Splinterlands is a trading card game that runs on the Hive blockchain and interacts with several others, and it fits the Play to Earn philosophy perfectly. Originally called Steem Monsters, this trading card game allows players to battle monsters in exchange for rewards. Players can level up cards by combining two or more of the same card. Dark Energy Crystals (DEC), the in-game token, can be earned by winning battles, selling cards, or other in-game activities.
Splinterlands is a trading card game, available as a browser-based game. There’s also a mobile app available on Android, with an iOS release pending approval. In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know to get started battling monsters and making money. You’ll be ready to climb the ranks, level up monsters, and earn rewards.
This Play to Earn guide for Splinterlands isn’t investment advice, but could provide you inspiration in how to make the most of your gameplay activities. First and foremost we’re talking about games, and value in these virtual economies comes from gamers having fun together. Without gamers, no community. Without community, no value.
An Introduction to Basic Gameplay
Warning: In order to start playing the play-to-earn part of the game, you need to buy a Summoner’s Book. That’s a $10 investment.
At first glance, Splinterlands may seem like any other trading card game such as Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering. While there are similar elements between them, there is one vital difference: battles are entirely automated.
I’ll be honest, when I first started playing the game, the automated battles were a disappointment. I expected to issue commands during epic battles as with other similar games. However, as I learned more about the game, the automated battles grew on me.
The gameplay is focused on battle preparation. You select your Summoner, build your army, and watch them duke it out for supremacy. You do not issue any controls once the battle begins and cannot impact the results in any way.
Ten steps of an average battle
- The player hits the “Battle” button on the Battle page, with “Ranked” selected
- The game searches for you, and finds an opponent
- The player is given all of the information needed about the battle, such as the available mana, which Summoners are allowed, and any special rules. These special rules are introduced at the Bronze II level, while you start at Novice level.
- The player continues on to the next page where they have two minutes to build their deck
- The first step is to select the Summoner, which dictates the type of cards available in the battle
- The player then selects which cards they want to use in the battle. This is the core gameplay element: trying to assemble a winning team within the available mana limit and game rules.
- The opponent is doing the same thing during this two-minute time limit
- When both players are ready, the battle commences
- The player clicks “Rumble” and then watches the automated battle
- Results are displayed, DEC and rating points are rewarded to the winner, then the player is taken back to the home screen
Every match will impact the player’s rating, with wins increasing it and losses decreasing it. Improving the rating to specific thresholds will grant access to the next league and reward the player with chests. Chests contain rewards such as potions, packs, or cards. The chests you earn with this method are unlocked at the end of the season, which has a countdown on the Battle page.
Chests may also be gained by completing daily quests. These quests vary but typically call for winning five games with a specific element, for example ‘win five cards with fire’. Successful completion of a daily quest results in a chest reward that can be opened immediately.
There are other game modes available on the Battle page for you to explore, but the core of the game is battling other players in ranked matches.
Understanding The Game Cards
You should understand the different types of game cards to effectively build a deck that wins battles. All cards are broken up into two categories, summoner and monster.
Summoner cards are beings represented mainly by specific elements, such as water or fire. Monster cards are the creatures that do the actual battling. Every Summoner provides monsters with a buff that is specific to that Summoner, which might mean boosting armor or increased magic power. Deciding which buff you want, is part of picking the right Summoner for the match. Dragon Summoners are a bit different than other Summoners as they allow the player to use any element they choose.
The Summoner elements players can choose from are:
Monster cards come in three types:
Melee cards can only strike from the frontline unless they have an ability that allows them to strike from the backline, such as Sneak. Range and magic cards can attack from anywhere and will target the opponent’s frontline monster unless they have an ability that dictates otherwise, such as Opportunity. Magic attacks directly damage health, avoiding any shield the monster may have. I recently got a legendary card, “The Vigilator,” that has both ranged and melee, but that is exceedingly rare.
The last thing you need to know about cards (for now) is how to read the card itself. Let’s take a look at a Kobold Bruiser.
The number in the upper left represents the Kobold’s mana cost. Each game you play, allows for a maximum amount of mana.
The number on the right within the heart represents the Kobold’s total hit points.
The number on the bottom left represents the Kobold’s speed. Speed impacts at which point the monster attacks during the battle. A higher speed monster will attack before a lower speed monster.
The number above the speed within the saw-type icon represents the Kobold’s melee damage. Range is shown with a red and white target, while magic is shown with a puff of purple.
Build Your Army: Acquiring New Cards
Expanding your collection is the key to victory in Splinterlands. There are three ways to acquire new cards and build your army:
- Buy packs. There is always a pack sale going on. You may use credits, which are purchased with PayPal or crypto, to buy packs. You may also use your DEC to purchase packs.
- Aftermarket. There is a built-in market that allows players to buy and sell cards. You can typically find the exact card that you’re after, but you may have to wait for exceedingly rare cards.
- Chests. You are rewarded chest for completing daily quests and reaching higher leagues. Chests can contain cards, packs, DEC, and potions used when opening packs.
You can combine cards together to level them up. Each card has specific bonuses available at each level, such as increased hit points. Take note that the Summoner that you’re using must level up as well to use higher-level cards.
Combining cards is done within the ‘Cards’ page. You must have more than one copy of the card to combine them. If you have copies of a card, a banner will show up in the upper right with the number of cards you have. After selecting a card, you may combine them by checking the box and hitting “Combine Cards”.
Unlocking new cards and leveling them up increases your Power rating. You must increase this rating beyond certain thresholds in order to access higher leagues. Higher leagues also open you up for bigger rewards.
How to Build a Deck that Wins Battles
This guide wouldn’t be complete without imparting some strategies you can use to win your first battle. Here are some rapid-fire tips to help you achieve victory:
- Avoid spending all your available mana on your most expensive cards. Instead, try to use all of your card slots. You’ll have more players on the field and be able to deal more damage per turn.
- Put a melee monster that has the Reach ability in the second slot. You’ll have two melee monsters attacking the frontline instead of one.
- Don’t underestimate speed when picking your monsters. A monster with a high speed rating will strike earlier than a stronger monster with a low speed rating. This can make all the difference in many battles.
- Put a monster with the “Heal” ability in your front slot. They’ll take the bulk of the damage and heal up each round, helping them defend your other monsters longer. Back up the self-healer with plenty of range/magic.
- Experiment, experiment, experiment. Explore different Summoners, monsters, and card placement.
Each of the above tips has helped me win, but I’ve also lost plenty of battles. The key to success in Splinterlands is continually learning, growing, and trying new things. Plus, you have to keep clicking that ‘Battle’ button.
Making Money with Splinterlands
In Splinterlands you can earn DEC, the games ERC-20 token, for various in-game activities. The main way to earn DEC is to win battles. Each battle awards DEC based on your level, your opponent’s level, and your capture rate. The capture rate will decrease as you win which lowers your reward, but it slowly refills between wins.
Another prime way to acquire DEC is by selling cards. You will be paid out in DEC for any card sales, even if the buyer pays with credits. Higher-level cards are more valuable.
Once you’ve accumulated a hearty amount of DEC, you can withdraw to a few different blockchains. At the time of this writing, you can withdraw to Hive and Steem, but also Tron, Ethereum or Binance Smart Chain.
Splinterlands is an enjoyable game that embraces the play-to-earn ideology. Successful players will be able to earn a nice income, while those that struggle will earn less or nothing. Fortunately, you’ll discover new strategies as you collect new cards, level them up, and battle opponents all the way to the top.