The Curious Case of Mishra's Workshop

@kingleovold Exactly. And that is my point. People now are essentially just leading with the statement that Shops is the "best deck" as evidence toward the conclusion that it needs to be restricted... In your case, if you are advocating for restriction (which you didn't actually do in your post - I'm really trying to not put words in your mouth here, so sorry if you feel like I am at any point), the argument goes, "it has been the best deck for 3 years, therefore it needs restriction." Again, if you aren't saying that exactly, I'm sorry, but more generally, I would say that's a pretty standard example of the sort of argument that gets made...

And that is a crazy standard. Imagine if that process actually played out for a moment, and we bought the logic that "its the best deck, therefore restriction." Presumably the restriction would work, in that Shops would no longer be the "best deck" and then there would be another "best deck"... then what? I think we all can see where this is going. Mesoamerican ball game with human sacrifice to the winner... (Sidenote: Mesoamerican ball game is deeply cool. First sport ever to use a rubber ball.)

So, let's try this logic instead. Shops is the best deck...

No, That's it. Just shops is the best deck... big deal. It should be the best deck. Why wouldn't it be? They printed Trinesphere, Chalice, Ravager, Lodestone, Revoker, Metamorph, Ballista... and Cage (a really key card). Before those cards, they printed Hurkyl's and Energy Flux and... what Null Rod I guess. During the time of printing those pro Shops cards I mentioned, they gave anti-shops players... what? Dack? Stoney Silence which is probably worse than the already very medium Null Rod. Abrade? Ancient Grudge? So yeah, no kidding guys, the Shops deck is great...

So what? It should be. It should be the best deck, but it's still hardly unbeatable. You can for sure find a deck that is good against it (see the Oath decks from Champs). But people generally don't... The meta right now is like entering a paper rock scissors tourney where 50% of the field just insists on throwing Scissors almost all of the time, and then complaining that Rock is the best throw... Right. Rock is the best throw. Stop the presses.

So what should happen? Well over time, they should just print better answers to a deck that plays only artifacts... (Really Wizards, there isn't a better way to punish that? Come on...and don't gimme that, they don't print cards for Vintage. I know they say that because they want to be bound to no responsibility at all... but what was Cage? So fine. Don't "print cards for vintage", just do more of whatever you want to call Cage. Do that. Call it what you want wizards.) And secondly, people should wake up to the fact that Shops is the "best deck", but also realize that there isn't anything inherently wrong with that, and just adjust. Mainboard more Grudge and fewer Missteps? Run Oath more? Mainboard more Explosives. Sudden Shock? (Surprisingly good against Aggro Shops, and known to be decent against tempo blue.)

As blue players, we should be trying to cut the corner on Shops more, and instead of just focusing on the mirror, we should be trying to find more cards that are great against Shops, and still workable against blue, instead of playing cards that are very good against blue and have no writing against Shops... then being aghast at how strong this deck is. If one really thought Shops was that strong... why run those 4 Missteps?

But sure. Shops' position in the meta is great. Its recent printings are great. It's win % recently is great... though not unbeatably great. So what?

Seriously though, the standard of, this deck is the best, therefore restriction... wow. Not a good standard for obvious reasons.

@hierarchnoble I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I tend to agree with Rich Shay on this one. If vintage was a magic online only format and isn't the format that it is and was more in line of something like Modern or Standard, Shops should be restricted. It's clearly above and beyond better than a lot of restricted cards. It's not even close.

However, vintage is a very unique format. It's not a GP format. It's not a pro tour format. It's a fringe format that some of us are extremely passionate about. Typically, I would say we can't consider player's emotional attachments into b/r considerations. However, something like Mishra's Workshop, in my opinion, is different. You may feel different. You may look at it a lens without emotional decisions. I can't blame players for that one. However, I cannot to be honest.

It's the format where people spend 10,000+ dollars on a deck. I have a 2 Card Monte deck- probably the most expensive deck in the format. I own all of the P9 and 4 Mishra's Workshop. I currently own zero dual lands, no Force of Wills, and 1 single fetch land (wooded foothills). It would be extremely frustrating to have 2,000 dollars of that deck be invalidated. The deck could still be playable sure and, yes, I could sell those cards and get blue duals and be back in a blue deck (not the worse thing in the world). However, what about the players that don't own blue duals or the blue only p9 cards? It may not be feasible for them.

If it was restricted, I'm not sure I would continue playing paper vintage. There's a great chance I would, I'm just honestly not sure.

last edited by mdkubiak

My thoughts, as they have always been for the past few years, is to restrict workshop. I think a lotus (perhaps the most broken mana card) that stays every turn and just TAPS for 3....that you can play up to 4 just insane. If we were to say "Workshop decks, and only workshop decks, are allowed to run 4 black lotus," everyone would think that was madness. Yet that's exactly what they do now, except the lotuses don't sacrifice themselves. I am actually against restriction as much as possible, but I think with a few key restrictions, you could remove a ton from the restricted list. Give shops back golem, chalice, and thorn (the later two also helping fish and eldrazi decks) in trade for workshop. That's a 3-for-1.

Not only could you unrestrict more, but cards like ballista become safer and there'd be no need to restrict it. It also opens design space to print further 4-drop broken artifacts. With 4 workshop, printing another golem-level power card is dumb, but with 1 workshop, it becomes a possibility. I understand workshop players love their workshops, but they could get back all the restricted toys plus many more to come in the future, if they'd be willing to go down to 1 and some sol-lands. I hear people saying 1x shop makes workshop decks unplayable...and yet eldrazi did just that with 4 thorn, 4 chalice, and sol lands very successfully.

Eldrazi even ran a 1-of golem most of the time, so it's not like 4-drops are impossible without workshop. Eldrazi temple was a "sol-land" that could only cast eldrazi...otherwise it was a colorless derpland. Without chalice and thorn, Eldrazi is essentially dead and fish took a big hit. Why are we okay eradicating a competitive budget deck and nerfing fish just to hang on to the dredge/FoW/workshop triangle that is Vintage? I'd similarly restrict bazaar for much the same reason....and would even be up for restricting FoW if blue became too strong. I think if you restrict the RIGHT card, you can avoid several other restrictions and stop constricting design space for new cards. Why this need to hang on to workshop if it means unrestricting all the tools shops lost already? Everyone sees picking off one tool at a time has had almost no effect on shops' dominance. All shops players grumble every time they have a toy restricted (yet blue has a massively long list of restricted spells, and shops players are mainly fine with that). Lose 3 workshops and get back all your toys and never lose another toy again...and get new toys printed. That seems the best course to me.

edit I just read the website posted earlier:
Looks like Demars copied my post, went back in time, and beat me to the punch ;). Says almost exactly what I said.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

@thewhitedragon69 In regards to the Budget Eldrazi, it doesn't always run Thorn of Amethyst. A lot of them ran null rod instead. Especially Jaco's list. I can't agree that the deck is eradicated with a restricted Thorn of Amethyst.

*EDIT: However, yes, in the case that a restriction of Workshop does happen, I would hope a lot of those pieces go back to being unrestricted.

last edited by mdkubiak

Can't wait to tap my lotus land and try to cast Time Walk, Ancestral, Brainstorm, Dig through Time, Treasure Cruise and Jace. When my incredulous opponent stares at me I'll just say, 'the internet says it's a black lotus'. Shops plays cards that wouldn't make a draft deck that are only played because Workshop is legal. The cards are garbage and aren't playable otherwise.

Eldrazi may not have been "eradicated"...but it was certainly hurt badly losing both chalice and thorn as opposed to Workshop decks that could just replace with ravager and ballista and move on relatively unscathed. Fish also took a wallop. Chalice was always a 4-of for me in 95% of fish builds I made/ran. It was the best weapon vs storm and blue 1-drops.

@nedleeds When your entire deck is made of artifacts, it IS a lotus land. You can't possibly think a land that taps for 3 that can cast every spell in your deck is on level with every other unrestricted land in the format (save perhaps bazaar, which I'd also restrict).

@thewhitedragon69 Chalice of the Void was restricted September 28th 2015 and Battle For Zendikar was released October 2nd 2015. There was never a vintage format where Thought-Knot Seer decks had access to 4 Chalice.

@hierarchnoble Darn you, you beat me by seconds? haha

Anyway, here's another article to b ring to the discussion.

@hierarchnoble True, my bad. I was mainly thinking about both hurting fish and thorn hurting eldrazi...yes, chalice was never in eldrazi as a 4-of. My point still stands that restricting shop tools has had an impact on other budget decks while doing next to nothing to nerfing workshops. I really can't understand why everyone is okay with restricting a slew of artifacts instead of unrestricting all of them and restricting one too-broken land. My only guess is $$$. It's still a reserved list ancient card. It will still be worth $800 if not the $1000 it currently is.


I don't think the dollar value of Workshops is something to be concerned about nor do I think vintage players are concerned about Workshop being devauled in worth. Workshop is an EDH allowed card, so there is demand elsewhere.

Anyway. Let's say a player (let's call him Rusty Brown) owns only a vintage workshop deck. Let's say this disenfranchises him to the point where he doesn't want to play shops anymore and decides to go into blue. Does not own any other power, owns no forces, no fetches.

Mishra's Workshop (3) = 3,000 dollars.

Time Walk (1) = 1000
Ancestral Recall = 1000
Force of Will (4) = 300
Underground Sea (4) = 1500
Volcanic Island (4) = 1500
Tropical Island (4) = 1000
Tundra (4) = 1000
Scalding Tarn= 300
Misty Rainforest = 120
Polluted Delta = 60
Flooded Strand = 60

Let's say you want to build a Grixis deck. Typical builds I had in the past had 6-7 fetches (let's go with the conservative 6- so 4 Scalding Tarn and 2 Polluted Delta), 3 Volcanic Islands, and 2 Underground Seas, 4 Force of Wills. You would also need Ancestral Recall and Time Walk. With my estimates above:

+3000 - Workshop
1000 - Time Walk
1000 - Ancestral Recall
1125- Volcanic Island
750- Underground Sea
300- Force of Will
300- Scalding Tarn
60- Polluted Delta

3000 - 1000 - 1000 - 750 - 1125 - 750 - 300 - 300 - 60 = -2,285

That's roughly 2,285 more dollars they would need to pay. That's not counting the creature package, draw spells, flusterstorms, side boards, tutors, etc. Not to mention this gets way worse if you want a Library of Alexandria in the deck.

If you go with a cheaper land base, say, a pure u/w deck.... with a conservative 6 fetches.

+3000 - Workshop
1000 - Time Walk
1000 - Ancestral Recall
1000- Tundra
300- Force of Will
60- Flooded Strand
30- Polluted Delta

3000 - 1000 - 1000 - 1000 - 300 - 60 - 30 = -360

A much more feasible 390 dollars would need to be paid. Obviously, if you don't need all the Moxes, you could theoretically sell those, but as a vintage player I wouldn't recommend it. And either way, you may be stuck playing a blue deck you really don't want too.

This is obviously taking a lot of assumptions, so this isn't perfect but it's an example. This would most likely be my situation, except for luckily I own Time Walk and Ancestral Recall.

*EDIT: This is why I could see this driving Workshop players away from the format. I went through a lot of personal sacrificies, my collection, spare money, to pick up the workshop cards. It would be very hard for me want to sell and buy something else. I may just sell off my paper at that point, proxy decks when I want to play at RIW, say screw Eternal Weekend, and just play online. I may also not, but that's all possibilities.

last edited by mdkubiak

@thewhitedragon69 Yeah. I've heard this reusable Lotus argument a lot. Problem is... it's just not reusable Lotus. It only summons artifacts, narrowing what can be played enormously. I get that Shops players therefore only run artifacts... but right, they only run artifacts. So it isn't Lotus.

Making the argument that Workshop should be restricted purely on power level is fine, I guess. I don't buy it at all. But I'll say that it's a makeable argument. Personally, I don't think anything that isn't causing a huge and unpunishable advantage, as evidenced by matchups, should be restricted. But that's me. In any case, I think the standard should be about metagame effect, rather than perceived power of single cards, out of context...

(For illustration of this point, look at Oath. On a pure power level, that card is busted. It's way more powerful by itself than say... Ponder. I'd say anyways. So you could make the argument that it should be restricted on spec. But let's say they go ahead and print Cage and Containment Priest. Now Oath in practice got a lot worse. But if we are using the raw power standard, it should still be exactly as restrictable as it was before. But we know that with the printing of other cards, it's effect on the meta is greatly diminished. Which is why a raw power test just doesn't make sense.)

SO, firstly, Shops just isn't Lotus anyway. But also, that sort of raw power test for restriction is too simplistic. It should really all depend on the relationship between what can be cast off the Shops vs. how well non-shop decks can punish a deck that just summons artifacts... Right now the scale is tipped, I would argue slightly, in favor of the Shops deck... big deal. Welcome to MTG.

Leave it alone and keep printing cards. This thing is not... absolutely not, a reusable Lotus.

last edited by Topical_Island

@mdkubiak OR, let's say this Workshop player keeps playing the same deck +3 chalice, +3 thorn, +3 golem +3 ancient tomb.

-3 Workshop = +$3000
+3 golem = -$3
+3 tomb = -$60
+3 chalice = -$200
+3 thorn = $-60

+3000 -3 -60 -200 -60 = +$2677.

You were saying???

I don't think -3 shops makes workshops unplayable, especially when you add back in 4 chalice, 4 thorn. It takes it down a peg, sure, but it's hardly unplayable.

@thewhitedragon69 right, I’m not saying saying it’s not a feasible deck or that’s not where they’d go. However, that is one path they could take.

*EDIT: Back at my desk. Anyway, I was laying out what players would do if they were so pissed off about the shops restriction they refuse to use the archetype anymore. They would be left to the wayside unless they want to go the Dredge. Obviously if they stuck out with the artifact deck, they would make money, but I would say that is pretty obvious. People who are playing vintage aren't exactly worried about making their money back.

last edited by mdkubiak

@thewhitedragon69 said in The Curious Case of Mishra's Workshop:

@nedleeds When your entire deck is made of artifacts, it IS a lotus land. You can't possibly think a land that taps for 3 that can cast every spell in your deck is on level with every other unrestricted land in the format (save perhaps bazaar, which I'd also restrict).

I can't imagine an honest comparison between the library of colored spells and all stars like a 3/2 with no protection and a 1/1 for 2 that dies to every piece of removal ever printed. The comparison isn't valid. Demonic Tutor, Ancestral, Time Walk, Plow, Bolt, Mana Drain, Will, Jace, Dig, Cruise, Oath of Druids.

People lost to this aggro shop deck because they couldn't ever win game 1, shops was ~17% against a field of 65% of decks with 4-6 complete duds in their main deck. Additionally like any creature swarm aggro deck in the history of magic the way to beat it is sweepers and X for 1's. So in game 2 people are still trying to fight 26 creature decks with 1 for 1 trades. We have people boarding 3 Nature's Claims and no Forest? 1 Basic and you think you'll resolve Energy Flux?

@topical_island People compare it to reusable lotus in that it taps for 3 and doesn't sac.'s not reusable lotus. It's a land that taps for 3 where every other land taps for 1. That's still not even close to even. You can only cast artifacts? So what...chalice, sphere, thorn, golem, ballista, ravager...these are all fantastic cards. The only reason Workshop decks are the only ones that run them are because they are the only decks that can cast them on turn 1 with their broken land. If these all cost 1 and 2 mana so that non-shop decks could cast them on turn 1, probably every deck would just be these cards and some irrelevant color land. People make it like these tools are garbage cards and workshops is forced to play them because they can only cast artifacts. On the contrary, these are very good cards and only Workshops has ACCESS to playing these spells 2 turns too early to be fair.

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