Workshop Aggro


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    Workshop Aggro

    aka: Shops, Ravager Shops, Mud

    Overview

    Mishra's Workshop is the most powerful unrestricted mana accelerant in the game, but it comes with a cost. Workshop Aggro decks take full advantage of the card by running almost entirely lands and artifacts. A mix of powerful accelerants lets the deck play expensive threats quickly and consistently.

    To back them up, Workshop Aggro decks run highly disruptive lock pieces which attack their opponent's manabase and prevents them from playing anything to defend themselves. Vintage is a format that revolves around mana and cheap spells, and Workshop Aggro exploits that to fullest.

    Why play Workshop Aggro?

    Workshop Aggro has more chances to play a threatening 2+ drop on turn one than any other deck. With the right hand, a Workshop Aggro player going first can play enough disruption to win before her opponent ever casts their first spell. Creatures in a Workshop Aggro deck are numerous, large, and often have some kind of added utility.

    Running almost entirely lands and artifacts means that any mana source can cast any of your spells. A Workshop Aggro deck can run all sorts of utility lands that other decks couldn't possibly support.

    Why WOULDN'T you play Workshop Aggro?

    As an entirely artifact-based deck, Workshop Aggro is very limited in the cards it can run. Cards and effects that are easily splashable in other decks are unrunnable here. This includes card draw and deck manipulation, which means a Workshop Aggro deck is often at the mercy of its draw step in a way that Blue-based decks aren't.

    Another drawback of an artifact-based strategy is added vulnerability to anti-artifact cards. While Workshop Aggro has the tools to stop their opponents from casting powerful spells, a card like Energy Flux or Hurkyl's Recall can be devastating if it resolves.

    Notable Cards

    Lock Pieces

    The key card in the Workshop Aggro mana denial plan is the "sphere effect". Sphere or Resistance, Thorn of Amethyst, Trinisphere, and Lodestone Golem all make spells more expensive to cast for each player. This can make things difficult for any deck, but many Vintage decks are built around playing many spells quickly, and a sphere stops that right in its tracks. In contrast, a Workshop-based deck might only play one large threat each turn, and with its high mana count, it can operate much more effectively under sphere effects. Not all Workshop Aggro decks will run the full set of 10 spheres, but many do.

    Tangle Wire is a powerful tempo card that can cut off mana or blockers for a few critical turns, though it doesn't appear in every list. The restricted Chalice of the Void can cut an opponent off of key spells that your other denial can't stop.

    Threats

    Threats in Workshop Aggro can range from two to six mana, and some scale in size.

    Almost all lists will run 4 Phyrexian Revoker and the restricted Lodestone Golem, which act as extra lock pieces while attacking.

    Arcbound Ravager and Walking Ballista, while both threatening on their own, are a deadly combo together. Arcbound Ravager can move +1/+1 counters onto the Ballista, which can then attack and throw those counters for huge damage out of nowhere. Many lists run 4 of each of these.

    From there, Workshop Aggro pilots vary their threats based on the metagame they expect.

    Phyrexian Metamorph can act as a redundant threat or lock piece, but also copy an opponent's Blightsteel Colossus or Marit Lage token.

    Foundry Inspector can help you empty your hand quickly, and play through spheres.

    Hangarback Walker and Wurmcoil Engine can power through blockers and resist artifact removal.

    Precursor Golem is fast, and Steel Overseer can dominate a creature-stalled board ... the list goes on and on.

    Mana

    Because the entirety of Workshop Aggro consists of colorless cards, almost any mana source can be used to cast them. All lists start with the namesake Mishra's Workshop, and 4 Ancient Tomb is very common. Tolarian Academy can generate huge amounts of mana in the deck, for obvious reasons.

    Workshop Aggro decks generally include "all the artifact mana", by which most people mean Black Lotus, Sol Ring, Mana Crypt, and all five Moxes.

    Combined with the other mana disruption Workshop Aggro probably makes the best use of Wasteland and Strip Mine, and it's rare to see a deck without the full set.

    From there most lists opt to run Mishra's Factory, besides just being an extra threat, a Factory conveniently hides from sorcery speed artifact removal, can't be stolen by Dack Fayden, doesn't trigger an Oath of Druids, and does a great job holding Arcbound Ravager's +1/+1 tokens in the event of a Serenity or Energy Flux.

    Many lists stop there, but it isn't unheard of to see a specialized utility land like Karakas or Ghost Quarter. A Workshop Aggro deck has a lot of options here.

    variants

    Stax: Creature-light artifact deck that focuses entirely on mana disruption
    Forgemaster Shops: Eschews cheaper threats for Kuldotha Forgemaster and expensive finishers to get with it
    Tiny Robots: Affinty style list with fewer mana disruption, and more swarm potential

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  • Excellent primer - thanks, Brass Man! I don't have much to add, though you could include Null Rod in your list of lock pieces. I know many Shops builds don't play it, but the "Null Rod Shops" subset does to good effect.



  • Great post! Are there any good resources for learning the deck? Videos, articles, sideboard guides?

    In particular, I'm wondering about what to set Chalice on. Usually OTP turn 1, I go for Chalice on zero. Vs blue decks on later turns, I go for Chalice X=1. When do you set it on X=2 (to play around Hurkyl's) vs X=1?

    What do you set it on vs 2 Card Monte (Grindstone version)?


  • TMD Supporter

    @griselpuff said in Workshop Aggro:

    What do you set it on vs 2 Card Monte (Grindstone version)?

    I almost always play it on 1 in that matchup. You aren't going to lock them out of mana and by the time you ramp up to x=3 or 4 you would probably be dead anyway. Instead, this locks out Grindstone and most of their removal, so that's about as good as it's going to get. If they've already landed grindstone, I'd probably try to hit @3 to prevent Painter or Tinker from ending the game and hope that I have a Revoker effect for Helm of Obedience if they have a Leyline of the Void out already.

    In general when you're blind on the play you almost always want to play chalice on 0 as this is solid against the field and allows you to play two lock pieces on your first turn. If you are in early game, then you probably play it at 1 if you're against a deck that abuses those spells (or in an aggro mirror where they're running Swords to Plowshares type spells) or for zero if you're worried about artifact mana making a difference. Late game, you simply need to think about what beats you: chalice@2 is very common to prevent Hurkyl's Recall and Ancient Grudge but I've also played it at 3 to stop Tinker, etc.

    The main exceptions here are when you're worried about your own spells, e.g. Chalice@2 to block out Oath of Druids seems really great until you topdeck 2+ spheres, locking out Dredge's Nature's Claims isn't so good when you're depending on Grafdigger's Cages, etc. Not to say these can't be good decisions, they just require a bit more consideration.

    EDIT: I guess I missed part of the question. I think the consideration of when to block out 1 versus a CMC of a hoser card depends on your gamestate. If you're running the game, you need to slam shut any windows they have left. If you're trying to establish yourself, cutting off their filtering and cheap removal might be the better call.


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    @griselpuff I don't know of any resources that explicitly address Chalice, but this is an awesome place to have that discussion.

    For more general information, I'll plug my own primer for the "Mod Squad" variant here: http://themanadrain.com/topic/993/the-mod-squad-decklist-and-primer . The particular build never caught on (I don't think I've seen anyone but myself try Animation Module), but there's some decent advice in there about building and sideboarding aggressive workshop decks.

    Note that you can click the "Workshops" banner at the top of the page to see all threads tagged with Workshop, and you might be able to pick up some insight there. I'm hoping the recent site upgrades will encourage someone to write a more in-depth and up-to-date guide on playing the deck!


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    I am starting to be interested in the workshops archetype, I have been playing various blue, hatebears, and eldrazi decks in vintage for years, but I haven't worked much in the Mishra's personal playroom. I am grateful for this over-arching primer (thanks @Brass-Man !), but I don't understand why this archetype hasn't gotten more love. As far as I know, there are many different approaches to Shops from different folks in the community, but there are basically know focused primers on different versions of the deck. Any chance I could call upon those folks to write up some specifics about what makes THEIR shops different and better/worse than other versions?



  • @garbageaggro said in Workshop Aggro:

    I am starting to be interested in the workshops archetype, I have been playing various blue, hatebears, and eldrazi decks in vintage for years, but I haven't worked much in the Mishra's personal playroom. I am grateful for this over-arching primer (thanks @Brass-Man !), but I don't understand why this archetype hasn't gotten more love. As far as I know, there are many different approaches to Shops from different folks in the community, but there are basically know focused primers on different versions of the deck. Any chance I could call upon those folks to write up some specifics about what makes THEIR shops different and better/worse than other versions?

    You'd be better off actually calling them. The high-profile Workshop players in my area (Ryan Glackin, Nicholas Dijohn, etc.) don't use TMD.


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    EDIT: This was moved from a separate thread to better utilize the new system. Feel free to make separate threads to address specific questions

    I mentioned in the "DTB Workshop Aggro" thread that I am interested in shops, but I feel a dearth of information on historic lists, and why things have changed. So I reached out to some members of Team Serious who have been playing shops for many many years, and asked them some questions that occurred to me so that I could write down the answers.

    Please anyone out there with domain knowledge of these decks feel free to argue. I am going to write these out as potentially controversial "TRUTHS" of the archetype as it stands today. As well as some questions that I have, primarily rooted in the past of vintage. Mostly for that reason, because I want to stir up some conversation.

    Truths about Shops

    • Shops decks should be running at least 26 mana sources, you need a good reason to have more than 27 (in the main). Of those 26+ the following are locked in are 4 shops 4 Tomb 5 Wasteland/Strip Mine 1 Tolarian Academy
    • Shops decks should have 4 Thorn 4 Sphere 4 Phyrexian Revoker 1 Lodestone Golem
    • Most successful shops decks have 4 Ravager and 4 Ballista, and you need a good reason not to run them.
    • Forgemaster is no longer playable for a number of reasons including but not limited to: swords becoming more popular, the printing of dack fayden, the commonality of arcbound ravager, and the number of decks running 4 Phyrexian Revokers
    • People are either running Tangle Wire or Precursor Golem you are a person so you should be in this camp also

    Questions about shops moving forward

    • Can Metalworker Staff be a thing again?
    • Is going big (more duplicants, wurmcoils, steel hellkites) or going small (more chief of the foundry, steel overseer, animation module, memnite) viable?
    • What about Stax? Can we make a version that makes non-ravager, prison builds keep up with the aggro builds?
    • What about colors in shops?
    • Is any draw card worth it in shops (meaning Coercive Portal, Sea Gate Wreckage, Staff of Nin, the staff half of Metalworker Staff)?
    • Is there any weird combo-y deck with all the new weird artifacts that have been printed lately? I am thinking about Aetherflux Reservoir, Scrap Trawler, Animation Module, KCI, Genesis Chamber and some other things that people have been playing around with in modern as possible avenues.

  • TMD Supporter

    @hierarchnoble said in Workshop Aggro:

    @garbageaggro said in Workshop Aggro:

    I am starting to be interested in the workshops archetype, I have been playing various blue, hatebears, and eldrazi decks in vintage for years, but I haven't worked much in the Mishra's personal playroom. I am grateful for this over-arching primer (thanks @Brass-Man !), but I don't understand why this archetype hasn't gotten more love. As far as I know, there are many different approaches to Shops from different folks in the community, but there are basically know focused primers on different versions of the deck. Any chance I could call upon those folks to write up some specifics about what makes THEIR shops different and better/worse than other versions?

    You'd be better off actually calling them. The high-profile Workshop players in my area (Ryan Glackin, Nicholas Dijohn, etc.) don't use TMD.

    I wish this was something we could change. It gets lonely being a MUD advocate here sometimes.

    Additionally, I would love to hear insight from solid shops players regarding matchups, sideboarding, deckbuilding, and metagame interactions. There's a bevy of information we could all gain.


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    @garbageaggro said in Workshop Aggro:

    Truths about Shops

    • Shops decks should be running at least 26 mana sources, you need a good reason to have more than 27 (in the main). Of those 26+ the following are locked in are 4 shops 4 Tomb 5 Wasteland/Strip Mine 1 Tolarian Academy
    • Shops decks should have 4 Thorn 4 Sphere 4 Phyrexian
      Revoker 1 Lodestone Golem
    • Most successful shops decks have 4 Ravager and 4 Ballista, and you need a good reason not to run them.
    • Forgemaster is no longer playable for a number of reasons including but not limited to: swords becoming more popular, the printing of dack fayden, the commonality of arcbound ravager, and the number of decks running 4 Phyrexian Revokers
    • People are either running Tangle Wire or Precursor Golem you are a person so you should be in this camp also

    I don't know that I'd go as far as to say these are truths, but I think this is a really solid foundation to start a shops deck. Some of your 4's (Ancient Tomb, Sphere of Resistance, Arcbound Ravager), I have run as 3's in the past ... Ravager and Tomb in particular are great cards I rarely want to draw 2 of. (However, I so desperately want to draw 1 of them, that running 4 makes a lot of sense, too).

    I think as Shops threats get more and more streamlined, they get the ability to run less mana, and I think 25 is reasonable in some lists. Still, we're talking super minor differences here.

    I haven't figured out where I stand on Tangle Wire and Precursor Golem. At this time I'm thinking this isn't an example of Golem being so strong he edged another card out, but rather a discovery that Wire isn't as essential as it once was, and I think there's more room for experimentation here. I don't consider Wire and Golem to be necessary to the core deck in the way that a lot of the other cards you mentioned are.


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    @brass-man said in Workshop Aggro:

    At this time I'm thinking this isn't an example of Golem being so strong he edged another card out, but rather a discovery that Wire isn't as essential as it once was, and I think there's more room for experimentation here.

    I've been thinking a lot about the absence of Tangle Wire, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if existing decks will simply slot in wires if one of the sphere effects gets restricted. They both are strong tempo plays, whereas that is the extent of Tangle Wire's usefulness and Spheres also act as combo disablers.



  • Even though I'd probably like the archetype and own all the cards (on MTGO), I've never played Shops since 1) I am not a big fan of mirrors of any type; and 2) I hate the randomness of sideboard hosers determining outcomes. Since the new Eldrazi-based Shops lists mitigate against both those phenomena, I could see myself easily switching over soon.



  • @garbageaggro i will try to answer some of your questions :

    • Metalworker/staff : not the best choice with all those STP and null rods around. It requires also lots of slots so you must cut some critical ones. I did try to build one (with forgemaster too) and made it as quick and explosive as possible. It works but looses much too often to mentor ...

    • Going big or small : going big is basically adressed by my previous answer. As for going small, those kind of decks disapeard when mentor decks became a thing. I am not expert here but i guess they could not race it.

    • Stax : chalice restriction hurted a lot stax deck. Some builds do exist still but in the current meta they are not as efficient as aggro MUD can be.

    • Color: red is the best one (for goblin welder basically) but those decks are basically stax decks (see above). More over welder is very fragile to MM and STP. Years ago some blue agro decks did exist but nothing very conclusive. 5C also were played but are not being played for many years. To make it short, the drawback of color shop is the mana base (less stable and less explosive) so the advantage should overcome that, nowdays it is difficult.

    • Draw : i used to play coercive portal and staff of nim. They are good cards and a drawing engine in a shop deck is a great thing. The problem is that available slots nowadays are really few so mostof the time they don't make the cut.

    • Combo : shop decks are not playing one of the most efficient one (vault/key) so why would they run lesser ones ? A shop combo deck is difficult to build because of not many tutor effect available.



  • @albarkhane said in Workshop Aggro:

    Combo : shop decks are not playing one of the most efficient one (vault/key) so why would they run lesser ones ? A shop combo deck is difficult to build because of not many tutor effect available.

    Inventor's Fair and Kuldotha Forgemaster definitely come to mind, but the former is rather expensive to activate, and the latter has issues that have already been cited. MUD combo is a hard nut to crack -- combo pieces are often dead by themselves and fail to apply pressure or resistance to the opponents' game plan. 3-Card Monte is a thing, but that's because each combo piece does something strong enough on its own, or enough in conjunction with other parts of the deck to have merit. I'd love to play 3 voltaic keys and a time vault, but neither will pull enough weight on their own.

    As for color -- White has a ton of great prison parts (creature and non), but they can't be cast off of a workshop. That ends up being an issue much of the time, because of mana fixing and your spheres. I do wish for a world where Thalia and Suppression Field can hold hands with Sphere of Resistance and be merry.


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    @billcopes I've been messing around with a Kuldotha Forgemaster, Inventor's Fair, 4 Voltaic Key / Time Vault deck on MTGO. It's definitely not as consistent (or likely, as good) as regular Workshop Aggro ... but it wins on turn 2 and 3 a surprising amount!



  • @brass-man You should totally post that list if you have the time! Perhaps something could be viable if there were enough targets worthwhile to untap with Key.

    (As I say all of this, Null Rod is hotter than ever)



  • Theres another Workshop deck on the map called ''Stacker''!

    It's basically the original Workshop Aggro deck that was ran back in 2007.

    Heres both of the list I could find.

    // 60 Maindeck
    // 19 Artifact
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mana Vault
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Sol Ring
    4 Sphere of Resistance
    3 Sword of Fire and Ice
    4 Thorn of Amethyst

    // 21 Creature
    3 Goblin Welder
    3 Gorilla Shaman
    4 Juggernaut
    4 Magus of the Moon
    4 Solemn Simulacrum
    3 Triskelion

    // 20 Land
    4 Mishra's Factory
    4 Mishra's Workshop
    6 Mountain
    1 Strip Mine
    1 Tolarian Academy
    4 Wasteland

    // 15 Sideboard
    // 3 Artifact
    SB: 3 Crucible of Worlds

    // 4 Creature
    SB: 3 Duplicant
    SB: 1 Goblin Welder

    // 8 Instant
    SB: 2 Pyroblast
    SB: 4 Rack and Ruin
    SB: 2 Red Elemental Blast

    That's the first list, the second is just some alterations.

    // 60 Maindeck
    // 25 Artifact
    1 Black Lotus
    1 Mana Crypt
    1 Mana Vault
    1 Mox Emerald
    1 Mox Jet
    1 Mox Pearl
    1 Mox Ruby
    1 Mox Sapphire
    1 Sol Ring
    4 Sphere of Resistance
    4 Tangle Wire
    4 Thorn of Amethyst
    1 Trinisphere
    3 Umezawa's Jitte

    // 19 Creature
    2 Duplicant
    3 Goblin Welder
    3 Gorilla Shaman
    3 Juggernaut
    4 Magus of the Moon
    4 Solemn Simulacrum

    // 16 Land
    4 Mishra's Workshop
    6 Mountain
    1 Strip Mine
    1 Tolarian Academy
    4 Wasteland

    // 15 Sideboard
    // 3 Creature
    SB: 1 Razormane Masticore
    SB: 2 Triskelion

    // 4 Enchantment
    SB: 4 Leyline of the Void

    // 8 Instant
    SB: 2 Pyroblast
    SB: 4 Rack and Ruin
    SB: 2 Red Elemental Blast



  • Why Triskelion over Ballista? Would Sword of War/Peace and/or Jitte improve over Sword of F/I (and mitigate against Revoker).


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