Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire is a deckbuilder roguelike I decided to check out after hearing a lot of buzz about it. It’s a very beautiful game that is rendered unplayable by its overwhelming randomness.

I can’t beat this game. I’ve tried for nearly 40 hours according to Steam, but I simply cannot beat the final boss. I’ve read guides, watched playthroughs, and tried outlandish strategies, and I’m still no closer to understanding how I’m supposed to beat this game.

The reason for this is the core mechanic. Slay the Spire plays like a card game: Every round, you draw a set of five cards, and that hand determines what you can do that turn. Sometimes you will get exactly what you need, and sometimes you will find yourself a sitting duck with absolutely nothing you can do about it. The game turns the screw on this to an incredible degree, as it’s also a nail-biting resource management game that doesn’t heal you after fights. A single bad draw that extends a battle 1 turn longer or leaves you to take the full brunt of an attack can screw you for the entire run even if it doesn’t lose you the battle, because it’s exceedingly difficult to get that HP back. Every fight is won by hair-thin margins and every point of damage whittles you down.

Like many card games, Slay the Spire is praised for its synergy and strategy. It’s deserved praise: When you do manage to luck into a good synergy, you can feel fantastically powerful… right up until you get a dead hand against a difficult boss and realize that there is literally nothing you can do to save your run. And I do say “luck into”, because the cards you get to add to your deck are also completely random. Sometimes you’ll get a bunch of really awesome cards right out of the gate that line up for a perfect synergy, other times you’ll only get a haphazard deck of cards that don’t play together at all.

Now, this is the case for all roguelikes to some degree. But I think a crucial component of a good roguelike is that it lets you react. Some runs will be harder than others, sure, but you can escape from a death spiral if you know what you’re doing; you can roll with the punches. You can’t do that in Slay the Spire. You can’t say “The way my deck is turning out, I should really pursue this relic or this specific card,” because there is no way to pursue specific items. Everything is completely and utterly random. You can choose to fight monsters for more card drops, but that only does so much when card drops are random. Same thing for minibosses and relics. You are constantly forced to gamble with your incredibly limited resources and frequently get a total bust.

Possibly the most frustrating aspect of this is that every run, the final boss is randomly selected from a set of three bosses, each of which is designed to counter one of the big dominant strategies that decks tend to end up with. But you don’t know which boss you’re facing until the final third of the game, by which point it’s too late to re-engineer your deck if you find out you’ve just played scissors against rock. The final boss is just randomly way harder or easier depending on what deck you’ve happened to work towards — which, again, is also random! In a sensible game they would force you to fight all three to prove you have the flexibility, like how in Pokemon you’re pit against multiple type gyms so that you can’t sweep the whole game with your starter. But for some reason it doesn’t do that.

(And then, if you somehow manage to beat that, you get to fight the final final boss, which is basically impossible without a very specific counter-strategy that you, again, can only stumble into through luck!)

It all adds up to an experience that was just too frustrating for me. Roguelikes are only fun when I can look back and say, “Aha, I should have done this instead of that, let me try that next time.” But every time I fail in Slay the Spire, I genuinely cannot see what I could have done differently.

I find it a great shame, because the individual pieces of the game are really well-designed. Enemies have tons of clever and inventive abilities that encourage thoughtful strategy, and I found it remarkable how distinct each of the playable characters felt, especially in how well they remixed the standard fighter/mage/thief paradigm. But they were unfortunately shackled to a terrible core, and so the whole thing’s a wash.

I think a really easy fix would have been to let us customize our decks more freely. As it is, because you always have to use all the cards you own, your deck will inevitably get bloated with so many cards that the chance of drawing a good hand will plummet even further and things become even more of a crapshoot. (This is so bad that the most common advice in guides is to not take cards when offered unless they fit the particular build you’re going for, which is incredibly backwards and unintuitive.) If we could freely pick only the cards we wanted for a given battle, that would allow for far more control and flexibility while still allowing for some roll-with-the-punches randomness. Even Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories understood that, and you know your game’s got problems when that hot mess is comparing favorably.

21 Comments

  1. Roarke says:

    I mean, I don’t want to leave feedback on this post that is just essentially another useless guide, but I do feel like I have to defend StS here, because I never found it ridiculously difficult or unfairly luck-based in 400 hours except on some of the highest difficulties, where you really can just die to a bad seed. I don’t know if you can call it unintuitive in a card game to not take cards that don’t fit your deck; that has literally been the philosophy of card games since Magic. The store even has a ‘Remove Card’ option that is worth every penny since it lets you remove the basic Strike cards that, yes, bloat your deck (in addition to its more obvious use removing Curses).

    Like, you accurately point out what makes the game hard, your draw on any given turn and the resources offered to you *are* RNG, but then you’re ignoring the tools the game gives you to succeed: ways to tailor your deck so that you are not likely to draw dead hands. The two biggest tools are keeping your deck small and taking cards/relics that allow you to draw more cards per hand. Card draw is the strongest thing in the game because consistency is the strongest thing in the game.

    I’m sorry the game didn’t click for you, but I definitely feel the need to say for everyone else: Slay the Spire is the bar for deck-building roguelikes, and probably card-based video games in general. The characters each have a wonderfully designed card pool of their own; the four all feel incredibly unique to play. The game is turn-based but very nicely paced because all the action happens on your turn; enemies show their intention to attack/defend/buff/debuff very clearly and your puzzle each turn is how you’re going to deal with that using your cards. The card/relic tooltips and interactions are consistent and straightforward; the order in which events or effects resolve or conflict makes logical sense for both you and enemies. I think I’d sum up the design for their system as ‘robust’. It is very good at supplying you the information you need to learn its system.

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    1. Like, you accurately point out what makes the game hard, your draw on any given turn and the resources offered to you *are* RNG, but then you’re ignoring the tools the game gives you to succeed: ways to tailor your deck so that you are not likely to draw dead hands.

      What makes you think I’m ignoring that? That’s the first thing every guide mentions. It doesn’t save you from getting dead hands, or the fact that a single dead hand can end your run. (And the shopkeep removal is bad design, because it’s so overvalued players almost always have to take it, leaving little money for its other services.)

      taking cards/relics that allow you to draw more cards per hand

      And how am I supposed to do that when I have no control over what cards or relics I’m handed, exactly? If we could actively pursue specific goals like I said, this would be good advice, but that’s not the case.

      That’s really the summation of the game: It’s great at supplying you with information, yes, but it doesn’t let you act on it. It doesn’t matter how well you understand the game, if the dice don’t want to give you any viable options, you don’t get any viable options.

      I don’t know if you can call it unintuitive in a card game to not take cards that don’t fit your deck

      how on Earth is “you’re supposed to ignore the rewards the game offers” not unintuitive

      I don’t care if it’s “the standard” for card games, you shouldn’t have to be familiar with the genre in order to understand how to play a game. That’s the tutorial’s job.

  2. Roarke says:

    – how on Earth is “you’re supposed to ignore the rewards the game offers” not unintuitive

    The same way you’d ignore an axe if you’re playing a sword class in a different game. Same way you ignore strength bonuses on a dexterity class. If anything, picking up random stuff just because it’s on offer in a card game explicitly designed around building a deck sounds unintuitive to me.

    Roguelikes are stuffed with the principle that not everything you pick up is going to help you win; it’s up to you to make the decisions about what to use and what to leave behind. In the early game you take cards almost all the time because anything is an improvement over Strike/Defend by design, but then later on you have to be selective and take only what helps your deck. And if that means pressing the ‘Pass’ button on a card reward, so what? There are like fifty floors to a game, and generally around 35 will offer card rewards. You can expect a fair proportion of those to be good; you can’t expect them all to be good enough to keep adding cards. You’d end up with a 40+ card deck, where most would say 30 is around the biggest deck you should aim for (and this is after removing all the Strikes you can). Please understand that the game doesn’t want you to have 50 good cards and never shuffle the deck; it wants you to have 10 good cards and 20 decent cards, shuffling through them frequently.

    I dunno. Maybe I’m just unable to relate to a new player since it’s an old game and I have all the assumptions baked in at this point. I know it didn’t take me anywhere near forty hours to get my first win, probably not even four. You can make consistency happen, and you do have agency. Even acknowledging that the RNG can screw you, it’s nowhere near bad enough to screw you for every single run on base difficulty. Leaving The Heart(which is intended to be an optional superboss) aside, the balance generally lies in the player’s favor. Sorry you had a bad time with it; that sucks.

    For everyone else, I heartily recommend Slay the Spire and FTL: Faster Than Light, which is another node-to-node roguelike with random challenges and rewards. Spaceship combat instead of cards. Both are sort of equally seen as classics. I’d argue that FTL is more replayable but StS is the better game.

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    1. The same way you’d ignore an axe if you’re playing a sword class in a different game. Same way you ignore strength bonuses on a dexterity class.

      Those examples typically don’t actively punish you for picking them, though. And a good roguelike should provide a use for everything it gives you even if it’s not directly relevant to your build, because that’s the only way to be fair with random drops. (Mechanics that encourage you to have an alternate weapon in reserve, or the ability to consume weapons for strong single-use actions, etc. Many games do this.) If you’re playing a sword class but all the game gives you are axes, what are you supposed to do with that? How is that any fun?

      And if that means pressing the ‘Pass’ button on a card reward, so what?

      Then you’ve wasted your incredibly limited resources for nothing, that’s what. Taking a risk on a monster or elite only to get effectively nothing is absurdly cruel and punishing. Risk/reward becomes broken when the reward can vary from “gamebreaker” to “nothing”.

      Even acknowledging that the RNG can screw you, it’s nowhere near bad enough to screw you for every single run on base difficulty.

      It should not screw you on any run. Losing an hour-long run through no fault of your own is not fun and provides no learning opportunities.

      Everything you’re saying would be reasonable if the game was slightly different — if there wasn’t lasting damage so you could absorb bad luck with less consequence, if trimming your deck wasn’t so inordinately difficult, if rewards were more balanced (seriously, the balance on boss relics is awful) or if you at least had more control over what rewards you pursued… There are a lot of easy things the game could have done to mitigate its problems, but it didn’t.

      (To clarify, I’ve won Act 3, just not the Heart. But the highest Ascension I’ve been able to beat is 2, and even that was very difficult.)

  3. A Wild Birb Appears says:

    I can’t really “disagree” with this review since it’s your opinion based on your experience with the game, but I enjoy card-game roguelikes and Slay The Spire is… widely considered one of the best card-game roguelikes, and I feel like that reputation is well deserved. A lot of your complaints seem to be about integral parts of card game roguelikes such as the deck management and the random card rewards, and I think those might be complaints towards the genre rather than the specific game (except for the randomized final bosses, I don’t recall other card game roguelikes I’ve played having that).
    The only related point is the card/deck mechanic, but I wonder if you might enjoy Monster Train – the gameplay conceit is that you have to protect a heart/core with monsters from a variety of themes so ‘you’ get permanently damaged less often, and there’s still a danger of bloat but you can recover more quickly from dead rounds and it takes three rounds for opponents to make it to your ‘heart’, so you can’t get permanently screwed by one bad hand. Also a lot of the boss and monster designs are pretty cool!

    1. I mean, I liked Inscryption fine. There’s no lasting damage, so small misfortunes don’t escalate, and there’s only really one type of card so bad draws and deck bloat don’t hurt you as much. My problems with StS really don’t seem like insurmountable elements of the genre; I’ve already forwarded several small changes that would have mitigated my issues without changing the nature of the game.

      Also, I want to reiterate, the randomized final bosses are terrible design. Instead of being a consistent challenge to your strategy, it makes the final challenge wildly varying in difficulty. And again, this had an easy solution: Always make us fight all three, thus preventing anyone from coasting to an easy win because the game happened to play paper to their scissors.

      1. A Wild Birb Appears says:

        I haven’t played Inscryption, is it a roguelike? My impression of it was that it was less a deckbuilder with another genre and more simply a card game. Which, card game video games are also fun but slightly different!

        And as well, maybe my comment about your complaints being with the genre were misguided, but I do feel like there’s some disconnect there… It might be on my end because all of your issues with the game (except the final boss thing, that does just sound like bad design) sound like positives to me. I enjoy the extreme rng of Slay The Spire card and relic rewards (in Monster Train again, I got bored after a bit with how you could reliably get the cards for certain strategies every run) and I’ve also not played or seen very many winning runs (for a short while I didn’t think the game had an ending, I thought it was just an infinite amount of acts and bosses and the challenge was seeing how far you could get) but it never felt like I was failing when I died. I don’t know if that’s a “maybe this genre isn’t your thing and it isn’t poorly designed” thing or a “my experiences are an outlier and should not be counted” thing, but I wanted to bring it up in the discussion.

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        1. I reviewed Inscryption previously. The first third is an actual roguelike, the other two thirds are as you describe. However, people got angry enough at this false advertising that the developer has since released an alternate game mode that’s just the roguelike portion.

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  4. Act says:

    StS is a blast, I love it and definitely rec it.

    I feel like this review is missing some acknowledgement that what you want out of a game like this is not what most people want, or are getting out of it.

    Like, “the most common advice in guides is to not take cards when offered unless they fit the particular build you’re going for, which is incredibly backwards and unintuitive” is a really bizarre complaint, straight up. As long as deckbuilding strategy has existed, one of the central tenets has been that not all cards are created equal and you should be judicious when choosing what goes into a deck, and this is a feature, not a bug. There’s actually some really interesting content out there about game design in Magic: The Gathering (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l5Xim4JmIg, and also everything Spice8Rack has ever done because he’s the best), and the really abbreviated version is that undesireable cards are one of the ways that card games train you how to play them; they also sometimes exist to counter very niche but potentially gamebreaking strategies. The idea that not all cards belong in a deck has been around literally since deck strategy was invented, and I think it’s absolutely an idea a deckbuilder can take for granted… and even so, it’s one of the tips written into the game’s loading screens. If you’re super unfamiliar with deck strategy I can see how it might not seem obvious, but I don’t think it’s a design flaw to assume that most people know that at this point, or that once it’s pointed out people will be able to make use of it as advice.

    I also think you have a much, much lower RNG tolerance than most people. RPGs and roguelikes are sometimes puzzle games where you can “figure out” how to win, but deckbuilders never, IME, are, and that’s not a design flaw, it’s part of what makes them fun. I honestly hate the idea of every run having a ‘winnable’ path, that sounds awful, lol. It’s just not why I play these kinds of games.

    Like, okay. I really love FreeCell. I like that every game is winnable, as opposed to other forms of Solitaire, which are a crapshoot. I play a lot of FreeCell in waiting rooms. But the reason I do that is that FreeCell isn’t a strategy game like, say, Klondike, it’s a puzzle game. You don’t really have to think about it because you know going in there’s going to be a way to win and once you understand the game you’re going to find it pretty much without exception.

    That’s not why I play strategy games. The whole reason they’re fun is because of the RNG, of having to be on your toes, and not knowing if any single strategy will work out. And yeah, you won’t always win, but it’s the journey, not the destination. Some of the best Magic games I’ve ever played were ones I lost, because I spent the game trying to roll with the punches and watching strategies unfold. It’s why you shuffle a deck and put it facedown instead of looking at the order and then declaring the one with the best-ordered deck the winner. Most of the time, the best player will win, because the best player isn’t just the best deck constructor, but the one who can roll with the punches of a bad shuffle the best. And sometimes the best player loses because luck isn’t on their side. And not knowing what’s going to happen is what makes it exciting.

    And this is also true of RPGs and roguelikes, honestly. Like, I remember you being upset that Dragon Quest battles rolled initiative on top of speed, which is fine, you don’t have to like that system, but that’s not a flaw of the design, it’s a purposeful choice. I genuinely love the initiative roll, because I don’t want an RPGs where I know going in if I’m going to win the battle or not. I want to have to think and be clever about it. That’s the core of what a strategy game is. Otherwise it’s just a puzzle game. Which is fine, that kind of gameplay isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for me — and lot of other people — that’s not always what we want out of a game. And again, rolling for initiative is not a new thing; it goes back to the first tabletops. Because for many, if not most people, without some chance, it’s not really much of an adventure.

    Broadly, a lot of the complaints here are just… things about deckbuilding. And like, that’s 100% fine, not every genre is for everyone, but I think framing that as a badly designed game instead of this genre just not being your thing is kind of odd. This game is basically the gold standard for deckbuilders right now, and not looking at it in either the context of what that means *or* the context of “this experience was a new one and/or it just isn’t for me” feels a bit weird to me.

    Also without bad cards I wouldn’t be able to build weird, janky Commander decks and that would be a tragedy so they need to stay.

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    1. mcbender says:

      Yeah, I found this review a bit puzzling (even not having played Slay the Spire myself, I know it by reputation), and it seems to come down to “I don’t like this genre”. Which is a perfectly fine thing to say, but seems odd in this context.

      I am not sure I entirely agree with your analysis of what differentiates a strategy game from a puzzle game, because these boundaries can be fuzzy, but there is definitely something important there. I do think it’s important to note that different sorts of randomness don’t feel the same in gameplay despite the fact they might be nearly identical under the hood (Mark Rosewater has written a lot over the years about how ‘reveal the top card of your deck and check some property of it’ feels less ‘random’ in a card game than ‘roll a die to determine this outcome’, even if you make them have identical probabilities). But to someone who isn’t used to those card game conventions, that distinction might not feel different.

      Also just have to say, Spice8Rack makes some of the best content on the internet and I wholeheartedly second this recommendation.

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    2. Roarke says:

      Who’s your favorite character? I think it’s The Silent by a fair amount; the dynamism of that deck feels like a step above everyone but The Watcher, who is cool but not really my style.

      The Watcher is kind of interesting because she was added after The Heart and the Ascension levels; it feels like she was the only character truly intended for that difficulty level from the beginning. The Ironclad/Silent got noticeable buffs over time as the newer content was added, which I appreciate.

    3. There is a very big difference between “Variance prevents things from becoming a solved game” and “Variance determines whether you can win at all.” If runs were extremely short, maybe, but I genuinely do not understand the appeal of a game where you can invest over an hour in a run and then lose because of something entirely out of your control. It never mattered how skillful I was in my strategies in this game — and I was skillful, I followed all the guides’ advice and capitalized on synergies as much as possible — all it took was a single bit of bad luck to make everything fall apart, every single time. The room for error was too low.

      And I still don’t understand why people keep saying these are all interminable elements of deckbuilders when I forward multiple ideas in the review that I believe would have improved the experience without changing the genre. To me, the point of roguelikes is to provide a similar experience as their non-roguelike counterparts, with the purpose of the randomness being to provide a theoretically infinite variety with procedural generation. The randomness doesn’t have to be part of the moment-to-moment gameplay any more than it does in non-roguelike games.

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      1. A Wild Birb Appears says:

        I do not mean to be rude or snippy – in case I come across that way I would like to be clear it’s not my intention. You’re allowed to dislike games and have preferences. But, possibly, with the amount of people who’ve also played the game commenting that they didn’t have issue with the things you disliked, possibly it might be your personal preference and not the game being unplayable? And possibly if people keep saying these are interminable elements of deckbuilders and ignoring your suggestions it may be because they think they WOULD change parts of the genre or experience in a way they didn’t want (or just would change the experience in a way that doesn’t appeal for this game – a deckbuilder where you have more control over adding and removing cards from your deck while still having access to those cards, that is also an actual video game and not a straight port of Magic or Yu-Gi-Oh or something, sounds like a lot of fun! But it’d probably need either more limits to maintain the challenge so you couldn’t blast through EVERY run as an unstoppable juggernaut with an unbeatable deck, or a less perilous and resource-managing tone/difficulty level than Slay The Spire so there’s some kind of other appeal.)

        If you’ve played some other deckbuilders you’ve enjoyed more, or felt had issues in other parts of the gameplay and did better at the stuff you disliked about Slay The Spire, that might be interesting to share! Especially if you have recs for any deckbuilders that DO allow you to ‘hold’ cards and freely add them to and remove them from your deck.

        1. Seed of Bismuth says:

          “I do not mean to be rude or snippy” and yet the rest of your comment says otherwise. I would add you cannot use “well that never happened to me” with any game this RNG heavy. Also so what if Slay the Spire is beloved and popular? So are Dresden files and Fault in our Stars. One of the reasons i like this site is because it has no sacred cows.

          1. A Wild Birb Appears says:

            Yeah okay. That’s my bad ^^’ I was trying to continue the discussion as politely and non-aggressively as possible (the discussion so far has been interesting!) but if I overstepped I overstepped.

      2. Nerem says:

        The room for error is not really that low. If you’re somehow being destroyed by a ‘single stroke of bad luck’, then that is you being bad. And I say this from a lot of experience of being bad at the game. The main thing I think should be changed is them not revealing who the final boss is until you get to Act 3. Largely because act 3 is a bit too late to change your strategy. Now, you can just still win by just playing your strategy so hard it doesn’t matter, but you’d have to have really synergized for it.

        I also don’t really care for how “just get rid of all of your cards but a couple that are super powerful and a way to play them infinitely”, but thankfully the higher difficulty levels make that impossible.

        But a big thing you need to understand is: You don’t need a perfect deck. You can take cards as long as they fit in with what you have. A major important thing is to identify early cards you are finding that can be used to build something and then pick up anything that can support that.

        From the sound of it you don’t seem to be playing nearly skillfully as you think if just one bad draw is killing you. I get that it’s frustrating when you don’t know how to roll with non-ideal draw, but you can always bounce back if you’re good enough. I’m generally not good enough, but I’ve gotten wise enough to at least see how I could have done it in hindsight.

        Also, a lot of people have tried to change the formula and it typically doesn’t go well, which is why people are a bit leery of people going “As someone who can’t win the game, why can’t I change THIS so I can win?????????”

        Also about Inscryption, that’s not very Roguelike-y. Like the biggest thing is that Inscryption has no resources to manage long-run. Teeth don’t really count. It’s basically set up so you can win and progress because the card game in each section isn’t the point of the game, but a means. It’s still good, though.

        1. If you’re somehow being destroyed by a ‘single stroke of bad luck’, then that is you being bad.

          I am deeply curious what brilliant strategy you are using to not die after drawing zero block cards when the enemy is readying a supermove.

          Also, a lot of people have tried to change the formula and it typically doesn’t go well, which is why people are a bit leery of people going “As someone who can’t win the game, why can’t I change THIS so I can win?????????”

          Examples?

          Re: Inscryption, the base game isn’t Roguelike-y, but the recently-released Kaycee’s Mod is.

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          1. Nerem says:

            There’s a few things: If you know you are defensively weak, buy them from the shop. Getting rid of Strikes/Defends actually shouldn’t always be your first priority. Sometimes you need to keep your Defends. Or you get one of the Relics/cards that rely on Strikes, suddenly you have a very good reason to keep them. If you see Block cards in the Shop, take them. Defensive relics too. Tori’s Gate, Tungsten Rod, and Calipers are good for cushioning bad turns. If your HP is bad, Rest at campfires. The guides probably tell you not to, but on the low Ascensions there’s no reason not to if you are in trouble.

            Also take defensive potions. Fairy in a Bottle, Skill Potion, or Block Potions can be stocked up on for turns where your draw is bad.

            It is a genuine skill of the game to be able to handle situations like that. It’s how those people can streak an immense number of times on Act 4 Ascension 20. This is why I don’t say ‘you’re bad’ in a way that you should feel bad about. I’ve seen enough high-tier play to understand that until you have a feel for getting out of bad situations like that without dying, then you’re not good at the game yet. I’m not good at the game, sadly.

            Kaycee’s Mod still isn’t QUITE there, but it is more Roguelike-y.

            But uh, a good example is Vault of the Void, which gives you a hard limit of 20 cards in your playing deck, and you can swap between them at will between battles. I don’t really like it though, because the rest of the mechanical changes with it make it unlikable to me, like the idea that damage is a ‘future’ thing that comes the next turn, but you can’t kill enemies to stop the damage from coming. The art is also shockingly terrible. It’s not that it sucks innately, but there is very little correspondence between the card art and what the card does/or its relationship to the character.

            1. Every single one of the “strategies” you list are random drops. Shop cards are random. Relics are random. Potions are random. Skill doesn’t factor into that. If you get lucky drops, then yes, you can bounce back from unlucky draws, but if you don’t you can’t. You need lucky setups in order to play skillfully at all. As I’ve already said, this has an easy fix: Let us see in advance where relics are on the map so we can strategically pursue the ones we need.

              If you see Block cards in the Shop, take them.

              And this doesn’t actually fix the specific scenario I outlined. As long as there are fewer than n-5 block cards in your deck, there is always a chance of drawing no block cards. Unless you keep an extremely lean deck or add nothing but block cards, that chance will only get higher as you play.

              I will have to look at Vault of the Void, it sounds like it does several of the things I’ve outlined.

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  5. Venompaw says:

    Roguelikes are all about making the best of a given hand. If everything was predictable, then it becomes an act of memorization or literally following a walkthrough. There is enough given guaranteed given power in any run that you can make a significant difference in the choices that you made up until that point. (Camp vs another elite.)

    Per VOTW, I’ve heard that since everything is set, all people need is a guide since victory can be foreseen.

    Have you heard of Arcanium: Rise of Akkhan? Poorly balanced in my opinion, allows people to choose a set of cards from what they’ve amassed so far. Too easy with certain compositions.

    For skill-expressive roguelikes, there’s always Hades.

    1. Nerem says:

      Vault of the Void has real issues, and it’s one I care for the least.

      Slay the Spire is interesting because it is very skill-expressive, which is how people can streak Act 4, which I think is insane.

      By the way, probably should give the official expansion mod a try, it adds a lot of much stronger characters who are probably easier for beginners.

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