Debate: Is the casual game really dead?
Ok - bad pun, but it really did rock the Clash of Clans (CoC) world.
Previous to December, the townhall (TH) really didn't have any value in the regular game. In fact, it's greatest value was as a sacrificial lamb; by placing it OUTSIDE the walls, you invited a TH snipe. This would cost you a few trophies, but it would also provide a 12 hour shield that kept your resources protected and TH snipers seldom went for anything more.
Of course, this is antithetical to the very concept of a tower defense game; how is it tower defense when you sacrifice the tower itself?!
SC's solution to this problem was to increase the value of the TH - it became a resource storage in its own right and no longer gave up a 12 hours shield when it was the only thing taken down. This effectively killed TH sniping because now everyone would actually defend the tower (and they did).
However, this move also killed loot retention. Players could now reasonably expect to be raided at least twice a day. Savvy raiders increased the strength of their army and, in no time, players were losing the max offer from storages and collectors.
The natural response was to simply play more; a single or maybe two raids was all it took to get back everything you lost and you could even do it from behind a shield with a cost of just 3 hours of shield time. So, for most players...this was something they could adjust to without TOO much effort and, let's face it, there was TONS more loot available with all those bases no longer getting the instashield.
This worked out well for all but the casual players. These players typically only hit their games once or twice a day; clear collectors, reset traps, request troops, start an upgrade or two, log off. In many cases, casual players wouldn't even open the game for a couple of days and they seldom, if ever, raided other players.
This mode of play does not work well without the instashield, though. They were not being raided each day for MORE than they could produce. Unless they raided themselves, they could neither save resources nor progress in the game.
Many left, some adapted, and lots expressed their unhappiness in the forums. The casual game was declared dead and nothing SC has done since has enabled these players to return.
It's still possible to play in a semi-casual fashion, however...at least to a point. The answer is to be willing to put a minimum of 15-20 minutes each day into the game and to use shields, and boosted collectors, wisely.
Three or four times a day, open the game and do the normal stuff - clear collectors, reset traps, request troops, and start upgrades. Just add two additional steps - conduct a raid and build an army (in that order). If you build your army in between your sessions, when you're not playing the game, it will be ready when you check in next time. A single raid will require MAYBE 3-4 minutes if you hit next a bit. That means you can do everything you need to do in just 5 minutes time - or 15-20 minutes each day. (With pre-saved armies in the new update, it will be closer to 4 minutes.)
The first six TH levels are very friendly to this type of play. I can vouch for this personally and recently - I just took four games to TH6 using this method of play. Early TH7 works just fine with the same. Where things start to get a little tough is mid-way through TH7.
TH7 introduces some higher cost items (typically 1M+ gold or elixir). That's the break point for most raiders; as soon as you offer of 100K/100K, you'll start to get raided by stronger armies that shoot for much higher destruction rates (and more loot).
To combat these stronger attacks and continue to progress, it helps to run an occasional hour or two of boosted barracks raiding on your off days (typically, weekends).
TH7 also represents the first time your elixir and gold collectors are able to pump out enough that a shielded, boosted collector run makes sense. Level 11 collectors (TH7 max) put out 3000 units of gold/elixir per hour. Assuming six collectors, all boosted...that's 36,000 units per hour of output - 864,000 per day. If you boost collectors and put up a one week shield, you'll pull in 6M gold and elixir. That will be enough to finish off the back end of TH7. If you line it up right, you can actually get a full 14 days of shielded time (so about 14M).
This works fine into TH8, although things will go more slowly as you'll be raided by TH9 players and upgrades, again, cost even more than they did before. An extra hour on the weekends for back-to-back, boosted raiding will help as well.
This is the "new" casual and I use it regularly. I have several games that I've taken to TH7 or TH8 using this method, and I also use it on my TH9-TH11 games as well. As you might suspect, starting at TH9 those weekends become more than just an hour or three; I typically take one weekend every couple months to burn the personal break timer plus village guard and get in 8 hours on a single game. On those weekends, I'll raid, across games, 16-20 hours. It's not something I do often though (I do have a life with work, family, and so on) but it's necessary to make big pushes forward in the game at the higher TH levels.
Case in point - my main game is currently at TH10 (just upgraded a month back) and I've been playing it "casually" to reach a point that everything is at max TH9 levels and offense is upgraded. My first big push after that was to upgrade my infernos to level 3. It took me a few weeks, but I put in a couple of 8 hour raiding sessions and they're now level 3. Next up were my teslas to level 8. Each one was 5M gold and 12 days down, so 20M gold. I didn't have time to do them all at once, so I spread it across the week, raiding in between other things (light work week) until all four were down. Two are done, two remain; when they're done, I'll dump another weekend into the x-bows.
That may not sound so casual, and I agree that it's not, but it's also not diehard either. Diehard players tend to come from the younger crowd - they'll put in 4-6 hours daily and 8-12 on the weekend. Some adults even make their living on the game. My weekday play is casual still - I basically just clear collectors and reset traps - but I hit the game hard on the weekends.
This is why I say the casual game is still there but "to a point". TH8 is where the casual game starts to become unmanageable and TH9 is the decision point. At TH9, a player needs to decide to become more active, accept the heavy losses and little progression, or leave the game behind. This may change in the future but, for now, that's really the state of casual game.