'Slay the Spire' Taught Me Friction Can Make a Game Easier in the Long Run

My second game of Slay the Spire was absurdly easy: I breezed through my run thanks to my character's (the poison-wielding assassin, "The Silent") ability to burn through my deck and give me more than 10 choices per turn about what cards you want to play, plus some nice luck with the items I picked up on my journey.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/5dpj7q/slay-the-spire-taught-me-friction-can-make-a-game-easier-in-the-long-run
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I’ve mentioned this before, but this is such a huge issue in Slay the Spire for me, that I have a notebook with a list of things to check each turn during fights

Part of this is solved through just failing a bunch of higher ascension runs too. You start recognizing the problems you’ll be facing later in a run and start building to solve problems. Act 2 for example has a lot of Elite fights with 3 enemies, so in act 1 you might add an AOE card or two to your deck, but then Act 3 has very few AOE fights to worry about in comparison and instead asks you to have other sources of damage and will punish too many AOE card in a deck. Its a damn good game


I can’t remember if I mentioned it before but I love this idea of a checklist! It’s never occurred to me to try it in a game like StS but one of my favorite Go teachers adapted a lot of ideas from different people into a checklist for playing Go and it’s been extremely effective way for me to learn that game.

I’ve been dabbling in Netrunner over the past few weeks and thinking about how to adapt something like it for that game, but I’ve been meaning to get back into StS anyway so will give your list a try :relaxed:


fwiw, my list is by no means complete! There are definitely more considerations you can take into account! But these are the low-hanging fruit that I miss so often that are relatively easy to check on. Biggest difference in play for me is reading all the cards, it’s so easy to just play a hand out and miss much better plays if I just recognized I had all these other cards. Always happy to answer questions, though I’m no expert (I’m working my way through Ascension 11 on Ironclad and lower ascension for other classes), or if you find there’s something else I could add to list I’d love to know!


this baffles me, i consider the heart to be de facto impossible lmao, but then i am not a very good strategic thinker; i’ve certainly never whipped out the old pen and paper! I’m usually so surprised that i’ve actually made it to it that i just die from panic

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I love this. One of my fondest gaming memories is playing Phantasy Star II with a friend who lived down the Street. That game had complex dungeons and no ingame map.

We filled a spiral bound notebook with grid paper with the maps from that game (hard earned as dungeons could be pretty hard to survive, so we often had to restart dungeons a few times to find our way through).

It would not have been nearly as fun without that, and just seeing actual paper notes for a game brings that back.


It’s tough as nails! I lose almost all of my Slay the Spire runs and die in act 4 a ton. To beat Act 4 you definitely need to be lucky in what rares and relics you pick up and that you don’t pull some of the worse random events. There are paths you can take that will basically nullify any chance you have of winning. The key is card evaluation, knowing when you are getting the good stuff and capitalizing on it.

Very important too is knowing when to not take a card or relic. Lots of cards that are really good in Act 1 lose their usefulness in Act 3. Like, Ironclad has a lot of cards that do damage to a single target like Headbutt and Pommel Strike that will feel incredible against the Act 1 elites or bosses, but enemies just get so much dang health later on, and you’ll be drawing a ton of these cards instead of like, the Demon Form or Corruption or Immolation, whatever that you really need on a turn to get your engine going or deal with the current situation in an impactful manner. Strikes and Defends won’t carry you to the end, I found they can carry me a little longer than I usually think. I don’t need to grab every card immediately if I don’t like the ones I see.

(I’ll also mention that I don’t follow this nearly enough, because it’s hard to say no to a pommel strike sometimes, even if I know better!)


My only wins against the heart come from poison builds with the silent. Give me two to three upgraded Catalysts and it’s game over baby.

I cannot for the life of me figure out another build that is as effective. I still haven’t been able to understand how to use the Watcher effectively, and I’ve got like 50+ hours in the game!


I do not have an Act 4 win with the Watcher yet, she is clearly really strong, but I just haven’t figured out how to put the pieces together.

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These tips are really helpful, thank you! I feel like I’ve hit a ceiling in Act 3 with The Silent and The Defect, so I’ve been trying to figure out better builds.

I know this isn’t what you necessarily meant, but I figure the following advice could be useful (cause is was for me!)

Something a friend has told me that I’ve found to be good advice is to not think of deck building as making a build or going for a theme, most often it’s better to just pick the best card available. Getting a Noxious Fumes early doesn’t mean you need to be picking out all of the poison cards for example. Noxious Fumes is a good card whether it synergizes with the rest of your deck or not. A card like Backflip will almost always be better than Bane just based on power alone.

Relics do change this though. Because relics are always relevant in a way that a card may not be. Your Noxious Fumes may be a the bottom of your deck, a Snecko Skull is always in play so to speak, so that’d be a reason to consider picking up a poison card over a card that might be more powerful.


It’s also really important to realize you do not need to always take a card. It can be much better to not take a card then to take a card that is meh. As soon as I figured that out I did a lot better.


I take a card almost every time because I am very obstinate in how I want to play this game but I tend to main the silent who imo rewards huge decks because she can cycle a ton of cards on a good run. The orb boy even moreso - you can totally do a build for him around having an enormous deck that can be very fun. I’ve beat the heart with everyone but the ironclad.

Definitely agree with the person above about how great this game is at getting you to realize synergies and kind of intrinsically know what you are missing. Whenever I lose a run I pretty much always know what would have saved me (it’s usually draw since I build towards tons of energy a lot).

If you are having a lot of trouble with the heart, try doing your heart runs on ascension 1. The extra elites give you extra relics, which will contribute to your options a lot. Getting an unexpected lizard tail can make you survive the like 70 damage the heart does on turn 3 and after that if your engine is up you can turn the tide pretty quickly. Anything that does revenge damage (caltrops lol) is great against the heart because it tends to do a zillion tiny attacks. Caltrops and after image (or two after images… man that was a run) with a shiv deck on the silent is a good time.

One of my boyfriend’s friends who has hundreds of hours into StS and a custom made Creative AI T-shirt said ‘we can’t talk about slay the spire’ once and that’s become our policy w/ each other because the game is so damn good just talking about it makes you want to play. I should stop now or I’m gonna go start a run lmao.