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Codex Unofficial Manual Rewrite

Ah, I’d just PM’d Bomber with a link, but if that’s the case I’ll go ahead and drop it here:


I mean, having to create an account on a different forum to download something that’s more relevant and posted to this forum… seems pretty ridiculous. I don’t want an account there, I’ll never use it for anything except downloading this one file.
Seems like it would be much easier to host online, so people don’t have to download updates and anyone can view it.

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Before reading this, there’s two things you should keep in mind:

  1. I’ve just finished listening to the audiobook version of The Design of Everyday Things. I can’t claim to be an expert, but this book (which I’d recommend to literally everyone, by the way) got me thinking about how to make things more intuitive for the average person to use. Thus, most of my suggestions are intended to make things just a bit clearer to a first-time reader than they already are.
  2. I like this quite a bit already! I think I’d even recommend it over the official rulebook if I couldn’t personally teach someone how to play. You might feel otherwise once you see how many suggestions I’ve made… But I wouldn’t go to this much effort for something I thought was terrible. I just want this to go from being good to being great.
Suggestions Enclosed - Here There Be Ramblings

Page 2

Right Column
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).

Playing Cards
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. :sweat_smile:

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! :wink:

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.


In my opinion, the cover page should definitely count as a page. That’s how it’s done everywhere and for good reason - you sometimes need to cite the cover page. Not that anyone would have to cite this but I think it’s best to keep to the standard practice. Cover pages count as page but don’t have the numbers on them.

Everything else Hobusu says is gold.


Fair enough. I guess I was thinking more of hard-cover novels and the like, where that usually isn’t the case. It still seems weird to me, but if that’s the convention for manuals then I’ll retract that suggestion.

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With hardcover novels, or generally with hardcover books, you have ‘front matter’ pages that are numbered with i, ii, iii etc. and the regular numbering start with the book.


When I make a PDF of something, I want the number on the page to match the number on the PDF. Like, if I write a link that says, “See the sidebar on p13 for more information,” then I want to type 13 in the bar at the top of Adobe Acrobat and go right to that page. If the cover is page 0, then it throws off the numbering.

I’ve got a little time to read the forums tonight. The worst I can do is disagree with suggestions, so don’t worry about the long list. For that matter, I’m already thinking that I don’t like a couple of my formatting decisions (like I don’t think all of the variant-format rules need to be separated into those big green boxes, and I should do something to the fonts to set minor rules apart more from the rest of the text).


I went through Hobusu’s notes on the overview. Let me see how much of this I can type on my phone:


Mention RTS games at the end of the first paragraph

I dig it.

Say that you start with three heroes instead of one

The free-for-all and two-headed formats are one hero per player, so I’d rather start with one hero as the baseline and mention the three-hero format with the codex.

Start with 4 workers (or 5 as 2nd player)

If it’s confusing to say 4 or 5 workers, then I’d rather take the numbers out altogether and just say that you start with a worker card. The overview is just meant to get players in the right headspace to understand the rest of the manual, not to teach the specific rules.

Use “turn” instead of “round”

Yup, that’s a typo. This game has no rounds, only turns.

Don’t say that you draw cards each turn, be more specific with the discard section

Rewrote this section for clarity.

Split “deckbuilding” into “deck building”

Renamed that section to “Building Your Deck and Codex.”

Clarify whether you have a 24-card codex or your hero does

Hoo boy. Let’s just say that I crammed way too many new terms into this section of the overview, and I needed to rewrite the whole thing. This is why it’s important to finish writing the first draft, walk away from it for a while, then come back and proofread again later, so you have fresh eyes, and you can stare at the page wondering why the hell you thought that specific part made sense on the first draft.

Change title to “Combat and the Patrol Zone”

I actually think it makes more sense to call that section “Attacking and Defending,” since those are terms that new players understand, and to make it clear that if you want a certain card to defend, then you send it to the patrol zone.

Make the combat section more proactive

My words here were a bit confusing as to whose patrol zone was defending whose base, but I think I want “you” attacking in both lines of the example, instead of “your opponent” attacking your patrol zone and then “you” attacking an empty patrol zone.

Of course, these are just suggestions

Just don’t suggest that I should be doing something actually meaningful with my free time.


That’s not correct. I can see why you might think that, since the official rulebook doesn’t explicitly state how many heroes each player should use for those modes, but three heroes is definitely the intended number for every mode. To be certain, I just asked @sharpobject (the official rules keeper for Codex) on Discord, and he confirmed that three heroes is the intended way to play every mode.

As for the rest, it looks like pretty much everything you’re doing different from my suggestions is probably even better than what I’d suggested. Do you want me to keep going with this? I’ve got most of the next two pages written up, but if you’re likely to change the layout of some pages, parts of it might not even be relevant anymore.

Edit: Since I’ve finished them, I’ll go ahead and post the suggestions I have for the next two pages. Keep in mind that most of this was written before you replied to my previous suggestions, so they didn’t really factor into what I wrote for these.

Here There Be Further Ramblings

Page 3

This looks like a good place to make it clear that using one hero should only be done when still learning the game. There’s quite a bit of blank space here, so something like the following could work:

Each player should choose three heroes and set up their playmat as shown. If this is your first game, you might want to start with each player only using one hero so that there’s fewer cards to worry about.

Hero Card
You have to choose at this point whether to show the setup for a three hero game or a one hero game. If the former (which I’d recommend), you’ll need to change the graphic to show three heroes. I’d suggest using either three heroes of the same color or two and a neutral hero, since a new player should probably steer clear of mixing colors until they’ve played monocolor a few times. You may also want to change the text box to be plural, like so:

Hero Cards: Place on the hero slots in your command zone

Worker Card
I’d change the wording from “choose a 1st player” to “choose who goes first.” Similarly, “the 1st player” and “the 2nd player” seem a bit clunky compared to “player 1” and “player 2.” Although, now that I think about it, there’s an opportunity to slip in the way starting workers are handled in free-for-all without making it look unnatural to someone who thinks it’s just a two player game:

Decide who goes first. If you’re player 1, place this card in your Workers zone with the x4 side up. Otherwise, place the x5 side up. (This shows how many workers you start with.)

More importantly, why is the worker card shown sideways on the graphic? This happens again later in the manual, so it’s clearly not just an oversight, but I have no clue why it’s like that. There’s plenty of room on the actual playmats for the worker cards to be oriented vertically, and that’s how it’s shown in the official manual as well.

Base HP
This is being written with the assumption that players have bought either the Core Set or the Deluxe Set, right? That means they should already have the HP dial, so the setup should probably just use that instead of suggesting alternatives immediately. Those who want to use something else will do so without the manual’s permission.

Set the HP dials to 20 HP for each player.

Starting Deck
I think you should call them “starting cards” instead of “basic cards.” That’s what the official manual uses, and the term “basic” has its own connotations. Some of the cards in the starting decks are more complicated than some Tech II cards!

**Starting Deck: Find the 10 starting cards that match the color of one of your heroes. Shuffle these cards face-down to form your deck.

Again, since the reader should have the Core or Deluxe set, that means they already have at least two binders. There’s no need to confuse them by implying that a stack of cards could work as well as the binder they already have.

Find the 24 cards that match the specialization (or “spec” for short) of each of your heroes. Don’t shuffle these cards—put them in a binder to make your codex (see page 12 for how to arrange the cards).

Red Help Box (not sure what else to call this)
This just needs some rephrasing and editing:

If you use Jaina, the Fire hero, put the 24 cards from the Fire spec into your codex. You can also choose to use the Red starter deck.

Starting cards have a dot in the upper-left corner and the name of their color at the bottom (like Red).

Non-starting cards have no corner dot and instead of a color they have their spec’s name (like Fire).

Misc. Thoughts for Page 3
The label for the deck and discard is being covered up by the graphic for the deck. Not sure how I missed that until now, but once you notice that it’s pretty distracting…

Page 4

Codex Contents
As discussed on page 2, this is mislabeled. It should be “Spec Contents” instead. I’d also rephrase the sentence at the top to say:

Each hero’s spec has 2 copies each of 12 cards:

That gets rid of the last bullet point and makes it a bit less awkward.

First Game Suggestions

I think this would be better positioned left of Codex Spec Contents so that readers see it sooner. That way, they’ll already know that they should only use one spec for their first game before seeing the breakdown of what’s in a spec.

This may be too long, but here’s my ideal version of this box’s contents:

For your first game, you should only use one hero and the cards in their spec instead of three.

If you have the Deluxe Set, each player should pick one of the two Neutral Heroes (Troq Bashar and River Montoya) for a simplified game meant for new players.

With the Core Set, you can use Calamandra Moss (Feral) and Jaina Stormborne (Fire) as substitutes for Troq and River.

Deluxe Variant: Maps
Maybe add a bit saying that you should only use them after you’re already familiar with Codex?

Variant Setups
This should be renamed to something like “Game Modes.” The word variant, at least to me, gives the impression that there is One True Way to play the game and everything listed as a variant isn’t the “real” game. Two-player, 2v2 team battles, and free-for-all with up to 5 players are all valid ways to play the game, and should be treated as such. If anything, playing with only one hero per player is the weird variant.

Game Modes
Codex can support 2-5 players. The full rules for the different modes of play start on page 12.

Tournament Game (3v3)
Change the heading to something like “One-on-One” and drop “3v3” entirely. I know some people use “3v3” to refer to having three heroes on each side, but that breaks the existing gaming convention that the “?v?” format refers to the number of players on each side. That said, an idea I had to replace it is to have silhouettes of the number of players for each mode. The best I can do on the forums is use the built-in emoji, but you can use whatever you like. Alternatively, if you don’t like the idea of using icons you can do something else, but I think having the maximum number of players for each mode easily visible next to the mode’s name would be helpful.

The first sentence needs rephrased to make it clearer that this is the mode players are intended to play most.

Adding the option for new players to use only one hero in parentheses should make it clear that the one hero mode is a variant of the normal three hero game.

The “main hero” thing doesn’t actually affect gameplay beyond the choice of starting deck, so I would reword that section to remove it entirely.

One-on-One (:adult: VS :adult:)
This is the standard way to play Codex, designed to be balanced for years of tournament play.

  • Both players choose 3 heroes and place them in their command zone (new players may want to start with just 1 hero).
  • Choose a starting deck that matches the color of one of your heroes. For example, if you are using Jaina, Calamandra and Grave as your heroes, you could choose the Red, Green, or White starting deck.
  • Add the cards from each of your heroes’ specs to your codex for a total of 72 cards (or 24 if you only use one hero).

Two-Headed Dragon (2-player teams)

Putting the stuff about the base first makes sure the players know right away how the goal of the game differs from the 1v1 mode.

Instead of talking about the nitty-gritty details of workers, emphasize the teamwork aspect.

Two-Headed Dragon (:adult::adult: VS :adult::adult:)
This mode is for a battle between two teams, each of which has two players.

  • Each team shares a single base with 30 HP. One team wins by destroying the other team’s base.
  • Each player gets their own playmat, heroes, starting deck, codex, and workers, and they each draw their own hand of cards.
  • Both players on a team take their turns at the same time, and can work together to combine cards in ways a single player never could!

Free-for-all (3-5 players)

I added some stuff from the official manual that talks about how you might want to team up with people temporarily, since that’s a big part of what makes this free-for-all mode different from those in other games (since those ones have player elimination, those who are in the running for the lead are likely to gang up and eliminate weaker players).

Speaking of which, I basically rewrote all of the bullets in this section from scratch to emphasize what makes this free-for-all mode different both from the other modes of Codex and from other free-for-all modes. The existing bullet points seemed too stuck on the details of play instead of painting a picture of the mode as a whole.

Free-for-all (:adult: VS :adult: VS :adult: VS :adult: VS :adult:)
This mode is for 3-5 players to play against each other. There are no teams, and only one player can win, but you’ll need to make temporary alliances at some points during the game.

  • Once any player’s base is destroyed, the player whose base has the most remaining HP wins (there’s no player elimination).
  • You can repair your base at a cost of 3 gold per 1 HP.
  • If an opponent’s unit dies during your turn, you get a 1 gold bounty for its death (up to 3 gold per turn).
  • You can have your units patrol in other players’ Patrol Zones to protect them from losing before you can take the lead.
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I would never dare do that.

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Oh, wow, uh, that does in fact change things. I didn’t realize the multiplayer game was balanced for three-hero teams. (I kinda want to try the free-for-all mode now…) So yeah, that definitely will change a handful of my formatting decisions.

I’m not using your exact suggestions, but your feedback seriously helped me to think about how new players would read the manual. I’ve only got one day off before going back on the road, unfortunately, but I’m gonna try to make a bunch of changes today and try to post an update. You might want to wait for the next update and see if you want to change anything there.


Replying to Hobisu’s other notes:


Change hero card explanations and examples to reference all three hero cards.

Yeah, if the multiplayer modes use three heroes as a default, then these can all change.

Change “choose a 1st player” to “choose who goes first.”

Most other board games refer to a “first player” for doing specific things. Like, a lot of games have a “first player token” for the player that takes the first turn, so you remember who that player is.

Why is worker card sideways?

Oh, I dunno. I always just placed in sideways when I was playing. /shrug

Only refer to dials for 20 HP for base. Only refer to binders for your codex.

It mostly matters when you’re playing with more than two players and need extra materials for everyone.

Changes to First Game Suggestions and Maps.

Ehn, I think those are differences that don’t make much difference.

Variant Setups renamed to “Game Modes,” change the setup summary for free-for-all mode.

So, I hate when game have setup rules in the back of the manual. I’ve seen a few games (I’m looking at YOU, Terraforming Mars) where they have setup rules for the basic game on the first page, then they summarize the full game later in the manual, and you have to jump back and forth when setting up the full game.

That made me think that the Codex manual needed a summary of setup rules for the different modes at the start of the manual. Then put the full rules for different modes at the back of the manual, so they wouldn’t be in the way of the other rules.

But now I realize that I’ve already interspersed most of the rules for the variants in with the other rules. I see now that I can just delete the variant section at the end and just summarize the other modes at the front of the manual. That should look a bit cleaner.

Two-headed mode, mention the shared 30 HP base first.

I dig it.

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UMR v1.1 :

There’s probably still some typos hanging around, since I don’t have time to re-read the entire thing, but I think the edits will clear up some of the confusion with the different modes of play.

UMR v1.2 :

Should be decent~

there is a mistae man:
unattackable means that yes, it can patrol, yes it can be targeted by spells, but attackers can ignore it. meaning if the unatt unit is the only patroller is like not having any patroller.
e.g. tiny basilisk is unattackable by tech 0 so they can walk past him and attack freely everything else.


Derp. I’ll be out of town for a week again, so I’ll check this when I get back.

Nothing bonus to really add. Just saying - great work. Thanks for doing this @dreamshade

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v1.3 uploaded, includes link for a plain-white background version.


The description of the legendary keyword reads

One player can’t have two copies of a legendary card in play at one time, such as two copies of Galina Glimmer (Legendary
Growth Tech I). If you ever have multiple copies of a legendary card in play, the newest copy is immediately destroyed.

which creates some ambiguity about whether this destruction triggers death replacement effects (graveyard etc). The official rulebook is more clear, saying

If a second copy of it would be under your control, instead the second copy is discarded.

I think we should change our version of the rule to read “discarded” as well instead of “destroyed”


Thanks for the note, but I’m not continuing to update the project right now.

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