Karn, the Great Creator has inspired several new decks, but the breakout in terms of success and popularity is a combo deck based on Karn and Mystic Forge. Karn can tutor for Mycosynth Lattice or the Time Vault/Voltaic Key combo, and Mystic Forge can draw your entire deck with a Foundry Inspector and Sensei's Divining Top, or simply generate massive card advantage. With a huge amount of mana acceleration and the occasional Serum Powder, the deck is very redundant and consistent, making it very very likely to resolve one of those two four-cost spells on the first turn, either of which is very likely to lead to a kill on turn 2 or 3.

Vasu's exact list, posted above, placed four players into the top 8 of the recent NYSE 2019 event, and focuses entirely on speed and answers to common hate cards. Other players opt to take the list in a more aggressive direction, by adding more Workshop Aggro-style threats, or a more disruptive direction, adding Sphere of Resistance.

As of today, KarnForge is the deck to beat, and it would be a mistake to enter a tournament without a plan for it. Future KarnForge development will likely revolve around reacting to those plans.

The Defense Grid v. Force of Vigor dance is getting absurd right now. You almost have to play 1 for 1 removal and Force to be effective. In fact, it’s getting pretty close to the point where my entire sideboard goes to Mistake Forge or Dredge. Don’t have room to improve any other matchups.

@wfain Do you feel like Defense Grids are becoming more common? Are people not playing many Spheres? I'm curious what the metagame looks like.

That seems to be the best approach, since FoW and FoV are the two best ways to fight this deck. Spheres are not really holding either of those off (while they do impact the Inspector+Top stuff).

It's all grids from what I'm seeing. I just played 2 leagues and faced 8 shop-forge decks in 10 matches. I dont believe I saw any spheres just the occasional lodestone.

@wfain As the caboose of "Team Batman Villians" featuring Vasu (Mr. Freeze), Brian Kelly (The Joker), and me (The Riddler), I am aware of the cards impact. I just wasn't sure of the adaptation since the lists from the Vintage Challenge were overwhelmingly the Sphere variant. The Sphere variant is a huge underdog to the combo variant as you lack the explosiveness and your Spheres hurt your own Forges and Karns. I would expect a pretty quick transition to the Grids. Pretty insane that it's happened so quickly. Also, 8 Forge decks...sorry @ebgmtg. What percentage of the games were interesting? Did any strategies or approaches help?

Gotcha. I’ve basically come to the conclusion that in order to play non-Mistake Forge, non-Dredge, I have to play at least 3 Ouphe and/or Lavinia main with about 3 FoV and 2-3 disenchant effects in the board (and the ability to go up to 4+ Ouphe/Lavinia). Then, obviously, the rest of the slots go to fighting dredge.

@chubbyrain a low percentage of the games were interesting. The majority I'd say 80+% were decided t1.
I was playing pitch dredge with the plan of counter grid + vigor followed up by therapy. I was running 4 fow, 4 fov, 4 mm in the main and 2 fon + 3 mb out of the board. I will say it was one of those days with dredge where it seemed like I was starting on 5 cards most games and that was without dumping bazaar hands to find better combinations. Overall this was not a winning strategy. What did you determine from the dredge matchup when u were testing? Any decks u recommend looking at with the shifting meta?

The thing I’ve had success with is making sure you can shut off the explosive stuff somehow and have a plan for attacking Karn so they can’t just tutor good things. Sometimes they still get you with the other Karn though.

@ebgmtg I thought the Dredge matchup was very favorable for Forge as you could slow Dredge down with hate and find a way to land your bombs. You could even come back from behind with the combo or Karn, winning from nowhere, or float a bomb with Top and sculpt a win that way as sometimes the permission and dredges don't line up or your hate buys you enough time. Grid is obviously insane as you force them to have removal spell into more removal spells and the chances of that aren't that incredibly high. You are also a threat to win game one which is not true for every deck. I don't think manaless Dredge can effectively combat Forge without branching into mana. The spells are unique and there aren't really that many options. MBT does help but not against Grid and players who know you have it can play around it.

@wfain that is my plan. Grid just shuts off the tools that manaless dredge has available making it nearly impossible to win once it resolves.

@chubbyrain that's basically the same conclusion I arrived at after taking a beating in those two leagues. The deck definetly needs retooled. The two avenues I see are adding mana back in as u suggested or speeding the deck up.

BUG with wasteland and 3+ ouphe mostly stomps forge. It’s really not good for forge, though if your opponent is casting lightning bolt/swords, you’re in for a bad time.

Is there any merit to including Chalice of the Void or Trinisphere here? I know they don't synergize with the combo aspect of the deck, but they both seem like they could potentially win the game for you turn one on the play.

last edited by into_play

I tested this deck, not a lot yet but enough to feel how it runs. It does exactly what it is supposed to do and quite efficiently. If i were to compare it to another deck, it would be PO obviously. Now, shop has a true quick combo deck. Not running sphere effect is something : beside the obvious building reasons, it means that the deck is quick/solid enough not to fear blue brokenness (not sure if that word exists but you get the point i think). For an old timer shop player like me, it means a lot.

I am not exactly fond of such all-in combo decks and usually enjoy to have some kind of out if some sand suddenly breaks the machine. However it is just personnal taste and i have zero problem with such kind of deck in the meta.

What is worrying me is not this particular deck but the fact that we have more and more decks like that. I presume power creep is doing that and there is not much that can be done. I don't mind we have a quick combo deck in the meta but if several decks are just doing their stuff as fast as possible with little interaction, Vintage will get soon very boring.

I know that the meta will balance to take this new deck in account and soon that deck will evolve in something less all-in. We will see how things will be in a few months when the dust will come down but i am not very optimistic about future in the long run.

To finish on the bright side, it is nice to see the format is changing a lot and new decks are rising.

last edited by albarkhane

In my testing thus far I've found that mystic forge shops is opening a HUGE gap for DPS and Bolas DPS decks. They are much quicker than forge and are reliant on rituals rather than artifacts for acceleration so are far less impeded by New-Karn than PO was.

A similar point was made in another thread focusing on Ad-Nauseum based tendrils deck.

I personally would love to see a meta shift towards DPS decks.

@nba84 Personally I dont think they are any slower than DPS.

I think Eidolon of the Great Revel might be ok in today's meta. It seems decks either want to play everything on one turn (like this deck), or have a bunch of cantrips. At the very least I think its worth trying.

last edited by John Cox


But they require a lot more cardboard to do anything. I would guess the average 7 from DPS kills a little faster and more resiliently than the average 7 from forge, in the sense of when the opponent is hard locked or actual dead. But it doesn’t do the same on 5 cards. Forge, Mox, Shop kills on 2 or 3 some decent percent of the time if the opponent doesn’t have good interaction. No storm hand of 3 cards does the same reliably.

That’s really the big difference—a lot of the Karn/Forge hands are legit 1 card combos, in the way Ad Nauseam is a 1 card combo (you just need mana and Ad Nauseam, everything else is a “I’ll sort it out later”). The mana production in Forge is a lot better than for DPS (see: Mishra’s Workshop), so it mulligans better and kills faster on average, when you take mulligans into account.

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