@Fred_Bear Yes, Shops was a great deck choice. It was arguably the best deck in the format over the past 3 months. The problem in my opinion has to do with the type of matches being played. Having games in which my opponent routinely locks me out of taking game actions is not fun for me. Neither are the games in which I have 3 Ancient Grudges and kill everything relevant my Shops opponent plays. If these types of matches are frequent enough, I wouldn't feel compelled to play that format. Same with being Belched all the time, or losing to turn 1 Tinker-Robot every game. Though some people obviously enjoy these plays, them happening all the time isn't for me.
So much of this conversation to me sounds like people saying blue is the center of the vintage universe and that other decks have to be relegated to "meta calls," that they all just have to shift in prominence based on what blue mages typically play on any given day to adjust to other blue decks. Blue decks playing a bunch of missteps and flusters to deal with other blue decks, shops is the "spoiler." Decks go light on grave hate because they have to max out on mentor answers, time to consider dredge. The interplay between Dredge and Shops is basically boiled down to shops plays Cage because it also happens to be good against some blue lists, and Dredge plays ingot and grudge because it is basically what they have that MAYBE has some effect on a blue players jewelry as well.
I recognize blue is the dominant color because of the P9, tinker, and a few other culprits, and that likely will not change any time soon unless WOTC slips up on a card again. But every time they slip up it seems to favor blue anyways, and then blue mages get a new toy that they get a singleton of as opposed to a full suite. Hell even a card like blightsteel helped blue, when on its face it should have been a card that was better for a deck that literally specializes in rushing out high cost artifacts. A lot of the talk about shops diversifying post restriction have been around it potentially splashing blue to run tinker and pay for metamorph or get more sideboard options.
Even in this new set, blue is the clear winner with Thing in the Ice being the only thing that really shows potential. There are several other blue cards that had they just been costed slightly different or had a slightly different effect could have had the potential to be meta defining cards. Nothing in this set came close for other strategies. Shops got a pile of nothing. Dredge got Prized amalgam which they will likely not play over other options. Even if it was much better than it was and maybe came in at the same time and untapped it would maybe see play, and likely not as a full suite.
I personally hope for a day where the Vintage Meta is far more open than it is now. I would love to see a viable Burn deck, or a viable monoblack rack deck, or a Hatebears list that wasn't a budget concession but rather a solid metagame choice, because right now even when it is it usually isn't as powerful as a well positioned metadeck should be. Restricting cards from other decks is not going to help that happen, and really the restricted list itself is a flawed solution because we all know even 1 copy of a strong blue card can change everything. Ultimately it needs to be through new printings that give incentive to other decks to not run blue, and new printings that lead to decks that specifically don't want to run power (ala dredge.)
At this point pretty much any time a card is put on the restricted list, all it means is that a non blue deck was really hurt, or that a blue deck likely got more powerful because they got a new card that was way, way too powerful. I am almost convinced the only way to actually power down blue and to open the meta to more balanced play to justify some of the bannings we have seen would be to restrict the only cards blue very exclusively use that other archetypes do not, which would basically be Oath, Fetches, and True Duals.