It has been a very long time since a Workshop deck could play a color and be competitive. When people stopped playing Goblin Welder because of Mental Misstep and Grafdigger's Cage the deck was officially dead.

If Damping Sphere has a significant impact on the meta-game and I think that it will do just that. Could a Workshop deck running a color be viable?

We do have 2 Card Monte, but that deck is streaky. Could control or aggro be played with color in a Workshop deck?

I see Blue, Red, and White as the obvious choices. I foresee a decrease in Mental Misstep and rise in "fair" decks again. This would make playing a color with one of the best lands ever printed a good choice.

Am I off the mark here? Is this possible in the next year?

@moorebrother1 I don't think you're off the mark. I do think what you're suggesting is really hard to predict.

I for one, am super excited about Damping Sphere. To me it seems like there's little doubt it's going to move the meta somehow. But how? It could go in the direction you suggest, by forcing Shops to evolve into something involving colors. But that is contingent on how people use it against Shops, how effective that is, if there's a need for Shops to retool, and if that retooling involves colors... a loooooong way off.

It's cool think about though.

From my personnal experience, people did not stop playing Goblin Welder because of Mental Misstep or Grafdigger's Cage :

  • It is easy to play 4 Cavern of Soul in any red shop deck so that covers Game 1. And if my opponent decides not the sideout his Mental Misstep, i will silently thank him because he could have bring in far worse (artifact hate). To be fair, Mental Misstep can be troublesome if your build rely too much on welder but if you build something more balanced it can be played around.

  • Cage can be troublesome but most welder decks are quite control and may cheat other stuff than creatures into play. I did not stop playing welder shop when Cage was printed, actually i put 4 cages in my sideboard ! Beside their obvious use (Dredge, Oath, ...) , welding opponent's artifact creatures is very fun when cage is online ... especially against MUD of course.

IMHO, the first problem came about 4-5 years ago when people started to play Lightning Bolt since they could hit Lodestone Golem and Goblin Welder with them. Nowadays people are more on Sword to Plowshare but that is the same problem.

Recently, i tried many red shop builds and my conclusion was : weaker than Ravager builds, too slow for the meta. I may have missed something and i would gladly hear if some nice idea apear in this thread but i am not very optimistic.

Splashing a color (which ever) in a shop deck is done at the expense of the mana base : the advantages must overcome the drawbacks.

last edited by albarkhane

Yeah, Goblin Welder stopped being run in Workshop decks a few years before Mental Misstep or Grafdiggers' Cage were printed. The biggest impact was the printing of Lodestone Golem, resulting in a critical mass of colorless cards, and coincided with Workshop players realizing how good Ancient Tomb was.

It's not even really fair to say that Goblin Welder decks got worse at any point ... they were never anywhere near as good as the colorless builds are today, they were just more popular, and now they aren't.

But to address the question of a non-colorless workshop deck now ...

I've tried a few Workshop-splash-a-color decks in the past few years with a few VERY different approaches, (including more traditional Staxy decks, and super-aggressive Affinity-style decks) though none of them have stood out as particularly strong. Some thoughts:

  • If you want a more traditional 5c approach, Dack Fayden is basically the most powerful unrestricted nonartifact you can run. The ability to steal a mox immediately and then filter draws next turn is mindboggling. The synergy with Goblin Welder is a whole level beyond that. I don't know how to support 4, but I would try.

  • Don't dodge Mental Misstep, lean into it. I've played a ton of one drops in Workshop decks (Sensei's Divining Top, Skullclamp, Animation Module) and it's never an issue. There is simply no deck that has a sensible anti Workshop postboard plan that includes Misstep. They can't go to game two and have Missteps AND removal AND hate AND a good manabase AND still execute their primary gameplan - good decks just aren't built that way. My problem with one-drops in Workshops is that they're just not as good as the two drops, and I always have two mana. (If you're adding colors, you may not always have two mana, so that probably makes them better)

  • Artifact synergy doesn't end at Mishra's Workshop anymore. In the old days you played Workshop to ramp out your lock pieces, and you played cards like Goblin Welder and Meditate and Crop Rotation because they worked really well with your Smokestacks and Tangle Wires and Crucible of Worlds. Modern Workshop decks are based almost entirely on artifact synergy, which means every nonartifact card you add makes your other cards worse. Cutting any artifact to add a Goblin Welder doesn't just make your Mishra's Workshop worse, it also impacts your Arcbound Ravagers, your Steel Overseers, your Chief of the Foundrys and your Foundry Inspectors. That wouldn't be so problematic if they weren't all so good.

  • Finally, are you sure you don't just want to play Eldrazi? Back when Goblin Welder was losing market share, that wasn't an option. Eldrazi decks are already supporting nonartifact cards, and don't have the same inherent artifact synergy requirements. I would assume adding a second color to Eldrazi is a lot cleaner than adding a first color to Workshops

last edited by Brass Man

As an aside, I'm curious how Damping Sphere factors into all of this? I can't think of any reason why a colorless Workshop deck would be worse with or against a Damping Sphere than a Workshop deck with splashes

@brass-man I think a Shop deck with color plays through the Sphere and a Shop deck without color plays into the Sphere. When you look at 2 Card Monte, they use Shop to get the combo out quickly vs Montolio Shop that is playing as many threats as fast as possible.

When you add a color you are picking a new strategy that is allows you to play beyond sorcery speed.

@brass-man I agree with everything you said except about playing Eldrazi. I bought all of the cards and I just do not like the deck. Not sure why, but it is just not my cup of tea.

It is a great aggro deck but if I were to play aggro and it was not shop then it would be Dredge.

Back in the summer of 2011, the Forino brothers and I were searching for a deck for Vintage Champs. Espresso Stax (henceforth Espresso) had dominated the metagame in the heart of American Vintage for a year, but blue pilots had found a new counter to the MUD king in East Coast Wins (henceforth E.C.W.).

E.C.W. was a Gush based control deck that featured ample maindeck artifact destruction (usually upwards of three maindeck Ancient Grudges), enough copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor to reliably draw (and land) one each game, and a fundamental understanding of what Espresso was. "Just stop their threats" Shawn had said. While Espresso featured Chalices, Spheres, Thorns, Crucibles, and other forms of disruption, the only win conditions were Lodestone Golems, Karn, Silver Golems, and a pair of Duplicants. If you stopped them, if you countered their creatures, they couldn't actually kill you.

E.C.W. became a major player in the NY/NJ/PA corridor, and Espresso took a beating, before it was time to go back to the drawing board. With every move, there is a response, and there would be a response here. But to what?

We first started playing around with 5C Stax. 5C hadn't been dead that long, and we wanted to see if it was possible to revive the deck, focusing on the powerful elements of it, and cutting away everything else. Before we got too far along with that, we came to the realization that the deck was just too slow to compete in a modern metagame; the colored mana requirements of the deck were so onerous that they demanded a sacrifice of your Ancient Tombs. Tomb had been a somewhat marginal card in past iterations of Shop decks, but this was mostly a statement about the cards that MUD had available to it. The printings of Thorn of Amethyst and Lodestone Golem, the move of Chalice of the Void from the sideboard to the maindeck, these all put an onus on the pilot to be able to more reliably produce an explosive start with their mana. Going back to a world of City of Brass and Gemstone Mine felt like a quaint trip to the past, where the world wasn't as harsh, or dangerous. It wasn't long before the 5C experiment was discarded.

One of Forino's greatest lessons was to create references. Some parts of a deck may work. Others may not. Know the difference, and don't be afraid to copy and paste the parts of decks that do work together. See where it takes you, and what you learn.

What we learned was that Goblin Welder and Tinker were still powerful effects. Even in the age of Misstep, a resolved Welder could throw wrenches in the best laid plans. And Tinker, specifically used to find Sundering Titan, was more powerful than ever before; E.C.W. was a four color deck after all.

We were coming up on the hard deadline to have something built, but the deck wasn't quite there yet. We knew it too. We flew out to Indiana that year, not entirely sure of ourselves. We arrived at Champs with a U/R Shop deck that featured Shivan Reefs, Tinker, Sundering Titan, Welders, and a MUD core. The only colored cards in the maindeck were Ancestral Recall, Tinker, and four Goblin Welders.

The day didn't start, or end, well for any of us. At 3-1, I was the last 'live' player in the event of the three of us. I had my first ever match against Rich Shay, and mulligans to five, and then four, were enough to end my day. With my day ended, we were done.

The Vintage 'year' mostly ends with the crowning of a champion. While there are events that run after Champs, you're going to be playing in the metagame that Champs defined until the calendar moves to the next year. 2011, however, was different. We didn't have our deck in time, and, unfortunately, Champs proved a testing ground instead of a battle for a championship. I was driving to New Jersey the day before the 2011 Summer Open, held by Nick Coss of Top Deck Games, when I called Forino. We talked for a bit, and discussed some changes. The deck wasn't brown enough. It needed Ancient Tombs, it needed some of the MUD power plays. Tinker was powerful, but it wasn't worth the sacrifices that it demanded. Blue was cut from the deck, and MUD Marinara was born:

MUD Marinara

4 Goblin Welder
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
2 Expedition Map
1 Mana Vault
1 Sol Ring
2 Sphere of Resistance
4 Thorn of Amethyst
3 Crucible of Worlds
4 Tangle Wire
1 Trinisphere
4 Lodestone Golem
3 Phyrexian Metamorph
3 Smokestack
2 Karn, Silver Golem
1 Barbarian Ring
1 Bazaar of Baghdad
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
3 Ancient Tomb
4 Mishra’s Workshop
4 Mountain
4 Wasteland

2 Tormod’s Crypt
4 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Mental Misstep
3 Dismember
1 Phyrexian Metamorph
1 Bojuka Bog
1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

E.C.W. had a brutally difficult time with Goblin Welder. The ability to recur any of your threats taxed their removal beyond its efficacy. Additionally, as we hadn't yet moved to the tempo meta that we began shifting towards, cards like Lightning Bolt and Swords to Plowshares did not see the kind of frequency in maindeck play that we now take for granted. Welder was safe, once he hit.

The 2011 Summer Open was seven rounds. Over the course of seven rounds, I played one round of Dredge, and six rounds of Gush. It was an exorcism of every Gush demon that I had ever had cross my path that day. I lost a close round to Dredge, and then proceeded to crush one Gush deck after another, running the tally up to 5-0 before round seven pairings were announced. My breakers weren't great, and I'd have to play in order to assure myself a place in the top eight. Josh Potucek sat down across from me, I apologized for not being able to draw, and then ran the record up to 6-0 against Gush on the day.

We had found our Champs deck a week too late.

MUD Marinara persisted for a few years. From 2011-2013, it remained an option. Cavern of Souls was a further boost to the deck, in ensuring un-counterable Welders, Lodestones, Duplicants, et al. But the deck's nemesis, Oath of Druids, became more and more powerful as the years passed, and eventually a combination of Lightning Bolts and absurd green enchantments put the deck away.

I sold nearly all my cards last summer, though I kept a German foil signed playset of Goblin Welders. I hope to one day be able to use them again.

Colored Shop decks haven't been particularly good for about five years. In order for a colored Shop deck to be good, what you're sacrificing (the blunt force of modern MUD, the speed of Ancient Tomb (in all likelihood)) must be worth what you gain. Because your deck is split between mana, threats, and disruption, if you're losing on your mana, you had better be gaining more from either your disruption or your threats to more than adequately account for the discrepancy.

This is usually profoundly difficult, as Shop decks, more than many other decks, must be built to be harmonious. Drawing cards like Tinker when your mana consists of four Mishra's Workshops, and five lands that are really effects more often than they're lands (Wastelands and Strip Mine), is counter-productive, and frustrating.

While, to my quick glance, it seems like Lightning Bolt is less popular than it was a couple of years ago, the preponderance of Oath of Druids in the local metagame (perhaps this isn't the case on MODO, or nationally), would be of grave concern. While Shop decks are generally disadvantaged to Oath of Druids decks (especially now, when all Shop decks seem to be Aggro decks), colored Shop decks are significantly more disadvantaged. Welder would thrive in a metagame where his ability to recur would naturally counter the amount of destruction decks pack. Welder cannot, however, live in a metagame where you can reasonably expect to play Oath of Druids once or twice in a six or seven round event.

After Thorn was restricted, I called Forino. I hadn't played in about six months at that point, but I wanted to talk to him about a white hate bears deck. There are many, many powerful effects available to that deck now. They are all unrestricted. You would have to trade your explosive starts for consistent, albeit smaller, plays. I sincerely think it's the right move right now. You have more than adequate answers to the hated Oath decks, and you have a wealth of options for just about everything else in the field. You can afford to run maindeck cards like Containment Priest, which present Dredge and Oath with nightmares, and you can do it all while you render their Ancient Grudges and myriad other artifact removal spells worthless.

A very long two cents, I suppose.

Since i am someone stubborn, i kept trying Marinara variant till 2014, trying various technologies to deal with oath problem. It worked to some extend but it was the last time i managed to get any convincing results with that kind of deck. As Prospero said, the rise of tempo deck (and so people having more way to deal with creatures) was the end of it.

last edited by albarkhane

I love playing stax but right now, I think it's just a worse shops deck than ravager aggro. However, I think it's more fun and vintage is mostly about fun for me. Therefore, I choose to play shops (specifically marinara since welder is one of my favorite cards). Here is the list i've been running. It's pretty decent vs shops and can do ok vs dredge or storm post SB. The main problem is Oath decks, but oath generally beats shops anyways.

// Vintage Red Shops 2.0

// 60 Maindeck
// 29 Artifact
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Sol Ring
1 Trinisphere
1 Chalice of the Void
4 Sphere of Resistance
2 Null Rod
3 Crucible of Worlds
3 Smokestack
1 Mana Crypt
3 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Uba Mask
1 Thorn of Amethyst
2 Damping Sphere

// 9 Creature
4 Goblin Welder
1 Lodestone Golem
4 Phyrexian Revoker

// 22 Land
4 Mishra's Workshop
3 Bazaar of Baghdad
3 Barbarian Ring
3 Mountain
4 Wasteland
1 Strip Mine
1 Tolarian Academy
3 Ancient Tomb

// 15 Sideboard
// 8 Artifact
SB: 3 Tormod's Crypt
SB: 4 Grafdigger's Cage
SB: 1 Null Rod

// 2 Creature
SB: 2 Wurmcoil Engine

// 2 Land
SB: 2 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

// 3 Sorcery
SB: 3 By Force

I really want to go test Tangle Wire again but i'm not sure what to cut. Right now, I think I want to do -2 Damping Sphere, -1 Uba Mask, +3 Tangle Wire but i'm not sure as I need to test Damping Sphere more. Phyrexian Revoker also seems like it can be trimmed because Dack isn't as omnipresent anymore from my experience because Ravager + Ballista gives Dack a bad time.

I also really want to try out Powder Keg, Ratchet Bomb, Inventor's Fair, and Expedition Map. The main problem with stax i've found is that the lock pieces are all really good against specific decks and you have to happen to play the right lock pieces in the right meta as well as run hot to do well (bridge may be good against some decks but sucks against others).

tl;dr: stax is fun, but ravager mud is just so much better atm.

@prospero this is a great piece of writing and reminds me of mtg articles from old times. What happened to those great storytelling/theory articles from the past?

@fsecco said in Workshop with Color:

@prospero this is a great piece of writing and reminds me of mtg articles from old times. What happened to those great storytelling/theory articles from the past?

Same here, I really enjoy every time @Prospero write something like this.
Archive from previous TMD is available here :

last edited by matori

@fsecco @matori - Thanks, guys, much appreciated.

I try not to do it too often. I don't want to be the old man, sitting on his porch, yelling at the kids to get off his damn lawn.

I think we liked a lot of the same old articles. I very rarely read Magic articles nowadays, so I can't really comment on the current state of writing in the community.

last edited by Prospero

@prospero Vintage is the "old man" format. Most of my posts are from the perspective, hey what the hell are these kids doing to my format.

last edited by moorebrother1

@moorebrother1 I'll be sure to do something on what a pain in the ass it was playing against Goblins with Keeper next then. I'm still taking damage from Price of Progress.

last edited by Prospero

@fsecco said in Workshop with Color:

What happened to those great storytelling/theory articles from the past?

Why not write one? 🙂

@brass-man actually I'm planning something about that pretty soon, but not actually writing.

It would be great is with the new Dominaria set there was a revival of Beyond Dominaria. Is there an archive of it, or way back machine log?

@brass-man said in Workshop with Color:

@fsecco said in Workshop with Color:

What happened to those great storytelling/theory articles from the past?

Why not write one? 🙂

last edited by John Cox
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