Why don’t people play Scourge of the Enochians?
Is that the sum of my thinking? No, but it is the most frequent question I have when I see Embrace decks win.
To be fair, I have seen winnie decks run Not to Be in addition to The Uncoiling more recently. Still, I see people run 1 or 2 cap support vampires like it’s not a thing. Let’s take a look at some winning decks.
38 players. Five 1 or 2 caps with no ability to olden. No counter for Scourge. Does the deck need the dorks to function? Hardly. However, in a world full of Enochians, that same lack of need for the support staff means a reasonable decision to go to 3. That slows the deck some. Maybe enough that it doesn’t win, in Enoch World. In “oh, right Scourge exists” world, picking off the chumps might also have led to defeatitis.
20 players. Only five 1 caps, but five crypt slots were spent on Shalmath, so a deck much more dependent upon dork support. Even an Inceptor.
23 players. Three 2 caps and 19 babies. Does run The Uncoiling but not Not to Be.
Don’t feel inclined to pull out the decks from smaller tournaments. Yes, limiting to 20+ tournaments runs into sample size issues, but it also focuses on results of tournaments of significant size.
Of course, since we don’t know the lists of every deck or the results of every game, it’s entirely possible that Scourge did see meaningful play in these events. Much of my surprise is from local play, including when the LA players make it up. Sure, The Barrenness deck running around uses it, but that’s a special case. I’m more wondering why I don’t see it in 75% of the decks people play.
Besides people hating winnies and besides crimping babymaker decks, who doesn’t want to grief Tupdogs? Who doesn’t want to pick off first turn Anarch Converts? Who doesn’t despise Chandler Hungerford playing Dual Form … uh, yeah, who?
Do I always play it? Nah. Ignoring decks that actually put out dorks, I may make a judgment call that my deck already griefs Tupdogs or whatever. Then, hardly any of my decks get played in tournaments – I’m willing to not try to win in casual play to preserve slots for funner plays. Actually, this philosophy applies to tournament play just as much.
Does it hit often? Nah. I rarely see Scourge impact. This is one of the primary reasons hoser cards are insipid. They rarely hose anything. Yet, the reason one plays it is that when it does hose something, it obliterates the deck. (Another problem with hosers is that most hosers don’t obliterate hard enough, so might as well play good cards.)
As much as I love me casual Tupdogs, Tupdog decks must be hosed out of existence. It’s just righteous and pure. Speaking of Tupdogs, Tension in the Ranks and Gran Madre, people? Gran Madre is offensive in how annoying it is in any deck, and it was relatively scarce for a long time in these parts, but now that folks have them, it’s an odd choice that people don’t play such an annoying card that does more than devastate Tupdogs. Tension is a more limited play, but where Fame drops all of the time, Tension should be dropping out of more decks, obviously especially combat decks, for the “I hate Tupdogs” and “I hate Nocturns” impact.
What is a hoser?
This comes up often, but I made a comment recently about my changing argument on the subject. Defining a hoser is a pain. Isn’t a Blood Doll a hoser against pool loss? Isn’t Life in the City a hoser against blood denial?
The first thing, which I think all right-thinking people can agree on, is that a hoser is an answer. Though, even that’s a bit of a problem. Let’s say card ABC wins you the game if your opponent (assume two-player for simplicity) plays deck MNO. That seems kind of hoserish in that the card is narrow and is dependent upon the play of something else, but if you win just by playing it, it’s kind of a threat more than an answer. For instance, Magic has Karma. Karma does damage based on number of Swamps you control. That doesn’t stop the player playing Black, that just causes him to lose (eventually, normally).
In the above paragraph, we do get more that a hoser is a card that depends upon the opponent(s) playing some card or type of card. What about some type of strategy? Well, conveniently, this helps differentiate hosers from other effects. Bringing out lots of 1 caps and Computer Hacking is based on specific cards, so Ancilla Empowerment or Scourge of the Enochians are hosers. Bleeding is not dependent upon particular card play, so Deflection, Telepathic Counter, pool gain are not hosers. Rather, they are defenses.
There is some spectrum of defense to hoser or, if you buy the argument that hosers can also be threats and not just answers like Karma or Anarchist Uprising, offense to hoser. Protected Resources is more of a defense to Archon Investigation’s hoserness. Telepathic Counter may get slotted into a deck because you hate Night Moves/Spying Mission decks or Night Moves/Enticement decks, in which case it’s acting more like a hoser, but it’s so general in its defensive properties, I don’t know how it would be claimed a hoser. Archon Investigation, meanwhile, ends up serving a metagame role as a defense against the fact that bleeding for a lot is way too easy in the game, but it’s function is hoserish as decks can normally avoid it, making it a poor defense outside of Anu decks.
The point wasn’t just to talk about Scourge. Scourge was just the most blatant example of people not running the tools available to mess with decks they hate. Another startling example is how little Imbued hate people run.
After Imbued came out and dominated the tournament scene until cards got banned, a ridiculous number of Imbued/ally hosers got made. My list for most relevant in the close aftermath, obviously, more got made later, like Invoke Poison Glands:
Chair of Hades
Hard Case [how many non-Imbued allies would lose stuff?]
Liquefy the Mortal Coil
Prison of the Mind
How often do these see play? Maybe in your metagame, you expect them. I don’t expect any, though I’m quite fond of Set’s Curse as it also hoses winnies. I’m more inclined to run Chair of Hades these days, requirements permitting, and I think about Cobra Fangs, maybe even slot them for decks I haven’t gotten around to pulling the cards for.
Then, during the Summer of Imbued dominance, in the first tournament I played at Week of Nightmares, I ran Mercy for Seth in my Harbinger vote deck. And, yes, I’ve played in a tournament game where it went “Play Break the Code. Discard Break the Code. Discard Break the Code.” with three players in succession. And, Theft of Vitae was all the rage before Memories of Mortality got banned.
On the other hand, what about Tenebrous Form and Entombment? I’m not surprised by Entombment out of a deck that can play it. I’m surprised by how rare it is. Obtenebration just owns Imbued, even if Veil of Darkness is a counterownage for the Imbued. Not that I see that anymore.
People whine about Imbued constantly, but if they aren’t playing the cards to hose them, why whine about it? It’s like hating being bled for 5 at stealth and not running any bleed bounce or Archon Investigations. Who’s to blame?
Sure, Prison of the Mind is a pretty ridiculous choice just to hate on Imbued. It’s not like Dementation decks don’t already have an answer in the form of the “I bleed you with Kindred Spirits at a bunch of stealth and you can only Champion one of these bleeds before you die” strategy. But, if your deck is screwed by Imbued, maybe try playing cards that eviscerate them.
Yet, I sympathize with the idea that loading a deck full of hosers to counter every annoying thing possible is not only counterproductive but unfun. I don’t want to run Tranquility just to not get ‘schrecked and run The Diamond Thunderbolt to deal with Form of Corruption. Nor do I have any appreciation of the Event war involving The Uncoiling and The Fourth Cycle versus all of the annoying Events in the game.
And, it’s also possible to metagame without hosers. Carna + Theft was a common answer to Imbued and somehow doesn’t suck otherwise. Anarchist Uprising, Ancilla Empowerment, and sort of Domain Challenge are ways to take counters out of the game in bunches, which is not just an anti-winnie play.
But, some things are a pain without a sweet, sweet hoser. Like being inundated with 1 caps, even worse when the 1 caps have two superior disciplines, built in rush, replace themselves, and effortlessly hit for 3 agg that can’t be dodged or combat ended.
Scourge, my friends. It’s not just a stain remover. It’s a way of life.