Back or Brick: Slay the Spire
This game, I believe, was supposed to come out on Kickstarter in the spring of 2021. It just launched yesterday, November 1st 2022. Slay the Spire, the board game, has been long delayed, but was the delay worth it? And is it a game that is a Back or a Brick for me?
How to Play Slay the Spire?
Slay the Spire is a rogue-like dungeon crawling, or spire crawling game where players take their hero(es) up the spire to fight monsters through card play, get money, buy cards, get cards, and get relics and potions. All in an attempt to beat the different level bosses and move further on and further up.
What that looks like on the table is that Slay the Spire is a deck building game. Each character has unique cards and powers that allow you to build up a deck that combos off of itself. These cards offer two main things, attack and defense. Attack is how you kill the monsters and defense prevents damage if the enemy gets a turn.
There are a few minor twists. The first being that you don’t automatically heal after every battle. The Ironclad, they heal one after every battle, but other characters do not heal. You only heal, and fully, after you defeat the level bosses. The other minor twist probably comes from the potions and the relics. The relics are powerful, but often has a drawback. But they are always in play which means they are always active. Potions are one time use cards but they can be used any time and are not in your deck.
Why Back Now?
Let’s start out by asking, why back it on Kickstarter now? And I am not sure there are a ton of great reasons to do so. The price and shipping are good, but Contention Games hasn’t said what MSRP is. The game right now is $100 for the base pledge and $12 shipping. When you look at all you get, it seems pretty reasonable for what you are paying. But if it’s $120 MSRP, you’ll be able to get it for basically the same price as the Kickstarter later.
How Does It Compare to the Video Game?
Let’s talk about the video game vs the board game first before we get into what works and doesn’t work. Because, yes, this is a video game that is a deck builder before it is a board game. I think one thing to note about it is that the board game is scaled lower. Enemies, characters, attacks, defense, all of them have lower numbers. You and the enemies are easier to kill. Attacks and defense deal or block less damage respectively.
Also, while relics and abilities might offer similar things, some of the more complex ones doesn’t seem to be in the game. Right now, I haven’t seen stuff like get an extra energy after playing 10 cards, or your eighth attack deals double damage. Basically, it looks like the board game is streamlining some of that out so that the game doesn’t become too complex versus the video game that can handle it.
What Doesn’t Work?
I don’t have too many complaints about what I’m seeing in the game. The one thing that caught me off guard to start was that every pledge level comes with sleeves. They actually added a bit of detail to the page to show why that is the case. In Slay the Spire you can upgrade cards. The upgrade side is on the flip side of the card, which is nice and easy, but that means that the cards are double sided and need to be sleeved.
This works really well, but it also means that at the end of the game, you need to unflip all the cards you had previously flipped. For set-up of the game, it won’t add much time. But tear down of the game now requires that as you sort out your starting cards, you are also flipping cards that you’ve upgraded.
Firstly, I think this looks like and does a good job of emulating the video game. Like I said, it scales it down, but watching game play, you can see The Brothers Murph play it below, it looks like the video game. There are some differences, but one of those I’ll put down next as a positive.
The next thing is that this offers cooperative play. Slay the Spire, the video game is completely solo play. It means that we can team up on monsters to take them out or help stop damage that is coming through. It’s a different experience than the video game, but it’s a fun bit to be added into the game. I like that it is there because it means that the board game is different than the video game. And I like to play solo games, but I also like with some games to have the option to play multiplayer as well.
Finally, I like that the core of the game is the same as the video game. It is about deciding when you want to push your luck and go for an elite boss to get more relics. How you want to power up, how you want to build your deck. Each character still has their main thing that they do, but because it’s a board game, it is now social.
Back or Brick – Slay the Spire
Right now this is a Back for me. I like the video game, and I think this will offer me the same experience. But for me, if I can play a board game over a video game I will. And if this gives me the same Slay the Spire experience as the video game, or near that, then I am really interested in it.
However, I will say, I am more on the fence than I thought I might be. Mainly because of the price of the game. $100 is not cheap, and I was not pleased when I saw that it required sleeves. However, the sleeves makes sense, you need it for the upgrades. Otherwise you’d probably need to add in another 400 cards. And I do think that Contention Games wrapped in some of the shipping costs – $12 is very cheap – to the price of the game. But I also know that $100 plus $12 shipping will price it out of a certain part of the board gaming audience.
And for that, I am grateful there is a the video game. The video game is about $15. So if the board game is too steep, well, I expect it to come to retail so you can get it later. Plus you can play the video game until that comes out. In fact, I think I’m going to play the video game tonight.
How about for you, is it a Back or Brick?