In lieu of more to say, I think this is the most well-designed game I've ever played. The size of a given session is perfect for me (45-75 minutes); the difficulty curve is elegant and sloping; variety is strong. I have poured at least a hundred hours into the game and could see myself pouring a hundred more.
If you're looking to improve dramatically, I recommend watching jorbs who streams on the highest difficulty. His gameplay both radically improved my skill with the game and taught me a lot about how to approach games writ large.
The easiest way to improve your character is to fight elites (monsters who are stronger than normal but offer better cards and items as well as more gold); elites are, as one might imagine, much more dangerous. There’s a balancing act here: when progressing through an act, you might get to choose between one of three paths: one with one elite fight, one with two elite fights, and one with four elite fights. The path with one elite fight gives you a high chance of survival but a relatively small improvement to your character’s power; the path with four elite fights will dramatically improve your character but you risk dying.
One of the key strategies of the game is essentially a Umeshism — if you’re ending every act with full health or trying to end every turn with complete block, you’re not being aggressive enough. StS is a game where you need to treat your health as a currency that you spend to improve your character.
In one of many clever touches by the game designers, this is made explicit in the Ironclad’s starting bonus, which allows you to regenerate health after each fight — not a large amount of health, mind you, but enough to incentivize “blocking with your face” and being aggressive rather than turtling your way to victory.