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Codex: Card-Time Strategy – Deluxe Set» Forums » Organized Play

Subject: It ought to rival Magic, but it won't. rss

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Jason Dunn
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If ever there were the perfect tournament play game it would be Codex. It completely solves the resource issue and simultaneously further mitigates luck by giving the option of trashing a card every turn. The sideboard is main decked. Even with the absence of instants, the amount of choices to make each turn are far more numerous and involved than in Magic. This is a game that screams competitive play; moreover, a player wins or loses [nearly] entirely by his/her own choices. No more drawing too few or too many lands, and ultimately just watching the other player play the game while you get destroyed merely because of bad luck. The game is incredible. I haven't been this excited about a card game since, I think, Magic first came out.

So, why won't it be able to compete with Magic?

Well, the Magic community is huge. The reason other CCGs never last is due to their lack of having a large enough player base. Magic players never have to worry about finding people to play with because they already exist. To take a competitive player away from the sure competitive fulfillment of tournament play is a very difficult proposition because it means they lose familiarity with Magic whilst not knowing for certain if Codex will eventually grow and take hold. It's a sad truth.
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Dundy O
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Yeah. For the reasons you mentioned. Seems MTG will have to die from a million paper cuts at this point, and that can take a long time. Games like Codex or Epic can easily replace Magic, but they won't. All they'll be able to do is vie for a tiny corner of the market.
 
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Jonathan Maisonneuve
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Also MTG is $$$ flooding for stores because new cards get added constantly while Codex there are a core + 2 expension. Not much money to be made by stores, Also, it would require from Sirlin to push the game and events more aggressively.
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Travis Schneider
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Unfortunately, you are 100% right. In fact, there a huge variety of games that should replace Magic (FFG's LCGS, Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, etc. Not EPIC unfortunately, since from my experience, constructed for it is actually pretty bad). Codex is one of the most incredible games I've ever played and does the whole dueling thing better than almost any other dueling card game I've played. And the amount of strategy and skill involved in the game is tremendous. This could be like chess, and have a huge competitive community and following. Alas, it won't ever achieve such numbers. To do so would not only require us gamers to advertise it and recruit players (which is very hard to do), but also have Sirlin Games and then game stores put a lot behind it to make it grow.
Now, I've thought about playing it regularly during busy Magic nights at the local game shops, but I know even people stopped to check it out, they would instantly go back to Magic, for all the reason that have already been stated. Magic is an okay game compared to all the others out there, but it's the community, the art, the company who produces it, and the sheer amount of money to be found in it that keep people playing it. Hell, I still have never given it up completely (only due to the mythos and art), but I only play limited stuff if I do play.
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Michael
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I agree with your assessment, but I will still do what I can to share Codex with as many people as I can.
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MtG is a huge beast of an organization, with a fantastic tournament system with actual prize money. The $1,000,000+ total in prize support seems huge to gamers, and is a huge draw... encouraging thousands to buy the latest net-list deck for $500 every three months. This alone keeps at least half of the FLGS open.

While Codex is a superior game, the people that would want to play it are heavily invested in MtG. At the same time, I can already tell some are worried Codex will upset the current MtG set-up and ruin things like FNM.
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Andrew Hauge
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Also, don't forget about familiarity. Learning Codex and learning to play it well requires a pretty substantial time and effort investment, and there's very little existing work (relatively speaking) that's been written on the game, compared to Magic. It's still a bit of a baby game. Will that change over time? Who knows?
 
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trevor

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Yeah, I agree with all your points. But MTG was here first, and got such a foothold it's hard to be competitive with anything else. Plus they put out expansions almost weekly, just follow the money. He who has the gold is king.
 
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Rabid Schnauzer
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ThaTsRight wrote:

So, why won't it be able to compete with Magic?


In order of importance:

1. Because it's 20 years late to the scene. MtG's first-mover advantage has kids who have graduated from college by now.

2. Because of a number of questionable marketing and pricing decisions. Too many potential players are going to find the entry cost too high to ever contemplate how the competitive completionist cost is massively lower than any other CCG / LCG.

3. Due to the lack of portability. I can play MtG carrying a sinlge tuckbox in my pocket. I can play a bunch of MtG decks carrying a single long-card box. I can soup-it up with a playmat and a couple dice. For this game I need to carry a binder for each faction, plus starter deck cards, token cards, tracking chits, add-on and spec mini-cards and the playmat is all but essential. And Codex is bundled in a box so bad I wrote a negative review of the box itself. This is not a game that it's easy to bring along to boardgaming events and that limits how many boardgaming events it's going to be seen at.

4. Poor suitability to casual play. Want to play a Dragon deck? You can tech in Young Lightning Dragon and Cinderblast Dragon, although that requirs a Tech Lab to do. Those are the only two dragon units, so not much of a theme. Name a creature, adjective, art stlye or pun and Codex has maybe two or three cards that fit that theme -- most of the time in different Specs in a way that requires the Tech Lab add on. There's no appeal beyond straight-out playing to win -- and in a game where the valuations are so difficult, that means there's practically zero appeal to spectators who don't understand all the nuances of Codex play. Thus the game has low appeal to anyone who doesn't want to play it at the competitive tournament level.

5. The learning curve. Cripes the learning curve. This game is nigh-impossible to teach to anyone who doesn't have prior experience with MtG or Starcraft. Seriously, go write a one-page or less guide to newbies on all the rules for Flying vs Anti-Air, or how the Tower actually works, or everything a new player needs to know about spells or all the ways Heroes differ from units or whatever and the basic rules to this game are rougher than some of my undergrad courses. That really limits how far and how fast this game can spread.

6. Time required to play a single game. Between experienced players a single head to head game of 3heroes each Codex takes a bit over 45 minutes. Between newbies, a single game of head to head Codex usually goes well over an hour -- sometimes multiple hours. Even that 45 minute time frame becomes problematic in the context of organizing tournaments -- adding time for breaks and setup and finding opponents means that organizers need to allow at least hour per round if the rounds are single-game and a single elimination event with only eight players requires 3 hours to run. Tournaments with best-of-three matches need 3 hours per round and such events can balloon to multiday affairs with increasing playercounts. A best-of-three, double-elimination tournament with just 12 players requires scheduling for 18 hours.

7. Needless rules complexity. Half of Codex: Card Time Strategy's complexity provides for a gameplay experience which is both tactically and strategically deep. The other half is complexity for the sake of complexity and could have been streamlined out of the rules.

8. Really crappy rules resources. From cards which have incorrect reminder text (Fruit Ninja) and nonsensical grammar (Whitestar Grappler) to a rulebook which lacks keywords (Stash, Two-Lives) to online clarifications which are themselves impossible (Sentry's ability counteracting Tower damage) to "rulings" that are merely an informed player's opinion buried in a 100-page long rules Q&A thread on the Sirlin games forum instead of anywhere searchable by card.

9. Sloppy wordings. Pick any Spec and there is at least one thing in that spec which at least two players in any of my gaming groups are going to interpret differently and then have to refer to the poorly-organized and sometimes outright wrong online resources to settle. This makes for a contentious play experience that is frequently interrupted by online searches in the middle of play.

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Jonathan Maisonneuve
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@Rabid Schnauzer: I do not agree with you #3. When I carry it around I have my binders (each have the 3 heroes + their cards, the starter deck, the token cards, the spec cards and the add-on cards, all inside) my mats in Monster tubs and a ziploc with the tokens. It is very transportable in my backpack. You could also give up the binder and just carry the cards in a Ultimate Guard Monolith (and the bottom hold everything else).
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Jeff Coon
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Also note that a large draw of Magic is the metagame. In tournament play, decklists constantly adapt to each other. Set rotations mix things up immensely and keep things fresh. There is a large community of people experimenting and thinking about Magic in between tournaments. And then when a new set emerges, the metagame starts all over again. It's fresh.

While I enjoy Codex's closed system of no expansions or CCG/LCG format, it means that the game would be come stagnant quickly in a large competitive scene. With Codex being niche, there is plenty of experimentation to go around.

I think I have a couple of years of exploration in this big box. But I do wonder what the future of Codex will be after that if there are no planned expansions.
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Joshua Christensen
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Jeff wrote:

While I enjoy Codex's closed system of no expansions or CCG/LCG format, it means that the game would be come stagnant quickly in a large competitive scene. With Codex being niche, there is plenty of experimentation to go around.


If this turns out to be true then the entire design goal of Codex would be a complete fail.

The reason for giving each deck so many options is to prevent this very thing from happening. Any given Codex should have 9+ different plans it can follow. Any other card game of this type a good deck has 1 plan it follows every game.

Jeff wrote:

Also note that a large draw of Magic is the metagame. In tournament play, decklists constantly adapt to each other. Set rotations mix things up immensely and keep things fresh. There is a large community of people experimenting and thinking about Magic in between tournaments. And then when a new set emerges, the metagame starts all over again. It's fresh.


This is what Codex was/is aiming to fix. These games need these constant shake ups in the meta game or they will die. The decks just aren't that interesting to constantly play over and over again.

A Codex gives you a ton of room to explore its possibilities and gives you counters to the stuff different opponents might play. So you just have way more room to play an interesting game and to increase your skill to a high level even if you just stick to a single Codex.

But on the original topic I agree that the biggest problems are:

Magic has been around forever and even if you can get some one to admit that another game is better they will not likely want to switch games because they have so much time and money invested in the current game.

And stores want to support Magic because of all the money it brings in. I'm not even sure what a game like Codex could do to entice stores because a player just buys the product once and then they're done. If it got popular enough I sure there would be a market for various random items though. Such as different sleeves, Codices, play mats, deluxe token sets, and I'm sure stuffed animal Nautical Dogs would fly off the shelf.


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Kai Heikkilä
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Jeff wrote:
Also note that a large draw of Magic is the metagame. In tournament play, decklists constantly adapt to each other.

Codex was consciously designed so that "the metagame" would not matter nearly as much as in typical dueling card games. The more the metagame matters, the less the decisions during the actual gameplay matter. Metagaming being important is a sign of lop-sided match-ups. (metagaming = trying to get favourable match-ups)

Jeff wrote:
While I enjoy Codex's closed system of no expansions or CCG/LCG format, it means that the game would be come stagnant quickly in a large competitive scene.

This is only true if Codex is a shallow game. Closed system games like Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Star Craft 2 are still interesting and played at a competitive level. Also, metagame can change and evolve in closed system games too as new tactics and strategies are discovered.
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Jonathan Maisonneuve
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Jeff wrote:
Also note that a large draw of Magic is the metagame. In tournament play, decklists constantly adapt to each other. Set rotations mix things up immensely and keep things fresh. There is a large community of people experimenting and thinking about Magic in between tournaments. And then when a new set emerges, the metagame starts all over again. It's fresh.

While I enjoy Codex's closed system of no expansions or CCG/LCG format, it means that the game would be come stagnant quickly in a large competitive scene. With Codex being niche, there is plenty of experimentation to go around.

I think I have a couple of years of exploration in this big box. But I do wonder what the future of Codex will be after that if there are no planned expansions.


If you tried a different heroes combinaison every day, you would need over 18 years to try them all. And every combinaison has different strategies. Then add the starter decks in the equation and you are good for the rest of your life.
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Robin Zigmond
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I know it's not a direct comparison, but just think of Chess. No variability whatsoever between games (in terms of starting conditions), and no luck elements within the game to vary anything - yet that game must be played more times every day than Codex will be played in total until at least 2020 (unless Codex takes off in a huge way), and has sustained well over 100 years of high-level tournament play. Even if high-level competitive chess is now getting stale and uninteresting (I long ago stopped following it, but I doubt even now this is the case), I don't think any Codex fans should worry if it takes as long for Codex to get stale as it has for chess. And the very nature of the game should in theory make it interesting for far longer.

The only danger for Codex - as for any competitive assymetric card game (to any of which the previous paragraph could be applied) - would be if some strategy or combo was discovered that was so powerful that it leads to the game being degenerate (in Codex that would presumably mean that you must play certain particular specs and follow a set strategy, or you will be guaranteed to lose). While I don't rule that out, it's obvious that the game as it stands offers huge scope to "play against" anything you think your opponent might be trying, and even if the game does turn out to be "broken" in this way, I'm sure it would be relatively simple to weaken 1 or 2 key cards to fix it.

So I don't think anyone should be worried about the replay value of Codex. (But as far as the MtG comparison goes, it's hard not to agree with anything in the OP. Codex unfortunately won't become widely played competitively without either MASSIVE word-of-mouth grass-roots spread - for which it probably doesn't have the direct appeal - or someone becoming a fan who has enough time and money to set up some sort of tournament circuit, along with promoting the game.)
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Jeff Coon
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Thanks for the replies, all. I'm clearly in the minority thinking this may be a problem in the future. But I stand by my statement that Codex is a very different game that doesn't have nearly the shifting metagame that Magic has. Despite having a large amount of variability in spec & card choices, it can't compete with an ever-evolving / rotating metagame that can introduce new mechanics very few months.

And again -- I'm a big fan of this aspect of Codex's design. Lord knows I don't want another CCG/LCG. I just think when you try to compare it to Magic's competitive scene, you have to consider the limited card pool. It's apples and oranges.
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Honestly, I think there's still plenty of room for a shifting metagame within the existing roster, without having to resort to artificial infusions of gameplay every few months. The 3v3 deckbuilding element feels comparable in potential depth to, say, the decade that Marvel vs. Capcom 2 spent as a major tournament fighting game in the US, where people kept finding ways to combine unexpected elements in surprising ways despite a relatively limited roster.

I mean, if you're going to start a thread for the sole purpose of I-told-you-so in advance, yes, there are concerns that it might not do the equivalent of replacing Google as America's search engine of choice, but those are largely more just a matter of the fact that we're talking about a deeply entrenched, established property with tons of money behind it, and Friendly Local Game Stores love the fact that nobody buys M:tG just once.
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Comparing MtG and Codex is very much like Checkers and Chess... if every three months there were different rules for how a Checker's King worked, and occasionally added and removed rules for a Checker's Queen..

If WotC can't keep changing the meta for some reason, then MtG fade quickly.

Meanwhile, chess meta/gameplay has evolved over a thousand years, and with only one small rule change. Codex could easily be this kind of game. It will need a re-write of the rules for many of the reasons above, and will likely need a few tweaks to a few cards at some point, but is otherwise fantastic.

I think the biggest hurdle is how much space and stuff you need to play. I guess that's why I'm trying to figure out how to cram everything into a 'standard' MTG playmat size, as well as a few other things.
 
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Jason Dunn
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Man, I have really enjoyed reading all the solid responses. This has been a great discussion. I just wanted to quickly say it's my belief that the vast majority of people that want to play a competitive card game already play Magic. That's why, IMO, acquiring a portion of the Magic community is paramount.
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Filip Lazov
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I think Codex has more similarity with StarCraft Brood Wars esports scene than it has with Magic, from what I observed it is the main inspiration behind the game. There was no "rules" or "errata" or "expansions" updates for Starcraft Brood Wars in years and yet it is still among the most popular games.
 
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Alex Churchill
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What? There were loads of balance patches to Brood War, tweaking the cost or damage that various units deal, in order to maintain interesting balance and the equivalent of metagame choices.
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Jeff Coon
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ThaTsRight wrote:
Man, I have really enjoyed reading all the solid responses. This has been a great discussion.


Agreed, it's interesting to read some different opinions about this game. I have no idea where we'll wind up with Codex in 2-3 years, but I'm very excited for the journey.
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Andrew Hauge
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alextfish wrote:
What? There were loads of balance patches to Brood War, tweaking the cost or damage that various units deal, in order to maintain interesting balance and the equivalent of metagame choices.

I'm not super-familiar with BW, but were those balance tweaks (to make less-viable units better and too-powerful units weaker) or meta tweaks (changing units to make certain units more popular and certain units less popular)?

The latter is what Magic does by phasing out some cards and bringing in new cards. It achieves a varied metagame by constantly changing which "units" are being used in the game.
 
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Alex Churchill
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CarpeGuitarrem wrote:
alextfish wrote:
What? There were loads of balance patches to Brood War, tweaking the cost or damage that various units deal, in order to maintain interesting balance and the equivalent of metagame choices.

I'm not super-familiar with BW, but were those balance tweaks (to make less-viable units better and too-powerful units weaker) or meta tweaks (changing units to make certain units more popular and certain units less popular)?
More like the former, although the aim was to ensure most units are viable and get played at least occasionally, and the tweaks being made were certainly based on the data of how frequently each unit was played. But it was only small balance tweaks. The new units were released on very few occasions: StarCraft Brood War was an expansion pack bringing a number of new units, but then no new units came along until StarCraft II years later.

Expansion packs like Brood War play the role of MtG's newly released cardsets, but for StarCraft those are every year or two rather than every 3 months. (And indeed SCII might be finished with expansions for the foreseeable future. Or they might be moving to a DLC model... but that's a conversation for a different thread...)
 
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They were balance tweaks, but from the outside they look like meta tweaks. For example, some units rarely saw use in competative events, because they were overcosted compared to everything else in some way, and we're adjusted. This often lead to additional adjustments, as everything is interconnected like a spider-web. Brood Wars became the shining beacon of eSports because it was so competatively balanced.

This long-term balance shifted the focus to player skill, which is what draws spectators. This in turn led to bigger sponsors and larger prizes; it blows MtG out of the water this way.
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