At the start of 2019, I wrote a feature article about the world’s first social blockchain: Steem. While Steem is best known for its social media platform Steemit, I was most impressed with a game built on the Steem blockchain: Steem Monsters. It’s been the one DGame I’ve been playing most, spent the most money on, and enjoyed the most too. Considering I lose interest in a lot of games after a few days of playing, this is quite exceptional. In fact, I’d dare say it’s easily the best DGame I’ve played to date.

As such, I thought it would be a good idea to talk a bit more in depth about Steem Monsters, and in particular about a big feature that the game added recently: tournaments. This is my experience playing Steem Monsters and competing in one of their tournaments.

Why I Enjoy Playing Steem Monsters

First of all, this is a blockchain game, but you’d never notice it, and that’s exactly how it should be. It’s extremely easy to sign up. You get a reasonable deck of cards that you can immediately play with. There are no annoying Ethereum gas fees you need to pay for every transaction. Connecting with other players to fight takes at most fifteen seconds per match. There are no obvious bugs I’ve encountered, and everything in terms of game mechanics is nicely explained in the game’s manual. It’s smooth and easy.

Secondly, it looks good. This is personal preference, because there are plenty of nicely designed DGames out there, but I like how Steem Monsters looks. In particular the cards look beautiful. They’re colorful and well-drawn. I’m quite proud of my badass-looking collection of cards. Look at my dragon second to the left on the bottom row of below screenshot. I can’t use it yet, because I don’t have enough dragon cards, but isn’t that a cool card?

Just look at them. Don’t they look cool? Only a small selection of my card stack, by the way

Thirdly, as far as I can tell, the game is impeccably balanced. Without spending a single dollar, with my basic stack of cards that every new player is given, I managed to rank quite well in the game. Sure, eventually you hit a plateau where players with better cards will always beat you, but you can get quite far if you use your cards intelligently, without spending a dime.

On top of that, just like in popular Battle Royale games such as PUBG, Steem Monsters has a new Season approximately every two weeks. Depending on the league you reach by the end of the Season, you’ll receive a number of cards. Currently, I’m in the Bronze I league, which means I’ll receive 9 new cards at the end of the Season. Players in the top league, Champion I, receive 150 cards at the end of the Season!

This means that even people who spend no money can work their way up the ranks, although it’ll take them a whole lot longer. This is the kind of system I like, where everyone, regardless of how much they spend, can work their way up. It’s just that the ones who do spend money are likely to get there faster, although you’ll still need to be clever with how you use your cards.

I’m Bronze I right now, but I’ve reached Silver I before, receiving 18 cards as a reward

Fourthly, it’s surprisingly easy to spend money buying card packs. And it’s not very expensive either. A booster pack of five cards, which includes one rare or better card, only costs $2. Contrary to most other DGames, you don’t even have to pay with cryptocurrencies. You can pay with VISA, MasterCard, and AmEx too. But if you want to pay with crypto, you can do so with ETH, BTC, LTC, BNB, Steem, SBD, and others. So plenty of options!

Because the game is so addictive, and because $2 feels like really good value for five cards, it’s so difficult to resist the temptation of buying more packs. Even as I’m writing this article, the thought “might as well buy a few packs” is racing through my head. I’ve spent a total of $80 on Steem Monsters, and it’s money I’ve happily spent too. All the cards in the packs you buy are valuable, because you can even merge your duplicate cards into a more powerful card.

Ahhhh, the temptation

What About the Tournaments?

Steem Monsters recently added tournaments to their game. Once again, it’s another great new addition. When you click on the Tournaments tab, you get a list of tournaments chronologically ranked as per your timezone, with the rules, the prizes, and how much it costs to enter. Most are free, some cost a few STEEM.

All the info you need in one screen

I love that the interface makes everything so immediately clear. It’s little details like showing the time in your timezone, so you don’t have to calculate different timezones, that make all the difference. And, as you can see, the payouts aren’t bad at all. The highest payout I’ve seen so far was $489, with an entry fee of 10 STEEM, or around $4.

I entered the tournament closest in time, which happened to be a tournament to celebrate the Korean Holiday on March 1st. Apparently, 100 years ago, Koreans peacefully protested against Japanese military occupation, organizing over 1,500 demonstrations with more than two million Koreans participating. I didn’t know anything about this before I entered the tournament, but it was all explained in the details of the tournament, which I thought was a nice touch.

Conveniently, there was an option to automatically add the event to my Google Calendar. This came in handy, because you have to check in to the tournament and actually be present at the time it starts. I checked in a few minutes early and waited in eager anticipation.

Four minutes before the gates open

When the arena opened, there was another interface with the leaderboard, the rules again, and the person that would be my first opponent. Then it was the same procedure as any other Steem Monsters match. You have a certain amount of points, you choose your cards, and you arrange them in the way you think is best, taking into account health, attack points, defence points, speed, and abilities of each individual card. Don’t underestimate the complexity of this game. It’s one of those “easy to play, hard to master” games.

My first opponent was ranked at 2,400 points, while my rank was a lowly 750 points. The person who wins two of three matches goes through to the next round, and after I lost the first match, I thought I’d be on my way out right away. But the system is quite good, because it was a “novice” tournament, which meant that only cards of rank 1 could be used. Everyone was on the same playing field and no one would have an advantage because they had more powerful cards. To my surprise, I won the next two games and went through to the second round.

I’m the one in red. This was the first match I won

My second opponent had an even higher rank, at 3,300 points. He played better too. I lost my first two games against him and was kicked out of the tournament. I ranked 60th out of 125 players. The winner received 77 STEEM, the runner-up 31 STEEM, and third place 20 STEEM.

It’s My Favorite DGame

With the addition of tournaments, Steem Monsters proves once again why I believe it’s one of the best DGames available today. It’s easy and intuitive to enter and play in a tournament, and it’s another way to possibly monetize the time you spend gaming. We’ve written before about how blockchain technology can improve esports, and Steem Monsters is the perfect showcase.

You no longer have to be a pro to earn some money gaming. Participate in Steem Monsters’s tournaments and have a reasonable chance to earn money. Additionally, you can trade your cards for money too, just like you can with physical cards (before the school banned you from selling cards on the playground - grumble). You won’t earn thousands of dollars a month, but a few hundred if you’re good enough.

When it comes to DGames, most of the attention goes to the games on Ethereum, EOS, and increasingly TRON. And there are some excellent games on those blockchains. But I’ve yet to find one that’s as user-friendly and addictive as Steem Monsters. Hundreds of players play this game already, despite it running on a blockchain that’s not known for its games and that sometimes gets a bad rep because of Steemit. That’s a testament to the strength of Steem Monsters. You should try it out.