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Making a strategy guide/tutorial for beginners

Codex is hard. Er, well no; codex is easy…ish. You can get anyone to learn the bare mechanics like draw/discard, teching, playing and patrolling cards, attacking with them ect. ect. in just a game or two. The problem is that people want to PLAY the game, not go through the motions of a turn. They don’t pause because they forgot how to put a unit on the board(well, maybe the first time) but because they want to make a good play that will help them win.

What do they have to help them with that decision? Prior life experience, the game manual(if available) and whoever is introducing them to the game. With a good teacher or the right person things will be just dandy. Everyone else is destitute. I personally believe that it is extremely easy to lose sight of the simple, foundational blocks of game strategy that codex so heavily relies on.

I aim to create that resource, that document or video or interpretive dance that can help the blank-slate beginners play a darn rootin’ tootin’ good game of codex without getting dunked on for 10-15 games straight. This post is part rant, part declaration of intent and part groveling for help. I think I could do a decent job on my own but I know I’m not an amazing player. Give me those flashes of genius, that personal point of view that I can mold into the bricks I lay before you.


Codex is mind-bogglingly difficult.

I have so far been unable to teach my wife how to even maintain rules-legal game states through the end of p2t2 in games using just the starter set p&p. And it is not like I haven’t taught her multiple other Sirlin Games previously.

So yes, I too would massively appeciate any guides for total newbs.


Well, do the “easy” parts first.

  1. Make workers each turn
  2. Build tech 1 as quickly as you can



This seems to imply that Player 2 should always build a tech 1 on turn 1, but that doesn’t seem right to me. Without on-demand card draw on turn 2, the earliest you can get a tech 1 unit in your hand is turn 3, so building up a bigger board state turn 1 and then building tech 1 on turn 2 seems to be a better play.

I’m pretty new, though, so there’s almost certainly something I haven’t considered.


Green Starter and Necromancy technically both have a way to get a Tech card on turn 2. Green has to have Young Treant in their second hand, and Garth can sac a skeleton, though that would be 6g for garth to pull off, which is pretty costly.

And it is only a 2/5 chance, generally.

I think the hardest thing about teaching this game to new players is the knowledge barrier; in order to know how to patrol and trade effectively, you NEED to know what the opponent’s deck is likely to bring. You essentially need to have played your opponent’s deck (or at least each of its specs) to know what they probably teched, what things you can tech to beat that, how to patrol to trade effectively, etc.

There is definitely general advice that can help two new players do well with the starter or core sets, but start playing against the black starter or past peace anarchy and suddenly planning defenses gets VERY complicated.

My general comments would be:

  1. Don’t skip workers before you get to 10
  2. Don’t bring out a hero if your opponent has enough board presence to kill it immediately
  3. Build tech 1 on turn 2
  4. Build tech 2 as soon as it will survive
  5. Always tech a spell or two in your first 3 tech rotations, in case you get a building killed.
  6. Set your patrol so that you end up ahead on cards / gold
  7. Only go down on cards to gain commanding control (go up a tech building, max out a hero, have 5+ more damage on the board than your opponent as rules of thumb?)

The problem is this list could go on and on. What you should do depends a lot on the opponent’s deck and the board state.


I think this is acceptable and at least people who have experience with MtG-like card games will come into the game with that expectation. I still think that giving some general advice goes a long way in helping somebody to get into the game, at least to the point where they can (A) “play the real game” against others with the same knowledge and (B) appreciate the special moves their more experienced opponents pulled against them.

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This is the second time I’ve seen mention of past/peace/anarchy now. What is it about that particular combination that makes it so potent? Most (all?) play-by-forum games I’ve seen so far have been mono-color. I haven’t had a chance to start experimenting with multi-color stuff yet, but I was beginning to even wonder if it was worth it given the trends I was seeing.

I think learning the game is being conflated with playing the game at a high level. Teaching someone how to win and teaching them how to play the game are two very different things. I would not even tell a new player how to patrol effectively, when to bring out a hero etc until they can reliably get a Tech II unit in hand the turn after they build Tech II.

Personally, I have had great success by picking out a build order for my friends’ first games. If they like the game, then they are eager to start making those choices themselves.


At some point I’ll do a strategy article on Purple Starter + Peace. Once the Fall Swiss tournament starts, you can spectate my games with Past/Peace/Anarchy - I usually have a bunch of comments on what I’m thinking and why I’m taking the actions I’m doing.

Short answer: Battle Suits makes Overeager Cadet able to trade with other Tech I things, instead of losing to them; Boot Camp can permanently enhance Hardened Mox, and Pirate Gunship is the best Tech III in the game.


On the old forum, multicolor was the majority of games. The games on this forum are monocolor because they are easier to follow along for new players. Don’t worry, there will be multicolor games soon enough.

Past/Peace/Anarchy specifically has some very interesting tricks. The Purple Starter provides some very interesting abilities. Most noteably Hardened Mox and Nullcraft. Hardened Mox can be buffed by Boot Camp very very efficiently, and Onimaru can win games easily if not answered. Battle Suits can buff Overeager Cadets. Zane can pop out of nowhere to wreck your board. Nullcraft is free damage every turn until your opponent answers it with a tower or anti-air, and forcing your opponent to defend is always better than letting them attack.

Other multicolors have nasty tricks as well. The 1g tax on multicolor is there for a reason, there are a good number of multicolor decks that have great synergy. That said, skill still makes more of a determination in winning than the deck, imo.


There are many great multi-color combos, PPA is one of them: It checks a lot of the boxes of “great spec combo”:

  • Has a lot of haste to make a move right when you need to (Zane especially allows for on-demand patrol zone shenanigans independent of card draw)
  • Has a way to answer maxed heroes in Origin Story
  • Has two of the best tech 3s in the game in Gunship and Archon, so it isn’t outclassed late game
  • Boot Camp + Mox has ridiculous synergy that allows for fast cycling and constant offense
  • Has the Peace tech 2 plan of Garrison and Drill Sargeant, which snowballs very quickly
  • Has Battle suits and the peace tech line of almost exclusively “soldier” type units & “mystic” units in seer & Calypso Vystari
  • Has a great early pressure hero in Onimaru
  • Prynn maxband can answer some good tech 3 units

Etc. Purple Starter + Peace + X is strong in a lot of combinations

I consider myself a mid-level player at best, and the explanation below by @FrozenStorm seriously helped me improve my gameplay:

-tl:dr - adaptability in your teching is key. I almost always split-tech unless I’m desperate for a certain card. Split-teching so you have options should be one of the key guidelines for newer players.

"One thing you’ll find about codex
that’s different from magic though: your opponent has many reasonable options,
you’re often unsure what they’re up to, and teching 2x of one card may spell
death for you if you guess wrong on which single card to tech 2 copies of.
Also, you are almost certain to see whatever you tech in the next 1-3
turns, and with heroes, tech buildings, and add ons always being available
expenses, you often want to spend your gold on something OTHER than what you
teched anyway. Even if you tech 2x of something, you likely will only have
enough gold to play 1 of it when you draw them.

Therefore, it is often wiser &
safer to tech 1 of a thing that’ll help against 1 route your opponent might go,
and 1 of another thing that would help against a different route. Or 1
expensive thing, and 1 cheaper thing, in case you want to invest in a hero /
tech building instead (there isn’t enough gold turn 3/4 to play Rambasa twins
AND build tech 2 very easily, so as white I’ll often tech Rambasa Twins AND
Martial Mastery or Sparring Partner, so I can decide between teching up,
beefing a hero, or the tigers, and always have use for the gold)."


Blue can also do this with Lawful Search :wink:

You are correct, forgot that one. I think blue might even have the best play trying to do this. Drawing into Tech 1 on turn 2 to grab an early Overeager Cadet seems pretty good.


I would love a strategy guide for beginners. One thing I wouldn’t mind seeing, and I am not sure that I have seen it anywhere, is a list of considerations when going with a non-monocolor set of heroes. (Or is this already beyond beginner and onto intermediate?)

Something like, when selecting a set of three heroes, ask yourself how your deck is prepared to handle:

  • assaults on your buildings and base
  • assaults on your heroes
  • assaults on your workers, gold, cards
  • lots of flying units, lots of invisible/stealth/unstoppable units, etc.
  • a multitude of weak units
  • a few massive units
  • effects from building cards, ongoing spells, upgrades

For example, I am curious to try out [growth]/fire/strength, but at present I have no heuristic to help me determine whether or not this is a viable deck. I would love such a heuristic.

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My impression so far is that even “bad” decks can be surprisingly effective, so I suspect that any guide discussing the method for choosing a multicolor deck would definitely be intermediate level.

Really, the question to ask about multicolor decks is what particular shenanigans does that deck allow that would not be available with monocolor? Two-Step Birds? Discord Terras Q? Hasty units to activate Might of Leaf and Claw? Those things are a bit harder to see without some games under your belt.


I remember playing the Starter Set PnP against myself the night that I printed it out.

  • I got a headache just trying to decide which card to worker one my first turn.
  • Then I had to play something, and was really torn on which card it would be.
  • Then I had to tech cards, and I was like, “How in the world I am supposed to know which ones to pick?”

And this is coming from someone that loves reading rule books and played a ton of MtG back in the day. So, yeah, a beginner’s guide would be very useful.


@Shax Writing a Starting Player’s Guide for a game with so many hard decisions is difficult, because most games don’t have many hard decisions. Compare this to MtG, where much of the gameplay is “obvious” if you understand your deck.

So, you really need to start by explaining the decisions you have to make every turn in a game of Codex. To simplify this, start with defining “normal” gameplay:

  1. Build a Worker every turn until you have 10 Workers
  2. Play as many Cards as possible, but ensure you always discard enough Cards so you draw you maximum Hand size.
  3. Build Tech I building on Turn 2, Tech 2 & 3 ASAP (basically, the Turn you build your 8th and 10th Worker)

With this gameplay framework, we can define the decisions to make every Turn:

  1. Which Card do I turn into a Worker?
  2. Which Card(s) should I play?
  3. When I Attack, what is my Objective?
  4. Should I damage a Tech Building or Base?
  5. Which Patrol Slot should I use?
  6. Hardest Question: What 2 Cards should I Tech from 5 Categories?

A. Hero Spells
B. Hero Ultimate Spells
C. Tech I Cards
D. Tech II Cards
E. Tech III Cards

I suggest this breakdown, because each has a different requirement during gameplay.


Also remember that most decisions in Codex are matchup dependent as well. So you can’t memorize your answer to each question without considering your opponent’s answer to the same question.

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