I made a New Year's Resolution again. I wouldn't buy an early access game.
It lasted until Feb 15, so basically on par with everyone who purchased a gym membership, only my lack of willpower only cost me 13 dollars.
Slay the Spire is a deck building combat game that plays like a single player version of the card game Dominion. If you're familiar with that game this will seem second nature to you.
The defining feature of both Dominion and Slay the Spire is that the starting deck is fixed and that there is no cap or minimum on card count. This allows for you to develop a strategy based around what you find in the spire (aka: dungeon?) as opposed to developing an "always winning" strategy with a pre-built deck like you'd find in Hearthstone, Magic, etc.
Beyond the cards you draw, you'll also gain artifacts as you go, which add some global effects that may change your strategy mid-game as well. The artifacts vary from simple things like gaining more gold in combat to effects that trigger every time you play 3 attack cards, take X turns, or allow you to smoke the ganja at rest sites and ... lose cards? Look I don't understand how it works either but that's what you do.
Every turn you draw 5 cards and have to play them with the power you have, 3 to start. The player always goes first, which is a massive advantage since it means if you kill something it can't attack you. Basically there are four categories of effects the cards trigger : Do damage, block (reduce damage), debuff enemy, buff yourself. There's plenty of cards that do multiple effects, and there's a wide variety of buffs and debuffs, though none of them super shockingly innovative.
You do this while managing your HP, which does not heal (at least not without an artifact) other than at rest sites, from battle to battle. You die, you start over.
I tried something new. It didn't work.
The strategy for Slay the Spire or Dominion or any of these style deck building mid game products is simple: Find a synergy that places you above the opponent's power curve. This may be something like stacking poison on enemies and triggering effects that require the enemy to be poisoned or having many cards that both block and attack simultaneously, or in one run I had, have so many damage buffs you can nearly insta-kill anything but the bosses.
The only real nuance to a strategy game like this is understanding that it is often better to avoid adding cards to your deck that don't match your synergy than it is to simply accept every reward that comes your way. Once you understand that, you'll be able to cycle your "super combo" quicker and more often. The only downside to a "lean deck" strategy like this is it's susceptible to enemies that add "useless" cards to your deck and it may not be flexible enough to defeat some enemies easily.
Plenty of cards to pick from!
What Slay the Spire appears to do very well is create a solid power curve throughout the journey, where even the most "overpowered" feeling deck can't afford to make the wrong choices without putting your character in danger. This coupled with the fun random events and having to change your strategy on the fly due to receiving a great (or dangerous) artifact means there's plenty of replay to be had.
At the moment there are two characters to pick from, each with its own unique deck of possible cards. So far I have found the assassin easier than the fighter, though I have managed to make it to the end with both in under 4 hours. However, you can then take on the spire with greater difficulty, a button I missed until I went back to write this, so we'll see what more I can do to bring down this tower of evil.
4 unlocks to go with the fighter guy.
All in all, despite violating my New Year's Resolution, Slay the Spire is an excellent game already. It is no wonder it has climbed so high on the Steam Top Seller list, but I don't think it has the deck built to take down the bosses of Kingdom Come and PUBG that currently reside at its zenith.