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Variant Rules Proposal: All Cards

As another attempt to bring life to interesting combos and strategies that aren’t normally practical under the standard rules, I’ve been devising these variant rules. Commentary and criticism are welcome and encouraged.

Instead of 3 heroes, your roster consists of all 20 heroes.

As such, you only choose a starter deck at the beginning of the game. (I briefly considered allowing infinite copies of each card, but in addition to being completely impractical when playing with physical cards, I think that would also encourage stale gameplay where players just keep teching the same few cards instead of leveraging cards from multiple factions, not to mention degenerate gameplay loops such as one player repeatedly teching in Flagstone Garrisons and the other repeatedly teching in Nature Reclaims.)

In addition to the faction cards for all 20 heroes, your codex contains the 6 starter decks you didn’t choose.

This makes every card in the game available to each player, every game. However, players must decide whether it’s worth spending opportunities to tech in faction cards in order to use cards from multiple starter decks.

The multicolor building penalty is removed.

Otherwise, it would apply to all players. Since either way it loses its value to adjust the balance between single-color and multi-color decks, removing the penalty is preferable as it gives players more flexibility in the early game where gold is scarce.

The multicolor spell penalty still applies, so the perk of choosing the Neutral starter is preserved.

Players no longer choose a spec when building their Tech II building.

Being limited to 1-2 specs would largely defeat the purpose of having access to so many cards. (An alternate approach would be to allow multiple simultaneous add-ons, such that players would choose a spec normally, but could then build as many Tech Labs as desired. Of course, this would also apply to other add-ons, which would maybe not be so bad? Build 17 Heroes’ Halls and summon all 20 heroes at once, if you can avoid dying to Earthquake for that long. This would also be impractical for physical play, and I think such uncapped potential may be better suited to a different variant with the specific goal of encouraging epic board states.)

With no need to declare a spec, it’s no longer possible to build a Tech Lab, as there would be no point. (I briefly considered repurposing the Tech Lab to allow an optional 3rd card to be teched each turn, but that would devalue cards that pull directly from the codex.)

Apologies for leaving you guys hanging over at Nudging the tiller - balance, but I was focused on tournament preparation.

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My initial thought is that having that many options, on top of having almost no insight into what your opponent might be planning, is just overwhelming.

On the other hand, I want to play Safe Attacking and Skeleton Archery together.


that’s just cruel lol :wink:

This variant does indeed sound completely wild @Nekoatl, I’m game to try it out though I am a little afraid of the analysis paralysis issue @Persephone hinted at; does sound overwhelming

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Agreed, I think the constraints built into Codex’s game design that my various variant ideas seek to circumvent were put into place for good reason, to keep the possibilities manageable (especially to avoid overwhelming newer players who already have a big learning curve in just becoming aware of what the cards in their opponent’s codex are capable of).

That specific combo was one of the motivations for my Variant Rules Proposal: Custom Starter Decks, and I can confirm that even that degree of expanded freedom significantly increased the difficulty of play, both because a big part of learning Codex strategy is becoming familiar with the standard starting decks’ capabilities and how to play around them, and because designing a starter deck that is flexible enough to be viable against any possible starting deck your opponent might think of is quite a challenge.

In part, this proposal is an attempt to allow those multi-starter combos, while being less overwhelming, as I expect players to have some general strategy in mind to work towards going into a game and to primarily focusing on advancing that strategy initially but then adapt to their opponent’s choices as the game progresses.

Why did you tag me? :thinking: :smile:

Just to keep you away from your real life longer :slight_smile:

Naw meant to tag the OP, @Nekoatl, but brain is scrambled lol

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I appreciate your adventurousness, and am certainly up for a test game, though I feel a bit guilty about dropping this bombshell on you while a tournament you’re running just went into full swing. Also, I haven’t actually come up with a strategy for how to play under these variant rules yet, so if you want to wait a bit before starting, that’s cool with me.

Yeah let’s wait until after the tourney. I wasn’t clear that I didn’t mean I was up for it right now, just eventually


I think I would maintain a limit on tech 2 specs. That way you have to commit to a game plan and the opponent has some basis for counter play.

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This is very similar to that custom starter deck situation. I see this mode valuing tech 1 and hero centered gameplans, but facing an opponent who can always bring out rook, zane arg quince… its a lot. And killing heroes isn’t quite as effective, because locking a player out of heroes is an important part of the normal game.

I dont see that reducing the analysis problem much. Turn 3 is of much greater importance to the remainder of the game than t5. Planning around 40 different tech 1 units is a lot different than 6 tech 1s normally, not to mention spells.

I’m intrigued by your impression that it would favor tech 1 game plans, as I expected the ability to combo tech 2 & 3 units from multiple factions to be more potent than merely having access to a larger pool of tech 1 cards, so I’m very curious why you think this.

I do agree that the inability to completely lock a player out of being able to summon a hero is a significant change, and it’s possible to preserve that dynamic by adding a rule that says heroes currently unavailable to summon count against your hero limit. Although, I think summoning heroes whose spells aren’t in your deck isn’t as valuable as summoning heroes whose spells are, and considering that an effective strategy at times is to prevent a hero from dying to lock another hero out from being summoned, I wonder if there’s enough of a downside to summoning off-strategy heroes to make it worth allowing. I’d be interested to see players try the variant both with and without this additional rule to see what’s more fun.

Rook and Zane will always be worth summoning for their stats alone.

I imagine Vandy would still be scary because of her midband. Also if tech 3 and heroes’ hall, do you get 4 heroes?

Yes, it still adds to your hero limit, and with more than 3 heroes, that’s actually significant. I see this is a positive change, as there’s little point in standard Codex to having a Heroes’ Hall when you’ve reached tech 3, even though the other 3 add-ons still provide value.

what if: FFA, starter decks as normal, all heros & specs available but

  • you cannot take the second copy of a card from the codex if you took the other copy this turn (via teching, Circle of Life, Temporal Distortion, etc.)
  • all players share the same codices; at the beginning of your turn (when you finalize your techs) you know how many of each card remains, but not necessarily who has them.

Sounds fun, but I think that deserves its own rules variant. Also, competitive drafting runs counter to my design goals for this variant.

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So, I just realized a problem with this FFA idea. With all players sharing a common codex, there will be timing issues to worry about when teching. Probably needs a rules adjustment that you don’t start teching your cards until the previous player finalizes their choices, rather than at the end of your turn. That way, only one player would be interacting with the codex at a time.

Oh, I guess I was thinking both players had a set of all cards separately.

For IRL games that’s a lot of money required… I think any ruleset based around all cards should try to work with only a single Deluxe Set.