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Monster Train Clans Guide – Clans Ranked For New Players

Monster Train is a fantastic entry into the deck-building and roguelike genre. At the time of writing, Monster Train has a Mighty score on OpenCritic and 86% of critics recommend the game with a score of 85 on Metacritic. It goes without saying that the game has been received extremely well by critics and players alike. Many user reviews even compare Monster Train to Slay the Spire which is treading on holy ground. In this Monster Train clans guide we will rank and shortly discuss each clan to help new players get into this superb title.

Monster Train clans guide: overview

Hell has frozen over and you are on a train carrying the last piece of burning pyre needed to restore hell’s inferno. The forces of light will stop at nothing to destroy the pyre, and therefore the clans of hell need to stand together to save their home from becoming a frozen wasteland. 

In Monster Train, the classes each relate to a different ring of hell. Before the current frozen crisis, each clan existed independently and therefore the inhabitants, societies and cultures of each ring is vastly different from each other. With each playthrough you will travel through these rings to reach the end and each ring is distinct and gives you a snapshot of the beings living there. 

There are five clans you can choose from and each has a unique playstyle with their own cards to collect. When you start out, you only have access to two of the clans, but it doesn’t take long to unlock the others. Out of these five clans, you will have two in play at any given time. To stop the forces of light, two clans need to ally with each other. Combining the power of two different clans opens up the game to some wonderful tactical opportunities. 

Each clan has a leader or hero card you can use and this depends on the clan you chose as your primary clan. You will still have access to the cards of the allied clan, but not their leader. 

With some background to how the Monster Train clans fit into the story, we can look at each clan individually. It is worth it to note that every clan is viable and very powerful in their own right, but some clans have more complex mechanics than others, making them a bit harder to play effectively. This Monster Train clans guide is aimed at introducing new players to the different clans and provide a basic overview of their mechanics. Therefore if you are an experienced player you might have a slightly different experience of the different clans.

Hellhorned

Monster Train Hellhorned clan

Leader: Hornbreaker Prince

“Rally the aggressive demons of the Scorched plains. Overwhelm Seraph with imps and damaging warriors.”

The Hellhorned is a clan made up of your standard hellish demons. These include a variety of large demons with lots of health and damage, smaller demons with less health and just as much damage and an army of imps. Other than the imposing demons, the Hellhorned have cards that amplify the armour of units and send them into a bloody rage dealing even more damage.

All in all what you’d expect from a clan named ‘Hellhorned’ I’d say. The Hellhorned is also one of the two starting clans, meaning you will have access to them from the outset. The Hellhorned playstyle revolves around hard hitting creatures that you have to protect and keep alive in order for them to dish out massive amounts of damage. 

If you have the opportunity to upgrade some of your Hellhorned creatures during your playthrough, multistrike and health are not terrible choices. This means they hit even harder while being able to stay alive a bit longer.

Awoken

Monster Train Awoken clan

Leader: The Sentient

“Gather the Awoken of the Wildwood Forest. Hollows and Animus are supported by healing Channelers.”

Based on the in-game description, it should be evident that the Awoken is at least a bit more complex than the Hellhorned. The Awoken is a plant-like clan with creatures resembling vines and other more dangerous flora. The Awoken’s forces comprise tanky creatures and creatures that heal. Selected units among the Awoken’s forces also have spikes meaning enemies damage themselves when attacking your troops. The Awoken have an arsenal of healing spells and some spells that add even more spikes to your troops.

The Awoken is the second of the starting clans along with the Hellhorned. Tanking is the name of the game when it comes to the Awoken and many of the creatures have large heathpools and with some upgrades they can achieve near immortality. It should be evident that the Awoken is great at protecting other weaker units which make them an effective partner for the Hellhorned.

Stygian Guard

Monster Train Stygian Guard clan

Leader: Tethys Titansbane

“Draft the support of the ancient Guard of the Stygian Sea. Mystical Sirens and ancient Totems work together to eradicate the Winged from Health.”

With the introduction of the Stygian Guard comes the first caster focussed class. The Stygian Guard have some very powerful units, but they are quite squishy. The Stygian Guard is the first of the unlockable classes and by the time you unlock them you should have a good idea of how the game works. Their units benefit from a heavy spell casting strategy as many of them have enhancements that trigger when you cast spells. If you manage to cast enough spells their units can become quite strong. Apart from this mechanic, their biggest strength is probably the frostbite status effect applied by many of their spells and units. 

Frostbite is a stacking debuff and at the end of the round each unit affected will lose health equal to the number of the stacked debuff. After damage is dealt, the stack decreases by one. If played correctly, you can have hundreds of stacks on a boss before the final battle even starts, resulting in easy victories in many cases.

Umbra

Monster Train Umbra clan

Leader: Penumbra

“Commune with the Ancient Umbra Shroud. The original residents of Hell mine the Crucible for precious materials to help in the fight against Seraph.”

Umbra is the oldest clan and has had aeons to perfect their hellish physical appearance as is evident in their leader Penumbra. Umbra is the second of the unlockable clans and one of the clans that have the most interesting mechanics. 

The demons of the Umbra clan are all about eating, eating your buddies that is. A big part of the Umbra population are called morsels and these morsels are there for consumption. The bigger demons from the Umbra clan gain unique enhancements when they consume a morsel, and if they eat enough of their fellow clan’s people they can become very strong. 

The morsels are of course a delicacy across all the rings of hell, meaning all the allied clans can also eat them for a reduced bonus. The Umbra clan offers innovative gameplay but is tough to pull off.

Melting Remnant

Monster Train Melting Remnant clan

Leader:  Rector Flicker

“Recruit the Melting Remains of the Waxen Arches. Melting souls and greedy thugs band together to reclaim Hell.”

The final clan you unlock is the Melting Remnant. This clan is made up of wax creatures that resemble candles. Therefore, they can be extinguished and even burn out after a few rounds. The other members of the Melting Remnant are an assortment of thugs giving the clan a unique and shady advantage.

Similar to the Umbra clan, the Molten Remnant introduces a fascinating mechanic with their playstyle. Units have a limited lifetime before they “burn-out” and their flame is extinguished. The twist is, you actually want them to extinguish as many of them receive strong enhancements if this happens. You bring them back to life by ‘reforming’ them with certain spells and leader abilities. Each time they are reformed, they come back stronger, but they will still burn-out after a few rounds.

The trick is to have an army of reformed troops with long fuses by the time the boss attacks. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, and many runs end in tatters as your units burn out before they can even damage the boss.

Ranking the clans

The aim of this Monster Train clans guide is to give new players an idea of the complexity of each class and provide some guidance to indicate which classes are beginner friendly. Therefore, we created a tier list of the clans to help you choose the classes you will use to level up at the start. This list may reflect the complexity of each clan but is not the final word on how they will perform in an experienced player’s hands.

  1. Awoken – strong and tanky units mean you can make some mistakes and survive a run. The Awoken are also great allies to most of the other clans.
  2. Hellhorned – these demons hit like a truck and can decimate enemy forces in an instant. With some armour and a bit of luck you can get quite far without too much effort. They make great allies to the Awoken and have some deadly synergies with Umbra.
  3. Molten Remnant – the extinguish mechanic takes a bit of getting used to but once you get the hang of it, you can create some truly terrifying armies!
  4. Stygian Guard – while the frostbite mechanic is very powerful, the squishy nature of the Stygian Guard troops can result in some short runs for new players. The Awoken is a good clan to pair with them.
  5. Umbra – the hardest class for beginners in our experience is Umbra. They can work well with a variety of allies, but nailing the eaten and gorge mechanic is tougher than it looks. If the RNG is being fickle, you can enter boss fights with some rather underpowered units and therefore deck management is really important for this clan.

All aboard the Monster Train!

We hope that this Monster Train clans guide helped you understand the unique clans and that you now know which are easier to get started with. Monster Train has a staggering amount of replayability, so you will undoubtedly experience all the clans to your heart’s content.