Over the last month I’ve picked up Dicey Dungeons and Monster Train First Class for the Switch (on sale!). They’re both inspired by Slay the Spire, which, to me, was inspired by deck building games like Magic the Gathering. The idea in all of them is that you have a limited amount of resources per turn and a set of abilities or cards to play per turn.
Dicey Dungeons goes for more of an RPG style game with different classes with different abilities and a load-out for your particular skills. The limited resource is determined by (surprise) dice rolls. It’s by far the more frustrating of the two because the dice rolls are dice rolls and even though you can control them to an extent, depending on which class and variation of the game you’re playing, you are often stuck hoping for a lucky six. And once you get above the intro levels the runs can end extremely quickly — one enemy that is strong against your current load out and it’s game over.
Monster Train encourages you to build up an army of monsters to fight invaders on your train. Don’t think too hard about the plot, the main differentiator is there are multiple levels and multiple monsters per level, which gives it a bit of a “tower defense” game feel. It’s deck building is deeper than Slay the Spire because you mix two factions at the game start and build from both, and it gives you a lot of options to remove or modify the cards you have, rather than hoping for lucky draws in the events where you add cards to your pool.
If you’ve never played any of these games, start with Slay the Spire. It’s the most straightforward, and quickly shows you how the gameplay loop works, where you balance building a resilient character as new cards come in, or going all-in on one strategy to exploit it’s ability to do tons of damage, and hope that later draws (or enemies) don’t completely destroy that plan. After that Monster Train, which is more complex, and if you want a fun diversion that’s easier to understand, Dicey Dungeons.
And be warned: while these are all fun games with strategy involved, you might get a long way into a run and then get absolutely destroyed. And also be warned: once you get your first win, you’ll want your second, and third, and fourth, and….