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Codex: Card-Time Strategy» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Codex : Card Time Strategy Deluxe Set Box Review rss

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Rabid Schnauzer
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David Sirlin likes to joke that his job is best described as "Professional Box Designer". So this is my review of his latest, greatest box for his latest game.

Spoiler Alert: this is not a positive review.

The Deluxe Set of Codex comes in a big, beautiful black box, that is far and away the least practical container for any game in my collection. While the aesthetics are indeed pleasing, the functionality is severely lacking -- at some later date I may elaborate on just how apt a metaphor that is for the design of the entire ruleset for Codex : Card Time Strategy -- but for now I'm going to explain why the Codex : Deluxe set would be more honestly titled as Codex : Box Sold Separately.

The dimensions of the Deluxe Set Box are 20.5" x 14.25" x 3.125". For comparison my 1980s-era Axis and Allies box measures a similar: 20" x 12" x 4". These dimensions makes it incredibly unwieldy to carry the game in your hands and dang-near impossible to fit the game in any backpack or messenger bag. In particular, the 14.5 inch width means that any bag capable of carrying the Codex Deluxe Box will not be legal to use as an airplane carry-on as such must exceed the 22" x 14" x 9" limit on such luggage. That alone should have clued Sirlin in that he needed to trim some width.



My furry friend provides scale



Even if you do happen to have a military duffel or unused garment bag around which can fit this ill-sized box, there are issues with the various components not fitting snugly. The bins for the various tracking chits lack any sort of closing mechanism other than the box-lid, and yet these bins do not sit snugly against the lid when the box is closed. The fit is as loose as international corporate tax law. If you ever tilt the box more than 45° off of level in transit you will be hunting tokens out of playmats, binders and rulebooks the next time you open the box, roughly doubling your setup time. The slot for the standard size non-bindered cards is intentionally designed to be tall enough that you can use the color-dividers to sort by faction. Yet this slot is more than long enough to hold ALL of the cards in the Deluxe Set, which means that if you try to speed setup time by storing cards in the binders for the various factions between games, any non-bindered cards become likely to slip out of their slot and slide around the box during any transit that doesn't involve keeping the box entirely flat; which will render your attempted use of the colored dividers futile. Similar loose-floating card issues happen with the mini-cards for add-ons and Spec choices when the lid is not absolutely snug and the box is not kept flat during transit.

The main compartment holding the six binders, the rulebook and the cardstock playmats does work well for transit. Or at least it works so long as you do not try to put sleeved cards in the binders. If you do sleeve cards in the binders, then you cannot both fit all six binders in the compartment and also close the box until the lid sits flush. It's up to you as the end user to decide if you want to leave a binder out or make the fit even looser while damaging the corners to your box - this is yet another of the many ways Codex offers players more decisions than other similar games.

The box also has the problem that it has nowhere to store the HP tracking dial. If you store your Spec Cards in the Binders then you can keep the dial in the loose space where the cards were originally, but then you run into the aforementioned problem of the non-bindered cards floating around the box like a gaggle of rubber duckies running a whitewater course. Alternately you can try to fit the dial into the small cut-out underneath the space for the binders. That's like fitting the square peg into the round hole, in that it doesn't work, but you can keep right on trying. Or you can store the dial on top of the binders - which again runs into the problem of making the fit less snug.

The only storage compartments which actually work for storing components in transit are the two slots for the roll-up mousepad mats. But the placement of those slots is the reason that the box is too wide to fit in a carry-on bag.

So short of the sort of impressive do-it-yourself clamping and load stabilization solutions that Sirlin superfans will doubtless post in rebuttal to this review, the box is nigh-useless for any type of transit. And while I might want to leave it with the conclusion that a game box which can't be used to carry a game from point A to point B is a failure at the fundamental task of a game box. I can't do so because that's not the only problem here. Things actually get worse. This box also increases the game's footprint enough to become a notable issue in the course of gameplay.

Codex already has a massive table footprint with each player needing to keep their Patrol Zone in front of their non-patrolling cards, and also needing to have the heroes in their Command Zone visible at game start, then needing space for their Tech buildings, their Add On, their Spec Choice, their workers, their draw pile, their discard pile, their current hand, plus space for their Codex (binder) from which they are Teching cards. The fancy playmats in the Deluxe Set measure 23.75" by 13.625"- and you need at least two of those to have a game. Even then it gets cramped when players have to keep their codex on top of their playmat instead of to the side. So you really want at least 3 square feet of table space per player to play this game.

Then on top of that space requirement, the Deluxe Set design assumes that you will be able to set aside another 4 square feet of table space - half of that in the middle accessible to all players and in a specific orientation. Remember those chits that came loose in transit? Well those are supposed to be sorted into a tray of 8 bins on the narrow side of the box, and each bin has a handily rounded-bottom to make it easy to grab the relevant chits during gameplay. This is intentional design -- Sirlin fully expects players to be grabbing counters out of the tray during games. Thus you want to position the tray and the associated 20.5" by 14.25" of box centrally where all players can reach it.

And while many games allow you to save on table space by the simple expedient of storing the box bottom inside the inverted box lid - that doesn't quite work for Codex Deluxe. If you do that, you will rapidly tear your big beautiful box apart - since the box is too heavy and the dimensions provide it with too much leverage to make it easy to lift out of the inverted lid.

Sadly, all of these issues could have been avoided with a few simple tweaks -- which is is a phrase I very well may reuse as the title to my forthcoming review of Codex's gameplay. What should have happened is that the box should have been shorter and skinnier, but taller. It needed to have one slot for the binders which was deep enough to hold the binders even with sleeved cards, leaving room for cardstock playmats and rulebooks and still leaving enough space for another binder or two on top -- thereby allowing people to customize by adding their own binder for the neutral faction or carry a three-ring binder in addition to the official fixed-page binders. The spacing cutout at the bottom of the binder slot could easily have been made to fit the HP tracking dial, or even deepened enough to allow the fit of multiple dials to fully support the multiplayer modes. Both mousepad playmats should have been stacked on-top of each other in a single deeper slot. Then the tray for the chits should have had its own snap-tite lid that didn't depend on the snugness of the box lid. The chit tray should have been easily removable from the box, allowing for ease-of-use during gameplay without massively increasing the table footprint requirement. And in an ideal world the slot for non-bindered card would have either been slightly wider and included 9 small tuckboxes for the starter decks (7 colors plus two copies of the neutral starter) or just have been divided into a number of smaller slots where each starter deck and associated token cards could fit snugly.

But as none of that happened, I went picked myself up a "Portable File Box with Organizer Lid" from the closest office supply store -- which seems to be an adequate solution for the transit and tablespace issues, although spending additional money after Codex Deluxe's $225 price tag leaves me with a very bad taste in my mouth.
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Tilou
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Ok.

What's up with all the 1-ratings?
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Christian K
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I think the designer has a bunch of people disliking him for some reason so my guess is that htey rate all his games a 1.
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Tilou
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Muemmelmann wrote:
I think the designer has a bunch of people disliking him for some reason so my guess is that htey rate all his games a 1.


I meant the 1-ratings of the OP: he has 811 of them!
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Alex Churchill
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Personally I wouldn't expect to be transporting a deluxe oversized game box around very much, and most certainly not on an aeroplane. I can't quite imagine the jet-setting lifestyle that'd involve regularly airlifting Codex to different cities around the world while still being bound by the 22x14x9 limit. (I own Codex as print-n-play so I have no stakes either way on the merits of the deluxe box.)

However, I have to admit I couldn't help but smile at this line:
Quote:
It's up to you as the end user to decide if you want to leave a binder out or make the fit even looser while damaging the corners to your box - this is yet another of the many ways Codex offers players more decisions than other similar games.
Well played, sir or madam.
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Achim Zien
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alextfish wrote:
Quote:
this is yet another of the many ways Codex offers players more decisions than other similar games.
Well played, sir or madam.


That is Sirlin-worthy snarkiness right there.

I do not have my copy, yet, but I suspect that I will not use the deluxe box to carry it around. Either: don't carry it around or repack it.

Can you point to the specific box you bought for the game, OP?

Alternatively, it might be possible to remove the plastic insert and use plastic bags and hardware store bit-boxes for cards and chits.
 
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Jason Reid
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rabid_schnauzer wrote:
Sadly, all of these issues could have been avoided with a few simple tweaks -- which is is a phrase I very well may reuse as the title to my forthcoming review of Codex's gameplay.


You won't hear any objection from me as regards the box...but those are going to be fighting words when it comes to the gameplay.
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Jason Reid
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PiHalbe wrote:
Alternatively, it might be possible to remove the plastic insert and use plastic bags and hardware store bit-boxes for cards and chits.


Yeah, I just tossed the insert, as I sadly end up doing with so many of my games. What a waste of design time and plastic those things usually are.
 
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Robert Ramirez
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Sadly, I agree that the box is not very practical. But... it's a card game. These types of games don't need the box they come in (like boardgames do). I'm going to throw it away.

This week for game night what I did was I put the counters and dice (to replace the hp dial) and map cards into a deck box, rolled up the playmats, and put all the sleeved cards in the matching 6 binders (including the hero, starting deck cards, and tokens). That's what i put in my game bag, and it wasn't bad at all.
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Mike Kraus
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While the OP makes some interesting and valid points, I am suspicious of this review. The OP has had very little activity on BGG since his account was created and ALL of it (7 posted?) is around Sirlins games. Not overly negative, but mostly critical. Either way, it seems all he has an opinion on (besides all the "1" ratings) are Sirlin games. That's a bit odd.

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Liam Culvert
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You're right, the box isn't great for transit. But if you're going somewhere to play Codex, you only need to bring 1 binder and 1 starter deck, maybe one of the rolled-up playmats. The deluxe box itself is really for storage.

The only non-box solution I am using is using a small sectioned plastic box for the tracking chits I got for $5 at a Michael's. Everything else is in the box for storage until I need it, in which case out of the box it goes, into my bag.
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Brian
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I currently have the starter and I want to get the rest of the game. I've been thinking about deluxe for a while but after seeing the unboxing and comments about the deluxe set from here, Reddit and Sirlin's forum I'm not so sure anymore. I may just get the Core set and the individual expansions instead since it's easier for me to store smaller individual boxes. If I travel I can use the Core box and stick the tokens and starter decks in there and keep the binders loose. But I still want the deluxe just to have everything now along with the nice binders...
 
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Douglas Buel
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A review of the box, are you kidding me

Did you try shining the box until it was nice and pretty and then turning it sideways
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Rabid Schnauzer
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Bigsixer wrote:
While the OP makes some interesting and valid points, I am suspicious of this review. The OP has had very little activity on BGG since his account was created and ALL of it (7 posted?) is around Sirlins games. Not overly negative, but mostly critical. Either way, it seems all he has an opinion on (besides all the "1" ratings) are Sirlin games. That's a bit odd.



https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/2239/rabids-micro-reviews

https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/3502/rabid-schnauzers-star-re...

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1642368/early-thoughts-stra...
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Mike Kraus
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I stand corrected.

That said, other than Arcane Academy, I have not heard of any of the games you reviewed. That's impressive.

In a nice way: do you seek out obscure games to review/critique?

I stand by my statement that all of your (7) comments have been (critical?) on other Sirlin games. You seem to have a negative feeling toward them, and that's okay, but something I wanted to share because I think that makes you slightly biased in your Codex review.

For the record, I am not pleased that I had to toss my insert to get my binders with sleeved cards to fit. Other than that, I think this is a really great game. I have played MTG for years, and transporting Codex will be a lot easier than trainspotting my entire MTG collection. I know this is comparing apples to oranges, but I can take all of Codex with me in just about the same size box as my MTG decks that I have constructed, which incidentally, there is no real good way to store either.

Bottom line: to each their own. I like this game a lot, and can see past the couple very minor "flaws". You seem to have a harder time with that than I do. You have a harder time with all of Sirlin's games.


rabid_schnauzer wrote:
Bigsixer wrote:
While the OP makes some interesting and valid points, I am suspicious of this review. The OP has had very little activity on BGG since his account was created and ALL of it (7 posted?) is around Sirlins games. Not overly negative, but mostly critical. Either way, it seems all he has an opinion on (besides all the "1" ratings) are Sirlin games. That's a bit odd.



https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/2239/rabids-micro-reviews

https://boardgamegeek.com/blog/3502/rabid-schnauzers-star-re...

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1642368/early-thoughts-stra...
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Jonathan
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I rather agree that the box isn't the best. It's like they never tried to get everything bag in sleeved. It doesn't bother me, since Codex is the best new game I've tried in a few years, but yeah, the box is lousy.
 
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Austin Andersen
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Bigsixer wrote:
While the OP makes some interesting and valid points, I am suspicious of this review. The OP has had very little activity on BGG since his account was created and ALL of it (7 posted?) is around Sirlins games. Not overly negative, but mostly critical. Either way, it seems all he has an opinion on (besides all the "1" ratings) are Sirlin games. That's a bit odd.



Nice detective work. It would appear Sirlin has enemies... well at least one, that is out to crap on his creations.

I have no doubt that Sirlin put forth great effort into the design and just overlooked some things in this first edition. I have no doubt things will be redesigned and corrected in future editions.

I am still waiting to read more reviews on game play and if it truly is unique, innovative, and different than all the other card games in existence.
 
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Alex Churchill
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bbblasterfire wrote:
I am still waiting to read more reviews on game play and if it truly is unique, innovative, and different than all the other card games in existence.

I'd basically go along with the conclusion of the threads with titles like Yes, Codex really is that good. and "It's like Magic, but without the things that suck about Magic--and then some!", but those start to sound fawning after a while, which is why I haven't added my voice to the chorus

Except... hmm. Neither of those threads specifically identifies what I consider the most genius bit of Codex, which is the way that... Okay. Codex is in some ways clearly derivative, right? It's taken a lot from Magic, a fair amount from Dominion-style deckbuilders, a fair amount from Warcraft/Starcraft.

Codex's two obvious great innovations are the patrol zone, and the automatic adding of 2 cards per turn from asymmetrical supplies. But it has two more subtle innovations: the ability to trash any one card from hand per turn to build your economy, and the way you discard all N of your hand then draw N+2, capped at 5.

And those two don't sound like much - lots of CCG-style games have done playing a card face down as a resource, right? But the thing is, they have truly fantastic interaction with the core deckbuilder dynamic (thinner deck is better, faster deck cycling to get to your new cards is better). The emergent tactical consequences of what it means to play two cards on a turn plus make a worker, or play two cards on a turn and skip making a worker, and so on, are really unique in my experience.

Plus there's all the combo-building you'd expect from something that draws from MtG and Dominion, but much more under the player's control than either of those.

I guess I should write this up into a review...
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Brian
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alecatfish wrote:
I guess I should write this up into a review...


You should! From what you just said would really stand out as a review compared to the other reviews I read.

My biggest disappointment with this game is Gwen and Gloria are not in the game.
 
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John Fanjoy
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As a fellow Codex deluxe owner, I have to agree with the specific criticisms of the box:

- lid doesn't close snugly if there are cards in the binders. That indeed causes the chits to bounce around during transit. I also wouldn't want to stack anything on top of the box or try to store it on its side
- the enormous size does make it challenging to try to put on a shelf
- there isn't really a good place for the base HP tracker.

That said, the complaint "it's hard to take on an airplane" strikes me as really odd. I don't think I've ever taken any board game on an airplane, ever. Even if I could find the room in my luggage for one, I still wouldn't because I wouldn't want the corners of the box to get dinged up, which they inevitably would.


P.S. It's funny to me that people came in this thread to accuse Rabid of being some kind of Sirlin-hater. I'm most familiar with Rabid from a bunch of strategy posts written for Puzzle Strike.
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Mike Kraus
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I tossed my insert and put the binders in 2 piles, then put the rest of the materials in either deck boxes (neutral cards) or baggies (chits and the like). It actually all fits in pretty snugly this way. The insert did not work, but honestly 90% of my inserts get chucked anyway. I'm just happy it all fits in the box now, so no complaints.
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Niccolò Ricchio
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c'mon men, this guy gave codex, pandante and puzzle strike + shadows a rating of 10. what kind of hater does that?
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Brian
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I'm almost ready to get Deluxe but ironically one of the things G's that's holding me back is the box size itself. I really do want all the content of the Deluxe but I'm leaning towards the individual boxes since they look more practical and useful for traveling when boardgame night is not at my house. I've been like thinking about this for a while. My mage wars box is pretty large and now that just sits in my closet due to its large size.
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Clwe
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RayLancer wrote:
I'm almost ready to get Deluxe but ironically one of the things G's that's holding me back is the box size itself. I really do want all the content of the Deluxe but I'm leaning towards the individual boxes since they look more practical and useful for traveling when boardgame night is not at my house. I've been like thinking about this for a while. My mage wars box is pretty large and now that just sits in my closet due to its large size.


I'd still go for the Deluxe set if I were you. Yes, the box is impractical for lugging around and doesn't store your stuff very well (at all)...but you can always use baggies, craft boxes etc to store everything instead. I received my Deluxe copy yesterday and the box is already up in the loft It just makes much more sense (to me) to keep the binders loose and bag up the tokens/miscellaneous cards.
 
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Alex Brown
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Are we really claiming bias could be relevant to a review for a cardboard box?
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