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A Career in Axie?
Yesterday, I broke into the 2,000+ MMR range in Axie Infinity, seventeen days after I first started playing the game. This rank puts me in the top 1% of players globally, but I still don’t feel like I’m an expert. The strategy is surprisingly deep! That said, I do have over 700 recorded matches under my belt now, so I think I have a solid idea of what the player experience is like. With this post I’m going to drill down and talk about both the gameplay and earnings during these past 2.5 weeks, and conclude with some thoughts about where I think this could all be heading.
But first, some important context! Unlike the majority of players, I didn’t play in Adventure mode at all. I was only interested in Arena, because SkyMavis’ rewards change in early August was definitely encouraging players to play against each other more. Apart from that, I also did two other things that were out of the ordinary. The first was that I asked CryptoShanks for help in setting up a good axie team. I financed it myself, but Shanks made all the buying decisions. The other thing I did was that I borrowed 7 extra axies from Gabby Dizon to fill out my inventory. Although I didn’t actually use them in the game, they gave me a total of 40 energy each day to work with. I realize that this is a very different setup from the average scholar, because most scholars will just be assigned a team of three axies, and only have 20 energy to work with. Bear that in mind when we talk about my earnings later.
Shanks built me a high-end version of the classic beast-bird-plant team, a blitzy workhorse that has decent odds in nearly every matchup. In total, it cost us 0.63 ETH or around 100,000 PHP. The BBP play style for is very straightforward: you snipe out the fastest axie before your tank drops, and then crit your way to victory. I often win games with my final axie in last stand, because of how much critical-strike impacts the match outcome. The most difficult matchup seems to be multi-aqua crews, mostly because of their speed upgrades in the endgame. Understanding the aqua timing (and counting energy) is super critical to this matchup, and I’ve won a few of these games with a double Veggie Bite the turn before the aquas were supposed to go off.
So how did I do overall? Well, here’s a breakdown!
I started recording all of my games from 1285 MMR all the way up to 2000 (that’s the red line). Every day I would take note of how much SLP I had earned at the end of a session, and then convert that into PHP (the blue bars in the chart). If you’re wondering how I was converting my SLP daily, basically I created a “trading buffer” for SLP. How does that work? A few weeks before I actually started playing the game, I bought 2500 SLP and then stored it in my BloomX account. Whenever I earned SLP from Axie Infinity, I would sell that exact amount of SLP in my BloomX account. So for example, on my first day of playing, I earned 105 SLP, so I exchanged 105 SLP into PHP in BloomX. Then when I can finally claim my SLP earnings from the game, I take the whole thing and use it to replenish all of the SLP in my BloomX trading buffer. I continue to do that every day for as long as I’m playing the game. What does this accomplish? Well, it allows the player to enjoy the daily price of SLP instead of having to wait two weeks and hoping the price is good at the time. It doesn’t completely eliminate volatility risk but it smoothens it out. (We refer to the trading buffer itself as an “unrealized” gain/loss, so we ignore its original cost until the time comes to completely close off our position.)
What other information can we glean from the chart? My daily average for the entire period was 1,770 PHP, and my peso earnings were not changing substantially just because my rank was. Remember that SLP rewards increase as you go up the ranks, and playing at 2000 MMR gives you 15 SLP per win, while playing at 1200 MMR only gives you 6. However, the price of SLP was itself going down day by day as I was playing, so although the rewards were increasing as I was going up, the actual peso value was going down at almost the same pace. That said, by the end of my 17th day playing the game, I had earned 29,778 pesos. In other words, I had made back 30% of my investment in less than 3 weeks. If I continue playing at this rank I can probably make the entire 100,000 peso investment back by late October, which is a very reasonable amount of time for any investment of this size. But what happens if I don’t have time to play anymore? Well, I could either give the team to a scholar to pilot for me, or I could just sell it in the marketplace and hopefully make my entire ETH cost back. For now, I’m motivated enough to continue trying to get better at the game though, so I’ll probably just keep playing. (Sorry, scholars!)
I wanted to end with this interesting Coindesk essay from last week about how Ethereum is beginning to surpass Bitcoin in certain metrics. This August, Ethereum powered $185B worth of ETH transfers, while Bitcoin did $180B. But that’s not the interesting number. What’s interesting is that that number is ONLY comparing $ETH’s native token vs $BTC’s native token. It doesn’t take into account that Ethereum facilitates the transfer of many other digital assets: DeFi tokens, stablecoins, NFTart, axies. If you add all that to the calculation, I think the amount of value powered by Ethereum would dwarf what Bitcoin does.
The analogy I like to make is this. Imagine that it’s 1921, instead of 2021, and you were given the choice to either invest $1M in the gold industry or $1M in the fossil fuel industry. We know that gold would go up by 100x over the next 100 years, so that sounds like the better investment right? Well, not quite. Fossil fuels is what enabled modern society as we know it, supercharging transportation, communication, and improving quality-of-life at a scale that was otherwise impossible. Many of our key technological breakthroughs, from the Internet to space travel, were made possible on some level by fossil fuels. In this analogy, Bitcoin is gold, and Ethereum is fossil fuels. Bitcoin is an amazing store of value that will keep your money safe forever, but Ethereum is trying to enable the next stage of societal evolution.
See you on Wednesday, cryptofam! If you don’t already follow me on Facebook, please do! I write these free newsletters for Filipino crypto fans every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday ❤