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    dkirschner's Slay the Spire (PC)

    [January 18, 2023 08:51:02 AM]
    Since my last entry, I have beaten Act 4 with the Silent and the Defect. The Silent took me a long time, but the Defect was more like the Ironclad, just a few tries. Then, I went back to the dreaded Watcher! I finally beat Act 3 with her, though it didn't "count" (didn't get the achievement) because I obtained the keys to Act 4 and died there. But let's call it a victory. And, after many, many attempts, I have yet to beat Act 4. Hell, I may not have even reached it but like twice. The Watcher is hard to play!

    Since I have played with the Watcher so much, I've developed many strategies that seem to be good, but that haven't scored an Act 4 win. She has some cool card mechanics. In my last run, I tried to build a Scry deck. Scry lets you look at the next x cards in your draw pile and discard up to that many. So the card, Cut the Thread, does 7 damage, scries 3, and draws 1. That card is great because not only can you look at the next 3 cards in your draw pile (and discard those that you don't want this or next turn), but you get to draw one right then. There is another card that costs 0 and does 4 damage. Every time you scry, you return that card to your hand. So, in the deck I built, I had like 5 or 6 scry cards and 2 of the 0-cost "return to hand" cards. After I played the 0-cost cards once, I would get on a roll! Every time I scried, I'd get a free 8 damage (actually 12 damage because they were upgraded). And I would try to play this combo when in Wrath (deal 2x damage) to nail enemies for an extra 24 damage every time I scried. And I'd always try to scry for a scry card. When it worked, it WORKED.

    All those little damage cards also synched with two other cards I had. One did a little damage to an enemy and then gave 3 block every time you attack that enemy. The other one (when upgraded) applied 2 weak (-25% damage) to all enemies every time you gained block in a turn. You can imagine how much block you could gain and how much weak you could stack if you manage to pull off a scry combo with these two cards in play! Passive block and applying weak go really far for the Watcher because you want to do what you can to stay in Wrath. If you can offset the 100% damage you take while in Wrath with passive block, weakening the enemy, and so on, then you can kill them quickly and not take as much damage yourself.

    Another strategy is to acquire as many cards with Mantra as possible. Mantra stacks until you get 10, then you enter Divinity stance, in which you immediately gain 3 energy and deal 3x damage for the rest of the turn. This allows for ridiculous bursts of damage. I think somehow I need to get both scry cards and mantra cards so that I can scry FOR the mantra cards. But as always with the Watcher, you are always playing this precarious balance between stances. If you trigger Divinity without having attack cards in your hand, or without being able to draw, or without having energy, then its potential is wasted and you have to build up mantra again. You definitely don't want to stay in Wrath long because you take double damage. The trick to this is mitigating it with tons of block or weak debuffs, having healing in your deck or relics to compensate for taking extra damage, or timing entering Wrath when enemies are not about to attack. The consideration to enter Wrath is always, "Will I be able to exit Wrath if I need to?" For example, the enemy might not be attacking this turn and you can enter Wrath and dish a lot of damage. But what are they going to do next turn? Maybe use a huge attack that will one-shot you at double damage. What's the likelihood of drawing a card to exit your stance or enter Calm? Do you have one retained (meaning it stays in hand until played)? Can you scry for a Calm card? Or will you take your chances? I've died plenty of times by being in Wrath at the wrong time.

    The crazy thing about this game, as much as it frustrates me to lose over and over and over with the Watcher, is that I keep seeing new cards, relics, and finding new synergies. Like, part of me wants to mark the game as complete and move on, but the other part of me is like, "wait, this is still fun and exciting!" The feeling of "just one more" is strong. Two quick examples, then I'm out. In one recent run, I moved to a ? on the map and it was the Good Face/Bad Face event, where the Face Trader swaps faces with you. You have a 50% chance to get a Bad Face, which I had previously gotten every time. It's a relic that gives you 1 weak (-25% damage) on your first turn, which makes for a terrible opening. But I finally got Good Face! (I just read that there are two possible Bad Faces and two Good Faces). The Good Face I got gives you +1 max HP after every combat. And I got it in like the 3rd room on Act 1, like immediately. That's HUGE. I was going to fight fight fight and get like +30HP for the final boss, tons of cards, build a crazy attack deck. Then I got a relic that raises max HP by 14 and another that raises it by 7. Then...I attempted an elite with a key and got some terrible luck and was killed in Act 1, after being set up to have more HP than I've ever had. Crushed.

    So, I dunno. Should I keep trying with the Watcher? Maybe I'll play the other characters more and finish unlocking everything. I think they all have just one or two more tiers of stuff. Maybe the new relics will help with my Watcher quest. Or should I just stop and move on to Monster Train?
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    [December 11, 2022 09:04:06 AM]
    Slay the Spire is amazing. I pumped it up to some friends last night when we started talking about card games. It's a deck-building roguelike and has influenced a ton of other games since its release a few years ago. I've known this, but since I hadn't played it, I didn't realize the influence. I own two of its offspring, Monster Train (haven't tried, wanted to play Slay the Spire first) and Ring of Pain. I now understand what Ring of Pain borrowed from Slay the Spire and how it innovated, and it makes me appreciate it even more. But Slay the Spire is certainly the more meaty game.

    In Slay the Spire, you choose a character for your run through four floors ("Acts") of the titular spire. At first, the Ironclad is your only character option. He's a straightforward warrior class. And at first, you can complete three Acts to reach "the end?" It took me 3 attempts to beat the game my first time with the Ironclad. Then, you unlock the Silent, who is a rogue-type character focusing on combos and stacking poison. I won my first try. Then, you unlock the Reject, who is a unique one! It's like a magic-type character where you stack passive buffs. Beat the game on my third try with him. unlock the fourth character, the Watcher. 10 attempts, still no win! The Watcher is a high-risk high-reward character who can do insane damage, a glass cannon. If you screw up, you also will take insane damage. Her unique mechanic is switching "stances." In one stance, you do 2x damage, but also take 2x damage. You don't want to get caught in this stance. In another stance, you do 3x damage for this turn. Another is defensive and forward-thinking, which grants you 8 defense when you enter it and 2 energy when you exit it. So far, I've just lacked the ability to adequately defend, or to kill fast enough, with her. I need to learn to plan ahead better. I'm not even sure I've made it to Act 3.

    After you win with the Reject (or perhaps after you win with all three main characters or after you attempt a run with the Watcher), you can collect three colored keys in a run and continue to Act 4, which is the actual ending. So after banging my head against the spire with The Watcher, I decided to try getting to Act 4 on Ironclad, and guess what? I beat it first try. In fact, I annihilated it. My deck, my relics, my luck...everything was stacked. So clearly, I just suck with The Watcher.

    The game has tons of replay value, and it's so dang fun, I would like to keep unlocking stuff and going for some achievements. Next, I'll try to beat Act 4 with the Silent and the Reject, and then I'll go back and focus on the Watcher again. There are also daily challenges that provide three modifiers. I tried one once and died on the last boss; it was fun and chaotic with the modifiers. So, I definitely want to beat one of those. Then, the final goal (and I probably will drop this one) is playing "Ascension," which makes the game harder every time you win. I think I read it goes up to Ascension level 20! I'd like to win a couple of them to see how they work, but I'm under no impression I'm going to spend time going all the way to 20.

    The last thing to mention at this point is my current strategy for choosing paths through the Acts. In each Act, you can see the map to the boss, and there are like 2-5 criss-crossing paths with events containing regular enemy combat (rewards: gold and a card, choose one of three options); elite enemy combat (gold and a card, plus a relic, which generally range from "it's fine" to "oh my god, amazing." Relics provide passive bonuses for the rest of your run. Here's an "it's fine" relic: Dream Catcher - Whenever you rest, add a card to your deck. This is "fine" because you actually don't want to build a big deck with tons of cards; that reduces your chance to get the great cards in your deck that you want to see often. Also, at rest sites, you can rest (gain some % of your total HP) or smith (upgrade a card), and while resting is useful because healing is rare, upgrading a card is definitely the better long-term strategy (beyond healing keeping you alive). Here's an "oh my god, amazing" relic: Shovel - You can now dig for relics at rest sites. Speaking of things you can do at rest sites...get more relics. I had this for the first time during my Ironclad Act 4 victory, and holy moly, I chose paths to maximize rest sites and dug up like 6 or 7 additional relics, which is a zillion times better than 6 or 7 cards.

    So, the other spots along the paths are the rest sites, as mentioned, merchants (purchase cards, potions [one-time use benefits], and pay to remove cards from your deck [like curses or weak starting cards], and "?" events, which are my favorite. These are random events that can yield a variety of rewards or detriments. They can be regular, elite, or even boss battles, special event relics, gold, max HP, potions, and so on. You have a decent chance to lose life or gain a curse though, and sometimes even more irritating things like a relic (Bad Face [I haven't gotten Good Face yet]), which slaps you with one Weak upon combat start. The Weak debuff decreases your damage by 25%, so this relic means that on your first turn every combat, you do 25% less damage, a terrible opening!

    I began the game maximizing fighting elites for the guaranteed relics, but learned to be discerning about elites; they can kill you if you aren't ready. I just looked up elites online and found that they have somewhat predictable patterns...interesting! And, there are three specific elite types per Act, so you know what is possible to face. Now, I maximize elites if I know my deck is strong, or if I have the relic that decreases elites' HP by 25%, making them easier to deal with. A couple elites, the ones that spawn adds in Acts 2 and 3, give me extra trouble too, so I'm more likely to attempt elite encounters in Act 1. I've spent most of my runs prioritizing ?s because the payoff is usually great. Sometimes, however, bad luck on the ?s can ruin your run, either because you are actively harmed or because the ? is a waste and you miss out on rewards from other event types too many times. Recently, I've started prioritizing rest sites because of the ability to upgrade cards. The more I play, though, the more I realize that the best strategy isn't about sticking to an event hierarchy, mapping a path at the beginning of each Act and continuing down it no matter what. No, Slay the Spire is about adapting based on the situation. You may start the run thinking "I'm going for max ?s," but then get that "elites have 25% less HP" relic, and go for elites, or get that "dig for relics at rest sites" relic, and start going for rest sites, or get that "gain 1 energy each turn, but you can't acquire any more gold" or "no more resting at rest sites" and so you avoid merchants or rest sites. Flexibility is key!

    I'm sure I have lots of synergies and combos left to find, playstyles to refine, and cards, potions, and relics to discover. This will surely be my "while eating lunch" activity for the foreseeable future. I just have to stop when I'm done eating and not say "let me just finish this run..." lest lunch last 2 hours.
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    dkirschner's Slay the Spire (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Thursday 1 December, 2022

    GameLog closed on: Thursday 19 January, 2023

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    I think I'll get sucked in...Incredible. I will probably come back to this. Very much enjoy the genre.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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    1 : Slay the Spire (PC) by jp (rating: 5)


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