Inscryption Guide for Beginners

The Prospector reaching out towards the camera

Guide

Inscryption Guide for Beginners

October 18, 2021

By: Tyler Chancey

More Info About This Game
Publisher
Devolver Digital
Platforms
Linux, Mac, PC
Release Date
October 19, 2021 (Calendar)
Genre
Horror, Puzzle, Indie
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)
 
 

Hey there card gamers. Chances are you have picked up Inscryption thanks in no small part to our review and want to know where to start with your run and how to get the most out of each run. Also, you might need help discovering some quick and easy tricks to help you out early on in Leshy's cabin. That's what our Inscryption Guide for Beginners is for.

Having trouble on a boss? Check out our boss guide here. Stuck on the cabin puzzle? Find the solution here.

A game of cards with a figure explaining how it works.
Down the rabbit hole we go....

Inscryption Guide For Beginners - Deck Building Tips

The idea behind each run of Inscryption is your deck starts with four cards and is supplemented by a resource deck. Each creature card has an attack and defense value, as well as a summon value. Summoning values include blood, which marks how many creatures need to be sacrificed to summon it, and bone tokens. You receive bone tokens every time a creature you control is sacrificed or killed.

The resource deck is where you can play squirrel cards at no cost. These can be used as last-minute blockers, sacrificed to summon stronger cards and used to stock up on bone tokens. Bone tokens are only introduced as a resource once you lose to Leshy for your first time.

 
 

The biggest challenge as you play is knowing when to draw from your main deck and your resource deck. Do you need more sacrifices to summon your heavy hitters or do you risk drawing from the deck to get something of a lower cost?

An adder and a black cat card on a table
Do I want free sacrifice fodder every turn or instakill poison? Decisions, decisions.

The answer to that will depend on what your deck's current build goes towards. If you stack the deck with wolves, for example, you will need more sacrifices. If you've played any CCG, you should be aware of the term “resource screwed,” where your hand is full of high cost cards and no resources to play them. To mitigate this, try going for as low cost cards as possible in your early game. This is the kind of game that rewards steady and reliable plays more than big ones.

If this section seems thin on consistent strategy, that is mostly due to Inscryption's roguelite elements in Leshy's cabin. You can't exactly build a deck from scratch (yet), so you have to take what you can get. That being said, the various creature cards and sigil abilities do lend themselves to some straightforward synergies and strategies.

Inscryption Guide For Beginners - Creature Types

There are multiple types of creatures in Inscryption, but to generalize there are four major categories.

Canine creatures are pretty straightforward. These are the brutes all about tearing things apart and not much else. These include the basic wolf, the wolf cub that transforms into an adult wolf after a single turn has passed, the bloodhound that immediately moves to engage an enemy card once it enters the board - assuming none of your cards are in the way - and the attack buffing Alpha wolf. If you just want to beat things down hard with fast attacks and high numbers, check these out. Just don't expect any solid defense or endurance.

A set of scales unbalanced, a stone bowl fills with metal teeth
Trust me, there is no kill quite like overkill in this game.

Alternatively, avian creatures are all about bypassing defenses with flight. Their costs are overall cheaper, just one blood on average. Unfortunately, there aren't many heavy hitters among them. The turkey vulture is the most obvious card, but it costs 8 bones to summon. These creatures work best as supplements to a deck rather than a more dedicated build.

 
 

Next are reptile creatures. Simply put, repiles are all defense and status abilities. The bullfrog can block flying attacks. The adder has an instakill poison ability whenever it attacks any creature. The skinks immediately spawn their severed tail as a separate creature when attacked. This is great if you enjoy more technical deck builds where you can interrupt and take apart enemy attacks.

Finally, there are insect creatures. These are my personal favorite of the different creature types. Basically, they're all about summoning hordes and staying alive. The cockroach's undying ability returns him to your hand whenever he is sacrificed or killed. The Queen Ant and worker ant cards get stronger whenever more of their kind are in play. The corpse maggots are immediately summoned from your hand if another creature dies. This does make space management a bigger concern, but if you manage your bone tokens right, you can just overwhelm your opposition with raw numbers here.

As for sigils, there are a lot of them. Basically, they're symbols that represent an ability. A wing means they fly, a skull and crossbones means they're poisonous, etc. There's a giant book that is always near the table you can flip through if you need a refresher on these symbols. There is a lot to go over and a bit of research goes a long way.

The map from Inscryption
Alright, time to break down what to look out for here.

Inscryption Guide for Beginners - Places of Interest on the Map Symbols

Of course keeping broad strategies for your deck in mind is just half the game of Inscryption. You also must choose paths on a map to determine what you'll be facing and how you ready yourself for the boss fight at the end. This part of the guide will explain some of the areas on the map and what to look out for.

 

Skulls 

Skulls and a crow on top of a skull are encounters. Skulls are straightforward games where you and Leshy duke it out to see who can drop their scale first. A crow on a skull is where Leshy will pull out a totem, which will give his creature cards an additional ability like spike damage or the ability to fly. Be very careful when dealing with these encounters - you will get overwhelmed if you're not prepared.

Bonfire

Moving on from there are the bonfire encounters. In these encounters, you can take a creature card from your deck and place it on the fire. This will either boost that card's health or attack power based on whatever that specific bonfire raises. Use this on your lowest cost cards. A single increase can make a world of difference.

As you progress, these bonfires will allow you to use them multiple times on the same card. But every time you do so, there's a risk that the card will be destroyed. As easy as it is to be greedy here, the rule of thumb for me is do it twice then run.

A pair of pliers, a jar of green slime, and a jar with a card in it on a desk
What does the jar of slime do? He's annoying. That's it.

Backpack

Continuing this is the backpack symbol. If you go here, Leshy will offer you several items. These items can be used at any point during your turn. You can only have three items maximum, and if you visit this location with a full bag, Leshy will give you a Pack Rat creature card. It costs two sacrifices and adds an item at random to the table when summoned (assuming there's room).

The big items to keep an eye out on are the following:

  •  A pair of pliers. You can use this to pry out a tooth and get a free hit on Leshy. It's great as either a catch-up mechanic or to finish off a game.
  • A card in a jar. It's exactly what it sounds like. Pick the jar and you immediately get that card added to your hand. These range from healthy squirrels, boulders for blocking, and black goats meant for sacrifice fodder.
  • A fan. You can use this to give all of your creatures the flying ability for a single turn. Make it count.
  • An hourglass. If you use this, Leshy will be forced to pass his next turn. No attacks, no plays, nothing. Save this for boss fights or for tricky totem battles.
  • A pair of scissors. You can use this to immediately cut up and destroy one of Leshy's cards. Use wisely.

Sigil Altar

Moving on from here are the sigil altars, represented by a stone slab with runes etched on them. This is where things get technical. You get two glowing areas for cards on this altar. The horizontal spot is for sacrifices. Pick a card that has a sigil on it you enjoy. If you can find it on a higher cost card or on something you know to be potent, even better. The vertical spot is for the host card. Pick a card you reliably summon a lot or doesn't have any special ability at all.

Congratulations, you've sacrificed the former card and given their special abilities to the latter card. This will last until the end of your run. Better still, there doesn't appear to be any limits on how many sigils can be on a card. Go nuts.

A group of wooden figures around a bonfire
Do you risk putting a potential meal down?

The next few areas rarely pop up in early parts of the map and play a bigger role the further you get in Inscryption.

Sacrifice Altar

The first is the sacrifice altar. This is marked by a square with an X on it. This is pretty straightforward. Pick a card from your deck that you just have no real use for anymore. Either it was added against your will or just isn't working with your build. This will remove the card from your deck and give you a bonus, usually granting you bone tokens at the start of each encounter for the rest of your run.

Woodcarver

Then there's the woodcarver. Her spot on the map is marked by various symbols followed by a branch. Go here and she will offer you one of two pieces to your own totem. The first piece is a head which determines what creature type gets the boost. The second part is the boost itself. This persists until the end of your run. Much like the sigil altar, keep in mind what you're building your deck towards and lean into it.

Myconid Doctor

Next is the myconid doctor, found under the symbol of a mushroom. This two-headed monstrosity is very interested if you have doubles of any card in your deck. Show a pair to the doctor and they will combine them together, doubling their values and combining any sigils they have together. If you have no doubles, they'll offer you a copy of something you already have.

A collection of cards drawn as part of the cave dweller challenge
Oh yeah, I know what my deck is all about.

Cave Dweller

Continuing this is the cave dweller. Suitably, this is marked by a cave with a pair of eyes poking out of it. When you come here, you'll be given a test based on your current deck. These challenges are things like “the combined attack value of three cards drawn must be equal to or greater than X.” If you pass these tests, you'll get your choice of a powered up creature card.

Trapper

Next is the trapper, marked by a bear trap. When you meet the trapper, he'll offer to sell you some pelts. This is where things get a bit complicated. Whenever you win and deal “overkill” damage to Leshy, those extra teeth are placed in a bowl. You use these teeth to buy pelts from the trapper. They come in three tiers separated by cost: the rabbit pelt, wolf pelt, and golden pelt. Buy some of these and hold on to them.

Try not to buy more than three pelts at once. Once these are bought they are added to your deck. They cannot attack or be sacrificed. The best use they have is for defense and blocking. At worst they can flood your hand as dead weight.

Trader

This is important because you'll want to get to the Trader as soon as possible. Her location is marked by a symbol of folded sheets. Go to her and you can exchange the pelts in your deck for powerful cards. Rabbit pelts are exchanged for standard cards. Wolf pelts are exchanged for enhanced cards with at least two sigils on them each. Finally, golden pelts are exchanged for extremely rare and powerful cards.

A character's death card from Inscryption
A 0 cost three damage card with Undying? Yes, that is broken.

Inscryption Guide for Beginners - Deathcards

Finally, we'll need to explain Inscryption's roguelite element: Deathcards. Every time you are defeated by Leshy, he'll drag you away to different room in order to seal your fate. But before you are killed, you build a Deathcard using elements of your own deck. You start with the card's cost, then the attack and defense values, followed by sigils. Finally, he'll ask for your name. Once again, build something with a lot of power for little cost.

Once you've done this, Leshy will take your picture with a camera, blinding the screen, at which point your next run begins. In addition, the deathcard you created will be added to a random pool and might get added to your starting deck. Take advantage of this as often as you can. Sometimes all you need is one good card to turn the tide.


With that, we have barely scratched the surface of what Inscryption has in store for you. But as far as beginning's go, this guide will help you just fine. If you want more in-depth help with different elements of Inscryption, we have you covered there as well.

a candid selfie of the staff writer, husky build, blond hair, caucasian.
Staff Writer

Born in 1990, Tyler Chancey's earliest memories were of an NES controller in his hands, and with it a passion that continued into his adulthood. He's written for multiple sites, has podcasted, and has continued to shape and encourage new talent to greater heights.

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