Why I don't think Mishra's Workshop should be restricted.

[First of all, this post is not meant to raise your blood pressure or cause you to reply in hasted hate. Just an open discussion on the repercussions of restricting an iconic card, and why I (nobody of any particular power), think we shouldn't].

We're all tired of B&R discussions, so I thought I would approach one from a different perspective. I've done a lot of thinking about the current Vintage format. I personally don't have a ton of issues with it, but it does seem like the worries of "critical mass" are becoming a little more pronounced.

I think there are a handful of different player types in Vintage.
1.) Some players look at the cards as nothing more than text, numbers, and ratios. To them, cards are nothing more than a variable to put into a formula.
2.) Some players hold older cards in reverence. They care about the types of borders, the art, the history, and maybe even the prominence of certain cards.
3.) Some players, maybe players who began online, might consider all cards equal. To them restricting a Paradox Outcome is no different than restricting a Bazaar of Baghdad.
4.) Some players only care about the variety of decks in the format.
5.) Some players want a format (and decks) that allow them to leverage their skill to a great degree.
6.) Some players care about a "balanced format" (with varying definitions of such)
7.) Some players might only care about their pet deck and its viability.

Even in competitive Vintage, there are plenty of Johnnys and Timmys among the Spikes, so it is hard to keep everyone happy.

My issue with restricting Workshop is I think that older cards should be preserved as much as possible. My favorite aspect of Vintage is the ability to form long-term relationships and experience with the same cards.

From an intrinsic perspective, Workshop is no different than a Ballista, but from a historical perspective, a new card like Ballista has no long-term value, is too new for players to form a relationship with, and as a new printing, is a way for Wizards to test limits, without upsetting the player base. Many players will disagree with this, but I'd rather restrict multiple cards and keep the Workshop engine in place, than preserve the existence of cards like Hangarback, Ballista, etc.

I know many people will quote the cost of the card, but I don't feel like that should be a primary determinant.

Others will claim of an exodus of shops players, and this is a real threat, and while I don't think the DCI should be held hostage, losing any % of Vintage players is not something to ignore either. Especially these days, as the re-buy in for paper vintage is so impossibly high.

I do think that older, iconic cards should be held to a much higher standard. Restricting Workshop, in my opinion, is akin to restricting FoW or banning Ancestral Recall.

People claim that adding a City of Shadows, or reworking your mana will nullify this restriction, but I don't think that's the case. Workshop decks (currently) have zero manipulation. Without playing Expedition Map, or something similar, seeing your singleton Workshop will be a rare event and will take a ton of flavor out of the deck. I personally bemoan the amount of "new frame" cards in shops decks as it is, this is not a deck that has stayed consistent over the last few years and has gotten more and more modern. To essentially remove an Antiquities card from the deck, takes a ton of the flavor out of Vintage. Much like Mana Confluence replacing City of Brass. But the flavor argument is a weak one, so that one doesn't bother me as much.

Blue players often forget that due to manipulation, it's not uncommon for them to see an Ancestral and/or TimeWalk multiple times a match. With a single Workshop, seeing it once during a match might be an cause for celebration.

I know we've been talking about Critical Mass in Vintage for years and years. It appears that Vintage decks have pretty arrived a that point (interestingly enough blue and shops at the same time). There is no correct answer to what is the proper way to guide the future of Vintage. Some people are okay with it turning into Standard/Legacy with moxes, and others would like it to more resemble Old School. I'm sure thoughts about Workshop probably parallel those players bases.

This isn't meant to be an overly-articulate post, or even a persuasive one. I know everyone has drawn their lines a long time ago, but I do think that some people overlook the importance of Workshop to the Workshop deck. As I said before, this is like restricting FoW or banning Ancestral.

I don't want to speak for Shops players, but I have spoken to quite a few. Many of them have enjoying playing various Shops builds over the years, and I would guess that most Shops players can stomach the loss of various Shops toys. I can't imagine too many emotional attachments to Ravager, Tangle Wire, Ballista, or even Thorn (as long as the deck stays competitive).

However, having to go back to the drawing board and playing a shops deck without shops, is not a journey that many of us would be very interested in. Restricting Mishra's Workshop is not "letting Shops players still play with Shops". Sorry, I just don't agree with that.

I have no problems agreeing that Workshop is an obviously broken card. But I do think it needs to stay in the format as a four of until we've run out of other options.

This is not meant to be an incendiary post or illicit incendiary responses. We all play Magic for various reasons, all of which are correct.

last edited by joshuabrooks

So your ENTIRE argument isnt even play based?

@13nova said in Why I don't think Mishra's Workshop should be restricted.:

So your ENTIRE argument isnt even play based?

Are you finding there to be a shortage of play-based arguments regarding Workshops on the internet?

last edited by joshuabrooks

@joshuabrooks nope, sure aint, and play is what should dictate the restriction, so this post, like all other br posts, is a pointless waste of energy

Thank you for taking the time to articulate your thoughts.

I feel like there is something there unstated in regards to right of existence; where older cards have earned more rights. This was my sentiment when chalice was restricted. Cards that have been in the format for a long time without causing the world to end. Having a never-ending card pool is highly problematic. It certainly feels like as a format, vintage is evolving much more quickly than legacy; and this is a little weird. On one hand, I appreciate at least some of the new cards. On the other hand, the sheer number of vintage playable cards is driving a greater rate of change than in the past.

I still wish that answers to cards would come as quickly.

This was a very well-written post. Unfortunately, WotC-run formats, no matter if you agree or disagree with their management, are managed by the "variables in a formula" method. Player-run formats like Commander/EDH and the Old School variations are more catered to the feelings we have about cards. We have the Reserved List to preserve the secondary market of older cards for those who care about such things. WotC, unfortunately for Vintage, bans and restricts based on data, and Mishra's Workshop is not a sacred cow.

Why I think mishra's workshop should be restricted

It's constantly been 50%+ of Top 8s in major events, has the highest Win ratio of any deck, and sports a 60% Win Ratio against the field, which is the commonly accepted best win percentage a deck can have realistically.


It might not be a sacred cow, but it is an archetype. If one of the logical reasons for restricting anything is to promote diversity (however one measures diversity) then causing one of the few non-blue archetypes to disappear from the format is likely sub-optimal.

It also has the other negative side-effect of hitting other fringe decks, like two-card monte. That was the worst part about the Gush restriction, Doomsday took an arrow to the knee.

But this is fairly divergent to Josh's post, so I'll curb that line of reasoning.

I have stated this in other similar threads but will reiterate my feelings here....In other formats (standard and modern primarily) when the DCI bans cards, there is always a segment of the player community who's pet deck gets nerfed, and they throw their hands up, put their cards in the closet and say "I quit!". Maybe this hits some local scenes harder than others, but when it comes to larger events, the impact of these folks no longer wanting to play is almost meaningless, there will "always" be more players who want to play these formats (especially standard).

This is very different from Vintage, where the player base is significantly smaller and not growing at any recognizable pace. Restricting something like Workshop, whether validly based on data and statistics or not WILL cause people to quit the format, plain and simple. If your response to that is good riddance and grow up, fine; I personally do not see how a format that struggles to meet attendance floors for its most prestigious events can possibly withstand a restriction that would alienate a whole segment of players.

Maybe the critical mass of artifacts that suck in every other format but are mega playable with a 4-of-artifact-only black lotus that never goes away is real, but I do not think the impact of players that will literally stop playing vintage can be ignored. Is it fair for these folks to hold the format hostage...no of course not, but I do not think that a Shops restriction is the way to go right now. I would rather see sweeping restrictions of Sphere, Ravager, and Revoker, In addition to Mentor, Preordain, and Mental Misstep.

@p3temangus but people will quit if they change nothing. People will quit at every decision point, and indecision is a decision. "People will quit" has never been a valid argument. "More people will quit if you do X than Y" is a lot closer, but I don't know how we figure that out. Neither argument accounts for the huge volume of players that aren't playing but might start. There is no straightforward answer here, there is no answer (straightforward or otherwise) that hurts no one.

last edited by Brass Man

Restrict Sphere, see if that makes Shops too vulnerable to combo to be the dominant deck. If it does weaken Shops enough, fine. If not, unrestrict Sphere and Golem, and take out Workshops. A Workshops restriction at this stage seems premature if there's a reasonable expectation other restrictions can produce the desired effect.

The whole thing seems very simple to me. Misstep needs to be banned, because it is a trash card that results in the wholesale avoidance of the 1cmc slot and adds nothing. It is the ultimate circle jerk card and it wrecks diversity. Mentor needs to go as well, because it chokes out all of the other creature strategies. Other than that? No changes. People managed to beat shops when it had 4x trinisphere. People managed to beat shops when it had 4x chalice. I could see restricting ballista at some point in the future, but really that's it.

It's comical to me to hear people arguing that shops is warping the format. Shops is eminently beatable, there are a ton of hate cards that have applications in other matchup, and the deck just loses to itself far more often than mentor.

Imagine a scenario where you can only hit either mentor or shops. What do you think the format looks like if you keep mentor? It will look the same. The same decks that are ridiculously outclassed are still ridiculously outclassed. If you ditch mentor and keep shops as is, you might actually see some new things pop up. Hitting mentor and misstep would go a long way towards opening The format upbagain.

This post is deleted!

@p3temangus said in Why I don't think Mishra's Workshop should be restricted.:

This is very different from Vintage, where the player base is significantly smaller and not growing at any recognizable pace.

And because the Vintage player base is so minuscule and does not generate much revenue for the company (if any revenue at all), why should WotC pay any attention to this format? The officers and employees of the company have a fiduciary duty to the shareholders to allocate capital and other resources properly and efficiently. From this perspective many conversations held here at MD about banning/restricting cards in Vintage are just complete nonsense. Yes, there are Vintage enthusiasts at the company and outside, however WotC is not a charity organization. Vintage is important for us as players who have some nostalgic attachments to old memories or younger players who want to be cool and play some retro-card with older boys, but does WotC care about this?

Anyway, I think it is inevitable to see more restrictions in the future. They will lag new printings, but such as a reflective nature of the process. Some vintage decks already look like EDH decks with only a few cards at 4x, so the discussion is not about what should be restricted, but when each of the pillar-cards will be restricted.

last edited by Chronatog

@chronatog I cannot agree more, except now Wizards/DCI gets to look at Daily sanctioned vintage results of at least 12 people combined with weekly "premier" events that draw 40-60ish via MTGO. They are well within their rights to completely ignore non-sanctioned proxy paper vintage and focus only on the digital product where they are not a slave to the reserved list and can actually make money off this medium. One big event per year (NA Champs) can help put the spotlight on specific Meta issues (assuming they even shake themselves out in a single event/T8...) but the fact is that MTGO is the biggest and most consistent supplier of Vintage Data, and that data says that something should probably change, and probably change drastically.

MTGO allowing for more efficient metagame "solving" and the inevitable power creep that comes with keeping a global card game floating for going on 30 years may ultimately be the slow "death by 1000 cuts" for the Vintage format as we know it.

The sky didn't fall when Brainstorm was restricted.

The sky won't fall when Workshop is.

@13nova I didn't say that removing misstep and mentor would make shops worse, I said that it would open the format up. Mentor essentially invalidates all other creature based strategies. Workshops invalidates, like belcher maybe? Being able to have the machine gun option at only 2 cmc in the form of ballista may be too much at some point, but in general the deck can be attacked a few different ways, and the hate cards are varied and have other applications.

Workshop can be a little un fun sometimes, but it serves a valuable role in our ecosystem. Removing mentor and opening up the potential of other creature based strategies could have interesting effects on shops.

Misstep is pure circle jerk btw, it's dead vs shops and is played because you have to play it, so you can fight over the other guys misstep. It has no positive implications on shops matchup. If you think mentor should be allowed to exist as a 4 of, you're just beyond all reason.

last edited by rikter

@13nova said in Why I don't think Mishra's Workshop should be restricted.:

The sky didn't fall when Brainstorm was restricted.

The sky won't fall when Workshop is.

You might be right, but I can't predict hypothetical metagames. I will say that I am not sure if Brainstorm is an equivalent comparison to Workshop. I personally believe most Shops players could eventually stomach almost any restriction to Shops, except Workshop. But Brainstorm was what, the fifth most endearing blue card at the time? And there are so many substitutive cards for Brainstorm that it's not even a core card anymore.

Regardless, I'll agree that Vintage can "survive" anything, but there is a lot more competition for that audience. Whether it's families, careers, or middle age, these decisions can't be taken lightly. In fact, if Champs doesn't move back to the east coast soon, I'd argue that the Old School tournament might begin to become almost as big of a draw. A lot of the qualities of Old School, are what used to be prime motivators for Vintage players. But I know you hate Old School, so I won't belabor the point. I, like you, would prefer Vintage to thrive. It's a format that's been on fumes many times in the past and yet somehow has survived this long. I dream of being able to play in Champs with my daughters someday, or at least the option, so we both want the same thing. I'd just hate to see Vintage get blended into the MTGO world and look the same as every other format, except for a handful of cards. I've always enjoyed the uniqeness and rogueish qualities of being a Vintage player.

I don't know what the right answer is (and neither does anybody else). There are too many factors to account for. The DCI has to try things, and either they are embraced or rejected, but nobody knows what that magic formula for popularity is. I merely started a thread asking that people consider preserving what I consider a key card for Vintage, at the cost of lesser, substitutive cards (assuming something has to happen that is).

I would argue, however, that Shops players are among the most open minded Vintage players to change. Even two years ago they weren't all playing 8 spheres. Some would love to go back to Terra Nova, or Martello, or Stax. But I am guessing they just want to do it with Workshops.

I think the biggest issue is that restricting Mishra's Workshop, is in many eyes, the same as banning Mishra's Workshop.

last edited by joshuabrooks

To be fair, after having played the deck for a bit I can't understand all the stress surrounding the archetype. A lot of opening hands fall apart if your opponent just disrupts one correct card and often an early resolved Mentor or Tinker is is an unbeatable struggle. Worst thing is that despite the deck name I only have access to Workshop itself in like 60% of the games, so there are already a good number of games without the namesake card. Actually, this may be biased, but I would argue that my blue opponents have more Recalls then I have Workshops.

Right now I'm not sure if anything really needs restriction. Taking Workshop or even a Sphere might make the deck so inconsistent that it will mostly turn into Robot Beats which is probably not good enough against the degeneracy of other decks.

As far as the metagame goes, Workshop is just the most played archetype and while the meta went into the right direction with decks packing up to 4 Null Rod 2 weeks ago, it already went the exact opposite way this week, rewarding people who play Shops variants that are super soft to Null Rod. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Someone suggested "restricting Ballista" - no way this is ever going to happen. It's nowhere over the top compared to a lot of other things, just a flexible card. I'd say the creatures are all safe...

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