It's been a few days since my friend and guildmate @azircon wrote this article discussing botting, human scholars, and the future of Splinterlands, and over a month now since I spent time with him in person at Splinterfest and first heard him speak at length on the topics.
For a little background on me, I curiously poked at the game for a day or two in early January 2022, and by the end of the month had fallen so much in love that I'd built a Diamond deck and joined Shield of Glory, then a top 20 guild. I then had some interesting personal life changes, returned to school full-time in June, and decided by July that I just didn't have the time to play any more, but I really wanted to keep my guild seat. Fast forward to now, when my Archmage-run account is placing better than I'd ever fathomed -- 60k DEC in leaderboard rewards in one season is just stupid unheard of for me -- and all I really do in this space now is chase ROI.
Now, if you're like what the fuck, Rogers, how'd you go from falling in love to chasing ROI, I ask myself that every time I log in to see what my SPS balance is. Naturally, we're all here, at least in some part, to leave with some bit of wealth, or to stay and grow ours along with Hive and Splinterlands.
But I remember those first few months, trying to grasp the game in general, freaking out when I was matched against any member from Immortal Gods, just working to understand everything and wanting to take in more, dreaming to someday be half as good as Bubke...
... who's apparently a bot? Wait, what?? Wait, like half or more of IG bots?! AND in tournaments and in brawls, too??? WHAT?? I looked up to these people...
... and now, when someone's like "hey man gg," and I have to be all like, "uhhh naw man, that's an algorithm," and can't even use the school excuse with any honesty, since I know deep down I make way more botting than playing manually...
... and when I do try to play manually, I end up matching against my friends who also bot, and it's (shocker) no fun trying to play against whatever machine learning model is armed with an entire database of matches, rulesets, mana caps, and continuous cycles of constant learning and parameter tuning.
**And for the record, the Archmage guys are hands-down fucking amazing. Don't let anyone tell you different. They've found and reported exploits they could have milked for god knows how long, and
run a transparent business on top of it.
Anyway, so here I am, loving the game, significantly invested in it, but pretty sure even that though I'm earning the most I ever have from it, I am, in my own small way, fucking it. I still don't have the time to play manually with any real consistency, so what to do?
Enter scholars. I only have Archmage billing to go from, but depending on which token tier you have, you pay 15-35% of the total SPS their bot earns you, which I've always found completely fair. They deliver. With scholars, you typically pay 50%. Considering the incessant bitching people have done re: Archmage billing, I imagine most aren't willing to consider a scholar arrangement.
However: a human scholar plays an account containing your delegated cards. The scholar plays in ranked, brawls, tournaments. You are literally employing this scholar, with funds that mean a lot more to the scholar than they do to you. A scholar is also a lot more likely to spread the word about Splinterlands to friends, family, and fellow gamers. I don't pretend to know all the scholars in the ecosystem, but the ones I do know are absolute beasts. They earn their damn livings off this game.
So when you meet my account from now on, please rest assured it's my mopey bum hand-selecting the cards. And maybe if you're unfortunate you'll get a chance to meet a fancy new account rising the ranks in the Aegis of Glory guild, too 😎
But seriously, think about it. If everyone bots, who plays?
If I'd known there were so many bots in this ecosystem, I'd never have stepped foot in, let alone invest what I have.
In the end it's up to us to make the game we want to play.