The newbie struggle: its not the end and bronze shouldn't be for you
There have been a lot of posts lately talking about how, with the recent changes in bronze rewards, newer players or players without significant investments or capital have been screwed out of being able to make reasonable returns on their $10 investments in Splinterlands.
I’m here to tell you 2 things:
- You make your $10 back in 80 days if you do literally nothing at all but play with the starter deck (at the optimal rate of 1 game/hour) and win 50% of your games (easily doable) and complete 0 quests and win 0 cards and rent 0 cards (all of which is unreasonable).
- If you’re not renting and winning back the money and thenm some efficiently, you’re either not paying any attention to what’s beating you or what the current meta is, or you’re being wildly inefficient.
Let me start of by saying once again that Splinterlands’ gameplay alone is worth going through this journey for. Sure, sometimes it feels a bit like a chore if your sole focus is to be as efficient as possible (which I am sometimes guilty of). But just the sheer wit and complexity of the gameplay alone is incredibly satisfying. For that alone it’s worth playing this at all levels, even bronze levels. I should know because I have a secondary account that owns only a starter deck.
Then comes the myriad of ways to make money in this game; and boy are there many. Before I go any further, I do need to clarify that an account’s earning power scales in proportion to both its power and its rank (implying that rental cards and their resultant power directly returns by just earning more DEC/win due to the power increase and you don’t even have to use it for it to pay off).
I’m going to list some of the them here, including the kinds of investments you’ll need (time, money or brain power) into making them come to fruition:
1)Playing with the starter deck only (no financial investment, modest or more brain involvement, modest time involvement): As mentioned above, takes 80 days assuming average game play and average understanding of the game and the current meta (I’m not suggesting I’m above average; without any rentals the starter deck is hard to use effectively, although not impossible if really good).
2)Renting (the absolute bare minimum?) to win (mild financial investment, mild brain involvement, mild-modest time involvement):
There are multiple strategies out there in bronze that can pay off. If you’ve been playing for a few days, chances are that you’ve already encountered and been beaten by venari wavesmith and his ridiculous 2 armor power. That card alone can carry you to ~500 rating if you do nothing but spam that.
You will however probably lose using venari wavesmith by that rating level to the wizards of eastwood + mustang + failed summoner combo (all of which are available in the starter deck and don’t even require rentals!). And this is the point at which a few more rentals are necessary.
A simple llama+kron combo (which does rent for ~140 DEC/day) will carry you all the way out of bronze. And if that sounds too expensive, you need to be a little clever about it. With just the power gain and inevitable win streaks, you can get about ~7 dec/win on average (ranging from 4-10 really). If you rent when at 100% ecr and play all the way down to 50% ecr (50 games, 40 wins – 280 DEC) and wait 2 days and re-rent the same combo, you can easily make it worth your while. This isn’t even including the off chance that you complete quests along the way, which aren’t really worth chasing when compared to DEC wins/game, current rental prices and what DEC is currently worth. The only caveat here is that you require 17 mana and that you put kron last always.
A mylor rental, which is far, far, far cheaper (8 DEC/day) could also carry you through bronze alone. Paired with a unicorn mustang, it pays off in like 10 games (assuming a 60% win rate) at about a 3 DEC/win rate. This combo paired with a healer like wood nymph or a sporcerer or mushroom seer or mitica headhunter could demolish and really rack up win rates and DEC earnings and entire combo of things I just mentioned does not exceed 15 dec/day in total.
I frequently rent a yodin zaku (75 DEC/day) and pair him with every archer I have and a tank or lava launcher, war chaang or gargoya devil and that decimates a lot. Even through a venari wavesmith. You must be cautious about unit placement and can only really use this in high mana matches (>18). It pays off in ~20 games of fire play (pun intended).
There are plenty of great cards and combos out there that could win you games. Djinn Oshanus and lobstradamus are fantastic for their cost. Renting an entire level 2 fire monster deck is inexpensive and very effective. All of these strategies are doubly more efficient when using peakmonsters’ new rental filters and if you time your rentals efficiently and snipe low cost rentals. The options are limitless. Feel free to reply for more ideas or post your own down below and I will gladly claim them as my own.
3)Card flipping (mild-modest financial investment, mild-modest brain power, modest or more time investment): this has become substantially harder of late, what with the rising cost DEC and the attrition faced with selling (5% costs) and fluctuating DEC rates. However, if you’re paying keen attention to the current trends and what cards can be used for what ranked ladders in the future (modern vs wild; hint-hint, nudge-nudge), you can definitely get in early on cards that are great long-term plays. This does require capital. Realistically, I wouldn’t even attempt this unless I have $100 worth of DEC sitting around and even then, I’d rather not because…
4)SPS (modest financial investment, no brain power, no time investment): Hodling DEC remains the most efficient way to get SPS airdrops. SPS is skyrocketing in and of itself but will also lead to a much more worthwhile venture, i.e., vouchers and chaos legion pack presale. The vouchers themselves are currently trading around $16. I do anticipate this to drop in value as the month goes on because, realistically, to use a voucher and buy a pack it costs ~$20 now and the basis of this pricing is the growing player base and anticipated rising demand and the history of prior pack pricing trends. I don’t think this is realistic given the upcoming ranked ladder fork and the fact that in prior pack releases, far fewer packs, and thusly far fewer cards, were released. This time will be different and the continued sales of chaos legion packs will make the vouchers less worthwhile, barring some announcement from the devs for future use case of the vouchers. But getting packs and flipping those will likely still be a good financial strategy too.
5)Blogging: as you can see, it pays a wee bit, if at all. It takes some time do this. It takes 0 financial investment. It can be quite satisfying; I’m loving it. The brain power I leave up to you.
6)Tournaments: This is big brain time. It’s also big wallet time. I’ve been reliably told that you can play this with investments and with some investigation, I see that a partially rented deck is competitive. Not enough to win but certainly enough to get a top 10 finish. I do this it requires quite a bit of personal investment financially too, to be viable at all. But the greatest investment requirement by far is time because without practice and experience, you may as well pretend this option doesn’t exist. The cheaper tournaments to join in don’t pay off well but do give you a lot of good experience and exposure and are certainly worth a try. The big boy tournaments require SPS staking to even be eligible so some financial investment is certainly necessary for those. They're fun challenges but boy are they tough.
7)Investment cards (modest financial investment, mild time investment, mild brain power investment): I have written a detailed blog post about this before but the tl;dr version is gold foil cards really rake in returns come end of season renting. They also bring in a significant amount of power which comes in very handy when considering that silver earns far more DEC/win than bronze does. Sure, you can rent the cards or the power and it may be cheaper up front, but over time, especially with renting out, gold foils are definitely worth. My own experience has taught me that renting out the last 2 days of the season rakes in far more than holding on to that power for the chests. This, however, may not be important or reasonable any more. Last season I rented out 0 of my GF cards and held that power into the next season, started at high bronze and got up to 30 dec/win when I broke into silver just because of how the new season rewards skew was, with the bronze rewards changes taken into account. My set, which would have got me ~2000 DEC, quickly paid off in 60 wins so I absolutely massacred my ecr on day 1 and it was worth it. Its also great not to worry about renting out your cards at good prices cause that sucks.
8)Topping the bronze league (modest financial investment, more than modest time investment, big brain time): You can rent and not ascend to silver simply with the purpose of grabbing the top of the bronze league and getting those sweet, sweet DEC rewards. I'm going to say it out right; the top of the league is the creme de la creme and can hold their own with the top of other leagues. Check out their accounts; they have significant time and financial investments themselves. They've been playing for quite a while so their experience and intellectual investment is significant too. Its not easy. But it is feasible. Good luck and God speed. This is not for the weak.
All these don’t take into account the growth of splinterlands’ assets themselves, which have been yuge of late. SPS, DEC and card values have all risen quite steeply and will probably continue to do so going forward. Its still unclear what changes chaos legion and the new ranked ladder breakdown will bring but I do think a continued uptrend, most significantly in SPS and card value, will continue. This also implies there will come a point when holding DEC for SPS drops will be decremental in value and SPS staking might become the best. Or holding card power in cards that you plan on renting out.
I anticipate all of these will continue to hold true as things have been so profitable at this current point that it will remain so going forward. However, quite clearly the dev team intends on forcing everyone to continue growing their accounts wherever possible and, realistically speaking, there will come an inflection point in every renting journey where buying it outright would have been more profitable (such as for venari wavesmith, where after 100 days of renting, buying it would have been cheaper in the long term). The new announcement and changes suggest that the grind might be harder at first but renting to get to silver is clearly far more worthwhile than sitting and farming bronze. It also means that growing your own collection/owning your own cards/renting out cards, might be more worthwhile too so adjust your plans accordingly.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This game brings YUGE value to me just by virtue of the gameplay, the myriad of ways to earn, the economy and, apparently, blogging. Don’t dismiss it cause the money doesn’t just drop into your hands. Its like playing any other game. Enjoy it for the first month. Decide if you want to investment any time, money or thought power at all. I have a full time 12hr/day, 5 days/week job and on days where I’m too tired, I just don’t play. I still manage to enjoy this, make it financially fruitful and work and play Dota 2 on the side. Stop stressing it. And silver is within arm's reach.