Monster Train or Deckbuilder: the ‘good parts’ version

Well, yeah. Every discussion on an internet forum is sterile. I thought the golden rule was we don’t acknowledge that fact, lest we catch a glimpse of the abyssal void interminably awaiting us all.

Won on Covenant 2 with the Stygian Guard. I figured out they’re all about the spells so that’s what I emphasized. The holdover spell upgrade seems to be a big part of all my winning strategies so far. I used the Awoken as allies because I needed some tanks. Stygian units are really weak health-wise. So yay, 2 in a row, and now on to Covenant 3 and the Umbra which I just unlocked on that run.

As an aside, I wonder why they didn’t name this “Hell Train” instead of what they named it. Especially since it’s a … hell train. The name actually kind of put me off from paying much attention to the game at first. I’m sure they thought about naming it ‘hell train’ though. Maybe they figured that having ‘hell’ in the title would offend some people (and if so, they would probably be correct).

Just three things to say:

  1. “Restart battle,” whether that’s accomplished by a button that says “Restart Battle” or by quitting and re-launching, is categorically not Undo.

  2. Of course no game should allow you to Undo an action which lets you keep information that you gained by performing and then Undoing an action, UNLESS that is part of the design, a la Invisible Inc. But it’s not part of Slay the Spire’s design. It’s fine to wish Slay the Spire was a different game. But it’s not a different game. It’s the game it is.

  3. The fact that games might “let you” back up a save file, save-scum, or quit and restart a battle, does not mean that the designers intended that to be part of the gameplay. Nor does the fact that games might “let you” run the same seed on five different computers all next to each other so that you can try different strategies on the first four and then apply the knowledge you gained to the run you have going on the fifth. Stuff you do “outside” the game is, obviously, not part of the game.

Awesome! Yeah, the name is terrible. It really is.

This is a minor quibble and I’m still enjoying the game a lot. I don’t like how the score is calculated. In principle I like how you get the bonus for what floor you stop the boss on, but in practice sometimes you don’t have a choice but to play you strong set of monsters on the top floor - like in waiting out rage on enemies to dissipate.

I got covenant 3, hurrah!


  1. This is a semantic argument and it’s trivial to prove that it categorically is - if the button was called ‘Undo battle’ you’d have no trouble understanding exactly what it is and does. Whatever distinction you’re getting at here is, frankly, meaningless.

  2. Every save/load state in any game ever allows you to keep information. Where the enemies are. What the best gun to buy is. Whether the route to the left is easier than the route the right. I’d even go so far as to say unless every aspect of your game is generated randomly at the start, simply allowing players to start over at all allows this accumulation of information to occur. I’m not arguing against that, it’s part of the fun!
    Also, as much as I love it, I don’t understand the argument that “undo is part of Invisible Incs gameplay”. I mean it obviously is by virtue of its existence but if you’re arguing it’s a core gameplay feature which makes it anything more than a limited use save/load: how, exactly? Are we just saying that as a result of the lack of randomness in the gameplay? It’s just that in contrast with a game that really does have undo as being a core part of the gameplay (All Walls Must Fall), I don’t see enough here to distinguish it.

  3. This gets back to my accusation of arrogance. How designers intend things to be played and how they are played are two separate things. My whole point here is, again, is it really that much of concession to the intended experience to provide this functionality as an option? You can’t not know that a subset of players will do things like copying files around! So stop pretending that making it as awkward as possible for people to play how they want somehow absolves the flaws in your interface/gameplay. I mean, what does it really say about your game if fishing around for 5 minutes in file explorer/registry editor is preferential to the frustration of starting over? Once upon a time, a game was content to let you save/load to your heart’s content and IDDQD while you did so. It detracted nothing from its intended experience, and if anything helped cultivate a legacy that endures in a manner most designers can only dream of. I didn’t even have to write the name of the game, and you probably know exactly which one I’m talking about.

In Monster Train I have completely screwed up several runs because I didn’t notice that the level had spawned guys with haste, which makes the second floor completely irrelevant unless you can kill the back of every single enemy line that comes in. Sometimes I notice this after placing my guys in the middle floor and before I hit end turn, I don’t see what would be wrong with allowing an undo in that situation. At least until the devs do a much better job signalling the presence of haste to the player.

Players do dumb shit all the time. Doesn’t mean you should support, encourage, or even condone it as a designer.

This is the weirdest conversation, you guys.

I lost my first Umbra run (also was my first cov3 run) at the final boss so my (very short) win streak is over. I really thought I was going to win that run but the final boss battle was just so much harder than any of the preceding ones that I never really came close.

On the first turn I had some terrible luck with unit card draws and it kind of snowballed from there. The enemy kept throwing out lines with 2 units that had 150 to 170 health and I just could not kill them all consistently before they made it to my pyre. Then the final boss on top of all that with well over 2000 HP with his buff purge ability was too much. I’ve thought about it and I really can’t think of any strategy I could have tried that would have lead to a win with the cards I had. Hopefully, I will unlock some better Umbra cards as I play them more.

I could see enjoying one of two undo-type options in this game:

  1. one-time use of undo per battle. I like this as others have mentioned because it becomes another strategical touch point. Also, one of the covenant levels could turn it off. An artifact or event could increase #of undos, or decrease for some other benefit.

  2. When you lose a boss fight in persona 5 royale, the game gives you the option to restart the battle. I can see having that option available, either after every battle or just bosses, and either unlimited times or just once. I would prefer every battle because why not, and unlimited, because diminishing returns. I imagine this also reduces the burden on devs, who now only have to record the state just before the battle, which they probably already have anyway.

And I’ve been trying to avoid saying, “let’s stick to talking about the game,” but I’m at that point. The conversation is interesting, but if prefer it in a separate thread of it is to continue.

I just got a big Monster Train update on steam but can’t see any patchnotes. Anyone know of any?

I got an update, but only 111.7 MB, so figure it’s just a minor update. Maybe you missed the bigger one a few days ago and only just got it?

Wasn’t the one a few days ago just a handful of meg? 112mb seems like a significant size for this type of 2d game, so I was just wondering if it was a bigger patch than a few days ago.

EDIT: I just realised there’s a patch notes button in the main menu, I am used to games posting steam updates. Anyway, it looks like a handful of bug fixes and QOL improvements, nothing significant.

The most recent one was a revert to the Molluscmage fix.

What feelings are there about Umbra synergy with other factions?

When initially trialling Umbra as the support I found the morsel mechanic fiddly and complex. Then I started playing with the Umbra as the primary faction and love it. Win, lose or draw (okay, lose) I find myself entertained by the machinations of feeding morsels to monsters to make them well, more monstrous.

However a key part of the success appears to be the Gorge abilities that trigger on morsel munching, and no other faction unit has these. Educate me, what overpowered broken combos are out there?


Morsel master and morsel makes together will create 4 morsels each turn.

If you are lacking in morsel generation, find a Gorge Card (returns all eaten morsels to your hand) and slap holdover on it.

The Trample upgrade path for Penumbra is good, but make sure and get at least one space upgrade, since Trample III is size 6.

If you can get an overgorger early, don’t pass it up.

Umbra and Melting Remnant have some crazy synergy. Morsel munching counts as death and triggers Harvest and counts for spells that do damage based on friendly unit deaths

Just beat Cov9. Finally got frostbite to work for me. 🥶

Oh my . . . I wondered at this. That is indeed quite crazy. Now I must build a deck around it and onward to glorious justice victory!

I finally won on Covenant 3 with Umbra and Melting Remnant as my ally. The Wickless Baron is an absolute beast of a card is all I can say. On to Covenant 4.