Possible solutions to the Spliterlands bot problem


Hi, I'm Yuki. Today I'm going to talk about a big topic in Splinterlands, which is bots. Having bots in the game definitely has pros and cons. I'm going to mention that and suggest some solutions to the bot problem in the game.

hated bots.jpg
I know some people are mad at bots but please read calmly lol

Pros and Cons with the bots


  • We can find matches instantly or without much waiting time
    No one wants to wait for 3 minutes and end up not finding an opponent. That's a terrible game experience. This might not be a huge problem in bronze and silver but in higher leagues, this problem gets bigger because fewer and fewer people are available at the time you're playing, for example in diamond or champion league. I personally experienced this in the diamond league, especially the earlier part of the season. Having bots provide a solution to this.

  • Cheaper cards on the market
    Bots can farm the reward cards by working 24/7, so bot farm owners can sell reward cards cheap because they didn't spend so much of their time to farm those cards.

  • Bot owners still contribute to the economy
    Bot accounts still need to have card power to stay in a certain league to gain DEC battle reward. It means they still either purchase cards or rent cards from the market.


  • Bots take a lot of DEC from the DEC reward pool, reducing normal players' DEC rewards.
    If you didn't know, Splinterlands mints a specified amount DEC per day and distributes the DEC pool to individual players. So if bot farms take DEC from playing a lot, that means you earn less DEC

  • Not fun if you lose a match to bots
    People like to play against other people, not with bots. If you lose a match, it is frustrating already but if the opponent was a bot it gets extra frustrating.

  • Bot farm can make a lot of money selling reward cards
    This is an unfair advantage because human players can't spend thousands of hours playing thousands of accounts to farm reward cards.

Possible solutions to this bot problem

1. Use lore quiz as CAPTCHA

Just in case you don't know what captcha is here's the screenshot of it.



You either have to click a checkbox or click certain pictures that contain
something, for example, a taxi.

While this would remove bots, this destroys the game experience steering people's attention away from the game.

My suggestion is to use the lore quiz as a captcha. Nate (the creative director of Splinterlands) has been saying that the lore will be an important part of the game in town halls (AMAs). Why not have a lore quiz that is related to the daily quest in order to claim the daily reward?

For example, today I got an earth quest. Before you claim the reward, the game asks a question like this.

"Pelacor Mercenary is a monster in earth splinter. He is from a continent called Solaki. What is Solaki known as?"



  1. The continent of Dothraki
  2. The sun splinter
  3. The place of peace
  4. The birthplace of angels

If you're human, you can just go read the lore of Pelacor Mercenary and find the answer. It only takes you a few minutes and you can learn and enjoy the world of splinterlands at a deeper level. However, if you are a bot farm owner, you don't have time to check hundreds of lore stories. You can only get 1 retry and if you get it wrong twice, you can't claim that day's reward chests. Yes, you might be able to outsource it but that reduces the profitability of the bot farm.

This lore quiz can't be the same for everyone. For example, I noticed if one account gets an earth quest, a lot of other accounts get an earth quest as well for that day. So if a lot of accounts with the earth quest get the same lore quiz for that quest, it's easy to manipulate programmatically and get the answer. So we should have hundreds of lore quizzes for one quest and randomize it. Also, the game should keep adding a new lore quiz every week.

2. Introduce a merchant guild license as CAPTCHA


The idea is that in order to buy/sell/transfer splinterlands cards, you have to join the merchant guild. In order to join the merchant guild, you have to own a guild license.

Before you buy/sell/transfer a card for the first time, you have to pass a licensing exam. It is a short reading plus a few quizzes to test what you read. The reading could be talking about

  • fees associated with buy/purchase cards (splinterlands fee, peakmonster fee etc)
  • the lore of the merchant guild
  • the lore should talk about the existence of illegal merchants who scam people
  • the guild license is a way to differentiate illegal merchants and official merchants

Also, before you buy/sell/transfer a card the first time in the month, you have to tell the merchant guild code to the game, or 3rd party markets like peakmonsters.

The guild code should be something more fun than just numbers & characters. I'm thinking something more like a phrase, "venari brings a candy", "the storm has come", "open sesame"

You can only gain the merchant guild code from the splinterlands android / iphone app. The code is different for each device and you can only reuse the same code 3 times. That means you can use one device for 3 accounts.

You might argue that bot farmers can still use emulators to run the splinterlands application, but that adds complexity, adds a lot more time and effort.

This prevents or makes it hard for bot farms to send DEC and reward cards to one account to sell a huge number of farmed reward cards.

3. Publish Physical Splinterlands cards as CAPTCHA


This is more fun but a little more difficult idea to make come true. The idea is that you can purchase a set of physical cards that has merchant guild codes on the back that last 1 year. If you input the code from this physical card, you don't have to type the merchant guild code for 1 year.

How fun will this be! I want a set of physical cards from splinterlands!!!

This solution is so fun and purchasing a set gives you the advantage of not having to bother with the merchant guild codes because you're a special merchant!

4. Registered bots


This is to make sure that players don't have to wait for a match for a long time. Splinterlands should allow accounts to be registered as official bot accounts. These bot accounts don't gain much or any DEC or reward cards from the battle or reward chests BUT the bot owner can get rewarded with SPS. The more bots you run, the more SPS you gain. The higher league you run in bots, the more SPS you gain.

There's going to be a limit for the total number of bots run in each league. For example, bronze 1000, silver 600, gold 300, diamond 200, champion 100. I'm assuming that lower leagues have a lot more players, so they need more bots.

These bot accounts can't have more than 65% win rate to make sure that bot accounts are not beating up regular players too much. If the bot account wins more than 65% in the season, the bot owner gets a notification to act. If an account keeps winning more than 65% in 3 seasons, the bot account doesn't get any SPS reward.

This SPS reward for bot accounts can come from the SPS foundation treasury if the game splinterlands can't give any SPS from the company.

If you don't know about SPS foundation treasury, there's already $4M worth of crypto in the treasury. Also, if mini-set packs (the next one is rift-watchers) are purchasable with SPS, that SPS used to purchase packs goes to the SPS foundation treasury. The SPS holders will be able to decide how to use the crypto including SPS.

5. Trustless Scholarship


If we restrict bots with the lore-based captcha, what happens to bot farm owners with a lot of cards? They can apply for officially registered bots, but there's a limit. Another way to use their cards is through scholarships.

Currently, if you want to create a scholarship program where you delegate cards, you have to advertise and trust that person for reward split etc. This is a blockchain-based game. It should be trustless.

Here's how a trustless scholarship program should work.

A new person should be able to create an account for free without a spellbook. There's a scholarship listing page where you can apply for scholarships. The program detail page should list how it splits the DEC earning and reward cards. A scholarship program owner should be able to choose if they want to cover the cost of the spellbook or not. If they offer spellbook purchases, the game should charge the program owner $10. So a brand new person can start playing the game for free thanks to this trustless scholarship program.

Once the scholarship was approved, you can start earning. It'll be something like Spellbook purchase is covered. DEC earning a split of 70:30. The player keeps the reward cards from the chests. Length of term, 10 seasons. The program owner can choose those terms. This is a smart contract and the card, reward spit should be executed automatically.

You know we can't just ban something and not prepare a roundabout method. For example, if you ban alcohol completely, people find their way to drink it. If there's no other legal way, they will find an illegal way. That's why trustless scholarship is important, making it super easy to run a scholarship program.

At the same time, this provides an interesting way for new players to start earning with 0 upfront cost! If they like the game when they try it out for free, they'd be more likely to invest more money into the game!


Bots are a big problem in splinterlands, the great blockchain-based trading card game. The reward in bronze was nerfed severely and it is not an ideal situation for low-budget players.

I suggested adding the lore-based captcha to make an environment that is hard for bot farming DEC, reward cards. I also mentioned the idea of physical cards and the idea of registered bots to keep the matching time short without draining DEC reward pool and reward cards.

The trustless scholarship program not only helps reduce un-registered bots but also will help more new players come into the ecosystem as well.

I hope that we can create a sustainable economy with a restricted number of bots.



Research paper: Keeping Bots out of Online Games (Philippe Golle, Nicolas Ducheneaut)

Please let me know what you think about my suggestions in the comment section!

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I like the Sps reward option, but the problem with that would be that it would forever create extra selling pressure on Sps. Then there is the question of where would that Sps come from since it has a capped supply and the distribution model is already established so the Sps being rewarded would have to come from somewhere in that table leaving less for whatever means it was going to be used for. The Dec drain is the biggest issues, cards will only be cheap for however long they are being printed. It would also not really be fair to handicap someone whose already spent thousands on setting up their bot farms. Dec earnings is one of the bigger structures that entice people to go higher in leagues. Its a touchy subject and there probably is no right answer that would satisfy everyone. But I do think your point of extended search times is a huge pro. If you remove bots we will be searching for battles forever and that in the end would also push people away. Good read.


Thank you for your comment, Smokelord! I understand what you mean. I tried to make it fair to everyone as much as possible and I knew we can't suddenly ban bots with captcha. I thought the SPS reward for registered bots can come from the SPS foundation treasury. I hoped that the SPS from the rift-watchers pack sale can fund that. I thought people already invested in bot farm can utilize the trustless scholarships. Anyways, thank you for your valuable feedback 😊


You did a great job of discussing all the issues. I like many of your thoughts and have argued for them myself (like registering bots). I also realize that many of the solutions you propose can be worked around by the bot makers, so I think that is the biggest hindrance to adopting your solutions. On the positive side I think that yabapmatt is in the process of coming up with his OWN solution to address the issue of the bots taking so many rewards unfairly. I have only seen the hints of it, but I do think he's aware of the issues you've discussed and hopefully he comes up with something awesome for humans! :)

Good post and you should add the #spt tag and also post it in the post promotion on the SPL discord so that more people can see this!!!


Thank you for your comment, davemccoy!

I truly appreciate it. Yes, the captcha ideas are not perfect. If they compare the route of exploiting the system with the registered bot, or trustless scholarship route, I hoped that they would choose the registered bot or scholarship route. So the latter has to be easy and rewarding enough.

I didn't think about #spt tag. thanks!
Absolutely, I hope that Yabapmatt has a great solution too!


The reference paper goes as far as to conclude that "hardware-based bot prevention techniques such as CAPTCHA tokens will become increasingly prevalent" and never touches on how this would effect players, just bots.
This is a a mighty bold assumption that ignores human behavior... human nature is to take the path of least resistance, so given a choice between a game that uses captcha and a similar one that doesn't, one can reasonably assume the game that doesn't use captcha is going to be more popular.
As a 15+ year old paper, it's conclusion and some of it's theory has basically already been disproven.

Enough on the paper, here is my thoughts on the article:

As a fairly large investor in Splinterlands, my vote will always be no to captcha.
Captcha is a horrible, frustrating tool that bots can deal with and I'm positive it would drive more people away than it would sedate the hate of bots.

Option 1 adds too much time to a game, most people could have found an opponent, and set/submit a team before the average person is going to find the lore.
Option 2 is complex (remember that a large percentage of the existing players doesn't use English as their primary language) and what about desktop users?
Option 3... buy some physical cards so I can trade my virtual ones... really?!?!
Option 4, well... first question is, how do you determine who is a bot in the first place? Don't say, well if they play all day, they are a bot, bots can and will run on a human schedule if the game starts targeting them. Think about it this way, if you can think of a way a bot could slip past detection, it will be done.
Option 5 has lots of assumptions.

The core problem is the draining of value from the game which you outlined well, I just don't believe that captcha is going to solve it and is a huge detraction.

The Splinterlands team has done well in the past to make adjustments away from being bot friendly, and I trust them to make future changes at a controlled rate. Remember, everything they do to slow down bots effects actual players as well.
The game is going to change a lot this year, so let's see what the team can do with bots before we even think about the ugly options.


Hi phoenith. Thank you for your feedback!

I understand that captcha is ugly. I agree, let's see what the team can do. I just wanted to share my ideas with other players.

As for option 3, guild code is kind of like an addon. Having real splinterlands cards are cool in my opinion. People who like to own physical cards can get codes as a bonus.

As for option 4, bot owners can actively apply to register their accounts as registered bots to help the game. It's not that the game finds bots and registers them.

As for option 5, people are running scholarships anyway. Why not make it easier for them if it helps bring more new players? Trustless part can avoid a lot of troubles running scholarships like finding people, negotiating, reward splitting, etc.

oh, I guess you doubt that scholarships will bring more players and keep them engaged. That's fair. I don't know enough about other games with scholarships like axi.