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[Strategy] Strongest Mono-Color Codex Openings

I’ve been thinking about Codex Strategy a lot lately. I think a useful discussion would be on the strongest openings for each mono-color. This would be illustrative to people who don’t play certain colors, both if they are interested in trying it out, or understanding what that color is trying to do in order to combat it most effectively. The only color I’ve played lately is White, and since this is a discussion feel free to correct me if you think there are stronger/better openings. Also, just because one opening may be considered the strongest, it doesn’t invalidate other openings. If anything, having a meta consensus will weaken the stronger openings by making them more well-known.

Also, I think it’s safe to say every strong opener should worker on turn 1 and it would be helpful to outline one or two cards that you frequently worker, regardless of the match-up. If you disagree that is even possible, that’s fine too.

White

P1 - Graves, Aged Sensei
This opening gives you the maximum pressure for an aggressive attack on your next turn. You are threatening 3 damage + SparkShot without spending gold or 4 damage by dropping only 2 gold. If you also take Grappling Hook into account, this opening could negate the Squad Leader bonus.

P2 - Rook, Savior Monk
This opening creates a ton of health for 4 gold. Rook is, naturally, one of the biggest meatshields in the game and this opening can stymie a lot of attempts to break through. Additionally, the healing on Savior Monk synergizes well with Rook’s naturally bulky HP. Even though it is often pointless to ‘chip’ at a hero (due to mid-band and max-band healing), it allows some aggression as P2.

Workers
Fox Primus and Fox Viper are my go-to workers. Primus costs 3 for a 2/2 and anti-air is really niche. I never feel good paying for it. Fox Viper is a better card, but 1 toughness is a big liability against opposing removal plus it can’t even heal. You also generally tech in some better 1-2 mana plays like Bird’s Nest, Sparring Partner, or Boulder depending on the match-up.

Green

P1 - Calamandra, Merfolk Prospector
Calamandra has good stats for early combat, and levels quickly to make them even better. Her starting ability lets you deal with a lot of early enemy heroes too, if they aren’t Rook / in Squad Leader, or if you draw into Rampant Growth. Merfolk Prospector is cheap, so not a big loss if he’s killed, but effectively puts you on worker parity with P2 if they leave him alone.

P2 - Calamandra, Playful Panda
Calamanda is good here for the same reason, and Playful Panda efficiently gives you two units. If you’re against a faction with haste, i.e. Red, you might want Tiger Cub instead to have a 2/2 patroller that doesn’t arrive exhausted. Taking Argagarg and the Panda here for more Wisps is fine to get free patroller bonuses, but Wisps don’t do damage back to their attacker, so you could find yourself at a big board disadvantage.

Workers
Rich Earth and Verdant Tree are situational cards that are safe to worker if you don’t have a plan for them. Rich Earth comes at the cost of ceding early board control, in a colour that struggles to come back from behind. Verdant Tree is only worth playing if you make use of the instant Tech buildings. Ironbark Treant is good to worker later, since it quickly loses usefulness as the game goes on.

Blue

P1: Oni and Building Inspector into T2 Aven+MT+Tech 1

P2: Oni and Reputable Newsman or Spectral Aven

If anyone has ideas for Black or Red, share them please.

4 Likes

Sure, I’ll have a go.

Green
P1 - Calamandra, Merfolk Prospector
Calamandra has good stats for early combat, and levels quickly to make them even better. Her starting ability lets you deal with a lot of early enemy heroes too, if they aren’t Rook / in Squad Leader, or if you draw into Rampant Growth. Merfolk Prospector is cheap, so not a big loss if he’s killed, but effectively puts you on worker parity with P2 if they leave him alone.

P2 - Calamandra, Playful Panda
Calamanda is good here for the same reason, and Playful Panda efficiently gives you two units. If you’re against a faction with haste, i.e. Red, you might want Tiger Cub instead to have a 2/2 patroller that doesn’t arrive exhausted. Taking Argagarg and the Panda here for more Wisps is fine to get free patroller bonuses, but Wisps don’t do damage back to their attacker, so you could find yourself at a big board disadvantage.

Workers
Rich Earth and Verdant Tree are situational cards that are safe to worker if you don’t have a plan for them. Rich Earth comes at the cost of ceding early board control, in a colour that struggles to come back from behind. Verdant Tree is only worth playing if you make use of the instant Tech buildings. Ironbark Treant is good to worker later, since it quickly loses usefulness as the game goes on.

4 Likes

In some matchups anti-air can be vital, and don’t forget it also has Frenzy 1! It’s actually a reasonable choice for your first turn as Player 1, just not as good as Aged Sensei + Grave.

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unless against blue (for aven) or black’s gargoyle, is really a niche situation.

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Also Rook’s birds (white has no other early anti-air)

But yeah, 3-cost tech 0 things are generally underwhelming because they usually trade for something that costs 2.

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Absolutely, getting them birds out early helps a great deal. 2 fliers who can safely peck the eyes out of many Tech 0 creatures, and help against low-level heroes, and who respawn, and who live on the back of a giant rock monster, shapes White’s early game.

In a worst case scenario, they sit in a few patrol slots, either chump blocking early fliers (Nullcraft? What Nullcraft?) or getting some value from enemy removal.

It feels like the natural early choice for White is Mysticjuicer’s “karate birds” start, Sparring Partner and the Nest.

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A vital part of a strong opening is knowing the opponents options.

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This is an idea baked into Codex (and many other card games). You CAN play Codex without knowing all the cards, or for simplicity’s sake, without knowing your opponent’s cards. It’s possible. But while it has been defended as a valid and normal way to play, it feels hollow to me. A big part of how you make decisions is based on what you think your opponent will do. If you don’t know what they can do, how can you imagine what they will do?

Also, while an exhaustive memory of entire codices is certainly not necessary - it does give an edge. Playing on pbf I am constantly referring to the codex db to look up cards. Constantly. In a live game, you are really only looking at your cards constantly. You can read their cards and their board, but getting back to “knowing the opponent’s options” - you can’t just flip through THEIR Codex mid-game.

All of this is to say, I agree with you. It’s still useful to understand what the ‘best’ options are in a vacuum and why, hence the thread. Surely there are some factions that have different ‘best’ options based on match-up. Still, that information can be transmitted! There is a paltry amount of strategy written about Codex compared to the depth the game offers. Often players are told ‘it depends’ or that cards are situationally powerful. Well, this thread is an attempt to build some strategic advice. Obviously it isn’t centered on the situational/dependent currently, but if someone with experience and knowledge wanted to write how Blue should open vs Green and how that is completely different than how Blue should open vs Purple, that would be awesome.

If there are already such things written, please link them to help spread the knowledge! If this thread is redundant, I can just delete it.

The “in a vaccuum” type information is contained in the various card rankings and hero rankings. Which are linked in the “collected Codex resources” thread, pinned.

Card Specific Discussions

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Given the decoupled nature of those card discussions, I think there’s still space for a thread about strong default openings, to accompany the tech plans given in the Beginner’s Guide to Teching.

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To that end, I’ll contribute

MONOBLUE

P1: Oni and Building Inspector into T2 Aven+MT+Tech 1
P2: Oni and Reputable Newsman or Spectral Aven

3 Likes