Instead of trying to discuss what is in the deck, I just want to focus on the decks weaknesses. The first and most important weakness is the lack of card draw. This is a critical weakness of any tempo deck. The relies very heavily on it's opening hand to set up then plays from the top of the deck from that point forward.

The deck will attack you from 2 fronts, creature damage and resource denial. The strategy to stop Shop has relied on 2 points. Creature removal and artifact removal or killing them faster than they can either lock the board or kill you with creatures.

The removal strategy is usually the most popular and involves running Swords to Plowshare, Lightning Bolt, Fragmentize, etc... The strategy works when you draw the cards and you can still play the cards that make your deck work. When I am playing a blue deck my normal strategy is to counter the prison piece and try and live through the aggro.

The other strategy really only works for combo decks or decks with a combo finish. You can play faster than them if they do not slow you down first, but if they can get any resource constraining pieces on the board you lose.

I'd like to discuss the best cards to stop Shops and when to play them in the thread. Playing Hurkyl's Recall is great but when do you play it. After you have taken damage, or before the attack?

Dack Fayden is also useful but no longer the I stop Shop card he used to be. What is the best way to use Dack or Jace?

One critical part of this discussion has be about sideboarding, if you are siding out 4 Mental Misstep and 2 Flusterstorm or Pyroblast then do you have to have 6 removal spells on your sideboard that stop Shop?

last edited by moorebrother1

@moorebrother1 I'll usually Hurkyl's on the opponent's end step, unless of course they're swinging for lethal. I very much dislike casting Hurkyl pre-end step because they usually just re-deploy everything.

If I'm playing a deck with a white splash (or heavy white,) I'll sideboard out all of my missteps and flusters. I'll side in Swords to Plowshares and Disenchants, and I'll bring in any extra Hurkyl's. I also like Energy Flux, but it sometimes feels a bit slow and sometimes it misses the mark (they have enough mana to pay for creatures when presenting lethal, etc.)

last edited by Horologium

I've found the 1-1 battle to be a losing proposition. Hurkyll''s is good for a sweep if you can really capitalize on the clean board (like a P.O. turn). But even after hurkyll's, you are still countering 1 card at the cost of 2 most times (FoW), and they just have more threats/prison than you have counters. The same goes for swords or disenchant, they have more threatening spells than you can 1-1 remove, but it's even worse now because of ballista/ravager - they will get a +1/+1 or ping for a bunch of damage in exchange for your removal spell.

I have found only a couple tactics to be useful:

Permanent sweepers: Seeds of innocence, by force, shatterstorm, serenity. These are all clean sweeps that negate ravager's dodge ability. They can ravager onto ballista for damage or load up a hangarback, but if they don't have ravager AND one of those outlets, they get swept with no benefit of ravager. Serenity is the fastest mana-wise, but in reality the slowest as you often want the effect the turn you draw it, not the turn after. Serenity also has the drawback of killing your enchantments...which is the next point of attack.

Tax effects: Energy Flux, Tabernacle, Ghostly Prison. E-flux is standard goodness, but they can sometimes pay the mana and swing. Tabernacle is even easier to pay for and swing and they don't need to pay to keep lock pieces on board. Ghostly prison has been my own tech lately as they have to choose between hitting me with their 2/2 balista, 2/1 revoker, 2/2 factory, etc. and can often never swing with more than 1. It doesn't stop them outright and it won't stop ravager/ballista shenanigans, but it does buy time. If you want more time, then you need option 3...

Prison the prison: Stony Silence, Null Rod, Moat. This has been my favorite line as of late. Stony silence and null rod are wrecking balls to the greater field at large, but shops has become VERY reliant on activated artifact abilities lately. Besides hitting their ramp mana, you shut off ravager, overseer, ballista, hangarback, triskelion. You are now left facing a horde of 2/2, 3/3, 2/1, 3/2 ground pounders with the one-of 5/3 (sans metamorph making even more copies). If you can land a moat afterward, it's GG as they have no way to swing or shoot you. Granted, that's a tall order with you shutting off your own ramp and it costing 4 or more through spheres, but if you land moat first - say off of a sol ring or lotus - and THEN stony silence, they just crap bricks. If you can turn 1 stony before they get to play, I'd still do that. You'll slow their explosiveness considerably (especially if they didn't keep a workshop hand) and will get enough time to hit 4 mana.

There is another option, but it's really more effective vs the smokestack variants of MUD...

Resource protection: Sacred Ground, Crucible of the worlds, Karmic Justice, Terra Eternal. By far, Sacred ground is my favorite here. You don't have to replay dead lands for your land drop like you do with crucible (especially if they get crucible too). You never lose land at all with sacred ground. It nerfs crucible and straight out shuts down smokestack. KJ is sweet as you get to pick off one of their permanents every time they shoot off your creature with ballista, wasteland a land, etc., but you still do lose your resource in exchange for theirs. It's the least effective and the most expensive, but it is something. Terra Eternal is better than sacred ground vs wastelands, but only marginally unless they have grave hate. It is more expensive and does squat vs smokestack. SG reigns supreme here for just 2 mana.

In ALL of these cases you'll still want 1-for-1 removal to take out the truly crippling spells that stop you from playing these other cards (crucible if they have waste, trinisphere, lodestone, revoker naming your jewelry). I find fragmentize to be the best value as it is the cheapest under spheres, hits everything in shop's deck, and doubles to kill oath so you are maximizing sb slot efficiency. Disenchant is a close runner up due to instant speed, but it costs 1 more, which means it may actually never get cast.

Notice almost all of my favorite options (bold-faced) are white. To me, it's the superior color vs anything for answer cards. It's not great as a kill outside of mentor, but it's the best answer color.

last edited by Thewhitedragon69

Your win condition really maters too. If you can squeeze out a quick win with oath or a robot that helps greatly and you may be able to devote less sideboard space to the match. A control deck will also have more to take out (flusters/pyroblasts).

This is a deck that wasteland can do some work in the right situation and basics are very important.

Workshop decks don't play a lot of cantrips (none usually). But against Workshops I would rather have a business card than a cantrip. This brings up for debate how useful cantrips are in this match. And whether the shops deck is ahead of you in card advantage virtualy.

last edited by John Cox

@john-cox If you are playing Xerox, you leave the cantrips. Jeskai sides in 3 to 4 By Force and LandStill will grab some Disenchant/Fragmentize. Paradoxical Outcome decks add Hurkyl's Recall and Fragmentize. Dredge sides in their artifact hate, no extra creatures. Oath has Ancient Grudge, Hurkyl's and By Force.

All of that may not be enough. Some type of board wipe of stabilizer may be needed if they are on the play or if they get a good hand.

To be honest, I have played all of these decks and sided in all of the cards but the variance is very high here. Depending on your deck you cannot just mulligan down into oblivion. I had descent hands when I was on Paradoxical and ended up losing to a double Revoker and a Thorn. If I had seen any bounce spell I would have won. A lot of games will play out like that.

Questions: How many cards do you have for this match? Are they good enough? Do you have a way to get them into you hand within 2 turns?

last edited by moorebrother1

4 Shattering Sprees and the mana to cast them reliably.

Hurkyl's Recall and a broken end game.

Energy Flux in shells with the mana to cast it reliably and the support cards to deal with the few remaining threats Shops can leverage (i.e. Removal or Waste effects).

Everything else doesn't actually work as well as you think it does.

I've been using By Force in the sideboard of my Jeskai deck on modo, and it's a real beating for them.

No one has mentioned Wrath of God or Supreme Verdict. A Jeskai, LandStill or Xerox deck can play a Supreme Verdict. Are the 4 mana cost board wipers just bad? They do help against BUG and Eldrazi too.

No one mentioned Moat either and that card was a factor in 2016 and 2015 in the top 8.

I also do not see any mention of Dack Fayden. Is he a help against this deck? Is there a way to use him optimally?

@moorebrother1 Most of these are half measures. Board sweepers are great, if you survive long enough to use them and can get most of their threats. Moat is great, if they don't machine gun you down with ballista or make a dozen thopters. Dack Fayden is great, if they don't have a ravager or a big board presence.

Sometimes they cement a win, sometimes they are air.

@hierarchnoble Good point. I was trying Moat and it is too slow in today's meta. I like Supreme Verdict but Balance is better. The issue with these cards is that if they get a Sphere down these options are too slow where Fragmentize or Swords to Plowshare or even Lightning Bolt give you some room to play through the threats.

I was testing against Shops last night and the new Traxos build is very scary. The Null Rod does not hurt Shop like it used to once this guy is on the board. If you live to turn 3 or 4 then a Supreme Verdict may be you best bet since a Hurkly's Recall only slows this down for a turn based on how much damage you have taken.

Dack Fayden is not as good because of Ballista for obvious reasons and being a 3 drop can be hard if they get a Sphere down or a Phyrexian Revoker.

Paradoxical had an edge against this deck just based on speed. Dredge actually does fairly well, unless they land a Wasteland. So, Dredge players may want to try Pithing Needle.

Jeskai was a rough match up for so many reasons. Being lower to the ground helps but if they see a Traxos or an Overseer it become a slaughter. I am off of Oath for the moment so I did not test it.

The best advice I can offer is play wastelands and Hurkyls. Hurkyl's just wins games with ease. Dak is also nuts.

Blue decks have gotten so greedy they have stopped playing wastelands which hurts. Them a ton in my opinion. U/R fish was able to slaughter shops back when we ran 4x Chalice, 4x Trinisphere, 3x Crucible in every list.

Blowing up a workshop can devastate a workshop player. It has gotten to the point where I don't even maindeck crucible because I have no fear of my stuff even being blow up outside the mirror

@yespuhyren I have tried playing Wastelands and in most decks and they really clutter the deck up. Way back when, I used to play Noble Fish and you are correct that Wasteland was awesome against Shop. Now if I play Jeskai or some other mid-range deck Wastelands are a liability.

I tried Blood Moon too and those are just so-so against Shop. I think attacking the board and messing with their tempo is how you have to win.

last edited by moorebrother1

I used to be firmly in the Energy Flux camp on this one. (I still think Flux is just crushing, and at least in Control Oath, which runs a bit mana dense, it's pretty good. They can make all the thopter tokens they like.) However, watching Rich Shay, and also my wife as they run Xerox, the 1for1 cheap removal game is viable at least. Shattering Spree is probably the best in that vein, since it can be, but isn't limited to being a 1for1. As a passive observer, it does seem that blunting, and finally taking apart their board with spot removal is viable.

Ancient Grudge bears a mention here.

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