Watch the first 20 minutes of Steamworld Quest to see if the latest installment from Image & Form is for you.

If you’re struggling to get into the card-based combat of Steamworld Quest, take a look at these pointers. These Steamworld Quest tips and tricks will help you get a better idea of what you should be doing with your cards each turn. We’ll also give some pointers on building decks for each of the characters. The combat in this game is complex but very rewarding and fun to play once you get the hang of it.

Learning the Basics

The combat in Steamworld Quest is card-based. You start the game with just one character, but your roster quickly expands up to three characters. Each character has eight cards in their deck that can be customized through finding new cards and buying them. Each turn, six cards are drawn at random with two free discards each turn. Players choose up to three cards to play per turn, with bonus moves if all the cards in a single turn are from the same character.

Your opponent plays one card per minion on the screen each turn. Bosses and high-powered story characters don’t always follow these rules, though.

Types of Cards

Just a small selection of some of the cards that are available in Steamworld Quest.

There are three different types of cards in Steamworld Quest. These cards determine what moves you can make throughout the course of the battle. A steam pressure gauge at the top of the screen denotes how much steam pressure you have built with each attack. Basic attacks with strike and upgrade cards build this gauge, while skill cards require steam pressure to use.

  • Strike Cards: Any basic attack card used to generate one steam pressure gear.
  • Upgrade Cards: These cards provide a flat buff and generate one steam pressure gear.
  • Skill Cards: Can be healing skills to special attacks and require steam pressure, cost dependent on the card played.

Steam Pressure & Chain Reactions

The gear icons at the top of this screenshot represent steam pressure built up.

Managing your steam pressure to create chain attacks becomes an important part of advanced combat in the game. Setting up combos means taking full advantage of your two free discards each turn. Make sure you remember to use your two free discards each turn to set up future turns for better success. You’ll need steam pressure to play skill cards as part of your chains.

For example, Armilly’s Brave Buster skill card requires two steam pressure gears to use. Therefore using two Heroic Strikes, followed by Brave Buster will use up all the steam pressure generated and create a chain attack. Because all three of the cards played belonged to a single character (and color), a fourth chain reaction skill called Lionheart will activate. Chaining cards of the same color essentially grants a free hit or buff, so it is an important part of battle.

Special Abilities

All of the characters in Steamworld Quest have special abilities that activate when three cards of their type are played in a single turn. The ability that activates during this sequence is dependent on the weapon each character holds. You can find new weapons and buy new equipment at the merchant to change this extra ability. Later in the game you may run across a card that poisons the entire enemy team as its finisher.

You can also perform multi-character combos with cards that feature a picture of another character on them. These multi-character combos are important for managing your steam pressure and the tide of the battle as a whole. You should focus on getting as much steam pressure as possible in your early turns by playing mostly strike and upgrade cards.

Note: Discard any skill cards that require a lot of steam pressure points when you don’t have any. They can come up again at a later time when you have built up more steam pressure points to spend.

Elemental Synergies

Certain cards deal elemental damage, which can be used to create devastating synergies that do tons of damage. Pressing pause in the middle of a battle will bring up a screen to view individual enemies. This screen will show which elements they have high defense against, which elements the enemy is weak against, and if the enemy has any active effects on them for the turn.

You can also build synergy decks between characters with elements that react with one another. For example, Galleo has an ability that douses enemies with water. Pairing that with Copernica’s electricity skills will double the amount of damage on doused enemies.

Upgrading Gear

As previously mentioned, you can buy new weapons at the traveling merchant. You can also craft new cards for your deck with the ingredients you find after every battle. You can also find new cards and ingredients to craft cards littered around the game’s dungeons in treasure chests. Make sure you explore every area thoroughly, since chests sometimes contain cards you can’t buy from the merchant.

When it comes to upgrading your cards, make sure your frequent attack and upgrade cards are at their highest levels. You always have to play these cards to build up steam pressure, so upgrading them early will bring the most benefit to you.

General Tips

  • Your healing vials and elixirs take up a card slot in battle. Try to save these heals for when you are already out of battle.
  • You can get a preemptive strike on enemies by swinging at them before they bump into you.
  • Enemies generally don’t chase you, so you can just run around them.
  • The game features a Dark Souls-like bonfire enemy respawn system.

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