Codex and Ashes

I like card games. A lot. I actually can’t really describe how much I like a good card game. Or even a bad one. I have starter packs for the Warlords card game on my shelf downstairs to prove this point. So I was quite pleased that James had time to come over and try out Codex with me and also get in a game of Ashes.

I downloaded a copy of the free PnP version of the Codex Starter Set a while ago but only managed to play it last night. I have been following the game on Kickstarter (it ends today) and the core concepts of the game really caught my attention. Codex is an RTS inspired card game (you attack your opponent’s base) that uses Sirlin’s concepts of having a level playing field and access to a full ‘toolbox’ of cards to create a card game that has a lot of tactical depth to it without the overwhelming rules text that games like Magic resort to.

We played two games last night using each of the Starter decks and James managed to thump me soundly both times. Even with the very limited card set you have in the Starter (one Hero instead of three and access to only two of the games ‘techs’) it was a very exciting game with a large number of interesting systems that acted as a break to the player’s ability to advance their plans. The more cards you play results in fewer cards being drawn. You also have to use cards to create workers to mine gold for you each turn so your hand serves as a source of workers, a future source of cards as well as the units you need to play to protect your base and attack your opponent.

A Rush strategy will leave you with no cards the next turn so you have balance that Rush with your ability to absorb an attack. As well, you need to expand your Base to build more powerful cards (Tech Levels) and those more powerful cards become wildly powerful as the game goes on and so you need to not only attack the opponent’s base but also attempt to keep your Tech Level maxed out and also attempt to destroy your opponent’s Tech Level to limit their card choices.

The possibilities for tactics are even more varied when you consider that you can mix and match Techs and Heroes. If you are interested there are a series of articles on the Sirlin Games website that explain the game better than I do but also preview the Techs and Heroes.

I was quite positive about this game but playing it has made me even more excited and I really can’t wait to get it in my hands.

Ashes from Plaid Hat Games is another great game that infuses card games with elements from other genres to come up with something unique. Ashes replaces Mana or Gold that expand over the course of the game with special dice that have symbols on the faces that you then ‘spend’ to cast spells or summon Allies or conjure creatures to fight. Ashes is a more traditional game in that the goal is to defeat your opponent and you can do this by direct or spell damage or milling their deck. When a player has to draw cards at the beginning of the turn they take damage for every card they can’t draw.

Each character in Ashes has several unique spells, a unique special ability and different values for health, the number of spell slots they have as well as the number of unit slots. Despite having the same goal, each player has a different skill-set in which to achieve that goal.

Ashes doesn’t shake up the traditional card game concept as much as Codex does but it is a very interesting game (accompanied by some fantastic art) that that forces you to adjust to your character and your opponent’s during a game. It makes you think and plan and that is always a great thing to find in a game.