Splinterlands: Which League Has the Highest Upgrade Costs?

in #steemmonsters2 years ago (edited)

This is a continuation of the discussion resulting from the recent SPS Governance Proposal:


I already wrote an article analyzing the pros and cons of maxing your card levels:


One of my upcoming posts will take a deeper look at what Splinterlands should do with Diamond League. Now one common argument that is often raised is that there is such a massive gulf between Gold league cards and Max level cards but is that actually true? In this post we are going to explore whether the costs of going from Gold to Max is really that much larger than the costs upgrading from Novice to Bronze, Bronze to Silver, or Silver to Gold.

I will be using Untamed/Chaos Legion BCX levels as the base for analysis. While Chaos Legion cards are worth half the collection power of Untamed cards, both editions do require the same amount of BCX for each level. The focus will be on Regular card versions (not Gold Foil).

For the Gold Foil (GF) version of this article, please see:


Also, I will be looking at both the absolute number of BCX required and the % increase in investment compared to the initial level. Those are different ways of looking at investment cost and different people will argue whether one or the other should be used.


Max Crystal Jaguar.png

LeagueBCX Needed% Increase
Novice to Bronze13+1300%
Bronze to Silver46+329%
Silver to Gold160+267%
Gold to Max180+82%

A Novice player trying to upgrade to Bronze would need to increase their investment by 13x, though you could argue that their initial investment (1 BCX) is a lower base.

It becomes clear that if we look at % of investment, then lower leagues are asked to provide a larger % of additional funds in order to upgrade. Upgrading to Bronze requires an additional 13x, upgrading to Silver or Gold requires around an additional x3 investment, but upgrading to max is just an additional 82%.

If you want to look at absolute BCX needed then yes, going from Gold to Max does require the most BCX (180), but that is only slightly larger than what is necessary to go from Silver to Gold (160).


Max Tower Griffin.png

LeagueBCX Needed% Increase
Novice to Bronze13+1300%
Bronze to Silver11+79%
Silver to Gold60+240%
Gold to Max30+35%

You might be wondering "are those numbers right? From Level 1 to Level 2 it is only 4 BCX, from Level 2 to Level 4 it is 20 BCX, from Level 4 to Level 6 it is 35 BCX, and from Level 6 to Level 8 it is 55 BCX."

The key thing to remember is that Epic summoners allow higher level Rare monsters to be used in Bronze league and Gold league. So in order to have a fully competitive deck, a Bronze level deck really does need Level 3 monsters (not Level 2) and a Gold level deck really does need Level 7 monsters (not Level 6). This is even true in Modern edition due to Epic summoner Kretch Tallevor and the upcoming Epic summoners in Riftwatchers. Your Rare summoners don't need the extra level but there are typically far more monster cards than summoner cards. In theory, we could weight the data based on the % of summoners and the % of monsters to get a more accurate picture but that might be overly complex for the average reader.

So as a result of the "Epic summoner uses higher level Rare monsters" feature (it's not a "bug"), when it comes to Rare monsters there is a very significant increase upgrading to Bronze league and Gold league, while the costs to upgrading to Silver or Max are far smaller. In fact, when looking at Rare monsters, in absolute BCX terms, it costs twice as much to upgrade from Silver to Gold, as it does from Gold to Max.


Max Lobstradamus.png

LeagueBCX Needed% Increase
Novice to Bronze3+300%
Bronze to Silver6+150%
Silver to Gold22+220%
Gold to Max14+44%

You can see here that there is a significant increase from Silver to Gold. In fact, in both absolute BCX and %, it is more expensive to upgrade to Gold league than it is to Max level.

This situation partly came about when Splinterlands adjusted the BCX requirements in Untamed. The BCX required for max levels was largely unaffected (except for Commons where it was lowered) but the BCX required for Bronze, Silver, and Gold league were all increased. In Beta edition, Level 3 epics required 6 BCX, Level 5 epics required 23 BCX, and Max level required 46 BCX:

Max Sphinx.png

From Beta to Untamed, Silver league required 4 more BCX (from 6 to 10), Gold league required 22 more BCX (from 23 to 32), while Max league required 0 more BCX (remained the same at 46). So this is why it is more expensive to upgrade Epic cards from Silver to Gold league, than it is to upgrade from Gold to Max.


Max Kitty.png

LeagueBCX Needed% Increase
Novice to Bronze0+0%
Bronze to Silver2+200%
Silver to Gold3+100%
Gold to Max5+83%

Higher leagues require more absolute BCX, but in terms of % of investment, upgrading to Silver or Gold league requires a higher percentage of additional investment.

Novice to Bronze is a special exception since both leagues only allow Level 1 legendaries. Thus if you already have a complete Novice level account (with all legendaries at Level 1), then you don't need to upgrade any legendaries when going up to Bronze league.


Novice to Bronze131330
Bronze to Silver461162
Silver to Gold16060223
Gold to Max18030145

If we look at absolute BCX required, upgrading to Max level requires slightly more Commons and Legendaries than upgrading to Gold league but fewer Rares and Epics.

Also keep in mind that due to Legendary Potions, if you are opening boosters, it is much easier to get all the Legendary cards you need compared to Epics. Those who opened boosters during the Untamed and Chaos Legion eras may remember that most people leveled up their Legendary cards much more quickly than they were able to level up their Epic cards.


Novice to Bronze+1300%+1300%+300%+0%
Bronze to Silver+329%+79%+150%+200%
Silver to Gold+267%+240%+220%+100%
Gold to Max+82%+35%+44%+83%

If we look at additional % investment we are asking players to make, then upgrading to Max league requires the least amount of additional %.

For Commons, Rares, and Epics, we are asking smaller players (coming up from Novice into Bronze) to increase their multiplier the most.

But it's notable that even in terms of % increase, there is a pretty significant jump from Silver league to Gold league.


Based on this data, I would disagree with the argument that there is such a big investment gap going from Gold league to Max level. The investment costs going from Silver league to Gold league are at least on par with those going from Gold league to Max level, and you could make a pretty persuasive argument that even in absolute BCX or absolute $$$ terms, the cost of upgrading to Gold league is actually slightly MORE than the cost of upgrading to Max level.

As a result, I don't find "investment cost" to be a persuasive argument to justify the existence of Diamond league and why there should be two leagues for Max level cards while there is only one league for each of Bronze, Silver, and Gold.


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I always respect your opinion Byz. You are an amazing player with a great track record in both the community and tournaments, but I disagree with your premise that because Gold Caps only require a +44% BCX increase to get to Max that Gold ranked play is almost as large of an investment as Diamond, let alone Champion which is another beast entirely.

I have no problem spending half the season in Gold with not even a bronze deck, and I've already hit Gold ratings only 4 days into the season. The investment gap to start getting diamond chests and diamond ranked payouts is massive compared to the investment I've put in to farm Silver/Gold.

That could change with time, but this is the reality now. This season. Even after the last update, and aftermarket accounts are going up in value, not down because of services like splintermate which make bot farming easier. The truth is, we need the push, and it won't be enough.

It's going to be delicate balance finding the place for bots where they are profitable, provide matchmaking solutions evenly across leagues, and encourage them to build their accounts rather than ship all their loot off to management accounts.

This isn't a perfect solution, and it isn't meant to be, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. The next step would be a version of Proposition 1254 by CommanderChaos or SPS staking as outlined in the whitepaper.

Separating league pools is extremely important to help shift bots throughout leagues instead of crowding them all in one MAX ROI league.

If Splinterlands solved ratings inflation and accounts were in leagues appropriate for their card levels, then yes, the incremental increase to get to Gold league cards is on par with the incremental increase to get to Max level cards.

However, because ratings inflation allows bronze level decks to get to Diamond league, that definitely distorts the cost/benefit analysis and what is required to get Diamond league chests.

That's why I keep emphasizing why ratings inflation is such a major contributor to the underlying problem.

I think that you and Bulldog make decent points about the way rating works currently is broken, but I would argue that we don't have a ratings inflation problem. There is no market cap on rating.

What we have is an issue with how much rating affects rshares, which makes rating more important than winrate, cards used (even with the GF and Alpha/Beta/Promo bonuses), and how nothing replaced the Airdrop mechanic where holding assets rewarded you with more assets.

To me, the issue is less about rating and more about building out a more complete and rshare algorithm that rewards and does not punish on many factors that would drive bots to behave more like typical players in holding assets on the account and using combined cards.

I don't think we can solve this with just messing with rating. We need something better like prop 1254.

I am really hoping that we as a community decide to value new and existing players that haven't reached diamond yet, as much as they would be valued by other play-to-earn gaming communities, who understand how important these players really are to the ecosystem.

Basically, with the new card leveling numbers it no longer makes sense to have diamond league.

Hey Byz. I like the article and I totally get the point around the % increase across the levels. The issue is more when you look at the actual cost and what those percentages translate into. Below is to create a modern deck, maxed to each league using low card price (credit to https://www.splintercards.com/tool-missing-bcx.html for the data)


One of the real issues I see is for gold league players. The below shows how considerable an investment it is to get to this level but gold league has 20% of the reward pool vs 15% in silver. I see no reason why a new player would ever invest $38k in a max gold deck as this will never translate into any meaningful rewards playing in gold league. Better to stay in silver. And that is a major issue.

And yes, the 80% increase to get from gold to Max is the smallest % increase but when this means an additional $30k investment, then we are still talking about an incredibly small number of players that can ever get to that point, especially if they were not here at the start where they could level up their cards at MUCH cheaper levels.

If the game is not careful it is going to be full of whales and minnows and nothing in between...

Very good job @byzantinist ... I hope we take away the starter cards from everyone that isn't "new" and "learning", then we will see exactly how to place the %'s to properly adjust ALL league levels to adequately payout prizes.

Right now we are like dogs chasing out tails because the HUGE bot farms are using the starter cards, so we really don't even know anything more than "the game will fix the high end for the big players" and "the small players will get next to no SPS per match. Until we stop people from earning on cards they don't own or rent, then we really won't know how big or small all the leagues will be.

I do think you have made some really good points and I think its important to have the DEVs look at the issues you raised. Thanks!