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posted in Vintage Strategy read more

It's worth noting that people have made the case for no Black Lotus in Workshop decks in the past. I'm not personally a fan of the argument, but you wouldn't be the first person to top 8 vintage champs with Lotus-free Shops.

On the other hand, I wouldn't take a stock shops list and cut Moxes for Opals, it's going to be ugly. Note that Mox Opal in particular is basically only good in decks that run the five original Moxes to get metalcraft faster. I really don't think you'll have much success if you just swap out moxes for other mana and leave everything else the same ... But I think there are some more creative things you could do.

When I'm building a deck with limitations, I try not to run bad versions of more expensive cards, and rather look for opportunities ... in what way can this limitation be a strength?

No β€” it does nothing

For starters, cards like Arcbound Ravager explicitly synergize with Moxes and get a lot worse without them. But other cards, like Null Rod, are better when you don't draw Moxes. A lot of the cards that are particularly good with Ravager, like Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker, also get a lot worse with a Null Rod in play.

If you can find a way to build your Workshop deck to operate under a Null Rod, you might be able to do some real damage in a mirror match, and probably end up with a better matchup against Outcome decks than a stock Ravager Workshop deck has. My gut instinct is that Null Rod either puts you on some kind of prisony Smokestack/Crucible of Worlds/Ensnaring Bridge build, or something real aggressive with Chief of the Foundry/Porcelain Legionaire/Traxos, Scourge of Kroog.

Cut Moxes for Utility Lands

Mutavault, Karakas, Ghost Quarter, Inventor's Fair are all cards that Ravager Shops would love to run but can't fit. You can even go deep with things like Buried Ruin and Tower of the Magistrate.

Cut Moxes for Depths/Stage

I haven't thought much about how you'd build this, but it has to be nice to have reasonably fast, uncounterable win condition in some matchups. Consider Expedition Map as one drops may get better in a deck replacing Moxes with lands.

Cut Moxes for Bazaars

It ain't budget, but it's cheaper than Moxes and it gives you an idea of how to think outside the box. Dredge Shops deck @Oestrus played in the VSL recently is a deck that runs Workshop and doesn't really need Moxes to operate. Any deck that wants Workshop just for powering out a single lock piece on turn one is in the same boat.

Cut Moxes for Mountains

If you're dropping Moxes and Ravagers, you might have enough room to add nonartifact cards to the deck. Classic workshops decks were 5 color or mono-red and made heavy use of Goblin Welder, a turn one play that might be nice on your mana curve. You might be able to explore other options as well. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben? Fastbond/Crop Rotation? Disciple of the Vault/Vampire Hexmage/Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth? Cutting artifact mana means you have access to options other workshop decks can't even consider.

Cut Moxes for Eldrazi Temples

This is my favorite. Moxless budget Eldrazi is an established archetype, but I think there's room to explore on the edges. Because Eldrazi Temple is an accelerant, you miss the Moxes a little less. My favorite thing about this? You don't even need the 4th Workshop. A while back I was working on a Workshop-Eldrazi hybrid deck for a potential post-Workshop metagame, and I found that 2 or 3 Workshops was all you wanted, 4 was just too many. I was playing with Moxes but I'm betting there's a build without them. You end up with a deck that feels very much like Workshop Aggro. You have less synergy and your mana is clunkier but your individual threats are bigger and more resilient. If you can find a way to make this work Null Rods and Thought Knot Seers, I'm guessing you'll end up with list that's even better against Outcome Combo than stock Ravager Shops is, and pick up a few free wins against players with more Ancient Grudges than Swords to Plowshares

posted in Vintage News read more

Oh shit! I'm famous!

posted in Vintage Community read more

Ah, it looks like I made the common (for me) mistake of being too glib and undercommunicating.

To clarify:

For most of my experience playing Vintage, there has been one dominant deck. In those metagames, most players are hoping things move from their one-deck metagame to a two deck metagame. To these players, the idea of a 3-deck metagame is mind-bogglingly diverse. Coming from that perspective, I thought it was funny to read people use the term "3-deck metagame" in a derogatory way. "3-deck metagame" still translates to "woah! so diverse!" in my old-vintage-player brain.

posted in Vintage Community read more

I think I was mis-tagged on this one, I haven't read enough of this thread to know how Force of Will factors into the conversation πŸ™‚

posted in Vintage Community read more

I can't resist chiming in when I see people disparagingly refer to this metagame as a "three deck format". For over a decade of the 15+ years I've been at this nonsense, people who didn't like the metagame were praying that we could have a two deck format.

posted in Vintage Tournaments read more

Is anyone from the Boston area driving out to this and willing to pick me up from a T stop?

posted in TheManaDrain Metadiscussion read more

Deck Taxonomy on TheManaDrain

Xerox vs Grow and Mentor vs Delver

This is a thread both about the names I give to subcategories/archetypes on the site, but also how they are organized and displayed.

It only recently occurred to me that almost every deck I've bucketed as Xerox just happen to include all the elements that make a Grow deck a Grow deck. Is this just a better name? I've really hated the term Xerox for a while but have been unable to come up with anything better.

Note that while there are many ways to split decks up, for many different reasons, the way we split decks up on TMD has specific goals.

  • If a player comes in looking for information on a specific deck, they should be able to immediately tell which subcategory that information is in β€”to make the site easier to Navigate.

  • The information of most interest to the same players should be put in the same category β€” to make content on the site more Discoverable (e.g. if you liked this list, you'll love this one.)

  • A new player should able to get a feel for what these categories mean with a minimal amount of friction β€” to make the site more Informative and Understandable. ("Xerox" is particularly bad on this front)

  • And whenever possible, I'd prefer categories to be Future-resistant (future-proof is impossible) and Descriptive rather than Prescriptive. The old Mana Drain website had categories like "Mana Drain Control" and "Workshop Based Prison" which were displayed in a way that kind of implied that blue tempo decks and workshop aggro decks couldn't exist. I've long felt that this led new players down bad paths and bad ways of thinking.

So the name Xerox fails here on several counts, though Grow is by no means perfect. I think how categories are presented and organized are more important than the naming, but both conversations are worth having. The Xerox/Grow categories have always had some fuzzy edges, but they're where I'd expect them. A Delver deck might have no Young Pyromancer, but those lists almost feel like genuinely different archetypes. I could easily imagine a deck that feels like Xerox with no "Grow" cards, but in practice we never really see them - and drawing the line at 4 Preordain just seems obviously wrong ... Paradoxical Outcome and Jeskai Mentor don't belong in the same subcategory, and any too-strict definition is going to have trouble with that.

Discussion Points

  • What's your favorite name for the broad category of decks that includes Delver and Jeskai Mentor and Rug Pyromancer and Snapcaster Control?

  • Are there any other subcategories that you think are mis-named? (Remember that the goal of TMD's names might not be the same as the goals you use for yourself)

  • Do you think the way the lines are drawn between archetypes now makes sense? Do Delver and Jeskai Mentor belong in different categories? Outcome and Storm? Should any categories be combined, like Landstill and Big Blue?

  • What sort of user interface changes could be made to promote those stated four goals, regardless of what the categories are named. Feel free to think outside the box and suggest features the site does not currently support.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

Re: Leyline at 4 and 0, I've actually never heard an argument for "4 Leylines or None" that made sense to me, or at least any argument that wouldn't equally apply to any magic card. Sure, you want it in your opening hand, but that's true of all dredge hate. Chubbyrain's "1 Leyline after I've added my tutor targets" plan makes total sense to me (except for the part where there's 5 slots, but that's another topic entirely).

It's the total opposite of a card like Workshop that pushes your deck in a particular direction and works in multiples. Leyline is worse in multiples, and has uniquely low deckbuilding costs, as you see it in lists that have no way of casting it. Dredge hate in particular has an added pressure to be diverse, as it's hard for a Dredge deck to pack answers to multiple card types, making a card like Leyline even worse in multiples than something like Moat is against aggro decks.

It's true that you want to see Leyline on turn one of not at all, but that doesn't encourage any particular count. The likelyhood of drawing a card in your opening hand and drawing it later are linked. It's maybe true that you want some of the benefits of running 4 and some of the benefits of running 0, but you can't actually do that, and running 4 doesn't get you any closer to that than 3 does.

I sort of feel like somebody did some bad math back in Guildpact, and everyone just rolled with it for 10 years.

posted in TheManaDrain Metadiscussion read more

Skins / Dark-Theme

The last update broke some site functionality for users who were selecting non-default skins for the site. While I don't have the wide variety of skins available previously, I was able to fix the bugs and add a Dark theme. It should be a little easier on the eyes for storm players who like reading TMD late at night in a dark room. If you were unfamiliar with this functionality, now's a perfect time to check it out!

When logged in, click on your user icon in the upper right of the page, and select "Settings." Select Default or Dark from the "Select a Skin" dropdown, and hit the Save button on the bottom of the screen (you may have to scroll down).

If you were previously using a skin and have been running into issues, make sure to go to the page and save your selection - even if you just want to use the default skin, this should clear out any issues you're having with old cached skins.

CSS fixes and upgrades

I fixes a few display bugs that were bothering me, but also added some stylish upgrades to make your posts a bit prettier. If you're not already using Markdown syntax in your posts, here's a quick refresher on how to make your TMD posts extra pretty:

# title


## heading


### subheading


**bold** _italics_ _**bold italics**_

bold italics bold italics

[⁣[Brass Man]⁣]
Brass Man

2 By Force
3 Swords to Plowshares
1 Plains

# Greatest Deck
## 1st Place, imaginary tournament
4 Brass Man
4 Brass Herald
4 Brass Secretary
4 Brass-Talon Chimera
4 Brassclaw Orcs
4 Brass's Bounty
4 City of Brass
32 Island
15 Relentless Rats

Greatest Deck

1st Place, Imaginary Tournament

Have fun with it.

posted in Vintage Tournaments read more

Late notice of course, but can anyone coming in from Boston get me a ride there? πŸ™‚