Monster Train is a Rogue-Like Deck-Building type game, where the player is presented with dozens of choices with each run. Which Champion upgrade is the best? Will this artifact ruin my best unit? Will this ordeal overwhelm me or bring me an interesting reward?
If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry. This Tips and tricks The page is here to get you started in Monster Train and help you rekindle the pyre in The Frozen Heart of Hell.
But don’t worry if you make any mistakes along the way, because losing your ride on the Monster Train is part of the process – catch yourself and get back on that train!
Beginner’s Guide: Tips and Tricks to Get Started in Monster Train
Whether it’s building your deck or deciding which path to take to reach your next battle, here are 13 tips and tricks to get started in Monster Train.
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- Specialize your race – Many aspects of each run are hit and miss, so it’s important to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your starting deck and try to adapt them. For example, if you are offered an artifact that increases the power of Prick cards, and we gave you Prick spells in your starting draw, then you can begin to tailor your run with that in mind. If you take instead artifacts, units, upgrades, etc, which do not relate to each other, you may end up with a fuzzy deck less capable of reaching the final fight.
- Observe Seraphim – At the very start of your run, you are shown which bosses you will face, including which version of Seraph, the final boss you will meet. Seraph will have one of many very powerful abilities that can directly counter your entire deck depending on what it is. For example, if you have a Rage targeted race which relies on the temporary improvement of the strength of your units, you will be directly countered by facing Seraphim, the Chaste, which halves your Unit Buffs. By taking note of Seraph’s powers at the start of the race, you can tailor your build to avoid or counter them, putting you in a strong position for the final battle. Check out our Patterns page for more information on Seraph shapes.
- Don’t be afraid to purge – You will notice, over the first two or three battles, that your deck begins to fill up with new units and new spells, in addition to your starting deck. Train Stewards and starting spells will not only be ineffective in the final battle, but will begin to lose their effectiveness from the third battle. You can upgrade these starting spells / units, but be aware that your hard earned money may be better spent on more powerful cards. By purging these starting cards to a Unstable vortex or inside stores, you can remove the clutter, allowing you to more consistently draw your strongest cards from a thinner deck.
- Tank at the front, Damage at the rear – There are many different unit combinations you can work with in Monster Train. However, it takes some familiarity with the cards and their abilities to know how to effectively set up each floor. When starting out, try to have tank units (or throwaway units) in front of your strongest damage. This will keep your damage dealers alive, while also ensuring that fewer enemies will make their way to your pyre room.
- You don’t need to do all the tests – The trials offered to you in each boss-free battle are the definition of Risk Vs. Reward. “Can I handle standard units attacking twice per attack for an additional 150 gold?” The decision to opt for these trials should be carefully considered. A few trials, a bit like the final boss Seraph, can completely counter your run, leaving you with a compromised or destroyed pyre. For example, you can choose an event that gives your enemies Tips 4. If you deal most of your damage via powerful unit cards that have low health, your low health units will be directly countered taking damage from each enemy. You should probably skip this try, unless you have Tankier damage dealers as well. However, you might be aware that the extra Gold or Artifact could be something that will get you to the end. Check out our Testing page to find out more.
- Watch out for your enemies – Some enemies will enter your train with combat abilities that will trigger after a certain action. For example, an enemy can have a Incant trigger, allowing them to gain armor or damage each time you cast a spell on that floor. It can be easy to forget about these abilities and take actions that accidentally go directly into your enemy’s hand. Check out our Enemy capabilities page to learn more about the tricks your enemies have up their sleeve.
- Know which enhancement stones to take – After defeating the bosses in Battles Three and Six, you will always be given an Upgrade Stone. Each of them will increase your base health and attack damage, as well as a unique upgrade. You must choose between increasing your ember (how much energy you have), your To design (how many cards you draw per turn), or your Capacity (how much space you have on each floor for the units). At this point in the run, you might have noticed what you’d rather have more of, but here’s a rough guide. Following ember is good if you have expensive cards or if you plan to play a lot of cards per turn. Following To design is useful if you frequently end your laps with excess embers. Following Capacity is good if your deck relies on several large units (or several smaller units) to be in play at a time.
- Prioritize each fork on the road based on what you need most – As the Boneshaker progresses through each Ring of Hell, you have to choose which direction he should go before the next battle. It basically boils down to “What do you need most right now?” For example, you can upgrade your units to be super strong at a merchant, but if your pyre is badly damaged you may need to prioritize pyre health over those upgrades, if they are on different paths. The paths are different each time, so think critically about what your run needs most at this time.
- Spend wisely – You earn money after winning each battle, by visiting Forgotten bones locations and winning events that you choose to include in the battle. Learning when to spend and what to spend on is key. If you have a Unity it could be a large tank, or an attacker with Multiple strike, spending money on unit upgrades is probably a good choice. If all you have in your deck right now is Train Stewards, you might be better off spending your money on purging some cards. Head to our Best card combinations page to learn more about some solid leveling paths for your maps.
- Try not to rush – It can be easy to start making decisions in a split second after playing the game for longer; choose upgrades that have worked well for you in the past, buy upgrades as soon as you can, choose upgrade stones based only on your clan. However, each run will be different from the last, and sometimes those split-second decisions can end up restricting your run, rather than triggering it. For example, if you gain an artifact that stuns enemy units so that they don’t attack you, but you have made a Spikes Targeted stroke that relies on taking damage, suddenly your units and spells will become ineffective, and you might run out of time to rotate your stroke to be stronger in another area. Likewise, if you immediately spend your money on upgrading units between battles, but before unlocking another unit that is available to you at the same time, you might have wished you had saved your money for your new unit instead.
- Check your deck and your path – In the upper left corner, under your money amount, is a play button that shows you all of your current cards. You can press this button almost anytime, allowing you to make informed decisions about your deck. If you are offered an artifact based on Use spells, you can check your deck to see how many you have if you are not sure. Likewise, when you are on the outside world screen, you can scroll forward and backward so you can see the path ahead and behind you. This is especially useful if you know you’ll need a certain upgrade store, or if you’re wondering what will be available to you if you go each path with some extra gold to use.
- Try to duplicate your cards after upgrade them – There are usually more than one opportunity per set to duplicate your cards. Sometimes getting another card can be a good choice to start with, but it can be an incredibly powerful perk if you’ve already upgraded some of your spells or units. This allows you to have more upgraded cards in your deck without paying for them. However, as with any duplication, make sure your deck doesn’t fill up to the point that you may never see some of your critical cards.
- You might want to save for the latest stores – You might walk into a store and run out of things you want to spend your money on. While you can still purge the cards, you might want to start saving your money for the final Ring of Hell, where you’re guaranteed to have two merchants to give your money to. This includes the more expensive Trinket Merchant, who sells artifacts that can single-handedly improve your entire run. As with everything in Monster Train, knowing when to save and when to spend your money is a balancing act that will need to be decided at that point.