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In this article, I will be talking about positioning, one of the most important concepts in splinterlands. Positioning is more than just placing your melee monster in the front row and your ranged monsters in the back. Let's go over some of the most important factors to consider.
This part might be less interesting if you are not a beginner (feel free to skip to the next title), but it's important to cover the basics first.
Let's start by going over the 3 types of monsters.
Melee: these creatures can only attack in first position.
Ranged: these creatures can onlly attack if they are not in first position/
Magic: These magical monsters can attack from any position.
Now, you probably already know that abilities can change the basic rules. For example a melee monster with the reach ability can also attack from the second position. Also, abilities like opportunity or sneak will allow melee monsters to attack from any position.
Also, battle rules can change the rules, for example that all melee monsters can attack from any position.
So now that we know all this you wouldn't struggle to position a melee monster without any abilities, a melee monster with the reach ability and a ranged monster correctly right?
Ps. if you don't know all the abilities, take a look at splintercards where everything is clearly documented.
Avoid idle monsters
This one might also be obvious for some of you, but you should avoid idle monsters. Idle monsters are monsters that are not able to attack for the first x rounds. For example, if you position a melee monster in the second position that does not have any abilities, it will be idle until your first monster dies.
This isn't always terrible, it really depends on your cards, the amount of mana, the battle rules, etc. However, you should be aware of the negative effect here and usually avoid this situations.
Who to put in the safe position(s)?
This depends from lineup to lineup, but think about your highest damage dealers/squishiest monsters.
Also, if you have life leech creatures or scavenge creatures, you want them to be able to get use out of their ability, which means you don't want them to die too fast. On the other hand, these creatures eventually become tanky (some are already tanky from the start of course) and it makes sense that these function as a backup tank.
In this battle for example, I very consciously positioned zalran efreet in position 4, so he had time to grow big enough to function as a secondary tank. Also, there are 2 ranged creatures behind him so he will be very useful as an additional tank.
What is a safe position?
The next question is a bit harder to answer, what is a safe position? When I was brand new to the game, the last position seemed like a very good spot. However, there is this ability called sneak, which ruins that idea. However, if the enemy does not use a sneak monster, it actually is the safest spot. Sometimes you will have to make calculated guesses. Make sure to use all the information that is available when you make these guesses, consider the battle rules and take a look at your opponent's lineups in previous battles.
So, the last position is situational and the first position is usually the least safe. In medium-high mana battles, the second position will (usually) also be attacked pretty fast. The third position might be decent because it is far away from "sneak danger" and there are still 2 monsters in front of it. However, the snipe ability might cause a direct risk here because monsters with the snipe ability will target the first enemy monster with ranged, magic or no attack that is not in the first position. This means that putting a high health ranged monster in front of a low health ranged creature is usually a good idea, unless this means that the low health creature would be in last position, then it becomes situational.
Overall, fourth and fifth position tend to be the safest in the average (high mana) battle.
Wait, what? The chicken gets a separated title in an article about positioning?! Hell yes, let me explain why!
The chicken is by far the most used monster in splinterlands and can be positioned in many places. You can put it at the very back, to protect against sneak attacks. You can put it after the tank(s) to absorb an attack, or you could put it in first position.
Putting it in first position might seem weird, because your melee creature (assuming you do use a melee creature ofcourse) might not be able to attack on turn one. However, we can actually (mostly) anticipate this. If our second creature (the melee tank) has very low attack speed than chances are extremely low that this creature will not be able to attack in turn one. In low mana battles putting the chicken in position 1 can actuallly make or brak your game. It's something to think about.
In this battle for example, it makes perfect sense to put the chicken in front or torhillo because it will almost guaranteed still get it's attack in. And this way torhillo doesn't take damage on turn 1.
How battle rules can affect the game
Looking back at my learning curve, I'm surprised that it took so long for me to really understand this, it's so obvious... Well, if I can miss it, so can other players, at least, that's what I like to believe.
I have already talked about how a battle rule like "all melee creatures can attack from any position" obviously affects your game and lineup. However, other battle rules also have a lot of impact on your positioning. For example, when all monsters gain the sneak ability, you don't need to care about melee monsters being idle, but at the same time you have to protect your backline (probably by putting a big tank in the last position).
This might still be pretty obvious, but what took me longer was understanding that a rule like "all monsters loose their abilities" gives you all the information needed to create the perfectly positioned lineup, without making estimated guesses. In this situation, the last position will always be the safest and the first will be the least safe. There is not a single monster that could attack anything else than your first creature. I don't want to know the amount of times I actually didn't put my most valuable/squishy damage dealer at the very last position in games with this rule.
Positioning is important, often you will have to make estimated guesses, but sometimes the battle rules will tell you exactly what you need to know.
As always, I would recommend to try out a lot of different stuff and see what works best for you, but you can definitely use the information in this article to get a good start.
If you have any advice, critique or comments feel free to let me know!
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