Ultimate Slay the Spire Watcher Guide

At over 100 hours of playtime, Slay the Spire has now permanently colonized a part of my brain. While I am on record stating that the Defect is my favorite character in this game, I also really love to play the Watcher.

The Watcher is one of four characters within Slay the Spire, the deckbuilding roguelike, and is the last character you will unlock. The play style of the Watcher is fun and interesting. It truly embodies the fantasy of an enlightened monk who has mastered both fury and tranquility. However, the playstyle for the Watcher can be a bit tricky to perfect.

While the Watcher is less complex than the Defect, understanding her strategies still takes effort. So, without further ado, take a peek into your future with the Watcher and catch a glimpse at how you can reach your godlike potential with this character.

The Watcher's character selection screen.

Seeing the Future

The Watcher is themed around being an enlightened monk with foresight and precognition. Fittingly enough, foresight and planning are also crucial skills when playing the Watcher. This creates a great blend of gameplay and storytelling that I just love. 

It’s important to carefully pick your turns to go into Wrath with the Watcher. Doing so without planning can swiftly end your run. To this end, the Watcher has two important keywords to help you prepare for future turns: Scry and Retain.

Retain is a keyword that allows cards to stay in your hand until you play it. This can be useful for setting up Calm, and Wrath turns at exactly the right moment. Proper use of the Retain mechanic can lead to powerful turns you’ve prepared for in advance.

There are some additional cards you can attempt to build around if you want to make the most out of the Retain mechanic. Establishment reduces the energy cost of your Retain cards for each turn you keep them in hand, potentially setting up huge turns of playing many zero-cost cards. Smite cards are powerful Retain attack cards that effectively store damage until the turn you need to go into Wrath to end the fight. Perseverance and Windmill Strike are two Retain cards that add additional block or damage, respectively, the longer they stay in hand.

Scry is another useful mechanic that can inform you about future turns and help you prepare. Scry lets you see a number of cards at the top of your draw pile and choose to discard any of them. This can help you prepare what you draw.

If you have built a lot of Scry cards, one of the best relics you can pair with it is Frozen Eye. This relic can be bought from the shop and allows you to see the order all of your cards will be drawn in, giving you perfect information when Scrying cards. The Frozen Eye can help you pitch cards ahead of time in order to create powerful turns where no card is wasted.

The Omega Card from Slay the Spire in an Elite Battle

Alpha, Beta, and Omega

When it comes to foresight and preparing for the future, the Watcher has one additional mechanic that is quite powerful but trickier to explain. The Watcher can draft cards that create other cards in the draw pile. Once you play the initial card that puts an extra card into your deck, you can then use Scry to manipulate your deck until you can find and play your upgraded card.

Alpha is a great example of one of these cards. Alpha is a rare card, costing one energy, that shuffles a card named Beta into your draw pile. That’s it. Beta is a card that shuffles Omega into your draw pile. That’s it… But Omega is a Power card that deals a whopping 50 damage to each enemy at the end of every one of your turns.

These cards that allow you to create cards for future turns range from clunky to devastating. Some of the best attacks (described in the Wrathful Fury section) come from these cards. Master Reality is a Power card that exists to make other cards you create even better.

As clunky as this mechanic can sometimes be, it bears mentioning because it is fun! I haven’t managed to beat the true final boss with Alpha in my deck, but it’s really fun to play and build a deck around, even if I end up losing a run. The true value of these cards that create other cards is that they make the game feel fresh and keep things exciting even 100 hours in.

The Wish Card from Slay the Spire. Maybe if you Wish upon a star, you'll make it to the top!

Master of All Watcher Forms

The defining feature of the Watcher’s playstyle is the stances introduced in her cards. There are two basic stances that are both incredibly important. 

Calm stance gives you extra energy when you leave it, effectively allowing you to store energy for later turns. Wrath stance allows you to deal double damage while in the stance. However, you’ll also receive double damage while in it. With these basics covered, we can jump into more advanced tactics below.

The Watcher entering Wrath from Calm. A crucial skill!

Calming Tranquility

Calm is a deceptively tricky stance. Unlike Wrath, you get no benefit from being in Calm and only benefit from leaving Calm. The one card that actually lets you benefit from being in Calm long term is Like Water, which adds Block at the end of your turn if you are in Calm. Otherwise, entering Calm efficiently so you can leave it later (or even on the same turn) is a high priority.

The hallmark of entering Calm is a common card called Tranquility. This allows you to enter Calm for one energy and has Retain (which lets you keep the card in hand until you use it). Tranquility’s upgraded version changes its cost to zero energy, making it even more valuable. The one downside is the exhaust ability on this card means it can only be used once per fight, so use it wisely.

When choosing other cards that allow you to enter Calm, choosing cards that give you another added benefit is best. Meditate and Fear No Evil are great cards that fit the bill. Meditate allows you to enter Calm AND put a card from the discard pile into your hand for your next turn. Fear No Evil is an attacking card that lets you enter Calm if the enemy intends to attack you.

While leaving Calm is also important, the best way to leave Calm is to enter Wrath. You’ll usually want to enter Wrath at the start of a turn, so you’ll likely want to end turns in Calm. Entering Wrath from Calm gives you extra energy you can use to pummel your foes into the ground.

The Watcher Reach(ing) Heaven/Through Violence while in Wrath.

Wrathful Fury

Let’s get this out of the way: you really don’t want to stay in Wrath for longer than a turn. You can sometimes stay in Wrath for a few turns if enemy intentions indicate they won’t attack the turn you enter Wrath, but you should prioritize getting out of Wrath. Staying in Wrath for an extra turn can ruin your run if you don’t draw ways to exit your stance the next time your foe plans to attack.

A few cards let you exit your stance while also giving you an extra benefit. Empty Mind, Empty Body, and Empty Fist all let you easily get out of your stance while giving you card draw, block, and attack, respectively. Empty Fist is especially great for exiting Wrath as it lets you potentially kill one enemy. Fear No Evil can let you leave Wrath with damage as well, with the added benefit of putting you in Calm.

When it comes to actually being in Wrath, there are a few attacks that are especially good. Follow Up, Sash Whip, and Crush Joints form a trio of attacks that all have additional effects if a certain type of card was previously played. This trio causes extra energy gain, Weak, and Vulnerable, respectively. Sash Whip and Crush Joints both help greatly by either reducing enemy damage (lessening the downsides of Wrath) or increasing damage against enemies (heightening the upsides of Wrath).

When it comes to cards that create powerful attacks on future turns, there are a few good options. Carve Reality and Battle Hymn both create Smite cards, which stay in hand with Retain and allow you to save them for Wrath turns. Reach Heaven creates a zero-energy card called Through Violence in your deck that does an amazing amount of damage. All of these cards can create powerful Wrath Turns. 

There are also some cards that allow you to generate Block while attacking, which may let you stay in Wrath longer. Wallop gives you Block equal to the amount of HP the enemy lost, which pairs great with Wrath, making it a high pick. Talk to the Hand gives you a passive buff that generates Block whenever you attack the marked enemy. This mechanic makes it useful for turns when you can’t exit Wrath.

Finally, when it comes to actually entering Wrath, there are a couple of good options. First off, upgrading Eruption in your starting deck makes this card much better by reducing its cost. Crescendo is the Wrath version of Tranquility, letting you enter Wrath once per fight for one or zero energy (if upgraded). Finally, Tantrum is another great pick to enter Wrath that does a lot of work even with one copy in the deck since it shuffles itself into your draw pile once you use it.

The True power of Divinity about to be unleased on an unsuspecting Elite.

Ascending to Divinity

There is a secret third stance! Divinity is the final stance the Watcher can master, but entering it can be quite complicated to pull off. Divinity works differently than the Calm or Wrath stances. Instead of entering it with one card, you’ll have to collect Mantra, which is generated in certain amounts from other cards. At ten Mantra, the Watcher will enter Divinity.

Divinity combines both positive aspects of the Calm and Wrath stances while also dialing these benefits up to 11, allowing for explosive turns. In Divinity, you’ll deal triple the normal amount of damage, and you’ll gain three energy when entering it. The only downside is you’ll exit Divinity at the end of the turn. Divinity is a great payoff for reaching ten Mantra. This can be absolutely devastating if you can enter this stance reliably, let alone enter it multiple times.

There are only five cards that allow you to enter Divinity, so they are all important to mention. Prostate is the only common card with Mantra and allows you to gain two Mantra and only four Block before it is upgraded. If picked early during the run, when Block cards are scarce but necessary, multiples of this card in your deck can be great… but picking these late in the game is not recommended as there are better cards by then.

Worship and Pray are your two uncommon cards that allow you to gain Mantra. Of the two, Worship is the one I would generally recommend picking, and should be high on your priority for picks. It allows you to gain five Mantra instantly and the upgraded version allows you to Retain it for future turns.

Devotion is probably the best card for Mantra in the game. Devotion is a rare Power that allows you to gain Mantra at the start of each turn, with the upgraded version giving even more passive Manta. With Devotion in your deck, you only need a few other Mantra cards to reliably enter Divinity. Lastly, the more cards with Divinity you have, the more reliable this is.

The final card that allows you to enter Divinity is the rare card Blasphemy. With Blasphemy, you do not gain any Mantra. Instead, you immediately enter Divinity for only one energy… but you die at the end of the turn. This is the pinnacle of risk and reward. Blasphemy can be a great way to close out a fight but is incredibly risky. If you pick this card, I recommend upgrading it. Upgrading Blasphemy adds Retain to it, allowing you to keep it in your hand until you have all the cards needed to end the game on the spot.

The Watcher at a Rest Site.

Ascension is at Hand for The Watcher

The Watcher has come to judge the Spire, and so begins their ascension. By properly using the Watcher, you may be able to climb the Spire and seize your happy ending. Mastery of all stances will unlock your full potential and triumph over the challenges of the Spire.

The Watcher is genuinely a fun character to play. While her playstyle demands a little bit more forethought and foresight than the others, that is half of what makes her playstyle so compelling.

I hope you enjoy your time as the Watcher! I know I did.

Ready to start your journey?

It's dangerous to go alone! Join us!