Monster Train – Review

What is Monster Train about?

Monster Train is a turn-based deckbuilding game made by Good Shepherd Entertainment. After heaven invaded the hell and only ice and cold was left. But a last spark of hell is still burning strong. We are the last hope to reignite hell. With our train the Boneshaker we are transporting and defending the last spark of hell called the Pyre. We collect units, spells and artifacts in order to get stronger, because our enemies are getting stronger too. Will we be able to reignite hell?

Our card deck will be always different. The base game covers:

  • over 220 different cards
  • 5 different clans with different mechanics
  • each clan has 10 levels which want to be unlocked
  • each clan has 2 champions with each one having 3 combinable specialization
  • 88 artifacts
  • each card can be upgraded up to 2 times with many different effects
  • more than 21 unique random events
  • 25 unlockable degree of difficulty called “Covenant”

As of writing this article there is one Addon called “The Last Divinity”:

  • a new clan called the Wurmkin which are bringing some eggs and echoes with them
  • new mechanic to add additional optional difficulties called pact shards. You can take them to get great boni, but for each of them the difficulty will increase
  • new optional last boss
  • fuse one unit into another unit and grant that effect
  • new rare cards for existing clans
  • new events
  • 5 new clanless cards
  • 10 new Mutators
  • 5 new expert challenges
  • 3 new card frames

How to play Monster Train?

At the start of the game a tutorial run is starting automatically. The tutorial will explain some of the mechanics, but let me give it a try too. First of all you can play with a controller or keyboard+mouse. You do not have to change the config, start push a button on your controller and it is switched. Same with moving the mouse.

With Monster Train we’re are going to ride through the rings of hell. At the start of the tutorial our clans are chosen for us. Our main clan is called Hellhorned and our ally clan is called Awoken. Since Hellhorned is our main clan we get the “Hornbreaker Prince” as our Champion. In this tutorial his first specialization is auto-picked with Brawler one which gets us

  • 10 Armor -> Armor is used as Defence before our HP are reduced
  • 1 Multi Strike-> The unit attacks an additional time

After clicking on the battle symbol a new screen will appear. On this screen we can see what upcoming units we are facing and which boss will we fight. For now it might not be that important, but later this will be critical. We’ll come back to this screen quite often. For now lets head into battle.

Monster Train’s battle is happening on 3 floors plus our Pyre room. Each round we will draw cards and all cards that are left at the end are discarded. Each card does have an ember cost on the upper left side. This is the price we have to pay in order to play this card. On our screen we can see on the lower left that we have 3 ember, and gain 3 ember each turn. Additionally there are 2 yellow dots on the upper side of our hellhorn prince. These dots mean that this unit is a size 2 unit. On each floor you can see 5 dark spaces in a bar. This is our max. capacity per floor. No more units can be played if this gauge is exceeded. There are spells and artifacts which can increase these, but for now we have to think about playing the right units. By the way, when a unit is killed its killed. You won’t gain the card to summon the unit again. At least for now. Later there is a clan which main mechanic is to resurrect and strengthen killed units.

Each round enemy units appear on the bottom floor. At the end of each round the units will attack first, and then we will attack them. If there are enemy units left after that, then go up a floor. If they reach the pyre room, then they will attack the pyre. If the pyre health reaches 0 then we lose.

On the upper side of the screen we can see “waves left”. This is a counter for normal enemy waves entering the train. As soon as this counter reaches 0 a boss will spawn. This boos will turn on a mode called “relentless”. This means that the boss will fight our units until they or the boss is killed. If the floor loses the boss goes up and the next floor has to fight.

In our tutorial we’ve won against the boss and now we can get our treasures!

We do receive some gold but more important are the two card packs. One card pack for our main clan and one for our ally. For our main we get to choose between:

  • Fortify -> Apply Armor 5
  • Ritual of Battle -> Apply Rage 10
  • Hidden Passage -> Ascend a unit

I’m tacking the “Hidden Passage” because there is something i want to show. And for our ally clan pack we get:

  • Awake -> Restore 30 health and apply Regen 3
  • Steel Enhancer -> Apply +3 Attack and +3 Health
  • Restoration Detonation -> Heal up 10 HP and Damage the front unit for 5x the healed amount

Here we take another “Steel Enhancer” as another upgrade for our units.

Before we go on to the next battle we have the choice to choose some event spots. We can decide to go left or ride:

  • Left side
    • Merchant of Magic -> Sells Spell Upgrades
    • Forgotten Boons -> Grants 75 Gold
  • Right side
    • Merchant of Steel -> Sells Unit Upgrades
    • Hellhorned Banner -> Choose between 2 units

Lets go to the right side and have a look at the Merchant of Steel first. It sells us A “Heartstone” for “+25 HP”, a “Thornstone” for “+10 and Spikes 3” and an “Immortalstone” with “Endless”. Endless does mean that a defeated unit will return on top of your draw pile. Additionally we can purge some cards or re-roll the shop. Next lets have a look at the unit banner before buying anything.

At the hellhorned banner we can choose between:

  • Steelworker -> Resolve and apply Armor 5 to all friendly units. Resolve triggers after combat.
  • Horned Warriror -> Multistrike 1

Yeah the Steelworker would be a great defensive unit to protect our Hornbreaker Prince. We’ll give the Steelworker the “+25 health” and “+10 with Spikes 3” from the store. Beafy Defender!

This fight will be a great battle to show you the power of over stacking. Although the top floor does not have any capacity left to play another Train Steward. BUT we can play the steward on the middle floor and use ascend. Now he is in the back of the top floor. We can see that our capacity gained an orange icon. That means that we are over capacity. We cannot play units our self, but we can still ascend/descend them until we reach the maximum unit limit of 7 per floor. After the fight we quickly take the “Fledgling Imp” as another upgrade possibility for our prince.

Within the next area we gain at “Herzal’s Hoard” a free artifact. We can choose between “Forever Flame” with “Unit cost -2” and “Channelheart” with “Sting spells get +20 Magic Power”. If we had taken a sting, then that would be great, but we will take the “Forever Flame”. Next is a unit pick. We can get “Thorned Hollow” with “Summon: +40 health and Rejuvenate: Gain 2 Spikes” or an “Animus of Will” with “Multistrike 2”. Animus of Will is great with Rage or Attack Buffs. But we will take the Thorned Hollow. Rejuvenate will trigger on each heal of this unit. And spikes will hurt all attacker. That will kill all small enemies on the bottom floor. Our Prince can then concentrate on killing the big ones. Last but not least there is a Concealed Caverns which lets us trade health with money.

Daedalus is our first mid-boss. He will summon a bomb which will explode at the end of turn. Additionally the bomb has Damage Shield 1, which will block the first damage it takes. Our Thorned Hollow has its debut and its great. It will kill all small enemies which the spikes. The rest of the fight is not hard. As our card pick we get to choose between three rare cards:

  • Unleash the Wildwood -> Heal all units full
  • Spike of the Hellhorned -> Use all remaining ember and grant 2x Rage and 2x Armor
  • Wildwood Tome -> Apply Quick on a unit

Healing is great but quick on our Hornbreaker Prince would be great too. We take the Quick. As Unit Draft we get the following:

  • Husk Hermit -> Sweep
  • Thorned Hollow -> Again, see above
  • Awoken Hollow -> Summon +60 health and Rejuvenate (trigger on heal) Cultivate 2. Cultivate grant +2 / +2 to the unit with the lowest health.

We do have the Wildwood Tome for Quick, so choosing a quick Sweeper is great

Since Daedalus was a mid-boss we get a special bonus to choose from:

  • Fel’s Remorse -> +1 Ember per turn
  • Herzal’s Compound -> +1 card draw
  • Light of Seraph -> +1 capacity on each floor

Additionally our pyre gets stronger and healthier, but that is a side effect. We’ll take more draw to get faster to the cards we want.

In the next are we see 3 new locations. Unstable Vortex does let us remove up to 2 cards from our deck. The Hellvent will let us create a copy of a card. Last are the Pyre Remains which will heal our pyre. At the end of the tracks is a forge where we can upgrade our Hornbreaker Prince. We can get him Brawler 2 for Multistrike 2 or Wrathful 1 for additional “Slay: Gain Armor 10” or “Revenge: Gain Rage 2”. Slay triggers on killing enemies, Revenge on receiving a hit. We’ll take Brawler 2, because more use for our Rage.

With the next fight we’re introduced to the trials. A trial is an extra difficulty like “Enemy units enter with Spell Shield 2”. That just means that all minions will ignore the first 2 spell damages. But if we succeed, we get an additional reward. So if you can take the trial, then take the trial Choose wisely. While fighting this fight we see a unit called “Collector” spawning on the top floor. Its a random unit which will flee at the end of the turn. If you kill it before it flees, you gain 75 gold. The minion “Absolver” has this “end of turn” trigger too. But he will put a “Weight of Contribution” in our deck. Is worse than a dead card. It costs energy to purge and if we keep it in hand, it will hurt our pyre and the end of turn. Bad bad cards…

At the next shop we have the opportunity to get a “Largestone” upgrade. This upgrade grants +1 capacity, +15 attack and +40 health. A great upgrade for our sweeping Husk Hermit. After we re-roll we even get another Multistrike for the Husk Hermit. Big Move!

After some more fighting we get to the next Merchant of Magic and an upgrade cold “Holdover”. With Holdover a spell will be placed on top of the draw pile after it is played. So you can replay that card each turn. Putting that on Enflame is great. Each turn Rage 4 and Armor 5. Last but not least, we get to build a card through an event. Another ascend and rage possibility.

Fel will summon an Alabaster Guardian on each floor. The Guardian is a unit which will be a tank we have to go trough in order to kill the units behind. Normally… BUT we have sweep so it does not matter! 😀 Haha Fel take THAT!

As reward we will take “Unleash the Wildwood” now. Its a great heal for our “Thorned Hollow”. It heals and triggers the spikes.

The Merchant of Trinkets does not offer a good artifact. But the next Concealed Caverns gives us an Artifact which will boost the attack of all our units with +3. Drawback is we get 3 Deadweights. Deadweight is a unpurgable unplayable card. But since we draw 2 additional cards that should work. For the last Hornbreaker Prince upgrade we’ll get Braweler 3. He will now attack 5 times. That should clear everything.

After the next boss fight we do get an Engraft. That is a card which costs 1, heals 1, gain 1 energy, and draw 1 next turn. Making this free and getting Holdover on it would be great! And as planned the next Merchant of Magic has “Holdover” now we can get a free energy, heal for spikes and draw each turn. Hopefully we are now prepared for the final boss 😀

Last fight for the tutorial and a normal non “The Last Divinity” run. We are up against Seraph the Chase. Like the mid-bosses this final boss does fly up and down the floors. Seraph the Chaste will remove half of any Buff and Debuff effect stacks. Its not quite clear sometime what is meant. As of this moment a Buff would be Spikes, Rage, Damage Shield, Lifesteal and Stealth. Debuffs would be Sap, Frostbite or Daze. So our Armor is not a problem. But our Rage is a problem. Each time Seraph is on our floor, our Stacks will be halved. Bad but we could work this out, if our Buffs are faster.

But with our Quick Husk Hermit killing the minions and our Hornbreaker Prince killing the big ones, the fight is in our favor. Now our run is finished. Now there are rewards too. We’ve gained some points which are converted in experience points. Additionally since we’ve won, we’ve unlock the first difficulty called Covenant 1. The next run with active Covenant 1 will be harder, but if we win, we will unlock Covenant 2 and so on. Until Covenant 25. The experience points are used to level the clans and unlock more cards and artifacts. Next we have to unlock all Covenant Ranks and unlock the other clans. After the tutorial we can freely choose our combination.

Post Game

Besides the road to Covenant 25 or after you are able to go on some Challenges:

  • Hell Rush
    • A Hell Rush is a timed challenge with some modifier. You compete against other player in completing the challenge under a time limit. You win if your final points are higher than the other players.
  • Daily Challenge
    • The daily challenge is a combination provided by the devs. The whole community competes against each other over getting first place.
  • Community Challenges
    • In this mode you can create your own challenge and play this with your community and friend.

Additionally the modding community is huge! There are mods for changing almost anything or adding new cards. A great way to get more out of Monster Train.

My Conclusion

Monster Train is a high addicting deckbuilding game. The combination and mechanic possibilities are so big, that it will always be different. I really like the soundtrack and the time it takes for a run. With about 45min. is it a great time to play this casual. I really can recommend this game. Therefore it was my first game to stream on twitch 😉

Where to buy?

Keywords and Explanations

  • Action
    • This effect will be triggered at the end of the turn.
  • Armor
    • Before health can be reduced, you have to remove the armor. But piercing will just go through.
  • ArmoredTriggers when Armor is added to this unit.
  • Artifact
    • An artifact is an item which will always be active in the background.
  • Ascend
    • Unit will be transferred to the next floor.
  • Attuned
    • On an attuned spell you’ll get 5x out of Magic Power. If Magic Power grants +5, then this will be +25 instead.
  • Burnout
    • Burnout is like a candle. If you do not have any stack left, then the unit dies. At the end of the turn the stack is reduced by 1.
  • Buffet
    • A unit with buffet (Primordium) can be eaten multiple times.
  • Capacity
    • Capacity is the limit per floor which prevents you from playing more units directly.
  • Cardless
    • A unit with cardless is a non summoned unit, which will not be added to the discard pile when it dies.
  • Consume
    • After using the spell, the spell won’t be discarded but instead be added to the consume pile. So the card cannot be played again this battle.
  • Cultivate
    • Cultivate will will apply +1/+1 per stack to the unit will the lowest health on that floor.
  • Damage Shield
    • This Shield will prevent the first damage the unit receives.
  • Dazed
    • The unit cannot attack for the round. At the end of the turn the stack is reduced by 1.
  • Descend
    • Like ascend but the unit will go down a floor.
  • Eaten
    • A unit with Eaten will be eaten by the front unit. They will grant the effect stated.
  • Echoes
    • Echoes are a new Ressource like Capacity. There is a limit which will be taken over to the next turn. If you go over limit, its still great, but all over capacity will be removed at the end of the turn. A charged echo will be granted each time a spell with infused is used.
  • Ember
    • Simply our energy
  • Emberdrain
    • Per stack emberdrain your ember will be decreased by 1 at the start of the next turn. At the end of the turn the stack is reduced by 1.
  • Enchant
    • If a unit has enchant, all units on that floor will get the stated effect.
  • End of Turn
    • This effect will be triggered at the end of the turn.
  • Endless
    • A unit with endless will return on top of your draw pile after dying.
  • Etch
    • Etch is triggered when a spell with consumed is used.
  • Extinguish
    • This effect will trigger when the unit dies.
  • Fragile
    • Poke that unit once with damage and the unit dies instantly.
  • Fuel
    • Fuel is the partner effect for inert. Fuel will be used each turn the unit attacks. Fuel can be gained by eating morsels.
  • Frostbite
    • Frostbite will damage the unit by 1 per stack after each combat phase. At the end of the turn the stack is reduced by 1.
  • Frozen
    • A card which is frozen will stay in your hand.
  • Gorge
    • A gorge is the opposite of the eaten effect. This will trigger when this unit eats a unit with eaten.
  • Haste
    • A unit with haste will skip the next floor. Very dangerous!
  • Harvest
    • Harvest will trigger when a unit dies on this floor. It does not matter if it is a friendly or enemy unit.
  • Heartless
    • If a unit is heartless, the unit cannot be healed.
  • Holdover
    • Like endless but for spells. A spell with holdover will be “discarded” on the top of your draw pile.
  • Immobile
    • This enemy unit cannot move or be moved between floors.
  • Incant
    • Incant effects will trigger when a spell is played on this floor.
  • Inert
    • The other part of inert. If this unit does not have fuel, it cannot attack.
  • Infused
    • A card with infused will add an charged echo.
  • Inspire
    • Inspire will trigger as soon as an charged echo is added to that floor.
  • Lifesteal
    • A unit with lifesteal will steal life duh. If the unit has 30 attack then they will heal for 30 health. At the end of the turn the stack is reduced by 1.
  • Melee Weakness
    • For each stack of melee weakness the damage will be multiplied by 1. So if you have 1 stack, then you do double damage. With 9 stack you do 10 times the damage. A hit will consumed the stacks.
  • Multistrike
    • A unit with multistrike will attack an additional time. Great to combine with rage or stats upgrades.
  • Offering
    • A spell with offering will be auto played if it is discarded by another card effect.
  • Permafrost
    • If a spell with permafrost is in your hand at the end of turn, it will freeze and stay in your hand until it is played.
  • Piercing
    • A spell with piercing will ignore armor.
  • Phased
    • A unit with phased cannot be attacked or attack itself. Can mostly be removed by playing spells.
  • Purge
    • After using this card, the card will be destroyed.
  • Pyre
    • The last spark of hell. Protect it with your life. If the health reaches 0 you lose.
  • Pyrebound
    • A card with pyrebound can only be played in the top floor or on the pyre room.
  • Quick
    • Normally enemy units will attack first, but with quick this unit will attack first.
  • Rage
    • Rage will add 2 attack per Stack. At the end of the turn the stack is reduced by 1.
  • Rally
    • Rally is triggered when a unit is summoned on this floor.
  • Regen
    • This effect is triggered at the end of turn. The unit will be healed by 1 per stack and then the stack is reduced by 1.
  • Reform
    • With reform you can revive an already killed unit.
  • Rejuvenate
    • Rejuvenate will trigger when this unit is healed.
  • Relentless
    • Each boss does have this effect. It simply means that the combat will start anew until the boss or your units are killed.
  • Resolve
    • Resolve will trigger after each combat phase.
  • Revenge
    • If this unit is attacked and receives damage this effect will trigger.
  • Rooted
    • An enemy unit with rooted will stay on this floor until all stacks are removed. At the end of the turn the stack is reduced by 1.
  • Sacrifice
    • To play this card one of your units has to be offered. The unit dies in the process.
  • Sap
    • Sap reduces the attack by 1 per Stack. At the end of the turn the stack is reduced by 1.
  • Silence
    • A unit with silence can’t use their special abilities or effects.
  • Slay
    • If your the unit kills another unit in battle the slay effect will trigger.
  • Shell
    • Shell is needed to hatch wurmkin eggs. Shell can be removed by special spells or by consuming charged echoes at the end of turn. The unit will hatch when shell reaches 0.
  • Spell Shield
    • Like damage shield the unit will ignore the next damage spell.
  • Spell Weakness
    • Like melee weakness but with spells.
  • Spikes
    • If a unit with spikes is attacked, then the attacker will receive 1 damage per stack of spikes.
  • Stealth
    • Stealth will prevent an attack on this unit. The unit itself can still attack. At the end of the turn the stack is reduced by 1.
  • Strike
    • A strike effect will trigger after a unit attacked. With multistrike this effect will trigger each time.
  • Summon
    • While summoning a unit the summon effect will trigger.
  • Sweep
    • A unit with sweep will attack all enemy units. Great way to deal with units in the back. But beware of spikes.
  • Trample
    • If a unit with trample attacks with 20 attack and the front unit only has 10 health, then the 10 attack left will continue to attack the next unit in line.
  • Unpurgable
    • A card that cannot be removed from the deck.

If you like this you might like

Well, if you have already played Monster Train, and you are now looking for another game similar to it for you to play, I am here to help you with that! I will now share with you some games that might fill the void that Monster Train might have left you with:


If you want to relax in your own timely manner then come watch me on YouTube:

If you want to read more about Monster Train here is list of interesting articles:

YouTube Releases

If you want to read more about Monster Train here is list of interesting articles:

Monster Train – Game Sheet

Monster Train is a turn-based deckbuilding game made by Good Shepherd Entertainment. After heaven invaded the hell and only ice and cold was left. But a last spark of hell is still burning strong. We are the last hope to reignite hell. With our train the Boneshaker we are transporting and defending the last spark of hell called the Pyre. We collect units, spells and artifacts in order to get stronger, because our enemies are getting stronger too. Will we be able to reignite hell?

DeveloperShiny Shoe
PublisherGood Shepherd Entertainment
Release DateMay 21, 2020
PlatformsPC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
GenresRoguelike, Card Game, PvP, Turn-Based Strategy, Deckbuilding, Strategy, RPG, Choices Matter
DLCThe Last Divinity
Monster Train
Copyright Good Shepherd Entertainment, 2020
Copyright Good Shepherd Entertainment, 2020
Monster Train
Copyright Good Shepherd Entertainment, 2020
Copyright Good Shepherd Entertainment, 2020
Monster Train
Copyright Good Shepherd Entertainment, 2020
Copyright Good Shepherd Entertainment, 2020

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