Building a deck of deckbuilders

Thanks for the responses! I guess I’ll skip this one and aim for Fight in Tight Spaces when it’s on sale.

I see Ratropolis is 50% off . And I see you wrote a Steam review, that I plan to read now. Whoa you played it 91 hours?

They also just go an update that added a bunch more cards. I love the game’s difficulty scaling both in the game and using the modifiers, the number of classes, the speed of the game, and the multitude of game breaking combos.

My experience with the game goes like this:
This is easy! → Still pretty easy → This is impossible! → Oh I think I have an idea! → I just broke the game with this new combo

Just released on Steam. Notably close to Slay the Spire in many mechanics. The biggest innovation is a slightly randomized talent tree with relic-like abilities. It also has an always accessible shop and combat quests.

It currently falls somewhat short in variety of everything. Cards, enemies, talents and archetypes all could use some additions.

I was very surprised to see it at a mixed Steam rating (64% positive) as I found it to be one of the more competent Slay clones I’ve tried.

I picked up Castle of Morhihsa too, but also refunded after the first two hours. So sharing reasons.

First, it is the ‘closest’ of any other card-battling deckbuilder I can think of, and I play them all, to the Slay the Spire formula. To the point it gets some criticism as a ‘copy’. Frankly, Slay is and was so good I would embrace a copy gladly.

It does however, do some things very differently, and in a very welcome way. For example, you have constant access to a ‘shop’ with options to remove cards, buy new cards, upgrade cards. This instead of shops being limited to very rare map nodes, as in Slay.

Second, it has an interesting RPG-lite talent point and talents system, partly replicating the extensive library of relics / artefacts within Slay, but this game has relics too, so it is a new approach. This allows direct selection of preferred talents, albeit with the prices randomised between runs. Cool.

So why did I refund? Caveat this is based on just a few hours experience.

  1. Whilst it has the same node-by-node movement / encounter system as Slay, and many other similar games, it does two really ‘bad things’ in my book. One is that it provides no map icon key, really unfriendly for new players. Second, much worse, is that you cannot see which path you are committing to whenever you make a choice, so there is no way to plan your run to, for example, hit or avoid elite battles.

  2. Both the balancing and the ability descriptions appear to be in a state I would more readily accept if it were early-access. It feels like Slay did years prior to release and the Steam forum chatter, including responses from devs, suggests there are many adjustments to be made. I like that the developers appear to be responsive, that is great, but it also looks like this could really use another 6-12 months of being shaped up to offer an experience comparable to the release version of Slay.

So, offering one I do recommend right now, even though it is in early-access

This one combines the node-to-node movement to encounter seen in Slay the Spire and many other deckbuilding card-battling roguelites with the very ‘best’ sword & sorcery Xcom style turn-based tactical battles I have experienced.

‘Best’ in the sense that the tactical battles absolutely have a learning curve that rewards careful thought and clever choices of how to make use of your party of three heroes, and how to develop their capabilities as you progress the RPG-lite features.

Even in the earliest battles, there was rarely for me the experience of having only obvious choices available in the battles. More often, there were multiple approaches that seemed viable, and even fights that appeared overwhelming could be overcome.

It also has an extremely strong theme, an Arthurian legends theme, and delivers little narratives via choose-your-own adventure style encounters really well. Perhaps even too well, meaning they are so well done that there are least some people complaining that the gameplay gets in the way of enjoying the theme!

One caveat maybe . . . is that each ‘run’ might take about 3 hours, much longer than most. Also, after completing several runs and unlocking some additional characters, I am not feeling a huge desire to play more and more. Unlike deckbuilders, there is less total variety that you can really play around with, so fewer reasons to try out new builds. This could well change throughout early-access though, and there is definitely a solid 10+ hours of fantastic theme and tactical battles here already.

Is there a reason this is good for gameplay purposes? Slay the Spire was meticulously designed, and while it would certainly make the game easier if you could fuck with your deck any time you wanted, that wouldn’t be an improvement. Is there some reason it serves to improve Castle of Mohrpudding?

Great question and great point. So, personal opinion here . . . I believe that deck-building, adding stuff, removing stuff, changing stuff, is a huge part of both the challenge and FUN of deck-building games. So long as it is incorporated in a way that sustains challenge & depth, more of it is therefore something that can offer more fun.

So for example, and again personal - whilst I admire, hugely admire, Slay the Spire design, I have more enjoyment in games enable a lot more deck-building, both choices & frequency of them, such as Roguebook, Monster Train & Blood Card 2.

Frankly, the very low frequency of opportunity to shape the deck in Slay, meaning the availability of shop encounters & trade-off between opting for those vs other encounters, did become a bit of a drag for me. Again, elegant, tight, admirable balance & design, but for me, just less overall fun than games that provide a bit more frequency & freedom.

It took me a long time to figure out why Slay was called a “deck building” game for this very reason. It’s definitely one of several things I dislike about the design, for all that I appreciate it inspiring a raft of excellent games in its wake.

Huh! You get an opportunity to modify your deck after… pretty much every room in Slay the Spire. I don’t doubt there are games that let you modify it more. But that’s an interesting complaint.

This year, the physical Arkham Horror card game opened my eyes to how much fun preconstructed deck recipes (e.g. this warrior character is allowed to build his starting deck from any combination of available warrior-type and low-level monk-type cards) and unrestricted card upgrades from a large pool could make a PvE campaign.

It’s a very different beast than roguelite deckbuilders, where drip-feeding new content and 1 of 3 random choices are necessary to stretch the development budget and inspire novel builds. But I feel like there might be some neat concepts in there to see cross over.

My take is this. Yes, you get an extra card option after every Slay combat, but most (not all) of the decks that are viable for later difficulty levels emphasise tight, low card count decks for consistency & reliability. Also, it is critical to put together a high synergy deck & do so very quickly, with a definite plan formed early in Act 1. I have beaten the heart many times, but I have also often failed against the Act 1 Big Nob Gremlin simply due to not being able to do enough to make a viable deck in time. Failure meaning direct KO by the Big Nob, but more often, simply losing too much HP in the fight, dooming the rest of the Act 1 attempt.

The sum of these pressures means that most of those extra card options need to be skipped, and there is no compensation for doing so unless you also get lucky with an early relic.

By contrast, in a few games I will name, Across the Obelisk, Blood Card 2, Roguebook especially, Monster Train too, you have both more opportunities to change your deck and you can use many more of them whilst still maintaining and developing a viable deck, . Roguebook is a real star here by adding direct rewards for fatter decks and providing lots of options that mitigate their drawbacks, such as hand-carry over, extra card draws & many cards that draw other cards.

This looks quite interesting

Interesting. I wanted Dice Legacy to be good, but never got it because, by many accounts, it just wasn’t.

I have played and liked Dicey Dungeons and Tharsis, but those aren’t the same as what this looks like. Seems like there is a lot of room for more such games using dice.

Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles has been mentioned before, but it has a demo now. (I assume that’s why you posted? :p)

The demo is an act 1 run with one character (of six in the final version).
The writing is too verbose and not great. That might be limited to the tutorial and intro though.
Both for that dialogue as well as in gameplay Astrea somewhat suffers from too many slow transitions and animations.

The gameplay is good though. Dice combat and manipulation comparable to Circadian Dice or Slice and Dice.
As a mechanical approach it features a tug of war purity-corruption bar. Combined with a normal health bar for enemies and instead of one for your character.

If you like “drawn” art (which personally I do very much) it is well done and distinct in the game for enemies, menus and story elements.
Dice symbols could use some work though as a bunch of them are hard to identify at a glance.

Indies’ Lies just entered EA on Steam. It has a demo.

The oddly shaped name refers to the god of steampunk called “Industy” and his penchant for truth bending.

Close to Slay the Spire with no card balance and sketchy translations. This is a mobile game too and it shows, the UI is terrible right now. Finding out what cards/effects do is a real pain.

Mechanically it’s good. It adds a couple of elements like slotable gems (as in the Slay Downfall mod or later Monster Train), you add minor heroes to a party after each boss and there is a randomized talent tree instead of relics.

The balance is truly whack right now. Numbers and effects are all over the place. The game also has short but plentiful loading screens for some reason. It features nine characters in three classes with what appears to be quite different strengths and card sets.

I would give this a solid maybe right now. They really need to fix the UI and the way information is accessible. The mechanical additions are nice. I don’t expect every game to be as well balanced as Slay but card and effect power has such an incredibly huge range right now that it effects the gameplay (mostly trivializing it).
Personally I would say the earlier mentioned Castle Morihisa is the notably better game. But the general public disagrees, giving Castle Morihisa a 64% positive score with 200 reviews and Indies’ Lies a 100% positive score with 20.
Castle Morihisa’s recent 13 reviews are even mostly negative for some reason, yet when I go to read them most say it’s an enjoyable game that just lacks some content? 20 reviews for Indies’s Lies is not enough to judge, but I’m very confused by the disparity in reception that is completely opposite my impression.

I don’t think “the general public” has weighed in on Indies’ Lies (In Deez Nuts?). 20 reviews 100% positive for an early access game on release day? Those are all people who got it for free in exchange for positive reviews. 20 is simultaneously not enough reviews to be statistically significant, and eyebrow-raisingly many reviews to pop up within hours of Early Access release for a game no one’s ever heard of.

I mention that at the end.

Still, the difference is dazzling. Castle Morihisa seemingly didn’t pay enough people and apparently somehow angered its Chinese audience (almost all negative ones are in Chinese).

I’m enjoying Google Translating them. See if you can figure out what I added to this one!

Let me just ask, have you ever played a game with a difficulty level above 6? Have you ever used algorithms to calculate probabilities yourself? Do you really understand the consequences of adding 2 points of power to the mobs at one time? Tell me have you ever, really really ever loved a woman?

Indies Lies looks interesting. I like that when you acquire a card you have the option to replace a card in your deck. Going to try it on iOS.