A simple guide that covers gameplay basics, general strategies, and the pros/cons of your loadout options.
This is not a particularly complex deckbuilder, so it makes for a good entry-level game. The niche steampunk aesthetic is likely to attract some casual interest from people that might not usually touch a deckbuilder, so I have opted to create this guide to help people that are having issues making viable decks or balancing out their sequences before each boss.
The guide is divided up into sections addressing gameplay basics for this deckbuilder and your various starting loadout options.
There is a minor spoiler for a “hidden” character that becomes playable after your first successful run, but if you checked the character list in-game then you could probably figure out who it is.
This game is pretty simple compared to most deckbuilders, since damage numbers rarely get higher than the low twenties outside of the more broken builds or when fighting certain specific enemies.
On the first turn of combat, you’ll draw a set number of cards based on your level and any perks you have selected that affect your initial card draw. You will also get a set number of Actions and Energy at the start of each turn. After playing your cards and ending your turn, you will then draw cards for your next turn, which is different from most deckbuilders and can be potentially dangerous against certain opponents.
At the start of a character’s or enemy’s turn, perks and status effects will mostly resolve in the order they were applied and usually end with calculating damage from Burning, Poison, and other effects.
Your first turn should be spent playing any Equipment or similar effects, as those will help you throughout the rest of the battle and will stop taking up space in your deck once played.
Aim for a small deck that can reliably get at least 20 Block per turn and does not cost more Energy to play than you regen each turn. Small decks are more consistent, easier to manage, and can potentially get an infinite turn by playing and drawing the same small set of cards in a single turn.
Card draw is almost always a good thing, since it gives you more options to choose from and more chances to deal or reduce damage. Several pieces of Equipment and general perks offered at level-up will boost your card draw.
When you are fusing cards at a Nature’s Lectern store, keep in mind that the first card of the pair that you pick becomes the “base” card which decides whether the new combo card counts as an Attack, Spell, Action, or other type of card (this matters for perks), and also decides whether it will cost Actions or Energy. Try to fuse Equipment cards to other Equipment cards, otherwise the Exhaust effect will take out an attached attack or spell that you might have wanted to keep. Likewise, fusing two copies of the exact same card is usually a safe option to get more of a single effect from a single card play. Note that play restrictions on either card can render the combo card unplayable if you do not meet the requirements. Lastly, you can not upgrade the components of a combo card after they are fused, so try to upgrade cards before fusing.
You have to make three sequences of encounter cards for each “run”. Try to include a Shop just before the boss of each sequence, so you can upgrade or fuse cards right before the major fight. Usually, you will have just enough cash to fully upgrade all your basic cards near the end of the first sequence if you do not use any Rest encounter cards. Once you’re used to the game, you’ll want to avoid Rest encounter cards since that’s less money and experience that you could have earned.
Treasure encounter cards should be front-loaded, as the cards they offer are usually incredibly powerful and can not be upgraded. Mystery Encounter cards are riskier, since they statistically seem to offer mostly negative effects such as missing your first turn in the next battle or being forced into a fight that might not be appropriate for your level.
Learn which enemies you tend to have trouble with, and simply do not include their encounter cards when building a sequence. Some enemies are made to punish specific deck archetypes and are better off avoided if you have other options for enemies.
Your ideal first sequence will let you level up on comfortable enemies, upgrade all your starter cards right before the boss, and then fight the boss. In the second sequence, combine all your basic cards roughly halfway through the sequence. In the final sequence, grab any additional cards that might cover any weaknesses you’ve noticed or push a good combo you have even further. By the end of the third sequence, you should have enough cash to justify visiting two Shops.
Cores / Factions
Cores (sometimes known as Factions) are very important, since each one determines a couple of extra cards you have at the start of your run and many additional cards that you can grab at a store or as the result of an event. It is usually best to pick a faction that compliments the cards your chosen character has by default.
Nano is the easiest faction to use, since its starting Smite card can be upgraded to always heal you by 5HP each time you play it. Many of its additional cards supply even more healing, offer some card draw, can remove status effects from yourself, and have low costs.
Any character can make good use of it. The Tech Knight will especially like it, since many of her cards cause self-damage, and the Samurai can use its healing to cover her poor early-game Block generation.
This is the comfort soda that you can always go back to.
Poison damage is inherently powerful since it bypasses Block, only decreases by one point per turn, and has a low cost to apply. One of the starting Radioactive cards, Venom Chant, is devastating because it offers extra card draw for only 2 Energy. It can also offer upfront damage boosts and healing by consuming Poison stacks off your opponent. Once you’re comfortable enough with the game to move away from Nano, then this will probably end up as the only faction you ever use.
The Tech Knight is a natural caster, so this is her ideal faction. The Mech Pilot can also easily weave its spells in between her Attack and Action cards; she even has a poison drone card that can combo with the faction cards.
This is the extreme flavor soda that no other can compare to, but you might get tired of it if you have too much.
Burning is a weaker Poison. Its stacks get cut in half every time it deals damage, the cards the faction offers usually do not apply much Burning, and several have drawbacks such as Exhausting after a single play.
The Tech Knight and Mech Pilot will like this faction, since it is another Spell heavy faction.
It’s the diet soda of factions; usable, but better things exist.
Steamlight’s gimmick is that you build Steam when playing its cards, dealing a burst of 10 damage when you reach 10 Steam. By the time you reach 10 Steam, you’ll likely have already killed the enemy or gotten it so low that the burst of damage is only saving you an Attack card, because 10 damage every few turns is nothing compared to 10 Poison or Burning per turn.
The Gambler and Engineer can make some use of the Steam cards that play automatically when drawn.
The off-brand soda that nobody likes.
Contrary to what the description for the faction says, very few cards in the faction deal Caustic damage to your enemy; several of them actually deal Caustic damage to yourself in exchange for an effect like card draw. Many of the cards have drawbacks or function as a double-edged sword that can backfire. The starting card it offers is a good Spell to end your turn with since it lowers all damage by 3, but aside from that card you will likely want to avoid everything the faction offers.
This is the off-brand soda that got recalled because it killed someone.
Your chosen Zodiac sign will give you a small advantage. These vary dramatically in how useful they are. Several are obviously intended as crutches for new players, while others are always going to help you regardless of experience and playstyle.
Aquarius offers bonus experience gains. This is powerful in the long run, since each level grants you higher base stats. It’s a safe, no-frills choice that pays off more as you fight more.
Aries is ideal for casters, since it converts the cost of your first Spell every turn. Simple and straightforward.
Grants you a single free Block point per turn. It’s not great, but it is free and that is enough to block the first couple of low-level enemies.
Capricorn grants you a bit of Block on each deck shuffle. With a tiny deck, you can take advantage of this on every turn. The amount is not astounding, but it’s free.
Gemini currently seems to be bugged. Restocks always seem to cost a measly 15 gold, even with this equipped.
Extra damage near death is better than it sounds, since one perk intentionally sets you to 70%HP with bonus damage at the start of each fight. The Gambler and Tech Knight can make good use of this Zodiac if you like high-risk playstyles.
A starting player safety net, since it will save you once. The problem is that certain re-usable cards can do the same thing, and you should build expecting to succeed, not to fail.
Pisces offers a card the first time you are damaged each turn… on paper. In practice, I regularly see it fail to activate even on a clean hit from the enemy. It also can not activate if you intentionally damage yourself on your turn as the Tech Knight.
5% extra gold isn’t much, but it might be the difference between only fusing most of your cards in the second sequence and fusing all of your cards.
It’s free damage when you start an Elite or Boss fight. Not great, but it is free and might save you some damage of your own.
Taurus is a trap. It grants you 2 max HP per successful fight, which is not very much even if you load up every single sequence slot with only fights. It’s easier and safer to pick something like Aquarius.
Nano, but as a Zodiac choice. It heals you for an amount equal to your level, basically removing the need for Rest encounters if you manage to block all incoming damage on most turns.
Each character has one or two gimmicks unique to them. Only two of the characters are free, with the rest being unlocked as dirt-cheap DLC. The starting Samurai is good enough to see you through the entire game, though.
The Samurai is a very straightforward character with a simple “Combo” and “Multi-side Slice” gimmicks; some of her cards will have an extra benefit if played after you have played a non-Combo card. This can be any card, so get into the habit of playing a Block or Spell card in-between each Combo card. Note that some Combo cards drop their Combo-requirement effect when upgraded, but will still consume the Combo token if played.
Balanced Stance is your go-to Equipment card to grab in stores or as event rewards; just two of these makes her effectively immortal, since she will gain so much Block from simply attacking that she will never need anything else. Outside of Balanced Stance, her Block gain is generally poor, since her basic Block cards provide very little defense.
When combining cards at a Shop, do not combine her basic attack cards; they lose their extra third hit when improperly combined, which is a lot of stacking damage that you’ll lose. They also benefit an absurd amount from damage boosting perks, boosting cards, and her cooldown ability that boosts their damage output; they also apply “on hit” affects multiple times.
The Mech Pilot’s gimmicks are Drones and Weapon cards that cause a cooldown on their use. Her basic Drone generation card ensures she’ll pretty much never run out of ammo for Drone cards. Her Weapon cards usually only allow one to be efficiently run in a deck. In general, she is the simplest character to play with no complex mechanics.
She’s pretty hungry on Actions with few cards that require Energy. Grab some Spells to alleviate her Action-per-turn drain.
The strongest character in the game, once she gets rolling past a rough start. Her main gimmick is building Wrath via self-damaging cards, with a lesser gimmick of attaching Leech Crystals to the opponent that she can break and self-heal with certain cards. She is the premiere caster of the game, with a starting card that refills Energy in the middle of her turn and a cooldown skill that doubles her next Spell cast. Even her basic Block cards count as Spells, so any perk that boosts her Energy regen or applies a negative effect to the opponent on a Spell cast will be devastating. With a couple of cards that allow her to draw more cards in the middle of her turn, she is the easiest character to get infinite turns with. More than any other character, she wants a tiny deck so she can consistently draw and play an endless cycle of Spells, card draws, and her Energy refill cards.
With all that said, her early game is brutally difficult, since her Energy regen does not catch up with how much she uses early on and her more powerful upfront damage cards also hurt her. Play carefully in the first sequence and make use of her Leech Crystal cards to steal some HP.
Contrary to the usual deckbuilder meta, the Engineer wants to have a big deck to fuel some of his big damage cards. He has some of the highest damage potential in the game if you get some lucky draws with most of your deck in the discard pile. You’ll probably either love him or hate him based on how it feels to you personally to play with a large deck.
The Gambler has high potential damage, but true to her name it’s a dice roll on whether you get screwed out of it or not based on Luck stacks. Her Coins and certain other cards can allow her to safely build up to 5 Luck each turn for the free end-of-turn damage it provides, but even that damage is a dice roll. Her early game is almost as rough as the Tech Knight’s, since her basic Block cards do not provide much defense and are also subject to her Luck mechanic.
Like the Mech Pilot, she is Action hungry with few natural Spells. Consider taking a Spell-focused core/faction to supplement her risky cards.
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