Taxing is a poor mechanic.
It allows scrolls to have effects that are unbalanced for their costs the first time they gets played. This leads to a frontloading of the power of individual scrolls by transferring card effiency from the later plays of the scroll to the early plays. In the cases where the game doesn’t last long, this is a straight up buff and makes the entire scroll hard to balance.
As Taxing makes it especially beneficial to cast scrolls one or twice per game, scrolls with similar effects will step in to take the slots left by cutting one or two copies of the scrolls with Taxing, leaving the overpowered scroll with Taxing to be superefficient every time it is drawn and making the game more swingy depending on if you draw the unbalanced version or the fair replacement. This problem will compound over time as more sets are released, introducing effects similar to those already existing on Taxing scrolls and increasing redundancy in the decks.The dangers of a frontloaded environment
An extreme case of frontloaded power would be the restricted list in Magic (http://archive.wizards.com/Magic/TCG/Re ... sfrvintage
) for the Vintage format (where you can play with every single Magic card printed) where every competitive deck in the format commonly dedicate about somewhere between 20-30 slots to single copies of cards on the restricted list which eats in to deck building a lot and allows cards in the format that weren’t balanced with four copies in deck, but also aren’t really balanced with one copy of it either.
Granted, Magic might be a special case because of its 20+ year history but is also an example of a situation that Scrolls doesn’t need to end up in. With Scrolls being a digital game, cards can get nerfed on the fly to make sure that their power level is not oppressive to newer cards getting played. Taxing however, is creating a safe zone for overpowered cards to exist with effect at costs they are not balanced at, potentially paving way for a format where you can play low counts of extremely powerful scrolls and get a lot of discounted effects this way which would again eat into deck building options and deck variety.Case study: GO Draw and GD Control in patch 0.124GO Draw
(example decklist: http://www.scrollsguide.com/deckbuilder/#12868
) was hurt a lot by Taxing 2 getting added to Quake in patch 0124. This is in large part due to the deck having very little redundancy for removal and relying heavily on Quake. On the other hand, it’s not really Taxing with its very specific hate towards deck cycling that killed the deck - almost any change to the power level of Quake would have destroyed that deck. This is completely fine by the way, GO Draw doesn’t have to be powerful for the metagame to be fun and healthy.
However, putting Taxing on Quake did very little to affect the power level of another big cycling deck – GD Control. GD Control
was perhaps the most nerfed deck of 0.124 with Taxing added to Quake, Damning Curse and Return to Nature as well as the change to Puppet Soldier that rendered it useless in the deck. However, the deck is still very much alive and functioning, I’ve tested a tweaked build for patch 0.124 (http://www.scrolldier.com/deck/442
) in Ranked and am 8-0 so far with it. Don’t take that as a sign that the deck is overpowered, but it might be an indicator that the nerfs were ineffective.
In my opinion, this is largely because of how ineffective Taxing is at hitting decks that have redundancy, draw and resource ramping and how dangerous it is to frontload the power of individual scrolls to the first few plays of them.
In my new build that plays only two Quakes, Quake was actually buffed in the last patch because of the cost change! Quake at 5 is insanely powerful. Here, the scroll was frontloaded even further with Taxing 2 “justifying” a cost decrease.
Same thing with Damning Curse, close to the only true “Destroy” effect that is left in the game after Violent Dispersal was nerfed. This scroll laughs in the face of Magic Armor and is clearly undercosted at 4 Decay. Still, it is a fine play even at 5 or 6 resources since this play would come later in the game where resources matters less for decks like GD Control which has the draw and ramp to have enough resources where costs almost become moot at that point. Again, curbing the power level of Damning Curse would be easier if Taxing was taken off and the scroll was rebalanced to be fine at its first play, second play, third play and so on.
Notice that I still play 3 Return to Nature, despite it having Taxing. It turns out that an early Return to Nature is fantastic at only two Decay but later on the cost increase from Taxing is insignificant – the effect is still powerful and if the game went long enough for it to cost 5-6, the deck has already won. Return to Nature is probably too powerful at 2 Decay and should get changed, and the inefficient Taxing nerf is now blocking that change.
It would be better to remove Taxing from the game and to change the effects of individual scrolls to be balanced in the first place, and instead have the natural progression of the game make the effect less significant over time – a Quake on turn 6 or 7 is naturally more impactful than a Quake on turn 20 where the other player can recover from it more easily due to having more resources available to cast more scrolls with higher power than in the early parts of the game.Complexity creep
Finally, I think that the Taxing mechanic in itself is unnecessarily complicated – it requires players to not only identify the cost of scrolls by glancing at their art (which is the most common way of identification in any ccg for experienced players) but also having to doublecheck their cost to plan their turn accordingly or having to keep this information in your head. Regardless, they are spending mental resources on admin rather than on analyzing real decisions in the game.
This is made even worse in a topdecking situation – for you to make an informed decision of what to sacrifice for the turn, you need to remember the current costs of your Taxing spells without any visual clues from the game whatsoever unless you have another copy of the scroll already in hand. This is just unnecessary bookkeeping and does nothing to contribute to the fun of the game, instead it uses mental resources from the player that could be put to better use.
For beginners, I definitely don’t think that Taxing is something they should have to put any mental effort to as they are striving to get better at the game. Every new keyword or mechanic in itself does increase the complexity of the game and should not be added without this careful consideration (see New World Order in Magic for a case where this problem which was hurting the growth game a lot was identified and dealt with). On top of being another mechanic and keyword to keep track of, Taxing just so happens to be even more taxing on the mind than most other mechanics.TLDR?Remove Taxing from the game.
It will not scale over time as more scrolls increases the redundancy of deck. It doesn’t adequately fulfil the task it was presumably added to perform – hurting the late game power level of control decks.Rebalance the scrolls that currently has Taxing.
And remember to take care of each other.