When I first used The Defect in Slay the Spire, I was so confused. The gameplay is incredibly different to the other characters, and I felt like I was in over my head. Nevertheless, I persevered, expecting to die pretty quickly. Instead, I made it all the way to the Act 3 Boss on my first run. I had no idea what I was doing, but it didn’t matter, because here’s the thing… The Defect is ridiculously versatile.
Of all the characters, I feel like The Defect is the one with the best range. Whilst The Watcher is inarguably the best character to win with, you’ll need to know her best techniques. And whilst The Defect does have some deck strategies which are better than others, I feel it doesn’t matter as much. You’re likely to do pretty well regardless of which cards you choose because there’s just so much synergy between its card and Relics.
However, despite that, if you want to actually perform well with The Defect, you will need to learn more about it. It has a unique mechanic called Orbs, and these take a while to master. This Slay the Spire the Defect guide will help you learn the lore, useful deck strategies, and game-winning combos. Read on to start your journey towards becoming a pro with The Defect!
Getting to Know The Defect
- Starting HP – 75/75
- Starting Deck – Strike x 4, Defend x 4, Zap x 1, Dualcast x 1
- Specialty Decks – Frost, Powers, Claw
- Unique Form Card – Echo Form
- Card Border Color – Blue
- How to Unlock – Complete a run as The Silent
Who Is The Defect?
All the characters in Slay the Spire have a cool backstory, but I find The Defect’s to be the most compelling. It used to be one of the ancient automatons who defended the Spire, but at some point in its existence, it gained sentience. Disillusioned with a life trapped in the Spire, it seeks its escape by any means necessary.
The Defect is genderless, as, despite its sentience, it’s essentially just an automaton. Therefore, it has no concept of gender and is just referred to as ‘it’. Nevertheless, it has a clear goal and takes on the many enemies within the Spire in an attempt to escape.
I love the aesthetic design of The Defect because it really reflects its background as part of the Spire. You can see similar shapes and color schemes to many other characters such as the Orb Walkers and Sentries. It is somewhat humanoid with two arms, two legs, a torso, and a head. However, the proportions are all off, and many of the limbs aren’t directly attached to the torso, merely suspended very close, presumably by some form of magnetism.
Its ‘skin’ is a light-brown stony color and is pretty smooth. The hands and feet end in awkward claws. The face looks almost like a pawprint, and has a large blue circle where the mouth would be, and a smaller blue circle above it, where the eyes would be. The torso is a cracked blue orb, shrouded by a thin poncho in a similarly electric blue color. Overall, The Defect looks decidedly unthreatening, but don’t let its appearance fool you!
What Are the Specialties of The Defect?
The Defect is great for conserving health and can be particularly useful against enemies with high damage. It starts with 75 HP, which is pretty decent. However, the HP alone isn’t where The Defect excels, and it really comes into its own with Block. It can be incredibly easy to scale to impressive levels of Block within only a few turns using Frost Orbs. Coupled with some useful Skills such as Boot Sequence and Stack, you’re highly likely to be able to tank the tougher hits.
It’s also great for generating some convenient passive effects. There are 21 Power cards in its card list, which is more than any other character has. On top of that, one of those Powers is Creative AI which gives you access to Colorless Power cards too. Although some Powers only trigger immediate effects, most of them have recurring effects each turn. That means that you can use them to boost all your further turns for the rest of combat.
Having several Orbs channelled means that you can focus on playing Power cards on your turn instead of having to rely on Skills and Attacks to deal damage or gain Block. That means that pretty quickly, you can have multiple powerful effects on the go. This propensity for Power cards is why I have so much fun playing as The Defect.
Passive is truly the word of the day for The Defect. Not only can you use Powers to gain passive effects, but you can use Orbs to gain passive damage/ Block. That doesn’t mean you can’t also actively go after your enemy, but it does mean you can deal extra damage each turn by channelling the right Orbs (more on that later). The Defect can be a good character to use if your tactics involve stalling for the perfect combo.
What Are Orbs?
Orbs are a special mechanic that are unique to the Defect. Even though they usually require cards to be generated, they are very separate from the cards you play each turn. Instead, you have a collection of Orb slots above your character. The number will vary depending on your character build, but typically you start with 3.
You can fill these slots by channelling Orbs. These will have different effects which will improve your chances of winning combat. Orbs have two abilities, one which is passive and occurs at the end of each of your turns, and one which triggers when the Orb is evoked. You can evoke Orbs either with cards that have that effect or when you channel a new Orb whilst all your Orb slots are full.
There are 4 different types of Orbs that the Defect can channel. These are:
- Lightning – This is probably the most common Orb you’re likely to find from cards, although depending on how you build your deck, you might end up with fewer. This allows you to deal damage to a random enemy, and the effect is the same for the passive ability and when evoked. The only difference is the amount of damage. The passive ability deals 3 damage, and when evoked it deals 8 damage.
- Frost – Super useful when stacked, these are likely to stop you from taking any damage against weaker enemies. Frost Orbs give you Block at the end of your turn (after you play all your cards, before the enemy attacks). If you evoke a Frost Orb, you get the Block immediately during your turn rather than at the end of it. The passive ability gives you 2 Block and evoking it gives you 5 Block.
- Dark – Probably the most powerful Orb in the Defect’s arsenal, this can be game-winning if played correctly. Instead of dealing damage every turn, Dark Orbs gain power as the passive ability, ready to deal devastating damage when evoked. It automatically targets the enemy with the lowest HP, so picking when to play it is critical. If you have an enemy with only a small amount of HP left, kill that one first before evoking the Dark Orb, as you don’t want to waste all that damage.
- Plasma – Struggling with getting enough energy to play all your cards? Plasma erases that issue. You’ll get 1 extra energy each turn as long as you have a Plasma Orb channelled, this is its passive ability. When evoked, you get an immediate 2 extra energy. It’s important to note that Plasma Orbs are unaffected by Focus.
You can increase the efficacy of your Orbs using Focus. This is a buff, much like Strength or Dexterity, but is rarer to come by. For each extra Focus you have, the power of the passive and evoked abilities is increased by 1 each turn. This might not sound like much, but with several Orbs over multiple turns, it can make a huge difference.
Relics can make or break a character build, so being aware of what’s available is crucial. As well as the general Relics available to all characters, there are a total of 9 which are exclusive to The Defect. It starts off with one called Cracked Core, which means you start every combat by channelling one Lightning. This can be really convenient, especially in the earlier acts.
There is also a Boss Relic which can replace the starting Relic. It’s called Frozen Core, and if you choose it, you’ll lose Cracked Core. However, Frozen Core means that if there are any empty Orb slots at the end of your turn, you’ll channel one Frost. Given that you’re likely to have at least one empty slot if you’re running a deck with Capacitor or that involves evoking Orbs, this can be insanely useful for providing consistent Block. Plus, if you have enough passive Block, you can focus your turns on doing as much damage to the enemy as possible.
Aside from the Starting Relic and replacement Boss Relic, here are the 7 other Relics that are unique to The Defect:
- Inserter (Boss Relic) – This Relic gives you an additional Orb slot every 2 turns. I really like this one, and it’s useful for pretty much any deck strategy other than Claw. Increasing the amount of Orb slots means you can gain even more passive effects. Inserter is perfect for longer combats, especially if combined with Capacitor.
- Nuclear Battery (Boss Relic) – Another example of why I love The Defect’s Relic pool, Nuclear Battery channels 1 Plasma at the start of every combat. Plasma gives you 1 additional energy every turn as its passive effect and can be evoked for an extra 2 energy. Having this boon to start off with means you’ll be able to really get some great plays going right at the beginning of combat.
- Runic Capacitor (Shop Relic) – This Relic allows you to start each combat with 3 additional Orb slots. If you see this and can afford it, you should take it. The only time that it might not be all that useful is potentially if you’re doing a Claw run where you’re less reliant on Orbs and there may be better uses for your money. But for the most part, getting 3 additional passive effects each turn once you’ve channelled your Orbs is too good to miss out on.
- Emotion Chip (Rare Relic) – Emotion Chip is one of those Relics that sounds more useful than it is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great Relic, but depending on your deck, it may not come in handy as often as you’d expect. It allows you to trigger the passive ability of every channelled Orb at the start of each turn if you lost HP in the previous turn. However, The Defect is really good at building Block through multiple Frost Orbs, so there will likely be several turns where you don’t lose any HP at all.
- Gold-Plated Cables (Uncommon Relic) – To make the best use of this Relic, think carefully about the order in which you channel your Orbs. Gold-Plated Cables lets you trigger the passive ability of the right-most Orb one additional time. This would be especially useful if you have Biased Cognition in play, as you’d get more benefit from the temporary Focus.
- Symbiotic Virus (Uncommon Relic) – Whenever I hear ‘Symbiote’, I think of the weird enemies from the PS1 Spider-Man game, so that’s all I can think of with this Relic and it makes me laugh! That aside, it’s pretty useful, as it allows you to channel one Dark Orb at the start of each Combat. Getting it in early means you have more time to build its power through its passive ability, and you’ll have even more time if you have extra Orb slots.
- Data Disk (Common Relic) – Very simple, Data Disk means you start each combat with 1 Focus. Focus is what gives your Orbs extra efficiency and it can be pretty hard to come by. Even just one extra Focus is gonna stack pretty quickly over a few turns, so even though it’s a Common, I’d be happy to get this Relic.
Best Deck Builds
As I mentioned in the introduction, the Defect is super versatile. This means you should be able to make pretty much any deck strategy work. Having said that, here are some good places for you to start.
Claw Is Law!
There’s a saying amongst veteran players when using the Defect, and that’s “Claw is law”! Claw is a specific card that the Defect has access to. The saying refers to the fact that whenever you get offered Claw as one of the card choices, you should always pick it.
This is technically a meme, but it’s also a solid deck strategy. Claw is a card that seems innocuous at first but can stack to create some incredible combos. It is a 0-cost card that deals 3 damage (5 if upgraded), but the important part is that it increases the damage of all Claw cards in your deck by 2 for the entire rest of combat.
So, imagine you had 5 Claw cards in your deck. By the time you’ve played all 5 of them, you’re dealing 13 damage every time for no energy cost whatsoever, and that’s after a single pass of your deck. If you’re using a Claw deck, the idea is to keep your deck nice and small to maximize drawing power and increase damage.
A drawback to this is that Claw isn’t guaranteed, so it’s hard to plan for. You might want to build a Claw deck but simply not find enough copies of the card. Still, it’s a common card, so chances are good for you to find a few of them throughout the acts. It’s worth taking every time for this reason.
Aside from Claw, here are some other cards and Relics to look out for:
- All for One – An absolute necessity for an effective Claw build. This allows you to put every 0-cost card from your discard pile into your hand. And as Claws don’t take energy, you’ll be able to play them all again that very same turn, which can deal some incredibly impressive levels of damage.
- Machine Learning – As Claws don’t cost you anything, you’re likely to have plenty of energy to work with. Machine Learning allows you to draw an extra card each turn, which should hopefully give you an efficient way to spend your energy.
- Frozen Core – As a Claw deck doesn’t tend to involve too many Orb-related cards, you’re likely to have free slots on plenty of turns. Filling those up with Frost Orbs will allow you to generate some passive Block. This means you can defend against your enemies whilst working up enough damage to easily destroy them.
- Scrape – A bit of a gamble, this card deals 7 damage and then draws 4 cards. The downside is that you have to discard any cards drawn this way that are not 0-cost. This might mean discarding something pretty useful, but the good news is that it’s usually worth it if you can draw even 1 or 2 Claws.
- Reinforced Body – You’re going to need some effective Block, and this is a good one. You gain 7 Block for X amount of energy. As a Claw deck involves a lot of 0-cost cards, you’re likely to have plenty of energy remaining at the end of your turn to stack that Block. And the good news is that this only takes up one space in your deck, but provides multiple layers of Block.
- FTL – It’s always good to have several other 0-cost cards in a Claw deck as it allows you to make great use of Machine Learning. It deals 5 damage and allows you to draw one card. FTL not only deals a bit of damage but provides you with some much-needed drawing power to get those Claws out and into play.
- Molten Egg – This Relic is really useful. It automatically upgrades any Attack cards that you get. If you’re able to pick this up early, it means that every time you add a Claw to your deck, it’ll start with 5 base damage instead of just 3.
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘the best defense is a good offense’, but sometimes the opposite is true, too. A Frost deck relies on gathering enough passive Block to be able to focus your turns on dealing damage to the enemy without having to worry about retaliation.
You do this by channelling a decent number of Frost Orbs and making sure you have enough Focus to really make them count. You’ll also want to have a few other Orbs such as Dark or Plasma sprinkled in to ensure that you can hurt the enemy. Finding a good balance is essential to creating a good Frost deck. If you have only Frost Orbs, your turns will drag on, and you may end up losing to a particularly large attack.
You’ll want to focus on cards that improve the effectiveness of Orbs, as well as Attack cards that deal high damage. If you’re playing it right, cards like Defend will become redundant. You’ll want a good mix of Powers, and Skills that channel Orbs, as well as a few strong Attack cards sprinkled in.
Here are some cards and Relics to keep an eye out for with a Frost deck:
- Glacier – This lets you gain 7 Block instantly, and it also channels 2 Frost Orbs. It costs 2 energy, but that’s definitely worth it for the Block and the Orbs. 1 or 2 copies of this in your deck can help you get off to a really strong start.
- Blizzard – This can be incredibly effective later on in combat. It’s an Attack card that deals damage to all enemies equal to twice the number of Frost Orbs channelled in this combat. Ideally, this number should be pretty high, so you can deal quite a bit of damage for just 1 energy. This should be one of the first cards you upgrade, as it’ll then deal triple damage instead of double.
- Loop – This Power triggers the passive ability of your next Orb at the start of every turn. An extra Orb’s worth of Block will always be useful, so for just 1 energy, Loop is worth playing as early as you possibly can.
- Frozen Core – Pretty self-explanatory. When you’re building a deck that revolves around Frost Orbs, having a Relic that gives you Frost Orbs is going to be very useful.
- Capacitor – You want to be channelling as many Frost Orbs as possible to build up a healthy amount of Block. Capacitor is a Power card that adds 2 Orb slots when you play it, and over the course of combat, that’ll be invaluable.
- Runic Capacitor – For the same reason as above, this Relic is definitely worth buying if you see it in the shop. It gives you 3 extra Orb slots at the start of each turn. It has excellent synergy with Frozen Core by giving you an edge on those first few turns.
- Coolheaded – A super simple card concept, this just channels 1 Frost Orb and lets you draw 1 card. What’s not to like?
- Chaos – If you decide to go with this, you’ll want to upgrade it as soon as possible to make it more worth it. It allows you to channel 1 random Orb (or 2 when upgraded). This could end up being Frost, which works great, or it might be Lightning, which is still better than nothing. Ideally, though, you’ll end up with a Dark or Plasma Orb.
There are so many different ways to build an effective deck that revolves around Powers that I’m not even going to attempt to direct you. Seriously, this article would end up being twice as long if I tried to summarise the options for a Powers deck. The Defect has so many unique and wonderful Power cards, and they can have some really exciting synergies.
Instead of putting deck strategies in this section, I’ll choose my favorite synergies and mention them in the Fun Combos section below. Essentially, though, this deck strategy revolves around stacking your deck with Powers. You’ll want to find Powers that have synergy with other cards in your deck and then build around those. It’s hard to go wrong with this, so just play around and find which Powers suit you best.
Of all the characters, The Defect probably has the most synergies. There are so many delightful combos that it’s tough to choose my favorites. Still, here are a handful of the best card/ Relic combos to look out for:
- Echo Form and Creative AI – If you’re able to play Echo Form on your first turn, then Creative AI after that, you can create some insane plays. Echo Form plays the first card twice each turn, and Creative AI adds a random power card to your hand at the start of each turn. So with both of them together, you get 2 new Power cards each turn, and you can play one of those new powers twice. I can’t express how fun this combo is.
- Nuclear Battery and Double Energy – Double Energy is a card that does exactly what it says on the tin, and only costs 1 energy. Nuclear Battery is a Relic that channels 1 Plasma at the start of combat. By combining the two, it means you can get 6 energy in just one turn!
- Biased Cognition and Orange Pellets – Biased Cognition is an example of medium risk, high reward. You gain 4 Focus when you first play it (5 if upgraded, and you really should upgrade it), but you then lose 1 Focus each turn. And yes, Focus can drop below 0. However, Orange Pellets can negate the loss of Focus provided you’re able to play a Power, Skill, and Attack in the same turn. So, when done correctly, you can gain 4/5 extra Focus with no downside!
- Aggregate and Hello World – Now, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that I said fun combos, not good combos. This is not a game-winning duo by any means, but it is a lot of fun. Hello World adds a random common card into your hand at the start of each turn, and Aggregate gives you 1 energy for every 4 cards in your draw pile. Timing is everything with this but provided your deck has been recycled, there should be a fair few extra cards in your deck from Hello World (especially if you’ve used Echo Form) and you can get a crazy amount of energy from Aggregate. You’ll just need to make sure that you have a card like Whirlwind to make use of all that energy!
- Storm and Creative AI – It’s no mistake that Creative AI is on this list twice, it’s one of the most versatile cards in the Defect’s card list. Storm channels 1 Lightning Orb every time you play a Power, and with Creative AI, that should happen every single turn. It’s a devastatingly strong combo.
Question: What is The Defect’s starting Relic?
Answer: The Defect starts with Cracked Core, which allows you to channel 1 Lightning Orb at the start of each combat. This can later be replaced with the Boss Relic, Frozen Core, which lets you channel 1 Frost Orb at the end of every turn if there’s an empty Orb slot.
Question: What is the best Relic for The Defect?
Answer: This is a highly subjective question as different Relics will be useful for different runs. However, you can never go wrong with Nuclear Battery, as that will give you extra energy each turn for as long as the Plasma Orb stays channelled.
Question: Can Echo Form play a card more than twice?
Answer: No. If you have multiple Echo Forms stacked, then the effect (the first card you play each turn is played twice) will simply apply to more cards. So, if you had 2 Echo Forms, you’d play both the first and second cards each turn twice each, rather than playing the first card 4 times.
As you can see, The Defect is a fun and complicated character. He’s also a perfect example of what makes Slay the Spire so great. There are so many options for deck builds, and you can get your tactical brain whirring. Hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of where to start, but it’s by no means exhaustive. The fun of this game is in finding your own synergies and favorite cards!
If you’re playing The Defect for the first time, try not to get overwhelmed. The Orb system can take a while to get used to, but you’d be surprised by how easy it is. The passive effects of Orbs mean you don’t need to concentrate on them if you don’t want to. You can just play your cards how you normally would and let the Orbs do their thing in the background.
However, the more you play with The Defect, the more you’ll learn how it works. I’d strongly recommend trying out one of the deck strategies in this guide. They’ll give you an excellent starting point, and you’ll get to experience the cards and Relics that make The Defect so strong.
Whilst you’re here, why not check out our guide on all the Slay the Spire characters? Or you could check out our guide to Slay the Spire mods to make the game even more exciting!
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