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"Combat automaton which became self-aware. Ancient technology allows manipulation of Orbs."


The Defect is one of four playable characters in Slay the Spire. Once was among the like of Orb Walkers and Bronze Automaton as one of many ancient automatons, it has since gained sentience and seeks its way out of the Spire. It attacks foes with a high-tech arsenal, array of Powers, and elemental evocations. The Defect has a unique mechanic, the Orbs. Using cards and Relics, The Defect Channels these elemental spheres into a set of Orb slots, activating their passive effects each turn or Evoking them for a one-time burst. The Defect starts with three Orb slots, though cards and relics can add or consume them. It starts with 75 hp.

The Defect's starting Relic is CrackedCore Cracked Core, which Channels 1 Lightning at the start of each combat.

It was added to the beta build in Weekly Patch 22: Testing the Third Character during the early access. It is released to the public, along with the game and other two characters on January 23rd, 2019.


Starting Deck[]

BlueEnergy Defect Cards BlueEnergy



Main article: Orbs

The Defect begins with three Orb slots and considers the rightmost Orb to be the 'next' Orb to Evoke. Channelling an Orb inserts it into the rightmost empty slot. If every slot is full, each Orb will be shifted one slot to the right, popping the right-most Orb out of its slot and Evoking it. The Defect can have a maximum of 10 Orb slots.

Lightning Lightning, Frost Frost and Dark Dark orbs have a passive effect that activates at the end of the Defect's turn, from right to left, or oldest to newest. The passive effect of Plasma Plasma activates at the start of the Defect's turn. While these effects are initially weak, The Defect can increase Icon Focus Focus and channel additional copies to sharply increase their potency.


Main article: Icon Focus Focus

Icon Focus Focus is a stat unique to The Defect that affects Orbs the same way Icon Strength Strength affects Attacks and Icon Dexterity Dexterity affects Icon Block Block. Increasing Icon Focus Focus increases the magnitude of both the passive and Evoke effects of each Orb (except for Plasma Plasma). It is possible to reduce Orb effects to 0 by decreasing Icon Focus Focus.


The Defect has fewer class-specific relics than the other classes, having only one class-specific rare relic rather than three (like the Ironclad and Silent) or two (like the Watcher). The Watcher has equally few overall, but instead of being short two Rare relics is short one Rare and one Boss relic.

Starting Relic: CrackedCore Cracked Core

Common Relic: DataDisk Data Disk

Uncommon Relics: Cables Gold-Plated Cables, SymbioticVirus Symbiotic Virus

Rare Relics: EmotionChip Emotion Chip

Boss Relics: FrozenCore Frozen Core (replaces CrackedCore Cracked Core), Inserter Inserter, NuclearBattery Nuclear Battery

Shop Relic: RunicCapacitor Runic Capacitor


The Defect's game plan almost always involves implementing a long-term plan each battle. By developing Orbs, Powers, and cards with escalating effects, the Defect sets up an insurmountable late-game position and then destroys its enemies with its accumulated advantage. This is a radically different style from the Silent and the Ironclad, who tend to apply bursts of damage to take enemies out opportunistically.

As a consequence, the Defect struggles to win with a deck full of "good stuff". While it does have access to some individually strong cards, they don't present the sheer power that the other characters enjoy without support. However, due to the long-term nature of its best strategies, the Defect must sometimes take such individually strong cards, either to survive the first few acts or to provide frontloaded solutions while it sets up.

Juggling deckbuilding decisions between these two extremes of short-term benefit v.s. long-term power is thus an ongoing struggle during every Defect run, yet a rewarding one once all of the pieces fall into place.

The Defect also has a higher number of chance-based effects, like Hello World, Chaos, and Creative AI.

The Defect's strongly synergistic cards encourage some powerful and well-supported archetypes. Identifying and focusing on one is a key aspect of the Defect strategy.

Build types[]

Listed below are the standard synergies that Defect decks build towards, which may give you an idea of direction for your own runs. Some important things to keep in mind:

  • Most of these builds aren't mutually exclusive. Think of each of the archetypes listed below as an engine that you can incorporate into your deck; depending on the situation, you are more than able to adapt or combine multiple of them.
  • It's important to not "force" a particular build from the outset of the game. Build your deck to solve your immediate problems first and foremost, then allow an archetype to come to you organically. The only exception would be if you run into cards or relics in the early-game that are both individually impactful and form the crux of an entire archetype, and such situations are few and far between.
Icon Focus Focus Stacking

While Defect's orbs are initially weak, they grow in power significantly once it finds Icon Focus Focus-increasing cards for its Deck. After this, the Defect's game plan shifts to playing all of them as quickly as possible, then becoming incredibly powerful in terms of offense and defense. Generally, the Defect wants a mix of different kinds of orbs; in particular, you should be able to consistently generate Lightning Lightning and Frost Frost, changing between them to suit the situation at hand.

Cards or relics that increase Icon Focus Focus:

  • DataDisk Data Disk gives +1 Focus for free, helping you significantly at the start of a battle.
  • Defragment is your bread-and-butter, and are priority upgrades.
  • Biased Cognition provides a large burst of Focus which can help you end hallway fights quickly. Its downside can be negated with OrangePellets Orange Pellets or blocked by your own Icon Artifact Artifact. Combo this with Core Surge or ClockworkSouvenir Clockwork Souvenir to gain permanent Focus with no drawback.
  • Consume is a more situational Focus gain card as it reduces your orb slots, but it is reusable as it is a Skill and not a Power. It is best if you have the Inserter Inserter to offset its downside.

Cards that generate Lightning Lightning and Frost Frost:

Other helpful additions:

  • Capacitor and relics such as Inserter Inserter and RunicCapacitor Runic Capacitor give you more Orb slots to benefit from Focus increasing Orb value.
  • Seek lets you pull your Focus-generating cards immediately out of the Deck.
  • Card draw such as Skim and Compile Driver can help cycle through your Deck to get Focus into play as soon as possible, especially when combined with Energy generators.
    • Fission is the best of both worlds, providing both card draw and Energy!
  • Force Field can help generate Icon Block Block in a pinch.
  • Echo Form can duplicate your Defragments which can normally only be played once, or give you multiple Orb casts.
  • Chaos+ can give you a large volume of orbs right away, but be wary of leaving orb generation up to chance against elites or bosses...
Frost Frost Turtle

While running Lightning Lightning-only is a risky prospect, Frost Frost-only builds are surprisingly consistent and can thrive even against the true final boss. Once the shields are up, the Defect can devote every Energy to damage while the opposition cannot do anything back to it.

Frost Turtle builds require Icon Focus Focus and orb slot buffs to function. Refer to the Focus Stacking section for more information on these cards and relics.

Your main priority as you approach endgame should be to find a damage solution for the final bosses, as defense alone might not win you the run.

  • Barrage is one of your best options in this slot-based deck.
  • Blizzard may seem tempting, but it scales up very slowly, and takes a long time to match Barrage's power. It is still a viable option if you need spread damage.
  • Combine this build with Dark Dark Orb-generating cards and let them build up behind your Frost orbs, unleashing them when the time is right.

Other tips and useful additions:

  • Calipers Calipers is a run-winning addition to this deck. The Defect will often have leftover Icon Block Block with a full setup, which this relic allows to snowball out of control.
  • For orb slots, 2 copies of Capacitor should suffice, but you can take more if you want.
  • Take as many Defragment as possible, and upgrade as many of them as you can. Focus is even more crucial for this deck as 1 Focus means 1 additional Icon Block Block per channeled Frost orb.
  • The FrozenCore Frozen Core boss relic fills your orb slots with Frost orbs, which can help you more quickly establish your defenses.
  • RunicDome Runic Dome is also a powerful boss relic for this Deck, as the extra energy helps get everything into play. You will generally not care about the enemy's action once set up.
Lightning Lightning Spam

This aggressive build tries to channel and Evoke as many Lightning Lightning Orbs as possible, beating enemies down eight damage at a time. Unlike other Orb builds, smaller is better - one Orb slot is optimal to facilitate Evoking.

Key cards to this build:

  • Cards that generate Lightning Lightning include Zap, Ball Lightning, and Electrodynamics.
    • Electrodynamics is a key Seek or BottledTornado Bottled Tornado target, letting you start fights against multiple enemies with a massive advantage.
  • If you have a large number of powers, Storm can add value to those plays by generating even more Lightning.
  • Bullseye becomes significantly stronger when you're constantly evoking Lightning in the target's direction, amplifying all that damage.
  • Consume decreases the number of orb slots while increasing Focus. With fewer orb slots, you can rapidly Evoke multiple Lightning Orbs for a large amount of damage.
  • Static Discharge turns the enemy's offense against them, channeling massive amounts of Lightning against multi-hits in particular.
    • As you are willingly inviting damage to end fights, one or two copies of Self Repair are recommended to keep the Defect's health at safe levels.
  • Thunder Strike and Tempest are this deck's premier finishers, dumping huge volumes of damage onto the enemy.

Other considerations:

  • Have a Icon Block Block plan in mind, as you will gain much less value from Frost Frost if you are constantly Evoking everything. For example, if you are supporting Tempest with Energy generators, you can use Reinforced Body as well to defend yourself from huge hits.
  • This build benefits greatly from damage mitigation relics such as Torii Torii or TungstenRod Tungsten Rod, especially in conjunction with Static Discharge. When combined, they can completely nullify damage from almost all multi-hits.
Dark Dark Orb Engine

Even though the tricky Dark Dark Orbs aren't as well-supported as the others and don't always fit into typical builds, the satisfaction of Evoking a highly charged Dark Orb twice (or more!) makes it all worthwhile to try.

Cards and relics that generate Dark Orbs:

  • Darkness is your main Dark Dark Orb generator. When upgraded, it powers up all Dark Orbs in play by one charge.
  • Doom and Gloom is a solid spread damage option that happens to generate a Dark Orb. This card is what usually fits into a normal build as an early-game option, but gets to shine a lot more here.
  • SymbioticVirus Symbiotic Virus generates a free Dark Orb at the start of each combat.

Key parts of a Dark Orb engine:

  • Recursion is arguably the most important card for Dark Orbs. This is because if you Evoke a Dark Orb with Recursion, it will immediately channel again with the same stats. If you have a Dark Orb in front but don't want to give it up quite yet, Recursion will move it to the back while dealing a huge chunk of damage in the process, letting you continue building its power.
  • Dualcast and Multi-Cast will unleash the Dark Orb multiple times onto enemies, usually ending the fight with a sufficient charge.

Other considerations:

  • Keep in mind that the Dark orb will target the lowest health enemy.
  • This engine works well with Frost Frost decks, as Frost Orbs help generate Icon Block Block and allow you to stall the fight until you are ready to Evoke a Dark Orb.
  • Be extremely careful when fighting enemies with the ability to gain Intangible (namely Nemesis), as evoking a Dark orb at the wrong time will result in the target taking only 1 damage and the accumulated charges being wasted as a result.
Zero Cost

The Defect has a high number of strong 0-cost cards, as well as unique supporting cards like Scrape and All for One and efficient card-draw Skills. Drown an enemy under FTLs, Claws, and Beam Cells. It's sort of like the Silent's Shiv builds, but way more back-loaded and visually impressive.

Damage comes from 0-cost cards that do damage:

The Deck then also needs a lot of recycle/card-draw effects to get as many of the 0-cost cards in play per turn. The Defect has a lot of great support cards for this type of deck:

  • All for One - the best one for this deck as it allows you to re-play all of your 0-cost cards you've played in your deck up until that point
  • Rebound - allows you to double-play cards like Streamline and Claw to more quickly ramp up their effects.
  • Hologram - reuse All for One, double-play Streamline, or replay a 0-cost card.
  • Scrape - good card draw that let's you immediately play any 0-cost cards it finds.
  • White Noise+ - when upgraded it becomes a free power.
  • Reboot - very good if you already have the core engine of your deck in place.
  • Seek - great for finding Claw, or even better, All for One.

There are also some extremely useful neutral cards that either help get 0-cost cards, or are 0-cost cards themselves (or both):

  • Madness - can be difficult to get, but if you are able to acquire it, it will greatly speed up your deck by turning your strongest cards into 0-cost cards.
    • 2 Madness+ with All for One and Hologram+ is an infinite. Use both madness to reduce All for One and Hologram+ to 0-cost, and use each one to put the other back into your hand.
    • Seek+ makes this easier to pull off. Double Seek+ is even easier, as it allows for 3 of the 4 cards to be put into your hand immediately.
    • BottledLightning Bottled Lightning also makes this easier to pull off.
  • Swift Strike
  • Secret Technique+/Secret Weapon+ - both of these when upgraded will allow you to get your key cards faster.
  • Panache - as you will almost certainly be playing more than 5 cards every turn, this will be a guaranteed 10 damage to all enemies every turn.
  • Thinking Ahead - upgrade this ASAP so that you can reuse it.
  • Violence
  • Metamorphosis
  • Purity - can get rid of Strikes/Defends during combat, which, depending on the state of your deck, may allow you to go infinite.
  • J.A.X. - a rare card as it only comes from the Augmenter event, but any source of strength is a huge benefit for a deck that aims to play many 0-cost attacks every turn. As an added bonus, the card itself costs 0 and so, if you have the health for it, can quickly ramp up your damage to high levels in this deck.
Power Spam

The Ironclad likes Attacks, the Silent loves Skills, and the Defect completes the cycle with its affinity for Powers. Grab high-impact powers like Echo Form, pick up some Force Fields, stack powerful effects, and bury the opposition under your cumulative advantage. While most Defect builds pick and choose the most appropriate Powers for their deck, this one will eventually have the benefits of them all. There is nothing quite like being able to double your first 6 cards played per turn with 10+ Icon Focus Focus and a horde of Lightning Lightning orbs staring down any boss that dares stand in your way.

Refine the deck by using Powers to fill the roles of Attacks and Skills. Consider Static Discharge and Storm your primary sources of damage, and Buffer and Self Repair your biggest blockers. A Power spam deck's win condition depends on the particular Powers you acquire. Most builds will create a huge amount of Lightning Lightning, but others simply lean on Creative AI and let the buffs snowball out of control.

Key cards and relics for this build:

  • Storm allows the deck to maintain offensive presence while setting up. Upgrade it as soon as you identify that your deck is leaning into Power spam.
  • Creative AI allows Power spam decks to scale to infinity without ever losing steam, synergizing amazingly with itself and all of the other Power-synergy cards that The Defect can get.
  • Heatsinks is what makes a Power spam deck tick. It will allow you to blaze through your deck to find key Powers or Energy generation like Aggregate, TURBO, or Double Energy, which is critical to setting up before you take too much damage.
  • Recycle+ can delete useless powers that Creative AI generates, such as Hello World or extra copies of Creative AI, and helps keep your deck size thin in longer fights.
  • Force Field is your main Icon Block Block supplement; it is essentially guaranteed to be at 0 cost due to how this deck functions.
  • Amplify, while a bit inconsistent, can provide a huge power spike depending on which Power is duplicated. Good targets for Amplify are cards like Defragment and Capacitor. If you choose to run it, support it with cards like Hologram and Equilibrium which can get it into your hand at the perfect time.
  • MummifiedHand Mummified Hand is essentially a game-ender in this build. Being able to chain Powers and potentially play your entire hand for free is simply too good to pass up.
  • The BirdFacedUrn Bird-Faced Urn is the perfect relic to recover HP lost while setting up.

A deck that repeatedly plays Reprogram to rapidly scale up your Icon Strength Strength and Icon Dexterity Dexterity, ignoring Icon Focus Focus and Orbs entirely. If you find yourself with a conspicuous lack of Focus deep into the run, Reprogram can give your deck a strong win condition. It is important that you do not force a Reprogram deck, as committing to it too early can completely lock you out of half of Defect's card pool.

Key cards and relics:

  • Reprogram is the star of the show. Upgrade it as soon as possible, and you'll gain +2 Icon Strength Strength and Icon Dexterity Dexterity every time you cycle through your deck. You only really need one copy, and cards like Seek or Skim can help you get to it faster.
  • A few copies of Hologram+ let you reuse Reprogram, repeatedly play Steam Barrier in an emergency, or recover copies of each other, scaling up your Block as needed. Your high Dexterity will easily make up for Hologram's low Block.
  • Echo Form allows you to double-play Reprogram at the start of the turn. Double-playing damage or block cards also compensates for the fact that Defect doesn't have many cards (aside from the unreliable Rip and Tear) that scale multiple times with Strength or Dexterity.
  • Hyperbeam deals massive AoE damage, and you can ignore its only downside.
  • Steam Barrier also effectively loses its downside, since you'll be gaining Dexterity faster than Steam Barrier loses Block.
  • All for One strategies fit well with this deck, since spammable 0-costs like Claw and Beam Cell scale well with high Strength. It can also recover your Steam Barrier.
  • Plasma Plasma generators like Fusion+ and NuclearBattery Nuclear Battery are good options, since Plasma Orbs don't scale with Focus.
  • PrismaticShard Prismatic Shard, while usually unreliable, is a surprisingly good relic to pick up when you have Reprogram. Other characters' damage cards scale much better with Strength and Dexterity, letting you better take advantage of the boosts.

Reprogram can also shine in a hybrid build. If you find yourself with lots of Orbs but no Focus, the following cards coupled with Reprogram can help speed your Deck up:

  • Fission allows you to get one last burst of value out of your Orbs by speeding through your Deck, letting you get Reprogram into circulation or finding your Echo Form earlier to begin the snowballing process.
  • Barrage conditionally scales multiple times with Reprogram's Strength boost. If you have some Plasma generation or still have copies of damage commons such as Cold Snap or Ball Lightning in your Deck that are generating useless Orbs, consider picking this up to still be able to capitalize on their presence.
SneckoEye Snecko Eye Abuse

The Defect has incredible synergy with the SneckoEye Snecko Eye due to the very large pool of high-impact cards it has.

  • The Defect has several extremely powerful but expensive cards like Fusion, Echo Form, Sunder, and Meteor Strike. By taking SneckoEye Snecko Eye early enough, you can focus exclusively on taking these cards for absurdly high-value turns. Many of these effects will generate more energy than they spend.
    • In particular, Meteor Strike will never cost more than 3 Energy, allowing you to always play it. Evoking the Plasma Plasma Orbs it generates can also allow you to play more high-rolled cards, which somewhat negates the drawback of Snecko Eye.
  • All for One is completely broken with Snecko Eye. Since cards will retain their cost until you draw them again, it will fetch everything that was decremented to 0 cost, even cards that would normally be quite expensive. A 0-cost All for One paired with a 0-cost Hologram (which is also a good card in this build for similar reasons) is an easy infinite.
  • Skim, Compile Driver, Coolheaded+, and Overclock can provide large amounts of card draw, which is a premium in Snecko decks.
  • Most of the Defect's 0-cost cards are dead weight in this archetype, so it is important to home in on it as early as possible. If you don't get SneckoEye Snecko Eye from Neow or the first boss, pick a different strategy.
10 Card Infinite

With this build, the defect is capable of going infinite against most opponents.

  • Getting the deck down to 10 cards allows for setting up 4 card infinite cycles with Skim and negative cost cards.
  • Fusion, Meteor Strike, TURBO (with Recycle), Recursion, Dualcast can combine in various ways to get negative cost.
  • Hologram or a second Skim can be used to restart the cycle.
  • Example set: Skim+, Hologram+, Fusion+, Dualcast+. Skim draws Hologram, Fusion and Dual Cast, Fusion and Dual Cast make 4 energy, Hologram retrieves Skim. Nets 1 energy and 5 block, can substitute any attacks in for Fusion and Dual Cast after energy is built up.
  • 2 Coolheaded+ and Fusion+ can make infinite block, and channel an arbitrary number of Frost orbs for Blizzard.
  • It is important to only take cards that are either Powers, Exhaust, or are directly part of the combo while building the deck, since the goal is to get the total number of cards down under 10. Recycle can handle junk put in the deck and help thin it out if its not quite down to 10 cards.
  • Boot Sequence is very helpful as a free method of preventing damage during the first turn while the infinite combo is being set up while exhausting itself out of the deck to help enable the combo.


The Defect itself is unlocked by completing a run with The Silent.

Unlock Number Prizes Unlocked
1st Rebound, Equilibrium, Echo Form
2nd TURBO, Sunder, Meteor Strike
3rd Hyperbeam, Recycle, Core Surge
4th Cables Gold-Plated Cables, Turnip Turnip, RunicCapacitor Runic Capacitor
5th DataDisk Data Disk, SymbioticVirus Symbiotic Virus, EmotionChip Emotion Chip