(Never mind that I can leave my pick with someone, it's the principle of the matter!)
(Stating the obvious, but all characters are exactly like their mainline Marvel counterparts, unless otherwise noted, and there are definitely a few significant changes. Also, in this draft, we've established that SHIELD as an organization doesn't exist. Instead, they're an NYPD operation headed up by Captain Gwen Stacey that's in charge of dealing with/investigating the so-called Hellgate in NYC.)
So Hearthstone did an interesting thing for their "Tavern Brawl" format (where they basically make up a variant play mode for a week): they borrowed the "Challengestone" format that a Hearthstone streamer developed for a tournament some time back. You're only allowed to put spells with an even-numbered mana cost in your deck, and you're only allowed to put minions with an odd-numbered attack value in your deck.
The interesting thing is how the minion restriction really changes up the board game. Since minions can only deal damage in odd-numbered increments, even-numbered amounts of health on a minion means that you can't get rid of it by using just one minion; you need something else on top. And that got me thinking about number spreads in games.
In default Hearthstone, the number spread for damage and health values is far more varied. This means that it's a lot harder to figure out rules of thumb for whether a given stat line is good or bad, and a ton of it centers on any dominant always-played minions that are in the meta. For example, Piloted Shredder, which has 4 attack. Because Piloted Shredder has 4 attack, any 4-health minions will trade unfavorably with it, usually.
That uneven-ness in the numbers area is something important to keep in mind in any game you're designing that uses numbers. Are numbers uniformly distributed? Are there reasons that some numbers are better than others? What would happen if you placed restrictions on the numbers, such as "values can only be odd/even" or "values must correspond to elements in the Fibonacci Series"? What if different types of cards have different interacting stat distributions? (For instance, in a combat game, what if units only had odd-numbered health and even-numbered attack, but special abilities had damage corresponding to Fibonacci Series numbers--1 damage, 2 damage, 3 damage, 5 damage, 8 damage?)
It starts to move game stats out of the realm of "bigger is better" and into the realm of "what is Value X capable of doing?", which I feel is always a good place to aim for. Instead of just doing number-crunching, you have to look at how the pieces of the game interact.
(For example, only two character classes wind up with access to reliable board-wipe spells, because all the other board-wipe spells in the game have an odd-numbered mana cost.)
There's something really interesting that Codex does, and a very particular reason why I'm keen on it, and that's the "teching" system, or what seasoned gamers might know as the deckbuilding mechanic from Dominion et al.
Deckbuilding-as-you-play is nothing new; Dominion came up with it, and there's been plenty of games which followed in its footsteps. Obviously, it's inspired by how CCGs work (customizing your deck by picking cards from a pool), but it solves a few problems that appear in CCGs.
The most obvious problem it solves is dead cards. In traditional CCGs, you have to put all of the cards you want into your deck ahead of time, then you draw from your deck and get a random selection of those cards. So what happens if you draw cards that you can't use until the late-game? Well, you're in a bad spot, and a lucky opponent who drew cards they can use immediately will probably steamroller you. To patch this, CCGs generally use a "mulligan" rule that lets you redraw your opening hand, but it's a patch. Deckbuilding games fix this by removing the problem entirely. Since you add cards to your deck as you play, there's no dead card problem because the late-game cards aren't even in your deck during the early game!
Another big problem that CCGs can run into is the problem of being locked into your deck. Putting a deck together somewhat locks you into a particular set of strategies, which means that if you're matched against someone who's picked strategies which work very well against yours, it's an uphill battle, maybe insurmountable. Magic introduced the "sideboard" mechanic (where you swap cards into your deck from a predetermined pool) to patch this, but deckbuilders get around this by letting you adapt your deck as you play--the cards you add to your deck can be adapted to your opponent.
So what does Codex do? It slides deckbuilding into a traditional CCG framework. Instead of buying cards and then adding them to your deck, you can actually add any card you want to your discard pile; you pay when you play the card. In addition, it restricts the card pool that you can draw from, instead of all players using the same card pool (like in Dominion). So instead of building a deck ahead of time, you have to choose which three "specializations" in the game that you'll be able to deckbuild from, and that limits your options but still lets you adapt.
It's really a clever use of the mechanism, and I think it's cool that the design takes a mechanic that was inspired by CCGs, and then retro-applies it back into a CCG-style game.
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