easy bases with a minimum number of troops.
Use sections and paragraphs
Nothing is more effective at encouraging readers to skip your guide than writing it as a single "wall of text". Even bad spelling and grammar (which should also be avoided) can be tolerated if the content is laid out well in appropriate sections and paragraphs. If your idea takes up more than six or so sentences, it may be too complex an idea. Try to break it down into smaller portions and create multiple paragraphs or even new sections if you need to.
Include images, appropriately
A guide that's just text, even one that's laid out well (like this one), is somewhat bland and colorless. Images are a great way to add some contrast and break up the monotony of text. But don't just add a bunch of images, even if they "sort-of relate" to the subject matter. One or two of those are fine, if you are writing a guide about "when to upgrade your town hall" as an example, adding images of every town hall level isn't helpful (even if they are linked to the appropriate section). However, explanatory images can be extremely useful; if you are writing a guide about the various types of bases, actually showing pictures of the various types in conjunction with your explanation is usually much more effective in helping your readers understand the subtler points.
While it is definitely okay to write more than one guide, I strongly encourage you to start out with one guide, finish that, and then move onto the next guide. The reason for this is because I have seen literally dozens of people with grandiose plans of writing a collection of guides, and they spend several hours creating the main page, each of the individual guide pages, adding templates and categories, tweaking formats, setting up links, etc. See anything missing? Oh yeah...the actual content! They got so wrapped up in setting up the guides that they burned themselves out before they ever got around to writing more than a few sentences of the guide itself. These unfinished guides are completely worthless to the community, and only serve to make it more difficult to find useful content.
A much better scenario is to pick one of those five or six topics and create that guide, write it well and then publish it. You can even create a main page that has "coming soon" links on it for the other planned guides. Once the first guide is done, then go ahead and start the next one. This not only ensures that at least one guide reaches the useful stage, but concentrating on one gets it done that much quicker so the community can use and enjoy it that much sooner.
I hope this has been helpful for all of the potential strategy guide writers out there. If this has discouraged you from writing, I most sincerely apologize; that was not my intent at all. If you need help with ideas, please feel free to ask my or any staff member. And if you have any questions or comments regarding this blog, I am happy to discuss them with you.
Happy Clashing, and good luck with the guides!