2 min read

Slay the Spire and the mistakes you can't see

I recently started playing Slay the Spire again, being peer pressured by people I don't know or talk to inspired by the D. R. MacIver Extended Universe (Discord). It's been about three years since I last played. Back then I mostly played Ironclad. The farthest I got was a success or a few on Ascension Level 0 (A0). I toyed with Silent and Defect a bit, enough to know roughly what they do, but not enough to get very far in A0. Unfortunately, I don't remember much of use about details – enemies, relics, cards, or anything else. I did remember there are hot keys and a fast mode though! I thought it might be fun to try to finish an A0 run with every character, starting with Silent.

I can easily see, if I pay attention, the turn-by-turn mistakes I'm making. These are things like: "I could have killed that slime instead of partial-blocking its attack and eating some of the damage." Or: "I should have played A Thousand Cuts before I played my Defend cards, not after." I know I could fix these if I played slower, and above A0 that would probably be valuable especially to build the reflexes. However, while these can be important within a run, I don't think I'm making huge mistakes in what I choose to play when such that that is the most important reason I'm failing. I am making reasonably intelligent choices most of the time, and that was good enough for A0 Ironclad.

I think there are other mistakes that matter more, such that playing slower in that way doesn't seem like a good use of time right now. I suspect I'm making less obvious-to-me mistakes that matter more. For example, I don't remember the enemies or what they do and need to reorient myself to them – unfortunately, though the game has compendia for artifacts and cards, it doesn't seem to have one for enemies. (I suppose there's the wiki... I guess I should read the wiki.) I think there are other categories of less-obvious mistakes, too, that are also more important at this stage than the turn-by-turn.

One category is mistakes in long-term decisions. These are hard for me to notice. Here I'm talking about things like the rooms, cards, and relics I choose. Concretely: Should I go to room 1 or room 2? Should I take Wraith Form or Glass Knife? Deadly Poison or Piercing Wail? Do I want the Black Star relic, the Sozu, or the Velvet Choker?

I expect I am also making some forgot-to-X mistakes. Things like: Hey, remember you can open the map before choosing a bonus. Hey, remember to think about your draw and discard piles – and remember you can discard them. Hey, remember... some other things...

I also don't understand a bunch of (draft-)card-game things. To list just two:

  1. What makes a good deck. I can make some simple choices in this region like "oh, I have A Thousand Cuts, so I should probably pick Infinite Blades here over Caltrops." Beyond that I'm sort of lost to find things that work well together.
  2. The gamut of (draft-)card game/deckbuilding concepts. Cycling, draw, drafting, and generally how to think about your options for controlling what cards you draw. I've seen people use these terms and I know what some of them mean, but I don't understand how the ideas fit together with each other or with other ideas.

These would probably be useful to know. I expect deck composition matters more than turn-by-turn on A0. I spent about ten minutes looking for them across the subreddit and Steam guides but didn't find any direct explanations so I guess this is something I'd have to ask about.