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Codex is a customizable card game that does things differently from the rest. Based on real-time strategy video games.
Codex is a customizable card game that does things differently from the rest. Based on real-time strategy video games.
Codex is a customizable card game that does things differently from the rest. Based on real-time strategy video games.
1,646 backers pledged $354,972 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$354,972

1,646

If you’re already a backer, DON’T pledge again! You’ll receive a survey to select your rewards and add ons. You’ll be able to add more add-ons too!

Many months after this campaign when the above link doesn’t work anymore, you can still get Codex and other great games at www.sirlingames.com.

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This article index has dozens of articles about Codex, showing lots of art and explaining the design of every hero in the starter set, core set, and all expansions. It has a great podcast episode too.

Codex is the 10-year culmination of trying to come at customizable card games from a completely different angle. What if there were so many things you can do with a deck that you might play it for years and have it still be interesting? What if almost any deck you could make is reasonably fair and matchups are generally won or lost by how you play them, rather than before the game starts?

This game is the answer to those questions. It turns out the key is having access to a wide enough range of effects that your deck is resilient to almost anything thrown at it.

What’s Unique

  • Build your deck as you play. Each game you have access to a number of effects equal to about three Magic: The Gathering decks. Pick and choose the ones you want to use as the gameplay unfolds.
  • Real-time strategy theme, based on video games such as Warcraft 3 and StarCraft. Concepts like build orders, fog of war, investing in your economy, and protecting your buildings and heroes all apply.
  • The patrol zone creates a new kind of combat system. Set up your defenders in your patrol zone and give each one a different kind of bonus. Your patrollers protect your other forces on your opponents' turns.
  • No collectability, meaning the game is even playfield and embraces the concept of being competitively fair, always.
  • Gorgeous art. Codex's art has been under development for years and years. Wonderful illustrations that are functional in that they show closeups of each unit so you can easily tell them apart, and each kind of card has a different card frame and graphic design.

About the Designer

David Sirlin was the lead designer of Street Fighter HD Remix, Puzzle Fighter HD Remix, and all the tabletop games listed below. As a tournament player and author of Playing to Win, he cares about making games that offer variety in the form of asymmetric characters, but that are also balanced enough for competitive play. This article about game balance in Yomi gives some insight into how Sirlin approaches the task.

Codex is his biggest and most ambitious work.

Reviews

Epic Slant Press "Codex has taken an incredible number of things that I love about so many different genres of gaming and brought them together in a well-polished game, while managing to avoid the less enjoyable aspects of those same games."

Fluff N' Crunch "The art. OMG the art, references to other games, jokes, there is a lot to love. Each kind of card has a different card frame and graphic design it’s easy to tell them apart."

Alan Kwan on BGG "This game, as I see it, addresses many issues in so many different games all at once that it isn't funny. Many things which other games did wrong, Codex does it right. Many things that other games did well, Codex does it even better. It's even a scary thing that any game ever accomplishes that. Codex is not a miracle. It is many miracles in one."

Stephen Keller on BGG "Codex may be my favorite game ever. Do you like CCGs or LCGs? How about deckbuilders? How about real-time strategy videogames? Or maybe just 2-player competitive games that are deep, balanced, and full of gameplay? Then you need to try Codex...It's a game I've been waiting 20 years for somebody to make."

More reviews on Boardgamegeek.com.

Video review from Prismata's Elyot Grant:

How to Play

Here's an overview of Codex from Rodney at WatchItPlayed. (And please check out Rodney's youtube channel, it's an amazing source of info on board games!)

Here's an example playthrough of the Core set. One player controls the 3 red heroes, while the other plays the 3 green heroes:

 Here is a playthrough with the Starter Set:

 And here's a playthrough of the Core Set with lots of explanation:

Try The Starter Set

The print-and-play version of the Codex Starter set is free, here. Print-and-play versions of the Core Set and expansions are also available there.

Here are the rulebooks for all Sirlin Games, including Codex.

You can combine the Starter Set and Core Set. The Deluxe Set already comes with everything in the Starter + Core, and a lot more. 

What You Get

The starter set is a terrific intro to the game in a way that's not overwhelming. You get the neutral faction which allows for a 2-player game of the Bashing hero (Troq Bashar) vs the Finesse Hero (River Montoya).

As of right now, it contains:

  • 1 Bashing hero deck
  • 1 Finesse hero deck (including 3 double-faced Dander tokens)
  • 2 neutral starting decks
  • 2 patrol zones
  • 2 game boards
  • 4 mini-cards for add-ons
  • Dozens of tracking chits for damage, gold, XP, etc
  • Rulebook

This starter set allows you to play 1 hero vs 1 hero which is a fine way to play the game, but once you go beyond the starter set you'll be able to play the 3 hero vs 3 hero mode, which is intended for tournament play. It gives you a lot more possible build orders and a toolbox big enough to counter all the extra builds your opponents will have. That brings us to:

As of right now, it contains:

  • 3 red hero decks
  • 3 green hero decks
  • 1 red starting deck
  • 1 green starting deck
  • 30+ token cards for units like Squirrel, Frog, Wisp, etc.
  • 2 Codex binders
  • 2 huge game boards
  • 20 mini-cards (one for each spec across all expansions) + 4 mini-cards for add-ons
  • Dozens of tracking chits for damage, gold, XP, etc
  • Rulebook

The Core Set comes with 2 binders to store your cards, two big game boards, tracking chits, and all the cards for the red and green factions. You'll get *6* heroes: 3 from the red faction and 3 from the green faction. You can play any 1 hero vs any other 1 hero, with rules just like in the starter set.

You can ALSO play the 3 hero vs 3 hero mode (meaning each player controls 3 heroes), which is intended for tournament play. That means your codex will have a row of cards for each of your three heroes. You'll build your deck as you play from this 72 card pool (2 copies of 36 different cards). Your bag of tricks is deep enough that you can find some answer to just about anything thrown at you.

If you're familiar with RTS video games, think of it like this. You start the game with a card binder (your "codex") full of all the cards that go along with your 3 heroes. That set of cards is analogous to "all the things the Orcs can do in Warcraft 3" or "all the things the Zerg can build in Starcraft." You won't use all of those every game, but each game you can use a different subset of those things: that's your "build" for that game.

That's really the key to the whole Codex concept: you can choose a different build each game and use lots of different tactics and strategies, even without changing your team of heroes!

This awesome deluxe set will not be available at retail. It includes every card in the starter set + every card in the core set + multiple expansions, and more. It all comes in a huge box that's designed to hold everything in style.

As we progress in this kickstarter campaign, we'll be adding and upgrading things in this deluxe set. As of right now, it contains:

  • 2 neutral hero decks from the Starter Set
  • 3 red hero decks from the Core Set
  • 3 green hero decks from the Core Set
  • 3 blue hero decks from the Flagstone Dominion expansion
  • 3 black hero decks from the Blackhand Scourge expansion
  • 3 white hero decks from the Whitestar Order expansion
  • 3 purple hero decks from the Vortoss Conclave expansion
  • 8 starting decks: 2 neutral, 1 red, 1 green, 1 blue, 1 black, 1 white, 1 purple
  • 6 Codex binders, each with graphic design of a different faction
  • 2 huge game boards (24"x14" each, a stretch goal will upgrade them to 'mousepad material' playmats)
  • 12 exclusive map cards that change gameplay each game
  • 5 Mercenary token cards to help with playing free-for-all
  • 27 red and green token cards (Squirrel, Pirate, etc.)
  • 19 blue and black token cards
  • 17 white and purple token cards
  • Dozens of tracking chits for damage, gold, XP, etc
  • 20 mini-cards (one for each spec) + 10 mini-cards for add-ons (enough for 5-player free-for-all)
  • Rulebook
  • Sweet box designed to hold it all

That's over 700 cards!

The Codex Deluxe box *is* designed to fit all the cards, even if you put card sleeves on them. The Codex binders are also designed to hold sleeved cards.

The box is also designed to hold all the tons of stuff you get. The neutral faction + 6 colors of factions will fit inside. Keep in mind that you can build a team out of any 3 heroes, even if they are from different factions. Codex with neutral + 6 colors has 20 total heroes, meaning you can build more than 1000+ possible "decks." Furthermore, because each hero's set of cards is a coherent chunk that can stand on its own, all 1000+ of those possible decks should be fun to play and stand at least a reasonable chance of winning.

Map Cards. We found that that "casino cards" were one of the best things in Pandante 2nd Edition. They each change the rules of the game in some way, so that each time you play there's some new twist. In Codex, this takes the form of "map cards," which only come in the deluxe version.

Meet the Factions

Each faction has their own style. The Blood Anarchs offer an aggressive, rushdown style, while the Flagstone Dominion is controlling and oppressive. Mix and match the factions to create your own team of 3 heroes.

Shipping

UPDATE: there is now a group-buy option for a 10-pack of Deluxe sets as a new reward tier, because backers requested it. This will give international backers who are outside the US / Canada / EU huge savings of about 45% lower shipping than if they ordered individually. Also, the 10-pack has free shipping in the US.

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When you pledge for any given level, the shipping will be added to your total at the next step. This shipping is the actual amount to ship to your region (we aren't adding any markup at all to shipping). We're actually subsidizing a little bit of the shipping.

Shipping is handled by the experts at Ship Naked, and they have this to say about the overall increases in shipping prices this year: "At the start of each year, carriers (FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, etc) increase their rates as their costs go up. This year (January 2016) the increases were particularly notable (some services went up between 25% and 42%!). Here at Ship Naked, we work with multiple carriers so that we can select the most cost-effective option for your packages."

In other words, we've already done all we can do to lower shipping prices by negotiating with multiple different carriers. And if we could teleport Codex directly to you for free, we definitely would!

Codex is also pretty heavy because of all the stuff you get, so that affects the shipping prices too. For example, the Deluxe Set is likely to end up weighing over 14 pounds, with packing materials! That's what happens when you get multiple expansions all at once. ;)

Note that if you add any add-ons to your pledge, you'll have to manually add the appropriate amount of shipping cost for each of those add-ons.

Customs-Friendly

This kickstarter is customs-friendly, which means we'll do our best to reduce or eliminate VAT and import fees for international backers. The games will ship to EU backers from within EU. We can't actually promise to eliminate these fees for literally all international backers, nor can we break laws by incorrectly declaring the value of shipments, but we'll be using Ship Naked's shipping network to reduce the VAT and import fees for as many international backers as we can--especially for EU backers.

Add-ons:

Add-on 1: Sleeves (card protectors)

100 pack of Codex card sleeves. These sleeves help protect your cards and are made of durable material, comparable to Dragon Shield sleeves. The Codex binders and deluxe box are all designed to hold sleeved cards.

Sleeves price:
$10 per pack of 100 sleeves

Shipping for the sleeves add-on (no matter how many sleeves):
USA: $5
Canada / EU: $13
Rest of World: $20

You can get as many packs of extra sleeves as you want. To do that, manually add $10 to your pledge for each pack of card sleeves you want AND add shipping (once, not per pack) as listed above. For example, if you want 4 extra packs of sleeves and you live in Japan, please add 4*$10 + $20 shipping = $60 to your pledge.

Add-on 2: Playmats

You can add some playmats to any pledge level. These are the same playmats that come in the Deluxe Set and they're made of mousepad material. We ship them in a tube so that they won't crease.

Playmat price:
$25 per playmat, but 20% off if you get 4 ($80)

Shipping for the playmat add-on (no matter how many mats):
USA: $9
Rest of World: $13

You can get up to 4 extra playmats, and to do that add $25 per playmat to your pledge. If you get 4, we'll give you 20% off so only add $80 instead of $100! Then, no matter how many playmats you added, put in an additional $9 for US shipping or $13 for non-US shipping. 

After the campaign, you will receive an invite to BackerKit, and you'll have an easy way there to tell us exactly what you added. After the campaign ends, please try to get that BackerKit survey back to us right away so we know how much to manufacture.

Stretch Goals

Codex has been a very expensive game to develop over the last decade, and the manufacturing will also be expensive. The true project costs are far more than what we asked for. Even if we don't cover the real costs, we'll still do the project and pay out of pocket because we believe in this game so much!

That said, we'd like to up the component quality of the game as we get closer to that break-even point, to give everyone even more reasons to join in. We'd generally like to improve the quality of the card binders to have art instead of solid colors, add more "token" cards (for units that other cards summon, like Pirates and Frogs and Ninjas and so on) with great art, and most of all, add more and more to the Deluxe set, including entire extra expansions right in the box!

FUNDED: [UNLOCKED] We did it!

Goal 1. $70k. [UNLOCKED] Double-faced Dancer tokens (Starter + Deluxe).
These sets will come with 3 token cards that have Dancers on the front and Angry Dancers on the back.

Goal 2. $80k. [UNLOCKED] The Codex binders have awesome art instead of just solid colors (Core + Deluxe). This stretch goal unlocks a new type of binder with laminated covers and the art shown earlier on this page.

Goal 3. $90k. [UNLOCKED] Dials for tracking hit points (Starter + Core + Deluxe). All sets will get a set of dual dials to track the HP of bases for 2 players (1 - 20 HP).

Goal 4. $100k [UNLOCKED] 2 more Codex binders (blue and black) with great art added (Deluxe). Total of 4 binders now included in Deluxe set.

Goal 5 $125k [UNLOCKED] 6 mercenary tokens for free-for-all mode added (Core + Deluxe). These help with playing up to 5 players at once.

Goal 6 $125k [UNLOCKED] Whitestar Order (white) expansion with 3 hero decks added (Deluxe). An entire expansion added! Play as Grave, Setsuki, and Rook and get all their associated spec cards and the white starting deck.

Goal 7 $125k [UNLOCKED] Vortoss Conclave (purple) expansion with 3 hero decks added (Deluxe). An entire expansion added! Play as the Past, Present, and Future heroes and get all their associated spec cards and the purple starting deck.

Goal 8 $150k [UNLOCKED] 4 more map cards, each with a different global rule-change. (Deluxe)

Goal 9 $160k [UNLOCKED] 2 more Codex binders (white and purple) with great art added (Deluxe)

Goal 10 $175k [UNLOCKED] Game boards upgraded to playmats with mousepad material (Deluxe)

Goal 10 $200k [UNLOCKED] A pack of 27(!) red and green token cards now a free extra for Kickstarter backers (Core + Deluxe)

Goal 11 $225k [UNLOCKED] A pack of 19(!) blue and black token cards now a free extra for Kickstarter backers (Deluxe)

Goal 12 $250k [UNLOCKED] A pack of 17(!) white and purple token cards now a free extra for Kickstarter backers (Deluxe)

Goal 13 $275k [UNLOCKED] 2 more map cards, each with a different global rule-change. (Deluxe)

Goal 14 $300k [UNLOCKED] All Codex binders pages have card pockets cut such that card removal is much easier. (Core and Deluxe)

Video Credits:Editing and graphics by Benjamin Santiago

Risks and challenges

This game has been through many years of development and testing. There isn't much risk of "not getting a good game." The risks mostly have to do with manufacturing and shipping.

I've shipped FOUR kickstarters *on time* to backers so far, so I have manufacturing and shipping pretty much figured out. The shipping will be handled by the team at Ship Naked who shipped my previous kickstarters. I think the biggest risk is delays due to manufacturing. This project is bigger and more complex than my previous projects, and it will require more setup time. Because of this, I've pushed the delivery date out a bit, so it's more consistent with other board game kickstarters, rather than the really aggressively fast turn-around time I've tried for before. In short, I think the biggest risk is really just that we're a month or two late, but I've tried to mitigate even that.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Stay up-to-date on the campaign. Thank you for considering Codex! You can increase or cancel your pledge later.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    STARTER SET ($5 off retail)

    You get the Bashing + Finesse heroes and all the cards that go with them, as well as player boards, patrol zones, and add-on/spec mini-cards for two players.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    CORE SET ($5 off retail)

    This set comes with red and green factions, as well as all the other stuff needed to play. Unlike the starter set, it includes two custom designed binders for storing cards as you play (those are your "codexes" (codices??)).

    This is a great tier to choose because it's enough to let you play the game in the exciting 3 hero vs 3 hero mode for 2-players.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    STARTER SET + CORE SET ($10 off retail)

    Comes with starter set (great for new players) and the core set (lets you experience the 3 hero vs 3 hero mode for 2-players). When playing the 3 hero mode, you can mix the starter heroes with the core set heroes for even more possibilities.

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    Pledge $95 or more About $95

    STARTER SET + CORE SET + 300 CARD SLEEVES

    You get everything in the starter set and core set, as well as 300 custom made Codex card sleeves. That's enough to protect all the cards you get, with some spare sleeves just in case.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    DELUXE SET

    This fantastic, special set will not be sold at retail. It comes with everything in the starter set and core set, as well as expansion sets that you'll be getting before anyone else can. Also includes "map" cards that change something about the game each time you play (these are exclusive to the deluxe set).

    The complete contents of this set will change as the campaign unfolds and we reach more stretch goals, so please check the main page.

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    Pledge $280 or more About $280

    DELUXE SET + 800 CARD SLEEVES

    You get the awesome Codex Deluxe set, plus 800 custom made Codex card sleeves. That's enough to protect all the cards you get, with some spare sleeves just in case.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    DELUXE SET x10 COPIES

    This is for international backers (or any backers anywhere) who want to do a group buy of 10 sets shipped to the same location in order to save on shipping. For countries outside the US / Canada / EU this will save each person about 45% on shipping! (And shipping within the US is free at this tier.)

    This Deluxe Sets will not be sold at retail. They come with everything in the starter set and core set, as well as expansion sets that you'll be getting before anyone else can. Also includes "map" cards that change something about the game each time you play (these are exclusive to the deluxe set).

    The complete contents of this set will change as the campaign unfolds and we reach more stretch goals, so please check the main page.

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Funding period

- (30 days)