Getting Into Splinterlands: A digital collectible card game with a number of interesting mechanics

Getting Into Splinterlands: A digital collectible card game with a number of interesting mechanics

By Daniel Goldman | The B.C.U. Times | 29 Jul 2019

Collectible card games have been around for many years. There's Magic The Gathering, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Force of Will, and many others. There are millions of players world-wide, and people spend a lot of money on these pieces of cardboard. I've personally spent a lot of time and money on many of these games. Splinterlands is an online, blockchain based game, that runs on Steem, and was funded in part through, Sesameseed.

People reading this article on Steemit are likely well aware of Splinterlands. In fact, the game is the reason I decided to start writing on Steemit in the first place. But I'm also posting this article on Medium and publish0x, so I'd like to go over some basic things that I like about Splinterlands and differences between Splinterlands and other similar games.

No Storage Issues

One issue I've always had is finding places to keep the cards, and making sure that they stay in near mint condition. That's why I'm interested in the future of blockchain based collectible card games like Splinterlands. While Magic The Gathering does have MGTO and Magic: The Gathering Arena, the assets are fully under the control of Wizards. Depending on how a game is designed wrt interaction with the blockchain, users can have a lot more control over the assets generated by these games. As we've already mentioned, the core power of blockchain based games is the ability to utilize the assets outside of the game, through potential third party support.

Bulk Commons? No Problem!

Another feature that makes Splinterlands different from traditional TCGs like Magic is that the cards themselves can evolve. While a card's details may be changed via an erratum, this change affects all cards in question. In Splinterlands, an individual's own card has the ability to evolve. Basically, a card has multiple levels. By combining the same card together, you get a new card that is of a higher level. It's a great way to deal with the issue of bulk commons and junk cards. I have so many copies of commons in my MTG collection, and some of them have little use than being a coaster.

Game Play

Splinters and Summoners

A splinter is a fraction which represents one of the six types of mana. A summoner utilizes one of these elements. In many ways, a summoner is similar to a commander in EDH or a J-Ruler in Force of Will. With the summoner in place, you can select up to six monsters. The monsters you can select are based on the summoner's splinter and level, as well as some other factors that will be addressed below.

Card Positions

In most TCGs I've played, the battlefield doesn't have much geometry to it. It doesn't matter too much where a card is placed, with perhaps the exception of a couple of different zones. With Splinterlands, the order in which you select your cards is important, as the order indicates a physical order. Monsters are ordered like a queue.
The monster in the first position in the tank, which generally utilizes a melee attack. If that monster dies, the queue is moved up one. A monster directly behind the tank can attack the enemy's tank, if it has reach. But there are ways to attack other monsters. Snipe targets enemy monsters with ranged, magic, or no attack that are not in the first position, while sneak is the ability to attack the monster which is last in the queue.


Turn mechanics work a lot like a D&D fight. There are turns and rounds. The order in which a monster attacks is determined by its speed. After every monster has gone, the next round starts.

Rule Modifications

In order to keep things interesting, there are numerous rule modifications, which become progressively harder as your rank increases. Sometimes only certain splinters can be used, sometimes only cards with melee or without melee can be used. Sometimes cards get extra buffs or limitations. The rule variations add a lot to constructing the list of monsters to select for each game.

Furthermore, each game has a different mana restriction. Some games allow very little mana, which means you can choose to utilize low mana monsters or just a couple of higher mana ones, depending on which makes sense. But things are about to get even more complicated. To keep things interesting, the team decided to add the possibility of a second rule when playing in gold league and higher. They felt that people were getting too comfortable with each rule and that they could quickly build a lineup without much thought. A core philosophy in this game seems to be to keep people on their toes and make sure that you really have to think each time you play. Overall, this decision seems like a good one.

Seasons and Leagues

I already mentioned leagues, but what is a league? Game play is split into seasons. A season lasts roughly 15 days: about half a month. At the end of the season, the game awards you a certain number of cards, based on your highest league, which is determined by how many points you've earned by winning games and lost by losing games. The basic leagues groups are novice, bronze, silver, gold, diamond, and champion. Each of these groups is split into three leagues. This system helps to keep skill levels matched up during game play. It would be bad of a beginner was matched up with an expert player after all.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I like the game. There's a lot to keep people interested. There's the collectible nature of the game. But there's also significant strategizing required to play what could have been a very simple and repetitive game. The added rule sets really make it difficult to create a small group meta arrangements, which is great. Even in MTG, with all sorts of cards, there are really only a handful of decks, outside of EDH perhaps, that consistently do well and are played a lot. With Splinterlands, you really have to know all of your cards, their attributes, and so on, and create a lineup that works for each scenario. I'm hoping Splinterlands is around for a long time, and becomes at least as popular, if not more popular, than MTGO and Arena.

Referral Link

Any good platform should have a referral program. And Splinterlands has one. In fact, it has a really good one. While not all purchases occur using the official market, Splinterland's referral program gives 5% of all purchases made on the platform. That's pretty damn good. My referral link is provided in header link, but here it is again if anyone missed it.

Originally published on steempeak

Daniel Goldman
Daniel Goldman

I’m a polymath and a rōnin scholar. That is to say that I enjoy studying many different topics. Find more at

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