Axie Infinity: First Impressions

After waiting two weeks for Coinbase to allow me to send money off the platform, I was able to send enough ether over to my Ronin wallet to start playing Axie Infinity. You need three axies to play this game and you can’t buy them with a debit card. You have to perform two cryptocurrency transfers and they each include ether gas fees. But with that part taken care of, I was able to buy axies from the marketplace.

Shopping in the Marketplace

I bought a plant as the tank axie, a beast axie to do damage, and a dawn axie as a secondary damage dealer. The game gives you a lot of flexibility with your team of axies. You can choose among nine different types of axies and position them on a grid in any formation you want.

But I picked the standard formation with the plant axie out in front and the other axies behind it. And most players do the same thing, which is why this strategy is called the “meta”. Plant tanks are crucial because other axies are not as good at absorbing damage or healing. My dawn axie has sea anemones that it can use to heal itself and the plant has a pumpkin on its back that gives it a shield.

Each one of these axies cost around $250. So they’re considered low-end axies, or floor axies, and are not as good as the ones that other players have. The axies with better cards and better stats cost more, and often they cost a lot more. But I figured that these axies would be good enough to play the game while I figured out how it worked. Some players even suggest starting with $2,000 or more so you can begin playing the game with strong axies but I don’t think that’s a good idea if you haven’t played the game yet.

And yes, people in countries where $250 is the average monthly salary are paying this much for axies. The marketplace is very active. It took me about 10 tries to buy three axies because if another player saw the listing first and submitted an order first, the server cancels your transaction.

Raiding the Ruins

After buying three axies I was able to set up an Axie Infinity account, attach the axies to the account, and begin playing the game. I had a choice between playing PvE or PvP so I decided to try out the PvE missions first. In these missions, your axies visit ruins and face off against monsters such as slimes and golems.

After beating the first mission I learned that in subsequent missions your team of axies will have to fight several groups of monsters. And you can’t heal in between battles or restore dead axies. Fortunately, the plant was a good tank and the aqua axie was able to heal itself. Otherwise, those battles would have been a lot harder. Many websites don’t mention this part, they just say you can earn money through PvE and farming the ruins.

I made it through the first five or six missions before the battles started becoming too difficult. Fighting three groups of monsters in a row was too much. You can keep grinding the ruins to level up your axies so the battles eventually become winnable. But other websites also mention that Axie Infinity uses level scaling, so the monsters will become tougher if you continue farming earlier missions as well.

Battles Against Other Players

Strategy is very important in this game. Even if you buy a great team, you won’t win with them if you don’t know how to use them effectively. And many people spend a great deal of time watching teams of axies battle on YouTube and reading strategy guides to learn more about the game before entering the PvP arena. Most of the strategy articles that I’ve seen were not very useful, but players frequently create long YouTube videos about battle strategies.

Battles are turn-based. You start out with 3 energy in the first round. In each round after that, you get 2 more energy and draw a few cards based on your axies’ abilities. You can use the energy you receive to play a card or two, or you can skip a turn so you have 4 energy in the next round. Then you can play 4 cards and you’ll have more cards available to select. There are also zero-energy cards that don’t cost any energy to use. And there are also cards that give you energy or steal the other team’s energy. Each of these cards has an attack value and a shield value.

Many players will pick 4 attack cards and use them on an axie that doesn’t have a shield up during the current turn, which is often enough to kill that axie. Normally, the axies attack the closest opposing axie but some axies have cards that allow them to attack the axies hiding behind the tank. But if the target axie does have a shield up or it uses healing cards, it’ll survive the attack and the opponent might waste their cards.

Your team has to be able to win battles against other players if you want to earn income by playing this game. The daily PvE reward has been reduced to 50 SLP ($3.50) and I wouldn’t be surprised if it dropped further. The daily quest, which awards 25 SLP ($1.75), requires you to win 5 arena battles. Your ELO rank drops if you lose these battles and if it goes below 800, you can’t earn SLP from PvE battles at all. This also applies to scholars, in case you were planning to earn money that way.

Time Commitment

This game doesn’t require as much of a time commitment as other MMORPGs where players do things like farming in-game currency and selling it for cash. It takes about an hour or so to fight 10 battles in the arena and explore 10 ruins. That will use up your energy and you won’t earn any more SLP if you keep playing, although you can still challenge other players in the arena and the battles affect your ranking.

It is possible to get 60 energy per day by acquiring 20 axies, and some axie breeders keep their low-value axies to increase their energy supplies instead of selling them on the marketplace at low prices. That would allow you to fight in 60 arena battles, which might take a few hours, and you would earn more money. With a higher rank and maximum energy you could earn $1000 a month or more by playing for a few hours a day.

For players in the US, Axie Infinity is more of a source of beer money than a full-time job. A normal player could play it for about an hour a day and they might earn $10 a day. If you can win enough arena battles to raise your rank, it could be worth it to buy more axies and play for a few more hours each day. But if you can afford to buy 20 axies, you might make more money by lending them out to scholars, and that requires much less of a time commitment.

Conclusion

Axie Infinity is a fun game. It is like playing Pokemon and winning money when your monsters win a battle. After the success of Pokemon Go a few years ago, I think this game could become very popular if it was more well known in the US. You won’t win a lot of money just by playing this game, but the extra income could be useful in the US and Axie could provide a significant source of income if you live somewhere else. It is important to understand how the game works before you start playing it, though, because you need to make sure that your monsters can win PvP battles if you want to earn money in this game.

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