I’m coming to Codex from the point of view of someone whose primary experience with games of this type is Magic: the Gathering. As I wait for my deluxe set, I’ve only played a few matches of Bashing vs. Finesse from the free print+play a while back. That leaves me plenty of time to think about Codex but with a dearth of practical experience. I have two strategic questions that I hope someone else can shed some insight into.
Some key places where Codex differs from Magic, at least in regards to the question I have are:
- Your card draws in Codex are dependent on your current hand state; in Magic, your ability to draw cards is independent of any board state (excepting potential effects of cards in play)
- In Codex, you build your deck as you play, whereas in Magic, you build your complete deck before the game starts.
- In Codex, your discard pile is automatically recycled into your deck repeatedly, whereas in Magic, this can only happen if you cause it to happen with some effect.
- In Codex, gold carries over from turn to turn, but mana in Magic disappears after each turn.
So in a very broad sense, the questions I have are just…how do you adapt to these things?
But let me be more specific. I’m thinking of two main decision points in a game of Codex that are affected in a complex way by the way the systems I mentioned above interact. First, when you are deciding what card, or cards, in your hand to play, and second, when you’re choosing what cards to tech from your codex.
In picking what card to play from your hand, the decision in Magic is usually pretty straightforward. (Please don’t pile on me for oversimplifying here; I know that there is a lot more to consider. The considerations are different from in Codex, which is the point I’m making.) You want to spend as much of your mana as possible (it doesn’t carry over to the next turn) to make the play that affects the board state for you as positively as possible. If this means playing every card in your hand, then a lot of times that’s really the right play. Maybe you hold a card back just in case the opponent has some trick, but that’s a strategic decision you make around what your opponent is doing, not around the systems of the game itself.
By contrast, in Codex, you also have to consider what you could draw next turn. If you do more than 2 things from your hand (one of which is probably a worker, so in many cases you only get to do 1 board-state-affecting thing from your hand), then you are giving yourself a disadvantage for the next turn, and even with cascading effects into turns after that as you at some point need to intentionally not play something to get back up to a full hand size. Having 5 cards in hand over 4 cards gives you 25% more options per turn, which is a huge win.
In Magic, flooding the board with cheap guys early doesn’t necessarily affect your ability to keep up that pace. In Codex, doing that is a tradeoff where you’re sacrificing a lot of ability to add to your board in the next few turns. I’ve found this decision to be one of the hardest I’ve faced in the game so far: Do I play more stuff now for a board advantage immediately, or do I hold cards in hand for a potential advantage in the future to have the right option?
Kind of playing off that is my second question. When teching, at first I thought there was usually no reason to tech two different cards, except for things like Rambasa Twin or some legendaries. In Magic, you’re limited to 4 of a given card in your deck, and you go right up to 4 with all your bread and butter cards. When building a deck, you are picking a set of cards that help you win the game. If there’s a card that doesn’t help you win the game as much, then you wouldn’t want that, and would rather want one that helps you win the game more. When you’re deckbuilding, you figure out whichever card helps you win the game the most, and you take 4 of it (since that’s the limit). Then you move down the line and find the card that helps you win second-most, and take 4 of that too.
That is sound logic (even if I didn’t explain it very well), so applying that to Codex, if you look through your full codex and determine, “at this time, the card that will help me win most is Argonaut”, then why would you not grab both Argonauts to ensure that you get one as soon as possible?
Thinking about this more, however, Codex again has systems at play not in Magic. Firstly, the opportunity cost of playing a card vs. receiving future card draws is at play. If you draw both Argonauts in one hand, you likely won’t be able to play both. That makes one of them a dead card, and if you had teched, say, one Argonaut and one Undo instead, you would have an additional option in hand. Plus there’s some inherent synergy to having one unit and one spell, since the unit doesn’t cycle through the deck repeatedly if you keep it alive, allowing you to draw the spell more frequently for a bigger impact on the lasting game state. Here, again, the question is about consistency vs. versatility. Do I want to definitely draw the card that in general is most useful, or do I want to have a chance to draw a more niche card that is more useful in some circumstances but less useful in others? Is it generally more useful to tech two of the same card (the best card for the given situation), or to tech more different options to adapt better to the circumstance?
tl;dr, because I know that this is an absolutely gigantic wall of text:
- What considerations should be made when determining whether to play a card you can afford to play vs. not play it and draw an extra card next turn?
- When is it appropriate to tech two of one card vs. one each of two different cards?
I know there aren’t definitive answers to these questions, and your ability to figure out the answers to these questions on the fly is the thing that separates good from bad players, but I am interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on how you approach these situations.