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Do people play this game without shuffling?

I finally acquired Codex and have been having a lot of fun learning the game with my family. We’ve just been playing Bashing vs. Finesse and we’re still new to the game and this type of game in general. I’m really more interested in how it affects casual play.

After a handful of games where my wife and I were each trying to basically execute the same strategy against each other, we started to notice having those moments where drawing the right card(s) on a specific turn made or broke the strategy. I know that this type of randomness is part of what makes the game great and exciting, but I’m still curious…

Do people play this game without shuffling? Does that change any other rules? Does it just ruin the game?

I imagine you would just choose which cards to add to your hand from the cards that are available to you in your draw pile. Perhaps, you would then be forced to complete your draw/discard and tech before the opponent begins their main phase.

Side note: I would be interested in any additional reading on the topic as well. Is there a specific term for this? Googling stuff like “random draw”, “no shuffling” wasn’t getting me much.

Thank you!

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There aren’t any play examples on the forum, but there are rules for a deterministic variant called Mental Codex, where card draw is similar to as you describe, although in a way that playing it with physical cards would be a nightmare.

There’s a similarly-named variant for Magic: the Gathering, so maybe look for “mental rules/variant” when searching.

EDIT: I’m not sure what other people think, but it’s also worth mentioning that the full game, while still having luck of the draw, is much more dependent on tech choices compared to Bashing vs. Finesse since you have more options available. If you’re finding things often come down to draws, it might be time to make the leap to the full game. Family permitting, of course.


I think Aeon Flux uses the order that you discard to determine future draws… Having never played either one, I wonder how well that would work?

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Hey, thanks for showing me that. I think this guy summed it up for me.

Maybe at the very least I’ll give it a go and use it as a learning tool.

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I’ll echo charnel_mouse’s comment that in the full game it matters much more what strategy you pick rather than how your draws go, since with three heroes and 3x as many cards in your codex there are so many more strategies to use. If you think your opponent will be going a specific strategy you can tech different cards to counter it rather than hoping your draws line up in a very specific way for the single plan you decided is best.

I also think there’s a bit more room for different strategies in even the starter set, but it’s definitely more constrained there.

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Do you find yourself going below 5 cards in hand a lot, or not being able to keep many cards in play? (understandable as BvF is all units)

Having a full hand and a thin discard goes a long way towards having consistent draws.


Thanks again for the input!

We are having some fun just playing BvF and still trying out different strategies, but maybe it’s time for us to play the full game.

We do end up going below 5 cards a lot as well. My wife tends to at some point in the game drop 3-4 units from her hand on some turn and my usual response is to do the same to “keep up”. I’m not sure if that’s the correct play, but that’s what I usually do. It’s hard to get back to 5 cards from there.

But we did try out the following rules last night with some success:

  • Anytime you would draw, choose a card from your draw pile instead of taking the top card
  • Complete your draw/tech phase before the other person’s main phase

We found that we liked having more control over working our own strategies and responding to each other’s plays. We also found that the Surplus add-on, card draw patroller, and Appel Stomp gave an unintended advantage because you get to directly react to your opponent vs. having to plan/guess and react a turn behind.

I think we’ve come up with some changes we’ll try out (throwing out the above rules):

  • If you would draw a card when your deck is empty, then you move your discard
    pile and it becomes your deck again
  • Anytime a card is discarded it goes to the bottom of your discard pile
  • During your discard/draw phase, take the cards of your choosing from your draw pile. If your draw pile is empty, transfer your discard pile to your draw pile and continue choosing.
  • After your tech phase, order your draw and discard piles as you wish.

It probably is time for that, yes! The starter set is mostly just meant to give you a chance to learn the rules of the game in a simpler environment while also being reasonably fun, but the full game is far more interesting and enjoyable to play. If you’ve already played it several times you should know enough to not be overwhelmed by the full game.

Yeah, going down on cards is very dangerous against someone who knows what they’re doing and usually leads to much longer games between beginners since they both do it.

When I was still learning the game, one thing I did for a while was give myself a self-imposed rule of “every turn I must always hire a worker and then play at most one card from hand.” This might be harder in the Starter Set (I only started doing it with the Core Set), but it gave me a chance to see the strength of the “default” way to play. It’s important when trying this to remember that you do have options for non-card things to spend money on like your hero or buying an add-on. A Tower in particular can be useful to help whittle down the opponent’s forces that they got from dumping their hand while also preventing stealth shenanigans, so I’d recommend trying it out next time you’re in that situation. Surplus is tempting but 5g is usually too much to be worth it; if you can win with it you probably could have won without it.

It’s hard to survive that initial wave, but running low on cards constrains a player’s options so much that if you can make it through you’ll have the advantage. You’ll be much more likely to have the cards you want when you want them while your opponent has to hope their counters come up before it’s too late—and they can’t get out of their small hand without either getting their Technician killed for card draw (you control that) or not playing more than either one worker or one card from hand (which means they’re either going to fall behind on economy or quickly lose the board advantage they gained from dumping their hand earlier).

As for the whole idea of not shuffling, it’s fun as a thought experiment but I definitely prefer the game as it was designed. Being able to grab the card you want every turn removes most of the downside to going down on cards, meaning that “dump your hand” goes from a high-risk, high-reward option to something you should do pretty much every game. Most customizable card games I’ve played reward playing everything in your hand that you can every turn, so it’s interesting to have one that discourages that instead of encouraging it. Removing that discouragement makes Codex less unique and more like every other CCG.

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We’ve played 8 or so BvF games with the below rules, so I thought I’d share our experience in case anyone is interested.

The immediate benefit is that you always know what is available to you, so you can plan out your turns and really try out different strategies. We were kind of worried that every game might end up playing out more or less the same, but that never happened.

It turns out card draw is still really important because you eventually need to cycle through those Tech 0 cards in your draw pile and leaving yourself with hand full of Tech 0 cards on a turn is no good. However, usually the game was decided with a carefully timed “hand dump”, which had it’s own level of excitement to it.

Overall, the games have all been fun and interesting.


One variant that I think could work well is to order your discard pile just the once whenever you would normally reshuffle it and then draw from the top. Combines the challenging need to predict your opponents plans with eliminating some of that pesky random chance.
Would however slow down the game as I could definitely imagine overthinking the order xd

edit: ahh lol, “5 months later”, i did find it an interesting idea though and am surprised less people have talked about it before

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This was actually what I intended, but maybe I didn’t describe it correctly. I’ve played this way several more times over the last few months and I find I prefer it. However, it does slow the game down and some people I’ve tried it with just did not like it.

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