Newbie Guide E01 - Card Levels

Newbie Guide header.png

What you need to know

Hello dear reader. I see you started playing Splinterlands. Nice game, eh? OH, you even bought the spell-book. That is good, that means you can own cards and bring your game to the next level. Since you already know how to play the game, let us talk about improving it by learning about how to level up your cards.

What you will learn today

We will be looking at card levels. What are they good for, how to get them and what the heck does BCX mean? What is the difference between gold foil and regular foil? And why does it matter? Finally we will have a look at the summoner's role and league caps.


The basics

Let us forget about gold and regular foil for a moment and just focus on a simple card. Maybe one you might have seen before. So pick a card. Any card. Got one? Good.

Is this your card?

So the Xenith Monk costs 4 Mana and is a rare card. It has melee attack and deals one damage, has a speed of 3 and can absorb 6 damage before it is gone. But of course, you already know that, you've played a few games before, haven't you?

Level 1 - just a card

Well, since you are reading this, there is something you might no know. Notice the little 1 next to its name. That means it is a level 1 card. Basically that is how it comes out of the packs.

At some point during your battles you might have encountered a card looking like this:

Oh no, for some reason, your opponent's card has the ability to heal itself once per round.

How can that be?

Notice the little 2 next to the name? That means it is a level 2 card.

Level 2 - better card

Every card in the game can be leveled. This is done by combining several versions of the same card type into a new card. In case of the Xenith Monk, someone had five different level 1 cards in their inventory and put them together.

The five level 1 cards are then gone and the one combined card is now in the inventory.

For almost every card a new level brings either better statistics (attack, speed, health) or a new ability (in this case: healing). By the way, the mana costs to bring a card into battle never change.

The kind of improvements are different for every card and level. While some monsters gain better speed with one level, other monsters gain attack or health. The same goes for the abilities.

How many levels are there?

That depends on the scarcity of the card:
Common: 10 levels
Rare: 8 levels
Epic: 6 levels
Legendary: 4 levels

Now, just because legendary only has 4 levels, it does not mean it is worse than the others. In fact, while sometimes a new level for a common card improves nothing at all, a legendary card most often not only gains better stats (sometimes more than one) but also one or two new abilities.

And remember: Because legendary cards are printed less often than the other scarcities it is still more expensive to level them up.

BCX - another weird abbreviation?

BCX stands for base card experience. It is the number of cards that are put together to form this new card.

So for the Xenith Monk level 1 you need one single card. No combination required. That means its BCX is 1.

For the level 2 version of that card we had to put 5 cards together. That means it has a BCX of 5.

But why then not simply state the level and be done with it? Because the amount of cards required to get to the next level varies. Depending on the edition, scarcity and previous levels there are different amounts of basic cards or BCX required to put together to create the new level version of that card.

To determine the value of a card it is compared to the total amount of simple level 1 versions needed to get to that card level.

And to make things more interesting: What happens if we combine only three cards of the Xenith Monk into a new card? We still have a level 1 version of that card but its BCX is now 3. That means we can combine it with either two more BCX 1 versions or one BCX 2 version of the Monk to finally get to level 2.

As a rule of thumb: The older the edition, the less BCX required for a level (compared to newer editions). Because earlier editions had less cards printed so less are available. The higher the scarcity of a card, the less BCX are required for a new level. Again because less cards are printed.


Gold vs. regular foil

For every card there not only exists a regular version but also a fancy gold foil version. For game-play it does not matter which version you send into battle. Only the type of card and its level are important.

Why then should you be happy to have a gold foil version (if you have one)?

If you win the battle, you get higher reward scores for using a gold foil version of a card. And for leveling: Gold foil cards come directly as a level 2 version (there is no level 1 version of gold foil cards), except for common cards, they come directly as a level 3.

For leveling up cards that are gold foil you are also lucky, since you need less cards for the next level compared to regular foil. This is thanks to the less printed argument again.

Summoner's cap

The summoners are different to the monsters in that they don't change their stats or abilities when leveling up. Well, sort of, we'll get to that in a minute. Besides that, everything that goes for levels and BCX also applies to summoners.

So why level them up?

Because the summoner you use for your battle determines the maximum level of your monsters in the arena.

Once you got your Xenith Monk up to level 2 it will do you no good if your summoner is still at level 1. You can still play the card but it will be sent into battle as a level 1 card.

Hey you. The wiseguy in the back row. Stop yelling legendary. We'll get to that in a second.

And now it gets tricky. Summoners, just like monsters, have different scarcities. From common to legendary they have different abilities to send monsters with different levels into battle.

We take a look at the rare summoners from Chaos Legion:

On the left we have the level (LVL) of our rare summoner. As you can see, at level 1, our summoner can only send level 1 monsters into battle. But at level 2 such a summoner can send level 3 common, level 2 rare and epic, and level 1 legendary monsters into battle. And as a side note, you have to combine 5 such summoner cards to get your summoner to level 2.

So if you want to send a legendary monster with level 2 into battle, you need at least a level 3 (rare) summoner and for that you need to combine 14 cards to get it to that level.

Things look different, if we take a legendary summoner.

Ok, the noisy kid from earlier, now it is your turn.

Even only at level 1, a legendary summoner can already send our level 2 Xenith Monk into battle without it being capped. So no need to level this one up (yet).


League cap

You know that monsters can be leveled. But the effective level in combat depends on the level of the summoner you use. And the level of the summoner you may send into the arena is capped by the league you play in.

Confused? No worries, here are two examples:

Since you are new to the game let us compare the journey from novice to bronze league.

In novice league everything is capped at level 1. So even if you own a level 2 monster and either a legendary summoner or level 2 rare summoner, in combat they will all behave as if they were level 1 cards. Yes, legendary summoner with Xenith Monk level 2, the Monk will get capped at level 1, so no healing yet. That is a specialty of novice league.

But once you get to bronze league the cap is raised. You may now use summoners with higher levels.

Maximum summoner levels for bronze league are:

Common: 3
Rare: 2
Epic: 2
Legendary: 1

And the monster cap is gone. The maximum level of your monsters depends on your summoner level from now on.

Even though legendary summoners are still capped at 1, the monsters are not capped anymore. Your legendary summoner may use its full potential of level 1.

Our Monk at level 2 can use its healing ability now as long as it is send into battle with a summoner that can handle a rare level 2 monster.

For silver league the levels increase a little bit more. The summoners are now capped at

Common: 5
Rare: 4
Epic: 3
Legendary: 2

And funny enough, the capabilities of a legendary summoner at level 2 correspond with a rare summoner at level 4 (see screenshots above).

Final thoughts

Now you should know about the theory behind card levels and BCX and why they matter. For buying and combining you can use the cards section within Splinterlands. But I recommend using a third party site for that, most of them have much more comfortable interfaces.


Thank you for reading.

Did I make a blunder? Please help me correct it by leaving a comment.


Header image designed with Canva.
Header background and Splinterlands logo from Splinterlands homepage.
Special Opps logo used with permission.
Card images linked from Splinterlands homepage.
Screenshots taken from Splinterlands game.
Divider as free use by freeztag


Excellent explanation, very didactic and simple. It is a good way to start in this game with these tips. Good job dreemer friend.

Thank you, much appreciated. 😊

Really good synopsis. It was badly needed

Thank you, I appreciate the compliment 😊

Very straightforward and easy to follow approach for beginners. Looking forward to the future articles in this series.

Hey appbap, thanks for stopping by.
Next week we will cover "leveling strategy. what cards to level and when".

Yay! 🤗
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Hahaha I've been playing spl for quite a long time (but I'm in a long hiatus as well) but I just learned the meaning of bcx hahahaha lol...I know its concept though.


So glad I was able to even show the veterans something new 😊

Ain't veteran hehehe

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