Oh no. It’s happening again. Slay The Spire has released a new character on the beta branch, and I’m once more betwixt its jaws. She’s still being tested and won’t appear in the main game for a while, but let me introduce you to the Watcher. She’s a monk who flows between “stances”. Calm, one moment, a hurricane of double damage the next – albeit a hurricane that takes double damage themselves. They’re the most elegant and simultaneously fiddly character to date. I was up till 2am. I should know.
A bit like the robo-wizard, this fourth character is all about building up power and unleashing it in savage bursts. You could hedge your bets with old orb boy, though. Let your lightning orbs trickle out damage, chuck in a few defensive orbs, then launch into a cycle of dramatic attacks and orb replenishing, often on the same turn. The monk is all or (almost literally) nothing. You get cards that let you enter the “Calm” stance, which by itself doesn’t do anything until you snap out of it – usually by entering “Wrath”, at which point you’re given two extra energy to play with and deal double damage, while leaving yourself vulnerable to anything that survives.
In the early stages, you build up to that moment and end the fight. More powerful enemies require more subtle tactics, until you’re pivoting between stances multiple times each turn in a chain of placidity and reckless abandon, except if you really are reckless then you are probably really dead. It’s the very essence of risk and reward: kill everything or die, with shrinking damage margins that make entering wrath mode an increasingly challenging decision.
There’s also a special, third stance called Divinity that lets you do triple damage. Normally you have to reach that through arduous prayer, by playing cards that grant “Mantra” points until you eventually stack up ten of them. In my last game, though, I found a card called Blasphemy that let me immediately enter Divinity, but would kill me at the start of the next turn. I don’t say this lightly, but: Mega Crit Games have outdone themselves.
If you want a go yourself, you’ll need to activate the Spire’s beta branch. Right click it on Steam, go to properties, click the Betas tab and select it from the drop down menu. You’ll need to have already beaten the game and unlocked the Defect. There’s also a handful of new relics, potions and balance changes.
No Crit Games haven’t said how long the Watcher will stay in Beta. The Defect took a month to make the jump.
Slay The Spire is back in my life, and this is a scary and wonderful thing.