'Roguebook' Brilliantly Embodies the Chaos and Possibility of Deck-Builders

The genre of deck builder games is a crowded space. The early access release of Slay the Spire in 2017 set the standards for the genre: you pick a character, you draft cards that pursue a particular effective strategy for that character, and you do everything in your power to remove everything from your deck that does not embody that strategy. Then you plow through enemy encounters, accruing treasure and fortune based on your moment-to-moment play.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/n7b3bm/roguebook-brilliantly-embodies-the-chaos-and-possibility-of-deck-builders
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I’m a huge fan of Keyforge, and even before Cam made the comparison, I was thinking that the the same philosophy Garfield used designing that was used here. One of the key components of the game, because decks are algorithmically generated and can’t be edited in any way, is learning how to make use of cards you would just throw out in a typical MTG style game. “Playing with the hand you’re dealt” is at the core of its design philosophy. I would absolutely love to try that same philosophy in a deck building roguelike, so I can’t wait to check this out.

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I bought Roguebook after being swayed by the demo that they put out earlier this year and I can’t stress enough how much fun I’m having with it so far. Cam identifies the ways that Roguebook goes against the grain of what most deckbuilders have you do in this piece (like not being able to remove cards from your deck and being incentivized to build bigger decks) but I wanna tell y’all about a run I just played that’ll hopefully relay the level of absurdity that can be found in some of the synergies.

I just had my second victory in the game that was essentially carried by a single character: Seifer. He has a unique mechanic where he’ll gain Rage whenever he takes damage and when that meter tops out, the next card he plays will transform into a stronger or completely different effect than the base version of the card. In the first level, I found an event in the world that gave me the choice of making Seifer permanently Enraged at the cost of taking damage every time I played a card that belonged to him. I took it without hesitation even though my deck at that point didn’t really have a way to stave off all the self-inflicted damage I was going to be taking.

As the run built up toward the final boss, I had a deck that could’ve easily killed me if I didn’t obliterate all my enemies within a few turns. I had an infinite mana engine via a card that gave Seifer mana whenever he took damage (which happened literally all the time), an item that preserved my energy between turns and another item that gave me 1 more mana whenever an effect game me additional mana. I was able to dish out absurd amounts of damage with another card that dealt twice as much damage Seifer took onto every enemy (again, this happened literally every time I played a card), another card that gave an effectively permanent debuff onto an enemy that makes them take double damage every time I hit them (perfect for killing bosses!) which I supplemented by taking attack cards that hit multiple times when played. I was barely able to sustain Seifer hemorrhaging HP every battle until near the end of that run where I got multiple Ally cards (these give you persistent effects when you play them) that could be converted into HP that synergized well with another card I had that tripled the effectiveness of any active ally I had in play.

The greatest thing about that run is that, in most instances, I was seeing the core cards I picked up for the first time! Really speaks to the whole “rolling with the punches” design philosophy that this game was built on. I imagine this feeling will fade eventually but the possibility space in this game seems like it’s perfectly suited for all sorts of ridiculous synergies. Very much looking forward to unlocking everything and seeing just how nutty things can get!