Bringing the Fight to 'Shops

The first step in fighting Workshop decks with a blue-based cantrip deck in our new metagame is most certainly examining the mana base. Here is a deck I have been having success with (against non-'Shops decks):

Using this as a starting point, how many mana sources should be played? Examining the Top 8 lists (albeit, they are Oath lists, necessitating 4 Orchards) shows 22 to 25 mana sources. Is it correct add a Plains or Island as well as the two off color Moxen? Should one off-color Mox be included in the main with the additional basic and remaining Mox come out of the sideboard in 'Shops matchups? Are more drastic measures needed in overhauling the mana base?

I think if a main goal of yours is to fight shops you will want to start by cutting some of those missteps ... maybe run just 2 instead?

@themonadnomad I understand where you are going, redesigning the dead cards in game one may be the next step. Currently focused on the mana base but wanted to give context with a full decklist.

I think you want to try to run 2 basics MINIMUM - but I would lean more towards 3 basics to limit your exposure to wasteland...

My list felt comfortable against shops. Just sayin'.

@13nova said in Bringing the Fight to 'Shops:

My list felt comfortable against shops. Just sayin'.

What did you play?

@griselbrother My list is in my 10th/2nd last report. But it was 4 Snapcaster Jeskai prepped to survive the early game to get to by force after board.

Been doing really well against shops in tournament practice with a Sylvan Grow deck (i.e. Mentor, 2 Seeker, 1 pyromancer, 1 managorger) with maindeck Abrade. Since the maindeck is otherwise geared towards blue vs. blue, the sideoboard is quite heavily geared towards shops with Ancient grudges and nature's claims in addition to stony silence and sorcerous spyglass.

@kistrand Appreciate the comment. Can you elaborate on your mana base? How many sources are you running? All Moxen? Number of basics and which? Do you run colorless sources (Library, Strip, Sol Ring, etc.)?

As a Jeskai deck, you have important cards for Workshops in all three colors, which makes the mana trickier. Ultimately how you build your sideboard is going to clarify things a little. Some things to consider:

Total mana

I played a Grixis deck in many ways similar to this (with Young Pyromancer) at champs. I was happy with 24 total sources, but I would have liked space for 25. My curve was a little higher and I had more artifact mana, so you could likely get away with less ... but not much less.


When evaluating basics, you care most about the lands you need to expose early.

It's very reasonable to assume from this list that you would want to cast a Preordain or a Swords to Plowshares against Shops on the first turn.

It's also very reasonable that you would want to cast a Pyroblast on the first turn, but not against Workshops, and if you're holding up Pyro against an unknown opponent, you don't have to crack the fetch until you're sure what they're on.

Given this, Plains seems more important in your deck than Mountain. Consider, if you use a Volcanic Island to play a turn 3 Dack Fayden, steal a creature, and they Wasteland it, you're not really far behind ... you don't need access to more red mana next turn. If you use a Tundra on turn 1 to play a Swords to Plowshares, that's another story entirely.

Post board all of this can change if you're running cards like Smelt, Ingot Chewer, or multiple By Force. This in and of itself is a reason to run Fragmentize over Smelt, but there are tradeoffs there of course.

For a long time my Jeskai Mentor decks (pre-and post Gush and Mentor) have all settled on 2 Island, 1 Plains, 1 Mountain, and 4 Flooded Strand, 3 Scalding Tarn to find them. usually with the mountain in the sideboard. This is based on an anti-shops strategy of at least 7 one-drop white removal spells 2 Dack Fayden, 2-ish Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and 3-ish By Force.

I'm not totally convinced this plan is effective post Thorn of Amethyst however, and different cards require different lands.

Artifact Mana

With fewer Sphere effects post-Thorn, accelerants might be less important for a deck like this one with a fairly low curve. Still, 7 Spheres is a lot, and plays like Snapcaster Mage -> Abrade are pretty worthless if you wait until turn 4 to do them. I like having the extra Moxes but it's not clear. In the past I've run Sol Ring over an off-color Mox to punch through lock pieces, which is worth considering. Unfortunately Stony Silence adds a lot of tension to running more artifacts than you need to. Personally I'm not a fan of Stony Silence against Workshop decks and I would sideboard the card out ... whether or not you feel the same way will of course impact how many artifacts you want.

Mana Curve

There isn't much to say here, your curve is pretty low which should help you. You're not running so many expensive cards that you need to cut anything just because of the mana cost.

I'll add a "Fighting Shops" section to my report tonight if I remember. I built my deck with that matchup specifically in mind.

@pugsuperstar sure. 16 lands in total. Only one basic island (it's a four-color deck after all). 8 fetches (important with Sylvan and JTMS to shuffle away unwanted cards) spread out across strand, delta, misty and tarn. 2 tundra, 2 volcanics, 2 trops. Strip mine and Library. All moxen (lotus of course) and sol ring. But I don't feel it's the mana base which this deck's strength against shops. Lifelink on Seeker of the way has helped many times, and and also getting token blockers with either Mentor or Pyromancer. Hydra is really hard for shops to beat if it gets to grow a bit. I also have 2 snapcasters which often help to ambush a revoker or foundry inspector. Post-sideboard, as I wrote, I bring in eight cards, 1 stp, 1 stony, 1 sorcerous, 3 grudges, 2 claims and take out dead cards in the matchup (pyroblasts, fluster, probe, missteps and usually one sylvan library).

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@kistrand spyglass costing 2 is rough, and stony silence does more against your mana base than it does against them. I do like grudge as well as claim, but you are stretching your mana base making all that work.

I had 1 of each basic, sol rong, and my sideboard plan literally just removed dead cards for more cards in the match up, so I didn't dilute what my deck was doing, just made it 10 times better in the matchup

@13nova Stony silence is probably the best card out there against workshops. The ability to hurt their mana base, ballista, revoker and walker is hard to understate.

@John-Cox Man, I disagree hard about that. Stony silence makes your mana less explosive, and still lets them make big monsters. Yes in Delver it might be a good card in the matchup, but "best card against workshops", I think in general terms you are looking for things that can devastate their boards.

In the abstract, I think the most powerful card against shops is probably something like Pulverize, but that requires a pretty dedicated deck building effort to be plausible. In most decks cards like By Force and Meltdown or Hurkyl's Recall if you can win during the window it creates, seem way better than stony silence to me.

last edited by garbageaggro

@john-cox said in Bringing the Fight to 'Shops:

@13nova Stony silence is probably the best card out there against workshops. The ability to hurt their mana base, ballista, revoker and walker is hard to understate.

Slowing down there manabase does nothing when they run 4x Inspector, only have 4 Spheres that actually impact them, and still overrun you with 2/2s.

Pithing Needle is much better in that it can stop their Ravager, Ballista, or more importantly a lot of times, Wasteland and Ballista. It can stop the Steel Overseer if necessary, as well. To give you an idea, I cut Stony Silence entirely from my Jeskai list, instead running Sol Ring.

@13nova Thanks for the reply, I truly appreciate that experienced players take the time to give advice to us mortals : ) . I use spyglass to battle deathrites too and wanted to avoid missteps and thus opted for it over pithing needle. But I agree that costing two is less ideal against shops. I've also thought about stony silence and especially the risk of ruining my own mana development. I guess, in my limited and non-competitive experience, silence has been both good and meh against shops. Sometimes it has both nullified their mana (if they miss on multiple Mishra's workshops/sol lands) and preemptively shut down ballistas/ravagers. Ballistas are especially troublesome because Sylvan tends to get you rather low on life. Other times, though, I did not even want to cast it. Silence also plays a double role in my sideboard and the main target there is Paradoxical outcome decks. But I think you are right that it is not the best solution against shops.

I have enjoyed this discussion about fighting 'Shops and certainly have a couple of great takeaways from it. I have updated my mana base to the following:

In addition to this, I have cut Stony Silence from the main (it is in the sideboard for the time being) and a Preordain from the main. I have swapped the Abrade for a Fragmentize.

@pugsuperstar said in Bringing the Fight to 'Shops:

I have enjoyed this discussion about fighting 'Shops and certainly have a couple of great takeaways from it. I have updated my mana base to the following:

In addition to this, I have cut Stony Silence from the main (it is in the sideboard for the time being) and a Preordain from the main. I have swapped the Abrade for a Fragmentize.

Only change I'd make to your manabase is making the Deltas into Tarns, and the Strip Mine to a Mountain.

I felt that every time I stripped a Workshop, I fell further behind, and while it does feel great to get a Library, the odds of you being at parity by that point are slip.

Keep Abrade. Fragmentize doesn't kill Leovold and Deathrite Shaman, and it also doesn't kill the original precursor golem, which can be huge.

@13nova I agreed with most of your points. I use Polluted Delta as I do not own Scalding Tarns. This is why I swapped Abrade for Fragmentize.

I will consider changing out the Strip Mine for another basic once I buy some Scalding Tarns.

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