Slay the Spire is an example of a game that didn’t initially click with me. I played it enough to unlock the 3rd character (the Defect, at the time), maybe beat the first boss, and the kinda put it aside.
Later, a year ago, I picked it up again. I vaguely remember it being on sale for the Nintendo Switch, and I thought the game was perfect for that system, especially since you can save the game whenever and come back at the start of whatever fight you were doing (this can be used to save-scum). A new character, the Watcher, was rolling out and I wanted to unlock it.
This time, I paid more attention to the game. Card effects, status effects and how they worked, what game terminology meant (e.g. ethereal vs intangible, etc). I found the wiki, and did some reading: relics and what they did, the patterns of encounters, etc. I even watched portions of streamers that the SlayTheSpire subreddit recommended (Jorbs, LifeCoach) and came away some good info.
Now, Slay the Spire is one of my favorite games. It’s the game, outside of MMOs, that I have the most time in. It’s a fantastic mix of luck and skill… and like Scrabble and Backgammon, player skill can steer towards a positive outcome.
I’d say half the reason I buy games during crazy sales is I’m hoping to grab another gem like Slay the Spire.
Anyway, after a lot of games (hundreds?), my favorite character is the Defect. He’s a robot that summon orbs to assist in the fight, so a successful run involves trying to build up a lightning, frost, or dark deck, or a mix, whether or not to pick up focus cards, or increase orb count, etc. Basically, choosing what to do given a menu of choices, building the deck towards a goal, trying to address current weaknesses and future needs. A successful run also involves choosing what cards not to draft, because each card taken dilutes the deck, lowering the chance of any particular card getting drawn. Or another way to look at it, more cards means more turns to get your best cards another time.
The basic outline of the game is a series of encounters leading to a boss fight, repeated 3 times. If you beat the 3rd boss (which means you also beat boss 1 and boss 2), you unlock a new challenge – Ascension levels, and a 4th boss, the Corrupted Heart (I’ve beaten the Corrupted Heart on everyone except the Watcher) if you also collected the red, green, blue keys along the way.
I have all characters in various low Ascension levels, but for now, I’m concentrating on advancing the Defect as high as I can get. I’ll play the others for variety, but 4 times out of 5 I’m playing the Defect.
This run began with me trading in my starter relic for a random one, and I got Busted Crown: extra energy each round but 2 fewer cards to choose from after a fight. I used that to keep my deck thin, selecting frost cards and eventually creating a strong blocking deck. I just had to survive a few turns to set it up. 😉
So each encounter revolved around playing blocks to minimize damage while adding frost orbs, or invoking them to help prevent damage. After getting my blocking machine established, I would wear down my opponent. For boss 3, the Awakened One, I eventually was passively blocking for a huge amount per turn, allowing me to win.
Beating Ascension 10 grants an achievement, as well as the ability to start the next Ascension level. The ultimate goal is to beat the Corrupted Heart in Ascension 20 (!!). My victories against the Corrupted Heart have all occurred at low Ascension levels, and relied more on luck than typical runs (great relics, encounters that granted strong cards as well as luck drawing them when needed, etc.) That’s just honesty, the Corrupted Heart fight is MUCH harder than any of the regular boss fights and I don’t always beat them.