There's a hot new game on the WAX blockchain that is currently climbing the charts. The game is called Castles: The NFT Game, released by Metasource Games. It is a kingdom-building strategy game where players "build wealth, influence, and glory in a medieval fantasy world." It is an NFT game where your NFTs earn rewards used to expand your kingdom.
Before I get into the review, however, let me take care of a few housekeeping items.
- I want to disclose that I am an investor in this game. I have purchased several NFTs at low cost during pre-release events. My total investment in the game to date is less than $1,000.
- Because I own assets in this game, the value of those assets may increase as more people play the game. Even so, this post summarizes the game mechanics and my impressions so far. It is not a recruitment pitch. I would rather see my assets become worthless than trick people into playing a bad game just to increase the value of my assets.
- This post does not contain financial advice. Pay-to-play, play-2-earn NFT games like Castles are extremely risky. Any game assets that you own may lose some or all of their value at any time. Do not invest more in this game than you are comfortable losing. Any statements in this post regarding potential earnings or value are estimates only and not guarantees of financial performance.
Castles is a play-2-earn NFT game revolving around kingdom building. To play the game, you will need to sign in to the Castles website using your WAX wallet address. You will also need to purchase one or more NFTs, which are available on AtomicHub. The price of these assets is highly variable, but entry-level lands are available for around $11 at the time of this writing. That price will change frequently and may be significantly higher or lower by the time you read this.
The focus of the game is to build castles by merging lands together. There are six levels of lands available. You can exchange (burn) three matching lands from one level to mint one land of the next level. The lands (from lowest to highest level) are farms, ranches, villages, towns, cities, and castles.
Each land you own generates MSource tokens at a fixed rate. Since you create higher-level lands by merging three lower-level lands, the higher level lands earn three times the MSource per hour of the previous level. So farms earn 10 MSource tokens per hour, ranches earn 30, villages earn 90, towns earn 270, cities earn 810, and castles earn 2,430.
As long as you have at least one land and have signed in to the game on the Castles website, your lands will earn MSource tokens every hour. What you do with those tokens is up to you. The exchange rate is highly variable, but at the time of this writing, 1 WAX was worth 763 MSource. That price will change frequently and may be significantly higher or lower by the time you read this. You can use an exchange like Alcor to convert your MSource into WAX to buy new Castles NFTs, to spend on other games, or to withdraw to fiat currency.
You can claim the earnings from your land as frequently or infrequently as you want. This means the earnings from your lands are passive income because you are not required to claim your rewards on a fixed schedule.
You will need to spend some of your MSource earnings to merge your lands to the next higher level. Each merge will cost 3 days' earnings for all three lands. Since farms earn 10 MSource per hour, or 240 per day, merging three farms into a ranch will cost 240 MSource x 3 lands x 3 days, or 2,160 MSource.
Merging three lands together burns your original NFTs and mints a new land NFT of the next level. With each merge you perform, you will always receive the next level of land, but you may also receive a bonus land. When merging three farms into a ranch, you have a 36% chance of receiving one new farm with the ranch and a 3.6% chance of receiving two new farms with the ranch. The chances of receiving these rewards decrease with each level, but there will always be some chance to receive bonus cards when merging lands.
Barons Generate Land
Barons are the only "royal" NFTs in the Castles game so far and are one of the rarest and most important NFTs in the game. The supply of barons is tightly limited, even as the number of players increases. Barons can produce a new land once every 24 hours. This is not a passive earning like the MSource tokens lands generate. Players log in to the game and click a button to "redeem" their barons, which will mint a new land NFT in the player's account. Typically, barons will produce a farm, but have a fixed probability of producing a ranch or a village instead.
Barons start with 7 "charges" and use one for every land they mint. Once the baron is out of charges, it will need to be recharged with a royal seal NFT. You can always purchase royal seal NFTs in the game for WAX. The price will always be $5, but the amount of WAX needed to purchase a royal seal will fluctuate as the WAX/USD exchange rate changes. You can purchase royal seals on secondary markets, but beware of people trying to take advantage of you by pricing their royal seals at more than $5. You can always buy as many royal seals as you want for the WAX-equivalent of $5 each inside the game.
If you are lucky enough to own a baron, you will need to think about the recharge cost each week. You might decide to sell a land every week or two to pay for the royal seal, or you can exchange your earned MSource tokens for WAX to purchase a royal seal. So you don't need to pay out of pocket if you use some earnings from the lands the barons produced during the week.
Barons are extremely rare and valuable. At the time of this writing, barons were selling on AtomicHub for more than $1,500. That price will change frequently and may be significantly higher or lower by the time you read this. The base price of a baron is $249 in WAX, but they are extremely scarce. New barons are available to purchase at the base price once a month in limited drops. You can find information about upcoming drops through the social media accounts listed on the Castles website. Don't get your hopes up too high about these drops, though. This year, only 64 barons will be available in each monthly drop, and will probably be gone in a matter of seconds. Each year, the number of barons per drop will go down until the maximum number of barons are minted.
Craft a Castle to Produce Royal Seals
As you accumulate lands and merge them together, you can eventually craft a castle. It takes an equivalent of 243 farms to produce one castle. Castles earn MSource hourly and can mint one royal seal per day. You need one royal seal to "recharge" the castle once a week, so you will net six royal seals per week.
Royal seals are an important part of the Castles economy. They are currently required to recharge barons and castles. In the future, they will be even more important as the developers release new components to the game. You are free to sell your excess royal seals for any price you set, but remember that players can always purchase royal seals directly from the game for $5 in WAX, so there's no reason for them to pay you more than that.
Limited Time Crafting Events
As the Castles game evolves, new features will be added to the game. This is an important part of the game ecosystem. As barons mint new lands each day and players merge them into castles, there will be an ever-increasing number of lands and royal seals minted every day. This would naturally lead to a loss of value of those assets over time. There are two ways the game prevents this, and one of those ways is by adding new game elements that require royal seals. Players can craft these new assets within the game, but only during limited time events, so their numbers will always be limited.
The first crafting event, beginning on March 24, allows players to craft lumberjack NFTs during a two-week window. Lumberjacks will produce 2-3 lumber tokens every day, and must be recharged once a week like barons and castles. Lumberjacks will be a vital part of the future economy of the game, so this is your chance to get in early and craft some valuable NFTs of your own. In the first crafting event, there is no limit to the number of lumberjacks players can craft, but future events will have limits on the total number craftable (Always less than or equal to the last crafting event).
Lumberjacks are not cheap to craft. They cost 100,000 MSource tokens and 2 royal seals. They are even more expensive to recharge, requiring 400,000 MSource tokens and 4 royal seals. Demand for MSource and royal seals will increase dramatically during and after this event, which balances the increased production from a growing number of lands and castles.
There are more crafting events scheduled to produce other NFTs that will have a lower crafting and recharging cost to ensure there is always an on-ramp to the game for players who can't afford the highest-level NFTs. Crafting events will be announced on the social media accounts that are listed on the Castles website.
As the game evolves, some of the crafting events will allow players to create various wonder NFTs. The first wonder players can craft will be the Royal Courthouse Wonder. Anyone who holds a royal courthouse wonder in their WAX wallet will be given a portion of the in-game earnings on the sale of royal seals. This only applies to royal seals purchased through the game, not on the secondary market. The total sales of royal seals is split in half, with 50% going to the developers and the other 50% divided evenly between all royal courthouse wonder NFTs. Players can buy, sell, or trade wonders on the secondary market, and whoever holds them during the monthly snapshot will receive one share of the WAX rewards for that month for every royal courthouse wonder they own.
As the game evolves, there will be opportunities to craft additional wonders. The rewards for these future wonders have not been determined.
Scheduled Cost Increases
The limited time crafting events are one way the developers will prevent the market from being flooded by MSource tokens and new lands. The other way to prevent the economy from collapsing will be to increase the costs of merging lands and recharging royals, castles, and other chargeable NFTs. When the total number of farms minted reaches 500,000, the price of merging and recharging will double automatically. As soon as that happens, the number of new lands and royal seals sold by players each day will decline drastically. Instead of costing three days' earnings from each of the three lands being merged, it will now take six days to generate enough MSource to merge your lands. Barons will continue to produce one land per day, but will require two royal seals a week to recharge. Castles will use two royal seals to recharge each week, but will produce one or two royal seals each day.
The price will double again when the total number of farms minted reaches 750,000, and again when it reaches 875,000. By that time, land merging and NFT recharging will cost eight times what it does now. Additional price doublings after that will continue to balance the economy.
Beginning in late May, players can craft their own lands, which will rapidly increase the number of lands minted. This is called the Land Rush Event, and will encourage users to mint as many lands as possible in order to reach the first price doubling (500,000 farms minted). At the time of this writing, over 85,000 farms have been minted. But Castles is rapidly growing in popularity, and the limited time crafting events will draw in many more users. That means the first price doubling will probably happen before too much longer.
My Thoughts on Castles: The NFT Game
I have enjoyed playing Castles so far, and am looking forward to the upcoming crafting events and the growth of the game. Part of my enjoyment comes from being an early adopter and watching the game go from just a vague concept to a full-blown game that is being played by so many new people. One of the best features of the game is how easily you can play. Unlike many NFT games, you don't have to click on buttons all day long to play. For castles and barons and future crafters, you will need to click a button to redeem them, but only once a day. Claiming MSource earnings and merging lands can be done as frequently or infrequently as you want. The game also allows you to redeem multiple barons or crafters or merge up to nine lands in a single transaction, saving you time and CPU charges.
There are a few minor inconveniences I've seen in the game. I am mentioning them here for your information, but they have not detracted from my enjoyment of the game so far. There have been some technical issues with the website when claiming rewards (Not more than I've seen in other games). I frequently get an error stating "the user started a new transaction" if I perform a second transaction without refreshing the page. But refreshing the page between transactions clears the error, so it's no big deal. Sometimes, when claiming MSource tokens, I click the claim button and approve the transaction, but don't get my MSource or the confirmation message on the website. This does not mean I lost my MSource, just that the transaction didn't go through. There's no message stating the problem, but if I try again a few times, the claim will eventually succeed and I will get my MSource earnings. Only the successful transaction uses CPU time. I know that running out of CPU causes this issue, but it's not the only cause. And speaking of CPU, merging lands can take a couple of milliseconds of CPU time to complete, so you may need to stake more WAX to CPU in your account to perform the transactions you need in a day. Taking advantage of the multiple claim/multiple merge features can help with this significantly.
As I mentioned earlier, I purchased some valuable NFTs (barons) when they were easily available at their base price. This has given me a great starting position in the game, as I get a new land every day from each baron. If you are starting off with no barons, as most new players will be, your experience may be different. In theory, you could buy a single farm and use your MSource tokens earned from that farm to buy another farm and keep doing that to build your kingdom. But it could take months to earn enough MSource from your first farm to buy the next farm even if the price of farms doesn't increase (which is unlikely). I don't say this to discourage new players, but to suggest that if you want to get in on this game, plan on buying at least four or five lands so you generate enough earnings to buy lands more frequently. That's not required to play, but it might kick start your kingdom and make it more enjoyable to watch it grow. When you have enough lands, merge them together to see if you can get a bonus land or two. And if you can afford it, take advantage of crafting events to produce your own crafters, as they can generate additional income for you. They may seem expensive to craft and recharge, but remember, you don't have to recharge them every week. If your earnings only allow you to recharge them once every 2-3 weeks, that's fine. Each time you recharge them, they will generate new assets for you that will earn you more money, so eventually you will earn enough to recharge them every week. If you don't have a lot of money to invest in the game, consider skipping the lumberjack crafting event, as lumberjacks are very expensive to own and maintain. There will be another event April 12-26 where you can craft carpenters, which will cost less to craft and to recharge than lumberjacks, so that might be a better entry point for you. I'm not saying lumberjacks are a poor investment, because they probably aren't, but they are very expensive, so think about what is best for you. Don't spend more than you are comfortable spending.
Sometimes, players will list their royal seals for sale for a given amount of WAX and the exchange rate will change before they are sold, which can make the sale price slightly more than $5. That can happen, and it's not necessarily an attempt to cheat others. But there will always be some unscrupulous people who intentionally try to take advantage of new players who may not know they can buy royal seals in the game for a fixed price. That's just wrong, and you should not support them by buying assets from them.
I have written several posts so far describing the kinds of games I most like to play: Adventure games with a strong story line, including character growth and development, that provide players with a rewarding game play experience and fond memories after the game is over. Castles does not fit that description: It is a different type of game altogether. It is a strategy game focused on collecting as many assets as possible and using those assets to build more assets. There are some rumors that there may be more interactive elements added in the future, but nothing is certain at this point. Nevertheless, I am enjoying playing Castles and watching my lands grow each day. The potential earnings from the game are nice, but I find that I want to hold on to my earnings to use them for future rewards instead of cashing out, so even though my portfolio is growing, I haven't seen any actual returns on my investment yet, which is OK with me and part of my strategy.
Strategy games like Castles can become addictive to play because you are constantly striving to reach the next level and get your hands on new assets to earn more or different rewards. That makes these games fun to play, as you can watch your world grow as you put time and effort into the game. But it also presents a danger to some players. You'll feel the temptation to speed up your kingdom's growth by buying new assets. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but I strongly caution anyone who wants to play this game to set limits on the amount of money they can afford to spend on the game and stick to those limits.
There's always the desire to spend more than you are comfortable with and rationalize it to yourself by thinking of how much you will earn by playing the game. You will hear about how much some players earn by playing this game, and there are online calculators that will show you just how much you can make in a day, week, or month by playing this game. These calculators are useful tools, but they are based on how much you will earn if you sell everything that you earn as you earn it, and at the current prices. In reality, you will probably reinvest most of your in-game earnings back into the game to buy or craft additional assets to get to the next level, and the next, and the next. This will drastically reduce how much you can actually expect to earn from the game each day. Keep in mind the value of your portfolio will definitely fluctuate and may decrease with time. If that happens, your assets may be worth less than they were when you purchased or created them. In the event of a market collapse, which is always possible and could happen without warning, your game assets may become worthless. That is why I recommend you set a budget and stick to it. As you play the game, consider withdrawing a portion of your earnings from the game periodically and use them to invest elsewhere or convert them to fiat currency. That way, if the market collapses down the road, you will already have recouped some of your investment and won't lose everything.
These are just my suggestions, of course. Your financial position and risk tolerance may differ, so the strategies I recommend may not be the best in your case.
I hope this review is helpful to you. I know it's rather long, but there was just so much to cover I didn't want to shorten it or split it into multiple posts.
Happy kingdom-building, everyone!