The third Slay The Spire character is a robot wizard who manipulates orbs, named The Defect, and you can check it out today. The Defect has arrived in the latest beta build for the early access deck-building roguelikelike, and though they're not quite finished ooh they are an interesting one. The Defect is the trickiest character so far, focused on building, managing, and exhausting a queue of different passive and active effects in the orbs - with actual attack cards almost a secondary concern. I've pulled off clutch wins with orbs and suffered dismal defeats, and I'm keen to learn more.
"A combat automaton which became self-aware," is how developers Mega Crit Games describe The Defect. So off they go up the Spire, trying to stab that thumping heart.
Orbs are central to The Defect. They can have three Orbs active at a time, summoned by various cards (and with one granted by their starting artefact). Start by thinking of them as buffs, each type giving an passive effect each turn. Lighting Orbs damage a random enemy each turn, Frost grant block, Plasma give extra energy, and so on. Orbs can also be consumed ('Evoked', to use the technical term) for a one-off stronger ability, dealing a bigger blast of damage, giving more energy, and the like. Orbs sit in a queue of three, with the oldest one being Evoked either automatically when you summon a new one or intentionally with cards which Evoke to powerful effect.
So The Defect ends up juggling three Orbs, playing cards which summon Orbs, Evoke Orbs, buff Orbs, and so on. You build a rotation of Orbs with helpful passive bonuses at times, and at others burn through Evoking orbs for big effects. It's an interesting balancing act. Especially once you start summoning Dark Orbs, whose only passive ability is to charge up the damage it'll deal when you Evoke it.
I have enjoyed bubbling along quietly with a queue of Orbs passively helping me through a battle then turning into sudden, explosive growth and power.
The Defect also has an interesting vein of improving cards. Some get cheaper each time they're played in a battle, and one interesting block card grows permanently across all battles. Plenty of space to optimise a robot, see.
I still need to unlock more cards and relics to see the full extent of The Defect. For now, I am wary of the fact that Orbs don't scale well across a run - they don't scale at all. While The Silent and Ironclad can boost their strength and dexterity massively with many artefacts, those don't buff Orbs. Certain cards can buff Orbs and I suspect some new artifacts will too, but The Defect still seems to get weaker as it climbs higher. And Frost Orbs are rubbo; 2 passive block per turn? Pssh. But The Defect is meant to be a complex character for skilled players, so maybe I'm being a big silly.
Anyway! If you want to try The Defect, follow Mega Crit's instructions to install the beta branch. Do also pay attention to how to copy your save over to the beta branch, as otherwise you'll need to unlock The Silent before you can even play The Defect.
I like this new character. Some tweaking needed, perhaps, but I'm keen to fully explore them. And especially to see how they might play in those wonderful daily challenge runs.