Slay the Spire – Complete Watcher Cards & Archetypes Review

Slay the Spire - Complete Watcher Cards & Archetypes Review
Slay the Spire - Complete Watcher Cards & Archetypes Review

In this guide we’ll go through all watcher’s deck types and cards, reviewing each individuall, giving ratings, advices and tips. All well-suited for the Ascension climbing.

Part 1 – Intro & Basics

To explain the Watcher simply, she’s a character that specializes in energy generation and endless or merely prolonged card looping. Unlike other characters, she doesn’t really have many ways to scale her cards up (i.e., no good analogues to Strength, Dexterity or Focus gains) but when you’re replaying your cards relentlessly, their individual value stops mattering as much. You know, thousand toothpick stabs are as likely to cause death as a thousand sword cuts.

This fact defines her playstyle in two major ways. First, as she’s adept at turning cards into Energy, anything that provides card drawing is precious for her. Because those extra cards will get turned into extra Energy, and that’ll fetch even more cards, and that’s how a loop is born. Having enough card advantage is key to playing this class.

Second and definitely course-setting, Watcher likes her waist thin. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t win a high ascension run with a fat Watcher deck. But, generally speaking, you aim for the effective deck size of <10, meaning that your card drawing will permanently keep all your cards within your hand, and then everything that gets played can be drawn back immediately. That’s when the fun times begin. But they won’t arrive without much preparation – when it comes to the card addition, you have to be super-picky with her. Even a single bad choice can wreck your entire playthrough. Curses are never worth it – not even when you can immediately remove them, as you’d rather sack yet another Strike or Defend instead. Every card removal counts.

During act 1, you want to prioritize question marks as that just maximizes your chances of getting extra removals. During later acts, it depends on your fighting shape – if you’re feeling weak-ish, you still go for the questions. If you’re strong enough, you can go through elites and shops. Any removal-related relics are obviously good. Removal bonuses at the start are the best ones.

One bright spot is that we’re talking about “effective” deck size – that means size <10 after all self-exhaust cards and power cards are played out. So your actual deck size can be 20 or something, it’s just that it’ll have to diminish rapidly during the course of the battle.

These are somewhat harsh conditions but it feels like the entire class was balanced around them so they’re not as bad as they sound. When compared to the other classes, Watcher has some amazing early game crutches, and the whole concept of Wrath stance means that it’s really, really easy to burst Act 1 enemies down. I mean, a simple 3 mana Signature Move & Eruption+ combo will generate 69 damage. 89 if a Signature Move+ is being used. What other character has such a fast access to such damage? But, as I’ve said, there is that lack of further DPS progression, so you’ll have to achieve a lot to get into the loopy zone where high enough damage exists.

One big disclaimer about ascension 20 (this guide is first and foremost oriented on high ascension but it’ll obviously work on lower difficulties too) – looping is awesome but you’re fighting double-bosses at the end and there’s only 33% chance of not meeting Time Eater. Who punishes excessive card playing most severely. That’s not the end of the world, though – the key to this problem is either going for a shorter loop or having some Talk to the Hand. For example, endless replays of Flurry of Blows are definitely a dangerous move – even in the upgraded state and under the Wrath their damage is way too low and slow. Something like a Tantrum/Fear no Evil loop is much better – in the upgraded state, each set does 38 damage and it takes 6 to cross the snai’s limit, meaning you’ll trigger the punishment only twice before you kill him. You also can have the Vault (you’d love to have it) which, when played as your last card, will completely negate the 12-card punishment. Once. Sorry if all this sounds confusing to a newbie player, but the point is that, when you’re having a mighty combo going on, the only thing that can stop you is that pesky, pesky snail. So you need to prepare for him and, as you will see, you have all the means to do so.

Part 2 – Archetypes

Now that we know the basics, let’s delve into her archetypes. If you have some experience with other card games, Slay the Spire is best compared to limited aka draft modes. You have this vast pool of cards that is given you in random order. So it’s imperative to know which cards synergize with which (such good combinations are what called archetypes) and, for the success in this game, you just have to recognize which archetype is being given to you and move into it accordingly. You never try to force anything in games like these – you go with the flow.

1. A-TA-TA. Actually, more like A-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA-TA, but let’s keep things short. This archetype is based around Pressure Points and the means to recast them as often as possible. That card is one of the strongest tools at the Watcher’s disposal and I am really surprised that it got through the beta unnerfed. The math of it scales really fast and you’ll be amazed how much damage can such a deck do – it’s probably her only build that is not combo-based because it can do damage in the “average” fashion. Play some block, play some Points, win. It’s also her least rarity intensive build – Points are commons and then you need what? Thin deck, some scry (which is wholly common) some personal protection and, ideally, Meditate+ so the enemy will get even more Points. And, if your deck is <10, you don’t even need many copies of them – I’ve had successful high ascension runs with as many as two of them. Another interesting and unique side of this archetypes is Points being a rare Skill-type card that deals damage and kills enemies easily. Meaning that a full-pledged A-TA-TA deck can have zero actual Attacks. That’ll give a wholly different meaning to stuff like Art of War relic (turns into +1 energy after turn 1) and neutral uncommon Impatience (turns into zero mana: draw 2 or 3 – that’s obviously crazy good).

2. Dudette. Because this archetype is totally chill. Dudette relies on heavy Calm usage. To give an example – let’s take her basic card, Vigilance. 8 block for 2 Energy is quite a meh deal, isn’t it? But then let’s add Empty Body into equation. Played after Vigilance, it’ll cancel that Calmness immediately, giving us 2 energy back and adding 7 block. So, basically, we’ve gained 15 Block for 1 Energy and 2 cards. Suddenly, that’s much better. And then we can use another Calm-giving effect and cancel it again so the combo goes on. Or just stay Calm so we can profit from two key cards of this build – Inner Peace and Like Water. The latter is just a freebie Block generator and that’s always pleasant. The former is one of the best ways to get card advantage that this character has. And, mind you, because Watcher is being able to turn cards into energy easily, card advantage was intentionally made difficult for her. If you compare her with the other three, they all have sources of extra cards at common. But not Watcher – she has some stuff that replaces itself but nothing that leads to net gains. This is also less of Exodia and more of control-lish archetype so it’s easier to use Meditate+ as a source of both Energy and card advantage. And Meditate+ is really, really good so being able to profit from it fully is real nice.

3. Bipolar. It’s somewhat similar to the previous one but whereas there you cancel your Calmness with Empty cards, here you shift between Calm And Wrath. On one hand, this build is much more demanding in terms of cards – you see, you’ll want most of the uncommons that are needed for the previous build (with the exception of Like Water) and you’ll also want lots of the other uncommons. Most importantly, Rushdown and Tantrum. Rushdown is simply ridiculous – card drawing is very strong for this class so gaining some for pretty much zero cost is tremendous. Tantrum is a repeatable 1 energy Wrath source. It’s very important as it enables your combo easily – you use 1 energy calmness source (Inner Peace, Fear no Evil), then you use 1 energy Wrath damage dealing source (Tantrum, Eruption+). You do some damage, you regain the energy you’ve spent and you draw 2 cards you’ve spent to do this. Rinse and repeat until the enemy is dead – that’s the plan. And, if by some reason the combo is not set up yet, you can use Halt and Mental Fortress to gain a lot of block in-between the combo moves. Once again, this all is a bit difficult to assemble, but once in full glory this is probably the strongest of her archetypes and, with a thin enough deck, you’ll be able to obliterate foes during round 1 consistently.

4. Mantrid. This archetype plays from the Divinity stance. While several cards will be giving you mantra (accumulating 10 of it will make you enter into that stance, gaining 3 Energy and doing 3x damage for a turn), the best of them is Prostrate+. That’s because, basically, every point of mantra gained is 0.3 Energy gained. So that card generates 0.9 Energy at zero cost. Whereas something like Pray+ generates 1.2 Energy at 1 cost (0.2 net gain) and Worship generates 1.5 Energy at 2 cost (0.5 net loss). There’s also Devotion that isn’t that bad but it’s not as combolicious either – the idea of this deck is to be casting multitude of Prostrates+ and then use that generated Energy to cast some draw spells to cast even more Prostrates+ and to form a loop. You’ll need something to cancel Divinity form too – you gain 3 energy only if you were not in divinity before. But that’s hardly a challenge, just intertwine it with Calm and gain even more Energy as a result. Compared to her other loops, this one is a bit less Energy dependent and is more card advantage dependent. If you have a rare scenario where you get equal chances to get into multiple of them, just see what your relics do – do they provide energy? Or do they provide some way of card drawing? That’ll be the decisive factor. This one also kills enemies somewhat faster as triple damage is no joke – nice versus snail.

5. Handmaid. This is a slow-ish control that is based around Talk to the Hand value. The beauty of that card is that it counts each instance of multi-hit attacks as a separate strike. Meaning Hand+ and Tantrum+ generate 12 block in addition to their basic effects. And Tantrum, due to its self-shuffling nature, is a very reliable card, meaning you’ll be able to cast it almost on every turn. Add some stance-cancels and Flurry of Blows so you have even more attacks per turn for free and you’re getting casual 20-30 block per turn. Ofc, it gets even better once you have multiple Hands – they totally stack. Now, this strategy is not without weak spots – first, you hate Artifact enemies as that pesky thing prevents a hands-on approach. Second, you prefer to fight against a single solitary foe instead of being swarmed – hand debuff lasts only as long as the enemy lives, after all. Still, these problems are solvable so if you see an early Talk, this might be the way to go. Handmaid is also perhaps the only Watcher deck that can be played semi-thick because both Flurry and Tantrum recur themselves and because its block generation is actually good. You still can’t go too thick because you need to land Talks fast and, as they’re uncommon, you’ll have 2-3 of them tops. But you can be, like, 15-20 deck instead of a 10. Relatively T H I C C.

6. Disco. Initially, that’s more about discounts, though. This is an Establishment+ and Meditate+ combo. The most difficult part here is to get the Establishment early – it’s a rare, after all. So you go here only after you’ve found it. But Meditate+ will also have to follow because you see, just playing Retain cards will not make Establishment good. In fact, it’s a trap and you never want many of them in your deck. Imagine you’re having a five-card opener that consists of Establishment+ (it’s innate so it’s always there), two Retain cards and two basic cards. Establishment doesn’t really do anything until the start of your second turn. Same goes for the Retain cards – the issue with them is that they’re all balanced around having Establishment so they’re kinda stinky without it and only average with it. So these two cards you can’t play. And what happens is that it’s up to two other cards to salvage the turn. It’s like starting each fight with 3 cards being replaced by Dazes. Not a healthy plan at all. So, instead of Retain stuff, we want to be using Meditate+. See, the stuff it retains counts as Retain (duh) so you’ll be able to apply that discount to the ordinary cards. And that’s where discount gets insane. Meditate+ something like double Cut Through Fate this way and you already have infinite combo. Pretty much every other card that draws cards for 1 Energy also becomes infinitely-loopable. That’s where the dancing begins, I guess.

7. REEE. This archetype is focused on raging as much as possible, almost never leaving the stance. The upside is that you’re doing colossal damage each and every turn. The downside is that incoming attacks begin to feature astronomical numbers. But there are two cards that sorta get around it – Halt & Wallop. Halt literally says how it gives extra blocking while staying in Wrath. Sure, if you never leave that stance, it’s value in plus shape is closer to being 9 Block (as enemy damage stays doubled), but that’s still huge for a zero energy common. Wallop begins to do extra damage while raging, thus providing more block than usual. The focus of the deck is to maximize its value by the generous application of Vulnerability and Wreath of Flames. So, your basic Wallop+ under Wrath is 22 damage, 22 block gained. Add one Wreath of Flame+ and it’s 38 damage and block instead. And if the enemy is vulnerable, suddenly it’s 57 damage and block in total. Add a Halt+ and we’re talking about 75 potential block gained. Sure, that’s against doubled damage so actual value is something like 37 Block per turn. But, against the majority of foes, that’s quite enough. And you’re doing some heavy damage in the process too. Chief difficulty here is that, even though these are all uncommons and commons mentioned, you’ll be wanting multiples of them (like, 1 copy of Wallop and Wreath and Halt per 5 cards played) and that’s not easy to achieve. This is a potent but rare archetype that’s most likely to happen out of a starting Pandora Box. Another thing is that you’re almost not interested in average blocking card in this deck as they work at 50% of their efficiency. On the other hand, you’d love to have as much Strength boosting relics as possible as strength charges up your Wallops even harder.

8. DAKKA. This one is based around Wreath of Flame and Ragnarok interaction. On its own, Wreath is a very sad card – in a plus shape, it adds 8 damage for 1 Energy and that’s, like, worse then your basic Strike+. However, it adds that damage to each and every hit of a singular attack. So with Ragnarok+ it’s actually 48 damage. Now we’re talking. Obviously, we’re doing it all under Wrath/Divinity so it further evolves into 96/144. And Wreath effect does not end with the turn and it stacks, meaning that you do multiple of them through a couple of turns (while spending the rest of your energy on defending) then resolve the encounter in one artful stroke. With this deck, keep an eye out for Akabeko common relic – that’s pretty much an extra Wreath being pre-cast. Just like with the previous archetype, you go into this archetype only after you’ve found the Ragnarok. I guess if you have some early Wreaths or early Akabeko, you can try to settle for Tantrum – it’s less efficient but it can be doable, you’ll just need to setup longer. You’ll also want to find some non-attack ways of damage boosting – obviously stuff like Eruption won’t work as it’ll waste all the Wreaths you’ve been stacking. This should be a thin deck where the only attack will be the finisher. And you’ll probably rely more on Divinity as things like Worship+ or Blasphemy can be retained until they’re actually needed.

9. Mother. The last and the least of her archetypes. All previous ones are roughly on the same power level and their positioning is more about the complexity of their assembly, i.e., the chance that after getting part A of the two-part combo, part B will follow. This one, however, is difficult to assemble while being not as potent. So it’s suggested to use it on lower levels of ascension, mostly for fun. The combo is Master Reality + Pray+ + Pray+. As we’ve discussed before, Pray+ is not a good Energy source – the net gain is only 0.2 per cast. It’s a bit difficult to kickstart a combo with that. However, without Master Reality, it’s also not a source of card advantage. Basic Insight draws you two cards, but it takes one to put it into the deck (the Pray itself) and another one to cast the effect (the Insight itself). Sure, the idea of Insight is that it retains into another round, but the idea of this class is that it loops things endlessly, meaning that there shouldn’t be another round once you get going. So the only way to change this is to Master Reality and to get Insight+. With 3 cards per cast, now one Pray+ is +0.2 Energy and +1 Card. Of course, Pray’s effects are delayed so just one will not suffice – you need a pair of them and some additional card advantage to boot. But once all that is done, you can be winning in style. Compared to the other combos, it’s too much convoluted so it’s more about self-achievement of winning this way than about efficiency. On the other hand, if life gives you lemons, i.e., if you get an early Master Reality, then why not? Still beats having no archetype.

Part 2.5 – Archetypes which Don’t Work

Now let’s discuss two bad archetypes. As they’re bad, I won’t be bothering with their nicknames.

1. Scry. The idea is simple – Nirvana & Weave give you additional value on each and every Scry you do, so you just Scry a lot and that’s cool, right? Yeah, no. There are multiple downfalls here. If we compare them to the similar Stance cards (Mental Fortress and Flurry of Blows), the big distinction will be the depth of the theme. You start the game with two Stance cards – you start with zero Scry cards. There are 5 stance-changing commons – there are 3 Scry commons. There are 8 stance-changing uncommons – there is zero Scry uncommons. There are 2 stance-changing rares – there is zero Scry rares. And while Scry commons are not that bad, they’re also hardly amazing. And the payoff from Mental Fortress+ is 50% bigger than one of Nirvana+. So we must fill our deck with mediocrity for the sake of what, exactly? And believe me, not having any initial Scry hurts a lot. So you are offered Nirvana after the first battle – cool, right? But then you find no Scry for the rest of act 1 (speaking from practical experience here) and you’ve basically obtained a voluntary curse. Unless Scry becomes more prolific and gets some power rares/uncommons, this entire direction is one huge trap.

2. Fasting. The strengths of it are obvious and the downside can be played around if you use lots of zero costed cards, right? Who needs energy then? Zero costed cards (especially Just Lucky as it double-benefits here) and lots of card advantage to draw them. And that’s the issue – you see, this class is so good at turning cards into energy and then more cards that once you get the needed card advantage, the Fasting plan becomes redundant. You can just win by looping. Another thing is that playing lots of zeroes is greedy – they’re nice in small amounts but don’t forget that they’re still weaker than your average cards. Having too many of them means you’ll have opening hands with 3-4-5 zero-cost cards and that’s not a healthy proposition. Another flaw is that Fasting is too slow. 2 mana for a card that does nothing by itself is quite a bit and so, even though the following turns are good, the turn of the Fasting is painful. That might be tolerable on the lower ascension but on the higher stages of it the pain accumulates fast. Basically, the investment/return ratio here is not good enough for this to be an archetype.

Part 3 – Commons Reviewed

  • Eruption
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Disco, REEE, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

What seriously helps Watcher to stay thin is the fact that her starting commons are pretty sweet. Wait, should sweet things help anyone stay thin? Well, this is a fantasy game so yeah. Anyways, unless you find something amazing, this will often be the first card you’ll upgrade and very rarely you’ll remove it. Repeatable stance effects are always good – even in decks which don’t care much about Wrath (Dudette or Mantrid) you can still use them to cancel your stance while doing some damage in the process. And, once this gets the discount from Upgrade, you can do Eruption+ and 3 Strike play in one turn (thanks to that in-built miracle relic), doing 45 damage in the process with basic cards alone. That’s rock solid for act 1 and cheapness means this thing won’t get outdated later on.

  • Vigilance
  • 6/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: High

A deceptively solid common, provided that you know what to do with it. Well, with this guide you’ll know and we’ve already discussed it before – use this, cancel the Calm, get the Block value for free. Or, in the early game, get some defenses for this turn while charging the follower killer turn. That works too. The only thing to explain is high upgrade priority – you see, the Achilles’ heel of this class is its block generation. It’s really, really meh and there are no easy ways of fixing it. So, even if it’ll feel annoying, upgrading your blocking cards early is the way to go. Better be annoyed than dead, I suppose. This “4 block per round” may easily be the difference between slowly getting chipped down or staying well. Stay well.

  • Bowling Bash
  • 3/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Handmaid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: High

It may sound very cool and indeed, it is very cool in certain encounters. Being able to do 30 damage per card will be decisive in those early Obelisk & Slavers elite encounters. However, I strongly dislike this card because of its unreliability – if you are faced with singleton elite (or any kind of enemy) instead, it instantly turns into pumpkin. It also decays as the combat progresses because the number of enemies will get lower. So it’s a random and unpredictable card. It also doesn’t scale that well into the late game – given your goal is a thin deck, you prefer to take cards that are great through the entire way. Nonetheless, I can see myself picking it up – if my early game is atrocious and I’m having no luck at all, I might take this as a sort of final gamble. Just bank on getting the right encounters and highrolling with this. Obviously, that’s a gamble that won’t always work out, but that’s ok – as I’ve said, you use this when your chance at victory is already near-zero. Even 10% victory chance is better than that so it’s fine.

  • Consecrate
  • 6/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Dudette, Bipolar, Handmaid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Average.

Now that’s a much better early game tool. While Watcher eventually becomes a member of globalist energetic conspiracy, through act 1 and most of the act 2 she’s as poor as your average Joe. So doing 5/10/15 damage for free is nothing to scoff at. And that’s not counting the inevitable Wrath multiplier. The only thing to be wary of is that, in the long term, this card is greedy. It stops being impactful later on and it still clogs your deck. Now, you don’t get into late game without bypassing the early one so picking a card like this is fine. Picking too many cards like this is not fine, though – just keep this in mind. You also have to balance zero-costed cards with sources of card advantage – the easy to keep in mind ratio is 1:1. That’s why Mantrid is absent from archetypes – they’re not fundamentally against this one but they have enough of their own zeros to tend to.

  • Crescendo
  • 2/10
  • Archetypes: DAKKA.
  • Upgrade priority: Above Average.

The whole concept of this class is mostly stance switcheroo and all the great looping boons that result from that. Can’t do much looping with a one-shot effect, though, hence the rating. Not to mention that this is abysmally costed in its natural shape and only as + it becomes somewhat playable. However, you’re already encumbered with a colossal amount of things to upgrade and you’ll have many better zeros to run so why bother? The only exception is Dakka where you will have to pick up one of these just so you have a reliable non-attack Wrath. Of course, you’d rather go into Divinity stance shenanigans with Blasphemy, but that’s a rare and this is a common. Guess the one which will be available.

  • Crush Joints
  • 6/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Disco, REEE, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

More like Crutch Joins. In a sense that it’s yet another great early game crutch that doesn’t scale well later on. It’s just that, later on, this character gears towards doing infinite damage. And there’s no difference between Infinity and Infinity x 1.5. Before that begins, though, going from 2x Wrathful damage into 3x zone is a very big thing. So it’s yet another greedy survival card – pick it if you must, upgrade it even (extra round of Vulnerability makes a big difference), but keep your overall greed in check. The sole exception here is REEE – there, having a source of Vulnerability is vital to their entire plan so they may rate this more like 8 or even 9. And don’t forget that Pressure Points are not attacks so they don’t benefit.

  • Cut Through Fate
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Handmaid, Disco, REEE, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Average.

As Consecrate already shows us (and more of that will come further on), Watcher has some amazing zero-cost cards. But, without any card advantage, they’re quite greedy. And even though Cut is not a card advantage per se – it merely replaces itself – it’s the best enabler for such cards that you will find at common. Scry is also at its finest early on – after all, your starting deck is bogged down with Defends & Strikes and you’d rather cast actual cards than them. Or it just sets up the proper flow – sometimes it is the basic Defend that’ll be the difference between win and loss. It’s a value card that enables value cards without costing you much. You probably don’t want more than two, though, as your goal is still to be thin. But one or two will be an excellent proposition in most Watcher decks.

  • Empty Body
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: High

Empty? This one is full of goodness. All kinds of Watchers want to play Calm-giving effects because extra Energy can’t be ignored. And breaking the stance is a very important aspect of Divinity loops. And, block value-wise, this is almost as good as this class ever gets. Which is no good at all but that’s the main challenge of this character. Just remember that it should be proportional – you want no more than one of these for every Calm-giving effect you have. Given with the overall aim for the thinness, you’ll rarely play with more than one copy of this thing.

  • Empty Fist
  • 4/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar.
  • Upgrade priority: Low

Surprisingly enough, I find this one to be much less valuable than its block-centric cousin. Mostly it’s due to the fact that this character doesn’t really lack in damage department – it’s early protection that you’re looking for. So Vigilance + Empty Body 15 Block combo turns out to be more valuable than Vigilance + Empty Fist for 8 Block and 9 damage. And, given that there’s only so many such effects you can play in your deck, and that this class has other alternatives when it comes to burst damage, you’d rather keep some space open for Body than go for this one. Sometimes, you have to pick this one for the sake of early tempo, but that’s not a good sign and you’ll rarely want more than one.

  • Evaluate
  • 5/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Dudette, Mantrid, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

Not the biggest fan of this card. While it’s hardly unplayable per se, it doesn’t solve any of this character’s issues – the block gain is far from spectacular (that’s why the upgrade is mandatory – so it becomes average, at the very least) and it’s not really a card advantage play. It will channel a card gain from one turn into another but it hardly helps on a loop turn (which is what you’re ultimately aiming to do). It still has its place in the slower archetypes and it’ll still accelerate the deck “burning” rate for the Pressure Points playstyle. It’s also a self-replacing card so it can be used to support another zero in your deck – important in the archetypes which sport lots of zeroes. And it might get loopable with Master Reality, I guess. Overall, though, this one is necessary evil-style filler.

  • Flurry of Blows
  • 6/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Handmaid, Disco.
  • Upgrade priority: Above Average

While this card makes for a great early game helper, outside of the Handmaid your desire to pick it will be mostly dictated by the amount of attack-matters relics your character will be sporting. Without them, flurry makes an excellent showing in acts 1 and 2 and then completely falls apart during finale. Thin deck means that every card choice matters so this is not exactly ideal. It’s still doable when you gotta survive, but most people want to have their cake and eat it too. Therefore, you’d rather first get your Shuriken or Kunai and then you wouldn’t mind against having a pair of these. Having more is somewhat problematic as they don’t work as well with the thin decks, so go for 3+ only if your deck is real thick. TBH, such relics + flurries is the way to make the thick Watcher work, the only issue being that her repeatable Stance cards are kinda rare and having enough of them for a big deck is a really tough challenge. And you’ll implode to the snail even harder than your average Watcher build does. But that’s for the basic decks. For Handmaid it’s much simpler – you want 3 of these easily. Maybe more if you’re thick but that depends on the amount of Talk to the Hands you’ll find.

  • Flying Sleeves
  • 1/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Handmaid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Low

Pointless card. It lacks the early game punch, it doesn’t scale through the game, it’s not strong enough to compensate for the Establishment greed. So yeah. I get that the point is to have something stashed so you can unleash a potent Wrath/Divinity turn eventually, but something like Flurry of Blows will do more damage in such a play – Sleeves under Wrath is 16 damage. Flurry is 4 when you first draw it, 4 when you enter Calm during your Wrath preparations, and it’s 8 more after Wrath. All that for zero energy cost and with much greater flexibility/scaling. Sure, Flurry is not always available as an alternative, but that’s not the point here – I’m just showing how clumsy this card is. And even in Handmaid it’s more of a 2/10 – something like when you have Tantrums and Talks but just can’t find flurries.

  • Follow-Up
  • 3/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Handmaid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

And early game sacrifice card. Sure, during act 1 doing some 7/11/14/22 damage for zero Energy is a great kind of deal. Most of the time it’s gonna be much better than Flurry’s ratio. But whereas that offers some means of scaling through the rest of the game, this one is characterized by quite ironical lack of follow up. And that’s not what you’re looking for – you’ll have enough trouble with removing all the basic defends & strikes from your deck. So wiping out cards that you’ve added yourself is quite an unwelcome challenge.

  • Halt
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: Bipolar, Handmaid, Disco, DAKKA, REEE, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

This one can be truly incredible. The objective here is crystal clear – enter Wrath, have some quality time doing colossal damage, cast this to receive 18 Block for free, exit Wrath. Repeat every turn until glorious victory. Given that the lack of good blocking is one of the two major hurdles of this class, such potential value can not be neglected. The only challenge here is just having enough repeatable Wrath enables and cancels to support all your Halts. Because you definitely want a 1/1/1 ratio between all these categories. That’s why the rating for this card is so “low”, actually – with needed support it’s more of a 9/10 card but that support, unfortunately, is not guaranteed.

  • Just Lucky
  • 3/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Handmaid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: High

To be honest, it’s not like this card is that bad. It’s just that your deck can support only so many zeros and this slot is already overcrowded with power. Consecrate, Flurry, Halt & Prostrate just offer either better tempo, value, scaling or all of them, combined. Those cards have very clear direction whereas this one is just abstract goodness – don’t forget that you’re assembling a deadly engine, you’re not merely throwing good cards at your foes. And yeah, sure, this is supposed to be a scrying and fasting superstar but those decks are just not there, what can you do.

  • Pressure Points
  • 10/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Dudette, DAKKA.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

TBH, we’ve already fully discussed it in the archetype section. It’s a strong damage source with endless scaling that has minimal deckbuilding requirements (you need mostly commons) and offers some truly unique plays (Impatience interaction, for example). You get one early – you’re most likely having an easy win out of it. The only challenge you’ll encounter will be the artifact foes – this is a rare Watcher archetype that’s more annoyed by Deca & Donu than the Snail. Well, keep an eye out for Bag of Marbles (you couldn’t care less about vulnerability but it’ll eat through the artifact) and Red Mask (2 event-based ways of getting it so the chances are good). These can also be used in any kind of slowish control builds (the scaling though the course of individual battle is real good) and, surprisingly, in Dakka. Sometimes you just have to deal some slight damage and this does that without consuming your Wreath stacks.

  • Prostrate
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: Mantrid, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

This one is good enough to form an archetype by its own so sure, it’s a cool card. However, you want to stay very focused when it comes to these. Prostrates work best when your entire deck is aimed towards maximizing their value. It’s one thing when you have 2-3 of them with the supportive engine to cycle them quickly and completely another when it’s just one hanging out somewhere, with exact time of Divinity coming on-line being hard to tell. That’s why they’re great withing their own archetype, they can be used to supplement other mantra decks (at the moment it’s Mother only) but they’re best not touched by the other builds. They’re also upgrade greedy as the difference in mantra gain is actually big and decisive. Also, generally you wanna keep parity (at the very least) between these kinds of cards and card advantage. But as this one is so formative, it’s ok to be having an “excess” of them for some time. And, given you’re aiming for a thin deck, you never want more than 2-3 of these.

  • Protect
  • 4/10
  • Archetypes: Disco.
  • Upgrade priority: High

Sure, this one is perfectly acceptable during act I. At least on lower ascension levels. All monsters have very clean and neat attack/debuff patterns and this helpfully sticks around until it’s their time to attack and your time to go all-in on defense. That’s cool enough. However, during later stages of the game your opposition gets much less convenient and, outside of Establishment decks, this doesn’t scale at all. Even if you’re totally Disco, you still don’t want more than one copy – these cards become very greedy so you can’t have too many of them. Another thing is that Watcher isn’t really weak during act I so you’d better think twice before making any sacrifices for that. Maybe if you’re facing the triple Elite route or something like that – sure. But, otherwise, think of the future.

  • Sash Whip
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, REEE.
  • Upgrade priority: High

First and foremost, this is a REEE tool. It has two-prong value there – on one hand, it may be used to wash out the enemy’s artifact, thus opening them to the much needed vulnerability. On the other hand, as you are mostly staying in Wrath, colossal numbers steadily appear above your enemies’ heads. And cutting a quarter out of them, most noticeably against elites and bosses, will give you an indescribable measure of value. You’re turbo-charging your Wallops and this acts like another 1.33x multiplier. In most other decks, this one is really awkward. It’s just that you need weakness the most when the enemy is charging a huge attack and so you need to stop that. But this will give such effect only after you do another attack and playing two attacks in a row is not what usually makes for a defensive turn in non-REEE decks. Keep in mind that Crush Joints, the counterpart of this, does not suffer from such lack of synergy because it fits nicely into overall logic of “huge Wrathful turn when we bury the foe” and it’s easily charged by your Miracle. You tend to save Miracles for such turns. This one is trickier. It’s not unresolvable and you might try to end your turns with attacks – this counts the last card played during the battle, not the current round. But it is still clumsy in most decks so it may not always make the cut.

  • Third Eye
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Mantrid, Handmaid, Disco, DAKKA, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: High

This card provides a tolerable amount of Block while digging through your deck as fast as it only gets. As such, it’s a natural fit in the archetypes that love to replay their key cards over and over again, be it Pressure Points in A-TA-TA, Prostrates in Mantrid or Wreath of Flames in DAKKA. In Handmaid it helps to dig out those Talk to the Hands stat! It can also be of some interest to Establishment decks – the faster you find your Retain stuff the sooner it begins to be discounted and once it’s at zero you’d also want to replay it as often as possible. It also semi-counters all those deck-littering monster effects – wounds, bursts, dazes, etc. As a thin deck user, you tend to really, really hate those. And it might be very sweet with Sundial relic. Well, Sundial is generally awesome with this class as it makes entire looping process much easier but this’ll make it run even smoother.

  • Tranquility
  • 1/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: High

This one is even worse than its wrathful counterpart, Crescendo. Nah, I perfectly get the point – get this upgraded and then you’re spending a card to channel two Energy into a future turn. Silent’s Outmaneuver is an ok card, right? But, first, Outmaneuver is a much more efficient card that doesn’t require and immediate upgrade like this one does. Second, Silent has much better tempo and easier scaling than Watcher. Watcher has to make some greedy and vulnerable choices to perform well in her later game. So investing a card upgrade is always difficult for her – look at her average upgrade priority and notice a pattern there. Sparing a card drawn also isn’t that easy – you’re having lots of good zeros and some potent retains, so you always have nice “card into value” conversion options. Finally, this is an exhausting effect so it doesn’t contribute to your combos at all. Watcher doesn’t really have stuff that requires a ton of Energy on a particular turn, she’s more about steady Energy regeneration during a loop. It’s just needless greed that doesn’t pay off.

Part 4 – Uncommons Reviewed

  • Battle Hymn
  • 5/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

This one might be rated a bit better if you happen to see it within the first couple of card choices. 12 damage per 1 Energy is decent enough value (and it’s retain so you’ll keep ’em hanging until it’s Wrath time) and this card can be very good in 2 out of 3 elite encounters – it makes sure that obelisks won’t leave you with hand full of “yare yare daze” and it fits into the slow nature of Lagavuffin combat nicely. Basically, you slam it and then you go elite hunting, hoping to get into right matchups. However, for later parts of the game it’s way to slow – once again, let’s say you’re in Disco archetype. You have an opener hand with this, Establishment and one other retain card. So the amount of cards that actually do anything on this turn equals 2. Good luck defending versus those late game enemies! It might get a bit easier if you have Bag of Preparation (sidenote: that relic, despite being common, is better than most rares for this character) but even common relics are difficult enough to find. It’s also a power so it’s not the worst greedy choice possible – at least it self-removes from your deck. But I still consider it to be great initial choice and a dud after that.

  • Carve Reality
  • 4/10
  • Archetypes: Disco.
  • Upgrade priority: Low

And yet another early game helper. If you, by chance, are wondering why am I not valuing early game helpers for this character, that’s exactly the reason – it’s not like she has any dearth of them. It’s the usual story here – initially, 18 damage for 2 Energy is cool enough and Retain on Smites fits into the Wrath plan nicely. Later on, it’s only that good if you’re able to cast that Smite for free. As Establishment is rare and a hard plan, this means that there’s not a lot of scaling potential for this card. And, if you already have the Establishment, the payoff here is not that big and you’d rather have better synergy cards with it.

  • Collect
  • 3/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

It’s not that different from the common Tranquility. Theoretically, it helps you to super-charge a big turn. Practically, your basic Calm stance already does that and you don’t have many useful ways to actually utilize that turn. And if you’re in the sweet, sweet combo zone (you aim to be), you don’t even need this extra energy. It’s also yet another must upgrade kind of a card. Lots of difficulties for the sake of small gains.

  • Conclude
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Handmaid, DAKKA, REEE, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

To understand how good this one is, just compare this uncommon to the rare Die Die Die of Silent. Only, unlike that card, this one is wholly repeatable. And Watcher needs that tempo oh so much more. It’s a card that humiliates act 1 enemies – 5 oozes/gremlins are amongst the nastiest enemy encounters there but this one will simply shred through them. And it continues to stay groovy through the rest of the game because acts II and III have plenty of places where massive AoE damage is vital. Even in DAKKA I can see you using this one because, in certain encounters (act III 3x 50 hp monster ones, for example), it might be as good a receptor of Wreath of Flame as Ragnarok. The only downside here is that you can play only one (not that big of a deal given we play our decks thin) and it’s mutually exclusive with Signature Move and Meditate (that’s why Disco is the only deck type that doesn’t want this – Meditate is a key part of that), the two being great uncommons too. We’ll use a very advanced method to resolve this latter conundrum – first come, first served. Meaning whatever you’ll find first will define your plays.

  • Deceive Reality
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: All but REEE.
  • Upgrade priority: Low

This is one of the best Block cards this class has and, given how it is starving for block, it’s obvious that this will be in high demand. It’s also cool that the resulting Safety card has retain – you can cast the weaker initial part on a safe turn and you’ll have something stashed for the dangerous one. Gets even better with Disco. And, finally, we have defensive card that doesn’t scream “Upgrade Me!” What’s not to like here?

  • Empty Mind
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: High

One of the best card advantage forms that is available to this class. Cheap, nets +1 or +2 cards and has an in-built combo-tool. Add something like Fear No Evil into equation and it all basically becomes: 0 Energy – deal 8 damage, draw a card. Spice it up with Violet Lotus and you’ll begin to generate energy as well. Add just another way to draw cards and an infinite damage loop is born. Sure, this particular one works only when the enemies want to attack you but, luckily, they do that a bit too often for your good. It’s also insane with Divinity – you need ways to cancel that stance so your mantra continues to generate Energy and this draws you even more Prostrates to boot. And while Wrathful decks might be the ones who are least interested in this (if they have Rushdown, they’re drowning in cards), they’re still not against having another cancel source with some in-built reliability. You always want a couple of these.

  • Fasting
  • 5/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Handmaid, REEE .
  • Upgrade priority: Average

While this card doesn’t give birth to any archetypes, it can still be ok in the slow-ish controls if you have an Energy surplus. I mean, your basic needs are not that high and even as a control you’ll still use those Energy generating techniques, you just won’t be able to loop them endlessly. So losing some Energy to enhance your overall performance can become tolerable. Still, this is more of an act III luxury pickup. Ma-a-aybe late act III if you’re just killing it with relics and stuff. You might also consider it in the other archetypes if you’re fighting the Snail as the final boss – in a spammy deck that those combos are, you’ll be looking to condense as much power as possible into that 12 card limit. And you don’t have many ways of doing that. Just don’t pick it in the first act – that’s gonna be a near-suicide.

  • Fear No Evil
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Handmaid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

It’s a 1 Energy source of Calmness (that’s inherently +2 Energy boost) that also brings you closer to victory in the process. What’s not to like here? I’ve already mentioned this card before and that’s because this makes for some of the easiest combos that this class may have. While barely having any flaws in the early game too. Watcher is not the class where you say “can’t have enough of these” because, in a 10-card deck, a pair of these will be enough. But both of those will be a definite slam.

  • Foreign Influence
  • 3/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: High

Slay the Spire is already random enough, you seriously, totally, absolutely don’t want to make it more random. Sure, on some turns it’ll generate exactly what you need and will carry you through the fight soundly. On the other turns it’ll present a bunch of nothing, wasting a card and throwing a brick into your deck for the rest of the fight. If you’re not doing great, a lonely instance of that might put an end to your run. If you’re doing great, then why do you need this? I can see the only exception here. Watcher does not have too many good ways of doing damage and, especially against Hexaghost, you might lose due to not having enough DPS. If you’re nearing the end of the act I with that boss ahead and you can’t find anything else then sure, going for this is a good gamble. No guarantees at all but at least this way you’ll have a chance to win. In all other cases – avoid this one.

  • Foresight
  • 4/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Dudette, REEE, Handmaid.
  • Upgrade priority: Low

Don’t get me wrong – this one is very pleasant to have. Dodge those burns and wounds, setup for perfect Wrath turns or ditch all that if it’s time to defense. Scry is real nice, no doubts about that. However, this costs you a card. This also costs 1 Energy. And, until the start of your next turn, it does precisely nothing. Then it’ll take one more turn to actually give you a card’s value (for the simplicity’s sake, let’s pretend that “Scry 3” is worth half a card) and in two more turns it will net you another one. It’s slow-w-w. And greedy things like this is what kills your run as this class. It can be considered an option in the non-combo archetypes and in second half of the game only, if you’re going good and Energy and cards stop being as much of an issue. Maybe if you have some power and relic synergy going – Watcher doesn’t have many palatable powers, to be honest, and getting a reasonable number of them might be tough. Before that stage of the game – avoid.

  • Indignation
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: DAKKA, REEE.
  • Upgrade priority: Low

It’s a dREEEm card for REEE. Starts your initial raging and then provides all the vulnerability you’ll ever need, all at a very affordable cost. What’s not to like? It may also be used in DAKKA to setup the killing turn, although there it’ll have a much lower rating (5) as you’d rather have advantageous Simmering Fury or retainable Blasphemy or slow&patient Devotion there and this is more of an emergency choice.

  • Inner Peace
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: All but REEE.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

In contrast with the previous card, this one is good even when it gives nothing but a singular dose of Calmness. Wrath is a very specific and limiting stance – you enter it and you want to kill foe ASAP, very rarely you’re able to end your turn in Wrath. Calmness is more tactical – it can be used to conserve power for the following turn, to trigger some stance-based effects safely or as an irreplaceable link in the endless combo chain. Calmness is a cornerstone of this character’s strategies. Because of this, it’s hard to imagine a deck that won’t be able to use this one nicely. Now, sure, not every deck will be able to use the second part of this card reliably. But then, we’re aiming for a <10 cards deck and you have your starting Vigilance so, at the very least, every deck has that potential. Keep in mind that the upgrade priority here might be higher – if you have several Calmness sources then this turns into the best card advantage spell that’s available to this class and so it totally deserves to get a fast upgrade.

  • Like Water
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Dudette, Disco.
  • Upgrade priority: High

On one hand, Watcher is starved for block so she obviously welcomes a cheap and continuous source of it. On the other, this power is not enabled by default and, if you don’t manage to assume Calmness fast, it does precisely nothing. So this card is good but rather specialized – it’s not something you want to take from the get-go. You want to first scavenge at least one extra source of Calmness, then make sure that you’re not relying on Empty Body to propel your defenses (both Body & this are good but they don’t stack well so you’ll have to choose one of them) and then you can pick this one up. Even in Dudette, where this card is an archetype’s pillar, you follow this principle. And, since this one provides a slow, incremental value, you tend to play it in the slower decks. It’s especially good with Meditate because that provides both Calmness and excellent gradual value.

  • Meditate
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Dudette, Handmaid, Disco, DAKKA, REEE.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

This card provides pretty much everything that most Watcher archetypes need. You need to recast your Pressure Points and Wreath of Flames and whatever key cards over and over? Done. You need to kickstart your combo, reducing your most potent cards down to zero Energy for the rest of the combat? Done. And even as a “mere” source of card advantage and Calm stances (which is what this class needs to win overall) it works perfectly fine. Sure, there are some nitpicks about it – you never want more than one and picking up one of these prevents you from ever using Conclude. But that’s nitpicks, not serious flaws. You also need to upgrade this lightning fast. I mean, it’s quite good even in its basic shape but you don’t wanna play good, you wanna play awesome. And that’s what this card is.

  • Mental Fortress
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Handmaid, Disco.
  • Upgrade priority: High

To be honest, this is a great card and when it performs, it performs much closer to the 9/10 level. The rating is low because, to make it truly work, you’ll first have to have a lot of repeatable Stance givers and cancelers. Given that most of them are uncommons, this is not a swiftly achievable objective. There’s still plenty of them so, eventually, you will have the number. But not swiftly. Therefore, if you pick this one early (which is what a high rating implies – such cards should be slammed at the first opportunity), you may find yourself in a period where you’re steadily getting nothing, nothing and nothing, meaning you’re voluntarily putting a “Curse” into your deck. Well, ok, it’s not that blank because you have the basic Eruption & Vigilance, but it won’t be that amazing either. So first you want to find some enablers and then you’ll be more than happy to pick this one up. I also think that this one is not as workable in the mantra decks – generally speaking, once they begin to change stances rapidly the foe is already dead so this won’t generate as much value. It might depend, though – if you have an amazing amount of Calm stance givers & Empty cards, this might work pretty much everywhere. But that’s not a common occurrence.

  • Nirvana
  • 6/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Dudette, Handmaid, Disco, DAKKA.
  • Upgrade priority: High

View this not as an archetype foundation but as a second half of the game power booster. When your deck is at that coveted <10 size and if you have 2-3 scry cards, this becomes a steady 8-12 Block per turn generator. Not bad, huh. Well, given the level of threat for that timing, more so on high ascension, that isn’t really amazing so no auto-picks here – this card can be a bit greedy and slow so first you count the amount of potential duds in your deck (imagine drawing this in the opener hand with all the scrying remaining in the deck, what does it do then?), then you make your selection. But sometimes this will be exactly what is required to survive. It’s mostly the slower decks who’ll want this card – by that time, combo should not be caring about prolonged effects like this.

  • Perseverance
  • 5/10
  • Archetypes: A-TA-TA, Dudette, Handmaid, Disco, DAKKA.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

This one is not that bad, the low score is due to severe limitation – it’s only really usable if you have Meditate. The innate logic of this card is just not as sound as with its damage dealing counterparts. With those, the plan is clean cut – play a defensive early game while your finisher gets all charged up. Here it’s, like, don’t defend yourself in the early game so you may defend later? A very painful proposition. Sure, some enemies do take some time to get to their strongest attacks, but others rush you from the very first turn and you can’t just let your blocking cards chill. Especially when this needs at least two turns to limp into value zone. So, if you have Meditate, you can use it for the early defenses while still ticking its value up. That’s a fine play for the slower archetypes. Without Meditate, it’s much less prettier and quite greedy to boot.

  • Pray
  • 6/10
  • Archetypes: Mother, Mantrid.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

While this is a key card in its archetype, the low rating is due to the scrappy nature of that archetype and due to Master Reality being the definitive card here. This means that, if you see Pray, you don’t pick it up and rush into happy Motherhood – rare is not something you can force out of this game. No, first you find Master and then Pray becomes an acceptable pick. Ideally, a duo of them so they mix & loop nicely. Outside of that, you’re getting basic Insight instead of Insight+ and there’s a world of difference between them. One is actual card advantage, the other is not. If, for some chance, you’re really low on Prostrates in Mantrid, you can pick this up as a semi-valid alternative. But that’s pretty much the only alternative usage of this.

  • Reach Heaven
  • 3/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Very Low

On one hand, this does 30 damage for 2 Energy – that’s a very acceptable ratio. On the other, it demands an additional card and additional turn of waiting to do that damage. Sure, the turn of waiting may be utilized to your advantage – Retain of “Through Violence” part means you hold onto it until you’re in Wrath or, better even, Divinity, and then you unleash its true might and value. But extra card spent still hurts a lot (this is the most card-starved character of the game, always keep this in mind) and it’s hardly the sole source of this effect – Sands of Time or Windmill Strike will perform quite the same function, only much better. And sounder. You see, in that plan you want to spend your early game Energy on defending, then kill your foe in one Exodia turn. Both Calm & Divinity stance guaranteeing that Energy will be plentiful on that turn. Reach Heaven, on the other hand, requires you investing into it on turns when you’d rather be defending and then, during that energy rich turn, it costs nothing. So this is, like, the hipster of watcher’s attacks. Despite all that, it’s not entirely useless – you see, most Watcher builds will need one big hitter attack to bypass the first Act. Ideally, that is a Signature Move or Sands of Time, that’s why their ratings are so high. But, if you lack them, you must have something else. Just like Foreign Influence, this will do in such a pinch. But that’s the sole reason to ever use it.

  • Rushdown
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: Bipolar, Mantrid, Handmaid, Disco.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

As long as your deck plans to have a couple of Wrathful cards and to switch stances often, this is an excellent combo-defining pick. In any <10 deck, you just set up the Rushdown, get your entire deck into your hand, use any 1-Energy repeatable card to enter Calmness, then use your very basic Eruption+, then get both of them back. Repeat until the monster is dead. Now, it might get a wee bit annoying, especially if you’re using Inner Peace as your Calmness source. It means you’re doing 9 damage per two cards played and killing those 300 HP act III monsters will take some 150 card manipulations… On the other hand, you’re doing infinite damage so you’re perfectly safe, that’s a freaking big positive. And there might be ways to quicken the loop – say, a single of copy of Flurry of Blows will turn this into “3 cards, 21 damage” interaction. Or you might have multiple Rushdowns and so you’ll be able to play extra cards during the loop. Or you might have Pen Nib and Shuriken to steadily increase your damage output. And even the Snail is not impossible to defeat with such an approach – that’s where the Mental Fortress shines the most as even a single copy of it will mean that it’ll need a couple of upgrades before doing any damage to you on his punishment action. Best part of this card is that, unlike it’s many archetypes, it’s not that greedy – in the plus shape it costs no energy and even with sole basic Eruption in your deck it will recoup its value. Keep an eye out for these.

  • Sanctity
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: All but REEE.
  • Upgrade priority: High

Watcher is starved for block & card advantage and so I wonder, how will we rate a card that provides both? Rhetorical question. This one is truly great and you can safely play up to three copies of these. In thicker decks – maybe even 4. They just do everything you need from a card and that’s that.

  • Sands of Time
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: High

As I’ve mentioned before, Watcher really needs some heavy hitters to resolve the elites and the bosses. So the high rating & universality here signifies that exactly – sure, later on it won’t make much sense in something like DAKKA or whatnot, but that later on needs to happen first. That’s not a mere early game crutch, though – this one will carry you until the very end. 26 damage for zero Energy is a rather solid move (and, most often, it will be more like 52 or 78) and it fits into the logic of controll-ish Watcher builds quite well. On the other hand, in the combo it might be part of the loop – sometimes your loop generates infinite energy, sometimes it generates infinite card advantage. In that second case, having a big source of zero-costed damage will be obviously helpful. Just remember that, despite the whole goodness, you still want to have no more than 1 Retain card per 5 cards in the deck. Lesser ratios are too greedy.

  • Signature Move
  • 10/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: High

This and the previous card are something you’re always happy to see in your initial card selections. They’ll pretty much make your run on the spot. The biggest challenge of a thin deck is that your starting kit is real sucky at damage generation and, with most non-basic attacks being not that much stronger than your average Strikes, it takes a good volume of them before you actually begin to dish out punishment. This card, however, is a pack of 100% concentrated ♥♥♥ whooping. And once you add it into your deck, for a long, long time (possibly entire game) you won’t need much else. It just kills stuff good. Meaning you can skip lots and lots of card additions and focus on trimming instead. Most obviously, you start with those Strikes so you’re guaranteed to cast it reliably. Mind you that, to play this safely, you don’t need to excise all attacks – you can keep some 1 Energy Wrath sources (Eruption+ and this generate 89 damage per turn for 3 energy) and it’s ok to have zero mana goodness as it leaves your hand easily. But you’ll definitely avoid any further expensive attacks (sands of time included – yeah, eventually they’re zero but it’ll cost you too many uses of this) and this one is a nonbo with Conclude.

  • Simmering Fury
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Handmaid, DAKKA, REEE.
  • Upgrade priority: High

This one is welcome in most versions of slow, controlling Watcher builds. The sole exception being A-TA-TA as Wrath is too useless there and managing it is a needless chore. Everywhere else it’s a decent source of card advantage & a stance switch & reasonable Halt enabler. Actually, probably the best Halt enabler as extra cards almost guarantee you to find something that’ll let you get the value then put the fires out. This is the safest Wrath source. Obviously, this one is most perfect in DAKKA as it’s the best non-attack Wrath trigger. But fueling your future turn with 2-3 cards is a really big deal – sure, I criticize Insight generators, but those are providing only +1 card advantage. In the best and difficult to obtain case. This is a much easier and reliable +2 and, in this class, you need that.

  • Study
  • 2/10
  • Archetypes: Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: High

A stark contrast with the previous one. So you’re spending 1 Energy (if you have the luxury to upgrade this quickly) and a card. And on the next turn, you’re only getting your card back. And on a turn after that, you’re getting first “dividends”. Though, since you’ve still spent the initial energy, it’s more of a break even point. And you don’t play cards in this game to break even – you need gains and you need them fast. As you can see, gains will happen in three turns after actually playing this card. And there’s no stance shenanigans involved here and almost no interplay with the other stuff. Ok, Insight+ is cool and so it does get improved by a rare to find Master Reality. But even there, how much Insight per turn do you really need? Quite enough will be generated by Prays and by Evaluates. So this one is mostly trash.

  • Swivel
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: Everything but A-TA-TA.
  • Upgrade priority: High

The thing that makes this thing great is that its discount effect persists through the game and it stacks with itself. So you may use this, get the block on this turn and then cash in on that Energy on the next turn, loudly landing something like a Signature move. And the amount of Block that’s being provided here is not that small (by the humble standards of Watcher) so you don’t even need to do monumental stuff – even a 1 energy card will be enough. But, of course, Swivel invites you to play some expensive goodness and multiple Swivels may create an exception out of Signature Move’s chief rule (don’t play it with other expensive attacks). At the same time, this one prohibits all kinds of zero attacks to you – even a natural zero will consume the discount, essentially wasting your energy. You might think that it’s easy to play around that but no, it leads to lot of tension and unnecessary complications. So, if you already have some zero-costed attacks, you’re not as interested in this card and vice versa.

  • Talk to the Hand
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Handmaid, Disco.
  • Upgrade priority: High

Well, we already know that this one is good enough to carve out an archetype of its own. Notably, a strong archetype, not something that you’ll be playing solely for the variety’s sake. The ability to splash it into other builds mostly depends on whether or not you have Tantrums and possibly even Flurry of Blows. Now, Tantrums are formative and definitive here, they’re the chief part of this combo. Flurries are a bit less important and you can be doing without those. But they charge up this card good, yeah. Another key factor to account for is the overall amount and cost of attacks in your deck. Even with Tantrum, if your other stuff is mostly expensive (Sands of Time, Signature Moves, Wheel Kicks, etc.), maybe this thing is not the way to go. On the other hand, this self-exhausts and so it never hurts much to pick it up early – while it won’t be amazing in every deck, it’s also very rarely abysmal and it won’t disrupt your combo potential.

  • Tantrum
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Handmaid, Mantrid, Disco, REEE, DAKKA.
  • Upgrade priority: High

This card is neat because it’s almost the only way for Watcher to profit from Strength gains. And while her own sources of that are rather questionable (outside of the whole Wreath of Flame synergy, but Tantrum is plan B for that deck – you really want to have Ragnarok), there’s still the chance to scavenge Shuriken, Vajra, Girya, Sling of Courage, JAX or maybe even DuVu Doll. I mean, you’re not escaping from that Ascender’s Bane and you might get a convenient Clumsy along the way. Yeah, I’ve said that curses are awful for the Watcher, but Clumsy self-cleanses so it’s the only one that’s sorta ok. But DuVu is stretching it a little. What’s more reliable are the potions – sure, you’re not spamming them in each fight, but they might give you a huge spike of power in a boss or elite combat. Tantrum will strongly capitalize on Strength, Flex or Ritual potion. And, while Fasting is difficult to use, if you already have a pair of Energy-boosting relics and a couple of Tantrums you might even move in that direction. The damage will be there. Tantrum is also a good build-around as it is very reliable – self-shuffling matters a lot and it means that you’ll be using it almost every turn. Though, if your deck has minimal Tantrum synergy, that’s also a huge warning against its inclusion as it’ll pester you incessantly. It’s difficult to have not much Tantrum synergy, though – even in mantra decks it’ll still do a lot of damage from under Divinity and will cancel it, allowing you to use more mantra and to gain even more energy that way.

  • Wallop
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: REEE, Mantrid, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

This card is all about how far can you scale it. With perfect scaling requiring a strong build-around it. Without that, I’m finding it a bit forgettable – sure, you can just enter Wrath, Wallop+ and then exit while doing 22 damage and gaining 22 block for 2 Energy. Well, up to 22 block – don’t forget that, while shielded foes are not exactly common, they still exist and this card will be a bit unpredictable, fizzling in certain combats. Anyways, those numbers may sound nice but by the standards of a stance switcheroo they’re rather average – you could’ve done Halt+ in the same scenario, gaining 18 Block for free and leaving your energy open to do far greater damage. So you need something bigger than your average Wrath here – either Wreath of Flame synergy or Divinity for the sweet & safe 33 damage/block combo. Ideally, further seasoned with either or both strength relics and potions. Outside of that, you may consider Wallop if you already have a Swivel or two as this is one of the few decent ways to cash in on that discount. It’s a card with high potential but it’ll need a great kick to reach it.

  • Wave of the Hand
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

This one is much better than Sash Whip because it rewards you for gaining lots of block instead of attacking, and blocking is what you’re naturally inclined to do on a defensive turn, duh. It also just drowns all your foes in Weakness, lasting for a long while and melting their artifacts easily. For this reason, it’s probably best in A-TA-TA as you really hate artifact-protected monsters there. But enemies being Weakened is a boost that Watcher’s anemic defenses most certainly need so, unless you’re already in a first-turn kill zone, you won’t mind against one of these. Given how much effect does a single one provide, you’ll most likely won’t need more.

  • Weave
  • 2/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Handmaid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

This is not even half as good as Flurry of Blows. It’s a much weaker early game pick because, unlike with the Flurry, nothing triggers it in your starting deck. And plain 4 damage for zero Energy is way behind of what Consecrate can provide, for example. Even in a well-built deck, you’ll maybe scry once per turn. Maybe twice. Compared to the amount of times you’ll be able to change stances, it will be quite less impressive. Now, I’m not saying that there might not be a freak occasion where you won’t be scrying more and won’t be using scry cards as your win condition. Theoretically, in Disco you can get two Cut Through Fates to zero energy via Meditate trick and loop them infinitely. And Weave can be used to accelerate this combo, sure. But that’s less of a Weave distinction and more the sheer power of Disco combo, you know. Maybe in a thicker Watcher deck you can be doing Cut into Cut into Cut. But that’s still not a reason to pick Weaves early – first, get into that fatty condition, then get some cuts, then Weave might become viable. In all other cases (which will happen most of the times) it’s a weak card that’ll just clog your deck.

  • Wheel Kick
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Bipolar, Mantrid, Handmaid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

It’s a solid chunk of damage and card advantage for a card-starved character, what’s not to like? In early stages of the game, its cost might feel a bit uncomfortable and so certain not so energy rich archetypes (like REEE) might wish to avoid it, but for everyone else (who’s interested in attacking conveniently) it’s a solid & simple addition. One of the best cards to use from under a Swivel, especially at the start of a turn.

  • Windmill Strike
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Mantrid, Disco, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

Poor Man’s Sands of Time, basically. Yeah, sure, it has the potential to grow much and much huger than that, but that’s mostly theoretical. You’re not always drawing these cards on the first turn so it takes some time before they begin to grow and then some more time until they grow up. Most combats don’t last that long. And even the ones that do don’t really allow you to not cast your primary source of damage until all is perfectly ready. So, in practice, its damage will be very similar to Sands, only you can’t choose to sacrifice energy for instant damage with this one, you have to wait. Yeah, casting Sands for full cost is a pain, but sometimes it’s a vital option that is absent here. Obviously, this one gets much better in Disco – you’re very happy to have an Energy discount on this and it works well with Meditate, allowing it to both boost and damage. That’s the sole archetype where it might be better than Sands. But don’t think that this card is trash – it still fulfills the finisher role rather well and you need a finisher in your non-combo decks. So, if you’re not lucky with those cards, you’ll still be more than content to be winning with this one.

  • Worship
  • 5/10
  • Archetypes: Disco.
  • Upgrade priority: High

It’s too expensive for what it does. Divinity is supposed to power-boost you but when its enablers consume more energy than they’re giving, that’s not exactly a boost. Sure, you still get the triple damage for a turn, but you’re not doing much during that turn if you’re short on energy. It’s also inconvenient if you wish to use it to channel some power into future turns – spending 2 Energy and getting no immediate gain is not a sane plan. Prostrate is just so much better – it’s 2/3rds of this card for free that also nets you 4 block. This one – it’s just a brick. The sole exception is Establishment. Sure, once this is 1 or 0 Energy, that totally changes everything. But even this is not as impressive, given how crazy that deck can become. In Disco, you mostly want this when you’re unable to find Meditate. Because, once you have Meditate there, you’re having lots of crazy combos that won’t even need Divinity. But if that’s just not coming to you, this can serve as a much milder alternative that still has the potential of winning the game.

  • Wreath of Flame
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: Bipolar, REEE, DAKKA.
  • Upgrade priority: High

This card is very strong but keep in mind that it’s a total build-around. If you have Ragnarok, Wallop or Tantrum it shines and pretty much builds your deck for you. If not, it’s just a basic strike. Actually, worse than that. So, unless you like going all-in, you always get one of those cards and then you grab as much of these as possible.

Part 5 – Rares Reviewed

  • Alpha
  • 2/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette.
  • Upgrade priority: Low

One of the biggest trap cards of this class. First, you spend a card and one energy and you’re getting nothing. Then, you spend another card and two energy and you’re still getting nothing. Finally, you’re wasting one more card and three freaking energy and you get what, 50 damage per turn? That may sound impressive in the act I and it’s even doable there – the monsters are kind enough to give you the breathing space necessary to do all the setup. But the push is relentless in further Acts and that damage (relative to the speed and the cost) begins to matter less, less and less. Or maybe even dooms you outright. I can see playing this only as a sort of self-challenge and with an excellent, excellent control deck featuring lots of calm sources, Empty Bodies, draw engines and Meditate into Spirit Shield. Maybe you can use this if you totally find to fail a finisher during act I, sometimes that happens too. Or, if you’re a combo-ish deck with good block generation but fussy killing engine (that loop of 2 cards that does 15 or so damage per repetition), you might try to use this as an answer to the Snail. Because sure, this is the way to kill your foes while playing almost no cards per turn. I guess if you’re given a Velvet Choker from the start (this character is the worst bearer of that thing), this might salvage that run. But these are very marginal, infrequent reasons. Most decks will just set up a better and faster combo through all resources that this card does require.

  • Blasphemy
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: DAKKA.
  • Upgrade priority: High

This got overnerfed through the course of the beta. The fact that it kills you during the next turn barely matters – the point is to win before that happens. What matters, though, is that Watcher’s one turn kills mostly revolve around heavy looping. And the self-exhaust clause here makes this thing bluntly non-repeatable. The obvious exception is DAKKA – there, this card is a premium acquisition, making the entire process of comboing out much smoother. You’ll probably want to upgrade this one fast as Retain means it’ll be available whenever you need it. Everywhere else, it’s too unreliable or slow – you’re very unlikely to kill the enemy this fast without a loop, and with a loop you have infinite damage already. Things may change if you have a static sources of Artifact or debuff removal – specifically, shop-only relics Clockwork Souvenir and Orange Pellets. Either of those will allow you to cast this as a simple damage & energy booster once. That’s gonna be a super-rare occasion, though, as shop relics are difficult to acquire as the Watcher – she spends most of her money on deck-thinning and so buying other stuff is generally out of question. But if you’re somehow have it then Blasphemy can be a good universal pickup.

  • Brilliance
  • 9/10
  • Archetypes: Mantrid, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Very Low

This one shouldn’t need much explanation. Mantra decks will be doing around 70/100/130 damage with it during the first/second/third Divinity. The scaling will mercilessly continue but few enemies will be able to absorb that much damage. And, unlike all other finishers for this class, Brilliance is very cheap, meaning you’ll be able to spend most of your divine energy on card advantage, trying to cast it twice or even thrice per turn. Everyone else are not very interested. I guess if you really need finishers in Act 1, you can grab this and then try to splash or pivot for some Mantra – Prostrates are pleasant enough to play and most decks are not against having Devotion.

  • Conjure Blade
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Mantrid, Handmaid, DAKKA, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: High

The thing to understand about this card is that it’s not like Defect’s Multi-cast. It’s plan is not “churn out 10/20/30 Energy, cast this thing, deal 20 damage per Energy churned out, kill enemy”. Because first, you’re definitely not doing even 20 damage per point of energy invested here. Second, while Watcher is excellent at energy generation, she does it over the course of a loop. Meaning that she’s able to fuel some repetitious action for a long (or indefinite) time, but she’s not that great at amassing huge number of energy. So don’t expect to be reaching even X=10 with her. But that’s not the purpose of this card. Look at it this way: with Conjure Blade+, even at humble X=2 you’re receiving a 1 Energy deal 27 damage card. Which will be turned into 54/81 damage by your stances and which can also be Wreath of Flame’d if needed. And that’s a very convenient card that won’t insta-kill your foe but that, in a thin deck with some scrying, will finish him fast. So, basically, it’s another Sands of Time/Windmill Strike kind of a thing. Ofc, if you’re able to charge it even further – sure, go ahead. That’ll mostly depend on your relics – the more energetic they are, the more convenient this will be. You’ll also try to cast this during either Divinity or Calm into Empty card turn, so X will be more like 5-6. Needless to say, it’s mostly the slower archetypes of Watcher who will be interested in this one.

  • Deus Ex Machina
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

I’m not sure what makes this to be rare-worthy. This one is certainly far from Adrenaline/Offering and much closer to something like Recycle/Fusion. Which is not bad, of course, but not exactly flashy. Yes, you receive Energy in a packaged state that can be used when you need it the most, but the question is what’s the fundamental difference from yet another Calm/Divinity card and whether your character will even be able to do something worthy with that energy. This one can work out as an ultra-early pick up (because initially you’re always energy starved) and as a late luxury addition (when you’re already having a ton of card advantage and so you’ll be able to put that energy to good use; also it self-exhausts and so it doesn’t make your deck thicker). But you need to be cautious with it in the mid-game as it can be a slow, greedy card that does nothing by itself. Getting an opener hand full of these will make you suffer a painful round and even though you’ll probably win that combat, the constant HP drain might easily bring you down. Chief deciding factor here is the amount of card advantage you’re having – without much, this won’t be that good.

  • Deva Form
  • 5/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Handmaid, REEE.
  • Upgrade priority: Low

Watcher has plenty of greedy cards and this is the greediest of them all. Most egregiously, this is a rather pointless greed as, unless you’re extremely lucky with your drawing cards, you won’t ever need this many energy – this is no Defect where that can be converted straight into win and most your basic plays are already generating energy in one way or another. Despite that, playing this one is costly and dangerous – it’s three Energy and a card investment to do an initial whole bunch of nothing. Yes, Energy slowly pays off, but it’s still three turns until you actually see any profit out of this one. Given that you’re not exactly guaranteed to draw this on turn 1, some combats won’t even last long enough to give you that big of a profit. Now, as the game progresses, you will be able to find some tools to land this steadily – Madness, Mummified Hand or her personal Holy Water, the latter probably being the best. But the question of why even play this in the first place remains. I guess if you’re having a steady flood of Energy relics and Wheel Kicks, something like that. Or, more realistically, I can see this one being played with Snecko Eye. That’s probably the only reason to play this card. Sure, with the Snecko you’re mostly getting a discount on it. That extra energy gained will save your hide on a baleful turn where everything is 2-3 – that stuff is just bound to happen with snecko. So it’s very cool there and there only. Forcing Snecko as the Watcher is difficult, though – you definitely don’t want to get that boss relic trade-off at the start because, compared to the other classes, she has the biggest amount of insta-scoop choices. Velvet Choker, Ectoplasm, Fusion Hammer and Calling Bell are all awful on her (and that’s in addition to the traditionally dubious stuff like Runic Dome). Fusion Hammer might be solved with Lesson Learned but that’s a rare and so it’s hardly guaranteed. So it’s mostly about getting Snecko at the first boss – later on, your deck will probably feature too much zero stuff for it to be worth it. I mean, you can still try to force it from the get-go, it’s just that the odds to get something great are not as favorable and so it’s usually better to go for more stable starting boosts. Like, ideally, card removal or transformation.

  • Devotion
  • 10/10
  • Archetypes: Dudette, Handmaid, Mantrid, REEE, Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: High

Surprisingly enough, in Mantra-builds this is somewhat closer to the 8/10 mark. While it’s still a great source of Mantra (even in the endgame killer builds that’s gonna be 6 to 9 Mantra for 1 Energy), it’s not exactly loopable and that’s the primary objective of those decks. It’ll still carry you through early and mid-game but, late enough, it might not add anything significant to your build. Where it shines is in the grindy, defensive builds – there, even outside of triple damage factor, it’s something of a “1 Energy – gain 1 Energy per turn” kind of a card. Take that, Deva Form! And even Ironclad’s Berserk! Sure, that energy will be provided in lumps, but, with this card, you’ll aim for Retain finishers and that’s exactly what they’re supposed to help with – to provide enough to do on those divinity turns. And, obviously, finishing enemies while doing triple damage is not that difficult. Great power booster that is not demanding in terms of play.

  • Establishment
  • 10/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

Best thing about this card is that, once plussed, it becomes Innate, meaning that you can always expect it to make the plays. Otherwise, while it doesn’t really have much in terms of immediate effect, it is the foundation for the easiest combo-out that this character has (talking about Disco, obviously). What’s better is that Meditate is highly playable and this combo doesn’t demand much sacrifices, meaning that it can be splashed onto most other archetypes easily. So even if early pickup of it might be risky (if it is, like, your first card added, it’s no better than a curse), it has too much of potential – just grab it. Even outside of zeroing non-Retain stuff, using it with Protect, Windmill Strike and Worship might make a world of difference. Once again, don’t get too greedy with that stuff – 1 Retain per 5 cards is a good ratio. But even meager amount of basically free stuff will easily turn the tide of the fight in your favor.

  • Judgment
  • 10/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: High

I keep repeating that this class is lacking in terms of defense. But you know the best kind of defense, right? That’s also why I rate Signature Move so high – that too is capable of bursting enemies down quickly and, well, if they’re dead there’s less to worry about. The way the game is built atm, Judgment+ has relevant targets during each of the stages. It totally humiliates your opposition during act I (it’s a godsend at that stage of the game), it requires only a little push to carry you through some of the toughest act II fights (hello, slaver trio) and it’ll save you from scary stuff like Reptomancer during act III. And it’ll work as 1 Energy 40 damage against each and every kind of foe, provided you bring them low enough with other damage sources. Yeah, in some occasions it will not be as beautiful but, from my experience, it’ll save you so much life in other fights that even occasional bout of “do nothing” will not spoil the score here. It is rather specialized, however, and so you’ll never want to have two of them.

  • Lesson Learned
  • 10/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: Very Low

To be honest, I’m not sure if a conventional score can be applied here. On one hand, this card is one of the best things that can happen to this character – as you may have noticed, Watcher is ridiculously upgrade-starved. So being able to receive all of them for free… Wow. On the other hand, it’s not really free – you’ll have to finish actual foes with it and, even in a thin deck, it will mean stalling combat for a turn or two so you have the opportunity to do that. It’s also a dead card until you’re ready to finish someone. That means you’ll need those “saved” rests as this card will be forcing you to take extra damage here and there, especially in high Ascension. During acts II and III, this can be especially risky as enemies hit real, real hard. So, whether it is worth to pick this, no, better even to say to risk this or not is totally dependent on the power level of your current deck. Which is something that you’ll have to learn to gauge for yourself. To give a rough rule of thumb, it’s mostly a good pickup during act I – Watcher doesn’t have much issues it so having this early is making for some of the easiest run. It’s most dangerous during act II (that also includes picking it up after act I boss) – that’s usually the toughest time of the game and stalling there will be hard. You’ll have to have very good deck/relics to do so. And it’s more or less doable during act III as your deck should be strong enough by that point or you won’t get there in the first place.

  • Master Reality
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: Mother.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

The thing I dislike the most about this card is that it cannot get Innate (unless you’re lucky enough to also get Bottled Tornado). And many of its potentially good plays depend on playing it fast. Best example would be Deus Ex Machina – there’s a 2x Energy worth difference between a Miracle and Miracle+. So, if you want to combo out with something like Conjure Blade (I think that this interaction is how that card is supposed to be fueled; good luck assembling a 3-rare combo, though – at least one piece of it should be downgraded to uncommon), you’ll need to be lucky enough to drop this before those cards play out. And if Conjure Blade will conveniently wait for you, Deus Ex has this stupid “gets auto-casted” feature (another reason why its score is not that high). Same will apply to something like neutral card Metamorphosis – that card is a bit risky to play but sometimes you need a zero cost attack to loop and combo out with this character and that card will always provide them. It’ll play against the thinness of your deck, sure, which is why it’s best to never upgrade it (so it adds only 3 cards instead of 5 – a surprisingly positive side here). And yes, Master Reality affects everything that’s created – class cards, neutral cards, Dead Branch or Nilry’s Codex (Nilry is meh in a thin deck, though, and Dead Branch is outright suicidal with Watcher). This card is also not that amazing with Smites and Safeties – I mean, it does add 33% value to them, but it’s hard to get enough sources of them for this to truly matter. So Master Reality is mostly about Insight+. As has been mentioned in Pray and Evaluate reviews, the upgrade here matters a lot and, with a thin enough deck, two Pray+ will generate an infinite loop. This is a difficult archetype to assemble so I haven’t had that much testing with it but I have had a very confident Ascension 15 Victory on the back of it. So, even while this card has some meh sides and issues, it’s a decent enough early pick as the potential is there.

  • Omniscience
  • 7/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

This card has a very high potential that is very difficult to realize. As most Watcher decks are thin, you mostly want to cast stuff that self-exhausts anyways with it. Otherwise, you risk removing your chief source of blocking/damage dealing and thus gaining a strong turn at the cost of crippling yourself through the rest of the combat. Not that good of a trade off. So you only pick this if you already have a strong target for it. And, better even, two. The candidates are Like Water, Mental Fortress, Talk to the Hand (blocking overload), Rushdown (crazy card drawing for easier combo), Devotion (mantra overload), Wish (whatever you need at the moment) or neutral Mayhem (lots of cards played; suicidal combo with Conclude & Meditate, though). It’s best to have a couple of such synergy cards so you don’t get into awkward scenario by drawing both Omniscience and its only supposed target. And this is still a bit greedy so you’ll need something to help you survive the turn of this – energy relics, block relics and whatnot. Then, once you jump through all these hoops, some value will be generated. This one is mostly an act III pickup – maybe act II if you’re on a roll. Before that, I just don’t see you using this safely enough and, while the profit is nice here, it’s not big enough to merit taking extra damage for it.

  • Ragnarok
  • 8/10
  • Archetypes: DAKKA.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

It’s a heavy build-around card. While it’s perfectly sound in its archetype, it’s hardly amazing outside of massive Wreath of Flames being cast. 36 damage for 3 Energy stops being impressive after act I (keep in mind that the strikes here are random, meaning that in a massive fight you might not focus anyone, leaving all the foes wounded). Even with 1 Wreath it’s grows into 84 damage for 4 Energy – not bad but not amazing either, more like fair. So only with 2+ Wreaths and non-attack source of Wrath/Divinity it will reach its full potential. You almost never consider this outside of its archetype. Maybe with Snecko or 2+ Swivels but that’s pretty much that.

  • Scrawl
  • 10/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

So we have the most card advantage starved character of the game. What will she think of opportunity to draw 5-6 cards at the very least? For zero energy? When most her combos require her to have the entirety of her deck in her hand, i.e., this being the perfect initiation for them. And even if they don’t get the combo going, they make for a perfect setup – you’ll have a big turn where you’ll generate some Energy, setup some powers, start the countdown on Retain, vanish your ethereal curses, etc. Ofc, it’s also pretty cool in decks where you’re having some meaningful zeros like Prostrates. It’s just a great card all-around so you’re never against having it.

  • Spirit Shield
  • 10/10
  • Archetypes: All but REEE.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

The description of this will mirror the previous one. So we have the most block starved character of the game… You get the point. This is a perfect card that solves most of her issues on the spot – if you play thin, you’ll be able to cast this every other turn. If Meditate is involved, pretty much every turn. And, since you’re having Retain stuff and that initial Pure Water relic, it’s not difficult to be casting it for 20-24 block even without any further card advantage. With that being involved, the value here will get simply ridiculous. You’re always happy to have this.

  • Vault
  • 10/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: Very High

Whatever the archetype you play, you’ll need time to set up. Throw out the powers, self-exhaust some stuff, get some mantras, put some Insights into the deck, tick down Retainers, whatever. And this card, once upgraded, will give you exactly that. In the basic form it is a bit clumsy – you won’t have much (if any) spare energy to do anything significant. Once it’s bearing that + sign, it gets much easier for you. This buys you lots of tempo in combat, thus letting you to raise your shields better or to stomp those enemies quicker, thus saving your precious life points at no real cost. It also serves as a sorta mulligan – if you’ve drawn a very weak hand that includes Vault, you can bail out into a much better hand. SlS is not that luck dependent but, at the end of the day, it is a game of chance and so you can be screwed by the shuffler. This is one of the few “get out of jail” cards that exists in this game for that specific scenario. Vault is also precious because most Watcher archetypes scoop to the Snail final boss. Well, I’m dramatizing here, but that’s certainly the most dangerous and difficult of the three. And, if you cast Vault as your 12-th card, it prevents Snail from going, making your life colossally easier. This is a very important upside of this card and, when fighting that boss, you should always save this for such a turn. This card is universally great.

  • Wish
  • 6/10
  • Archetypes: Universal.
  • Upgrade priority: Average

It’s another of the “either very early or ultra-late” kind of cards. If you get this early on, you can stall through Act I combats, earning 200 gold in the process or so. It’s not that big sum of money but it can fetch you and extra rare or an extra relic and, hopefully, that one will be real good. Ofc, you stall in the easy fights – when it comes to the bosses and tricky elites it’ll be Strength or Block options, whatever your deck lacks the most. Then, through majority of the Act II it’ll turn into a semi-curse because combats are real tough and you won’t be able to spare 3 freaking energy for this often. Flexibility is great, but neither of these effects are actually worth that much. And in the act III, once you’ll get more energy relics and cards, it will be easier to cast this so it becomes semi-useful again. So, if you see it, you might consider it as a luxury, especially if you need to make your turns “denser” (once again, we’re minding the snail). It’s still not that great of a card and so not exactly an auto-pick – even in the act I you’d better ponder the amount of elites you’ll be facing and think twice about it. Another thing is that, during act I, you really like to be question-mark cruising. Which means you’ll do minimal amount of fights, which means you won’t really earn that much here. So I dunno, this feels more like a novelty strategy element than the proper fighting tool.

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