Best Builds And Relics To Use With Defect In Slay The Spire

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The Defect is one of Slay the Spire‘s four playable characters, and it is arguably the game’s most unique, possessing a special mechanic not present in the other three. The Orbs mechanic allows for some pretty interesting builds with The Defect, but it’s a mechanic that can be difficult to get your head around.



Related: Pro Tips For Slay The Spire You Should Know

There are four Orb types, with each having a different effect or ability that is activated either by another card, using another Orb, or a turn ending. This unique mechanic means that the builds possible with the Defect are completely different from the other three characters. Here are some of the best build synergies you can use to try and conquer Slay the Spire using The Defect.

Updated July 19, 2023, by Sean Murray: The Defect can be one of the most powerful characters in Slay the Spire–provided you use the right build. That’s why we’ve refreshed the Defect guide to have better formatting and breakout tips to make creating the best deck easier.

How To Build Decks For The Defect

As with all of Slay the Spire’s characters, deckbuilding is a tricky process. It’s easy to decide on a deck archetype you like the look of, but the reality of RNG means getting the cards you need is purely a matter of chance.

Because of this, the best approach to deckbuilding is to work with what you’re given, rather than try to force a specific kind of deck. It’s good to have some knowledge of basic deck types to understand what sorts of cards to take, but in general, just build a deck based on the cards you’re seeing.

For example, if you get a Ball Lightning from the first fight you win, it’s probably a good idea to take other cards that synergize with lightning.

This is true of relics as well. You can never rely on seeing a specific relic, but if you come across a particularly useful one, you can make card choices that synergize with it.

For example, if you get an Inserter from a boss fight, which gives you an extra orb slot every two turns, you might be more inclined to take Consume if you see it. Consume gets rid of an orb slot, and in return gives you two focus (three when upgraded), which strengthens orbs. With an Inserter and Consume, you can effectively farm infinite focus.

Deck size doesn’t particularly matter, so long as you can reliably cycle your deck. A small deck is nice as you see all your cards quickly, but a big deck is fine if you have the draw to cycle it just as fast. What really matters is making sure there’s nothing in your deck that doesn’t need to be there.

Remove Strike cards every chance you get, as drawing these prevent you from drawing other, more useful cards in tricky fights!

How Do The Defect’s Orbs Work?

slay the spire defect orbs

The Defect has four types of orbs he can channel into his orb slots, using any cards or relics that channel them. He starts with three orb slots, but slots can be added (and removed) by cards and relics.

The more orb slots you have, the more helpful orbs you can have active, so cards (such as Capacitor) and relics (Runic Capacitor and Inserter) that grant extra orb slots are worth taking for any deck using orbs.

Each orb has two effects. One is a passive effect, which activates at the start or end of each turn without you doing anything, and the other is triggered upon evoking the orb. The rightmost orb can be evoked either by directly evoking it with a card or by channeling a new orb when all your slots are full. Evoking effects are more powerful, but consume the orb.

The four orbs are:

Lightning orbs

Have a passive of dealing three base damage per orb at the end of your turn, and evoke to deal eight base damage.

Frost orbs

Have a passive of giving two base block per orb at the end of your turn, and evoke to give five base block.

Dark orbs

Have a passive of increasing in power by six at the end of your turn, and evoke to deal damage equal to their power.

Plasma orbs

Give one energy per orb at the start of your turn, and evoke to give two energy.

The last key mechanic is focus, which is like the Defect’s equivalent of strength. Focus increases the potency of orbs by the amount of focus you have (except plasma). If you have three focus, lightning orbs’ passive will hit for six, frost will block for five, and dark will increase by nine.

Focus is therefore incredibly desirable, and cards (Defragment, Consume, Biased Cognition) and relics (Data Disk) that increase it are worth adding to almost any deck.

Related: Slay The Spire: The Best Builds, Ranked

Lightning Build

Slay the spire defect lightning build

Cards to look out for

Electrodynamics, Thunder Strike, Ball Lightning, Static Discharge, Storm, Biased Cognition

Lightning is the easiest of the four orbs to channel, as there are countless cards that can do so. The general idea when utilizing lightning is to build up some focus to deal good passive damage, evoke as regularly as possible for even more damage, and take plenty of block to cover yourself on turns you’re being attacked.

It’s easy to pick up several Ball Lightnings early, which can serve as a great offensive core, dealing a bit of damage in addition to channeling.

If you need a big finisher card, Thunder Strike, which deals seven (nine upgraded) damage for every lightning orb channeled in the fight, or Fission+ (an unupgraded Fission is useless) which evokes all your orbs and gives you energy and draw for each orb evoked, are both great.

Something to note about Thunder Strike is that it’s a regular attack. Unlike regular lightning, the Defect’s lightning doesn’t benefit from strength or enemies being vulnerable–though Thunder Strike does, so keep this in mind.

Electrodynamics is a must-pick, as it changes lightning’s passive and evoke effects from hitting a random enemy to hitting ALL enemies, making multi-enemy fights much easier.

slay the spire defect biased cognition+

The last point to note is that focus is crucial, so Defragment and Consume are key picks whenever you see them.

Be wary of how to use Biased Cognition, which gives you four (five upgraded) focus, but then removes one focus per turn afterward. It’s excellent for ending hallway fights quickly, but the focus reduction can hurt you in longer boss fights.

This can be negated with an artifact (an effect that negates debuffs), though, so pair it with Core Surge (which deals damage and gives you an artifact) for an incredible synergy and a free four or five focus.

The Defect has access to decent block in the form of cards like Leap, Charge Battery, and if you’re running a power-heavy deck relying on Storm for a lot of your channeling, Force Field. Taking a few of these should be enough to mitigate damage while your lightning obliterates all your foes.

Power decks are a major subset of lightning decks, as the Defect’s powers synergize far more with lightning than any other orb type.

Setting up some Storms, then channeling aggressively with more and more powers is a very viable strategy, and there are numerous relics that can make this type of deck worthwhile, most notably Mummified Hand, which makes a random card free whenever you play a power, and Bird-Faced Urn, which heals you when powers are played.

Decks like this are also where Creative AI (which adds a random power into your hand each turn) shines, though a powers-based lightning deck runs the risk of becoming very bloated in a fight, and is countered hard by the Awakened One, who gains strength when you play powers.

Frost Build

Slay the spire Defect Freeze build

Cards to look out for

Coolheaded, Cold Snap, Chill, Glacier, Blizzard, Barrage, Loop

The idea of the Frost build is to build up a high amount of Block so you can afford to wait for your damage cards to come around.

With a bit of focus, frost orbs are one of the best defensive options in the game – either having numerous orb slots filled for huge amounts of passive block, or channeling orbs constantly to evoke multiple orbs every turn and getting block that way. You’ll likely see a few Cold Snaps and Coolheadeds early enough, letting you get a basic defense rotation running.

Coolheaded is excellent, as the draw it provides lets you see more of your deck sooner, getting that impenetrable defense up and running faster.

The power Loop works brilliantly in a Frost deck, triggering that first orb an additional time or two at the start of your turn to squeeze out some block. Echo Form is also great here (admittedly, it’s an excellent pick for any Defect deck), playing the first card you use each turn an additional time, letting you capitalize on drawing Blizzard, or doubling on channeling from strong cards like Glacier, which channels two orbs and gives block.

Once you’re set up, all that’s left is damage. Blizzard is an obvious pick, dealing damage equal to two (three upgraded) times the number of frost orbs channeled in the fight. If you’re running a lot of orb slots, Barrage is good too, dealing damage for every channeled orb. Streamline isn’t terrible either and serves as a decent solution for the early game at least.

A more interesting option is a dark orb, allowing you to stall with frost while the dark orb builds up damage, then evoking it to deal huge damage. For that reason, Symbiotic Virus can be a good relic in a Frost Deck, starting each fight with a dark orb already channeled.

Frozen Core is a no-brainer if you see it in a boss chest. This replaces your starting Cracked Core, and not only starts you with a frost orb in each fight but channels an additional frost orb at the end of your turn if you have any empty orb slots.

RELATED: Slay The Spire Mods That Make The Game Even Better

Orb-Less Build

slay the spire defect claw build

Cards to look out for

Claw, All for One, Scrape, FTL, Reprogram, Go For The Eyes, Boot Sequence, Steam Barrier, Genetic Algorithm, Hologram

While the Defect’s card pool is very orb-centric, there are options to go without channeling anything.

The main damage option is Claw, a free card that starts off dealing a very small amount of damage, but every time you play any Claw, the damage of all Claw cards increases for the rest of the fight. This can scale up quickly, so the key is having a few Claw cards and being able to play them often.

This strategy makes draw cards more useful – such as Scrape, which draws seven cards but discards any that don’t cost zero, and FTL, another free card that deals damage and draws an additional card if you’ve played fewer than three cards so far that turn.

slay the spire defect hologram+

Deck manipulation can also be found with All for One, which deals damage and returns any zero-cost cards from your discard pile into your hand; Reboot, another free card that shuffles your entire deck into your draw pile and draws four cards; Rebound, which deals damage and puts the next card you play on the top of your draw pile; and Hologram, which lets you choose a card from your discard pile to return to your hand in addition to providing some block.

These are all great for getting Claws back into your hand more quickly than waiting for them to cycle around again.

Other zero-cost cards like Go for the Eyes, which weakens enemies that intend to attack, and Beam Cell, which inflicts vulnerability, synergize well. Reprogram is also useful, as it provides strength and dexterity in return for removing one focus, which you wouldn’t be using anyway. Hyperbeam works similarly, removing three focus to deal 26 (34 upgraded) damage to all enemies.

In addition to all the offensive options, you’ll need some defense. Any block cards, such as the aforementioned Leap and Charge Battery, are good, especially with the dexterity from Reprogram, though Steam Barrier and Boot Sequence are zero-cost, synergizing with the free-card specific draw you might be running.

Hybrid Build

slay the spire defect hybrid build

By far the Defect’s strongest build is one that combines both lightning and frost. A lightning deck on its own often struggles defensively, while with a frost build, your offense can be too slow to overcome the stronger bosses at higher ascensions.

Because of this, it’s ideal to run a mix of both orbs, providing you with plenty of defense and offense without having to worry about taking other cards.

Take cards that synergize with either the lightning or frost builds outlined above, with the usual emphasis on focus and orb slots, and you should be able to build up a good number of potent orbs that both block well and deal massive amounts of damage each turn.

Next: Slay The Spire: Most Powerful Enemies, Ranked

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