The premise behind PoxNora is fairly simple. It takes place in the world of Pox, where the continents have been divided and the inhabitants are constantly at war. Disagreements that used to be resolved by the playing of a harmless game are now waged via fantastical creatures, spells, and artifacts that are collectively denoted by Runes that can be summoned to the field of battle.
"Nora is the magical energy that allows you to summon Runes onto the field of battle."
In gameplay, PoxNora is described as a collectible, turn-based, tactical fantasy game. The battles are fought between players, though there is the option to practice against bots. When a player logs in to game, they will find themselves in the lobby, which is a list of games in progress, games waiting to begin, and other players. There are three options available to join a game: A player can press the Quickplay button to be automatically paired with another player; they can join someone else’s game by pressing the Join button in any of the pending games’ status bar; or they can create an entirely new game.
When a player first starts out, they must use a pre-configured pox battle group given to new players. These pre-configured Pox are not part of a player’s collection and as such cannot be upgraded. But as the game progresses players will collect and customize a Pox to call their own. Runes are collected via many methods including trade with other players, auctions, and purchase.
Pox battle groups contain exactly 20 Runes which can be viewed using the Rune Manager option from the main screen. Runes are divided into four basic subsets of cards: Champions, the soldiers of a player's army; Spells, magical effects invoked by a player; Relics, stand-alone artifacts with special effects; and Equipment - weapons, armor, and other artifacts that Champions may wield. In addition to this, each Rune comes with its own specific traits.
The player will find himself on the battle map when a match begins. At the top, a timer ticks the remaining time left in your (or your opponent’s) turn. It also shows your pox battle group, the collection of Runes that you can summon. At the bottom of the screen are the Rune portrait window, the Champion attribute column, the information window, the action window, and the chat window. The Rune portrait window shows the artwork of a particular Rune. If that Rune happens to be a Champion type Rune, the stats and Special Abilities of that Champion will be shown in the Champion attribute column. If the Rune is any of the other type, the information window will display the Rune’s rules text. The action window is an area that displays a Champion’s current number of Action Points, any activated special abilities, as well as a list of actions the Champion may take. The last window is the chat window which is used for chat between players but also for logging the progress of the battle.
Because the Runes in your Pox battlegroup shown at the top of the screen are initially concealed, on the first turn you are allowed to uncover three Runes. On subsequent turns, a player may reveal two. Each Rune has a Nora Cost. Nora is the magical energy that allows you to summon Runes onto the field of battle. The amount of Nora a player currently has available is shown in the Nora Bank display at the top of the screen. To play a Rune, a player must have sufficient Nora in his or her Nora Bank. Champion and Relic Runes played can be deployed anywhere in a player’s deployment zone, which is an area around a player’s base of operations called the Shrine. Spell Runes that are used may be either targeted, in which case the player gets to choose where it goes, or untargeted. Equipment Runes are equipped by drag and drop onto the desired Champion. Besides casting Runes, a player also controls any Champions he has on the field. AP begins to accumulate by a Champion when they are placed on the battlefield and must be spent to use one or more of the actions available to the Champion. The basic actions are moving, attacking, and activating special abilities. Also, each Rune has a cool-down rating which tells how many turns after the Rune is played or destroyed that a player must wait before being able to use that Rune again.
Since Nora is essential to victory, sources of Nora on the battle map called wild Nora fonts become contention points. Wild Nora fonts contribute Nora to whichever player currently occupies the font. Also, when a player occupies a Nora font it adds to the area of a player’s deployment zone. The entire object of the game is to destroy the opponent’s Shrine area before he destroys yours. How to go about that is entirely up to the player. When the match is over, each Champion on the field is given experience points. Winners receive double experience. When a Champion has experience points, a player may upgrade the Rune’s stats and abilities through the Rune Forge. Upgrading makes your Champion more powerful, but the more powerful the Champion the higher the Nora cost. Any upgrades made to a Rune can be undone with a Reset Token that will return the Rune to its original state.
PoxNora is available to PC gamers starting on August 1st, 2006. Beginning PoxNora is free, but players can purchase additional Rune packs to give them access to more Runes.