Welcome to the Splinterverse!*
Many blockchain games today are making use of cards as a way of visualizing usable NFTs in game, but Splinterlands takes this one step further, offering crypto-enthusiasts an entirely new universe and trading card game on the blockchain! This game is a great introduction to the play to earn model, as users can grow their NFT collection, whilst simultaneously utilizing them for gaming and more. Want to find out more about Sir Snorfkin’s review of the game? Let’s dive in!
*Transparency note: The views expressed in this review are solely based on observations and research conducted by the author. The author has not received any sponsorship or payment from Splinterlands for writing this article, and the opinions formed are independent of any external influence.
Many trading card games are well known for their distinct visuals and art, and Splinterlands is sure to become another welcome addition to this list. Splinterlands clearly employs its own distinct card design artwork, which is consistent throughout the game and aligned with the overall visuals of gameplay. The card design in this game is highly distinct, meaning that its cartoon-like art style draws users into a universe which is simultaneously fun and enjoyable. This is unique from both its blockchain and non-blockchain counterparts, which often feature highly serious art styles which can come across as intimidating for more casual gamers. As the game evolves and develops moving forward, users can be sure to expect more great visuals and well-designed cards (amongst other NFTs) from the team.
Drake of Arnak: one of the many Splinterlands “Summoners”
The game splits cards into six themed “splinters,” each of which offers differing approaches to a “rumble”, or battle. It doesn’t stop there, as each splinter features multiple summoners, offering unique bonuses to the cards on the field. Moreover, cards are broken up into melee, ranged, and magic attack types, which all affect a rumble in differing ways. One of the most notable complexity-adding factors is the game’s built in random mana distribution every match, forcing players to continuously adapt their strategies not just to their opponents, but to their own cards as well. At first glance, it might seem like just another trading card game, but upon deeper inspection, one will see that Splinterlands’ complexity and depth gives players an experience they won’t soon forget!
Card battles merely scratch the surface of this game’s depth. Players can also take part in frequent tournament events, thoroughly strategize their deck builds, collect unique cards and level them up, and much more. In future updates, the team plans to introduce land in the game, allowing users to generate resources and create utility items which will add further value to the game. Lastly, the game’s complexity is further fortified by guilds, which allow users to group up into small teams which compete for higher ranks, share expertise, and more. The overall complexity is not only rock-solid, but sure to grow as the game expands and adds new features.
If you like trading card games, then Splinterlands is definitely a great choice for you! The game is sure to entertain a wide range of players, as the gameplay makes it fun to learn, continuously test new builds and strategies, and master the Splinterlands universe. On the other hand, some elements of gameplay could serve as a potential deterrent to both beginning players and those who are not as fond of trading card games. For example, matchmaking seems to be influenced heavily by “rank,” rather than the overall power of one’s deck, leading to difficulty in consistently obtaining the daily quest rewards need to grow one’s deck as one often gets pitted against very experienced players. Despite this, a big part of the appeal of Splinterlands is the rewards one receives when overcoming these obstacles, and thus patient gamers are sure to enjoy this game a great deal and truly feel that they have earned their cards.
Ease of Use
Splinterlands is a welcome sight in the growing sea of often-wonky, non user-friendly blockchain games. The game is not only easy to use, but also prepares players to hit the ground running with a well-designed tutorial for beginners! Alongside that, the game offers a practice mode and a clear in-game menu which makes it easy to gain an overview of all owned cards, buy and sell cards on the market, register for competitions, and more. Splinterlands’ well-designed user interface is extremely beneficial for those who are new to blockchain gaming. As a further plus, the game sets users up with a unique Hive blockchain wallet address (tied to their username) upon purchase of a “summoners spellbook.” One of the only frustrating aspects lies in the game’s marketplace, where it is difficult to see a cards DEC purchasing price until attempting to make a transaction, as the market lists all cards based on their approximate USD value rather than their value in in-game currency.
Cost Benefit Ratio
From a cost perspective, the most important thing to consider about Splinterlands is the “Summoner’s Spellbook.” This item costs approximately $10 (an is purchasable with both fiat and cryptocurrency), and is essentially one’s entry ticket to begin playing the game and earning cards and Dark Energy Crystals (see underlying technology). What is great for those with a limited budget to keep in mind is that they are welcome to sign up for the game for free and play practice rounds in order to learn the game and assess whether or not they would like to spend the money to get a spellbook (for new players see the extra card tip below to learn how to obtain an extra card upon sign-up)
Despite the catchiness of the “play to earn” model, users should be aware that this game will require patience for those looking to truly generate significant value just from playing. In the end, however, $10 is a small price to pay for those who enjoy trading card games and blockchain gaming in general. Thus, as Splinterlands likely requires a significant time investment and long-term commitment in order to gather enough cards and items to truly recoup the initial $10 investment, the cost benefit ratio is somewhat dependent on how many hours users spend actively enjoying this game.
Splinterlands’ descriptions of its underlying technology is somewhat dispersed on various channels, but overall the game is built on a solid foundation from a technical standpoint. The interesting aspect of the technology behind Splinterlands is likely to be somewhat as a result of the development team making a conscious decision to emphasize making this a game first, supported by the blockchain in the background, in order to ensure that the underlying tech is more digestible and less of the emphasis for the non-experts. Regardless, when assessing the underlying tech one should take into account:
- Dark Energy Crystals (DEC): A fungible, in-game currency within the Splinterlands metaverse. 1000DEC = $1
- In-Game Assets: These are Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the game. Examples are the cards, land plots, and more.
- Hive: The blockchain foundation upon which Splinterlands runs.
Dark Energy Crystals exist as tokenized assets on the Hive blockchain, and users are able to trade these on the Hive Engine Marketplace. Alongside DEC being tradable, other in-game assets can be tokenized out and transferred through Hive Engine Marketplace, as well as via WAX or Ethereum.
An screenshot of the Hive Engine Marketplace, where users can trade DEC
While the technical foundation of the game is solid, the team would likely benefit from including this information in a more centralized location on their website or wiki, and could also consider incorporating a whitepaper for those interested in the deeper technical details. Although this is the case, the game and its assets exist transparently on the blockchain for all users to evaluate. A showcase of this can be seen on the marketplace, where each card is identifiable by a unique serial number, and transparency of the game is further visible when opening card packs, as users can check and verify the results on the blockchain.
An example of technical transparency: Users are able to verify the results of opening card packs via the blockchain
Splinterlands’ user community contains a well-balanced mix of friendliness, helpfulness, and competitiveness. This mixed community is one-of-a-kind, and is clearly attributable to the active and engaging Splinterlands team! The game’s community is also very alive in discord and other blogging channels, with numerous users publishing tutorials, deck builds, and more! The aforementioned guild factor adds additional depth and complexity to the user community, by stimulating competition and simultaneously more group activity. What is most notable about the game’s community is its highly involved development team, who actively participate in and create exciting events (such as the upcoming DYGYCON conference) not only for their own community, but for the blockchain space as a whole. Their hard work is clearly mirrored in the strong, growing community which is evolving around Splinterlands.
The Splinterlands guild page, where users can create or join a guild
Conclusion & Final Score
Splinterlands is stunning, and provides gamers with a deeply complex game with an array of ways to engage with its universe, thus showcasing the possibilities of how blockchain technology can amplify gameplay of any type of game. The game is easy to use and easy to learn, making it playable for gamers of any skill level. Where Splinterlands’ gameplay leaves room for improvement is in the large amount of time and patience it requires for new players to complete daily quests, rank up, gain new cards, and try to compete with the existing player-base’s already well-stocked decks.
While the buy in cost is a meagre $10, the catchy promise of “play to earn” does come with medium to large time investment in order to learn the game and amass cards, assuming one doesn’t want to spend more money on cards, as the DEC earn rate for new players isn’t likely to earn them too much in the beginning. However, the cost benefit ratio is made up for by the game’s engaging features. The lack of emphasis on the underlying technology could potentially serve as a groundbreaking strategy for introducing blockchain games to the masses, but the team would benefit from making this information more easily available in a centralized location for those who would like to have a better understanding of the technology behind the game. Although this is a currently identified drawback with the, one must look at the user community when making a final assessment of Splinterlands’ all-around features.
As previously mentioned, the Splinterlands community is the heart and soul of the game. Whether in a guild, in discord, or one of the many team-organized events, one can be sure that the community will always provide the proper mix of supportiveness, creativeness, competition, and more. This outstanding community is one of the true engines behind the game’s success, and shows how blockchain games can and should be games first, just as the development team intended it to be with Splinterlands. So, despite its flaws, Splinterlands is most certainly a game worth playing, especially for those who are new to the play to earn model of gaming, with a limited budget, and who are looking for an amazing community.
I, Sir Snorfkin, hereby decree that Splinterlands receives a final score of Four point Two crowns out of five.
Final Score: 4.2/5 (👑👑👑👑)
Fun Factor: 4/5
Ease of Use: 4/5
Cost Benefit Ratio: 3/5
Underlying Technology: 4/5
User Community: 5/5
Acknowledgements: A big shout out to Carrie Allen of the Splinterlands team, for her time telling more about Splinterlands’ events, and a major applause to Content Director Chris Roberts, for his support in providing crucial information useful for writing this article. An additional shout out to all of the members of the Splinterlands discord community for their useful tutorials, guides, and more, which were highly valuable for learning more about the game.
Extra Card Tip: Are you new to Splinterlands and want to make the most out of the initial $10 investment? Would you like to obtain an additional card from the Untamed card set? To do so, let them know that Sir Snorkin sent you by signing up through this link.