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  • Writer's pictureXuhao (Tom) Du

Slay the Spire


Slay the Spire is an amazing deck-building card game I have ever seen. Every time I open this game, I will spend at least 1 hour on it without feeling dull. Actually, when this game first came out, some people said they had already been addictive on this game because they could not stop after playing. They will start a new round after the end of current round. Why this game has such a magical attraction? I'd like to talk about some good design points in this game.

Character Selection

As a card game, having different heroes for guests to choose is quite common. Slay the Spire has three heroes, the Defect (One of the hero which came out later after another two) will be unlocked after players finish one round of the Ironclad and one round of the Silent. For my own experience, though different heroes have different initial relic at the beginning, I feel like the difficulty has changed due to hero. The Ironclad is easier, the Silent is harder. Since the Ironclad is the first choice for the players when they first start their adventure. Also, to keep the fresh feeling of each round, the player will unlock Ascension system after their first win. Now, there are 20 levels of ascension for each hero. The higher ascension means more obstacles during this round. So for some players, they will challenge it again and again to complete all the ascensions which means this system lengthen the average playing time for this player.

The Ironclad

The Silent

The Defect

Roguelike Elements

Every time players start a new round, the map of the tower will be changed. That means the players will encounter different monsters and different events contrast to their last round. Also, the reward (cards and relics) after battle is totally random, that means people have little possibility to build a same deck for different round. As, you can see, there are so many random element in this game. That is how roguelike works. The players need to consider about how they build deck for this round to win the game. Depends on different combination of factors, players need to make decisions all the time, like do I need to take this card? Should I choose this choice on the event? All these roguelike elements ensure players will not feel boring after playing and playing again. The following pictures show part of roguelike elements in the game.

A bonus at the beginning




Random Event


Alpha Version & Beta Version

There are two version of Slay the Spire ---- alpha version and beta version. The alpha version is the official version and the beta version is the version for testing. The difference between these two versions is the update frequency. The beta version almost updates everyday. After testing some new features on the beta version, then the update will come to the alpha version. I spent almost 50 hours on the alpha version then I started playing beta version. Now I spend more than 70 hours on the beta version and don't want to back to the alpha version any more. Why? Because all weird stuff will happen in beta version. This version is designed for testing, so designers will use their imagination in this version without making some balance. Since this is a roguelike game, players will feel even better if they get a powerful relic though that relic might be too strong for design. And the art on the beta version would be really funny.

The art on the early beta version for the Defect

Like the talk this company gave on Game Development Conference said people loved bad art! Same for the design, because this is not the official version, people love some unbalanced elements in this game. Keeping two versions at the same time is really a genius design, it arouses players interests in an untraditional way. Also, now this game supports to use mod, that means people could replace the character and the monster depending on their own preferences. This feature also keeps people's interest on this game.


There are more good designs in this perfect game. If you like roguelike game, I highly recommend you to have a try to find more ideal design points. It still keeps updating on the Steam and will publish on Switch in the future. Don't hesitate, just play it!

Demo on Switch!


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