I started writing a post on GFL's (which will be coming soon) and that included some background information on past Splinterlands reward systems. I had to do a lot of research on old Splinterlands posts from before I started playing, and during the process I realized this topic was worthy of its own post.
Reward System 1.0 - The OG Boosters
In the very early days, players actually got booster packs for completing daily quests and for season end rewards. This was before the Reward card category even existed.
Here you can see the October 26th, 2018 post announcing daily quests:
Here you can see the October 27th, 2018 post listing the booster pack season rewards:
Reward System 2.0 - The Rise of Reward Cards
This system persisted until the beginning of Season 4. Here is a December 9th, 2018 post announcing the new changes:
One of the most difficult things for a blockchain-based project where all assets are transferrable and have value is giving out rewards. On the positive side we want to reward stakeholders with great teams and new players who aspire to have them. On the challenging side we have to deal with users creating multiple accounts to farm the rewards and consider the impact the rewards will have to the values of the assets. That's just to name a couple concerns. Traditional games don't have to worry about any of this due to the restrictions they put in place, but we do.
Most crypto games deal with this by simply not giving out any free rewards just for playing, but we feel that rewards are too important to creating real value behind the cards to ignore them.
Our first attempt at a reward system went reasonably well, but it had a few key issues which we feel are critical to address.
We are going to do that by introducing a set of 10 brand new cards, known as the "Reward Edition", which can ONLY be obtained via playing the game and earning rewards.
Starting at the beginning of Season 4, the season and daily quest rewards will switch from Beta edition booster packs to cards from the new Reward Edition.
And here is a December 13th, 2018 post with more details:
The caps for the reward cards were established on January 5th, 2019:
Season 6 came with some adjustments, with the number of reward cards being scaled back slightly. Here is a January 12th, 2019 post (there is also some interesting historical card errata):
This is where the current card/chest scheme comes from:
Reward System 3.0 - The Era of Potions
DEC and potions were implemented on May 20th, 2019:
and at this time potions could be optionally utilized on reward cards.
Potions also got streamlined on November 30th, 2019:
Reward System 4.0 - Littered with Loot Chests
Since bots and multi-accounts were burning through reward cards too quickly, Splinterlands shifted to a Loot Chest system. Instead of getting the above numbers of guaranteed cards, you got Loot Chests, 33% of which were reward cards, 33% were potions, 33% were DEC bundles, and 1% was an Essence Orb (or once they ran out, an Untamed booster pack). Potions could optionally be used and would only be consumed when flipping actual reward cards (not when flipping potions or DEC bundles). This was implemented on February 4th, 2020:
Some players might remember there was a two day period when players would receive a random number of loot chests that was loosely based on league level but that was quickly revised so that the number of loot chests you received was equal to the number of reward cards you would have received under the previous system:
The latest change has disabled potions for reward cards. This was implemented on July 28th, 2020:
The main reason for this is that heavy potion use was doubling the rate at which Splinterlands was cycling through legendary reward cards, as referenced here:
Reward System 5.0 - Power Overwhelming
Splinterlands is in the middle of implementing the Collection Power mechanic. You can read about it here:
Once Phase 2 (Collection Power is needed to reach higher leagues) and Phase 3 (multiple leaderboards) are implemented, it is highly likely that the reward system will be revamped yet again. But as you can see from this article, the reward system has already gone through many iterations and will continue to adapt as the game evolves.