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Slay the Spire

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,325
409
126
Sort of short TL;DR:

Slay the Spire is a Rogue-like RPG that uses cards for combat. The majority of cards are available from the start, and a few are unlocked by playing the game. (You're scored at the end of your run, whether successful or not, and those points go toward a meter to unlock cards or relics.) The game features four classes/characters with their own distinct moveset: Ironclad (Warrior/Tank), Silent (Rogue), Defect (Mage), and Watcher (Monk). There are three game modes, Climb, Daily Climb and Custom.

The main gameplay loop is to choose nodes along a map that have specific effects. There are Enemy Combat, Elite Combat, Rest, Merchant and Random nodes. (The Random node can be anything but Elite Combat and also includes Event nodes.) During your "climb", you can gain gold (used at Merchants and Events), potions, relics and cards from Combat, Merchants, and Events. The idea is to use presented cards to create a deck that is potent enough to defeat enemies as you climb.

That is one thing to note is that if you're not a fan of RNG, you may not care for the game. Similar to what you'd experience in a card game like Hearthstone, RNG is quite common and can be your friend as much as your enemy. For example, in Act I as the Watcher, I fought the slime boss and literally beat it without it splitting due to a potion automatically drawing and playing my top three cards. However, one nice aspect is that the default game does not have a time limit on your turn.

The Longer Version:

I finally got around to playing Slay the Spire this past weekend, and I'd like to think that overall, I've had a good time with it. Although, while I beat the game with all four (default, non-mod) characters, I will say that I definitely had a far better time with some of them. My two standout characters were the Silent and the Defect. On the flip side, I found the Ironclad a bit harder to build a good deck with, and the Watcher was probably the most boring to play.

It might be that part of my enjoyment with Silent and Defect came from overall good card synergy. With Silent, I ended up leaning toward a poison-based build that also produced a hefty amount of block. The card build did have some setup, which could be haphazard with poor card luck, but overall, it went fairly well. With Defect, I ended up with a build that focused so heavily on orbs for defense (with focus to boost their strength) that I got achievements like "Don't take damage on a boss fight" using him.

In regard to Ironclad, I think the biggest problem that I had in two of my runs, which ended in defeat, were that I never had great card synergy... or in some respect, that I never found any to begin with. Part of what helped me win with him was really good relic luck. I might have also made some lackluster card choices at times, but I kind of did that with all characters as I was getting a feel for them. For the Watcher, the biggest problem that I had with her was that I lacked enough good stance switching cards, and I spent almost all of my time in Calm using the Power that granted me +5 block at the end of my turn. It really helped when I finally got a 0-cost, retained card that let me switch to Calm. Prior to that, I'd have to rely upon having my 2-cost card to enter Wrath and my 2-cost card to enter Calm at the same time as neither were retained.

One thing that I think may be worthwhile to note for people starting the game... don't put too much trust in online tier lists. Given that I didn't have a huge understanding of certain mechanics, I wanted to know how good certain items were. However, I quickly found that these lists are designed from a purely standalone viewpoint, and that just doesn't make sense in a game where deck building and card synergy is important. This seemed quite evident in my Defect run where my deck just felt way overpowered (as noted earlier, I could fight a boss and never take damage), and most of my cards were ranked in the B and C category. Some of the high ranked cards were some of the ones that I disliked the most and found far too situational.

Maybe the biggest negative that I could say about the game is that I don't have a ton of desire to play the same characters again to unlock more cards. Although, I do still need to get the three keys so I can enter Act IV, so I guess I do still have a true gameplay objective to reach. One other aspect that I need to look into are the mods. I briefly checked out some of them, and I noticed that there are a few characters available. I don't know if anyone has a good recommendation on which ones to try?

I've also heard some good things about a similar game called Monster Train. I'm tempted to look into that next to see if it's a good sort of "continuation".

I also recall finding an awkward visual bug in the game. I received a card at the start of combat and also had to choose between three gray cards. For some reason, the card that I received at the start kept displaying its tooltip whenever the card choice screen was open regardless of my cursor position. I also had a lot of graphical/object flicker when I was playing on my TV. The game isn't exactly demanding being a 2D game and the computer is equipped with an R5 3600 + 1080 Ti. So, I wouldn't have suspected an issue even when rendering at 3840x2160.
 
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Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,381
309
126
My impression was, 'overrated'. It's one of the games where you say, 'this is simple. I'm having a bit more fun than I'd expect'. Analogy, a poor quality tv series where something keeps you watching it. It's mild fun to play, but feels a bit simple and empty. Another analogy, like playing solitaire, where you wonder 'is it worth playing this'.

But then I see rave reviews. So who knows. I wouldn't recommend it more than as 'ok', but I expect I'll play it a bit more also later. There are just much richer games.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,325
409
126
My impression was, 'overrated'. It's one of the games where you say, 'this is simple. I'm having a bit more fun than I'd expect'. Analogy, a poor quality tv series where something keeps you watching it. It's mild fun to play, but feels a bit simple and empty. Another analogy, like playing solitaire, where you wonder 'is it worth playing this'.

But then I see rave reviews. So who knows. I wouldn't recommend it more than as 'ok', but I expect I'll play it a bit more also later. There are just much richer games.
I'm not sure if "simple" is the right word. The basic gameplay concepts are fairly easy to grasp, which I'd argue is a strength of the game. It didn't have any sort of tutorial that I recall, and I didn't have a problem understanding it. Albeit, I don't know if I missed it or that there just isn't one, but there really should be an information page for each of the character classes. To be clear, I think the Ironclad and Silent are fairly straightforward; however, the Defect and the Watcher have very specific playstyles that would be easier to grasp with just a little text explaining how orbs work (Defect) or what the different forms are and what they do (Watcher).

So, I think the best way to put it is that the game may have fairly simple gameplay, but it has a bit more mechanical depth. (This is sort of like the Hearthstone approach.) That's not a bad thing, but to a degree, I think the lack of gameplay options does hurt the replayability. I played my first Daily Climb yesterday, and apart from finishing the unlocks for all four characters, I don't really have anything else to do. I've never been that big on Rogue-like games, so the idea of just trying to get a little further or score a bit better isn't really my thing.

I don't think the game is overrated either. I do think it's a good game, but I'd say it's lack of gameplay options definitely holds it back from being better. However, it's also a fairly cheap game to get. For example, the upcoming iOS release will only be $10, and I think that's a pretty decent price point. I guess the big question that I normally ask myself after playing a game is whether I feel like a game was worth my time or not.
 

Fenixgoon

Lifer
Jun 30, 2003
26,622
1,258
126
i thought it was a pretty clever game. i beat it with 2 of the 3 classes, but i can't say i had a huge desire to really grind it out, do the different challenges and whatnot.
 

Ranulf

Golden Member
Jul 18, 2001
1,603
138
106
As someone not really into rogue like type games especially card game variants, I got addicted to Slay the Spire last year after getting it on a bundle. If you like StS, you'll probably like Monster Train. I've got about 15 hours in that in the two weeks since it came out. I picked up Gordian Quest as well but haven't tried it yet.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,325
409
126
i thought it was a pretty clever game. i beat it with 2 of the 3 classes, but i can't say i had a huge desire to really grind it out, do the different challenges and whatnot.
I recently picked it up again on iOS (fair warning, it does not transfer save data between devices), and it reminded me of how much I do not like playing certain classes. I don't know if I just completely do not understand the Ironclad, but I've always had such a hard time beating the game on him. Also, and this may go back to my lack of understanding, but I think a few mobs could use some rebalancing. The elite that goes intangible every other turn is probably a bit overpowered in his current state. It seems that just about every time he goes intangible, he deals around 40+ damage. One of the final bosses, the Awoken, comes with two ~50 HP adds and has two 300 HP health bars. He also deals quite a bit of damage. Out of all of the end bosses, he's probably the only one that I have trouble with.

Although, I've actually found that the Daily Climb can be a bit refreshing. However, I won't say that all rulesets are as fun, but I've had some pretty interesting ones that pushed me to get more curses and such. You can't get achievements in the Daily Climb, but you can get your unlocks that way, and with the modifiers mixing things up, that can make the grind a bit more refreshing.

As someone not really into rogue like type games especially card game variants, I got addicted to Slay the Spire last year after getting it on a bundle. If you like StS, you'll probably like Monster Train. I've got about 15 hours in that in the two weeks since it came out. I picked up Gordian Quest as well but haven't tried it yet.
I've purchased and played Monster Train a bit, but I will admit that I tend to go back to Slay the Spire more. I think the biggest turn-off between the two is that Slay the Spire is more of an RPG that uses cards as combat actions where Monster Train is more of a lane battler using cards as units, abilities, and buffs. It's sort of like if Hearthstone had a multi-tiered battle arena and units auto-attack instead of being controlled. On my first run, I had a lot of problems against this one boss that had a 4x multistrike modifier. I also don't think I upgraded my units enough as I didn't realize that the reroll option in the upgrade hut refills any used upgrades. (It can only be used once though, which means six possible upgrades.)

In my second run, I played as the plant-based group, and had a far, far better time. Although, I think that was mostly due to a relic that I happened to pick up that automatically filled my second floor. The benefit is that the relic ignores capacity, which meant my second floor was usually packed and overfilled with units. I also chose a relic that increased capacity for my first bonus rather than the relic that increased energy. I don't know if my assertion is correct, but it seems like capacity matters more than energy. (I chose an energy relic as my second one.)
 
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