Everyone has their vices. Some have nicotine, hard drugs, or hard liquor. For me, it's deckbuilding roguelikes. I'm always on the prowl for my next hit. Once I've found one that gets me spun, it's all over for me.
I've always been a bit obsessed with roguelikes. But deckbuilders are my absolute favorite. The challenging, strategic combat filled to the brim with difficult choices and overpowered enemies, the gradual building of your deck after combat, and the varying playstyles and different deck types keep me hooked and coming back for more after each and every run.
Let's check out 3 of my favorite deckbuilder roguelikes and what keeps me coming back after run, after run, after run.
Slay the Spire
Slay the Spire is one of my all-time favorites in the genre. Each character has around 3 different play styles to tinker with and eventually master. There's also loads of unlockable relics and cards that further push those play styles into "broken" territory.
I've spent entirely too much time staring at the screen and trying to piece together the most ridiculous combo of cards possible in one turn. If you've been paying attention and building your deck juuuuuust right, you can make the most of any turn and obliterate any sadsack that comes along your path.
It's available on every console and it's on Android and iOS. You'd better have signed a prenup, because this game is going to rob you of your time.
Image: Slay the Spire / Humble Games
Dicey Dungeons fucking rules. While you don't necessarily build a deck of cards in Dicey Dungeons, your attacks and actions in combat are determined by the cards (or equipment or whatever you want to call them) that you have equipped.
What makes Dicey Dungeons so unique is that your cards use the dice that you roll each turn to power your equipment. Whether it's a sword that does damage equal to the face value on the dice you use for it, a shield that gives you armor based on whatever odd numbered dice you use on it, or some that just give you +1 to the die that you slap into it. But you have to carefully think about what cards you want equipped. You only have a certain number of slots available and you want to make sure that you can do as much damage as possible in one turn and not let any dice or cards go to waste.
Everything about the game is just so great. The soundtrack is one of my all-time favorites. The artstyle is so full of life, character, and personality. I want Marlowe Dobbe to tattoo the robot on me anywhere! I haven't even gotten to the playable characters yet! There's six playable characters: warrior, thief, robot, inventor, witch, and jester. Each one has their own distinct play styles to them. Especially in later chapters and in the expansion DLC, The Reunion. Marry all of that together with the gameshow-hell motif, and you've got Dicey Dungeons.
This game is available on EVERYTHING. Including mobile! It's also frequently on sale for just $5. That's a goddamn steal for how much there is to the game. Just buy it!
Image: Dicey Dungeons / Nintendo
Below is a playlist of every track in Dicey Dungeon's soundtrack, made by the composer!
Luck be a Landlord
We're slowly crossing the line between deckbuilders and non-deckbuilders with each entry in this list, but oh well. For all intents and purposes, these are all deckbuilders.
Luck be a Landlord is a (hope you're buckled-in) slot machine roguelike deckbuilder that has you using a slot machine that came with your new apartment to make the money you need to pay the rent for the new apartment. After a certain number of spins, your rent increases. If you can't afford to pay your rent, you lose. It's so deceptively simple and so easy to mess up a good run and I love it.
The reels in the slot machine start with just a few symbols. After each spin, you'll earn coins and get to pick a new symbol to add to your reels. The reason that I call it a deckbuilder is because ideally you want each symbol that you spin to work together to maximize the number of coins you earn. Not all symbols work with other symbols, so you'll need to think long and hard about which symbols to add, which to remove, which items would work best with your build so far, and a few other factors.
Did I mention that it's a slot machine? Runs are so quick and just so much fun. I can't get enough of this game.
Image: Luck be a Landlord / Steam
There's quite a few that didn't make my top 3, but they also deserve all of your hugs and kisses.
- Monster Train. That game rocks.
- Inscryption. That game also rocks.
- Wildfrost. Just bought that yesterday. It also rocks.
- Hand of Fate 2. Hoo-boy, does that game rock.
There they are, folks. My 3 favorite deckbuilder roguelikes that keep me up at night, itching my neck, and begging for more. Imagine the movie "Spun", but all of the meth is deckbuilder roguelikes.
Let me know in the comments what some of your favorites are or whatever else you'd like to share with us! We'd love to hear from you.