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Calm Sober Codex P/review
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2016 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Just want to say I don't like the art direction in any of the Sirlin games. The 'UI' stuff like circular frames with toothy things around it, adding curved framesthat just take away space from the artwork, the different fonts of various sizes and colors, combined with the artwork that tends to use the same colors/tones/line quality of the rules text decoration, combines for a garish card reminiscent of 90's geocities shrines.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Oh right, it's been over 2 months and I'm not doing the things I should be doing now, so it's time to cover the next Spec:

Present

Sirlin's hype post neglects the most important unit

Flavor: More Protoss ripoffs, this time more towards Time Travel Science and Cyborgy Robots

Unique Mechanic: Present's big trick is hitting an opponent with the same unit up to 6 times in a single turn - but that's not technically "unique". Instead its "unique" mechanic is having the only Indestructible unit which can both Patrol and with stats high enough to laugh off the sort of debuffs that answer the smaller Indestructible units in the game.. There's currently a rules argument going on about how exactly this particular unit interacts with opposing units having the Obliterate ability, which really matters, because apparently using the triple secret rules of Sirlin's inner circle means that you can use this Tech II unit anchoring your heroes to build a Patrol Zone which is a perfect defense against most Tech III units. As a Denizen, I personally interpret the actual rules based on the actual rulebook, and in this case applying a bit of Denizen hyper-literalism to that interpretation does have things working out such that Indestructible helps against, but does not render Obliterate useless and that an Indestructible Tech II unit anchoring a Patrol Zone is better than usual, but less than a perfect defense against a Tech III attacker with Obliterate which is exactly how it should work out. But the point of this whole digression is that here's something else that either wasn't caught in the "ten years of playtesting" or got lost because the rules-as-written don't come close to matching the rules-as-intended.


Hero: Max Geiger.


Who has mediocre stats, but at least you're not overpaying for them.

Hero Innates:
Startband: Sparkshot. For reasons unexplained this next-to-meaningless ability is how Codex translates the Hadoken ability from the Fantasy Strike fighting game.


This ability loses a litt bit in the translation between game genres


Midband: Tap to cycle one card faster. Tapping is such a big cost in this game that you do not fucking care, nine times out of ten tapping Gieger to attack for 2 is flat out better.

Maxband: This is the fancy pants and yellow tie trickshot ability. When Max hits Max level, you get to trash and replay one of your units. This untaps readies it, removes any debuffs, heals all damage on the unit, and most importantly forms a snap-tite multiattack combo on any unit that comes with Haste.


Spells:
Now!: This 1 cost spell gives a single unit or hero Haste this turn. While the combo of playing a unit + casting Now! means that you need to play at least two cards and therefore go down on cardflow, Haste is a really massive buff within the framework of Codex and merely having the potential to maybe do this means that your opponent has to reconsider their patrol assignments each turn.

Temporal Distortion: This 2-cost spell could just say "Ready one of your units, remove all damage and debuffs from that unit" and it would be about fair. But that's actually the worst case here. It's actually a tutor-from Codex effect II that not only replaces a damaged and Exhausted unit with an unhurt and Ready unit, but it also lets you choose the replacement from anything of the same Tech level you could have previously drafted instead. Note also that it bounces the original unit back to your hand, meaning that it's a cardflow neutral psuedo-cantrip: you end up with the same number of cards in your hand after you cast it.



Ready or Not: For 4 cost you untap Ready one of your units, and opposing units do not untap during their next untap phase Ready Step. This is a Twiddle whose utility scales up depending on board conditions with the best case being "I get an extra lick in AND none of opponent's troops can attack me next turn". Sadly the best case is kinda rare and short of that the 4 cost is nowhere near twice as good as the crazy-go-nuts utility of Temporal Distortion, so you're only gonna Tech this in to pile more on top of Present's big combo.

Ultimate Spell: Research and Development A 2-cost spell that lets you draw 5 cards. You might think that a spell halfway between Braingeyser and Ancestral Recall would be good. Surprisingly, you're not going to even bother Teching for this in most games as the opportunity cost of missing out on better and more reliable things in the same Spec is too high.

Tech I: Present's Tech I has the 3 cost 3/4 Argonaut which has Readiness on top of that common stat to cost ratio, making it a very solid option. It also has the FAQ nightmare unit Sentry, which has the ability "Prevent the first damage per turn which a spell or ability would deal to one of your patrollers. choose randomly if multiple patrollers are damaged at once". So what about spells that summon Ephemeral hasted units? So what about spells that buff attacking units? What about the case where you played a pair of Sentries and each tries to prevent "the first"? Does the card mean the first point of damage or the first effects which deals any damage (regardless of how many points)? Couldn't a very similar effect have been achieved with greater clarity by invoking the @ targeting icon and granting bonus Armor? Or perhaps by using an "aside from combat damage" clause similar to Gilded Glaxx? Ten years of playtesting my ass. I would wager all the money I wasted on pledging for the Deluxe Set that this unit was never actually played in a single blind playtest.

Tech II and III

Present is a strong contender for both Best Tech II suite and for weakest Tech III unit of any spec in the entire game. So most Present-based plans will press for a win before the game hits Tech III, and have a decent shot of pulling it off.

Present's key unit is Hyperion, which may be the best Tech II unit in the entire game.



Not quite - although this might be more honest.

There she is


It's a 4/5 Soldier with Haste for $5. Remember how big a deal Haste is in this game due to the need to defend your own Tech buildings and the inability to use Exhaust abilities out-of-turn. 4/5 is the best statline on any Haste unit at Tech II in the game (although you can argue that a couple of Red's Ephemeral Haste units have equally good stats - but those have the Ephemeral drawback), before you combo it with the Purple Starter Upgrade Battle Suits, which gives your Soldiers +1/+0. So a lot of the time it's going to be a 5/5 Haste. Then on top of that it has a cardflow ability that combos with two of Present's spells and Geiger's maxband as well as one of the Purple starter spells.

The Big Combo: Hyperion (5) into Temporal Distortion (2) into replaying the first Hyperion (5) nets you 12 (15 with Battle Suits) points of Hasted Attack and one more card than you started with for 12 gold. Hyperion also turns Ready or Not into a cantrip and lets you gain a card off of maxbanding Gieger. Even the Purple cross-faction Undo lets you untap and attack again with Hyperion for 3 gold and doing so ends up card-neutral. You're not realistically going to have enough gold to combo all of those at once, but there are so many redundant ways to get an additional attack of Hyperion that she's going to show up and unless the opponent's only patrollers are threatening 5+ damage, she's immediately going to attack from two to four times -- which will put an opponent on the ropes even without the likelihood that she's netting massive card advantage from doing so.

If the Hyperion multi-blitz doesn't immediately win the game, Present is then going to drop Chronofixer whose presence prevents opponents from leveling up their heroes (no more gold sinks, no more healing, far fewer abilities). That sort of partial lock makes it even harder than usual for an opponent to come back from behind -- and Codex is inherently weighted against comeback potential. As I have mentioned previously, Sirlin somehow forgot his previous railing against slippery-slope design when making this game.

Linky where Sirlin blog-disses the Starcraft design decisions he would later copy into Codex

Present then has three additional flavors of awesome, if slightly-less-than Hyperion available in its Tech II unit suite.

Immortal: This is a 5/5 unit with Indestructible, meaning if it would die, it instead taps exhausts and fully heals. The game has a relatively small number of viable answers for a beefy indestructible patroller. By my count 10 of the 20 specs have no way to remove nor to profitably sideline this, meaning that decks lacking any of the other 10 specs only option is to "go around" via evasion abilities or getting a larger number of the units on the board. And given Present II's suite of card-advantage abilities, getting enough additional units on the board will be quite difficult.

Triskilion Tempest Tricycloid. It's a 3/3 that gets three +1/+1 counters when it arrives. You can remove a counter to deal 1 point of direct damage anywhere. With all the counters it has decent stats for a Tech II. without the counters it's weaksauce. You can reset the counters with Ready or Not, and the counters are explicitly Time Runes, so Past and the Purple starter have a bunch more ways to replenish them.

Note that the Fire Spec spell which lets you split three points of direct damage costs 2 less and has much more stringent target limitations, so this is almost fair as direct damage alone. With the body, combo potential and ability to attack then shoot for up to 9 damage in a single turn, this is strong.

Warp Gate Disciple: This is a $4 cost 1/1 with the truly amazing backline ability to tutor any other Tech I or II unti from your Codex directly into play at a cost of $1 gold and Tap. The downside is the unit's fragility. The upside is not merely that the ability generates card advantage putting a unit into play at zero card cost, nor that it also generates gold advantage putting a Tech II unit into play for $1, and even the fact that it's also a tutor ability getting you your choice of units right now is not the big deal here. The big deal is that the ability specifically states that you do not have to meet the tech requirements for the chosen unit. Thus is lets you play Tech II units even during a turn when your Tech II building has been destroyed, and it also lets you gate in units from one of your Specs other than Present. Remember that in Codex you have to choose only one Spec when you build your Tech II building. So this ability gets a lot of mention in hypothetical combo and game-state puzzle theorycraft.



Tech III

Future's War Octopus is one of the three very worst Tech IIIs in the entire game. It will still win you the game, but if and only if

  • you get to untap with it
  • the opponent doesn't have an army with significant invisible, untargetable, resist or haste components.
  • the opponent has a win condition that requires their forces to be untapped - not like spells or a combo of in-play abilities
  • the opponent doesn't have any sort of spell or non-exhaust ability which can remove an 8 health tech III unit.


Even then, you are spending notable amounts of gold for one to three turns on just locking down opposing forces, while your opponent is likely spending similar amounts of gold on developing their board - which can let them get to their Tech III unit or other answer. So if Present hasn't gift-wrapped the game with it's sweet Tech II suite, its Tech III war-octopus is not terribly likely to be able to keep up with an opposing Tech III.


Last edited by Josh_Kablack on Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:22 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2016 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Apparently there is now no room for discussion of sane twitter hashtags either. It's a good thing I'm a Atwitist and don't believe anything useful happens on social media or I might have taken offense at Sirlin's admonition to use #Codex until it gets big enough to displace everything else using the same hashtag.

Reality check for David Sirlin: Magic the Gathering is only a top 4 result for #magic, and that has annual sales figures in the $200 to $300 million range....compared to Codex's $300 thousand ish Kickstarter - which is highly likely to be the biggest single year gross Codex will ever pull in. So you're wanting ti achieve something which an established competitor which has a had thousand times your sales for years hasn't benn big enogh to do. Swallow your fucking pride and go with #CodexCTS or #CardTimeStrategy or something that will actually let the small niche audience your overly intricatte games cater to use the internet to discuss those games.


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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2016 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So, other than the single-time buy-in, is there an advantage to Codex over Magic? Seems like it has worse art and less high end strategies.

And to be honest, now that I work too much and need to schedule social life time, the ability to buy more cards and participate in booster drafts and shit is actually quite nice for me. I'm not sure that all-in-a-box card games are ever going to scratch the itches that genuinely collectible games do.

-Frank
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2016 7:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
So, other than the single-time buy-in, is there an advantage to Codex over Magic?


Yes. It also offers in-game deckbuilding as a strategic puzzle in place of pregame engineering.

But that's not even an advantage for everyone, as a lot of folks have schedules with unpredictable chunks of free time at times that are not conducive to meeting friends to game. And those times can be used to tweak or test decks in a traditional CCG, but cannot be used to play a private pool deckbuilder.

In general the one-time buy in and in-game deckbuilding seem to be the only advantages of Codex. Personally, I'm not seeing how that's going to market compete at all against MtG's massively larger playerbase, more clarified ruleset, greater art assets, more diversified strategies, better marketing, actually meaningful playtesting and so on and so forth.

But I would really like to see a different private pool deckbuilder along similar lines, with much simpler rules and much less accounting, as the one-time buy-in and in-game deckbuilding appeal to my current card and boardgaming tastes.


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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Completely asymmetric play is an interesting feature, and probably could lead to a better online experience (Magic Online is pretty bad), but at an actual table I think counters and blocking choices and combat tricks make the game a lot more fun.

I don't actually see the purpose of the game's tech development curve. It's a way for a player to fall hopelessly far behind five turns before the game actually ends? Does it really provide anything other than that? If you can stomp down an opponent's development building and defend your own, they are going to be defending themselves with stuff that is objectively worse than what you're using. It doesn't even seem like there's an appreciable tradeoff between forcing your opponent to live in the stone age and developing your own economy.

-Frank
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
I don't actually see the purpose of the game's tech development curve. It's a way for a player to fall hopelessly far behind five turns before the game actually ends? Does it really provide anything other than that? If you can stomp down an opponent's development building and defend your own, they are going to be defending themselves with stuff that is objectively worse than what you're using. It doesn't even seem like there's an appreciable tradeoff between forcing your opponent to live in the stone age and developing your own economy.


I honestly think that you are not complaining hard enough here. On top of the Slippery Slope issue I keep harping on, and on top of higher Tech adding gold efficiency on top of better stats, Codex is just not built with the idea that "Answers Should Be cheaper than Threats. Indeed, all too often Codex inverts that, with removal spells like Doom Grasp, Undo, Judgement Day and Rewind being intentionally unable to hit anything that's tech III.

As I mentioned previously, the standard MtG curve where mana isn't carried over from turn to turn is a much smoother and less fiddly way to do the "you have to wait until later in the game to play better cards" dealio.


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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well the game permanently punishing your draw rate (and thus the rate at which you can replace old shitty cards with new awesome cards) whenever you cast more than one spell per turn is already anti-conducive to answering threats. That's just a really weird and dumb design choice and I do not understand it. Any answer that isn't a sweeper is basically worthless by definition in such a format. Control decks as such cannot exist.

-Frank
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...You Lost Me
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I like the idea of something having HP other than your base, because it can increase the number of ways of achieving a win condition regardless of your deck (as long as you have things that deal damage, which you will). Tech buildings are a way of exploring that, but they are way too important to the game to fall that easily and inflict that much punishment. Some kind of tempo advantage in exchange for killing a building would be interesting, though.
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Again, look at this fucking map you moron. Take your finger and trace each country's coast, then trace its claim line. Even you - and I say that as someone who could not think less of your intelligence - should be able to tell that one of these things is not like the other.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well the big Codex news is that Tom "I tell people what to like" Vassel and his daughter love the crap out of this game, so it's now in the BGG "The Hotness" trendiness list and a bunch of previously unaware gamers are curious about it.

That means I should pick this back up.


In other Codex news apparently Codex is shipping significantly early. That's pretty awesome for any Kickstarter game, but this is the Den so I'm still going to complain, because the liars in marketing have managed to still overpromise.

You see, I have yet to receive mine, and it's after the close of mailing on Auguest 31st and the estimated delivery date was Novemeber - so there's plenty of slide time and I would be stoked to hear "shipping early". But the fuckers in charge instead posted an update to Kickstarter and BGG and the FS.Com Forums and the Sirlin Games Forums that are replacing them and probably next to the "lost cat" fliers on your telephone pole too. Said update was headlined Shipping 3 months early!!. Which is a filthy, filthy lie of the worst sort.

By which I mean it purports to tell me that 3=2.



You see, the expected delivery date listed on Kickstarter was an unspecified point in November. So shipping one month early would be an October arrival. Shipping two months early would be a September arrival, and Shipping three months early would mean an August arrival. And as I said, it's after the close of standard business hours on August 31st as I write this. So it is apparently only shipping two months early, but making a claim to the effect of "two months early -- how few other KS boardgames even ship on time" or "almost three months early" would not be exciting enough to publicize.

That's an apt metaphor for this game. It achieves something notably better than most other games and yet still fucks it up by lying on the internet in a way that insults my intelligence by implying that I don't know how to count.

Fuck you fuckers. Learn to calendar.


Last edited by Josh_Kablack on Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:42 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

But moving away from current news on this game and getting back to spec overviews:

Past:

Sirlin's hype link

Flavor:

Unique Mechanic: Fading, which is a direct rip of MtG's Fading keyword, but works differently in a small number of significant ways due to other rules differences in the games. The most key difference are that in Codex, all cards have ablative health and attacker chooses which defending units to attack (within the restrictions imposed by the patrol zone) thus in Codex the odds of any unit surviving more than 2-3 turns are much much lower than in MtG, and consequently Fading is a much less significant drawback in Codex than it is in MtG, where creatures fully heal each turn and the defender can choose not to block with them, making it far more significant that a Fading creature comes with a built in expiration date.

Rule Book (version 39), page 19
Quote:

Fading
Arrives with X time runes. Remove one each upkeep.
When you remove the last, sacrifice this.


Rule Book (version 39), page 18
Quote:

Whenever an effect doesn’t specify owner or controller, it means controller. Owner is so rare that we spell that out specifically when it’s needed. Things like “Your units get +1/+1” mean “units you control get +1/+1” not “units you OWN get +1/+1”.



Hero: Prynn Playtestwaslax





Hero Innates:

Her startband ability is just downside, with same edge case rules issue that all Fading cards have - if an opponent or a partner in 2-headed dragon mode uses an effect to remove the final time counter, then "you" never remove the final time counter and the card only fades if it somehow later acquires another time rune.

Her Midband is a serious case of WTFery., due mainly to "Dies from fading" not being explicitly defined and Rulings on the card since stuff went to the printer being outright contradictory.



Codex Online Card Rulings wrote:


2016-03-02: She fades away when her last time rune is removed for any reason. Removing the last rune with the Time Spiral spell or her own max level ability will cause her to die.


This is true for the standard rules, aside from the bit I mentioned above about the "you" on the card being a pointer which allows for teamplay trickery


Quote:

2016-03-02: "Dies from fading" means that the last time rune she had was removed because the fading ability said to do that during the upkeep. It doesn't trigger if something else removed her last time rune.






If I use an effect which removes the last Time Rune from a card, then the only reasons anything at all would happen to that card are because the card has Fading or Forecast. If I somehow would have a Time Rune on a card which had neither of those Keywords, and then use an effect, to remove it nothing at all would happen. But if I do the exact same thing to a card with Fading, I have to sacrifice the card. But somehow doing so is not supposed to count as "dies from fading". Head Scratch If that is the intended functionality, then the card should have been errata'ed to say "dies during upkeep" or something similar -- depending on which timing rules hairs you wanted to split for the ability. Or heck, changed it before the printers set it avoiding the need for errata. Since you know, that ruling was apparently made a day before the Kickstarter even closed.

Quote:

2016-03-02: If she has exactly two time runes, she CAN use her max level ability to trash a unit. If she does, she then immediately dies from fading, then the trashed unit returns to play.
2016-03-02: When her max level ability returns a unit to play, it returns under the control of whoever controlled it when it was trashed.
2016-03-02: When her max level ability returns a unit to play, it returns in a "fresh" state. It's a new object, and no longer has any properties of the old object such as +1/+1 runes, damage, being a dance partner from Two Step, etc. It also returns ready (not exhausted) and it can't attack or use exhaust abilities unless it has haste.


Those don't expose additional rules issues, but note that it's yet another way for a monopurple deck to get an additional attack with a Hyperion.

Her maxband is a really useful removal ability that's only temporary, allowing for all sorts of clever trickery.

Spells

Vortoss Emblem: This is hyper niche, but it's zero cost.

Undo: it's Unsummon, save that it can't target Heroes nor Tech III units. It's also got the Bounce keyword -- which doesn't actually mean anything rules-wise. This isn't bad, but Past has other, better ways to do the same thing, so this gets to be pretty niche

Origin Story This is Unsummon, which can only target Heroes. For new players, this spell can inspire pants-crapping fear, since it effectively negates any gold spent on leveling that hero up and makes channeling or ultimate spell based plans super high risk to try against Past. For veteran players it's actually considered kind of so-so, since it costs $3 and a card to bounce a Hero which only cost your opponent $2 and no card to play, and a savvy opponent will weigh the risk of getting hit with Origin Story against the benefits of spending gold to level up any of their heroes

Ultimate Spell: Rewind: This is one of the best sweep / board clearing spells in Codex. It only costs 4, and Prynn doesn't have to survive a turn at maxband before casting it. On the downside, it only clears units, and it floods opposing hands.


TECH I Units:

Seer: this unit is time rune manipulation, and as such is part of a combo that you will rarely use.

More relevant is the other Past I unit: Stewardess of the Undone: This is a the key part of the Monopurple rush plan. Her stats are decent, especially in conjunction with Battle Suits, but her arrival ability to unsummon a Tech 0 unit is massively better than initially thought. If you tech for a Stewardess or two in your first cycle, then you can drop them in your 2nd cycle, in which case each will remove a opposing chump blocker patroller, allowing for Purple to claim tempo and board advantage with its own starter units (Nullcraft, Fading Argonaut) , and/or one of the decent stat Tech Is from Present (Argonaut) or Future (Gilded Glaxx). The drawback of ceding card advantage to the opponent is overcome by parleying the earlygame board / tempo advantage into a Hyperion multi-blitz in the following cycle.

Tech II Units:

Shimmer ray: This is cheap and flies, at the cost of fading fast, mitigated by the ability to discard cards to counteract fading. The only time you care is if you are taking Past to Tech III and have to answer opposing fliers that Prynn's spells and abilities can't stall against.

Yesterday's Yogurt

Oh wait, it's actually Yesterdays Golgort - whatever the hell a Golgort is. Anywho, this is both cheap and relatively big, at the cost of fading fast. On the upside, it counteracts its own fading by damaging opposing buildings. So if you have some board advantage, this can stick around a bit to press that advantage pretty hard.

Rememberer: The ability here lets you fetch your Tech III unit from your discard, meaning that you don't have to wait to cycle after drafting it in during your Tech Phase. That one or two turn advantage is huge, and any plan that Specs past is going to want to Tech at least one of these in for that reason alone.

Slow-Time Generator: This building is Codex's version of the Winter Orb. Except due to Codex's resource and cardflow schemes, it's quite a bit more niche. While limited gold production is probably an advantage for Past with its suite of cheap fading cards over most other specs -- it's a rare case where this is a bigger advantage than having another 6/4 body on the board. And that 6/4 Golgort also costs less gold. So this is primarily a card to have in play when setting up theoretical tactical puzzle situations and not a card you will often play in actual games.

Second Chances: Each turn, this upgrade returns the "first" of your units which leaves play from anything other than combat damage to play. This counteracts Fading, and is strong against black removal and red direct damage, it also combos well with Present's Temporal Distortion and Future's Omegacron (although you have to either build a Tech Lab or cheat the 'Cron into play there). It also has in-Spec synergy Rewind, letting you keep have your best unit immediately return to the board. Unfortunately, the obvious synergy this has with Enters the Battlefield Arrives and Leaves the Battlefield Leaves abilities are only useful for minor time rune manipulation tricks in-color and most out of color arrives effects being horrific long-shots that either only grant minor effects or are on a Tech III - and if you have Past the odds of you building a Tech Lab for an out-of-spec Tech III are vanishingly small -- because Past gets one of the best Tech IIIs in the game:

Tech III Unit:

Ebbflow Archon: It has fading 7, but you can immediately remove a time rune to unsummon an opposing unit or opposing hero. So if you're on defense, this shows up and proceeds to immediately bounce 5-7 opposing threats, depending whether it needs to also bounce itself now and if you need the huge body as a patroller.
If you're on offense, this shows up, waits one turn, then bounces all 5 opposing patrollers and swings for 11, then bounces itself so you can replay to have it untapped with max counters. The only things it even has a chance to lose to are invisible forces, otherwise untargetable forces, and forces with enough haste to win a damage race.
Overall it's notably better than most of the other Tech III options in the game in that it provides both lockdown if your ahead on board and significant reversal if you're behind on the board.


Last edited by Josh_Kablack on Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:35 pm; edited 5 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 11, 2016 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Up next is the Whitestar Order.

These are the setting's good guys. They embrace diversity


Lookie, a rainbow flag and just read that flavor text -- diversity diversity diversity


They celebrate the spirit of competition But they are the good guys mainly because they have the white cards, all of which have white people in the art.



Okay, except for the ones that have white animals


But the most important think about the good guy crackers faction is that they oppose oppressive governments taking individual freedoms away -- You know just like white guys Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kacizinsky and Cliven Bundy did. And they totally have the guy in the powdered wig on their side



His Yomi Deck Box has the US Constitution as the background art, so he's just as big a fan of Liberty as Anton Scalia was


Just like all those strict-constructionists who are so hardcore into the Constitution that they can read Article I Section II Clause III and still see the Framers as infallible.

As the good wholesome, wonderbread Americans they are, the not only live in their own gated community, but it is defended by the biggest, toughest hero



Where following Strength leads

...and the karate master at his side...


Okay, this one is a cheap shot, but I'm including it to show why this politangent is relevant to contemporary 'Murikan politics.


This sort of imagery was maybe tolerable back when MtG ripped off a bunch of Judeo-Christian imagery for its White faction, for I was barely out of my teenage years - but back then white was not "explicitly" the good guys in Dominaria -- there were cards invoking images of the Salem Witch Trials and unthinking Zealotry and such in early MtG sets. Now that I'm 20-plus years older it's downright disturbing to me to have White == Good, with a capital G in the game's setting. Especially when the "Whitestar Order" is new-with Codex nomenclature to the Fantasy Strike backstory. Previously, these characters just gathered at the Morningstar Sanctuary. And the game could have worked the same if they were just the "Morningstar Defenders" and had a color evocative of that like Silver, or Yellow or Orange or something. But they don't. So I'm going to mock them as Klansmen and Nazis and Stormfront Posters a whole bunch. What really scares me is that I'm pretty gosh-darn-sure that Sirlin is not a white-supremicist of any stripe and would likely be offended by my characterizations here. And yet that's precisely why I have to do it. The reality of racism in 21st century America is that most people feel "racism is bad" and yet most people unconsciously perpetuate racist sterotypes and social institutions.

The only way that's going to improve is when creators stop accidentally making racist creations. So when your game has the White faction be the explicitly good guys about Strength and Honor and Discipline and cute animals the Black faction be the explicitly bad guys about Demons and Necromancy and Disease - I'm going to tell you to stop being racist -- even if you did it by accident, it's still fundamentally wrong and you need to stop.



We shouldn't tolerate this sort of shit



But now that I'm done explaining how the flavour text and art for the "Diversity is good" faction ended up being a bunch of racism, I can move on to explaining what's wrong with the cards and game rules:

So here's the linky to Sirlin's salespitch for the Spec:


Hero:






Garrus Rook:
While not spelled out, he has the ability "Best stats in the game". His startband ability is that he's buff. He keeps the buffest stats of any hero in the game for midband and maxband, while adding two other generally useful abilities. At midband he is unstoppable by patrol zones with only one patroller and at maxband he gains Two Lives - which is one of the keywords they forgot to include in the rulebook. But hey $300k+ worth of preorders isn't enough to pay an editor who knows how to use ctrl+f.

Spells:

Bird's Nest: This spell by itself would be reason to play Rook. It makes a pair of 1/1 flying tokens, and replaces any which die each upkeep - but the replacement effect only happens for as long as Rook stays in play.

Thunderclap: This sidelines up to cheap three non-flying units, removing them from the patrol zone. Even without the cost limitation, spending a card for this effect is not generally worth it --- but in conjunction with Rook's midband, it will frequently guarantee that Rook can attack whatever backline card you want. If you managed to buff rook up to 5-attack, this lets him one-shot tech buildings.

Entangling Vines - sort of like MtG's Pacifism. This prevents a unit from attacking or patrolling - it's a decent answer to opposing units with Indestructable. On the downside, it can only target patrollers and is explicitly a debuff. Unlike MtG's pacifism, there are a lot fewer effects in Codex that can get rid of ongoing spells.

Ultimate: Earthquake: This does 4 damage to all damaged buildings controlled by chosen opponent. It also does 1 damage to all their undamaged buildings. Thus in the highly unlikely event that you manage to cast it twice each turn, that opponent will never be able to play any units above Tech 0.

Tech I Cards:

Arda's Boulder: this unit is a 0/6 Legendary Rock. It makes for a solid earlygame wall, and if you buff it later it totally can attack.

Mythmaking: This is a Legendary upgrade (sort of like MtG Enchantment) which gives all your Legendary stuff persistent bonuses and penalizes your opponent's Legendary stuff. The Strength Spec has the most Legendary cards, so it's of descent utility against Specs without Upgrade Removal. All the white Specs have the Legendary tag on their Tech IIIs, and there are also a couple of cute multicolor builds you can do around this card using either Demonology and/or Growth as other specs. But you may have noticed that both of Strength's Tech I cards are Legendaries which are hard to get rid of. This means that Strength needs to Tech in Spells in the earlygame of the single-hero mode.

Tech II cards.

Doubling Barbarian: this is a 3/5 trample overpower that gets x2 effect from numeric buffs. It has some crazy combo potential in theoretical max-damage questions and enough synergy with spells in the Growth Spec to be noteworthy if you were already going that way for the Mythmaking setup.



C-C-C-combo


Jefferson DeGrey: He's a character in the other Sirlin games -- here he's just a Legendary Unit. He has the much needed ability to destroy all token units when he arrives. Unfortunately, he's a Tech II, meaning that you need to have 8 workers in play the turn before he can show up, meaning that you've jolly well lost to whatever token army your opponent had going if you wait to use him as your answer. Given the prevelance of tokens in Codex and the harshness of the cardflow rules towards playing other weenie strategies, this game sorely needs any anti-token measures to come online a lot sooner. On the right draw, an aggressive Necromancy player can have generated 9 tokens by the end of their 3rd turn. The earliest a mono-white player is dropping any Tech II unit is on their 5th turn.

Whitestar Grappler.
For Yomi players, the art on this card includes an in-joke. For readers of "playing to win", the flavor text includes shameless strawman mockery, but I'm going to quote the actual mechanics text here
" (Exhaust Symbol): deal 4 damage to a unit. If it's still alive, it deals its ATK to Whitestar Grappler. Sideline it if it was patrolling." So according to the usual rules of English grammar, this has nonsensical the ability to sideline itself. This is what happens when you charge people to do your playtesting for you.


Colussus. This is a 6/7 unit which is unstoppable when attacking a base. So when it hits the board, either the opponent needs an answer, or the game enters an-all-out go for the throat damage race, which will end inside 3 more turns.

Morningstar Pass. This is a legendary building which both prevents any damage to all of your other buildings and which costs the opponent $1 each time they attack it. It's relatively cool and a really useful defense, but it also exemplifies yet another of Codex's design failures. This is a great answer to Colussus -- since unstoppable only bypasses patrollers and not damage prevention. However it is right fucking next to Colussus in the same Spec and same Tech level. It's not a cheaper answer and it's not an answer which your opponent has access to in anything but the mirror match (which can't happen unless you've both shelled out hundreds of dollars). This sort of some of the best answers are in the same spec and same level occurs way too much in Codex. Playing Bounce effects to return opposing units to hand is strong against Purple's indestructable units - and yet all the Bounce effects in the game are in Purple.


Tech III card:

Oathkeeper of Kor Mountain

He's a 7/8 legendary unit with Swift Strike, Resist 2 and the ability to pay ($2) to sideline all patrolling units. That Resist $2 is negligible protection from spells at the time Tech IIIs are online, but the rest is a big enough deal for him to be narrowly in the top half of Tech IIIs available. However he has the "drawback" that you have to choose an oath - either you quit playing cards (normally) or you quit drawing cards (normally). In actual play you drop him last in a turn and choose "I will not play cards". Then either your opponent answers him and you play more cards, or your opponent doesn't answer him and you have a 7/8 swift strike unit which clears all patrollers ( even those with untargetable ) each turn, meaning you win inside 3 turns.


Last edited by Josh_Kablack on Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:23 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2016 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ninjistsu

First up, the naming of this Spec really bothers me. The other two White Specs are Stength and Discipline. Calling this one "Ninjitsu" is really out-of-flavor. It would have been better named as something like "Cunning" or "Stealth" or "Speed".

Mechanics: this is sort of a weenie rush spec with a lot of access to Stealth, some haste, mass token generation at the high end and a pair of overlapping tribal effects: Ninjas and Cute Animals.



Yes, cute ninja animals


Since this is a Stealth heavy Spec, I need to re-iterate how Stealth works.

myself, last page wrote:

Stealth An attacker with Stealth can ignore patrollers if the defender has no detector. Note that the only detectors an opponent can have during your attack are the Truth II upgrade or the Tower, which only detects the first Stealth/Invisible attacker each turn. So if you have two Stealth or Invisible dudes, the second one is unblockable at all times in well over 95% of games, and a significant amount of the time in the remaining 5%.


Stealth weenie-rush == nigh unblockable.


Ninjitsu Hero




Setsuki HeywhatsoundsJapanese?

Her Startband ability is a clever complement to the "Resist: 1" ability, which taxes the opponent for attacking her with their forces instead of Resist's taxing the opponent for targeting her with Spells. This is something which jolly well should have been keyworded and used elsewhere in the set.

At midband, she gets First Swift Strike, but only when attacking. Her mere 2 ATK when she gets this limits its utility, but it still lets her finish off a lot of wounded defenders without taking chip damage. If you can scrounge up some +1/+1 runes for her, that will make her really potent in creature combat - however her Maxband threat is enough that she's already a lightning rod for removal spells.

And at Maxband she gets a cardflow ability so sweet that she becomes a top-priority target for the oppenent to kill. Remember that your discard/draw phase is at the end of your turn. So her upkeep ability allows drawing an additional 2 cards, which allows for you to worker one and play 3 per turn without slowing your draw. If she lives and you have enough gold to do so for 2-3 turns, you almost certainly win the game. However, as mentioned above the cost curve of the game works out so that you will either not be able to take full advantage of the extra card draw when she lives or you will be forced to play significantly behind-the-curve units when she dies.

Spells

Shuriken Hail: Dealing 1 damage to each patroller can clear cheaper tokens away -- if you opponent put them in patrol slots.

Hidden Ninja: this grants up to 2 of your attackers (limited to low ATK) Stealth for the turn. Note that Truth Tech II has the only detector in the game which can reveal a second Stealth/Invisible attacker on the defenders turn -- so your second one is all-but-always unblockable with this. More importantly, this spell is a cantrip if either target has the Ninja type. Thus the big limit here is merely that you have to have two things you are willing to attack with -- which will probably leave your own patrol zone thin until at least the midgame.

Speed of the Fox: This is a 1-turn buff that Setsuki can only cast on herself. It's terribly mediocre as a combat trick, but I'm sure you can find conditional uses for it.

Ultimate: Fox's Den Students. This generates 4 token 1/1 ninjas. It also gives all your ninjas Haste and Stealth until the end of the turn. So against anything but Truth II, that's a minimum of 3 immediate unblockable damage, and likely some other stuff also becomes unblockable. Also note that in order to cast this Setsuki had to start the turn at Maxband, meaning you've already gotten +2 cards. So while the numbers don't look high this is a serious potential earlygame threat, with a chance to come online in the 2nd cycle.

Tech I cards:

Fuzz Cuddles: Healing is so bizzairely complex and overcosted that this poodle is a joke, you will never Tech it in save for edge cases in the one hero mode.

Inverse Power Ninja: This is a 6/6 unit at tech I for 3 gold, which makes it among the most awesome earlygame things in the game. The drawback is that each other Unit/Hero you have gives this a -1/-1, which is massively anti-synergistic with most of the rest of this weenie-rush and stealth Spec. But if you just Splashed Ninjitsu and were going for a build which relies on spells, upgrades, buildings and/or fewer/bigger units/Heroes, she's pwnsome. Still in most cases, it's pretty easy to pay attention to the order of your trades and manage to attack with her as at least 4/4 in the 2nd cycle - which is decent enough to warrant general consideration no matter what you are doing.

Tech II cards:

Flying Fox: This is a 3/1 Flyer for just 2 gold. You might care because you don't have any other flying in Ninjitsu until Tech III so your Tech 0 anti-air unit is your only air defense without this. And this is tagged as a "Ninja" so it gets to be stealthy a bunch as well as flying. But honestly, Neutral has a 3/2 tech II flyer at the same cost, and those stats just aren't good enough to justify a Tech II pick in most cases. Remember that Future's good fliers at Tech II were a 0/6 flying wall plus swarm of 5 1/1 fliers and a 5/4 flying trample overpower which you could firebreathe up to 9 ATK. In comparison a 3/1 flier with no other real abilities is a joke.

Porcupine: This 2/6 Cute animal has Deathtouch - making it a reasonable defensive option with some offensive potential. Note that if you are on the defense with Ninjitsu's stealth weenie-rush paradigm, you are in already trouble.

Masked Racoon - This gets both the Ninja and Cute Animal tags. If you have another ninja it becomes unstoppable by units. If you have another Cute Animal it becomes unattackable by units. So a pair of them can only really be answered by an opposing Hero, or by spells or removal effects - which when I list them out like that, makes it blisteringly obvious that this is really not all that hard for an opponent to deal with.

Fox's Den School: This is a legendary Building which is invisible. While it is in play, it makes all of your Ninjas and Cute Animals invisible. Additionally, you can tap it to add the "Ninja" type to any of your units. Unfortunately, Codex's requirement that you pick only one Spec to take to Tech II means that as a Tech II building, this is very very limited in the combos it can set up. You don't really get to do much with it unless you have built the Tech Lab add on, which is another general complaint I have about Codex's Tech Requirement setup -- way way way too many cool combos are horribly inefficient if not downright impossible because of it.



Making a Ninja Elephant requires you to have built the Tech Lab add-on - even though it's not as strong as many single-Spec combos



Glorius Ninja: This ninja is your go-to Tech II option; he's 4/3 with Haste and Swift Strike, which means he comes out and kills something, taking no damage from it, and your opponent needs to use either removal spells or attackers with more than 4 HP to deal with him. You can use Hidden Ninja as a cantrip to give him Stealth and he benefits from Fox's Den invisibility. But I still can't help but notice that he's not as good as the same-cost, also tech II, also haste Hyperion - which has better stats and subs out Swift Strike for Attacks: Draw a Card, while Hyperion also has better synergy with its in-spec and in-color spells.

Tech III Card

Jade Fox: Fox's Den Headmistress: She's still a win condition, but largely subpar compared to other Tech IIIs. She's a 4/6 ninja that comes with 4 more 1/1 ninja tokens -- and she gives all of your ninjas flying and swift strike. The issue here is that Codex's shittily complex way of handling flying means that flying patrollers cannot block non-flying attackers - and if you Specced Ninjitsu to take to Tech II, then dropping her means that you are very likely to only be able to patrol against ground units with your heroes (note that your Ninjitsu Hero is not a "ninja" by actual wordings). Note also that she doesn't come with Haste. So if you are behind in board position when you drop her, she leaves a big opening for your opponent to finish you off. Note also, that her main deal is more tokens - but she doesn't make your tokens any less vulnerable against an opponent who built a Tower back in the earlygame -- the way most opponents will do against Ninjitsu.

So overall, you are probably only going to play Ninjitsu to draft in Inverse Power Ninja earlygame and then hopes to gain the benefit of Setsuki's cardflow ability for a turn or three - with additional situational marginal utility for a couple of Setsuki's spells.


Last edited by Josh_Kablack on Tue Sep 13, 2016 3:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Discipline:

Sirlin's Campaign Promises for this spec

General Game Plan / Unique Mechanic: There's a loose theme of co-operation between units going on here -- but since everything is ablative in Codex and the entire strategy is finidng synergistic cards, that renders the theme pretty much "you do what everytone else without a signature schtick is doing anyways and won't get more than two or three combo pieces on the board anyways". Yawn.





Moving right along, the Discipline Hero is



Captain Boring


His stat to cost ratio is top-tier. He starts out at 2/3 which in the pack with everyone who's tied for second place behind only Rook's 2/4 startband stats. Then at only level 3 he becomes 3/4 - which is as cheap as any hero hits those stats. At level 7 he hits the top-aside from Rook stats of 4/5, which is before the level 8 where Troq, Midori and Onimaru hit those stats. His startband ability is the meh Sparkshot, because Shotoclone and that's how Codex translates Hadoken. At Midband he gets Vigilience Readiness, so he's going to be able to both attack and block with his solid stats for way cheap. But at maxband he gets the single-use ability: tap to kill a fool -- which means that for a total of 9 gold and surviving to untap he's a zero-card cost removal spell on top of his stats. There is also hypothetical out-of-color combo which can make it multiuse, but so far going that particular route seems pretty inefficient.

Spells:

Matial Mastery - You use this because it''s a cantrip -- the actual hand-peek effect is incidental. For 1 gold and a discard you draw two cards and peek at opponent's hand. The faster cycling can be useful, but having to manipulate an opposing hand can ruin some implementations of asynchronous play.

Versatile Style - This is a 2 cost spell that lets you choose one of 4 different options. Destroy an Upgrade (the only way for White to do anything about Upgrades); OR Heal 2 damage to any building OR Disable a flying creature "Unit or Hero" OR make Captain Boring into a Detector for this turn (note that he ceases being a detector at the end of the current turn, so he doesn't help you patrol against Stealth or Invisible attackers, he merely lets you target and attack them on your own turn. As generally useful as this "chose your benefit" spell is, it still seems beyond weird to me that the Detector option doesn't last "until your next upkeep"

Reversal - This 3 cost debuff spell does 3 damage to a patroller and disables it. To any normal person, this sort of break-through-defenses removal would not count as a reversal but


Ultimate - True Power of Storms (aka Teapots). This is a 3-cost ultimate which deals 10 damage to anything. You're supposed to be excited about that so let me rewrite it 10!!! damage!!!.There ya go. The issue is that is has the added cost that you have to discard another two cards - and both of those other cards also have to cost exactly 3. no more no less. Three shall be the cost of the cards though shalt discard count, and the cost of the cards thou art discarding shall be three. Keep in mind that it's also an ultimate, so you have to have maxbanded Grave last turn and then had him survive to start your turn, and then you need to draw this and another pair of 3-cost cards into your hand, and then casting it means that you are going down on cards due to card draw - and possibly also skipping a worker. Note also that by having teched in a bunch of cost-3 cards you are not following the mana curve that this game encourages. So it's an ultimate which is useful for threatening the final 10 points of damage to your opponent opponent's base, but setting it up usually requires drafting suboptimally, and playing it as anything short of a game-ender leaves you behind in resources for the rest of the game. In monowhite, there's really only one basic build order that makes this more than a longshot -- and that involves getting Setsuki's extra cardflow going, which can win you the game in a less trickshot manner.

Tech I Cards:

Rambasa Twin: This is a 4 cost 3/2 tiger unit, which fetches the other 3/2 tiger from your Codex into play when he shows up. The first one to die returns to your Codex. So he's a pair of units at once, making him a top-tier tech I unit. Unfortunately being multiple units make it anti-synergistic with Inverse Power Ninja - the other top-tier White tech I.

Sparring Partner: He's a 1 cost 2/2 unit which you can tap to put a +/1/+1 unit on any of your creatures "units or heroes" who do not already have any +1/+1 runes. You can also pay $2 to untap him - but after you do that he cannot attack this turn. Note that -1/-1 runes and +1/+1 runes explicitly cancel each other out, so he's an gold sink that with enough money removes all penalty runes from your dudes and buffs them all. That can be good, but you'd want to combine him with a spec that gave you token spam or some other means of getting a lot of forces and gold to maximize his utility more than you want to use him in mono-white.

Tech II Cards:

Focus Master - holy crap this guy is a confusing set of timing triggers in an asynchronous game. You have to remember that his damage-prevention ability is not optional, but is only triggered when exactly lethal damage is dealt. Or more likely, your opponent has to remember that and then set things up to not trigger it during their attacks. But in practice, the actual rules for this guy are not going to be followed most of the time and players will forget to trigger his ability when it should apply to patrollers.

Young Lightning Dragon - Ever so slight tweaks from


Except in MtG he's an earlygame threat with a chance to explode to kill a big opposing flyer deliver endgame damage. In Codex he's Tech II, meaning that he doesn't hit the board until at least turn 5 and he has a hard cap on his firebreathing instead of a sacrifice option. This really seems like the 1993 version of the card had better design. And I really wish I could say things like that on the official forums for this game.

Vigor Adept: This is a 4-cost 5/5 with Readiness and Frenzy 1. Yawn.

Mind Parry Monk - This dude prevents opponents from targeting your creatures "units or heros" with anything what has the targeting icon while he's in play. So the good news is that he protects your Heroes from the most likely forms of removal. The bad news is that your stuff is still vulnarable to combat damage, sweep removal, hit-all effects, and the handful of spells which intentionally lack the targeting icon in Codex.




None of these are parried by Mind Parry Monk


Also note that he does not protect your buildings at all, which matters for the final two cards in the Spec:

Training Grounds: This is a 1 cost 4 HP building, which gives all your heroes +1/+1 while it's in play. Also you can tap it to level a hero up to Max level. If you get to do that, it's a notable gold savings, but in Codex even buildings have summoning sickness "arrival exhaustion", so you cannot use tap abilities unless you start the turn with them in play. Which makes the odds of you getting to use the ability somewhat lower, since you just played a building instead of playing something which could patrol.


Tech III Card:

Hero's Monument: This is overcomplicated design in that it's a Legendary Building which gives you a Legendary token unit while it's in play. The token is Indestructable, Untargetable and Unstoppable, but cannot patrol and gets trashed whenever the building leaves play. This makes it a crap-tier Tech III in that it provides no comeback help (not even a patrollling body) if you are behind when you play it and an opponent can answer it by killing a 6 hp building. Still 8 unstoppable damage per turn counts as a win-condition.


Last edited by Josh_Kablack on Wed Sep 14, 2016 6:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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momothefiddler
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So... are there versions of these cards that don't have the keywords explained out? If not, why are there keywords at all?
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Archmage
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Josh, just wanted you to know that I'm really enjoying this review.

As a Yomi enthusiast who made print-and-play decks during open beta, then sucked it up and bought the full set when it was first released (and did not regret it one bit) I was really enthused about the pitch for Codex, but was way, way turned off by the pricing scheme and was disappointed--"I bet that's going to be really cool, but holy shit, that's too expensive, and you have to commit to buying the whole game without even knowing if you're going to like it unless you want to pay for the same content twice."

Now I'm feeling pretty good about my decision to skip it.
_________________
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shadzar wrote:
i think the apostrophe is an outdated idea such as is hyphenation.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

momothefiddler wrote:
So... are there versions of these cards that don't have the keywords explained out? If not, why are there keywords at all?


Yes, the keywords are only explained when there is room for the explanation in the text box - which is most, but not all of the time.


Archmage wrote:

Josh, just wanted you to know that I'm really enjoying this review.


Thanks bunches. I was beginning to consider whether continuing it here was truly appropriate for this RPG-focused forum and if I was largely talking to myself. But with your encouragement I will keep at it in fits and spurts until I've gotten through all 20 specs and done a final wrap up.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2016 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So about Tormenting Voice.



In Magic, you do it to filter your draws. You can run a deck rich in early game cards and then not worry about having a hand full of obsolete shit because you can dig for threats. But there are also discard synergies like madness and gitrog monster, draw synergies like sphinx's tutelage, doubling effects like goggles, sorcery synergies like prowess and thermoalchemists, and graveyard synergies like reanimation and delirium. Playing a card to discard a card and then draw two cards is about the purest durdle you can imagine, but it's a very powerful effect that is used by a lot of decks.

Does codex have any of that depth? It kinda sounds like you're just racing through your deck so you can flip it over and get access to newer cards sooner like in Dominion or Star Realms.

-Frank
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
So about Tormenting Voice.
Does codex have any of that depth? It kinda sounds like you're just racing through your deck so you can flip it over and get access to newer cards sooner like in Dominion or Star Realms.


That's a fair question and a largely fair point. The simplistic answer is that the Codex card is a bit of deckbuilder cycling acceleration and a bit of forced-combo dealio which you are supposed to use to dig for the cost==3 cards you need to power Grave's Ultimate, and that aside from those uses there are only like 2 things that discarding cards synergizes with:
and

both of which let you fetch a specific unit from your discard, which "combos" better with the baseline game mechanic of drafting new cards into your discard first than it does with the specific effect of a spell which puts cards from your hand into your discard.


........

Yet a full answer has to take into account fundamental differences between the games. The lack of cross-color synergy here really is a design failure when considering something as fundamental as using the discard as a source of resources. However, saying that is slightly unfair (and not just because Codex has so many much bigger design failures)

Firstly, due to the number of cards available, Codex is just not going to be able to offer as many potential synergies as MtG does. As I pointed out back on page one of this thread, Codex only has 332 unique cards ( at least by my method of counting uniques ). The various Magic formats seem to have a minimum of roughly twice that many cards available to build with up to something like fifty times as many cards legal in the format - so of course MtG is going to have more potential routes to synergies.

Secondly your discard pile in Codex is fundamentally different from your graveyard in MtG. In MtG, your graveyard consists of cards that don't matter until somebody an effect that cares what is in your discard. In the absence of any such effects, your graveyard is just a pile of cards which don't matter, and (in general) you lose the game once enough of your deck has gone into your graveyard that you can't draw. Codex uses the Dominion formula where you will in the future recycle your discard into future draws - so every card in your discard is something that you will see in the future (provided the game still has that much future). This means that your discard is already a pile of future resources in Codex, and there aren't really meaningful differences between effects which use it as a source of resources and effects which use your draw pile as a resource. Hence my prior calling out of Vir's Startband and Midband abilities splitting hairs between cards in the two different zones being needless complexity for no actual benefit to the game.

Thirdly, and also due it the deckbuilder influence, individual Codex decks are a whole heckuvalot smaller than MtG decks. In MtG you have a 60 (or 40 in sealed). In Codex you start with a 10 card starter, a not-in-deck bench of 3-heroes, and for the first 5 to 6 turns you will remove one card from your deck to make it a worker and then draft Tech in two cards to improve your deck. Once you have 10 workers, Teching in more cards is optional - so most Codex games between knowledgeable players are going to have decks max out at a size of 14 or 16 cards (minus any cards which can stay in play) and then slim down further if the game goes on longer. That means that your deck in Codex is generally going to cycle in roughly 3-4 turns ( slower if you are down on cards, faster if you have extra draw effects or can keep a lot of your cards in play ). This means that search and fetch effects become much less potent in Codex than they can be in MtG.

Finally, and not really relevant to the question you asked, in MtG you generally want to include multiple copies of your "best" cards, since you want to play them multiple times every game. In Codex, you are often better off drafting a wider variety of different cards - since you are so strongly encouraged to only play one card a turn that having multiples in your hand often reduces your current options. And due to the abovementioned cycling dynamics, you are highly likely to recycle your deck enough that you will see any given spell multiple times in a single game even if you only draft one copy of it into your deck.

So yeah, it really would be better if Martial Mastery had more combo potential with really anything in Codex, and that could have been achieved via any one of a number of things MtG did first, such as including play-from-discard effects, sacrifice-from-discard-effects, effects which triggered whenever you discarded a card, effects which grant a bonus whenever you play a spell, or a bunch of others. But it's not really that scathing of a critique to point that out.

If you want scathing critiques, you can look at the quality of the editing, the piss-poor handling of online rulings Point 43 is just latest one to attract my ire, the hamfisted moderation preventing critical discussion on the official forums, or even just mock the operation for calling two months early three months early.
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Blackhand Scourge

Okay now that I've finished the good-guy White faction, onto the bad-guy Black faction. Ugh, that still bugs me, but I've already covered those thematics, and I don't feel like dwelling on how we don't know what the bad guys actually stand for



This silhouette has more defined motivations than the entire Faction


so let me bring up the packaging and balance issues. For those of you who didn't get suckered into to overpaying to be lied to about the delivery date of the Deluxe Set, the game is going to be sold in four different packages.
1> The el cheapo intro of just the two Neutral (Brown) Heroes for single hero vs single hero intro play;
2> The Core Set of Red vs Green - this is a core set and comes with binders and playmats
3> The Blue and Black Expansion - this isn't out yet, but supposedly it's just cards and therefore cheaper than the core set.
4> The White and Purple Expansion - this isn't out yet, but supposedly it's just cards and therefore cheaper than the core set.

So while the big takeaway here is that it will almost certainly be cheaper to buy the four sets piecemeal than it was to back KS for the Deluxe and that Josh has been a fool too easily parted from his money, that's not what I want to harp on. Instead I want to point out that the most commonly played matchups are going to be between the factions which are bundled together in the expansions. And that even a perceived mismatch between the monocolor decks sold together is going to call into question Sirlin's claims about balancing this game. And guess what, the hardest monocolor-a-monocolor matchup is looking to be Blue vs Black. Blue's slow-moving lategame control has a lot of issues with the earlygame pressure that Black can bring and requires very specific pre-emptive counterplays in order to make it into a viable midgame. This may not be truly unfair, but to use a Street Fighter analogy - Black is like a character who can put up a viable fight via button mashing, whereas Blue is a dedicated grappler who needs to time the execution of their command throws and supers in order to win.

Sirlin's Hype Link for this Spec

Unique Mechanics: Necromancy has three strong token spam options (plus a weak one), and synergies with the black starter deck's token generating spell plus really strong (if slightly pricey) removal spells and just a little bit of oddball utility. Note that token spam is one of the always-viable strategies in this game by itself.

Hero:



Garish Porkin'


His stats are on the low side, but you should not care.
His startband: of pay 1 gold to make a 1/1 skeleton token once per turn is reason enough to play him. The bad case is usually that the extra 1-gold no-card token patrolls in your Scavenger slot so you get the $1 gold back and block an attacker for free. His midband of sacrificing Skeletons for card draw is a bigger deal in the midgame where you start to have gold to burn, but the ability to turn +$1 into +card has applications in influencing cycling as early as given Necromancy the ability to play Tech I units as early as turn 2. His Maxband is not as exciting, but still pretty gosh durn useful in that you draft tech units into your discard right before your turn - so most of the time it's a tutor for exactly what you want this turn.

Oh, and before I move on to the rest of the Spec, I have to re-iterate the rules error related to this spec. Since I'm not covering the Starter decks directly, the issue best fits here. You see, this card



gives Skeletons both Long-Range and Anti-Air. But the rulebook entries for how Patrollers with both Long-Range and Anti-Air interact against an Attacked with both Flying and Anti-Air are seemingly contradictory and the official rules answer to that is only found via browsing lengthy rules-questions threads and not in any of the organized nor collated online rules-references. Even then, the best explanation of why the rules are only apparently but-not-actually contradictory was my own application of Humpty-Dumptyism back on May 9th. The same word in the rulebook means different things depending on which page of the rulebook you are reading.



My emotional state every time I write one of these



Spells:

Nether Drain: for 1 gold and a card, this spell gives one hero +2 levels, which is one gold less but one card more than paying for them normally would cost. But more importantly it also removes 2 levels from a different hero - thereby preventing most opposing Heroes from casting their ultimate next turn.

Lich's Bargain. Holy shit rushdown! This costs $2 gold, the loss of a worker and life points 4 damage to your own base -- however it makes three token critters, a 1/1 a 2/2 and a 3/3 deathtouch. Losing the worker puts you behind for the rest of the game, but note that it's possible to cast this on Turn 2 and then again on turn 3, while also having Garth's startband pump out skeletons -- leading to a potential to goldfish to the 20th point of damage with your 4th turn attacks.



Doom Grasp: This is pricey removal at $4 and sacrificng a unit. However it's an outright kill of a Tech 0, I or II unit or of a Hero. And if you can cast it, you can pay the extra +$1 to have Garth make the Skeleton to sacrifice.

Ultimate: Death Rites: This lets you turn sacrifices into additional removal effects the turn you cast it - which is probably going to be unnecessary given your likely board superiority and other removal options. But it suppose it's of use against an opponent who is fielding their own army of fewer yet buffer tokens.

Tech I Cards

Bone collector. This is a 2 cost 3/3 who generates a 1/1 skeleton token each and every time he attacks. That's a serious threat of cascading early board superiority and your opponent is in big trouble if they can't answer it quickly.

Hooded Executioner this is a 2 cost 3/3 who you can pay an additional $3 kicker Boost to trigger a removal effect when he arrives, making him a Tech I option who stays relevant in the midgame.

Tech II cards

Blackhand Ressurector: This is a $2 3/3 unit - which you got a pair of with useful abilities back at tech I, so he'd need to have a totally kickass ability to make him worthwhile. Well this guy's ability is that you can tap and sacrifice him to bring back a hero who has previously died this game -- at maximum level. This explicitly bypasses the normal dead hero cooldown time, and explicitly triggers hero abilities which happen at maxband, so it has a lot of combo potential and you totally can use it to resummon a maxband Garth, whose maxband puts the just-sacrificed Blackhand Ressurector right back into play. However it's still subject to the number of hero limitation, you have to have it survive until the start of your turn and it only works for Heroes who have already died this turn -- and even when it works your hero (generally) has to survive another turn at Maxband before they can fire off their ultimate. Meaning that it's overall probably not as good as either of your Tech I units and you'll only Tech this in for games where you feel hero-based plans are you most likely route to victory (and that case seems suspect as Necromancy has the Token Swarm + Strong Removal route in most games)

Corpse Catapult: whenever one of your units dies, this gets a corpse rune. You can tap it and remove two corpse runes to deal 6 damage to any building. This synergizes with Garth's midband skele-sacrifice for draw, and it's not all that hard to setup a situation where this becomes "tap each turn to kill an opponent's Tech II building.

Skeletal Lord: This guy is the reason you Spec Necromancy to tech II. He gives all your skeletons +1/+1, but he has the crazy-comboriffic ability you pay for by exhausting five skeleons (note that this an ability payed for by tapping other units, not a tap ability so it's not subject to summoning sickness) but which lets you put a unit from your hand into play. Any unit, of any spec or any Tech level. I'm pretty sure that this is potentially the fastest way to get a Tech III unit into play, and I am totally sure that if this dude and your skeletal horde live another turn, you can cheat a Tech III from a different Spec into play and have a pair of tech IIIs double-win-conditioning your opponent.

Necromancer: This dude is a 4 cost 3/3 with Long Range, and also an always on ability that gives you a 1/1 skeleton token whenever any of your non-token units die. Multiples stack.

So Necromancy has the big silly theoreticl combo of having a pair of Necromancers and a Corpse Catapult out, then casting a Boosted Hooded Executioner, killing the weakest opposing unit. followed by Death Rites, followed by Doom Grasp (sacrificing the Executioner) killing an opposing "unit or hero" and triggering Death Rites killing your choice (not targeted) of the opponent's lowest tech units, and triggering both Necromancers gaining a pair of Skeleton tokens as well as adding a Corpse Rune to the catapult, then Garth can use his Midband to sac a skeleton to draw a card, which adds the second Corpse Rune, letting your catapult tap to one-shot a Tech building or do 6 to an opposing base. While that's an implausible total of 14 gold and 3 cards from hand working with 4 cards already in play to draw one card, kill three opposing creatures, make a token and deal 6 damage - all the pieces will never line up in a real game. But enough parts of it will line up to deliver synergies, and any two of those effects work together. My point here is to illustrate the overlapping synergies within the Spec and how the Necromancy Spec delivers better Teamwork than the supposedly Teamwork-themed Discipline Spec



Co-operation, Codex-Style


Wight - This is a $4 cost 4/4 who is Unstoppable only when attacking Heroes and gets Deathtouch only when attacking Heroes. This might look scary, but there are two very common answers to him - removal effects or getting your in-play Heroes to 4+ attack. Usually you want the other stuff which synergizes and this is merely a counter-draft option when you think it wise to make Ultimates even less reliable for your opponent

Tech III Card Lord of Shadows

Codex, get it?


This is a $7 Unit with 8/7 stats who gives all of your black units (including himself) Invisible. Note that as I pointed out previously, only Truth II has a Detector which lets an opponent block the 2nd Invisible attacker. So if you drop this and are at all ahead, or just even on the board, he pretty much seals the win. However he really doesn't provide significant comeback if you are behind on the board - and merely turns things into a all out base race. So overall he's a just slightly-better than average Tech III unit.


Last edited by Josh_Kablack on Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Up next Disease.


Unique Mechanic: This spec wants you to play around with a bunch of -1/-1 rune effects that work as removal and a splash of forced-discard that should theoretically be really hosey in conjunction with Codex's cardflow rules. But really, it's the Black spec that you are going to swap out in favor of either the Neutral Finesse Spec (which still avoids multicolor penalties) or for some multicolor spec.

This one is going to be very very short, because there are only 2 cards in Disease worth caring about as anything more than trivia answers. It's not even worth finding funny anagrams of the Hero's stupid name here.

If you want to see how Sirlin tries to sell this pile of underpowered boring cards, you can click Here

The First Card you might care about:
Plague Spitter

This Tech I unit is a $3 cost 3/3 with Anti-Air, which deals damage in the form of -1/-1 runes. That means that even when it loses in combat, it totally defangs anything with 3 or less Attack. This makes it a really strong Patroller, since it massively devalues superior units even when it loses fights. You want to Tech this in when you need to survive against better forces in the midgame in order to win in the lategame.

The Real Deal:
Plague Lab


This is the crazy-combo card which makes you actually consider Speccing Disease at Tech II and then scratch your head and consult a whole lot of online rulings about various oddball effects.




Plague Lab doubles the +1/+1 rune here


Plague Lab can add additonal Sword runes


Plague Lab allows these to charge up twice as fast


Plague Lab is the only card outside of Purple which can do anything with time runes.



I do not fucking know if anything happens when you double a crumbling rune. It could be nothing. It could be bad for the unit. It could be in the triple-secret rules still in Sirlin's rulesguy's head.


Plague Lab doesn't do anything with this. Exercises for the reader: 1.Guess the legalistic contortions why not? 2. Rewrite the rules text for this card to prevent anyone from thinking that it might in the first place. ?


Last edited by Josh_Kablack on Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:58 pm; edited 3 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Imma gonna guess the ruling is that the insurance rune doesn't make monies, the insurance agent makes money if and only if there is a rune. Which strongly implies you could have two agents and double monies. I am also guessing they don't allow that either.

More broadly, I don't understand why the game is so freaked out about weird alternate victory conditions. A deck building game would seem the ideal showcase for weird ways to win or make your opponent lose or whatevs.

The next Magic set is unabashedly a crazy combo set. There's an artifact that gives you one life per spell you cast per turn for each spell you cast in a turn. Then it also lets you spend 50 life to do 50 damage. So of you can figure out how to cast 8 or 9 spells in a turn, you win instantly. To help you with that, there's an artifact that makes all artifacts cheaper (can go to zero) and a spell that puts as many cards as you want from play back onto your hand and also draws you a card for every card you bounce. And then there's an alternate resource called energy and a creature that can make extra creatures for energy and also other cards that give you energy for creatures coming into play. If you get your Whirler Virtuoso and your Decoction Modules together you can put infinity thopters on the board and win on your next turn. On the less insane but still back breaking end, there's a lady that goes from graveyard to your hand when an artifact comes into play and an enchantment that puts an artifact into play when your creatures go to the graveyard. If you want a more explosive end there's an artificer who essentially gets to do combat damage to your opponent every time one of your artifacts is destroyed and there's a journal that makes token artifacts it sacrifices three at a time to do.... who cares you just attacked unblockably three times and killed your opponent. If you want something grindier there's a sky whale that can put every creature except itself back into the hand every turn if you use the bounce as an opportunity to replay creatures that give you energy for coming into play.

I don't get why Codex doesn't give each faction two or three janky alt win conditions to try drafting towards. Assemble dragon balls, infinite power loops, impenetrable defenses. Whatever. If the deck drafting mechanic is good for anything I should think it would be for responding to your opponent's janky combos and alternate win conditions with your own threats and answers. Indeed, I would find it completely acceptable if the game was like Fluxx and you literally didn't have a victory condition until someone played one.

-Frank
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Codex is very defensively desiggned. There are two general rules to prevent infinite comboes. No player can have more than 20 gold at any given time, so infinite money is right out. Then you can only cycle your deck once on your own turn - so infinite draws are also out. Then there's that whole having to pick a single Spec to take to Tech 2 and 3 which generally renders half the remaining cards in your other specs unavailable as combo pieces !- this is ostensibly to "make counterplay simpler" (which is bullshi in a game where cards drafted is private information) but really puts a crimp in trying to pull off comboes involving lategame units, letting the designer set up forced-combo stuff involving spell+hero ability t2+unit or t2 unit from same spec + t2 unit from same spec without having to consider whether uninentional comboes elsewhere might be better than the intended ones.

And yet despite thi design so defensive as to crimp the playspace, there are infinite comboes in Codex:

+ + +



Which is to say that I think I agree with Frank that more access to big crazy autowin comboes would likely improve Codex.


Last edited by Josh_Kablack on Fri Sep 16, 2016 12:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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Josh_Kablack
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

This is a rough draft of something I'm intending to post to BGG. Apologies for the lack of profanity and fairly minimal snark.

Codex : Card Time Strategy Deluxe Set Box Review

David Sirlin likes to joke that his job is best described as "Professional Box Designer". So this is my review of the box to his latest, greatest box for his latest game. Spoiler Alert: this is not a positive review.

The Deluxe Set of Codex comes in a big, beautiful box, that is far and away the least practical container for any game in my collection. While the aesthetics are pleasing, the functionality is severely lacking -- at some later date I may elaborate on just how apt a metaphor that is for the overall game design of the entire ruleset for Codex : Card Time Strategy -- but for now I'm going to explain why the Codex : Deluxe set would be more honestly titled as Codex : Box Sold Separately.

The dimensions of the Deluxe Set Box are 20.5 inches by 14.25 inches by 3.125 inches. (For comparison my 1980s-era Axis and Allies box measures 20 by 12? by 4). That makes it incredibly unwieldy to carry in your hands and dang-near impossible to fit in any backpack or messenger bag. In particular, the 14.5 inch width means that any bag capable of carrying the Codex Deluxe Box will not be legal to use as an airplane carry-on as such must exceed the 22x14x9 limit. That alone should have clued Sirlin in that he needed to trim some width.

Even if you do happen to have a military duffel or unused garment bag around which can fit this stupidly sized box, there are issues with the various components not fitting snugly. The round-bottom bins for the various tracking chits lack any sort of closing mechanism other than the box-lid, and yet these bins do not sit flush against the lid when the box is closed. Thus if you ever tilt the box more than 45° off of level in transit you will be hunting tokens out of playmats, binders and rulebooks the next time you open the box - roughly doubling your setup time. The slot for the standard size non-bindered cards is intentionally designed to be tall enough that you can use the color-dividers to sort by color. Yet this slot is more than large enough to hold ALL of the cards in the Deluxe Set - meaning that if you try to speed setup time by storing cards in the binders for the various factions between games, any non-bindered cards are also likely to slip out of their slot and slide around the box during any transit that doesn't involve keeping the box entirely flat - thereby rendering the use of the colored dividers futile. Similar loose-floating card issues happen with the mini-cards for Add-ons and Spec choice when the lid is not absolutely snug and the box is not kept flat during transit.

The main compartment holding the six binders, the rulebook and the cardstock playmats does work well for transit; so long as you do not try to put sleeved cards in the binders. If you sleeve cards in the binders, you cannot both fit all six binders in the compartment and also close the box until the lid sits flush. It's up to the end user to decide if they want to leave a binder out or make the fit even looser while damaging the corners to their box.

The box also has the problem that it has nowhere to store the HP tracking dial. If you store your Spec Cards in the Binders - you can keep the dial in the loose space where the cards were originally -- but they you run into the problem of the Non-bindered cards floating loose around the box. Or you can try to fit the dial into the small cut-out underneath the space for the binders. That's like fitting the square peg into the round hole, in that it doesn't work, but you can keep trying. Or you can store the dial on top of the binders - which again runs into the problem of making the fit less snug and having things float around the box.

The only storage compartments which actually work are the two slots for the roll-up mousepad mats. But those are the reason that the box is to wide to fit in a carry-on bag.

So the box is nigh-useless for any type of transit. But that's only half the problem. It also increases the game's footprint enough to become a major issue in gameplay.

Codex already has a massive table footprint with each player needing to keep their Patrol Zone in front of their non patrolling cards, and needing to have the heroes in their Command Zone visible at game start, space for their Tech buildings, their Add On, their Spec Choice, their workers, their draw pile, their discard pile, their current hand, plus space for the actual Codex (binder) they are playing out of. The fancy playmats in the Deluxe Set measure 23.75 inches by 13.625 inches - and you need at least two of those to have a game. Even then it gets cramped when players have to keep their codex on top of their playmat instead of to the side. So you really want at least 3 square feet of table space per player to play this game.

Then on top of the Deluxe Set design assumes that you will be able to set aside another 4 square feet of table space - half of that in the middle accessible to all players and in a specific orientation. Remember those chits that came loose in transit? Well those are supposed to be sorted into a tray of 8 bins on the narrow side of the box, and each bin has a handily rounded-bottom to make it easy to grab the relevant chits during gameplay. This is intentional design - Sirlin fully expects players to be grabbing out of the tray during games. Thus you want to position the tray and the associated 20.5 by 14.25 inches of box centrally where all players can reach it.

And while many games allow you to save on table space by the simple expedient of storing the box bottom inside the inverted box lid - that doesn't quite work for Codex Deluxe. If you do that, you will rapidly tear your box apart - since the box is too heavy and the dimensions provide it with too much leverage to make it easy to lift out of the inverted lid.

What should have happened is that the box should have been shorter and skinnier, but taller. One slot for the binders deep enough to hold the binders even with sleeved cards, leaving room for cardstock playmats and rulebooks and still leaving enough space for another binder or two on top -- thereby allowing people to customize by adding their own binder for the neutral faction or carry one ring binder in addition to the official binders. The spacing cutout at the bottom of the binder slot could easily have been made to fit the HP tracking dial - or even deepened enough to allow the fit of multiple dials to support the supposed multiplayer modes. Both mousepad playmats should have been stacked on-top of each other in a single deeper slot. Then the tray for the chits should have had it's own snap-tite lid that didn't depend on the snugness of the box lid. The chit tray should have been easily removable from the box, allowing for ease-of-use during gameplay without massively increasing the table footprint requirement. And in an ideal world the slot for non-bindered card would have either be slightly widened and include 9 small tuckboxes for the starter decks (7 colors plus two copies of the neutral starter) or just been divided into a number of smaller slots where each starter deck and associated token cards could fit snugly.

But as none of that happened, so I went picked myself up a "Portable File Box with Organizer Lid" from the closest office supply store -- which seems to be an adequate solution for the transit and tablespace issues, although spending additional money after Codex Deluxe's $225 price tag leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.


Last edited by Josh_Kablack on Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:27 pm; edited 3 times in total
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momothefiddler
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Josh, even without the profanity and explicit snark, and even with my sole experience with Codex coming from this thread, I found this box review hilarious.

Good job.
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