Every run starts with choosing your Primary and Secondary Clans. There are 5 Clans in total; however, only 2 Clans (Hellhorned’ and Awoken) will be available to you when you start the game.
Each Clan has dozens of unique cards, exclusive to them, that focus on different mechanics. For example, the Hellhorned Clan has cards that focus on Rage, Armor and Imps. The Awoken Clan focusses more on Health Restoration and Rejuvenation effects.
They each play very differently, which means that playing around with different Clans and finding different Clan combinations can be very rewarding. Each Clan also has a Clan Level, which increases from 1-10 the more that you use it. With each Clan Level increase, you will unlock more Cards, Artifacts, or Champions to use for your next run.
If you want to learn more about what makes each Clan tick or how to make the most of their specializations, head to our Clans page to learn more.
Champion Units
Each Clan has 2 Champion Units – one that you start with and another that you will unlock at Clan Level 5. These Champions function differently from any other Unit in the game. They will also be your only non “Train-Steward” Unit in your starting deck, making them a vital part of your first few combat encounters each run.
At the start of every run, and after the third and sixth battles of each run, you will come to a Dark Forge, where you can pick a number of specializations for your Champion. Each Champion has 3 specializations that you can improve upon up to 3 times. These upgrades will keep your Champion relevant throughout your run.
The abilities they receive from their upgrades are usually very potent, and if catered towards, can become incredibly strong. You can also combine these specializations when visiting multiple forges in a run, sometimes creating an interesting Hybrid version of your Champion.
We’ve outlined every Champion, their upgrade paths, and some strategy tips for each of them in our Champions page if you want to learn more.
After choosing your starting Champion upgrade and Artifact, it’s time for your first battle! Battles in Monster Train can be a bit confusing if you are new to them, but here is how a typical battle will start.
Your train is comprised of 4 separate levels. The bottom 3 levels are where the majority of your combat will take place, with the 4th level being reserved for your Pyre. Your Pyre is your overall health, and if it is reduced to 0, then your run is over. While the Pyre can defend itself, it is ideal to stop the Pyre from taking any damage.
Enemies will (usually) enter your train on the Bottom level. At the end of each turn, they will progress to the next level of the train until they are defeated or reach the Pyre. If they do happen to reach the Pyre, they will take turns attacking and being attacked by the Pyre until they either die or the Pyre loses all of its health.
This is where you come in. You will be given a number of cards from your Deck each turn, and you must use these Unit and Spell cards to slow, stop and defeat these enemies. Each card has an Ember cost, which you can only spend so much of each turn. Each Unit also has a Capacity cost, meaning that you can only fit Units inside each floor’s Capacity limit.
Here’s some beginner combat tips:

  • Use each turn to set up each floor with units so that your enemies do not go unchallenged on any floor.
  • You can use your spells to make sure that your units are healthy or to damage your enemies directly.
  • Keep in mind that each turn, the enemies will attack first, so if you put a unit down that will die immediately, try to put it behind another unit so that it can do some damage, or use a spell to take out the damage dealers.

After a certain number of waves, the final wave and boss will arrive. The boss will usually require you to damage it across multiple floors, given its large amount of health and damage. It will sometimes also come with special abilities or support units that, for example, fill your hand with useless or harmful cards reducing your effective draw for the next turn.
After defeating the boss, you will be given a number of rewards. These will be Gold, Card Packs, and potentially a Unit Draft or Artifact, depending on if you activated any trials before the battle.
Some battles that take place later in the run will have units spawning on mulitple floors, or Bosses that float between levels for the duration of combat, but most rounds of combat will follow this basic structure. If you want to learn more about Trials, Enemy Effects, or Bosses, head to our Combat page.
Overworld Locations
There is a section of this guide dedicated to the different Overworld Locations that you visit in between rounds of combat, but we’ll discuss the barebone details of these here. If you want a more in-depth look at what you can find at each of these locations, you can visit the Overworld Locations page here.
Between fights, you will come to a fork in the road, with different options for you to choose between. As you progress, the number of options available to you with each path will increase.
These options may be something as simple as more Gold, or more Pyre Health, or they could be a shop that allows you to upgrade your Spells or Units in exchange for your hard-earned Gold. Making the right choices here is important and is also something that takes time to get a feel for. The more you play, the more you will understand what will benefit your run in the long-term and which locations to prioritize over others. Here are a couple of simple tips to help you get started with your decision making.

  • Don’t get stuck with your starting cards – These beginning Spells and Train Stewards, while they helped you in your first battles, will not see you through to the final boss of each run. As such, having them in your deck can be a big disadvantage, as you may be unable to use your more powerful Cards as fast as you would like, leaving you on the backfoot.
  • Use it or lose it – The Gold that you win at the end of each round of combat is there for you to spend. Do not be shy about upgrading your strong units and spells.
  • You may need to make a difficult choice – Sometimes, you may want to get a new Artifact or Unit down a certain path. However, if your Pyre is one hit away from death, getting the Pyre health top-up should be the first thing on your priorities list. An artifact may shake up your run for the better, but if it doesn’t work out, you might not make it past the next battle.

Once you have made your choices, you progress to the next battle, fighting and deciding until you come out the other side the Winner or the Loser. Don’t be disheartened by a loss, though, as each run is a learning opportunity!
And that’s about it! I strongly encourage you to jump in and play a few rounds with this knowledge under your belt. You will start to develop a stronger understanding of how to progress the more you play.
Now that you have a grasp of Monster Train’s fundamentals, I recommend you visit our Tips and Tricks page, which details more strategies you can use to help you succeed.