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How to win as the Silent (non ascension, non combo).
Silent Guide Slay the Spire
This guide is for people who want to win and have fun with the Silent. It’s not intended to address the challenges of Ascension mode.
The leaderboards show that people have better win streaks with the Ironclad. I’m not sure what makes the Ironclad so easy or consistent; personally I struggle with him. However he does have more health and can regenerate between fights. The Silent has less leeway to get hit hard or to get hit often. Though you can compensate with healing items – Bird-Faced Urn may be the best relic for the Silent, especially since you will usually want lots of powers.
Energy and Cards
Sometimes you will have cards to spare but no energy to cast them. This is true at the start of the game when you draw five cards, most costing 1 energy, and only have 3 energy per turn. Other times, you will have energy to spare but no cards to cast.
You can’t be sure how much energy you will be getting later in the game. It depends on what boss relics you get, but there are also other relics and cards that will make you more energy efficient like Mummified Hand and Madness.
Sometimes the boss relics that increase energy have a big drawback, too. Philosopher’s Stone can be dangerous to take after the act 1 boss because of the Byrd enemy in act 2 that attacks five times (unless you have “thorns” damage like Caltrops or Bronze Scales which counters this enemy). Ectoplasm is also usually not worth it if offered in act 1, imo.
So it is best not to take cards like Slice and Flying Knee early. They may let you play more cards at first, but later in the game they don’t do enough damage. Then if you end up with too much energy and not enough to do with it, you’d have to try and get cards that draw more cards to tip the balance back the other way.
On the reverse of this, it means that it doesn’t matter if your deck has some useless cards like curses or the Strike cards you started with, since you are naturally going to ignore some cards in your hand when you run out of energy. But I would still remove curses that actually hurt you like Pain, Normality, Regret, Doubt (except in posion decks) and sometimes Decay.
Endless Agony is an interesting card though. I will sometimes take it if I have something that increases my strength, or something that cares about me playing lots of cards in one turn. If you need to decrease the average cost of cards in your deck, you can discard it to let it replicate. If you need to increase, you can just cast it and it will exhaust itself.
The Big Deck
The usual wisdom in card games is that having as small a deck as possible is best since it gives you a better chance of drawing your strongest cards. (This is also important for combo decks like the Nightmare + Catalyst deck that some players use to win in Ascension, but I’m not talking about those here). But I usually have around 35 cards in my deck at the end of a winning run. Why is this?
One reason is that there are powers and cards that exhaust themselves that won’t be in your deck on your second time through. There are also cards like Escape Plan that always draw a card, so they don’t really count towards your deck size. This means my true deck size is more like 20 (which is still big by some players’ standards). However, the deck size the first time through does matter – some aggressive enemies can kill you before you draw your whole deck once, and you don’t want your best powers to all show up on turn 6.
Some benefits of having a big deck –
– You are less affected by curses and most statuses (except Dazed).
– You don’t have to spend gold on removing your starting Strike cards from your deck, meaning you can save your gold for relics and powerful cards.
– You can use Eternal Feather (boss relic) to gain life at camp sites even if you don’t rest.
– It’s more fun to choose card rewards than to skip them. However, you still need some discipline, you’re not going to take a card at every reward screen.
The Need for Speed
The Silent must balance aggression with defence. You need to be aware of how many of your cards do each job as well as how much energy you will need to spend on each. Trying to kill an enemy with Strikes wouldn’t leave you with much energy for defending.
Some enemies become stronger as the fight goes on. They might gain strength, or shuffle statuses into your deck which gradually makes you weaker, or they might spend the first couple of turns applying buffs and debuffs before they start to attack. This is why even a highly defensive deck must be able to kill the enemies without taking too many turns to do it. (The Ironclad’s Barricade-Entrench build can gain defence faster than enemies gain strength, but there are still ways for that deck to lose).
Another reason why you need to be fast is that every turn longer is another chance to get a bad turn, where you draw an atypical hand with no defences in it and end up getting hit hard.
Getting some damaging cards in your deck can be particularly important in act 1 where you might face the red demon elite who gains strength when you defend, or the sleeping shell elite which reduces your strength and dexterity every third turn.
In fights with multiple enemies, you can reduce the incoming damage by killing one enemy. This is where a highly aggressive deck shines. However, those kind of decks are weak against enemies with high health which it can’t finish off fast, especially bosses. It’s better to have a defensive engine that is capable of dealing with multiple living enemies.
Since the enemies often take a few turns to set up, you can too, by playing powers in the early turns. Sometimes you will have to choose between taking some early damage or playing a power. It depends on how likely you are to take more damage later on in the fight if you don’t play it.
The Silent rarely relies on flashy cards, rather on incremental increase of the power of her ‘normal’ cards by using relics and powers. Your powers are usually your best cards to upgrade (except the ones that just gain ‘Innate’ are less worthwhile), because with a big deck size you won’t be drawing your other cards that often, while the power’s upgrade benefits you every turn.
There are two good aggressive engines, poison and physical (shivs). It’s not the end of the world if you can’t decide between them early on. Taking a speculative Accuracy power before you have any shivs is usually safe – remember, if you play it, it won’t get shuffled back into your deck that fight. A Noxious Fumes will deal decent damage even if you end up in a shivs deck! Also, Caltrops is good in any deck.
Poison decreases by 1 per turn, but in a poison deck, you should be applying more poison to enemies faster than they lose it. This means that you will be dealing increasing amounts of damage over time, and even an enemy with twice as much health will only take 40% longer to kill.
Noxious Fumes is the key card for non-combo poison decks as it guarantees that poison will always increase, and it’s good in fights with multiple enemies because it hits them all. Upgrade it, and get more copies of it if you can, since you will be more likely to draw it sooner and you will kill enemies sooner – but know that even one Fumes can deal hundreds of damage if you give it time.
Deadly Poison and Poisoned Stab can be ok early on to help you kill smaller enemies in the first couple of acts, shaving a few turns off the time to kill which will save you health, and you will still cast them occasionally in act 3. Bouncing Flask can be good too since it can poison a single enemy quickly. But you don’t want more than about 5 of these repeatable-use poison cards in your deck in total because it dilutes your focus on defence.
You don’t need Bane since it just does physical damage and you don’t want Envenom since you won’t be using many attacks. Catalyst can be good, it can save you a few turns if you draw it at the right time but it isn’t essential. And I’ve never used Corpse Explosion. Once the poison engine gets going, all the enemies will be dead pretty soon, so I don’t find it worthwhile to include these cards that can slow me down if I draw them too early. In the same vein, even The Specimen (boss relic) is not that important if you’re mainly relying on Noxious Fumes rather than single target poison cards.
Physical (Shiv) Engine
The key to the shiv engine is having a way to make shivs do more damage. Otherwise, not only is it inefficient, but you will also struggle against some enemies that punish you for casting lots of cards like the Time Eater or Spiker.
There aren’t many ways to gain strength as the Silent – mainly the relics Shuriken, Du-Vu Doll, and Vajra, and the neutral card J.A.X. Another way to make your cards do more damage is to have something that “sees” them being cast like Thousand Cuts, Envenom, or Panache. Either of these approaches will work with any of your cards, not just your Shivs, but the easiest way to have lots of cards to cast is by using ones that make Shivs (or Endless Agony). Another useful card is Terror, which increases all damage to one enemy by 50%, though it is countered by the ‘Artifact’ buff.
The third approach is to use Accuracy, which only improves your Shivs. You can combine any or all of these ways of increasing damage in the same deck. You can do a shivs build even if you only have one (upgraded) Accuracy, but it’s not quite as much of a guarantee of winning as Noxious Fumes is in the poison deck. You will always need to be on the lookout for more copies of Accuracy (or cards mentioned in the previous paragraph) and more shivmaking cards.
The best shivmaking card is Infinite Blades. Cloak and Dagger is also good because it defends while giving you a Shiv. Repeatable-use shivmakers like Blade Flurry are okay in moderation, particularly if there are few alternatives, but you don’t want too many as it gives you less energy to spend on defence. Steel Storm is not essential, for the same reason, though it can be fun to use when you have lots of cards in hand.
Your defence engine is in addition to whatever you’re using to kill the enemy. In other words, a deck could either have:
– A poison engine and a defence engine, or
– A shiv engine and a defence engine.
The defence engine needs to be able to protect you regularly against the attacks that come in, protect you occasionally against the big attacks that come in, and do all of this with the limited cards and energy you have each turn. There are several ways to do this, and can be used in combination with each other.
1. Increase the amount of defence each card gives you. Footwork is one of the best Silent cards, and should be upgraded. The smooth stone and Kunai relics are good too. After Image is strong even if your deck doesn’t play lots of cards per turn, it’s like the Silent’s version of Metallicize.
2. Save defence across turns. Blur is very strong if you can get a lot of them, or if you can make copies of Blur with Nightmare and/or Burst. This is strong because some enemies don’t attack every turn, but also because you don’t draw the same number of defence cards every turn, and you want to save your good turns for bad times. Calipers (relic) works well combined with Blur to save some of the defence from the turns when you don’t have a Blur. It can also work on its own, but it’s harder. Dodge and Roll is mainly good if you have something that increases dexterity, since the dexterity bonus applies twice. Otherwise, it’s still useful but you don’t want too many copies.
3. Save cards across turns. Main way to do this is with Well-Laid Plans – upgrading it lets you keep two defence cards in hand until you need to use them – or with Runic Pyramid (boss relic).
4. Save energy across turns with Doppelganger or Ice Cream. You still need to be lucky enough to draw the cards that will let you defend on the turns when the big attacks come in though.
5. Card draw in general gives you more chances of drawing defence when you need it – Backflip and Calculated Gamble are the main good cards here. If you have Tough Bandages, Gamble itself becomes a powerful defence card. Predator (the attack that draws 2 more cards next turn) can be good. But not all card drawing cards are good. Related to this, Dash can sometimes be good because it’s like drawing two Defends in one card (and counts as an attack for the red demon and the hex enemy that punish you for playing skills rather than attacks).
6. Weaken the enemy. Paper Krane is a very powerful relic – weakening becomes stronger as the enemy’s attacks get stronger, so it’s mainly useful in the third act. Weakening automatically stacks, so you don’t have to worry about drawing cards in the right order. Upgrading Neutralize and Sucker Punch to make the weakening last one turn longer can be good if it means that you can keep the enemy permanently weakened. Malaise is good too.
Things to Avoid
The cards that give you a benefit when discarded (Reflex, Tactician, Underhanded Strike) aren’t very strong, and neither is Eviscerate. As I mentioned before, it’s difficult to build a deck around hand and energy manipulation. Acrobatics isn’t that good because it costs energy to use. It can help a deck that needs the effect, but it’s better to build a deck that doesn’t need that effect in the first place. Prepared is okay and I sometimes will use one in my deck, but it puts you down by one card in hand. Tools of the Trade is a decent card since it makes your deck more consistent, but it’s rare so you wouldn’t want to rely on getting it, and you might pass it by for a more powerful card.
Similarly with cards like Expertise and Outmaneuver, they won’t always work how you want. Maybe they work well in a different kind of deck (a small one), I don’t know. My experience is that the turn you have lots of energy you have nothing to cast, and the turn you draw lots of cards you don’t have the energy to cast them.
You want to avoid most cards that just attack the enemy. There are two kinds of these. One kind is just not strong enough to justify the cost of drawing it or its energy cost – Unload, Riddle with Holes, Flying Knee, Dagger Spray, All-Out Attack, Quick Slash, Slice. I might take some of these if I’m in the first act with no other choices and I really need to get some power to survive until I get a better deck – usually a Quick Slash because it’s available early and doesn’t lose as much power later on. I might take a small number of these kinds of cards if they synergise well with my deck, like Dagger Spray in a deck with +strength.
Diediedie is usually worth taking because it’s strong, and Backstab is free and exhausts itself (and you have more cards on your first turn anyway). Glass Knife is strong since you don’t expect to go through your deck that many times. But you wouldn’t want many of these sort of cards.
The other kind are situational attack cards. The good thing about your poison or shiv engine is that they are consistent – they will always take roughly the same number of turns to kill the same sized enemy. There is not enough benefit to relying on a big turn with an inconsistent card like Choke or Finisher (though you might use one copy to complement a shiv deck that’s already good). Flechettes is not very powerful. I only use Skewer if I have Ice Cream. I don’t expect to have the right conditions to cast Masterful Stab or Grand Finale.