Steem Monsters review — a fun and engaging blockchain game!

karl thompson
May 5 · 10 min read

Steem Monsters is a decentralised collectible trading card game built on the Steem blockchain, similar in concept to Magic the Gathering or Hearthstone, but because it’s based on blockchain technology, players can own and trade their cards without the role of any centralised authority,

It’s evolving all the time, is great fun to play and enjoys a lot support from one of the most active, friendly and dedicated communities on Steem.

The current market cap of Steem Monsters is $1.2 million, which is broadly level with November 2018. There are currently 1.6K daily active users, and it is one of the top DApps of 2019, being ranked 10th on State of the DApps.

NB Expect Steem Monsters to be rebranded as ‘Splinterlands’ sometime soon, following its expansion into the Tron blockchain.

I’ve been playing Steem Monsters for several months now, and this review draws on my experience of using the platform. Below I cover the following:

  1. How to get started with Steem Monsters
  2. The key components — the battles, the leagues, the market, and the tournaments.
  3. What I like about it (lots!)
  4. What could be improved (only a few things)
  5. Conclusions and a reminder of how to get started!

Financial Disclaimer: NB although you are free to purchase Steem Monsters cards, this post does not advise that you do so. This post is written for educational and entertainment purposes and does not constitute financial advice. No investment decisions should be based on any information provided in this post and please keep in mind that you can potentially lose everything you invest.

Useful sources for finding out more about Steem Monsters

Getting started with Steem Monsters

You have to purchase a ‘pre-defined’ starter set of 30 cards, via the Steem Monsters website, for $10, either via PayPal or with a range of cryptocurrencies. You’ll also need a Steem account to play, but if you don’t already have one, the initial purchase process will set you up with one. Steem Monsters initially stores the passwords of newly created accounts as ‘backup’, but you can always change your password on Steem if you don’t like the sound of this.

After the initial purchase/ account creation, you’re welcomed with an aesthetically pleasing and not-too-busy front end which provides clickable options to either buy/ open more card packs, head to the Steem Monsters’ market place to buy individual cards, view your own (initial 30 card) collection, ‘battle’ other users, read the FAQs, or enter tournaments. The screen shot below shows my own personal login for illustrative purposes.

The FAQs section is a good starting place for new users, as it provides a very clear overview of the different types of game card (summoners and monsters), the different ‘splinters’ available to play (Fire, Earth, etc), and the different features of each card (attack, defence, abilities etc.) as well as the basics of gameplay mechanics.

By far the best way to understand how the battles work is to read the FAQs and then jump in and play a few rounds. The FAQs cover everything about card features and gameplay very thoroughly, but further questions about strategy and how to actually win battles can be directed to the Steem Monsters community on discord, they’re a very friendly bunch!

Steem Monsters: The main components

In this section I’m going to focus on the battling/ gameplay experience, the marketplace, consider the process of levelling up cards, and finally round off by having a look at tournaments.

Card and battling overview

This is a necessarily brief overview, for a more detailed and very clear full version of how the game mechanics work see the ‘how to play’ link on the ‘battle homepage’.

Steem Monsters battles take place in the ‘Splinterlands’, and there are 6 splinters: Fire, Water, Life, Earth, Death and Dragon.

Within each splinter there are two main types of card: summoners and monsters. When it comes to battling, the former ‘summon’ the later who then battle monsters from other teams.

Each monster has various attributes: attack, defence (shield), health, speed, and mana (which limits how many cards you can play), and some monsters have extra abilities. There are five main types of card — tank/ melee/ magic/ ranged/ healing

Both monsters and summoners are graded into common, rare, epic and legendary categories — legendary tending to have more special abilities than ‘weaker’ cards.

Battle overview

When you click ’battle’ the ‘steemmonsters engine’ finds you someone of a broadly similar level and randomly sets the battle parameters — mana levels for battling can vary from 15 to 32, battles have different rules which tend to favour certain splinters and some splinters may be ‘blanked out’ so you can’t use them in that round.

You get two minutes (less as you progress up the ranks) to select your summoner and monster selection and if you do so within the time (if you don’t you lose!) you enter into battle.

This is where it might get disappointing for some: the battles are just automated — so all you can do is sit and watch the outcome (you can alter the speed) or just ‘skip to results’. There is an element of chance — melee and ranged attacks can miss, for example.

For more information about battles, see any of these videos on YouTube — the monsters fans love uploading their battles and guides!

Results, points, league tables and rewards

Following your result, you either gain or lose points relative to the rank of the person you played, and after you gain a certain amount of points you can climb the rankings into various different leagues — starting off with novice and progressing through bronze, silver, gold, diamond and champion.

Battles are organised into ‘seasons’ which typically last around two weeks and the higher up the league tables you go in any one season, the more reward cards you win at season’s end. In Bronze III (there are three tiers in each colour) you win 5 rewards cards, in Champion I you win 150.

You can also win daily reward cards by playing ‘quests’ — you have to win five battles with a randomly selected splinter. lower down the orders these are limited to one reward card per

Your card collection and levelling up cards

The ‘collection’ tab offers a very user friendly interface, enabling you to examine your cards by different types, splinters and levels. If you click on an individual card (such as my Goblin Sorcerer below), you get the option of buying or selling more on the market, revealing the levelling up stats, levelling up by combining cards, sending the card to someone else, or reading about the Lore.

Levelling up cards

In order to level up cards and unlock more abilities you’ll need to combine cards, either cards you’ve won, been sent, or purchased. The further up the levels you go, the more abilities are unlocked. You can find out about these abilities by looking at the card stats. With the Water Elemental below, for example, you need a total of 21 cards to unlock two abilities and 61 to unlock four damage. After that, you might decide it’s not worth buying an additional 54 cards to Max it out and add on just +1 health. These diminishing returns at the very top end of levelling up is something you’ll find with a lot of cards.

You’ll probably have noticed from the above that the further up the levels you go the more cards you’ll need to progress up to the next level. Different rarities of card require different amounts of cards to ‘max out’. For common cards, it’s 505, rare cards 115, epic 46, and legendary just 11 cards. NB those stats apply to Beta and Rewards cards, Alpha cards require fewer cards to level up, reflected in their higher market price.

Your summoners need to be at an appropriate level to allow your monsters to be played at that level. In other words, a L01 summoner will be able to summon a L10 Goblin Sorcerer, but that Goblin willy only have lower level abilities. Details of summoner in relation to monster abilities can be found on the ‘summoner stats’ under each card.

The Steem Monsters marketplace

The market place is, like the ‘collection interface’, extremely user friendly, enabling you to find cards by different types, splinters and levels. In the screenshot below I’ve sorted by ‘Beta’ cards, ‘Earth splinter’ and ‘all levels’.

Alpha cards were the first release of cards, and the only place you can get these is on the market, Betas are what you get if you buy packs and reward cards are what you win for daily quests or at season’s end. All cards are available on the market (assuming they’re for sale), and the different prices reflect what players are wiling to sell them for.

Gold cards are special edition cards. These are a lot more expensive than regular cards, start off at level 04, look nicer, and are some higher level tournaments are for gold cards only.

When it comes to purchasing, to get the best value cards you can sort by price/ BCX if you’re thinking of levelling up. You simply check the box and then click buy. You can check multiple boxes to purchase several cards at once.

At time of writing, you can only purchase Steem Monsters cards in Steem or SBD, and the easiest way to do so is via either Keychain or SteemPlus. There are plans to allow purchase through other cryptocurrencies in the future.

You can also view your collection, purchase and lease cards through the excellent Peakmonsters.


Tournaments are an increasingly popular part of the Steem Monsters scene, and with > $21K given out so far in prizes, this is not surprising. Most tournaments are for Gold level and above, which means you need maxed out decks to stand any chance of winning, but there are some lower level tournaments, for silver and bronze league players too.

The format for most tournaments is relatively simple — there is a pool of players (some have > 100 taking part), and a number of knock out rounds. You play three matches agains an opponent in round one, and if you win, you progress to round two and so on.

The top ranked players at the end win prizes!

What I like about Steem Monsters

  • It’s relatively cheap to get started with only a $10 entry fee, and you get a free Steem account for that if you don’t already have one.
  • You can put together at least one fairly good deck for around $20–30 that should get you up into the silver leagues relatively soon.
  • The front ends are very user-friendly, not too busy, and very easy to navigate and use.
  • It’s supported by a broad, supportive community on Discord and the Steem blockchain — there’s lots of card giveaway competitions, for example.
  • It seems like a great investment — many of the cards have doubled in value over the past few months, helped by the recent spawning of Steem Monsters to the Tron blockchain, but please note that this is not financial advice!.
  • There’s a seamless integration via Keychain with the steem blockchain which makes cards very easy to trade.
  • The Lore and artwork surrounding the splinters and the cards are also great!

Room for improvement?

The game can get a bit repetitive — for certain combinations of mana and ‘battle rules’ there are ‘best splinter’s and ‘best card combinations’ to play, and you learn these pretty quickly. In fairness to the development team there are new game new rules every season, so the game does evolve, but it could benefit from even more variety in this regard.

Some might find the automation a little disappointing, it would be more interactive if players could tweak their decks at the end of every round, but I’m not sure if that’s possible given the limitations of the network.

Conclusion and Rating

I’m going to award Steem Monsters 5 stars, because it is way ahead of any other digital collectible card game I’ve experienced. State of the DApps lists CryptoKitties as ‘similar’, for example, but unlike that particular app, card upgrades here are instantaneous, you can actually interact in real-time with other players via battles, and the cards seem to be holding their value, possibly due to their limited supply, where Alphas and Betas are concerned.

The combination of being able to collect digital assets, battle in real-time against other players and win Steem, the strong communities, and the ease with which you can trade and lease cards on the marketplace certainly justify the strong ranking which Steem Monsters has on State of the Dapps, and with a strong development team and community behind it it looks set to continue to be one of the top DApps for 2019 and beyond.

Steem Monsters — get involved:


karl thompson

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