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By: hamtastic, Erik Friborg
May 17 2007 3:30pm
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First of all, what is PoxNora?

PoxNora is a 1v1 turn based strategy game with collectable items called 'Runes'.  Get used to hearing about runes as they're everywhere and pretty much everything in PoxNora.

The goal of PoxNora is a simple one: lay waste to your enemy before he destroys you.  This is accomplished through the use of ‘Runes’.  There are four types of runes: Champion Runes, Spell Runes, Equipment Runes and Relic Runes.  And we'll get to those in more details through this review.

PoxNora is a Java based online game, accessible anywhere you have a web browser as long as you have the latest version of Java installed.  This also makes it great for multiple OS platform usage. 

Game Play:

Turn structure:

The first thing you'll want to do is reveal your runes for the turn.  The number of runes you can reveal is based on the game settings when the game was started.  You always want to do this first as you will make some decisions based on which random runes you reveal.

The turn based setup of this game solves a few issues that plague many online 1v1 games, most importantly the 'disconnected player'.  The way PoxNora gets around this often irritating experience is to implement a turn based timer, one that ticks down as long as it is your turn.  When that time runs out, your turn automatically passes back to the other player.

You can only activate runes on your own turn.  This makes it critical to decide which spells you’ll cast or which equipment you’ll assign to which champion ahead of time.  Preparing for your opponent’s turn will put you at a large advantage when your forces collide.

Once your non-spell runes are deployed you can move your champions and use their abilities like attacking or special abilities.  Planning ahead for your attack and rune deployement takes some time and thought.  This is where the turn timer, resource management and strategy all come together to show who is the best player.

Deploying Runes uses Nora.  Think of Nora as your magical energy.  You start off with Nora and get a default amount added back to your available Nora each turn.


You’ll also want to take advantage of the terrain of the map.  Each map has its own challenges and strategy.  For example, blocking off your opponents quickest path to your shrine may force them to go through less than optimal terrain.  Small advantages add up to tip the scales to the more prepared player.


Each deck is made up of 20 Runes which you reveal more and more of as the game progresses.  This adds an element of randomness to the game, which definitely helps its replay value.  You can play the same deck on the same field and the games will end up feeling different enough to make it worthwhile.

Adding runes to your collection:

As you play PoxNora, you’ll want to increase your collection of Runes.  There are three main ways to get more runes: random packs, trades, and from the Rune Store.  Each way has its own challenges and caveats however.  When you buy rune packs you’re getting random runes which may not help you at all.  When trading runes you have to look for good deals and have to already have decent runes to trade.  The Rune Store is only available to “Premium” members.  To become a Premium member you have to sign up for a monthly plan.  Monthly plans are either 3, 6, or 12 months long and allow you to buy Runes directly from the game provider.

Sounds and Graphics:

Most graphics were quite well done; both the rune art and the animations for the game boards.  While there were a lot of general animations for the battles each piece had its own animation for moving and remaining stationary.  The animations were vivid and well drawn and fairly easy to see.  The art on the runes was quite well done with the few exceptions on some of the spells and artifacts.  But then again, the point of artifact runes is to show the artifact so the creative space is a bit limited.

My biggest beef with the animated sprites was that it was impossible to determine which player controlled which runes in play at a glance.  If you’re watching a game between two players you have to click on the runes in play to see who controls what.  Also if two players are playing similar decks I imagine that some effort is taken to sort out which champion is which from time to time.

Below is a sample of the in game sprites:

General Concerns

Experience based rewards: As you place emphasis on casual games you take away some of the ‘fun’ of the casual game.  Since casual gamers are the lifeblood of Collectable Games they need to feel welcomed.  Without them, the market for desired items drops significantly.  To solidify my point I’ll share an experience I had while play Pox on a new free account.

I logged in, and without looking at which room I was in I joined a game with a pre made deck.  The player I was playing caught onto the fact that I was playing a starter deck in the “For Points” room and began to taunt me about being a “free points newb”, and so on.  Not a very fantastic start to the world of PoxNora.

So the only way to get better runes is to buy them outright or to take your lumps from players with already powerful runes to start upgrading your runes after the battles.  And this is the attitude for just getting casual experience that will allow you to upgrade your runes.  This has potential to be a great part of the game as a way for rewarding casual play. 

Deck building: Compared to MTGO, PoxNora’s deck editing felt cumbersome when done through the web page.  The sorting and usage of the Rune Manager was difficult as there was no way to search for runes that had certain attributes or abilities.  I could sort by a few different options, but unless I knew what the rune was that I was looking for I had no way of finding one that would do something specific.  Below is a picture of the Rune Manager interface.  The BattleGroup is the current deck and you can remove runes from it.  Then you click on the "Champions/Spells/Relics/Equipment" links to active runes you wish to have in your BattleGroup.

Ultra Rares:  Called “Exotics” in PoxNora.  Ultra rare items generally tend to separate the ‘haves’ from the ‘have nots’.  While this can drive spending and competition it has a very polarizing effect amongst communities.  If the ultra rare items are especially good it will render casual and small spending players disenfranchised after a time when there’s no longer a reason to even try to beat players with those items.

Cashing out:  The only way to cash out of PoxNora is to find someone else who is willing to buy your collection or individual runes.  While this isn’t an issue while the game is popular it does cause concern for collections once the game becomes less popular.  I couldn’t find any way to turn your collection back in to cash besides selling via an online auction.

Single Runes provided by the company: While it does allow for a base value to be set to each rune, there is always concern that a bias from the company may interfere with a market.  Also, once the game company sets a certain price for a rune there is now an expectation of value for those runes.

Special items available to "Premium Members" only: There's nothing new about a game offering a premium service to users who can afford it.  However, often times those who can't feel jaded about the fact that others have a leg up in the game.  This is also true for those who buy a premium account in PoxNora.  With the premium account you receive a Warbanner which pumps all the champions of a faction in faction based decks.  These warbanners sell on the secondary market for up to $40 and are already a contention for the player base.

PoxNora for MTGO player’s “quick guide”:

It seems that every game that shares any minor likenesses to Magic: the Gathering is automatically compared to Magic: the Gathering and I’m not one to ignore our heritage. 

The following is quick synopsis of how PoxNora would be described as if were an MTG game.

  • Everything is done at sorcery speed.  Plan and play things on your turn. 
  • Runes are Pox’s 'cards'.  You compile runes into a deck.  Decks are 20 runes.
  • Revealing runes is like drawing cards.  You can only deploy a rune if you’ve revealed it. 
  • Nora is similar to Mana.  You get more Nora each turn.  The default for each game is 40 Nora replenished but this can be set higher if you'd like.  You can also increase your Nora production for each turn by controlling Wild Nora fonts that exist on the game map.  Some champions also provide Nora each turn after they’ve been deployed similar to a (Llanowar Elf).  Unused Nora doesn’t cause Nora burn.  Unused Nora carries over from turn to turn.  Whatever you don’t use you can use on your next turn.  This allows for deployment of larger champions and bigger spells. 
  • Champions are your creatures.  You want to have easy to deploy champions as well as big powerful champions.  You must be able to put on early pressure (or maintain an early defense) while having larger, powerful champions to survive win. 
  • Spells are very similar to Magic: the Gathering spells.  One shot effects that impact permanents (champions and relics).  You have to be a bit more careful as they tend to affect all champions in their range, and sometimes you don't want them to hit your champion. 
  • Unlike Magic: the Gathering where a creature's damage is reset each turn Champions in PoxNora don't get their damage removed each turn.  Think of it more like Warcraft III damage than MTG damage. 
  • However, very much like Magic: the Gathering, you want runes of varying costs to deploy.  Think of it as a mix of low CC creatures, as well as support spells and supporting permanents. 


Much like Magic: the Gathering, resource management seems to be the key to success.  You have to plan and budget your Nora accordingly.  Do you want to deploy 2 weaker champions, or deploy a weak champion and cast a spell, or would you rather cast one large champion or do you skip spending Nora this turn to stockpile more for your next turn.

Unfortunately also like Magic: the Gathering, players with better collections have a very distinct advantage.  However as the community grows there may be certain groups who play games with just commons much like the PDC community on MTGO.

Since you can register for free and start playing with a free deck I’d definitely suggest taking a look at this unique collectable turn based strategy game.  There are enough strategy decisions to be made that creating a deck and playing it can provide a fun evening distraction.  I'd suggest reading around their forums and their site for more information before investing in the game itself.


As this is meant to be a collectable game I’m evaluating it based on its long term viability in addition to its graphics and game play elements.  For game play, graphics and effects I easily give it an 8 out of 10.  It’s a fantastic concept and a fun basis for a game.  But my concerns for the long term health of the game bring my overall score to 6 out of 10.


Web site: http://www.poxnora.com

Forums: http://www.poxnora.com/forums/front.do

All images and rights belong to Octopi Inc.


Some love by Hobo Santa (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 09/08/2008 - 14:48
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This game today is still good like it was a year ago. Good job Octopi!!!

Fun Game by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 07/18/2008 - 01:11
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After being a MTG player when Revised came out and quitting when 6th edition came out, I put in a solid 3 yrs into the game and later sold my cards like a moron.

Well later on in life I find myself craving a card game to play after playing some MMORPG's .

I knew MTG was online, looked into. Seemed like it was still gonna be rather expensive to form a collection, even online :(

So I did some quick searchs for CCG's online. Found Poxnora.

Played a couple of the free games using sample BG's. It kinda reminded me of FF Tactics while playing. I asked around, and found I could form a decent deck for under $20. The site accepts Paypal. So I bought some cards and loved every minute it from the get go.

Since I've been playing for 4mths now, a new expansion has come out, allowing you to play the computer and complete campagins to win fragments. Fragments can be used to craft Free Packs, Special Limited Edition runes, Make your cards nameable and other fun stuff. It adds a whole new aspect and "goals" for playing the game.

It's brung a Lot more people in, and the game is doing well.  




adware by username sirfrags (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 06/18/2008 - 13:14
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ive gotten alot of adware from poxnora and when i run nortan virus protection the adware comes up as a threat

i did get virus but im not sure if it was poxnora

One Correction by goldmonkee (Unregistered) (not verified) at Sat, 06/23/2007 - 12:45
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My biggest beef with the animated sprites was that it was impossible to determine which player controlled which runes in play at a glance.  If you’re watching a game between two players you have to click on the runes in play to see who controls what.


One player's sprites have a black base, the other's have a light gray base.   Might be difficult to spot on some monitors, though.

Great game by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 06/07/2007 - 12:27
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I play this game frequantly and I find it quite fun...I don't see what you all mean.

Oi! My eyes!! by hamtastic at Sat, 05/19/2007 - 11:38
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'when a general knows himself and knows his enemy, he will not be imperiled in one hundred battles.' -Sun Tzu

You have very good question, and something that we discussed in the forums prior to this article being commissioned. You can read the discussion here: http://www.puremtgo.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=293, and the above quote embodies my opinion on the subject.

The way I look at it is like this: Basically MTGO isn't the only fish in the digital sea anymore. There are other games trying to squeeze in on MTGO's collectible aspect and fight for market share with the online collecting community. This brings us to a dilemma: do we bury our heads in the sand and pretend they don't exist, or do we investigate them to see if they are a threat or perhaps even a great thing to have in coexistence? The only way to know that is if we take the time to look and share our experiences.

This article was the first of a few that will be coming from different authors about other games that share something with MTGO. Be it collectible aspects, online TCG's or what have you. I think that these are things that we as MTGO'ers really should know something about, even if we never join the other games or communities.

? by sliver heir at Sat, 05/19/2007 - 02:22
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Pretty fun game by mtgotraders at Thu, 05/17/2007 - 16:21
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The game itself is pretty fun but the deckbuilding is a HUGE pain. Also trading is a complete joke. I wish the game was not written in java also but oh well. Still when your tired of MTGO it's a good break but doesn't come close to mtgo.

About the java... by hamtastic at Thu, 05/17/2007 - 16:23
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I noticed that this game was a resource HOG. It's sucked up about 400 megs of ram (200 physical 200 virtual). It may need less if less is available but I have to admit that I was stunned when I saw its usage stats.

by gnawph (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 05/18/2007 - 00:35
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I've actually played this before, was fun if you can get a non quitting player.

Too bad its such a resource hog.

Costs by hamtastic at Thu, 05/17/2007 - 16:15
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You can play for free using pre-made decks, but you can't upgrade the runes in them (called 'forging'). If you decide to buy packs, it's 3.00 for a 10 rune pack. But you *have* to have 20 runes to build a deck, so at least $6. However those are all random so your deck will be 20 random runes, and well, most likely crappy. So in order to get better runes for your deck you have to try to trade, but can't as you will likely only have a couple of decent runes. So then what? You can either try to buy runes from other players, or go 'Premium' for a monthly cost and get access to their rune store.

by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Thu, 05/17/2007 - 16:00
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wait so how much does it cost to get started?

Sorry for the length... by hamtastic at Thu, 05/17/2007 - 15:37
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This article clocked in around 2k words as there was a lot to cover before I could get to the basis for my review. All in all I think the game itself is fun but I have serious worries about it in the long run, especially how the commerce side is configured for it to be both a collectable game and a membership game.

Mäh. by Hollow0n3 at Thu, 05/17/2007 - 15:43
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The article is very friendly worded and a good read.
I got a free account when the forum-members began to talk about pox..
Today I take a look again and everything changed.. and the trading system is mostly wrecked by the improvements, to me it looks like they try to run a game that is based on collectible runes like a MMORPG, and that seems to wreck it.
Single rune store with prices that change based on demand? Seems dangerous, especially since the creditsystem is replaced by the almighty $-system.
Before those changes I played a few rounds to get a feeling for it, and talked to people about the game, some were evcen considering pdc-style armys after I explained the concept..
Now it seems that this won't be possible anymore, outside of games with friends, but..
Overall, it is not looking like I will spend any money anytime soon on this.

This article is very easy to by How to draw Yoda (not verified) at Wed, 08/19/2009 - 00:15
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This article is very easy to read and understand and the main thing regarding discussion of the game is just fabulous. Well animations are getting high-Fi so I just hope that it gets pretty well and just waiting for it new version.

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good by patriciabrown at Thu, 04/06/2023 - 02:41
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Pox Nora offers an interesting take on the turn-based strategy genre. It offers the addictive nature of tactical strategy with the zen-like

PoxNora is a turn-based by patriciabrown at Sun, 03/12/2023 - 21:04
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PoxNora is a turn-based strategy game Garten Of Banban that was originally released in 2006 by the game development studio Octopi.

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Deep strategy, captivating action, and special customization ovo game system are all present in "PoxNora." New participants may find the game overwhelming, and the user interface is not always clear.