Balatro Catch-All. Straight the Spire.

Poker crossed with a roguelite deckbuilder. Been getting very good reviews and comparisons to Slay the Spire.

Bought it today but am finding it a bit confused as... I don't play Poker. However it's cheap at only £12, so I thought it was worth a punt. Nice retro CRT aesthetic with good music too. It's the perfect game to end up on Gamepass.

I have been playing it all weekend. I’m hooked. It’s grabbed me in a way Slay the Spire never did. I do play poker and that has helped, but I don’t think someone needs a poker background to enjoy this. You just need to know poker hands and the game shows them to you if you aren’t familiar. It helps to know hand rank, because the more difficult it is to get a hand the more points it’s worth. My poker background has given me a bit of intuition in calculating the odds I can make a certain hand or anticipating what cards are left in the deck. But all of that can be manipulated by all the modifiers.

One thing I really like about the game is it forces you to experiment. Early in runs you have to make a move for a joker or other modifier or you will crash and burn. The choices are limited and somewhat luck based. Because of that I have been forced to try different jokers and have found many of them useful in ways I didn’t expect and have found synergies I didn’t anticipate. I often fall into a trap in games where I find one approach that works and just focus on doing that, instead of experimenting with all my tools. Balatro forces me to not do that and it’s led to a great sense of discovery.

I bought it on pc and on switch. I’ve been playing more on switch, it’s works great. You can even play it all touch screen. I use the controller because it works well, but it’s nice to have that option. My only complaint is the text is a little small. It hasn’t been an issue but I wish it was bigger. I think I’ve have a successful run with 5 or 6 different decks on the base difficulty. Now im trying to complete a run on the next highest difficulty. I’ve gotten close. Down to the last boss blind, but lost. It’s so addicting. I turned up the game speed so it doesn’t take so long to go through all the modifiers and adding everything up. Early on you might not want to do that, to learn what all the things do and why certain things are happening. But now that I’m familiar it’s nice it moves faster. I’m loving it and can’t recommend it enough.

I got some cards yesterday that kept multiplying points if I played a pair or two pairs. Then I had some weird card which was like a roulette wheel, randomly awarding up to x23 multiplier and cards that gave me points for playing spades and clubs.

Was ridiculous. My run was ended when the boss requirement was that I could only play one hand.

This game is very polished, graphics, music, sound effects, UX/UI. It's very easy to play.

Tremendous game. I have some familiarity with poker but not a lot. A really nice design choice is how easy it is to see a list of poker hands and their relative strength.
Don't sleep on this amazing game.

This game is easily top three and maybe the best game I've ever played. I started with a Pong console. I hate poker. I don't hate this game. If you ever tried to build a powerful RPG build, you'll like this game. If you like Slay the Spire type games, you'll like this game. I think if you like games at all you'll like this game. Even if you played the demo and weren't thrilled, the whole game offers so much content and differing play styles. Sound, music, presentation, UI...everything is well done. I think this is lightning in a bottle. I feel like I did way back when after playing the original Civ for a whole day.

Completely agree. Great post!

I managed a big hand last night. Just shy of 18 million chips. A big key was having glass cards (X2 multiplier) coupled with jokers that made each of my cards score 3 times. The multiplicative multipliers don't have to be big, you just have to have a lot of them.

So many choices in this game. I usually try to get either chips or additive multiplier from my cards in some way and leave the multiplicative multiplier to my jokers. Economy usually gets split between cards and jokers. But in this particular run, my ideas got completely upended and I had my best run with the multiplicative on my cards instead.

It is 00:30 I have work tomorrow but I downloaded balatro at 20:00 and what a game! I have just won my first game but if there are as many decks and jokers as it appears then wow. I have well north of 1000 hours in slay the spire so it has some way to go to beat that but after 4.5 hours this looks special.

Balatro has been my most played game on the Steam Deck in a long long while.

There is a massive amount of content in this game. I just unlocked Challenge mode, and there were only 6 of 20 challenges unlocked at the beginning. In finishing the first one, I saw my first legendary joker.

I wonder how much of our engagement is at the gameplay and how much is at the ease of the gameplay. Short games, good UI, fast loading; all these things make it easy to continue playing, right? There's hardly any friction there.

I've only unlocked 9% of items, but even so I hope the dev releases DLC in the form of new modifiers etc. Maybe even bundle it with new card types and background music.

I think it’s a combination of really good ui design, so much stuff each run has to be a different strategy and a nicely pitched scaling of difficulty. Add that all onto good old numbers go up dopamine and you have a hit.

One of the things that is subtly fantastic about this game is that it makes sure that the full information you need to make a decision is available always, no exceptions. None of this "oh, sh*t, card choice...let me try remember exactly what my deck looked like" that you get in other games. Just go look. Wondering if you should hold the 8 or the 7 to try to complete the full house? Go look. Was it the 6 of clubs or the 6 of spades that had the red seal? Go look.

The only thing I am half glad it lacks, and half wish it had, is a "if you clicked Play on this hand, it would score X" feature. It's kinda fun to just trust your subconscious Balatro scoring gestalt in most circumstances, but on the later ascensions there are definitely a lot of nail-biters during a run and you wind up having to repeatedly manually calculate to see if a move is appropriate.

I've been playing this nonstop since it came out and I've been loving it. I just had my most epic run by far. I think I had only made it to ante 10 once or twice before this. This time I made it to ante 13. My best hand in the run scored 210,608,379 chips. I busted out when the blind jumped to 47 billion. The jokers I had at the end were:

Spare Trousers (gains +2 mult every time a hand contains 2 pair) I think I had that into the 60s or 70s
Hologram (gains x.25 per card added to your deck) pumped up to like x9
Blueprint (copies ability of joker to the right)
Vampire (gains x.2 per enhanced card played, but removes the enhancement) pumped up to like x9
Baseball Card (adds x1.5 per uncommon joker)

A couple of the jokers were also polychrome which adds a x1.5 multiplier. I used the ghost deck. I basically just spammed 2 pairs. It was awesome.

This game is really good. I do wish it had cross platform saves. I've been playing on both pc and switch and the unlocks don't carry over. I also would like to give a special shout out to the switch version for helping me get through my prep for the colonoscopy I had yesterday. Let's just say there were lots of flushes.

Picked this up on Switch for a weekend trip to see some family.

I do enjoy it.. My first completed run was basically with a key jokers. The one that gives you x.25 multiplier per card added and the one that gives you one stone card every time you open a booster pack. Basically a self-perpetuating engine. Combined with the green deck that gives you $2 per remaining hand and $1 per discard it was pretty unstoppable. By the end game I could play a high card with 4 stone cards and basically one shot the level.

For the final fight though I misread the boss rule, and actually had to get bailed out by the joker that lets you finish the level even when you run out of hands as long as you have 75% of the required score.

It is fun. One issue I have though is that IRL Video Poker or some of the other "against the casino" type poker games the optimal play is almost always to go for the highest possible hand, even at the cost of breaking a lower value "made" hand. So breaking a pair of 4s to try to get a Flush is the right play (any pair less than 10s doesn't even pay most of the time). In my limited experience with Balatro, it always seems that leveling up 2-pair and playing for that is optimal. Maybe as you play more you get more jokers/abilities to help cull or shape your deck, but not sure.

Also, is there any reason someone wouldn't just immediately play a Planet card? I get if you need $2 maybe you sell it, but if you're going to open a celestial pack, what is the scenario in which you just hold onto a planet card.

I think there are situations where you can get multipliers for planet and taro cards that you own but haven't used yet. Of course there's also an option to sell them if you're short on money for a card you really want.

Sell High Card Planets. I've yet to have a deck that leans into those.

Unless your deck really leans into them, also consider selling Four of a Kind or Straight Flush Planets too, as you so rarely hit those hands.

Carlbear95 wrote:

Also, is there any reason someone wouldn't just immediately play a Planet card? I get if you need $2 maybe you sell it, but if you're going to open a celestial pack, what is the scenario in which you just hold onto a planet card.

I had a deck the other day where a had purchased a couple of vouchers that made planets appear in the shop, and they only cost $1. One of my jokers added .25 mult for every card sold. So buying/selling planets in that scenario net $0, and was very advantageous.

Jonman wrote:

Sell High Card Planets. I've yet to have a deck that leans into those.

Only time I sell High Card planets is if I have jokers that benefit from every hand played, and my deck is so strong that I'll "accidentally" win before I can play 1 card hands to exhaustion.

There are plenty of situations where you wind up doing a poor man's discard by just playing an assortment of trash cards, and that High Card benefit works to your advantage there.

On the other hand, at the higher ascensions a lot of decks wind up in a situation where you are only playing your preferred hand type or the poor man's discard, and in those cases I sell every planet except High Card, Pair, and my preferred type.

I really appreciate the unlocks in this game. Even when I'm having a bad run (I'll beat the Black deck one of these days!), I can usually at least spend some money buying a card I haven't unlocked or find out afterwords I have made progress to unlock another voucher.

Heard a lot of hype about Balatro, purchased it yesterday & was planning on going to bed before UFC came on last night. Instead I played Balatro for 3 hours straight.

My goodness once you start to figure out how this game operates beyond playing a traditional game of poker there's so much to it. The planetary cards leveling up the of the various poker hands, the jokers themselves boosting your multiplier in some way, the unique cards like the stone card that add 30 chips to any hand.

I already know this will easily be my most played game this year.

I picked up a Steam Deck recently, and bought this as one of my tryout games. It's interesting, but a bit frustrating in the way games like this where you're randomly trying to build a good build can be. I thought I had a perfect deck earlier; I had a Joker where every time I played Two Pair, it'd add to the multiplier. I used enough Planet cards to get Two Pair up to I think level 7, and I also had Jokers that added a multiplier of double my lowest card (which I always dumped with the Two Pair to get a higher one), one that added +30 coins to every face card, and one that treated every card like a face card, so I was getting ridiculous points. Then I failed to notice the Boss Blind dealt all face cards face down, and, since every single card was a face card . . . goddamn it.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

I picked up a Steam Deck recently, and bought this as one of my tryout games. It's interesting, but a bit frustrating in the way games like this where you're randomly trying to build a good build can be. I thought I had a perfect deck earlier; I had a Joker where every time I played Two Pair, it'd add to the multiplier. I used enough Planet cards to get Two Pair up to I think level 7, and I also had Jokers that added a multiplier of double my lowest card (which I always dumped with the Two Pair to get a higher one), one that added +30 coins to every face card, and one that treated every card like a face card, so I was getting ridiculous points. Then I failed to notice the Boss Blind dealt all face cards face down, and, since every single card was a face card . . . goddamn it.

FWIW all cards are still sorted in rank order, so if all your cards were face down, you probably could play any 5 cards that were next to each other and you'd have a good chance of getting at least 2 pair. And if you didn't, then either trips, or even a 4 of a kind.

When you have random one-off face down cards dealt, you can still switch between rank/suit sorting to get at least a slightly better guess as to what the card may be.

Ah!

Carlbear95 wrote:
MilkmanDanimal wrote:

I picked up a Steam Deck recently, and bought this as one of my tryout games. It's interesting, but a bit frustrating in the way games like this where you're randomly trying to build a good build can be. I thought I had a perfect deck earlier; I had a Joker where every time I played Two Pair, it'd add to the multiplier. I used enough Planet cards to get Two Pair up to I think level 7, and I also had Jokers that added a multiplier of double my lowest card (which I always dumped with the Two Pair to get a higher one), one that added +30 coins to every face card, and one that treated every card like a face card, so I was getting ridiculous points. Then I failed to notice the Boss Blind dealt all face cards face down, and, since every single card was a face card . . . goddamn it.

FWIW all cards are still sorted in rank order, so if all your cards were face down, you probably could play any 5 cards that were next to each other and you'd have a good chance of getting at least 2 pair. And if you didn't, then either trips, or even a 4 of a kind.

When you have random one-off face down cards dealt, you can still switch between rank/suit sorting to get at least a slightly better guess as to what the card may be.

Oh, I know, and I did that, and the really frustrating things was I juuuuust missed completing the round. That being said, the experience made me appreciate the game more; I was taking it casually and wasn't paying attention, and I was surprised by the game and now I'm thinking more strategically as I go. It really does have this lovely balance between being a casual pick up and play poker game, and having to think about it. I'm really digging it.

Other point on "sorting still works for face down cards" angle...you can sort by suit as well (which is always sub-sorted by rank) and watch the physical movement of the cards as you toggle the sort type. This usually makes it trivial to figure out what suit a card is if you're thinking of a flush. Going deeper, combining that with knowledge/examination of how your deck looks for a given suit and what has been played so far can help you make guesses/determinations as to what rank a particular face down card is.

One reason I love this game is I've probably played 60 hours of this game and I'm still discovering new synergies.

My first joker was Midas Mask where all face cards become gold cards when played. I picked it up because it was holographic so it gave a +10 multiplier. Its a joker I never really used before because it didn't seem very useful. Well later I picked up a Vampire Joker which gains a x.2 multiplier every time you play an enhanced card, but it removes the enhancement. So every time I played a face card it would turn gold and them the vampire would eat it and gain x.2. I then realized that "played" is different than "scored". So I could score a hand like a pair of 9's but throw in 3 other face cards and they would turn gold and then get eaten by the vampire even though the face cards didn't score. Before I knew it I had the vampire up to a x12 multiplier.

Finally won it today with a Clubs/Flush deck; got a Joker that increased the multiplier by 1 for every Tarot used, so, of course, I chose every Tarot that let me change stuff to Clubs, create Wild Cards, or delete other suits. Once I got the Joker that let you treat Spades and Clubs as the same suit, it was incredibly easy.

It's just a great little pick up and play game. Just perfect on the Steam Deck.

I cleared gold stake last night. It was an odd run in that I received bootstraps and the joker that gives you chips based on cash early. I easily just soared past ante 8 saving cash and only really added the joker that gives mult based on empty joker slots. Interesting to see how long this holds my attention now but I’ll definitely be getting all the decks up to gold stake difficulty.

I finally beat my nemesis the Black Deck (-1 hand, +1 joker). Along with a lot of planet leveling, I had the Burglar (+3 hands, no discards), Blue Joker (+ 2 chips for cards in deck), Green Joker (+1 mult per hand played, -1 per discard) and Joker Stencil (x3 mult based on empty joker slots). The final boss was Crimson Heart which disabled a Joker every hand, but I was able to beat it out for the win.

Checkered Deck? Very nice!

Dev said the game has sold a million copies. It's available on the Switch again, too.

This dude is going to make so much money.

1Dgaf wrote:

Dev said the game has sold a million copies. It's available on the Switch again, too.

This dude is going to make so much money.

He deserves it. The game is so well designed. The last time a game like this has sunk its hooks into me was Hades. I can’t imagine this game not being in my top 3 at the end of the year.