By Christopher Livingston
Play as a slime, snecko or a farmer.
Before Slay the Spire even left Early Access, it was already a hit. And it’s easy to see why—Mega Crit Games crafted an engrossing and exciting deck builder and roguelike dungeon crawler that’s immediately accessible to new players yet has the depth to satisfy card game veterans. The blend of genres matched with elegant and satisfying deck-building possibilities makes Slay the Spire an almost infinitely replayable experience.
But why stop at infinite when you go even further? Modders have been busy adding new characters, cards, relics, potions, and even completely new rulesets to Slay the Spire, and mods run the gamut with everything from poker rules to Sailor Moon to playable monsters to farming. Yes, you can really play Slay the Spire as a farmer. Thanks to the Steam Workshop, mod installation is done with the simple click of a button, so there’s no excuse not to try some of these next time you play. (Unless, of course, you’re playing on Xbox Game Pass, which unfortunately doesn’t offer mod support.)
He slimed me
Download: Steam Workshop (opens in new tab)
There are a lot of cool character mods, many of them coming from unexpected inspirations. For example, one of my least-favourite enemies in Slay the Spire are slimes. When you’ve taken them below half-health, they split, and each of the two slime-halves have the same health as the original before it divided. Knock down their health and they’ll split again, redoubling the amount of slimes you have to face. It’s not always terrible—forcing a Slime Boss to split before he unleashes his slam attack will save you from the immense damage. But typically, having an enemy dividing into a bunch of copies of itself can make for a long, drawn-out fight.
What’s great about the Slimebound mod is it gives you the chance to play as a slime yourself. Your rogue blob has decided to not simply sit and wait for adventurers to wander in. Instead it wants to conquer the Spire for itself. Your slime character can build a deck with the same powers the slime enemies have, from goop sprays to corrosive spit, and even the fearsome slime crush. And yes, you can split just like an enemy slime does, giving you multiple characters to fight and defend with. You can even find additional gooey friends and add them to your team, and at the end of a round you can re-absorb them to boost your health. There are 75 new cards added and lots of enjoyable original art in the Slimebound mod, and it’s so well made it feels like it could easily be a part of the original game.
Slimes aren’t the only Slay the Spire monsters you can play as. The Playable Snecko mod lets you crawl through the dungeons as, well, the Snecko, one of Slay the Spire’s act 2 monsters. If you’ve faced one before, you know it uses Perplexing Gaze, which causes confusion—the effect that randomises the cost of cards in your deck. When you play as the Snecko you begin with a relic which confers permanent confusion. Never knowing how much a card will cost adds a bit more RNG to the already heaping mounds of RNG in Slay the Spire, making it a fun and incredibly tricky way to play.
Playble Snecko also gives you a Snecko Soul relic that adds six unknown, transforming cards to your deck, meaning your hand will be full of surprises in every round of combat. It’s a great mod and a good way to shake up your game.
If you want a familiar face—or at least a familiar mask—in your next round, The Bug Knight mod should delight you. It adds the character from the outstanding metroidvania Hollow Knight as a playable class, and close to a hundred beautifully illustrated and well-designed cards. The Bug Knight has its own custom resources, called Soul and Void, and your knight might even change appearance if you build some specialised decks, which is just a brilliant touch as well.
Download: Steam Workshop (opens in new tab)
If you’re a fan of another type of card game, you’ll enjoy The Poker Player mod. This mod doesn’t just add a new hero, cards, and relics, but an entirely new ruleset governed by the immutable laws of poker. The Poker Player adds 40 standard playing cards with suits (clubs, spades, hearts, and diamonds) and ranks (one to ten).
Rather than trying to use your best cards in any given round as in vanilla Slay the Spire, you’re trying to save them up to create poker hands. You play your best poker hand at the end of your turn, all at once, which is called the Showdown.
The poker hands are ranked—pair, two pair, three of a kind, straight (sequential cards), flush (all cards of the same suit), full house, four of a kind, and straight flush. Each poker card costs one energy, so you can discard the ones you don’t want, which are replaced with fresh cards until you’ve run out of energy—or if you’ve been dealt a good hand, you can skip straight to the Showdown. There’s strategy, too, because each suit has a specific buff: diamonds will deal damage to the enemy with the least amount of HP, for example, and spades give you points to your block. Cards are upgradable, too, so you can turn a four of clubs into a five of clubs if you haven’t found one yet.
Many of the vanilla Slay the Spire cards are deactivated when you use The Poker Player mod, which feels weird until you realise they’d just get in the way, taking up room in your deck and preventing you from putting together an effective five-card poker hand. But there are custom specialty cards added, too, like those that let you draw cards of a certain suit or peek at your deck to see what’s coming next. If you love poker and deck builders, this is a creatively made and extremely fun mod to try.
Download: Steam Workshop
As you’d expect there are plenty of anime mods—The Senshi mod adds Sailor Moon to the mix, for example—but it’s hard to look through the Steam Workshop and not find yourself curious about a mod that adds a farming system. I’m not sure why a farmer would try to conquer the Spire, but just because he’s got a pitchfork instead of a sword and overalls instead of armour doesn’t mean he can’t try. The Hayseed mod adds a character whose abilities centre around planting and cultivating crops. You’ll plant different crops like potatoes and squash—they’ll hover around your head like The Defect’s orbs—and once they’ve matured you can harvest them for different effects. The Hayseed mod even brings seasons to Slay the Spire, which can result in different types of crops and seasonal events. The custom card artwork, along with the overall concept, is exceptionally creative.
And even if you’re not looking for wild, drastic changes like farming and poker, there are still mods that add new options while letting you retain the essence of vanilla Slay the Spire. Replay the Spire doesn’t alter the rules or make you grow vegetables, but it does add tons of new stuff on top of the existing game, including over 70 custom cards, more than 60 new relics, plus additional rooms, bosses, and events. It’s bursting with fresh surprises for your next few hundred runs, and it’s got a sharp sense of humour with custom relics like baseballs, lightbulbs, and even anti-virus software.
And just for fun, why not throw in the occasional treasure chest that may decide to take a bite out of you when you open its lid? Mimic Mod turns those treasure rooms and question marks on the map into a random chance for danger, because you may discover a chest full of loot is in fact a ravenous monster. It’s an additional challenge, sure, but mimics feel right at home in the dungeons of Slay the Spire. There’s even a new Mad Mimicry card to use against them, which lets you duplicate a random card in your hand. Hope it’s a good one. You’ll need it.
Head to the Steam Workshop to find any of the mods I’ve listed—just type their names into the search bar and they’ll pop up for you to subscribe to, as long as you’re logged in. To get these mods running you’ll also need to install a couple of utilities—don’t worry, though, they’re a snap. The first is Basemod, an open-source API that adds a dev console and new cards, relics, monsters, and characters to be added. The second utility is ModTheSpire, which is a mod loader—when you play Slay the Spire with mods, you’ll just need to tick the box next to the mod you want to use, and untick any you’d like to disable. Luckily, you can simply subscribe to both of these utilities in the Steam Workshop, and the next time you start the game, they’ll be ready and waiting.
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Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.