I've been researching crypto games for a while now. The name DeFi Kingdoms kept popping up in some places, but I didn't think too much of it at the start. After finally researching about the farms, NFTs and the community I can say DeFi Kingdoms is one of the most promising blockchain games that exists at the moment.
I've edited this review since crypto changes at lightning speed. Since the initial review, we've entered a bear market and that means smaller coins lost anywhere between 90-99% of their price. DeFi Kingdoms is no exception and as such many past investors are at a loss.
We've also had an incident with a mining exploit that went untreated for a few months and got people reasonably angry, coupled with some speculation about the identity of Frisky Fox, one of the most prominent people working on the game, AND some concerns about one of the initial liquidity addresses. These have all been addressed, and I for one believe the team came out stronger on the other side. My belief in the project as stated in the introduction paragraph has not changed yet.
The Harmony bridge was also unfortunately hacked a few weeks ago, depegging the price of many coins, $JEWEL price was pretty much unaffected but hurting the chain can still affect the project.
There's a silver lining in the price action: the NFTs are really cheap now. Like, extremely cheap compared to previous prices. The floor price is now just a couple bucks. While the old players are affected, new players may find it easier than ever to take part in the game and summon new heroes. As such, I've dropped the Play-to-earn aspect to 7 (it's really hard to gauge now).
The game has been updated constantly, adding many functionalities to the Crystalvale version (the latest one being quests) and new features to Serendale. Some of the most important are Pets and DFK Duel: a mini-game where a team of 1 (not really a team but still), 3 or 9 heroes duel another team in a random selection of stats. Not true PVP yet, but it's laying the groundwork!
As for myself, I've been doing the quests daily, levelling my heroes and compounding the farms. I bought my heroes before the price drop, but with the current prices I think I may expand my team. I've also won one of the discord "side-quests" by writing a pet description! (I also won one of Spintop's contest with this review so thanks to the team for the generous tip!)
Initially a Harmony only dapp, the team successfully launched an expansion called Crystalvale on a Custom Avalanche Subnet (a technical feat in itself).
Going to the dapp you are immediately welcomed by a pixelated landscape and medieval music reminiscent of the nostalgia-inducing games of the past. The kingdom has different buildings, each allowing you to interact with the game in multiple ways. For example, swapping tokens takes place in the marketplace, while entering the tavern allows you to buy and sell NFT heroes.
There are many ways to approach this game. The most straightforward is farming and staking, classic DeFi. You pair the power token, $JEWEL (or $CRYSTAL on Crystalvale), with a few select coins (mostly blue chips and stablecoins), and get some pretty juicy APRs. What's the catch? A portion of your rewards are locked, but each week the unlocked to locked ratio increases so patience and trust in the project can be rewarded greatly.
OUTDATED INFO but may be helpful: At the time of this writing, the Serendale (Harmony version of the game) farms have a 65% unlock ratio while maintaining 300+% APRs. The Crystalvale farms have launched recently and the unlock ratio is 9%, but the APRs are 1500+%. (Make sure you research impermanent loss before deciding to farm token pairs).
Edit: as of right now the Serendale farms have a 85% unlock ratio with a 129-200% APR, but many have been disabled due to the Harmony bridge hack which caused the depegging of many assets. UST and Luna farms have also been retired due to their spectacular crash.
The Crystalvale farms have a 33% unlock rate with a 142-220% APR.
You would expect the token value to plummet even with the locking system, however it's still holding decently (Edit: yes it's pretty bad now but has mostly to do with the current market not the project), and during hype announcements can increase really fast. One of the main reasons this happens is that, compared to farm-and-dump tokens, $JEWEL has utility in game.
While the farms are great and all, you probably want to play the game! At this moment much is still in the works, but there are things to try which can yield sweet rewards.
The game is centered around Heroes, which are NFTs that allow you to play the game and/or enhance your DeFi experience. Heroes have multiple attributes, ranging from standard RPG stats like strength and agility, to classes, subclasses, professions, rarity, generation, combat abilities and appearance.
They can also be bred (I'll call it summon from now on cause that's what it actually happens in game and it sounds less weird) in order to get some nutty utility. Understanding which attributes complement your hero and choosing specific heroes for summoning can net you a good profit. The attributes and summoning mechanisms are quite complex and would take an essay to explain correctly.
The main way to actively play the game is through professions, which consist of sending your heroes away on the quest for some amount of time and returning with rewards and experience. Two professions, Gardening and Mining, can help you get more yield from your farms (gardens), or uncover (mine) locked jewel before it would normally get unlocked. Heroes can thus be also seen as extensions to the DeFi aspect, rewarding dedicated and knowledgeable players.
The most anticipated upcoming feature is combat, which will greatly change how heroes are valued and how the game is played, so if you feel professions are underwhelming, you should keep an eye on the updates!
I couldn't end this review without also mentioning the community. The Discord group is a whole feature in itself. It's one of the most positive and helpful groups I've seen in crypto. They also have good memes.
The team is frequently giving back to the community. They do weekly giveaways of either 1000 $JEWEL split to multiple people, heroes, runes or other items, organise fun contests with many winners earning lots of $JEWEL (Edit: I also won one of these!), and do lots of airdrops and raffles just by interacting with the game or staking $JEWEL or $CRYSTAL. There are some critics to the latter method, arguing that the whales keep reaping the benefits, but they also do contests that anyone can equally win.
The team has shown technical expertise by thoroughly verifying the code before deploying updates and by launching the first custom Avalanche subnet without any major hiccups. The pixelated eye candy is a testament to the creative designers and artists. The team is highly transparent, with weekly community AMAs.
Edit: most of the team members also revealed their identities (i.e. doxxed themselves) on a special stream.
So there you have it, DeFi Kingdoms is a Game, a DeFi app, and everything in between! I recommend keeping an eye on it even if you think it's not for you. If you want to start playing, make sure you understand the farming and game mechanics so you don't end up making monetary mistakes.
There are many ways to earn profits, either by staking, farming, buying heroes and questing, going the NFT degen mode by flipping and summoning heroes, and even by interacting with the team and fellow players on the Discord group.