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.