The Curious Case of Mishra's Workshop



  • @smmenen I think it leaves many spells off the list to begin with, or because the spots are consumed by Missteps they are squeezed out. Blue stew lists now universally begin with

    4 force
    a bulk of the blue restricted draw
    3.8 Missteps

    "A common retort is that Force of Will is played (slightly) more than Misstep. No sane person is advocating a Force of Will restriction. This is an inaccurate comparison. A quick look at building a deck from scratch reveals this. Nobody discards a card from contention in a list because it gets countered by Force of Will. Nobody omits a card from a deck because it can be Force of Willed or Mana Drained or Spell Pierced or Spell Snared or even Flusterstormed. Mental Misstep alone wears that crown of shit. Go listen to or read any Vintage focused set review. They are littered with sighs, ‘oh wells,’ and qualifications about what a waste of time a 1 mana sorcery speed spell in the face of a hail of Missteps. So why does this even matter? What has been left on the scrap heap of deck building due to being a massive tempo blowout when a +1 mana, 2 life instant gets exchanged for your actual mana?

    Misstep oppresses many cards that can tactically fight Shops and Mentor/Blue Stew, especially post-Thorn restriction. Those cards either aren’t worth sinking mana in to, or you are sucked in to the same endless vortex that got it banned everywhere else: Misstepping the Misstep that Misstepped the Misstep. Unlike Force of Will, more Force doesn’t beget more Force. But the best way to fight Misstep is Misstep, because in Magic nothing beats free. This is worth reiterating, we are at 4 Missteps because of how the card and resulting play pattern operates. If no one plays it its efficacy wanes, but once its adoption grows it spreads everywhere because there’s nothing more efficient than no mana."

    Cards are discarded either because they get Misstepped or by process of deckbuilding because in order to waste a main phase mana on lets say a DRS or a Sensei Top you have to play 3.8 Missteps.

    Anecdotally this weekend as a thought experiment I went back to U/b control and eschewed Missteps for Thoughtseizes (yes I know I can play them both). Wasting mainphase mana to have it Missteped, without being able to Misstep back was brutal. Even playing slower and having my Flusterstorm up did nothing in the face of 2 Missteps. Leaving me having spent 2 mana and my opponent having spent no mana, and actually being +2 mana on the inevitable delve spell. The card is broken, phyrexian mana is broken. Again, in my opinion.



  • @smmenen said in The Curious Case of Mishra's Workshop:

    Also, does anyone believe that Misstep pushes people off of 1cc spells anywhere except at the margins? The format is full of 1cc spells. If you were to examine the Vintage format before the printing of Misstep and after it's printing and use, I doubt you'd find a statistical observable difference in the ratio of 1cc spells.

    I think it's emergence in Dredge speaks volumes. There is no competitive Vintage deck that doesn't either play 3.8 Missteps alongside its 1 drops or purposefully ignore it (Shops / The corpse of White Eldrazi). There are fringe decks that did not place in any significant numbers (Defense Grid Combo decks for example).



  • @smmenen said in The Curious Case of Mishra's Workshop:

    Also, does anyone believe that Misstep pushes people off of 1cc spells anywhere except at the margins? The format is full of 1cc spells. If you were to examine the Vintage format before the printing of Misstep and after it's printing and use, I doubt you'd find a statistical observable difference in the ratio of 1cc spells.

    I think you'd see a difference in which spells. Sure, people play Pyroblast and Ancestral. They're both instants. You can sneak one through a Misstep war by fighting on the stack. I bet you'd see a large reduction in the number of 1cmc sorcery speed plays (with a possible exception of Cage, but even that might be lower than anticipated).



  • I for one think the format got faster over the years and the overall CMC of cards got way lower. So having 7-8 cards that interact with the opponent when on the draw (4 FoWs, 3-4 Missteps) is a huge benefit to the format. Imo if we got rid of misstep the coin flip would be much more important because it would reduce greatly what the opponent could do turn 1 to stop you on the draw.



  • @fsecco Specifically what 1 mana printings? Specifically what printings since Misstep rose to the levels I cite in the article (3+)? We lived for years with Ritual, Duress, Mana Vault, Sol Ring, Thoughtseize, Mystic Remora, Voltaic Key, Top Deck Tutors, and they didn't dominate, what are the net new 1 drops that Misstep combats and keeps us safe from? The compelling ones I can think of are Delver. A 1/1 creature in a deck that plays 4 Missteps. How threatening is Delver if your opponent has to tap out and use Force or Daze to protect it against removal that costs you know, mana?

    Edit: a better argument is that the castration of the taxing archtype would make restricted Misstep 'unsafe' as the natural predator to rituals has been so emaciated that it would run rampant. I don't believe this as we've got plenty of on the stack and permanent based solutions to combo that it wouldn't strangle the format. It might be actually present as opposed to now where its just gone.



  • Derpstep --> Skillstep was hardly an improvement, @nedleeds.

    Also, saying that KeyVault didn't dominate or that Rituals weren't a huge problem is revisionist history.

    Mental Misstep is probably one of the single best features of Vintage right now (or perhaps better put: its omnipresence is correlated with one of the best features of Vintage). The fact that I have to run it because I need to be able to counter Swords to Plowshares and Delver of Secrets speaks to how far Vintage has come from its dark days.



  • @nedleeds Either Misstep stops 1-ofs from being considered during deckbuilding OR it isn't that game-warping. You need to choose one.
    You can't say Misstep warps the whole metagame around it and then also say that 1 mana cards weren't that important to the metagame in the same argument.

    I've said this several times, but I think Misstep makes specially Ancestral Recall harder to cast and that's actually huge and good for the format. That it slows down a bunch of other stuff helps too. Dark Ritual, Vault, Sol Ring, Deathrite, Thoughtseizes, everything you are naming, for me are important cards to be slowed down and help A LOT the format to not be just a coin flip. A resolved turn 1 Thoughtseize may mean you're dead that very turn. If you Misstep it, your opponent will NOT throw his whole hand on the chance you don't have FoW.

    Also, we all know Misstep got to the 3,6 range when Chalice was restricted and everyone started playing a bunch of 1 mana spells again. Chalice did make people change deckbuilding. Misstep doesn't because it can combat itself so it's just another counterwar.



  • Not sure what's new here...blue players have been hounding for the restriction of Workshop for ages.

    I define a deck as being 'blue' pretty much if it can support FoW and has a MINIMUM of 14 blue cards.

    When you see tournament results it's funny how 'blue' decks are put in so many categories lol...how do you want to win with blue? Oath? Tinker? Planeswalker?

    Then notice pretty much all Workshop decks are put in one category (Shop) instead of Workshop Control, Workshop Aggro, or Workshop Combo.

    If you did the same thing with Blue decks and lumped them all together, you would see a trend at who's been winning tournaments in higher numbers for years now... yet restricting Workshop is still the call? Geez, the more things change the more they stay the same.



  • @madmanmike25 We've been putting Workshop Combo in with combo since we started. We've had Force of Will tags and delineated between Ravager Shops and other variants of Shops. This position is ridiculous, but you don't really care do you. It's much easier to play the victim. Continue with your straw man...

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  • TMD Supporter

    @madmanmike25 I never seen Matt put 2 Card Monte (Workshop Combo) in the same category as the Workshop Ravager decks (Workshop Aggro).

    *Edit: This is not a knock against you. I just see that most Workshop decks people play today fall under one category, so it doesn't leave Matt a lot of room to add every variation. You rarely see smokestack decks on mtgo or even at champs. Hell, as a 2 Cart Monte player myself, that deck is very rarely played itself too.



  • @smmenen Raises Hand

    Mental Misstep stat tracking

    According to mtgtop8 (which I have been following for years, and which I find not just to be good, but in fact the best source for metagame breakdown):

    in the past 4 months, 61% of decks have contained Misstep, with an average of 3.4 copies per deck, bringing the number of Missteps per top 8 to saturation % of Misstep in those top 8 decks to 16.59 copies, and the saturation % of Missteps to 51.8% (or just over half of the possible slots that could be filled with Misstep, are actually being filled with Misstep... which is in fact, a huge number.)

    in the past 3 years those numbers look almost identical. 60% of decks, with an average of 3.5 copies per deck. 16.8 copies per top 8, saturation % is 52.5%

    That's about how prevalent Misstep is... Very prevalent.

    Put this another way... If we extrapolate those numbers out to a field of players, not just top 8 decks, but the whole field, and say that about 60% of decks run Missteps, and decks that run Missteps run about 3.5 copies per deck, and you sit down to make a turn 1 play against an unknown player with an unknown vintage deck. Your opponent is holding 7 cards. Knowing nothing about their cards other than that those cards have Magic the Gathering printed on the back, there is an amazing 22% chance the opponent is holding a Misstep in their hands! And we don't even know what deck they're on!

    (Bonus stat... there is an almost unbelievable, roughly 5% chance that an unknown deck is holding 2 or more Missteps in their opening 7!)



  • @smmenen you might be right about the ratio of 1cc spells... though I kinda doubt it. Statistically observable is a pretty low threshold. And in any case, it's kinda always going to be good arithmetic but bad mathematics even if you don't see any change to the overall number of 1cc spells, since a huge portion of the 1cc spells that people play now is in fact, made up of Missteps... which is kinda the whole point of the Misstep discussion.

    Look for example, at the metagame saturation of dark ritual in that time... just to name a card... the 1ccs that people actually play, has narrowed enormously.



  • @topical_island And people thought Chalice was the card that kept Storm in check...

    Misstep was oppressive in Legacy but Legacy lacks Ancestral Recall. It lacks Yawgmoth's Will, Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Necropotence, Wheel of Fortune, Timetwister...

    We talk about how Vintage isn't the insane, broken format that people often cite as a reason to not play it. How much is due to that 22% chance that the opponent has Misstep in their hand? Interactivity vs diversity...I'd pick interactivity here. That's just me though.



  • @fsecco said in The Curious Case of Mishra's Workshop:

    @nedleeds Either Misstep stops 1-ofs from being considered during deckbuilding OR it isn't that game-warping. You need to choose one.
    You can't say Misstep warps the whole metagame around it and then also say that 1 mana cards weren't that important to the metagame in the same argument.

    I'm not saying 1 mana cards aren't important I'm saying they either aren't played because they cost mana and Misstep doesn't. That's it really. The historic presence of 1 drops in competitive decks is a confluence of many factors. But currently non defensive grid blue deck building has been reduced to 52 cards minus other restricted stuff and cantrips. This means that by the time you get around to adding those 1CMC cards and the Missteps to not make their inclusion a complete waste of cardboard you have run out of space. Everyone plays it because it's incestuous. It's terrible and a blight on the format just as it was everywhere else.

    Your argument that losing to Ancestral isn't good for type 1 is certainly valid though like most play pattern arguments (like one of the charges I level against Misstep) highly subjective. Watching 2 players trade Missteps is dumb, dulling and just as random as having a restricted card. I've accepted the chance of getting Vintaged by the original mistakes long before Misstep was printed. There's still the same chance of having your 1 Misstep as they having their 1 Ancestral, also we might see the prior solutions to Ancestral see play again like Misdirection which has been squeezed out. Also Misdirection replacing a Misstep or 2 would ensure blue stew decks keep that miserable game 1 matchup versus shops that they so cherish.



  • I'd be curious to know of those who abhor Misstep vs. those that believe its a positive influence on Vintage deck building and game play how many on each side started playing before New Phyrexia or after. I get the sense a sub-segment of players have never started building a deck without 4 force, 3-4 misstep and the delve spells. This would certainly bring a different perspective, it's a safety net and a play pattern certain players have never played without.



  • @chubbyrain said in The Curious Case of Mishra's Workshop:

    This position is ridiculous, but you don't really care do you. It's much easier to play the victim

    That's funny, because it seems the blue players are the ones playing the victim. Hence the uproar for restricting Workshop.

    Maybe you have been accurately representing Workshop and maybe you haven't, I don't know. I do know that you aren't the only one who has compiled data on deck lists in tournaments so my position stands because I've seen it. Shops decks are conglomerated and then they list BlueX, BlueY, BlueZ, etc etc.

    But your position is one of calling others' positions ridiculous so you don't really want a rational discussion do you.



  • @nedleeds said in The Curious Case of Mishra's Workshop:

    I'd be curious to know of those who abhor Misstep vs. those that believe its a positive influence on Vintage deck building and game play how many on each side started playing before New Phyrexia or after. I get the sense a sub-segment of players have never started building a deck without 4 force, 3-4 misstep and the delve spells. This would certainly bring a different perspective, it's a safety net and a play pattern certain players have never played without.

    I've been playing since 95, so I don't think this argument has any kind of substance.

    I just don't get how Misstep wars are different from Mana Drain wars back then. You have a counter, they have a counter. The end. If Misstep didn't have phyrexian mana it would be just bad, because the main importance it has is to add more cards so you can interact turn 0. That's the thing: Misstep makes the format MORE interactive, since now you have 7-8 spells that can interact with your opponent turn 0.

    I don't think you remember this correctly, but Vintage games could be much more lopsided than they're now. At least that's my take on it. Vintage slowed down and got way more interactive in the last... 6 years or so? I don't know, I stopped playing for a while in 2009. But right now if feels very interactive and for me it's because of Misstep. FoW was always a very important card in Vintage and now you don't have to mulligan aggressively for FoW in certain matchups. A FoWless hand would be IMPOSSIBLE to keep vs combo. Nowadays you can keep a hand with 1-2 Missteps as protection on the draw without much hassle - and your opponent needs to play accordingly, so it's not just FoW or Bust anymore, it's much more strategically deep than that.

    Also Misdirection doesn't substitute Misstep not in a million years, because it's unable to deal with a lot the format is doing right now, and is just so much worse than Flusterstorm in Blue x Blue counter wars that's not funny. Flusterstorm made Misdirection obsolete, not Misstep.



  • It hasn't been FoW or bust since Mindbreak Trap was printed. That's a reasonable combo counter. So is Flusterstorm against anything but a turn 1 kill.

    If Misstep only hit instants and sorceries, it would still be good but not stupid. I don't mind seeing Misstep hit Ancestral. I really hate seeing it hit Thoughtseize, but whatever. The real damage is to creatures and 1 drop permanents that had a place in the format and no longer do. Mana dorks like Hierarch and Deathrite are practically unplayable because getting your turn 1 play tempo'd is backbreaking so often.

    I really, really loathe Misstep. It's interactivity of the worst sort. At least a Chalice you can play around and remove to unlock your hand.



  • @madmanmike25 To the contrary, I welcome a rational discussion. I just don't expect one.

    A balanced metagame is one in which no deck maintains a greater than 50% match win rate over a sustained period of time. Decks can transiently be "the best deck", but the metagame then responds to that - people pick up the deck and others change aspects of their deck to combat the best deck. Balanced - like a scale; not as a synonym for "healthy" or whether a person likes the format or not. It's an objective measurement. If we don't see this equilibrium around 50%, that indicates structural issues within the format. For instance, there can be cost barriers that prevent the expected increase in metagame share when a deck starts winning, which is largely the case with Vintage. There can be a lack of answers in a format the prevents other decks from adjusting, though this is much more common in smaller formats such as Standard that have a limited card pool. And of course, different people like to play different types of decks in every format.

    The issue with Shops isn't some Blue vs. Artifact bullcrap or some sort of prejudice against Mishra. It's that since we've started collecting data, it's been clear that Shops decks have outperformed other decks. We've calculated win rates from almost every major event and from MTGO, and Shops has done exceedingly well in paper events to the tune of a 60% win rate or higher though multiple restrictions. The reason why your tired excuse for an argument doesn't hold water is that no matter how you slice the "blue" slice of the pie, you don't come close to Shops success. You are debating a point no one is making...Of course there should be non-blue options in Vintage. I would challenge you to find a credible voice against that. The issue is those options shouldn't be better than the rest of the field. Heck, the blue decks shouldn't be better than the best of the field. The key to a competitive format is balance, and that was previously lacking from the format.

    I say previously because despite these silly discussions, we continue to collect data and publish it. It does look like Shops is regressing towards 50% on Magic Online, largely because of a significant upswing in Oath decks. However, this is a marathon, not a sprint. The key is the equilibrium point - where does the scale stop and is that balanced in the end. In the meantime, there should be reflection by the Vintage community on the underlying issues uncovered here. Should there be sacred cards immune to restriction? What cost in terms of other restrictions are reasonable? What is the actual impact of Shops and its role in the format? But instead we get these crap posts about "bias". The view that there is some sort of pogrom against Mishra and non-blue decks is frankly offensive and tiresome. There are data, there are metagame forces, there are reasonable approaches against Shops that conform with the constraints of the format. Lets focus on those and leave these "fake news" arguments in politics where they sadly belong right now.

    How about we start here for a rational discussion?



  • Does anyone else here feel as if Misstep actually gets functionally much more powerful if restricted? I say that for 2 reasons:

    1 - Potential for surprise blowouts. Right now everyone knows that they should at least assume misstep is a thing, and some even alter deck construction as a result. If there is only one copy in a deck, there is far less incentive to build around it, which will also lead you into situations where, not expecting it, your crucial spell gets countered at the wrong time and you lose. Unpredictability can make for bad play decisions (which is good and bad)
    2 - Misstep is the best counter for misstep. i don't think most dispute this. so once again, if you want to protect against a misstep, and also use it as protection for the myriad other strategies in the format it protects against like storm, you run it. But now the times where it will get played and countered by the opposing copy will be reduced significantly, and the viable counters to it in the format go down, meaning it in effect may become more devastating when played.

    I know that is somewhat circular logic, but I really think you can make the comparison to a lot of cards on the Restricted list. Timevault for instance, may actually be a better card on the restricted list than not, because your opponent has to play a bluffing game against you and sometimes you can surprise them or force them into bad plays where they are anticipating it and you blightsteel instead (or something like that.)


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