How to Improve in Splinterlands - Structure #00

Improving your gameplay is always a very hard struggle, and it can many times lead to frustration, but that can always be remedied with the application of a consistent method together with coherent concepts.

For us to have a method we'll focusing first on the concept of STRUCTURE inside the Splinterlands gameplay and using it to make our decisions in game, but before we continue I must say that this is going to be the very first article on this subject, and it will cover the broad idea of structure and some examples. The main reason being that structure is highly specific and extremely complex.

If you like to think about those kinds of puzzles and strategies I believe you'll have a blast with this series. I promise not that you'll improve your gameplay just by reading this, and I definitely offer no "sick combos" or "this is going to win always", but what this will be is a method for thinking your matches through, analyzing your mistakes and finding the best ways to choose and position your cards in order to win more battles consistently.

Let's start with the big question:

So, what IS structure?

Concept of Structure

Well, if you have played any Splinterlands at all you'll notice that the rules of the game imply a certain positioning. For instance, melee attackers can only perform an attack in the first position and ranged attackers can not attack at all in the first position. Of course every rule has its exception, and the exceptions are what give complexity to the game.

When we talk about structure, we're talking about the positional relation of your cards in the Splinterlands board, and the relation between them.
---------------------------Concept of Structure---------------------------------

It is not a very difficult concept to understand but its application is not simple at all. Let me show you one example where the first part of the concept is very clear.

Study Case - Melee Only

Study Case: Melee Only - The melee only rule set implies a certain structure. There are only three kinds of melee attackers for the purpose of structure: Sneak, Opportunity, and the ones that attack the first position. So it is not enough to position your best cards in the board, you must understand where the attacks will land, and what you'll do about them. In my match against @kevanko70 I played the "Giant Scorpion" last position to address the sneak attackers. As you can see in the match there was just Death and Life to be picked as Splinters, and Life has a lot of good melee sneak attackers. It wasn't what I faced in the game itself, but you must always consider everything. If you see the amount of HP my creatures have, there are 3 monsters that possess 3 HP, and I put the one with shield in the front. That is not a coincidence. Opportunity will attack the lowest health monster, and if there is a tie, he'll attack the one closer to the first position. By doing what I did, I protect my other 2 monsters that would otherwise die for the opportunity monster. If you look at kevanko's structure, you'll see that he is pretty smart with his composition as well. He does not prevent against sneak, which is a clear mistake but he puts "Creeping Ooze" to be the target for my opportunity monsters, and his strategy was pretty much put the "Lord of Darkness" in front and just let him reign supreme with retaliate and shield. It is not a bad strategy, but I knew that if he was going to play Death, I'd be going against Lord of Darkness, so I played a high speed flying monster and prayed to the god of dodge to bless me.

This is just one example of a very simple rule set that makes the game a lot simpler than most because it takes away many possibilities by limiting monsters to melee only, but it still requires a lot of understanding to position your cards in the right place, and in this example that is all that we need to understand.

Notice that in this match there wasn't much relation between cards, structure get's a little bit more complicated as we add buffs, debuffs, combinations, and specific counters. That is where the fun really begins!

Now that we have enjoyed this little dance let's take a step back and make sure we understand clearly how monsters choose where to attack and what determines it.

Where will Attacks Land?

Before we keep going it's important to have the basics right so, let's do it.

  • Melee: Can only attack when placed in the first position, and every monsters that is in the first position can only attack the first position of the enemy.
  • Range: Can only attack when placed anywhere BUT the first position.
  • Magic: Can attack from anywhere.

Here you can see how the basic structure of the Splinterlands board looks like:

Credits to the Splinterlands Wiki

That establishes the general rule, and I won't go into detail of every single exception, but as you play and learn you'll eventually get used to everyone of them. The most important of them can not be left behind though.

  • Sneak: Sneak monsters ALWAYS attack the last position of the enemy. No matter what other ability your monster has, if he has SNEAK he WILL attack the last position. If he has opportunity and sneak, he will attack the last position.
  • Snipe: Monster with the snipe ability attack the first monster non-melee that is not in the first position. It is a little tricky but stay with me. Think about the enemy monsters, ignore the first position, and then look at the first monster that is range, magic, or non-attacker, that's the monster which will be attacked. If there is not a monster that is non-melee, snipe monsters will attack the first position as if they had no snipe ability.
  • Opportunity: Opportunity monsters will attack the monster with the lower health in the enemy team. If there is a tie, he'll attack the monster closer to the first position.

This is the fundamental basis that we will use to understand basic positioning, and you'll eventually know it by heart if you keep playing and paying attention every time they are in place. Focus on the process and you'll get there 100%.

Basic Positioning

Let's take this two matches as study cases, as they are both very similar and can tell a lot of how to think about positioning and how to deal with the Blast ability.

So in the first match we have the Explosive Weaponry rule set, which means that every monster have blast, and that changes the way you must structure your board, and because it was such a high mana cap match, I had a lot of room to think about how I wanted to approach the problem of blast killing my adjacent units. My opponent, Yuraso didn't care much about his adjacent units, and he just choose to put an absurd amount of damage into the field and hoped to break into my line of defenses first, a very common way of playing Fire . It is not a bad strategy by any means, and it can work a lot, specially in blast games, but my Scale Doctor healed my back line with the Triage combined with Repair, and that bought me enough time to break into his line of defense before he broke into mine. When his first position dies exposing his whole team while I still have a very good front liner, and a decent back liner as well, the game is over.

The Scale Doctor is a good concrete of what I meant by "the relation between cards" in the concept of structure. It is not a particularly great damage dealer, but it provides support for the crystalline defense I tried to create. In many battles you'll have this situation where the first line of defense to break loses it, and you must be aware of how to boos your chances of victory, either by buffing your offense or maintaining and supporting your defenses.

I want you to understand that there are a lot of ways to play Splinterlands, and because I play a lot of Death, my games are very structurally cohesive, but brute forcing into other player's structure like what Yuraso did is also a very strong strategy, and depending on how you execute it, it can be brilliant.

Second match was fun, and although there's no explosive weaponry, I'm used to play against infinityx22 in my ranked games, and I know he loves his Yodin Zaku, so I just gambled he would play Yodin. Yodin can be played combined with Snipe, Opportunity and Sneak sometimes, but it is highly probable that you'll find Yodin with normal attackers, and that was what I tried to choose my team against. Again I used Gelatinous Cube as my adjacent tank, and just focused on trying to break his structure with some opportunity and sneak attackers as Fire Splinter can't play very structurally defensive, because they do not have the pieces to do so. They have only one monster with taunt, and you can easily kill it exposing the rest, and if they play without it, there's just nothing that is really survivable. Fire depends on killing your opponent before he has the chance to kill you. It is an EXPLOSIVE splinter, very fast, very aggressive.

What's Next

I have a hundred ideas of how to continue this series, either going very into details and concepts, or going more into gameplay analysis and all about that, but I really wanna know what you guys wanna see in the next ones. I could do analysis of some of your games, or maybe focus on other points you guys may be more interested about.

It's up to you to leave a feedback, and I'll do my best to bring great content that can provide value for the community.

I'm also thinking about coaching Splinterlands players, and I'd really want to know what price would feel right for you guys to pay. Would you ever want to be coached?

Leave it down in the comments and I'll make sure to give it a thought!

Thank you for Reading!

If you enjoyed the content and wanna follow along I'd be very honored to have you.

If you're interested in my content, here are some of my latest posts:

If you haven't started your Splinterlands journey, just start now!


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