Codex Naturalis Review


22 October 2021
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Compact tins of fun

The folks at Bombyx sure know how to package a product. From the long-running series of Timeline games to the joyfully toy-like Get Bit, these compact tins of fun have been reeling in gamers for years, thanks in no small part to their collectability. The latest in the line though arguably possesses an even greater level of allure in the form of Maxime Morin’s fabulous illustrations. 

But it’s not all style over substance – there’s some wonderfully smart and tricky card-play at work here too. 

On paper, Codex Naturalis is a simple hand-management pattern-building game. On the table, however, the game unleashes a sprawling tableau of bold art and glittering gold, with each new delicately foil-finished card prompting puzzlement over its optimum placement.

Turns roll by in a comfortably simple two step manner: play a card then draw a card. These beautiful cards must be placed in a way that covers at least one corner of another, creating a dazzling lattice-like display of sylvan symbols. Apparently, this represents some form of ecological research, albeit abstracted to a point where it hardly matters.

Each player has a hand of three, with drawn cards coming from a central display of resource cards and gold cards. Essentially, resource cards litter players’ tableaus with the iconography needed to play certain point-scoring gold cards, and contribute toward public and private end-game goals. 

There’s a silent, reflective quality to Codex Naturalis’ gorgeous tableau building and lack of player interaction – a trait often criticised in similar games. Here, its solitary nature just feels right, and great for new players or those averse to conflict. As a quick filler on games night or a quiet evening with your partner, Codex Naturalis’ tantalising tin is a perfect fit. 

CHAD WILKINSON

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Designer: Thomas Dupont

Publisher: Bombyx

Time: 20-30 minutes

Players: 2-4

Ages: 7+

Price: £12


This article originally appeared in issue 60 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

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