Suggestions Enclosed - Here There Be Ramblings
The description of the top three cards should be rephrased to say:
A white hero (Grave Stormborne), a white worker x4 card, and a basic white unit card.
The worker card isn’t really Grave’s, since someone who used Setsuki or Rook as one of their heroes could still use the white worker card without Grave. A common theme I noticed across the manual is wording that made it less clear what the relationship between certain cards is.
I think this would flow better if it was worded like this:
Codex is a customizable, non-collectable card game set in the Fantasy Strike universe. The players control bases, which are special buildings from which they can deploy units, summon heroes who can cast spells, and construct other buildings—much like in a real-time strategy game. You win the game by destroying your opponent’s base.
As it was worded before, a reader who didn’t know about RTS games would have no idea what a “base” was or why they should care until after they’d been told it was like a genre of games they don’t know or care about. This version makes it clearer what a base is sooner and then provides the connection after providing context. It also makes the “bases are buildings” thing clear from the earliest possible point (you wouldn’t believe how long it takes me to teach new players that).
Saying that each player starts with a hero card isn’t wrong, exactly, but it’s misleading. This is still the first page of the manual, where you’re trying to give an impression of what the game looks like and provide a quick reference for some of the core rules so people don’t have to dig deeper into the book. For that reason, I’d suggest saying that you start with three hero cards (since that’s how you play the real game once you’ve learned the rules).
I think the official manual’s “4 workers (5 as player 2)” is better than I realized when I first read it. If you just say “4 or 5 workers” as you do here, there’s unnecessary ambiguity because the reader has no way of knowing how many workers they should start with until later in the book. A first time reader will be confused, and if someone need to check the rulebook quickly at the start of a game they can’t just read the first page to figure out the part they care about. Phrasing it so that the default is 4 workers and then mentioning that player two starts with 5 instead gets rid of both issues.
You should probably replace the word “round” with “turn.” In my experience more casual gamers are familiar with the latter term (you’re much more likely to hear someone say “it’s your turn” than “it’s your round”), and it’s more accurate anyway. Players can only make decisions and take actions during their own turn, and round in the context of a game like Codex refers to going around the table once and having each player take a turn.
Saying that you draw cards each round turn, before anything else that happens during a turn is mentioned, may lead people who play CCGs like Magic: the Gathering to think that you draw at the start of your turn. Then when they scroll down and see that you actually do it at the end of a turn, they’ll probably get confused (at least briefly). I think it would be better to just remove the cards reference from that sentence entirely.
I’m having trouble deciding whether your description of the Discard/Draw phase, with its simple overview of how it works on the conceptual level, should be left alone or made more specific so people don’t have to dig for the details of how many cards they draw each turn. I’ll adjust the wording to be more specific and let you decide which version to keep.
Putting that all together, here’s my suggested version of this section:
Each player begins with three hero cards, 4 workers (5 as player 2), and a deck of 10 cards. Each turn your workers mine gold for you to use.
- Spend gold to play cards from your hand, like units that attack and defend, spells that give one-time bonuses, or upgrades that provide permanent bonuses.
- Your heroes aren’t in your deck. You can spend gold to summon one any turn. Heroes can attack and defend, and you need an active hero to play spell cards (the hero casts the spell).
- At the end of your turn, you discard your entire hand, then draw the same number of cards you discarded plus two from your deck (but no more than 5). This means that the more cards you play one turn, the fewer cards you draw for the next turn.
Deckbuilding and Your Codex
To start with, maybe split apart “Deckbuilding” to be “Deck Building”? It’s not that important, but it may be a bit clearer to those less familiar with the genre conventions. That said, even the official rulebook has no space between them, so feel free to ignore that bit.
This first page can’t really make up its mind about whether it’s teaching the rules of the full game or the simplified one-hero game meant for new players, and nowhere is that clearer in this section. Combined with inconsistent use of terminology, you get this:
“Each player also begins with a codex of 24 cards.”
“In a tournament game, both players build a team of 3 heroes. Each hero has a 24-card codex, and any hero can team up with any other hero, giving you endless ways to build a 72-card codex!”
So wait, you have a “codex” (which you never define here, by the way) that has 24 cards in it. Except that “codex” also refers to the cards that the heroes have…? And you put together three “codices / codexes” from your three heroes to make a 72 card codex? What?
The cards connected to a specific hero are collectively called their “spec.” Don’t try to overload one term in an attempt to make things simpler, since that will probably lead to more confusion than before. Also, cut out anything that references the one-hero game unless you specifically note that it’s for a simpler mode, instead of treating the beginner mode as the normal game and the real game as some strange thing that you’ll get to later.
The description of teching cards from your codex should be clearer that you add them to your discard pile, since otherwise people might think that they add the cards directly to their deck (I have seen new players need correction on this multiple times in the same game. Rule of thumb: if someone can get confused about a rule, they will).
Finally, I think it’s probably better to be specific about the number of unique codices (codexes? While I’m thinking of it, either avoid ever using the plural or pick one and stick with it). Sure, over 3000 is effectively endless, but it’s not literally true and sounds like a marketing ploy.
Here’s my take on this section:
Deck Building and Your Codex
Each player also begins with a binder of cards (your “codex”).
- At the end of your turn, you move two cards from your codex to your discard pile, which gets shuffled to replace your deck when it runs out. This lets you customize your deck with cards that respond to different situations.
- To play a Tech I card, you must construct a Tech I building. Your can attack and destroy your opponent’s Tech buildings to prevent them from playing their cards.
- The cards in your codex are determined by the 3 heroes you choose to use. Each hero adds 24 cards to your codex, and any hero can team up with any other hero, giving you 3084 ways to make a 72-card codex!
Combat and Patrol
This is basically fine, but I’d like to reword it a bit so that it describes what you, the reader, can do to defend against your opponent’s attack, and also what you can do once you get past your opponent’s patrol. Make it proactive rather than “here’s all the horrible things other people can do to you.” I did the same thing to a line in the previous section, too.
Also expanding the title a bit. Not explaining because it’s midnight and I get one free pass on explaining something per day.
Combat and the Patrol Zone
Your heroes and units can each attack once on your turn. If they don’t attack, you can send them to your patrol zone instead.
- The patrol zone protects your base. If your opponent wants to attack, they have to attack your patrollers first.
- If your opponent’s patrol zone is empty, you can attack anything they have with HP, including their base, other buildings, or units and heroes that aren’t patrolling.
- Each player’s base begins with 20 HP. When you destroy your opponent’s base, you win!
I think that’s enough for one night! Especially considering that I probably wrote more words about the sections I covered than the actual page held… Maybe tomorrow I’ll make it through more than one page!
Of course, these are only suggestions. I wouldn’t be bringing them up if I didn’t think they would help, but if you disagree with any of them you should feel free to ignore those. It’s your project, after all.