Splinterlands: Your First Purchases
So you want to play Splinterlands? (full disclosure: this link contains my referral code. There are lots to choose from, and I'd be honored if you'd consider using mine.) Splinterlands, while certainly a top contender among play-to-earn games, is by no means a free-to-play game. Sure, you can play through the tutorial and fool around with some practice games, but to start actually collecting NFT cards and earning Dark Energy Crystals, you'll need to drop $10.00 on a Spellbook straight away (you can do this with Paypal if you're not ready to dive too deep into crypto just yet).
Once you've purchased your Spellbook, you can technically grind your way to anything the game has to offer, through a combination of daily quests, DEC battle rewards, season rewards, and of course flipping cards on the marketplace for fun and profit. But Splinterlands' early game can certainly prove to be a lengthy grind. The starter (non-NFT or "ghost") cards that Splinterlands offers to new players are pretty average at best. On top of that, the matchmaking system isn't sophisticated enough to match you with other new "starter deck only" players. So you're certain to get matched up against players with more developed collections than yours.
But fear not! The expenditure of a few dollars more, early on in your Splinterlands career, can greatly speed you on your way to the higher tiers where you'll be earning multiple reward chests per day, and a boatload of treasure at the end of each season. Let's assume, for the sake of this article, you're not quite ready to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars on the game just yet, but you have a couple bucks to throw its way. With that in mind, let's make sure you get the most of those first few dollars you spend.
This post will be a guide to your first purchases in the game of Splinterlands. The cards listed here, quite frankly, should be among the starter cards the game gives you, but (perhaps in a deliberate attempt to drive players to the market?) they're not. If you're not ready to take a deep dive into crypto wallets, exchanges, etc., the easiest way to accomplish your first purchases will be to buy Credits (the gold coins w/ teeth on 'em) using Paypal, and spend those Credits on cards in the game's built-in marketplace. In a future article we'll talk about some slightly more cost-effective, but also significantly more complicated, ways to buy Splinterlands cards on secondary markets for DEC and WAX.
First Things First: What to Buy (in no particular order).
Goblin Mech. This massive-yet-questionably-piloted war machine is a heavy hitter, which some of the splinters definitely lack to start. With its formidable armor, health, and melee attack stats, and the penetrate ability to put the icing on the murdercake, the Mech makes a great front liner. This guy will absolutely win some battles all on his own in the novice and early bronze tiers. He's even better with a good cast of supporting characters.
Furious Chicken. The infamous 0-cost clucker just gives you a straight up advantage in most games over anyone who doesn't have a chicken of their own. It's a free body you should always, always toss somewhere in your lineup if you have an open slot. Place it in front of your ranged characters to keep them shooting longer, or behind them if you expect enemy sneak-attackers. Put it on the front line to absorb the first big hit from a speedy front-liner before your own front liner steps up to punch back. At the time of writing, the Chicken is the most expensive of the cards listed here, but it is well worth it. If the chicken absorbs a hit (or maybe 2 with Tyrus' armor buff!), that's a big advantage, and it just might prove to be more than your opponent can hen-dle.
Creeping Ooze. Speed is incredibly important in this game (not just the early game), so reducing the entire enemy team's speed by 1 for 1 mana is just insanely good. Do you want to go first so you can kill their guys before they kill yours? Do you want to hit more often and be hit less? Speed is your answer. I can't believe this card is as cheap as it is, both in marketplace prices and mana cost (this should be a 2-mana card in my humble opinion). Frankly, if you can only afford one of the cards in this article, the Ooze should probably be it.
Sea Monster. The sea monster is a mandatory pickup for early-level Water/Blue players. It heals itself. It hits like a truck (when it hits - that certainly isn't guaranteed with a speed score of one). But, did I mention it heals itself? You will recognize this as a common theme throughout the rest of this article: healing is incredibly strong at early levels. This is another monster that can win games by itself. You want it on your side.
Wood Nymph. A healer is absolutely mandatory for Earth/Green to support your big, front-line beaters. Combine this arguably-underdressed-for-battle pocket healer with either Unicorn Mustang if you're expecting magic, or Stone Golem if you're expecting anything else. Healing in the early leagues is just too good to pass up.
Armorsmith. A lot of Life/White's best front-liners are packing a decent amount of armor. That being the case, this guy basically gives you a second healer. This is, of course, very strong at early levels. With the right composition the Armorsmith can help you completely lock down enemy teams, preventing them from ever getting past your front line (especially if they forgot to include Snipe, Sneak, or Opportunity in their team).
Vampire. This little sparkler provides some ranged firepower with a blood-sucking twist - he gains life every time he lands an attack. If you put this guy in the middle of your lineup and protect him well, he can get huge before he ever has to take a hit, then face-tank for the rest of your ranged shooters. He really shines in the Equalizer rule where he'll have even longer to grow, or the Up Close and Personal rule where he can shoot back while face tanking.
Fineas Rage There isn't really much more to say about ol' Fineas than he's a fantastic second-slot beater for Fire/Red with lots of speed and health. I have no idea why his stats aren't showing up in the "official" picture of the card, but at level 1 he's sporting 2 Melee Atk., 5 Speed, and 8 health. Since he's already got plenty of speed, he pairs very well with Malric for the bonus attack power.
And that's all for now. What are your thoughts on these new-player staples? If you're a veteran Splinterlands player, what would you add to or subtract from this list (try to keep your suggestions to around $1.00 or less)? If you're a new player who's picked up one or more of these cards, have you noticed an improvement in your game? Let me know in the comments section below! If you liked this article, (or even if you liked everything but the hen pun) please leave me a heart/like/thumbs up/upvote/tip (only the free kind, please don't actually send me anything of yours)/etc. and consider following me for more Splinterlands shenanigans in the future. Thank you kindly, and happy hunting!