How I Play Slay the Spire to Beat Writer’s Block
I want to start this by openly admitting that I had many opportunities to learn how to play Magic the Gathering and other games from children when I worked as a summer camp counselor. I regret this very much. Why didn’t I just trust them that it was fun!? I am a bookish and board/card/video game type!
Now, when I am working from home and staring at an empty page with a desire to, as I said to my partner yesterday, “rip my eyes out” I either go for a bike ride, get up and cook something, or pick up the Nintendo Switch. I don’t pick up just any game — I need something strategic and quick to take my mind off of whatever project is tripping me up.
Slay the Spire is a deck-building game that consists of three levels. It is turn-based, so there’s no anxious, sweaty gripping of the controller or time-limit. You are able to take your time and carefully craft your attack or defense plans. The player chooses one of four characters to defeat enemies (and three bosses of escalating difficulty). The best enemy, in my humble opinion, is the Cultist for the sole reason that after you kill them they emit a gut-wrenchingly hilarious “CAW!” that is… very fun to shout at the screen.
Look at that lil guy.
The reason this works for me is for a short while I am able to completely focus on a simple task.
The deck you build will always be different; the potions and “relics” that you acquire will make gameplay new and interesting depending on which you receive. There is also a very real satisfaction of climbing the levels and killing enemies quickly, when able to do so. To complete a run takes anywhere between 35 minutes to an hour, depending on how you play, and there is a time counter on the top right of the screen.
I’ve found this better for productivity than picking up Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing, for example… a game where a player can spend hours tending to their farms and islands and not even realize it. No, I play Stardew for an entirely different reason than Spire (namely, for when I am feeling crippled by anxiety… but that’s another story).
Each character has their own deck and strengths.
As the name so aptly suggests, is best used for strong offensive and defensive plays.
A huntress who has the ability to poison enemies and is my favorite by far.
A robot that has “orb slots” with passive or active capabilities (either upping defense or striking enemies after their hand has been played).
The newest character, a blind ascetic who has different “stances” that affect the power of her cards.
After writing this am I tempted to go pick it up before I move onto my next writing assignment for the day? Yes, yes I am.
This is your official reminder that if you are feeling stuck or challenged by a project, change your scenery, take a break, play a game for a bit. I swear it helps.
I should note, that using this game as a “reward” or motivator for completing assignments and tasks… is also quite effective.