Slay The Spire – The Video Game Board Game
Slay the Spire isn’t the first, Hearthstone was definitely out before it, in the realm of video games that emulated what board games did. However, Hearthstone falls into a genre of games that I don’t want to get sucked into digitally, basically the trading card game, like Magic the Gathering. If I were to play one, it’d be Magic. But enough about that, Slay the Spire really caught my interest when I found out that it took deck building and put it into a turn based combat game.
In Slay the Spire you are battling through rooms as you climb your way up three levels of a tower. Each of the levels get progressively harder, but that’s okay, because you get more and better cards. Like a standard deck building game, you start with a certain number of cards, generally 10, enough for two hands. You’ll have some basic attacks and basic defenses, but as you clear rooms, and beat monsters, you get the option to add more cards to your deck. These cards can give you better defense, more attack, or maybe even some permanent affect like dealing poison at the start of each of your turns. You also get relics which can do all sorts of crazy things, some give you more energy to spend, make attacks or defense better, heal you, give you an extra card every few turns, or more gold. If you can survive all the way to the top of the tower you’ve won, if not, you start at the bottom again and climb away.
What Doesn’t Work
Some climbs are just going to be better than others. When you get cards and relics, they are fairly random. Sure with cards you can pick from three, but if it doesn’t work with your strategy do you take a less ideal card or just skip a card all together. And some relics are way better than others depending on what you are doing, attacks that cost 0 doing 4 more damage is great for The Silent if you are going with one build, but if you are going for poison, way less useful. So there is that randomness. But honestly, that is the only thing that I’d consider a weakness in the game. And since the runs are fast.
The room system works really well. You are given a branching path up each level and you can see the whole thing. So if I know that I want to go to a merchant room as fast as possible, I can plan for that. If I just want to fight for a little bit, can do that. If I want the random rooms, they are easy to plan around as well. Overall, the whole room system just works really well because you can plot your course to some extent and choose what you are looking for. I go for routes that will optimize how many relics I get, permanent effects, because I like to get a lot of them. But if you want to optimize your health, it’s probably better to avoid those epic monsters.
I also like the characters. There are four different characters that you can get in the game. You start with one and when you get far enough, you unlock another and then another, and another. It is a blast to play the different characters, and the characters are really different. The Ironclad is your most basic aggressive character who is going to be able to dish out massive hits. Then the Silent gives you either shivs or poison but is about dishing out damage in a more defensive way. I’ll let you find out about the other two characters yourself, if the game is interesting. But they are more complex.
Each character has multiple ways to play them as well which is awesome. The Ironclad, I said that he’s good for dealing massive amounts of damage, and that’s true. But you can also play them more defensively. The Silent you can either build towards poison or shivs. It might overlap later as you go though. But each strategy is viable. And this is where some of the randomness that I was talking about can be bad. If I build the silent to attack with shivs and then I start getting all poison cards, I’m going to end up with a weird mix and be less effective. But if I get the right cards, you can do crazy combos that make the game a ton of fun.
Who Is This Game For?
Is this just a video game for board gamers? I don’t think so, I think a lot of players of video games will enjoy the rogue-like nature of each run. The deck building aspect is there, and it comes from board games, but it’s an easy enough concept to understand. So I think this game with it’s low barrier of entry and fun game play will work for a lot of people. The hard core FPS players, now, maybe they won’t like it as much but the more casual player, this game is a blast.
There aren’t a ton of video games that I come back to over and over again. I like video games as a concept, but too often I’ll play, get distracted, forget where I am in a story and have to start over again. Slay the Spire is not like that. Slay the Spire is simple to play for an hour, stop and do something else for a week and then drop back it and play again. It reminds me of some older video games that way. You play them for a little bit and then you put it down, and pick it up whenever you want. The less time I have to play longer games, at least video games, the more I appreciate games like this.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: B
Casual Grade: A