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Codex Variant idea

DOTA was originally a mod of Warcraft 3. I was thinking: would a MOBA-style Codex variant interest anyone? I have no idea how it would work but it seemed interesting to me if only as a hypothetical.

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In my experience, card based games don’t work well with lanes of attack (eg: Artifact, Star Wars: The Card Game) so that would be the first question to resolve.


Maybe 3 separate patrols?

This could be fun to think about. Here’s a few crappy ideas to start with, to try and make all the cards useable:

  • Remove the ability to level a hero using gold. Instead, gold is now split into two pots: a mana pot, which slowly increases over time and fills faster when killing creeps; and a real gold pot, so you can play (“buy”) all the other cards while at the shop. Units are now pets, giving good targets for powerful copy effects like Quince’s mirrors. Upgrades (and buildings?) are now items.
  • Cards can also be discarded for faster movement between parts of the map (I’m assuming a fairly big map here, not just 1 part per lane, otherwise creep lines and the endgame base assault look kinda wonky.) This gives draw effects like Dark Pact and Bigby’s maxband more purpose, in addition to card draw giving you better “shop” options. Vandy can now get very quickly across the map for ganks, spending no mana but losing base/tower damage, while Bigby can more reliably set up for one in the future. Martial Mastery just lets Grave cheaply go on a gear-shopping spree :man_shrugging:
  • Tech tiers are now represented by different shops. Tech 0 is the base and side shops and counts as always available/playable, Tech I is the base shop only, Tech II is the “secret” shop from DOTA, Tech III is… I don’t know, one purchase per kill on a Roshan equivalent.

The main issue is that a lot of MOBA play, as I understand it, is about good positioning while laning or in a PvP fight, and that’s hard to make interesting on a discrete map system without getting into hex wargame territory or completely changing the combat system.

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I figured units would be be played automatically as creeps, each to a particular “lane”. Not sure what to do about the whole positioning problem

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I was thinking there’d automatically be Tech 0 units running around, but higher Tech units would require player action. Maybe positioning might not be so bad in that case, you’d have of plenty of units you could put in patrol zone equivalents.

If you actualy want to explore this, answer the abstract questions first:

What decisions happen in a MOBA that are fun & worth porting over to a non-electronic format? (eg careful aiming and timing are not portable)


I wish I knew I really do

I’ve only played DOTA, and against bots at that, but I think the useable higher-level stuff going on is something like (again, just pushing out a first pass here, there are probably too many):

  • Choosing abilities/items to counter opposing heroes (former doesn’t make sense within a fight if we’re using the Codex hero cards)
  • Higher-level timing, i.e. co-ordinating team fights and ganks (hence the use for draw abilities above)
  • Scouting to find where the enemy heroes are, to set up said battles/ganks (wards etc.)
  • Knowing when to run / go for the shop
  • Knowing when to push into a tower instead of farming elsewhere

I’d argue the higher-scale timing, e.g. ganks and team battles that require co-ordinating map movement, or knowing when to switch lanes or leave for the shop, might be portable. But that’s not an interesting game in itself, so giving the other cards a purpose similar to shop items in DOTA was a first pass at that. Still having some sort of hand management means you still have some sort of scouting game going on, too. I’m thinking completely through the lens of DOTA, though, I haven’t played any of the others.

EDIT: oh, I guess there’s other timed stuff around the map to force people to not just sit in the lanes, like Roshan/runes, or how those event points in HotS seem to work from watching it for about half an hour. I was sort of going for those with the Tech III buys.

I’m pretty familiar with the dota game style from dota and also hon. The game really boils down to positioning and control of map points. Taking towers for map control, runes/roshan for buffs, and of course jungle creeps for farm. Knowing when to be doing what and coordinating with team.

My first thought would be to create a board in a sense with multiple patrol zones and also “in play” zones. At the front say 3 patrol zones, behind that 3 in play zones. The patrol zones are towers, in play the jungle. Then 3 more patrol zones and 2 in play zones behind. 3 more and 1 in zone play where base is. You attack adjacent zones, having to break more patrols for access as you go.

The idea here would be that you place units in the zones that your enemy has to get through before they can move forward to your play zone to attack the next set of patrol zones. Meanwhile you are getting to kill units that come out in your play zones and you also manage. I would think that you select your patrollers and then remaining units you have go to the enemy jungle.

Theres just no way I see to make that concept play out at a decent pace. Also so many mechanics would need to be abandoned that a lot of cards would lose their balance and just never get used. You would also have to figure out some movement aspect as well, as positioning is such an important component. All in all I my train of thought just leads me to a concept that is too slow to be enjoyable.

Honestly I think Codex is already wildly similar to dota as is. Did anyone watch TI this year?

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Seeing as your idea was more than my brain could grasp I agree that this variant is probably not worth making.
I’ve never seen a DOTA match but I think I’ll give it a look now.

Easy to find the internationals on twitch, which is the biggest tournament of the year. The announcers do a good job of explaining things. I don’t even play dota but I love watching the internationals every year.


I like watching Starcraft 2 but the multitasking and speed when actually playing is way too much.

Dota is a steeper learning curve than starcraft imho

EDIT: but I also think dota is more fun to watch. Teamplay galore

I stopped playing DotA and LoL competitively when my first daughter was born, but I still watch LCS almost every weekend it’s on (go C9!)

I think this largely hits the main “interesting decisions” that aren’t related to positioning, skillshot aiming, and general in-fight micro.

You could probably design a board, a movement system w/ some ability for secret movement (but revealable through fog with wards of some kind) and a “spell deck” such that it could be interesting, but with the cards in codex as written, I think you couldn’t really get close to something resembling it.


That makes sense