Monster Train is a Deck-Building Rogue-Like game, where the player is given dozens of choices every run. Which Champion upgrade is the best? Will this Artifact ruin my best Unit? Will this Trial overwhelm me or lead to a worthwhile reward?
If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry. This Tips and Tricks page is here to help you get your start in Monster Train and help you relight the Pyre in The Frozen Heart of Hell.
But don’t worry if you make some mistakes along the way, as losing your run in Monster Train is all a part of the process – pick yourself back up, and get back on that Train!
Beginner’s Guide: Tips and Tricks for Getting Started in Monster Train
Whether it’s building your deck or deciding which path you should choose to reach your next battle, here are 13 tips and tricks for getting started in Monster Train.
Building Your Deck
- Specialize your run – Many aspects of each run are randomized, so it is important to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your starting deck, and try to accommodate for them. For example, if you are offered an artifact that increases the power of Sting cards, and you were given Sting spells in your starting draw, then you can start tailoring your run with this in mind. If you instead take artifacts, units, upgrades, etc, that do not relate to each other, you can be left with an unfocused deck less capable of reaching the final fight.
- Observe Seraph – 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 encounter. Seraph will have one of a number of very powerful abilities that can directly counter your entire deck depending on what it is. For example, if you have a Rage focused run that relies on temporarily buffing your units strength, you will be directly countered by facing Seraph, the Chaste, who reduces your unit buffs by half. By taking note of Seraph’s powers at the start of the run, you can cater your build to avoid or counter them, putting you in a strong position for the final battle. Check out our Bosses page for more information about Seraph’s forms.
- Don’t be afraid to Purge – You will notice, as you get past the first two or three battles, that your deck is starting to get pretty full with new units and spells, on top of your starting deck. Train Stewards and Starting spells will not only be ineffective in the final battle, but will start to lose their effectiveness as early as the third battle. You could upgrade these starting spells/units, but be aware that your hard earned cash may be better spent on stronger cards. By purging these starting cards at an Unstable Vortex or inside of shops, you can remove the clutter, allowing you to more consistently draw your more powerful cards from a thinner deck.
- Tank in front, Damage in back – There are many different Unit combinations you can work with in Monster Train. However, it requires some familiarity with the cards and their abilities to know how to effectively set up each floor. When you’re starting out, try having Tank units (or throwaway units) in front of your stronger damage dealers. This will keep your damage dealers alive, while also making sure that fewer enemies make it to your Pyre room.
- You don’t need to take every trial – The Trials that are offered to you in every non-boss battle are the definition of Risk Vs. Reward. “Can I handle standard units attacking twice per attack for an extra 150 Gold?” The decision to opt in for these trials needs to be thoughtfully considered. Some trials, much like the final boss Seraph, can completely counter your run, leaving you with a compromised or destroyed Pyre. For example, you can choose a trial that gives your enemies Spikes 4. If you deal most of your damage through strong Unit cards that have Low Health, your Low Health units will be directly countered by taking damage from every enemy. You should probably skip this trial unless you also have Tankier damage dealers. However, you may know that the extra Gold or Artifact could be something that takes your run all the way to the end. Check out our Trials page to learn more.
- Pay attention to your enemies – Some enemies will enter your train with combat abilities that trigger after a certain action is taken. For example, an enemy may have an Incant trigger, allowing them to gain armor or damage every time you cast a spell on that floor. It can be easy to forget about these abilities, and take actions that accidentally play right into your enemies hand. Check out our Enemy Abilities page to learn more about what tricks your enemies have up their sleeve.
- Know which Upgrade Stones to take – After defeating the bosses in battles three and six, you will always be offered an Upgrade Stone. Each of these will increase your base Pyre health and attack damage, as well as a unique upgrade. You need to choose between increasing your Ember (how much energy you have), your Draw (how many cards you draw per turn), or your Capacity (how much space you have on each floor for units). By this point in the run you may have noticed what you would prefer to have more of, but here’s a rough guide. More Ember is good if you have expensive cards, or a reliance on playing many cards per turn. More Draw is helpful if you frequently finish your turns with excess Ember. More Capacity is good if your deck relies on multiple large units (or many smaller units) to be in play at once.
- Prioritise each fork in the road by what you need most – As the Boneshaker progresses through each Ring of Hell, you need to pick which way it shall go before the next battle. This essentially boils down to “What do you need the most right now?” For example, you may like to upgrade your units to be super strong at a Merchant, but if your Pyre is very damaged, you may need to prioritize receiving some Pyre health at the expense of those upgrades, if they are on different paths. The paths are different every time, so think critically about what your run needs the most in that moment.
- Spend thoughtfully – You earn money after winning each battle, visiting Forgotten Bones locations, and by winning trials that you elect to include in battle. Learning when to spend, and what to spend on, is key. If you have a Unit that could be a great tank, or an attacker with Multistrike, spending money on Unit Upgrades is probably a good choice. If all you have in your deck for the moment is Train Stewards however, you might be better off spending your money on Purging some cards. Head to our Best Card Combos page to learn about some strong upgrade paths for your cards.
- Try not to rush – It can be easy to start making split second decisions after you have played the game for longer; choosing upgrades that worked for you well in the past, buying upgrades as soon as you can, picking upgrade stones based solely on your clan. However, each run is going to be different from the last, and sometimes these split second decisions can end up restricting your run, rather than unleashing 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 focused run that relies on taking damage, all of a sudden your units and spells will become ineffective, and you may be out of time to pivot your run to be stronger in another area. Similarly, if you immediately spend your money upgrading units between battles, but before unlocking another unit that is available to you at the same time, you may have wished you had saved your money for your new unit instead.
- Check your deck and your path – In the top left corner, under your amount of money, is a deck button that shows you all of your current cards. You can press this button at almost any time, allowing you to make informed decisions about your deck. If you’re offered an artifact that relies on Consume spells, you can check in your deck how many you have if you’re unsure. Similarly, while on the overworld screen, you can scroll forward and backward, allowing you to see the path ahead and behind you. This is mostly useful if you know you’ll be wanting a certain upgrade shop, or you are wondering what will be available to you if you take every path with extra gold for you to use.
- Try to duplicate your cards after upgrading them – There are usually multiple opportunities per run to duplicate your cards. Sometimes getting another of a card can be a good choice to begin with, but this can be an incredibly potent advantage if you have 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 isn’t becoming so full that you run the risk of never seeing some of your run critical cards.
- You may want to save for the final shops – You might get to a shop and run out of things that you want to spend your money on. While you can always purge cards, you may want to start saving your money for the final Ring of Hell, where you are guaranteed to have two Merchants to give your money to. This includes the more expensive Merchant of Trinkets, which sells artifacts that can single handedly upgrade your whole 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 the time.