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'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.)



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

    @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.

    I think we can agree to disagree and just stop the round and round. One 'war' require establishing and holding up mana, and costs mana to cast. The other has no mana constraints and requires no thought or trade off to use, hence its utter dominance.



  • @chubbyrain That is... Sir, that is a really good argument. I happen to be on the other side of that choice. I wish Dark Ritual saw more play (though I'm not a storm player). I wish Dark Confident and Deathrite saw more play. (Though I'm not a BUG player, generally.)... but arguing that Misstep is more interactive (in a way it is, and in a way it isn't, I'd say), and that interactivity is preferred to deck diversity... well, Sir. I applaud you. That's a totally legitimate and good argument that I just happen to disagree with.

    (I will say that I think interactivity is a longstanding, but kind of meaningless term, which would greatly benefit us all if it were replaced by the term "skill-testing"... but again, that's just me.)



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

    A balanced metagame is one in which no deck maintains a greater than 50% match win rate over a sustained period of time.

    Hum, this is interesting because I've been thinking about this lately. Do you really think a deck over 50% is a problem? Who would choose a deck with known less than 50% against the field to play with? I guess this is why we read Shops data differently. You think Shops being over 50% is a problem; I think it being 60% is OK and healthy. Care to say more on why more than 50% is an issue?

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

    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.

    I made the same comment as you without reading your comment first. Guess we don't disagree on everything then :)



  • @chubbyrain I really appreciate your effort to define a term here. Balanced Metagame = no deck maintains more than a 50% win rate over a sustained period.

    Now let me say, I think that's not a good definition. It's way, way too low a threshold of "brokenness" (Here I'm using brokenness as just, the opposite of balance.) Just apply it to other games to see why -

    In the past 10 years the Boston Red Sox have won more than 53% of its games. In that time it's logged 7 winning seasons and 3 losing seasons. Can we extend your definition, and look at that data and necessarily say that the AL east is "imbalanced"? (Taking that to mean, unfair or something like that?)

    In 2016 Magnus Carlsen entered and won the Tata Steel (winning every game), Norway Chess Championship (4 wins, one draw), Bilbao Masters (losing only 1 game), Chess.com's Grandmaster Blitz Battle Championship, and the World Chess Title. His wins to losses during the year easily exceeded a 3:1 ratio. Can we extend your definition, and look at that data and necessarily say that grandmaster level chess is "imbalanced"? (Taking that to mean, unfair or something like that?)

    Between 1940 and 1965, Sugar Ray Robinson won 173 or 200 boxing matches, 108 of those by knockout. Can we extend your definition, and look at that data and necessarily say that light/middleweight boxing was "imbalanced"? (I mean, I think it was rigged... but not because of these numbers. I also don't think these numbers are a function of the rigging.)

    By your rule, we are trying to make a statistical argument infering "unfairness" from win loss outputs. (essentially unfairness is what we mean when we say a metagame is imbalanced, I think.) That's always going to be problematic, because as we can see, sometimes some entities within a metagame are just better, even though the game itself is still essentially fair. These kind of necessarily X given the statistics are always going to be trouble...

    And even then, 50% is way to low a threshold. A good standard here has got to make some effort to tease out a difference between actual systemic "imbalance" and just a case of one entity being honestly better.

    Of course, a way better method to do this is to simply playtest cards and see if one meets some other standard of creating imbalance... ironically, we (the largest possible scope of the word we here) are basically bending over backward not to just playtest at this point.



  • @Topical_Island the sports analogy isn't totally applicable IMO because, for instance, the other baseball teams couldn't just decide to become the Boston Red Sox (time for a little game theory etc) the same way that players can choose to switch decks.

    That's all I got :-)



  • If you start by saying "I just don't expect one" when it comes to having a rational discussion....you've already given away your position and contradicted yourself. But ok let's try anway. I'll try to refrain from using the same "silly" little jabs you use, but don't think they aren't noticed ;)

    How much do we really care about your concept of a "balanced" metagame? If someone holds a tournament and 100 players show up and literally all of them are playing Blue variants, what does that mean? Do players need to be forced to play certain decks to entertain your concept of balance? That's obviously rhetorical but it's point was to illustrate that people play what they want to play. Maybe it's because it wins, maybe it's because they have the cards, maybe it's what they consider sleeving up on that particular day of that particular month of that particular year. Do you see? How arbitrary and idealist it is to achieve your sense of balance.

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

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

    It's that since we've started collecting data, it's been clear that Shops decks have outperformed other decks.

    Oh really? Ok, since when have you been collecting this data? Since before Lodestone Golem? Please link (or just tell me and confirm) when you started this process of compiling data.

    And supposed I go along with your cherry picked statistics, do you have Workshop decks broken down into Combo, Control, Aggro categories.....or just by decks containing 4 copies of Mishra's Workshop? And yes, please confirm this or I'll just assume your data is "bullcrap". So if they are broken down into those basic three categories, which Shop deck in particular makes up more than 50% of the field? And for how long? Do tell.

    That being the case, do you have the various Blue decks lumped together? I doubt that, since it might show (shudder!) that Blue decks have long had a history of dominating tournaments.....let alone Top 8's.

    As for Magic Online statistics, what can one derive from that? I'd rather be focused on actual players at actual events with actual cards. But then again, you are choosing what metrics you desire. Oh wait, that would make your reply a "crap post".

    I'm ready for you to start the rational discussion now please.


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