Rabid Schnauzer
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So I think I've figured out exactly why I both love and hate Codex at the same time: The decision tree is insane, making for truly extreme levels of both depth and learning curve. Here's a simple (ha-ha) enumeration of all the choices made in just the opening of a game of Codex:


Pre-game:

-->Each Player Chooses a team of three heroes.
-->Each Player Chooses a starter deck that is the same color as at least one of their chosed heroes


Player 1 Turn 1:

**Main Phase**
Choose which order to do any and all of the following (order can matter significantly)

Choose whether to make a worker (Hint: the right answer is always yes for at least your first three turns).
-->Choose which card to make into a worker

Choose whether to summon a Hero from your Command Zone
-->make any choices about whether and how to use your Hero's startband ability (Garth, Vir, Bigby, Quince, and Calamandra can all use their abilities on the first turn of the game)

Choose whether to play a card from your hand (Hint: the right answer is almost always: Yes for P1T1)

Choose which card to play
--> make any choices involved in playing that card (Reputable Newsman, Lawful Search, Time Spiral, Forest's Favor, and Bloom can all involve choices when they are played as the first card from your hand on the first turn of the game)

Choose whether to play another card (Hint: the right answer is usually NO for the first couple of turns)
-->make any choices involved in playing that card.

Choose whether to play a third card (Hint: this is only rarely even possible, and the right answer is almost always NO for the first couple of turns)
-->make any choices involved in playing that card

Choose whether to play a fourth card ((Hint: starter deck costs means that if this is even possible, it requires having skipped your first worker and I will call you an idiot if you ever do it p1t1.)

Choose whether any of your units or heroes which have the Haste ability attack
-->In FFA mode, choose which opponent each of those attacks.

Choose whether to save any leftover gold for next turn or to invest it in leveling up your Hero. (Hint: you will only rarely have leftover gold on turn 1)

Choose whether or not to build an add-on (Hint: the right answer is almost always NO on turn 1)
-->Choose which add-on to build.

**At the end of your main phase**:
Choose whether each of your units and heroes patrols or not
-->Choose which of the five available patrol slot to assign each of your patrolling units and heroes to.

**During your discard/draw phase**
If you summoned the hero Bigby Hayes, choose whether and how to use his Stash Ability during your discard/draw phase.

**During your opponent's turn**
Start choosing which two cards from your Codex to Tech in to your discard to improve your deck.

Player 2 Turn 1:

**Main Phase**
Choose which order to do any and all of the following (order can matter significantly)

Choose whether to make a worker (Hint: the right answer is always yes for at least your first three turns).
-->Choose which card to make into a worker

Choose whether to play a card from your hand (Hint: the right answer is almost always Yes: unless the first player made you discard )

Choose which card to play
--> make any choices involved in playing that card

Choose whether to play another card (Hint: the right answer is usually NO for the first couple of turns)
-->make any choices involved in playing that card.

Choose whether to play a third card (Hint: the right answer is almost always NO for the first couple of turns)
-->make any choices involved in playing that card.

Choose whether to play a fourth card (Hint: this will almost never be possible, and when it is, you should never do it on your opening turn)
-->make any choices involved in playing that card.

Choose whether to play a fifth card. (Hint: I'm not sure this is ever even possible, but even if it is in some oddball situation, it is a stupendously bad idea..)

Choose whether to summon a Hero from your Command Zone
-->make any choices about whether and how to use your Hero's startband ability.
-->choose whether to level up your hero
-->>> make any choices about whether and how to use your Hero's midband ability.

Choose whether any of your units or heroes which have the Haste ability attack
--> In FFA choose which opponent they attack
-->Choose what each of your attackers attacks. They can attack opposing units, heroes, bases, building cards, and (at least) theoretically add-ons here. Although all attacks are (subject to the limits of opposing patrollers)
-->If any of your units or heroes with the Haste ability kill an opposing hero, you may have to make choices about your hero's midband or maxband ability.

Choose whether to save any leftover gold for next turn or to invest it in leveling up your Hero. (Hint: you will rarely have leftover gold on turn 1)

Choose whether or not to build an add-on (Hint: the right answer is usually No on turn 1)
-->Choose which add-on to build. (Hint: Tower is the most likely to be usefull this early, but some niche strategies can use Hero's Hall)

Choose whether or not to build your Tech 1 building (Hint: unless you are drawing one or more extra cards, you will not have any Tech I cards in your hand before your third turn, so it's usually slightly better to wait until turn 2 to build your Tech 1 building -- but that depends on the cost of cards in each of your first two starting hands and the strategy you are pursuing.)

**At the end of your main phase**:
Choose whether each of your units and heroes patrols or not
-->Choose which of the five available patrol slot to assign each of your patrolling units and heroes to.

**During your discard/draw phase**
If you summoned the hero Bigby Hayes, choose whether and how to use his Stash Ability during your discard/draw phase.

**During your opponent's turn**
Start choosing which two cards from your Codex to Tech in to your discard to improve your deck.

Player 1, Turn 2:

**Tech Phase** Finalize your decision about which two cards to Tech In, and add those to your discard


Further turns often get even more complex, with the potential to play more cards from hands, the potential to bring multiple heroes into play with the greater likelihood of those heroes having multiple bands of abilities, the ability use more attackers, attack and target more opposing things, the potential to use abilities that manipulate cards in your discard or codex, etc. etc.

This means that each player makes a staggering number of decisions each game. Which makes for which remains intriguing and strategically rich well after a thousand plays -- yet is so perplexing and frustrating that very few new players will get through the half dozen games necessary to even begin to understand the strategic ramifications of most of the decisions they make.
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Christian K
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Interesting analysis. I feel compelled to say that a large number of possible moves does not necessarily make the game strategic.

I don't think the game is as inaccessible as you suggest i have taught it to a couple of people (even one none gamer) that were able to grasp it reasonably on their first play.
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Jason Reid
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Muemmelmann wrote:
Interesting analysis. I feel compelled to say that a large number of possible moves does not necessarily make the game strategic.


It's a fair point but I believe that in this game, a lot of the choices do matter. Although all of the choices that the OP enumerates aren't quite executed as described, as choosing to go down one path generally closes off some of the others. Such that, similar to Chess, depending on the match-ups there are basically "standard" openings with slight variants depending on card draw.

Really, the big thing to keep in mind is, based on your opponents Heroes & Starter deck (which is all they have access to, generally, the first few turns), what kinds of hijinks can they pull off that can wreck your start? Because a bad turn 1 or 2 can really set you back. Once you understand the matchups these sorts of things should really be avoidable, but getting caught offguard by a bad opening can really ruin a game for you.
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Andrew Hauge
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I think that the number of strategic choices doesn't necessarily render the game inaccessible, it just makes it challenging when the players are of unequal experience levels. The decisions Schnauzer cites are definitely ones where one player can obtain an advantage over the other player, and the more consistently one player correctly decides (and the other player doesn't), the more that advantage becomes.

Which is definitely a positive when it comes to a game being competitive and promoting strategic play, because that means there's ample room for you to exercise skill-based decision-making.

But the trick is, all those decisions are only difficult if you realize just how much is at stake. When teaching new people, I think the key is to get them to just make decisions, and not to worry too hard about making the best decision. As they play the game, it will become clear just how important various decisions are. If you don't want to blow them out (based on your experience), you can take a handicap. I might have to start a thread on that, discussing different possible handicaps you could implement to give a little bit of advantage to a new player while they learn the game.

Plus, I've seen worse. Anyone here play Twilight Struggle?
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P Diddy
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I'd say the real issue with Codex is, like Chess, high-end gameplay requires a lot of memorization. The more you know and memorize about the game, the better your gameplay will be, simply because you will have an understanding of what your opponent can potentially do. While the 'fog of war' created by the Codex and cycling deck limits your knowledge of the current game state, it also makes this memorization/knowledge more important.

I now understand why it was very important that Starcraft never had more than three factions, each with a few distinct paths to develop. If there had been more factions, it would require high-end players to memorize more about these options to play at a high level. Codex is asking a player to learn about 20 different factions, which is quite a lot.

While this is certainly possible, I don't have that kind of time for a game I'm ultimately not going to play very often... and this requirement is actually the largest barrier to entry. I think part of MtG's appeal is the game's structure doesn't ask even high-end players to learn so much. It instead asks them to figure out the current 3-6 top deck builds, and learn how they play against each other... oh, and to spend about $500 getting all those cards off the secondary market.

Sadly, people are more willing to spend money to win than learning to win.
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