Splinterlands: Suggested Improvements to the Tournament System

in #steemmonsters2 months ago


  • I am writing this opinion piece as a player, not as an official Splinterlands Team Member.

  • Originally these suggested improvements were part of another post on analyzing the latest tournament structure. Since that post was getting long (it will be published soon) I thought it would be better to separate it out.

Table of Contents

Improvements Within the Current System

#1. League Access to Cheaper Fees
Proposals 1A, 1B, and 1C

#2. Adjust Season End Rating Resets
Proposals 2A, 2B, and 2C

#3. Tournament Payouts
Proposals 3A, 3B, 3C, and 3D

#4. Tournament Fees
Proposals 4A & 4B

#5. Restructure Gold Alpha
Proposal 5A

#6. Paired Scheduling
Proposal 6A

Improvements Requiring New Mechanisms

#7. Competitiveness Score

#8. Tournament Rating

#9. League Exclusive Tournaments

#10. Mutually Exclusive Tournaments

#11. Kobold Tournaments Only for New Accounts

#12. Choosing Your Tournament Leagues

Improvements Within the Current System

#1. League Access to Cheaper Fees

Right now in terms of cheaper entry fees we have:

Bronze: Cheap access to Novice and Bronze tournaments
Silver: Cheap access to Novice, Bronze, and Silver tournaments
Gold: Cheap access to Silver and Gold tournaments
Diamond: Cheap access to Gold and Diamond tournaments
Champion: Cheap access to Gold, Diamond, and Champion tournaments

Also note that for Gold Foil events, lower league players have to pay very high entry fees to enter higher leagues but high league players do NOT have to pay extra entry fees to enter lower events (like Bronze or Silver).

Proposal 1A

For symmetry and balance reasons, I think there should be adjustments for Silver and Champion leagues.

I would suggest that Silver league only gets cheap access to Bronze and Silver tournaments (not Novice events. Only Novice and Bronze league would have cheap access to Novice tournaments).

And since Champion gets cheap access to Diamond and Champion events, I think it should NOT get cheap access to Gold league events.

This way, each league gets cheap access to exactly two league categories of tournaments.

Proposal 1B

Alternatively, we can separate out Diamond vs Champion events. So Diamond players have cheap access to Gold and Diamond events (but not Champion) while Champion players have cheap access to Gold and Champion events (but not Diamond events, with the exception of Diamond Alpha and Gold Alpha Diamond).

Proposal 1C

For Gold Foil events, Diamond league accounts should pay extra to enter Bronze league events. Champion league accounts should pay extra to enter Bronze and Silver league events.

#2. Adjust Season End Rating Resets

Although this is technically in the area of Ranked play, it does intersect with tournaments when it comes to cheaper tournament fees.

Right now, the rating reset scheme is as follows:

Bronze III (100-399) resets to Novice (0)
Bronze II (400-699) resets to Bronze III (200)
Bronze I (700-999) resets to Bronze II (400)

Silver III (1000-1299) resets to Bronze II (600)
Silver II (1300-1599) resets to Bronze I (800)
Silver I (1600-1899) resets to Silver III (1000)

Gold III (1900-2199) resets to Silver III (1200)
Gold II (2200-2499) resets to Silver II (1400)
Gold I (2500-2799) resets to Silver I (1600)

Diamond III (2800-3099) resets to Gold III (1900)
Diamond II (3100-3399) resets to Gold II (2200)
Diamond I (3400-3699) resets to Gold I (2500)

Champion III (3700-4199) resets to Diamond III (2800)
Champion II (4200-4699) resets to Diamond II (3100)
Champion I (4700+ resets to Diamond I (3400)

This system was created before multiple leaderboards and allowing players to not advance to the next league was implemented. There is also currently a quirk in that it is hard to drop down to Bronze league since Silver I resets to Silver III and not to Bronze I.

Two current loopholes/exploits are:

  • Using the season reset and drop in league to sign up for cheap tournaments before advancing next season. So Diamond players who drop to Gold I can sign up for cheap Silver tournaments and then advance back to Diamond.

  • According to @cryptomancer, cheaper tournament fees are currently based on "current league" and not leaderboard. So a Champion account can delegate away all its power to drop leagues, sign up for Novice and Bronze tournaments, then cancel the delegations to rebound back to Champion.

Proposal 2A

Accounts that are above the max for that league (who no longer get the win streak and choose not to advance) are reset to the bottom of that league category instead of dropping to a lower league.


Bronze I with 1000+ rating doesn't technically need a change but you could reset it it to 600 (instead of 400).

Silver I with 1900+ rating resets to Silver III (1000).

Gold I with 2800+ rating resets to Gold III (1900).

Diamond I with 3700+ rating resets to Diamond III (2800).

Either the Top 50 of Champ I (or just set it to rating 4800+) resets to Champion III (3700).

Proposal 2B

I would change Silver I (1600-1899) to reset to Bronze III (900 or 999) since people in the past have complained about how hard it is to drop to Bronze from Silver.

Proposal 2C

Instead of cheaper tournaments being based on "current league" it is instead based on the leaderboard of the account. That addresses the "delegate away all my power to drop leagues for cheaper fees" exploit.

#3. Tournament Payouts

There have been lots of complaints about the lower tournament prize payouts by players such as @cornavirus, @thekillingqueen, @jacekw, @jemmarti, @blackheart1, @cyberblock, among many others. I'll save most of my complaints for my other post and go straight to the proposals but a lot of the issues relate to @aggroed's latest policy of tying tournament prize payouts to the collection power of that tournament category:

Proposal 3A

Decouple tournament prize payouts from collection power entirely.

Proposal 3B

Since this new policy makes Untamed only and Untamed + Dice only formats much less appealing, reduce the amount of them and replace them with more All Edition tournaments. Right now 50% of the tournaments are Untamed + Dice only (for Gold, Diamond, and Champion league) and 50% are Untamed only (for Silver and Bronze leagues).

For this proposal, I'd suggest eliminating all Untamed + Dice for Silver, Gold, Diamond, and Champion leagues and instead have only All Edition tournaments (with has higher total collection power and thus better payouts). We can keep it to 50% Untamed only for Bronze league and 100% for Novice league.

Proposal 3C

Alternatively, instead of eliminating Untamed only and Untamed + Dice only entirely, we can just reduce the amount.

Silver, Gold, Diamond, and Champion leagues are reduced to 25% Untamed + Dice only (every two weeks will have 1 U+D and 3 All Edition). We can keep it to 50% Untamed only for Bronze league and 100% for Novice league.

Proposal 3D

As a compromise, hybrid solution: Let collection power of the league set a baseline but don't penalize tournaments with Untamed only, Untamed + Dice only, NLS, or NL formats.

Gold Foil and Alpha tournaments, should probably be calculated separately though.

So Bronze, Silver, Gold, Diamond, and Champion will have a baseline payout based on collection power. But the Untamed or Untamed + Dice events won't have lower payouts. We can reduce their frequency in accordance with Proposal 3C if desired.

#4. Tournament Fees

I'll save most of my complaints about tournament fees for my other post.

Proposal 4A

Decouple tournament fees from tournament prize payouts (and thereby collection power) entirely. 5K and 10K entry fees are ridiculous!

Proposal 4B

Instead of trying to use tournament fees to regulate player behavior, instead replace tournament fees and use either: a competitiveness score (#7), a new tournament rating that better reflects actual skill (#8), league exclusive tournaments (#9), or mutually exclusive tournaments (#10).

#5. Restructure Gold Alpha

Four Gold Alpha events every two weeks is excessive, especially when the collection power requirements have been jacked up and there is no Bronze league category.

Proposal 5A

Instead, there will be 1 Gold Alpha tournament each week and it will alternate between 1 Bronze, 1 Silver, 1 Gold, and 1 Diamond (for each 4 week cycle).

#6. Paired Scheduling

The current scheduling seems a bit haphazard. Some days you might have 0 or 1 tournaments to play. Other days you have 3-4 events to play.

On a given day, why have both Bronze and Silver events? Or both Gold league and Diamond events? It's likely that there will be lots of accounts that are playing both. Instead, the schedule should be rearranged to even out the distribution of events.

Proposal 6A

For example if we pair:

Novice events + Gold league events
Bronze events + Diamond events
Silver events + Champion events

This would reduce the tournament load for most accounts on any given day. We could also spread out the Gold Foil events too.

Improvements Requiring New Mechanisms

#7. Competitiveness Score

Players keep misunderstanding Collection Power. Collection Power is a reasonable reflection of overall investment / stake, is easy to calculate, and makes sense given the Steem/Hive background of the game and the staking mechanism used on those blockchains.

But Collection Power is a very poor reflection of the competitiveness of an account and which league it belongs in. That is because Collection Power factors in:

  • Duplicate copies of cards. An account with 15 million power might just have 1 million Level 1 Rusty Androids.

  • Gold Foil multiplier. A single Gold Foil card has 50 times the collection power of a regular version of that card. If you look at overall accounts, it tends to be about an x11 or x12 power multiplier.

  • Higher level BCX than is allowed in the league. A max level card contributes full power even in a Novice or Bronze tournament.

Instead, a Competitiveness Score calculates how competitive an account is for each league category. This can then be used as the threshold to advance leagues. And it can be used as the requirement for tournament entry (instead of using Tournament Fees + Collection Power).

Collection Power can either be sidelined entirely, or it can be used only to cap rewards. So Competitiveness Score is needed to advance leagues, but rewards are still based on Collection Power.

#8. Tournament Rating

League and rating are very poor indicators of skill due to rating inflation. Also, a player who does well with max cards isn't necessarily good at lower leagues.

There should be separate tournament ratings for each league category. Possibly even for different edition categories and foil categories. This is something that @marianaemilia has advocated for.

Tournament ratings could be used just for informational purposes (like Champion points), or they could be used instead of tournament fees and collection power, or they could also theoretically be used for seeding (instead of having random groups).

Doing well in silver tournaments earns you silver rating points which lets you enter silver tournaments for cheap. (Doing well in bronze tournaments or gold league tournaments would NOT let you enter silver tournaments for cheap).

#9. League Exclusive Tournaments

A certain portion of tournaments (25% or 50%) should be specifically for players in that league.

Some Bronze tournaments are only for Bronze league players.
Some Silver tournaments are only for Silver league players.
Some Gold league tournaments are only for Gold league players.
Some Diamond tournaments are only for Diamond league players.
Some Champion tournaments are only for Champion league players.

Right now you can kind of simulate this with tournament entry fees but there are enough loopholes and exploits to get around the entry fee system.

#10. Mutually Exclusive Tournaments

Have linked tournaments such that a given account can only enter one of them.

Have a Novice, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Diamond, and Champion tournament all at the same time but each account can only enter one of them.

If you really want to enter the Bronze tournament with your Champion account you can but that means foregoing the opportunity to play in the Champion event.

#11. Kobold Tournaments Only for New Accounts

Novice Kobold tournaments should only be open to new accounts that bought their Summoner's Spellbook in the past 3-4 months. After that point, you aren't really a novice any more. This also means bots can't farm the Kobold tournaments endlessly unless they want to constantly create new accounts (and buy new spellbooks every few months).

#12. Choosing Your Tournament Leagues

Instead of having predetermined "League X has cheaper entry fees for these specific categories" simply allow players flexibility and choice.

Each season, every account can choose two league categories of tournaments to play in. If your Champion account wants to choose Bronze and Silver they can do so, but it means you won't be playing in any Diamond or Champion tournaments.

You would still want some thresholds (using Competitiveness Score or Collection Power) so that Level 1 accounts aren't choosing to enter Diamond + Champion events.

You can also sub-divide the choices based on Edition and Foil type. So maybe for your account you want to play in Diamond/Champion All Edition tournaments, Bronze/Silver Alpha tournaments, Silver/Gold gold foil tournaments, and Gold/Diamond Untamed+Dice tournaments.

Please Comment and Vote!

Please respond with any comments and feedback. But also please vote in favor or against any particular items or proposals by noting your votes in your comments. So maybe you are in favor of 1A and 1B but are against 1C. Or you like all of ideas #7-#11 but don't like #12.

 2 months ago 

Really appreciate the time and effort you put in to thinking about this stuff, @byzantinist. I don't really sit down and crunch the numbers, but I'm happy to know these discussions are happening.
I still believe entry fees in official tournaments should be partially or wholly paid in ECR. Those in higher leagues aren't going to want to burn 10-15% of their ECR entering a low level (low prize) tournament, at the cost of a heap of DEC won in ranked play. Likewise, somebody in a lower league who's really good, can compete in a higher level tournament without having to pay lots of DEC.

Here are my thoughts...

You can ask 100 people what they think and they will all disagree. Instead of trying to boil the ocean we should be looking for common ground on the really simple stuff. Get your list down to 3 things that the entire community can agree on. (I don't think that they are on your list. Maybe #3

Here is what I can get behind...

  1. Tournaments should be for the rank you are currently in. Period.
  2. The higher the league tournament, the higher the entry fees, the higher the prizes.
  3. Create a simple tournament calendar. Each day offer a tournament for each league. (just as an example...)
    • Monday - untamed only
    • Tuesday - golds only
    • wednesday - all cards
    • thursday - alphas only
    • friday - untamed only
    • saturday - all cards
    • sunday - untamed & dice

It's hard to get 100 people to agree on anything (even non-Splinterlands stuff) but that's okay. We don't need 100% consensus. And while democratic principles like representation and having concerns being heard are important, you also don't want simple mob rule.

I think the least controversial proposals I suggested would be: readjusting the season reset for Silver I. And keeping Kobold Tournaments for newly created accounts.

The issue with the entry fees is that the majority of players don't actually have to bear the brunt of them - only a minority actually end up paying the fees. The fee system means that most players only pay the discounted 10 DEC fee and don't actually have to experience the pain of higher entry fees.

Right now, most leagues have 2 regular tournaments + 1 gold foil tournament each week (it's a bit of a simplification). But because most accounts play tournaments in more than one league category (average of 2-3) you also have to factor that in.

What you seem to be suggesting is along the lines of mutually exclusive tournaments (#10) combined with league exclusive tournaments (#9). It does mean that Splinterlands has to create a lot more total tournaments (though I guess on average the amount of play time for a given account doesn't change too much).

One potential issue is that the reality is that people's different collections (All Edition vs Alpha vs Untamed vs Gold Alpha) aren't always in sync. Some might be in a different league category than the others.

comments in Deep-dives on discord 😉

One suggestion is to split off the Novice tournaments. Have one intended for new players, with a harder restriction to limit it to new accounts. Then one for all players, but make them clearly distinct in format. You could even open up the latter to more variations. Also the scheduling of the Novice tournaments feel awkward. There's basically one Saturday and one Sunday - spreading them out more, or making one the hard capped New Players tournament and the other a Novice rules challenge for all players.


Here are my votes:

7 - The amount of dev work that would be needed for this can be better used
elsewhere with the other changes. Let's iron out the main points first and come
back to this one.
8 - I'm not really a fan of Tournament rating at this point but once other changes
are in place I would like to revisit this.
9 - I like this one a lot but it should be for the league you are in when the
tournament starts. If you register but then move up a league you would no longer
10 - Not a fan of this idea.
11 - I like this a lot, but only if you are in the Novice league when the tournament
starts. I would go with 3 months as the cut off.
12 - I like this idea and would put it before 7 and 8 above.

Looking forward to part 2!

What a thoughtful group of issues Byz.. I'm impressed at your issues. Here's my reply to you by point (note: most of them I like)

Agree with 1A
1B not needed if 1A happens
1C is not a bad idea as it would spread out the gold foil players and encourage other players to get gold foil cards
I like 2A
no opinion on 2B
I think 2C is good if I understand it correctly... which is the system ranks you in a league and if you go higher, then you can't drop down for the packs... so you would apply that to tourneys too... if so, I would agree
3A I don't like the word "entirely"... obviously the game wants to make the valuable decks have more impact, but in spirit I do think it shouldn't be a hard-coded thing that doesn't account for other issues (like trying to grow the bronze base, so bumping their total payout to maybe pay out 150 spots for instance). IE I like flexibilty and common sense.
3B I think has its points... I would say "have less (not none) untamed and dice" in the leagues you mentioned, but I'd also mix it up more. Untamed + Promo tourney.. .Dice + Alpha tourney ... beta + reward tourney ...etc ... Aggy looks at this like a business (which is fine), but he has to remember a lot of people come here because its a GAME. And when people play a game they want to enjoy the challenge and having all kinds of variations would make us have to think more and thereby making it more fun. But I do agree they should keep the untamed and dice for bronze/novice... I'd even say silver too since those new players get to silver quickly.
3C addressed already in 3B above, but your suggestion here is an improvement.
3D is an attempt to do the payout around a formula... I would argue that his formula is fine... But he has to adjust it where it doesn't make sense. So for instance... take 1/2 of his "budget" and do it by his formula, then take the other half and use your head. What will every league think, what will be the impact on the game, will this attract MORE players of the tourneys, etc??? I think if he did that, and used some common sense, then he could use that remaining 1/2 and make some serious headway.
4A and 4B I think that is an issue of adjustment... once people get used to the way in which the incentives are, then that won't be an issue. But of course if they just prevented non-intended accts from other leagues from playing altogether that would be fine too. I don't think this is as big of an issue though over time as your other points.
5A I don't know the commitments, so that would be a consideration. Other than that possible thorn, I'd agree they can be more spread out. And if he wants to pay them more at his discretion then that's cool too.
6A looks good to me too
7 I don't mind adding Competitiveness Score to Collection Power. But I would NOT scrap CP to advance levels. I do think you can ALSO have your SCORE be another factor that one has to achieve to go higher. I don't know how you calculate it, but I would say BOTH are fine and an improvement probably. But replacing CP entirely would be a huge mistake imo.
8... not really thrilled with that as I see it to be something else to be gamed. If it was purely for bragging purposes I would be fine with it. But if it starts to be used for the uses you mentioned there, then I would think it would cause real frictions and not worth it.
9 100% agree ... I've been advocating for this all the time... Plus I think there should be "popup" tourneys specific to league too so that bots and season reset doesn't affect it. Real people see it and play.. Maybe have announcement ingame "Silver League Popup Tourney" starting in 30 minutes.
10 LOVE it .. .great idea
11 Agree
12 I love the idea as long as you a) choose at beginning of season (first thing you do in new season) and b) its based on the level of the league you just finished playing... so a champion player that gets reset to diamond won't be disqualified for Champion the next season til he gets there.

Again awesome job on your post and ideas, its a great starting point for discussions!

Spectacular list accumulated @byzantinist. Here are my thoughts:

  1. C ...makes the most sense to me. I think there needs to be more segregation for each level, maybe even group them through current leagues they are participating.
  2. To avoid this problem altogether have only higher level tournaments right away when a season starts. For example: Start with Gold day 1, then Diamond day 2, then silver 3, then bronze day 4, then champion day 5... Or something like that. Make it desirous to level up more quickly... more to come gotta go through the rest.
    3 & 4- In all honesty I cannot talk about intelligently, lol.
    5 I'm a bigger fan of less tournaments and bigger payouts, but I don't play alpha gold tournaments.
    6 A: Makes a lot of sense. Like I said above having less tournaments and making them bigger payouts and pay deeper is certainly not a bad thing, I think staggering the levels each given day is a great idea Byz.
    7 & 8: Not sure if I like the idea on these rankings, not sure if the game is ready for it. Not a bad idea and I think could certainly be implemented when we get more players.
    9-12 I like this idea making the payouts perhaps deeper at the higher levels. Make the tournaments less frequent and more substantial is a positive step forward. League exclusive tournaments could be a great option I have been all for this quite a long time, have this maybe halfway through the season so about 1 week into the season. That mode would create a very cool cycle of events for every player in the game.

My votes;

  1. A and C
  2. A
  3. Neutral
  4. Neutral
  5. Neutral
  6. A
  7. For
  8. Against
  9. For
  10. For
  11. For (maybe extend to last six months)
  12. Against

What ever works where i can play less and win more.

One way to do this is to scratch all tournaments except for gold cards champion level, make the entry power 20 million and obviously ban all the players better then me. hehe.

For real though, not fussed what you do. All part of the fun.


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Excellent post and ideas. A few I disagree with or think could have a better solution, but you've hit the nail on the head with a lot of the key faults of the current system. Kudos, bud.