How to escape botland - or what I learned about strategy as a beginner
As we come close to the first 24h of Chaos Legion general sale, I suppose there must be many newcomers experimenting with playing Splinterlands. I thus decided to share some Splinterland strategy lessons that I learned since I started playing in October 2021. It is also some reflections about being stuck in botland: not being able to move from bronze league to silver, even with a gold-league deck, which usually happens in the beginning of a new season (extra tip: wait one or two days to start playing, as when a new season starts, stronger players will battle in lower leagues).
1. Think like a bot: bots in lower leagues usually have similar decks, renting just enough for the league level, that is, maximum 5,000 CP for Bronze 1, 15,000 for Silver 3 etc. They will deploy the same cards for the same mana cap and ruleset. Learn to counter those recurrent strategies: what splinter works better for the mana cap-ruleset? What works better against the adversary's strategy? Your line-up should be a combination of those answers.
2. Study the bot's recent battle record: This is a must. You cannot base your strategy solely on the mana cap and rule set, given the cards you have to play. Your strategy should counter the likely team that your adversary will deploy. Count how many mana did your adversary use; if it's a bot, it will likely use the same team for the same mana cap and ruleset (did I say this already?). One simple strategy is to use the same team but change or add one card (think of a zero-mana card: rent a Furious Chicken for about 4 dec/day, which is expensive, or the Chaos Legion legendary Fiends, for less than 2dec/day) or change the positioning of cards. Also: bots of the same family usually have the same, limited deck - therefore, they will use the same strategy.
3. Learn positioning: Cards behave differently and are more or less vulnerable if positioned differently, and depending on the other cards on the lineup. A simple example: sneak ability in the first position is useless as the monster will attack not the last but the first monster. Another example: the first ranged, magic, or no attack (that is not in the first position) is the most vulnerable to Snipe. A third example: a valuable card - for instance, one that heals the Tank - with the lowest health is vulnerable to Opportunity, so it makes sense to add another card with even lower health before it. It is important to position a card according to their abilities and how vulnerable they are to different types of attacks. Learn how to use the different abilities and how to defend against them, and you will improve your positioning.
4. Target multiple monsters: In lower leagues, I learned that targeting multiple monsters is better than concentrating the attack. This means using a combination of Snipe, Sneak and Opportunity behind a strong Tank, utilizing also a combination of melee, magic and Ranged attacks. But don't forget defense!
5. Maximize speed and the team's health: The lower the mana, the more important it is to be the first one to attack (often, winning or losing depends on this), to evade attacks (the fastest monster is more evasive). and to have a higher total health count (or several healing monsters). To maximize speed, rent a Creeping Ooze (less than 0.2 dec/day). To maximize health, use higher level cards, for instance - which is the next point.
6. Use higher level cards: Higher level cards have better stats - speed, health, attack or abilities - for the same mana cost as a lower level card. Of course, you won't be able to use a level 10 card in the bronze league: there's a cap for the summoner level you can use at each league level. In bronze, you can use a rare level 2 summoner - and there are many that can be rented for 0.5-1 dec/day - to summon up to level 3 common monsters, level 2 rare and epic (and level 1 legendary). (You often don't need other than rare summoners in bronze.) You will probably need to rent level 2-3 monsters, but they are also not expensive, and can be a qualitative evolution over level 1 monsters: harder, better, faster, stronger. For instance, a level 2 Chaos Agent has Dodge ability (0.1 dec/day), a level 3 Mycelic Morphoid has Thorn (0.157 dec/day) and a level 2 Xenith Monk has Heal (0.250 dec/day).
7. Learn summoner-monster-monster and summoner-monster-ruleset synergies: Some monsters fit perfectly certain summoners (for instance, Scavo Hireling with its Repair ability goes well with summoners that give armor). Some monsters have synergies with other monsters (for instance, deploying Shieldbearer as a Tank, with its Taunt ability, and Pelacor Arbalest, vulnerable with just 2 health points, in the last position, will protect the latter from Sneak attacks, thus giving him time to do several of his double ranged attacks). Finally, some summoners fit certain rulesets like a glove: Brighton Bloom provides Flying abilities for all monsters to survive Earthquake or Mylor Crowling works very well under Up Close & Personal (when only Monsters with Melee attack may be used in battles). Yet, some synergies are not so obvious: discover yours!
8. All cards are useful, don't sidestep them: You will be surprised once you learn how to deploy that card you have never used. For me, two cards suddenly became useful once I learned where to position them: Exploding Rats in the first position (monsters with 1 speed often miss it) and Pelacor Bandit in the last position (which also tend to escape meele and ranged attacks from monsters with no flying ability). It also took me some time to figure when to use Chaos Agent or monsters with Cleanse ability... do you know?
9. Do not waste resources (dec) on cards you will or can not use: Why rent a level three gold Dragonling Bowman, which will provide all CP you need for Bronze 1, if you cannot use it to battle? Rent wisely. This means targeting your rentals based on usability and not only CP. When I'm in Bronze, I usually rent for 24h only, focusing on cards that will help me with my Daily Quest. You may also focus your rents to form one or two strong splinter decks (plus some neutrals), instead of renting several cards randomly.
10. Do not overplay to meet your Daily Quest: This means two things: use other splinters and cards/strategies; only play your quest if it makes strategic sense (if you already know beating your adversary with the splinter of your daily quest will be hard, don't do it!). And, second, do not deplete your Energy Capture Rate by chasing your Daily Quest. You can accumulate two Daily Quests, so wait for the next day to complete that one that's being evasive. Also, if you usually struggle with that particular quest, skip it (you can pass a quest and request a new one once).
I hope these ten strategy tips will be useful to you. Did I get anything wrong? Please share yours thoughts and own pieces of advice.
And if you aren't earning in Splinterlands, follow this link to join the fun: https://splinterlands.com?ref=lordflu