How To Play Ironclad In Slay the Spire

This guide will have you racking up win streaks with Slay the Spire's default class, the Ironclad, going over the basics and offering deck building tips.

Slay the Spire moved out of Early Access just over a month ago, which means most of its central mechanics and strategies are now in place. As new players come to check out this hybrid deckbuilder/roguelike, they will undoubtedly want to know some effective strategies to conquering the tower.

In this guide, we'll be looking at the Ironclad, the first class offered to players in Slay the Spire. This class may seem simple, but there are actually a variety of paths you can take when building them up. There are also many viable strategies and cards that work in multiple builds, so being adaptive is important.

We'll start by going over the basics of the Ironclad, and then we'll move into some of the most effective builds. With this guide, you'll be racking up Ascensions and win streaks in no time.

Ironclad Basics

Starting Relic

The Ironclad's starting relic is called Burning Blood, and it will heal you for six points at the end of every combat. This makes it easier to upgrade your deck, as you won't have to use rest areas as often in order to heal yourself. It also gives you a bit of wiggle room with combat math, allowing you to play a slightly more risky style.

Strength

Every class can upgrade strength, but the Ironclad is the most focused on the stat. Several cards for the Ironclad see a huge boost in effectiveness as your strength increases, allowing you, if you so choose, to focus mainly on defense while waiting for your heavy hitting attacks to come online.

Ironclad Builds

As mentioned, there are many paths you can take with the Ironclad, but defense should be a central focus, especially on higher Ascensions. Most, but not all, of the effective Ironclad builds are designed to weather the storm before bursting down your enemies with extremely powerful attacks.

Barricade + Body Slam

This is, arguably, the most consistent build for the Ironclad. If you can obtain an early Barricade, this is generally the build to drive for. Calipers is also a suitable alternative, though it isn't as effective

From there, simply build up your block as high as you can, grabbing Entrenches to double it up. Then, you can you use one of two types of finishers for the build.

Typically, this finisher will be Body Slams. However, through upgrading your strength (Demon Form is beautiful in this deck), powerful attacks like Heavy Blade and Whirlwind are also viable if Body Slams were not pulled.

Dropkick Infinite

This is exactly what it sounds like: going infinite with Dropkick.

If you can reduce the size of your deck (either by removing cards or using exhaust abilities), you can go infinite with multiple copies of Dropkick and any card that inflicts vulnerability, like the Bash that you start the game with. This will allow you to draw through your whole deck until any enemy is defeated. 

It's a simple and effective build, but there are some drawbacks. For one, it can stumble against enemies that use thorns or build up defense in response to you attacking them.

Also, without a backup plan, you're in trouble if it doesn't work out. If you can't put it together perfectly, or you just run into a troublesome fight, you won't have any strategic options to get yourself back in the game.

Perfected Strike

This one is particularly satisfying when it all comes together. By picking up copies of any card with "Strike" in the name (Strike, Pommel Strike, Twin Strike, Wild Strike, or, best of all, another copy of Perfected Strike), you make a card that can deal massive amounts of damage with no real muss.

Dual Wield is powerful in this deck, making all your Perfected Strike cards more effective. This is a highly offense-based deck, and you should look for energy boosting cards, card draw, and powerful defensive options that can help you to survive for one more turn.

Searing Blow

This is similar to the Perfected Strike build, but it focuses on a small deck with one massively upgraded Searing Blow card. You can upgrade this card as many times as you want, and it will single shot a lot of enemies, and kill bosses in just a few hits, when you start getting to the 10+ upgrade range.

Basically, all this deck wants is one copy of Searing Blow, upgrade cards (like Apotheosis and Armaments), card draw, and a few other randoms if you can find them. Double Tap is phenomenal in this deck, and Dual Wield is excellent once you've got your Searing Blow upgraded a few times.

Card Draw + Fiend Fire

With this build you want to get your hand as big as you can, and then use Fiend Fire to burst down dangerous enemies and mop up the rest. Strength is amazing in a deck like this, and a full hand, plus a few strength, will kill almost anything in a single hit. Burn it all down.

Cards To Look Out For

Because of the versatility of the Ironclad, there are not a lot of "must have" cards that work in every build. Moving forward with the ability to adapt is the best way to succeed with the class, and sometimes a "good stuff" deck will work if you stumble into the right encounters.

Powers are very useful with the Ironclad, since most builds focus on prolonging a fight while you set up a big burst turn. However, you want to make sure to look for powerful cards early that can push you towards a certain build.  

Barricade

If this is a choice early on, it is one you should almost always grab. Level two and three bosses can do insane damage, especially in higher Ascension levels, so being able to stack up your defense, and use up your hand to do so, is always welcome.

Demon Form

This is another card that is useful in almost any deck. Demon Form allows you to sit back, and block any damage that comes your way, before unleashing absolute destruction on your enemies. After a few turns of sitting on Demon From, even lowly Strike cards become death machines.

Battle Trance

More options are almost always better, and Battle Trance is one of the best ways to give yourself those options. Grab a few copies early if you can — it will make your decisions much easier throughout the rest of your run.

Shrug It Off

Unless you are building a deck that doesn't want you to have a big deck, there is almost no deck that won't benefit from a few copies of this card. It will stop most early enemies in their tracks, help you set up combos, and get you to your heavy hitters as quickly as possible. If you don't have a bomb choice when adding a card to your deck, just Shrug It Off.

Summary

Just because the Ironclad is the "Default" class in Slay the Spire does not mean that it is dummy mode. There are a lot of choices to make, and the class's adaptability makes some of those decisions agonizing on higher Ascensions.

Don't be afraid to skip adding cards to your deck if you don't see one that will help your strategy. Also, don't be scared to exhaust cards in fights; the Ironclad will give you a lot of options to help decimate your enemies.

Contributor

Jordan has been gaming and geeking since he was a wee lad. He is a freelance writer and content creator, contributing to SVG, Looper, and Feast Magazine, among others. Check out his stuff on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCExyOMK798p7mCXwSayD2hg/featured and Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/jojotheninjagaming.

Published Mar. 2nd 2019

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