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[Guide] Beginner's Guide to Teching


#1

I wrote another guide where I started out by saying that choosing what card to worker is kind of paralyzing. Well compared to that, choosing what to tech will make you downright catatonic. Every codex has access to 36 unique cards. There are 1296 ways to choose 2 of those to tech. And you have to make that decision every turn.

This guide won’t make you an expert at these decisions, but my hope is that it will go a long way to helping you get past decision catatonia and actually play the game.

Having a tech plan

The single most important thing about your tech decisions is that they fit into a coherent plan with at least one “win condition”. A win condition is a powerful card or (more commonly) combination of cards that, if not answered by your opponent, can win you the game. The most common win conditions are combos of Tech II cards, but many Ultimate spells can be the centerpiece of a win condition as well. Tech III cards can often be win conditions on their own if that game goes on long enough. Every spec has access to at least one win condition, and a coherent tech plan will give you the cards necessary to pull it off. Without a win condition, you will be able to play some cards and do some stuff, but you will have a hard time closing out the game before your opponent can kill you.

A good tech plan will also have the following elements:

  • A few “answer” cards that can disrupt your opponent’s win condition. Obviously the particular card that will do this will depend on what exactly your opponent’s plan is. The most common answer cards are hero spells, but some Tech I and Tech II cards are useful answers as well
  • Some generally solid cards that keep you defended while you set up your win condition and/or pressure your opponent to disrupt theirs. This is the most common role for Tech I cards, and some spells can play this role as well.
  • An appropriate power curve. By that I mean that cards are teched in at the right times so that you have the best chance to play them as soon as you can. This is most relevant for your Tech I, II, and III cards. Ideally, you want to draw them the turn after you build the appropriate tech building, but no sooner. See below for more details on timing your techs to meet this standard
  • Robustness and flexibility. In Codex, you always have the risk that your opponent prevents you from playing what you want to play, either because they teched in some card to counter it, or because they simply killed the hero you need to cast your spell or the tech building you need to play your unit. The best tech plans have enough different types of cards that losing access to a tech building or key hero on a single turn won’t completely derail them.

In the post below, there are some example tech plans for each of the mono-color decks. These are far from perfect. For example they don’t account for the differences of being player 1 vs player 2, or the nuances of individual matchups. As you get better as a player you will find ways that these plans can be modified and improved. However, they are “good enough” to be functional as you learn the game.

Whether and when to tech

The first part of this is easy: you must tech 2 cards per turn as long as you have fewer than 10 workers. Once you hit 10 workers, you have the option to tech 0, 1, or 2 cards. Generally you should choose 0 at that point, to avoid bloating your deck. The larger your deck, the less likely you are to draw the cards you need when you need them. The major exception to that rule is when you want to tech in a game-winning card like a Tech III or an Ultimate spell. Those are usually worth the bloat.

Timing when to tech a card is a little trickier. When you tech a card it goes into your discard pile, which means the soonest you’ll have access to it is the turn after you reshuffle your discard pile into your deck. As a rule of thumb, if you tech a card at the end of turn x, and are drawing 4 or 5 cards per turn, you will most likely draw it into your hand for turn x+2 or x+3.

This delay means that you have to do some prediction and planning ahead to get your cards when you want to play them. If you wait until you’ve built your tech I building to bring in some Tech I units from your codex, by the time you draw them it will probably be too late for them to do much good. Similarly if you wait to tech in an answer to your opponent’s most powerful cards until after they are played, those cards will probably have beaten you before you can draw your answer.

At the same time, you don’t want to tech in a card too early, otherwise you’ll draw it before you are able to play it. Here are some guidelines on when it is safe to start teching in different types of cards (assuming you are making a worker every turn and building your tech buildings as soon as you are able). This will give you a chance to draw the card the turn your tech building is active (the turn after you build it), but not before:

  • As player 1: you can tech in Tech I units starting turn 1, Tech II units starting turn 3, and Tech III units on turn 5 (or later if you don’t build it as soon as possible)
  • As player 2: you can tech in Tech I units starting turn 1, Tech II units starting turn 2 or 3, and Tech III units on turn 4 (or later if you don’t build it as soon as possible)

Timing for teching spells is a little different, since you can summon heroes from the start of the game. If you really want to play a spell, it’s often better to tech it while the hero is in your command zone, and then summon the hero on the turn you have the spell in hand. This won’t work for ultimate spells. For those, you will usually want to max your hero the turn after you tech in the spell and hope to draw it on the subsequent turn.

A rules clarification

The rulebook says this about the tech phase, the last phase of your turn:

Pick two cards from your codex to set aside. They’ll go face down into your
discard pile just before your next turn starts.

This means that you should start deciding what you want to tech during your opponent’s turn. However, you don’t actually lock in your decision until just before your next turn starts. You can change your tech decision based on what your opponent did during their turn. It also means that any effects that happen to you during your opponent’s turn resolve before your cards are teched in. This is most often relevant when you have a patroller in the Technician slot and no cards in your draw pile. If your opponent kills your technician, you will reshuffle your discard pile into your deck and draw before your new teched cards go in. If you don’t want to risk that happening, then maybe you shouldn’t patrol a Technician in that situation.


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#2

This post contains basic build orders for the starter set (1 hero mode Bashing vs. Finesse), and for each of the monocolor decks for 3 hero mode. The monocolor decks have 3 plans each, one focusing on each of the 3 specs. These plans are far from perfect, but each has a coherent strategy with a strong win condition and a reasonable set of timings. As you learn more about Codex, you can and should modify these to work better as first or second player, or in a particular matchup.

One note on terminology: because the tech decision happens during your opponent’s turn, saying “tech this on turn 3” can be ambiguous. To be consistent, in all of these plans the turn number is the turn that ended just before you tech the card in. So your “T1” tech happens after you play your first turn and is locked in just before you start your second turn.

Bashing vs. Finesse (1 vs. 1)

Bashing plan

T1: Iron Man, Iron Man
T2: Revolver Ocelot, Intimidate
T3: Rhinoceros, Hired Stomper
T4: Rhinoceros, Eggship
T5: Trojan Duck, Trojan Duck

Strategy:

Finesse plan

T1: Nimble Fencer, Discord
T2: Nimble Fencer, Two Step
T3: Maestro, Appel Stomp
T4: Grounded Guide, Cloud Sprite
T5: Blademaster, Blademaster

Strategy: Play units that give bonuses to Virtuosos and overwhelm your opponent with your powered-up army

Blood Anarchs (Mono-Red)

Anarchy plan

T1: Lobber, Gunpoint Taxman
T2: Chaos Mirror, Lobber
T3: Disguised Monkey, Kidnapping
T4: Pirate Gunship, Disguised Monkey
T5: Pirate Gunship, Bloodlust

Worker Bloodburn, Pillage, Scorch, and Makeshift Rambaster

Strategy: Keep the board clear and build Tech 3 ASAP. Even if it gets destroyed once or twice, you can keep re-building for free until you can stick a Gunship and win.

Blood plan

T1: Crash Bomber, Crash Bomber
T2: Bloodlust, Kidnapping
T3: Captured Bugblatter, Crashbarrow
T4: Land Octopus, Flame Arrow
T5: Shoddy Glider, Desperation

Suggested workers: Bloodburn, Careless Musketeer, Scorch, Bombaster

Strategy: Leverage base damage from units dying to win a base race.

Fire plan

T1: Lobber, Lober
T2: Bloodlust, Chaos Mirror
T3: Pick 2 of Molting Firebird, Bamstamper Lizzo, Kidnapping
T4: Whatever wasn’t picked on T3 and the other Bamstamper Lizzo
T5: War Drums, Calypso Vystari

Suggested workers: Scorch, Careless Musketeer, Bloodburn, Mad Man

Strategy: Drakk’s abilities let Lobbers trade up and give Firebird haste to kill tech buildings. Don’t be afraid to dump gold into Zane just to sacrifice him; he can make really big plays! Try to chip away at the opponent’s base each of the first few turns, and you can end the game sooner than you’d think.

Moss Sentinels (Mono-Green)

Balance plan

T1: Tiny Basilisk, Centaur
T2: Dinosize, Galina Glimmer
T3: Potent Basilisk, Fairie Dragon
T4: T-Rex, Moment’s Peace
T5: T-Rex, Moment’s Peace

Strategy: Make good trades with your early units, focusing on keeping enemy Heroes off the board. Use Moment’s Peace to protect your Tech III, and then win with Dinosaurs.

Worker Rich Earth, Verdant Tree, Spore Shambler, and Ironbark Treant

Feral plan

T1: Murkwood Allies, Murkwood Allies
T2: Giant Panda, Galina Glimmer
T3: Gigadon, Gigadon
T4: Barkcoat Bear, Ferocity
T5: Moss Ancient, Moss Ancient

Strategy: Play Murkwood Allies as much as possible so you can play extremely cheap Gigadons at Tech II.

Workers: Tiger Cub, Verdant Tree, Rich Earth, Spore Shambler, Forest’s Favor

Growth plan

T1: Tiny Basilisk, Galina Glimmer
T2: Ferocity, Tiny Basilisk
T3: Might of Leaf and Claw, Blooming Ancient
T4: Moment’s Peace, Might of Leaf and Claw
T5: Stampede, Blooming Elm

Suggested workers: Rich Earth, Verdant Tree, Ironbark Treant, Forest’s Favor

Strategy: Play lots of low cost green units and tokens, and power them up with Blooming Ancient and Might of Leaf and Claw

Blackhand Scourge (Mono-Black)

Demonology plan

T1: Bone Collector, Bone Collector
T2: Plague Spitter, Sickness
T3: Blackhand Dozer, Voidblocker
T4: Shrine of Forbidden Knowledge, Doom Grasp
T5: Zarramonde, Zarramonde

Note: if you are planning to put Garth to max-band on any particular turn, and don’t already have a legal target in the discard pile (you’re allowed to check) swap out the first tech card listed for an appropriate unit (Twilight Baron if you don’t have Tech II active, Blackhand Dozer if you do).

Worker Jandra, the Negator, Poisonblade Rogue, Skeletal Archery, Pestering Haunt

Strategy: build board presence with strong units, supported by removal spells and build to your Tech III.

Disease plan

T1: Dark Pact, Bone Collector
T2: Shadow Blade, Hooded Executioner
T3: Cursed Crow, Metamorphosis
T4: Gorgon, Cursed Ghoul
T5: Carrion Curse, Death and Decay

Strategy: Use Vandy and Garth as a tag team with an early hero’s hall, create card advantage with Dark Pact, Thieving Imp and Shadow Blade. Aim to get a 3 hero Metamorph off around turn 5 or 6, fetching Cursed Crow with Garth maxband (change your tech before the turn you Metamorph to tech a Cursed Crow if you weren’t doing so already).

Worker: Jandra, the Negator, Skeletal Archery, Graveyard, Poisonblade Rogue, Pestering Haunt

Necromancy plan

T1: Bone Collector, Bone Collector
T2: Lich’s Bargain, Skeletal Lord
T3: Lord of Shadows, Dark Pact
T4: Lord of Shadows, Crypt Crawler
T5: Zarramonde, Dark Pact

Note: Try to max-band Garth once you have your tech II built. On the turn you do that, replace the second tech card with a Skeletal Lord, and fetch back the Skeletal Lord.

Strategy: Make as many skeletons as you can, then kill your opponent with enhanced Long Range attacks from Skeletal Archery, or just cheat in Tech III units (they don’t even need to be in spec!)

Worker Jandra, Poisonblade Rogue, Graveyard, and Pestering Haunt

Flagstone Dominion (Mono-Blue)

Law plan

T1: Brave Knight, Overeager Cadet
T2: Injunction, Overeager Cadet
T3: Justice Juggernaut, Censorship Council
T4: Judgement Day, Insurance Agent
T5: Lawbringer Gryphon, Community Service

Suggested workers: Bluecoat Musketeer, Traffic Director, Porkhand Magistrate, Building Inspector

Strategy: Lock out your opponent’s options until you can close them out with Lawbringer Gryphon and Justice Juggernaut

Peace plan

T1: Overeager Cadet, Free Speech
T2: Garrison, Overeager Cadet
T3: Drill Sergeant, Drill Sergeant
T4: Spectral Flagbearer, Hallucination
T5: Spectral Flagbearer, Boot Camp

Worker Bluecoat Musketeer, Lawful Search, Jail, and Manufactured Truth.

Strategy: Get down Garrison ASAP, then play lots of cheap units to block/attack. Once you have Drill Sergeants, your units will be huge, but if your opponent’s are bigger, use Hallucination to make them Illusions, then target then with Drill Sergeant’s ability.

Truth plan

T1: Tax Collector, Spectral Hound
T2: Free Speech, Spectral Hound
T3: Reteller of Truths, Macciatus the Whisoerer
T4: Reteller of Truths, Eyes of the Chancellor
T5: Liberty Gryphon, Liberty Gryphon

Strategy: Use Macciatus and Reteller to get good value out of your efficient yet fragile Illusion units

Whitestar Order (Mono-White)

Discipline plan

T1) Sparring Partner, Bird’s Nest
T2) Entangling Vines, Rambasa Twin
T3) Young Lightning Dragon, Vigor Adept
T4) Training Grounds, either Young Lightning Dragon or Mind-Parry Monk
T5) Whatever you didn’t pick from T4, and Earthquake or Fox’s Den Students based on which one you think you can cast.

Ninjutsu plan

T1: Bird’s Nest, Sparring Partner
T2: Rambasa Twin, Entangling Vines
T3: Porcupine, Glorious Ninja
T4: Porcupine, Fox’s Den Students
T5: Flying Fox, Fox’s Den Students

Suggested workers: Fox Primus, Morningstar Flagbearer, Fox Viper, Smoker

Strategy: Build board presence with efficient units / Rook, then transition to a max level Setsuki to get back the cards lost and finish things with swarms of stealthy ninjas.

Strategy:

Strength plan

T1: Sparring Partner, Bird’s Nest
T2: Sparring Partner, Speed of the Fox
T3: Whitestar Grappler, Doubling Barbarbarian
T4: Whitestar Grappler, Oathkeeper
T5: Oathkeeper, Earthquake

Worker Fox Viper, Grappling Hook, Fox Primus, and Smoker

Strategy:

Vortoss Conclave (Mono-Purple)

Past plan

T1: Stewardess of the Undone, Seer
T2: Seer, Rememberer
T3: Rememberer, Origin Story
T4: Shimmer Ray, Yesterday’s Golgort
T5: Shimmer Ray, Yesterday’s Golgort
Note: Build your Tech III. If you start a turn with your Tech III complete, and a Remember in play (or Rememberer + Seer/Time Spiral in hand) tech in one or more Ebbflow Archons (instead of what you would have brought in, or as optional techs if after turn 5).

Worker Temporal Research, Forgotten Fighter, Tinkerer, Neo Plexus

Strategy: Flood the board with free units from Rememberer, and guarantee yourself an Ebbflow Archon as soon as possible. Use Hardened Mox, Stewardess, and sacrificial Heroes to stall and protect the Tech II.

Present plan

T1: Stewardess of the Undone, Stewardess of the Undone
T2: Argonaut, Origin Story
T3: Hyperion, Tricycloid
T4: Temporal Distortion, Immortal
T5: Rewind, Temporal Distortion

Suggested workers: Plasmodium, Tinkerer, Forgotten Fighter, Neo Plexus

Strategy: Attack/use abilities with your powerful Tech II units, then use Temporal Distortion to turn them into other Tech II units and do it again!

Future plan

T1: Stewardess of the Undone, Argonaut
T2: Undo, Promise of Payment
T3: Void Star, Xenostalker
T4: Void Star, Now!
T5: Origin Story, Xenostalker

Suggested workers: Battle Suits, Hardened Mox, Tinkerer, Plasmodium

Strategy: Hinder your opponent’s offense until you can use juiced Void Stars to Overpower patrollers and smash important heroes or tech buildings with the same attack.


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#3

Alright folks, I need your help on this. I’d like to have a tech plan focusing on each spec, but I’m not experienced enough to come up with them on my own. I copied in the plans from the new player reference sheets, and I can add one or two more myself, but that still leaves a lot of gaps.

My goal is that each tech plan a) is reasonably coherent and has a good mix/progression of Tech I, Tech II, and spells b) gives a new player a clear strategy to work towards, and c) shows off what makes that spec cool.

Thanks in advance!


#4

This is fantastic, and I’m thinking I should add a link to this both on the first post of my topic and in the sheets themselves!

With how much you emphasized having a win condition, I think explicitly stating what that is for each strategy would be a good idea. Also, briefly describing some strengths and weaknesses of each strategy would help newer players see why they should pick one strategy over another. For example, Growth can reach a point where all their units are too strong to lose combat, but if the opponent can keep killing the Growth player’s units (especially Blooming Ancient if it’s left vulnerable), it might be impossible to get them to that point.

The strategy sections on the reference sheets have to be short because there’s limited space on a sheet of paper, but in a purely digital format they can be expanded. Some of that would be covered just by hitting the points I already mentioned, though. Of course, I’m even less qualified to talk about specific advice than you are… @EricF, any thoughts? You did make the build orders for Fire and Growth.


#5

I disagree. I think just listing the build order without comment, and letting the player discover how the different cards function is better. There could be specific strategy stuff elsewhere about what they do, but “decklists” without comment are useful in a unique way.

One addition that could be useful is which 4 starter cards to (try to) worker for the build.


#6

Here’s one for Strength:

T1: Sparring Partner, Bird’s Nest
T2: Sparring Partner, Speed of the Fox
T3: Whitestar Grappler, Doubling Barbarian
T4: Whitestar Grappler, Oathkeeper
T5: Oathkeeper, Earthquake

Worker Fox Viper, Grappling Hook, Fox Primus, and Smoker


#7

Here’s one for Anarchy (comments welcome):

T1: Lobber, Gunpoint Taxman
T2: Chaos Mirror, Lobber
T3: Disguised Monkey, Kidnapping
T4: Pirate Gunship, Disguised Monkey
T5: Pirate Gunship, Bloodlust

Worker Bloodburn, Pillage, Scorch, and Makeshift Rambaster


#8

Thanks @EricF! I’ve added your Strength and Anarchy plans to the guide.

I’m a bit ambivalent about how much strategy guidance to include. I want to avoid this becoming a general strategy guide to every spec, but on the other hand no guidance whatsoever feels a bit too sink-or-swim for a new player. Maybe the right balance is to describe the win condition / what it looks like when the plan works. For example, Growth would be something like “play lots of low cost green units/tokens, and power them up with Blooming Ancient and Might of Leaf and Claw.”

Thoughts?


#9

Sure, there’s something to be said for letting players discover things on their own, but giving them nothing is just making things harder on the new player for too small a benefit to them. After all, these are mostly meant for the first few games someone plays, right? Even if there wasn’t anything written here, I’d still want to give my new players a quick outline of their “game plan,” so to speak. Why not go ahead and get that summary prepared in advance? Especially since there’s space on my reference sheets for a quick overview.

That sounds like a reasonable compromise. Maybe just 1 sentence for each of them? The more I think about it, the more I like a minimal explanation (but not to the point of just a deck list and no advice). If someone knows what the goal of their deck is, they should be able to figure out the kinds of things that might prevent it from working. That in turn would let them think about how to adjust the list based on what they think would help them more that game, and at that point they’re on the path to becoming a good player.

Come on, this is one of the funniest names in Codex! You can’t just shorten it from “Doubling Barbarbarian” to that! :wink:


#10

Wow, I’ve been looking at Codex cards and PBF games for ages, and until I just read your comment I honestly thought the card was called “doubling Barbarian”. The actual name is too funny :smiley: Weird what you can miss when you think you know what a card says.


#11

This thread is great! Somehow it never occurred to me that I should have a winning board state in mind as I tech, as I generally go about making those decision in terms of “how might I avoid dying for at least one more turn”


#12

Yeah, that’s usually my way of teching too. In hindsight, I’d like to re-do almost all of my RACE games to try thinking this way… Live and learn, I guess.

It’s pretty great, isn’t it? I might not have noticed if the name hadn’t been spoken in one of the Sirlin on Game Design podcasts (not the one about Codex specificallly, it was an earlier episode).


#13

Law:

T1: Brave Knight, Overeager Cadet
T2: Injunction, Overeager Cadet
T3: Justice Juggernaut, Censorship Council
T4: Judgement Day, Insurance Agent
T5: Lawbringer Gryphon, Lawbringer Gryphon (Edit: Community Service instead of a Gryphon)

This is probably not the best line, but maybe it starts a discussion? I feel like if Law has its own strategy, it has to involve Judgement Day, some sort of Insurance Agent combo to be able to afford Lawbringers and possibly Censorship Council + Injunction to stall until that point.


#14

Looks like a good overall plan to me, but I think you only want one Gryphon, replacing the other with Community Service


#15

Past:

T1: Stewardess, either Argonaut or Gilded Glaxx
T2: Seer, Undo
T3: Rememberer x2
T4: Origin Story, Seer*
T5: Rewind, Ebbflow Archon*

*if you are going to be removing a counter from Rememberer, swap out the second card for a unit with Fading (Yesterday’s Golgort if you’re at Tech II, or Ebbflow Archon if you’re at Tech III)


#16

I mean, the Present plan is obvious.

T1: Stewardess x2
T2: Argonaut, Origin Story
T3: Hyperion, Tricycloid
T4: Temporal Distortion, Immortal
T5: Rewind, Temporal Distortion

The idea being you’ll TD your Tech 2s for more Tech 2s.


#17

Future:

T1: Stewardess x2
T2: Origin Story x2
T3: Omegacron x2
T4: Rewind x2
T5: Unphase, Undo

May not be newbie friendly enough? Here’s a more normal gameplan:

T1: Stewardess, Argonaut
T2: Undo, Gilded Glaxx
T3: Void Star, Xenostalker
T4: Void Star, Now!
T5: Origin Story, Promise of Payment


#18

On T4 and T5, what card gets swapped out in this case? If you had to pick one.

I can include this one. What would be your one sentence strategy description?


#19

The second card gets swapped out, like it says? So on T4 the Seer becomes a Golgort if you get to Remember, and on T5 you might tech Golgort instead of Archon if your Tech III isn’t done building yet. So I guess the asterisk could be simplified to “sometimes tech in Golgort instead” rather than needing to choose between Golgort and Archon. The strategy summary is “stall until you can cheat out an Ebbflow Archon with a Rememberer.”

Void Star strategy summary:
Hinder your opponent’s offense until you can use juiced Void Stars to Overpower patrollers and smash important heroes or tech buildings with the same attack.


#20

To offer an overall critique, I think that most of the plans being floated here are pretty step as far as gold cost. It’s really difficult for most colors to fit one 3-cost T1 minion into their plan, much less two.

The other thing to consider is that you generally only want to tech in one copy of an answer, unless it’s pretty versatile (doom grasp, for example). It’s easy to convince yourself that you NEED to draw origin story quickly to answer their big hero, but it’s almost never correct to tech in two of them. Decks in Codex are small, and the opportunity cost for that second copy is high.