Hello fellow TCG enthusiasts!
Today is an exciting day. The Splinterlands team has hit us with their vision for updating ranked rewards which is a tope we have all been going back and forth on as of late. As such, I wanted to break each point down and give my thoughts. If you haven't seen their post yet check it out here.
Generally these changes are trying to continue to incentivize deck and rank progression as they have stated over and over in their AMAs as their current goals.
- Remove opponent names from visible data prior to team submission.
- Provide a 5% DEC boost to Beta cards
- Remove the ability to list cards on cooldown for rent
- Add Chaos Legion packs to Silver and above chests
- Remove the ability to send SPL assets to temporary accounts
#1 Name Removal
This is easily the most critical change as a part of these update notes in my opinion. This change tackles multiple venues and has some major pros and cons. First, I'm going to say that I generally support this change despite its cons.
- Starts to limit the ability of bots to eclipse the abilities of players
- Reduces the ability to win trade
- The overall skill cap of the game will be reduced.
- Many 3rd-party tools will become irrelevant
Bot ImpactOne of my main issues with Splinterlands is that it is infested with bots. I'm highly vocal about this and my opinions on the matter are no surprise. The team touches on how this impacts bots/scripts but doesn't really dive in to give you guys the know-how.
So how do current bots work? Well, they collect data on battles including what monsters/summoners were used, who won, and what mana counts / rulesets were in play. With this data most bots are then performing data analytics to determine the win rate of any given composition of cards for every single unique combination of mana count and ruleset. By doing this the bots can determine which comp has the highest win rate for the set of rules and then play that comp if the bot has the available cards.
image via Forbes
The next iteration of bots which is already in place but limited utilizes a similar approach in terms of collecting battle data but also includes identifying the bot's current opponent and searching that player's available deck, preferred summoners, etc. In this way, not only can the bot determine what is the theoretically best comp for any given ruleset but also identify which deck will most likely be played by its opponent and find a direct counter to that deck. For the most part this game is built on math so outside of the RNG of dodge, a bot could find almost the perfect deck to play in any given situation. Obviously if bots were allowed to get to this level, there would really be no reason to play as a human as your skill level would never be able to beat the logical processing power that a bot could put forth.
All that said, without being able to identify its opponent, bots are currently limited to only the existing database functionality which to some degree is counterable. This is because if you know you are playing against a bot, you can more or less expect it to play that "perfect" comp which you can then build a direct counter to. This will be a cyclical process however as when the bot loses with that "perfect" comp a new comp will ultimately end up with a higher win rate making it the new "perfect". This is effectively how meta swings work in all TCGs.
image via Splintertools.io
Similarly to how this change hurts bots, this change also kills some popular 3rd party tools such as Splintertools which were used to scout other players and predict match outcomes much in a similar fashion as bots would be doing. Personally I'm fine with this change killing these tools as well as I feel they take away the need for skill from the game.
Win Trading ImpactThis is another part of the change that is strictly positive. Although it will still be possible to win trade by queuing two accounts at once and then comparing the past 5 battle history for those two accounts to see if they are playing each other it will be slightly more resource intensive to do so. It would absolutely require a bot to do the comparison quickly enough and that bot would have to have access to both queued accounts data.
This should help curb people abusing both tournaments to farm SPS unfairly as well as people abusing the leaderboard system.
Reduced Skill CapSo one of the major skill differences in top level play at this point in time is related to opponent scouting. Similar to how bots and the Splintertools work, player scouting involves looking at what cards your opponent has and making a guess as to what they will play against you. I suspect that most people that were doing this were using an automated tool but I'm sure there were some that were also doing this manually. With this change we will see most all accounts, bot or human, be leveled to only the information available within the game client at the time of the match. This should improve the experience for most human players at the expensive of the players that are most heavily interested in winning.
#2 Beta DEC boost
This is a pretty straight forward change. In giving Beta cards a DEC boost they are simply rewarding older players for keeping their assets. This is basically going to be a boost to earnings in the soon to come 'Wild' Format. I think this change will largely be unnoticed by most new players as they won't care.
What they don't realize is that this change also indirectly impacts their DEC gains as any % boost for one play lowers the DEC available for all other players. This is true of all boosts (Gold/Guild/Alpha/Promo). That said, if both formats have individual DEC pools this indirect impact will not occur for players which stick to Modern format.
Personally, I think this is a good trend to keep the Wild formats alive and well going into the future.
#3 Rent Cooldowns
This is more a quality of life change than anything and ultimately I suspect little fallout as a result. This change addressed the niche issue of players renting cards that are on cooldown and then not being able to play with them. Once someone did this once they very rarely would do it again. That said, how many new players did this once and became fed up with the game and never came back.
#4 Chaos Legion pack Rewards
Unfortunately, this is one of those changes that seems great on the surface but feels like it will be a detriment in the future. With CL packs being put into the reward pool we will now have a situation where farmers, which exist solely to take money out of the environment, will now be able to impact CL card prices. Historically, packs have been in the reward pool so this isn't surprising but I've got to say I'm a bit disappointed given they had said packs wouldn't be included in past AMAs.
I do find this change to be interesting. With them now including packs they are effectively going to force the scarcity of CL cards to increase at a faster rate.
#5 Temporary accounts
Restricting temporary accounts from holding assets is honestly a no impact change for most users involved in this game. As such, I'm not even going to discuss it. Check out their post for more details here.
DisclaimersSplinterlands images owned by Splinterlands. All other images and content owned by me unless otherwise noted.
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