The daily run is a game mode for Slay the Spire where players can compete with each other on a score-based leaderboard by playing a seeded run with a randomly-selected character and three game modifiers. Each daily run is available for 24 hours before a new run and leaderboard is generated which randomizes the seed including character and game modifiers.
I have enjoyed playing this mode for quite some time, and I have managed to get the #1 spot on the leaderboard a few times (after a lot of practice). The daily is more strategically deep than most people give it credit for, and I believe a long, comprehensive guide could be written about daily-specific strategy. I won’t be writing such a guide, but I hope this article will provide a good introduction to daily run strategy for high score and provide some useful tips.
These tips assume you are maximizing for getting the highest possible score.
All of the score modifiers for Spire can be found on this page on the Wiki:
Slay The Spire score modifiers
Note that the daily run is always set to Ascension zero, and Act 4 keys are disabled. So the score modifiers concerning ascension level and Act 4 fights are not relevant to the daily. The run will end after a single Act 3 boss is defeated.
If you are playing for high score, you must try to finish the entire run in 45 minutes to get the Light Speed score modifier. This gives you 50 “free” points, and that is too important to pass up. Sometimes you have to take this into consideration when making card/relic choices during your run. For example, silent runs can sometimes take longer than other characters because of effects like Well-laid Plans and Tools of the Trade which require you to make an extra decision at the start or end of every turn. This can extend the run time quite a bit and has to be taken into consideration to make sure you finish in time.
There are some exceptions to having to finish the run in 45 minutes to maximize score. If you believe that a time-consuming relic or card will greatly increase your chances of avoiding damage on one or more bosses, for example, it may make sense to take it even if it will extend your run beyond 45 minutes. For instance, if you choose to buy Frozen Eye at a store to make your run more consistent, this may improve your performance so much that the other score modifiers you can get outweigh the benefit of the 50 extra Light Speed points.
I will say that in my experience these scenarios are quite rare, and you should almost always plan to finish runs in under 45 minutes. As a general rule, plan to have Act one finished before 10 minutes, Act 2 before 25 minutes, and the run complete by 45.
The bulk of your score in each run will come from killing elites and bosses without taking any damage. Most of your effort each run should be focused on using all of your resources to avoid damage on these fights. You get 50 points per boss killed without taking damage and 25 points per elite killed without damage. Additionally, you get added score for killing additional elites regardless of damage, so you typically want to be fighting as many elites as possible anyway.
So how can you use your resources to give yourself the best chance of damageless elite fights? The most important thing to remember is….
There are no score modifiers for taking zero damage on a normal hallway fight. You have to use this to your advantage and use your health as a resource in these fights. Since the plan is to take minimal to zero damage on boss fights and hopefully for many elite fights, you can afford to use most of your health pool on hallway fights (and beneficial events).
One way you can take advantage of this is to almost never use potions in hallway fights. Even if using a potion will avoid 30 points of damage, it may still be correct to avoid using the potion provided you will survive. It is extremely important to have potions ready for boss and elite fights, and you really want to prioritize defensive potions that can help you avoid damage. So you want to value things like block potions (especially early on) or gambling brew, and avoid wasting these potions on hallway fights when possible.
Setting up your relics on hallway fights is another way to get set up for successful elites/bosses. Make sure your numbered relics like pen nib, happy flower, and incense burner are on the proper number before going into elites even when this results in some extra damage taken in the hallway fight. The same goes for stacking cards like genetic algorithm and ritual dagger. Use your health as a resource to get these things stacked to make the important fights easier.
Aside from not taking damage on elites/bosses, these two are some of the biggest potential score modifiers. And they are at odds with each other.
Since these score bonuses are exclusive of each other, you will want to pick one early on to focus on. In most cases, Highlander will be both easier to achieve and will result in a higher score. This means that in most daily runs, you will want to avoid taking more than one of any card. 100 is a pretty massive score bonus, so it is almost always worth the trouble to do this despite things like multiple Wraith Forms being insanely powerful.
There are a few instances where you will want to go for Collector bonuses instead. The most common is when the “Hoarder” daily modifier is in effect:
Hoarder runs are different than typical daily runs because much your focus will shift to getting as many collector bonuses as possible. These are typically the daily runs with the highest potential score since there is no cap on the number of collector bonuses available (aside from the number of unique cards in the game). I have ended some of these runs with hundreds of cards in my deck, as you generally want to prioritize taking and buying cards at every opportunity at the exclusion of every other strategy.
Another special note is the “Specialized” daily modifier:
In almost all cases with this modifier, I am still going for a highlander bonus. I will just prioritize removing extra copies of the specialized card during shops and events. The reasoning is that the highlander bonus is just too high to ignore, and it can be quite difficult to get 4 collector bonuses on a single run without the Hoarder modifier.
The other big score boost aside from those already discussed comes from the following score modifier:
Again, this is one of those you will have to decide fairly early on whether you will attempt to go for it or not. Adding 5 curses can make it nearly impossible to avoid damage in elites and bosses in some decks, and it might cause you to just lose the run completely. Curses like pain, regret, and normality can be crippling, so you will generally want to try adding curses like clumsy that do not cause direct damage.
Choosing whether or not to go for this is very hard to determine. My general baseline at the start of the run is that I will attempt to go for this bonus until it becomes clear that the probability of getting 5 curses is too low to continue. There are times when the daily modifier incentivizes you to take curses, such as:
Even in these cases, however, you will still want to generally avoid terrible curses like regret since they will be too detrimental to your other score modifiers (and your success in actually completing the run).
You will do quite well just focusing on the most important score modifiers listed above, but take a look at the rest of the modifiers linked above. Gaining max HP and gaining gold are two ways additional ways to get score that will come up fairly often. Some runs will allow for getting 25+ relics to get the “I Like Shiny” modifier.
After you play through enough dailies, you will start to recognize which of these smaller bonuses are possible in any given run. And you can try to determine whether it is worth it to try pursing them. They will typically come at the cost of decreased chance of achieving some other score bonus, so be sure to prioritize properly.
Even though the daily runs are played at Ascension 0, maximizing score will involve taking a ton of risks, adding a lot of bad cards to your deck, and generally making decisions that would be suicidal in a normal run where you are maximizing for win rate. The result is that you will end up dying in a decent number of daily runs.
Don’t let this discourage you! If you are never dying during the daily runs, it probably means that you are not taking enough risks to be able to fully maximize your score.