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Faction and spec generalizations?

One daunting aspect about learning to play this game well is that there are a lot of different units/spells/etc. Using an analogy, in StarCraft, there are several different kinds of units and abilities specific to each race, and if you want to play well against another good player, you need to understand both the race you’re playing and the race your opponent is playing.

However, for beginners, there are some generalizations you can make and specific features you can highlight about each race that help you to understand them before you really begin to know the capabilities for every unit. For example, the Terrans are a good beginner’s race because the way they work is somewhat conventional for an RTS. A signature feature is that their buildings can be moved. Zerg can produce more units quicker and cheaper than the other races, generally speaking, but also, the units are generally weaker. A signature feature is that their units and buildings passively heal damage, and that Zerg buildings must be built near existing buildings, on the Creep. The Protoss have more powerful units that are more expensive. A signature feature is that their units have regenerating energy shields and their buildings are disabled unless they are near a pylons, which must also be built.

Are there such generalizations that can be made about the factions in Codex? What about the Specs?

I’m looking for something that would help me understand the factions and specs at a glance (in terms of gameplay, not just like “green is focused on nature and black is focused on death and scary stuff”), and also be able to describe them to other players.


I’ll have a shot at this!

Green: Board control by big numbers and economical advantages
Growth: Buffing
Feral: Big bodies with strong keywords
Balance: Reactive; has a theoretical answer to most pure strategies

Red: Aggro
Anarchy: Haste
Blood: Swarming, suicide
Fire: Non-combat damage

White: Strong heroes with robust and flexible units
Discipline: cards that buff and protect each other
Ninjutsu: Avoiding trades with swift strike, deathtouch or by ignoring patrollers
Strength: High defense, supported by cheap early flyers

Blue: Control
Truth: Illusions and copies
Peace: Straight-forward combat; card advantage
Law: Control via disables, removal and restricting enemy options

Black: Forced discard, sacrifices, very specc-specific strategies/gimmicks
Demonology: Strong cards with unique drawbacks
Necromancy: Removal and tokens
Disease: - 1/-1 runes

Purple: Time runes, bouncing, mid-late game
Past: Fading, bouncing (returning cards to hand)
Present: Haste, readying, summoning units from your Codex
Future: Foresight, powerful flyers

Finesse: Agression, combos
Bashing: flexible combination of slightly weaker versions of other speccs’ cards


That’s awesome, thanks!

Blue: Control sounds wrong to me; I’d say purple is Codex’s main control colour and two of blue’s specs are very aggressive. Not sure what else to say about blue though other than that it’s tricky.

Overall I think the list is very accurate, that one just stands out to me.

Blue is very much the control deck in this game, in that it very directly takes away a certain thing your opponent wants to do.

Opponent is swarming units? Build a jail.

Need that certain spell? Newsman says no

Hero needs to untap and keep swinging? Porkhand disables it (brutal for grave)

Relying too much on a tech building and its units? Injunction

Vandy dark pacting you down? Quince says hush, cast free speech.

It makes blue super difficult to play in this game in my opinion, as you must have the correct read on your opponent or your card could turn out totally worthless, where other colors can tech the wrong units and they can still usually be somewhat useful just as an efficient body.

Purple is a very complicated spec, but it’s mostly akin to Protoss in that it has expensive, big strong units, and some tricky stuff. Past is kinda control-y I guess in Prynn’s spells and stewardess, but that’s more about slight board position gains.


One of my favorite quotes from Magic that I think very much applies to Codex is from Kai Budde when asked why he was playing Red Deck Wins: “There are no wrong threats, only wrong answers”


This is a really interesting high level analysis of how each color works. I still consider myself in the learning phase of the game, and I’m trying to wrap my head around each color’s general gameplan. You went into some really high level details, but I’m having particular trouble understanding White.

White seems all over the place, compared to the other colors. I hesitate to even attempt to play White because I don’t even know where to begin, strategy-wise. What is White’s gameplan, going into a game? What considerations do you make when choosing a Tech II spec?

Maybe it’s because it has Grave, but White kind of feels like the “default” spec to me. Solid options with nothing standing out in particular. So it’s hard to nail down the color to anything specific.
That being said, white has somewhat expensive but powerful heroes. No matter your long-term plan, you’ll probably start by playing Rook or Grave and leveling up bit by bit without dying. Grave’s free kill can be a big swing and Rook ist just generally great.

The general idea is to get values from your heroes and Bird’s Nest early game. The default early techs are Bird’s Nest and Sparring Partner (because it’s cheap), Rambasa Twins if you have the gold. You’ll generally want to advance to T2 though (assuming monowhite).

Strength is a strong spec but in general, but I feel like monowhite will usually go Discipline or Ninjutsu for their Tech II specc.
Discipline has a good mix of above-average T2 cards - Young Lightning Dragon and the very unique Mind-Parry Monk in particular.
Ninjutsu has the amazing Porcupine and Glorious Ninja. Most opponents have learned to play around GNinja but it’s still a big threat. If you can establish a board, Fox’s Den School can help you work towards a winning move.
In my personal experience though, most Ninjutsu games are won by forcing the opponent to play defensively and then building Tech III and a Strength Tech Lab because Oathkeeper is amazing.

Whether you go Discipline or Strength usually depends on how much value you expect to get out of GNinjas (how much health will the opponent’s units have?) vs. MPM (Does the opponent rely on targeted abilities?) and YDL (Does the opponent have poor defenses against flyers?).


I would be happy to coach you through a game as White, you can PM me anytime with questions or ask for a post-game analysis after just trying it out.

White’s strongest win conditions are its solid Tech 2 plans, and Rook / Sets ultimates. Bird’s Nest is great at generating board advantages, as is Grave’s excellent body for fighting.

Tech 1 usually revolves around good card trades with Rambasa or turtling up with Boulder / Mythmaking.

Discipline Tech 2 I usually use in hero-centric endgame plans, as it has a big bruiser to block with, buffs for my heroes that let me keep easy access to their ultimates, and Mind Parry Monk if I really need to stop something like Origin Story or Snapback.

Ninjutsu Tech 2 is great defending against swarms. Glorious Ninja as a squad leader is a super-effective chump wall, and Porcupine trades great with Huge Bruisers.

Strength Tech 2 usually stalls the board to get to Tech 3 (Oathkeeper is the only tech 3 white has that’s very good, Jade Fox is okay at ending a stall but Hero’s Monument is not worth building a tech 3 for), though if you need quick tempo Degrey can level a token block and Colossus can start base racing well.


Setsuki/Ninjutsu is pretty rushdown. Going early Setsuki and teching Hidden Ninja or Speed of the Fox in addition to a Sparring Partner can be really strong, especially if you can line up Aged Sensei. Midband Setsuki with buffs available can be almost oppressive, and once you maxband her she turns into a card fountain, allowing you to play lots of cheap spells (like Grappling Hook and Sensei’s Advice) as often as you draw them. If you get a +1 on her from Sparring Partner, she gets even more dangerous, and become really hard to kill for a lot of specs. 4/5 pay-1-to-attack-her often puts your opponent in a bind. Either they lose a couple of units and pay extra gold to attack her twice, or they don’t kill her and you keep your card draw and Fox’s Den Students. So they usually have to kill her, but it’ll cost them (assuming they don’t have targeted removal like Flame Arrow, Doom Grasp, or a Tiny Basilisk that can get her.)

Setsuki forces the opponent to respond to her, and then you can stick with it if it’s working, or switch to a different strategy at tech 2 (like, saying, Young Lightning Dragons and Mind Parry Monks).

I think Grave is much more of a lategame hero in comparison to Rook or Setsuki, and I don’t think I’d often summon him first. If I were going to, I think Rook is usually the better choice, unless I think I will need one of his spells.


My quick-overview for players with some prior MtG experience is “Green, Red and Black in Codex are pretty similar to Green, Red and Black in MtG . MtG “Blue” is sort of split between Codex Blue and Codex Purple, but the similarities are a lot less pronounced - Purple has more similarities to Starcraft Protoss. Codex White is not really like MtG White.”


Grave having sparkshot and a 2-gold heal available makes him a great pair with Aged Sensei, putting levels on him early gives you a lot of tempo-building trades in my experience. Opening with Sets usually gets me in trouble :wink: Rook is also great to bring in right away, but sometimes you really have to invest in him to get decent trades, and if you can’t go all the way to maxband stuff like doom grasp or Tiny B can really get you in trouble.


@Zejety I printed out your post to keep with my game. It’s super useful. Thanks again!


I want to copy this post over to BGG. Does anyone still disagree with an interpretation?

I’ve been think about replacing the Ninjutsi bit:
“Get and make use of tempo/initiative to set up the most favorable trades for your diverse mix of keywords.”

Edit: writing that down made me realize that it’s way to long. But tempo is such a nice buzzword…

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I would reword Red to give a stronger idea of it, something like “Removal spells and other non-combat damage”. To me, it reminded me a lot of a tempo-based spec that uses removal spells to keep your units alive so they can do other things.

Getting into a bit more detail for red is probably fine.
My original idea was to try and keep the faction texts short and put more detail into the speccs.


This is really late, but I just happened to randomly think back to this thread and managed to articulate to myself why exactly this post sounds so wrong to me, and figured why not put it here.

You’re basically saying that blue is the control color because it has a lot of disruption effects that, in the regular sense of the English word, “control” what the opponent can do. That isn’t wrong, but what I first think when I, and I would expect most others with strong card game background, hear the word “control” in this context is the control archetype you can find in many different games.

A true control deck aims to nullify what the opponent is doing and take the game late, where it’s designed to have the advantage in. Another type of deck with an almost opposite game plan, often called aggro-control or fish (after a specific deck that popularised the style), is one that aims to lay down some cheap threats, then disrupt the opponent just long enough for those early threats to close the game. Those decks have a significant “control” component in the sense you are talking about, but they are very much not “control decks”.

The Codex color that has the best tools for playing a real control game plan, doing little besides slowing down the opponent early and having the tools to turn it around late, is purple. Meanwhile most of blue looks like a prototypical fish deck, except for Law which does have a lot of actual control (or prison) effects. So while I can’t say your interpretation is wrong, it would be misleading for someone who liked playing control decks in Magic and was looking for what most resembles those in Codex.


As someone who played some, but not a lot of MtG and other card games, I still disagree. But I don’t purport to be an expert on these matters.

What in the purple starter is better at stalling than blue? What in blue is great at winning an early game centric plan? I think the truth is both colors have elements of both, as all colors do, but I still think of blue very much as the “control” style, as in “controlling what your opponent can do” (block spells, jail units, disable units and tech buildings, increase building costs, etc. None of its early units are great at combat stats wise


Purple has mox, forgotten fighter, and nullcraft - all of which are good at preventing the opponent from attacking.

Then Past and Future combined have answers to everything, and then present has Tricycloid, Chronofixer, and Immortal which combine to take full control in the midgame


Also purple doesn’t have an early aggression plan pretty much at all, starting with having no 1-drops in the starter deck and their heroes not being great at combat. Geiger’s pretty good, but still wouldn’t be your first choice in other colors.

For blue… illusions aren’t “great at combat stats wise”? The whole Peace spec?