The Curious Case of Mishra's Workshop

@chubbyrain I agree with everything you said. I'd also like to point out that Magic has done a lot to promote balance/parity as well. But let's remember that the Red Sox analogy was to point out that one can't make a claim that a play environment/metagame (metagame being slightly misused as a term at this point) necesarily lacks balance because a 50/50 win rate isn't being achieved. In fact, when we apply that standard to other games... baseball, chess, boxing, as I was doing, I think it's readily apparent how that sort of "necessarily imbalanced" argument is a bit absurd. That was the point.

While I agree with everything you said about the Red Sox, including how cool baseball is, I don't see how any of it actually changes the point about how problematic that "necessarily imbalanced" argument is...

I disagree that Wizard's primary obligation is to generate profits. But I have heard that argument a lot, and understand that it's widely accepted. That is going to turn into an econ/philosophy argument pretty quick, and we can get into that on another thread I suppose, but I don't agree with the statement of, profit = goal, goal = profit... it's certainly more complicated than that.

Are you M. Night Shyamalan? Workshop article, WHAT A TWIST!, complaint about Mental Misstep.

@chubbyrain That is correct. I consider a deck to be blue if it can easily support Force of Will. It's good that you brought up Oath because the recent list I saw from brianpk80(I remember him from this site) has twenty two (22!) blue cards. While I totally appreciate the subtleties involving sub-classifications, I don't think it's entirely unreasonable for me to be willing to lump that in as a "Blue" deck. Could you agree to that? That deck, and others, support my claim that it's fair to say Blue decks are doing good in the field, and always have been. Maybe I should phrase it like this: What is your major concern with the current state of Workshop in the format? Anything specific that I missed?

And I know B&R discussions get heated. Jesus, I remember the fury that was unleashed when they restricted Brainstorm. So I'm sure you've been met with plenty of "Don't restrict my Workshop!" without anything following after it. I get it, that's annoying.

And it probably isn't that problematic to lump Shop decks since they are mostly the same currently. I just wanted to point out that for years they have in fact done that. And they have never done that with Blue to the same extent. I've seen a variety of decks simply labeled as "Shop" when compiling the data in the past. I believe that history has caused some to view Mishra's Workshop as being too dominant, when DIRECTLY compared to Blue decks (or Force of Will, if you rather), that's simply not the case.

Yes, I accidentally cast Juxtapose on the restriction timings of those two cards! Or perhaps someone used Mindslaver on me...Either way, those restrictions turned my MUD heart to stone.

Could you direct me to the screenshot post of that turn 2 win?


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Turn 1: Mishra's Workshop > Foundry Inspector > Sol Ring > Mox x 3 > Sphere (Forced) > Ballista on 2

Turn 2: Ravager off Workshops > Pump Ballista with Moxen + Ring > Sac Moxen + Ring to Ravager (Ravager now 5/5) > Sac Ravager to own ability > Modulate counters onto Ballista (Ballista is now an 8/8) > Attack for 11 and Shoot for 8.

Yeah, this was an insane start, but I think it demonstrates two important aspects of the current Shops deck. One is the explosiveness that's enabled by Foundry Inspector. The other is the reach and combo kill enabled by Ravager + Ballista. While many wins feel closer with the deck (as opposed to just Sphering the opponent out), it can still get there and that's why it's been quite strong over the past several years despite losing two and now three lock pieces.


Yes, but this entire line of play could have been avoided if your opponent had just freaking forced the Inspector. Players NEVER seem to make that judgement call and it costs them. I blame blue pilot’s incompetence for shops dominance more than any sort of structural defects from blue decks.


Is that really any different from someone playing Dredge and getting 7 zombies with Dragonlord Kolaghan on turn 2? That requires some awesome dredging but happens at fair percentage.

@stormanimagus That wouldn't have been the correct call because the opponent's hand had plenty of mana. His follow up would have been Sphere of Resistance, Ballista for 3 on turn 2, Ravager + Pump Ballista (4/4) + Sac 5 artifacts and Modulate onto Ballista (10/10) on turn 3. The opponent would have been delayed a turn by the Sphere and had to tap out on turn 3 to cast Oath. Granted, we don't know all of the available information such as the top card of the opponent's library, but you can hardly fault Backbreaker for playing the way he did. I can fault you though for calling him incompetent, though, and not puzzling out alternative lines. Seems pretty lazy and judgemental.

@moorebrother1 This is one of those crappy arguments I've been railing against... It's not a matter of how broken a deck's best draws are, it's a matter of how often those decks are winning. Dredge is around 50% based on our available data - it's perfectly balanced within the metagame. Paradoxical, which has similarly busted draws, is below 50%. While people can certainly try to argue that these decks are not interactive and should be restricted on those grounds (I wouldn't find them compelling honestly). However, that isn't the argument most people are making with regards to Shops. Could you stop misrepresenting the other side's argument? Please?

I do not believe this "discussion" has a side. I am with @jaco on this since I also own all of the cards and I try to play everything. I think the discussion around Mental Misstep is very interesting since I do see valid points on either side.

Being honest, I traded my workshops away back in 2004 and I just bought a new playset this year. The reason I traded them is that once Trinisphere was restricted Shop became a very boring deck and I need a Lotus so I traded for the Lotus.

I look at Shop now and it looks fun. The difference is the transition from Prison/Control over the years into an Aggo deck. I play at RIW Hobbies and for the past year 2 Card Monte has been heavily played and that is a Shop combo deck.

I do not see an issue with meta game but I do see something interesting with players and their choices, especially when it comes to Mental Misstep.

@moorebrother1 Fair enough. Could you stop misrepresenting the most common argument for Shop's restriction? Play sequences like the one above are being used to 1) emphasize the aggressive nature of current Shops builds and 2) explain how this doesn't imply a weakening of the archetype. No one is (or very few people are) arguing that Shops is doing something more broken than other decks. I am certainly not.

Based on your background, you are an example of Vintage trying to serve different masters. You play in monthly small events with metagames that diverge from broader, more competitive metagames. This isn't meant to invalidate your opinion, but I would counter that it's going to lead you to different conclusions than those who play more regularly in larger events.

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

Yeah, this was an insane start

Thanks for the screenshot.

Dear lord, that's crazy. He get's to play his entire opening hand of 7 cards plus the one he drew.....and then topdecks the Ravager?

Situations like these are definitely outliers. It's fun when it happens (unless you are the opponent), but that's such an anomaly.

Statistically, a turn 2 Oath should win with a higher frequency. While it definitely shows the potential explosiveness for Shop Aggro, I'm not sure how much this situation matters for the big picture.

@madmanmike25 That's why we collect the data and why they are the most important part (or should be the most important part) of any argument. Again, the point is not that Shops is doing anything inherently unfair in a format that has Power. It's that it's winning way more than other decks. I only mentioned it because you expressed disbelief that the deck was still winning despite the restrictions of Lodestone and Chalice. Shops as it's built right now asks "do you have the right answers", "did you draw enough mana to cast them" and "can you assemble them before you die?" It's the advantage of playing an aggro/tempo deck of considerable power.


It’s possible that in that particular game it almost doesn’t matter WHAT he forces he maybe still just loses. My point is that if I’m on the oath side of the table there I easily force the inspector in vacuum cause that usually slows my opponent’s win by at least a turn and likely 2. Players not understanding the simple math of inspector and how busted it is is what irritates me when they complain about losing to it. Again, this situation may have been one where the hand was too broken to fight through with a single fow but many will not be and the play pattern of letting inspector resolve is almost always incorrect in my experience.

last edited by Stormanimagus

@stormanimagus You Force the Inspector when you have turn 2 Oath of Druids? Noah, I'm pretty sure you're shouldn't be the judge of which Blue players are competent or not....


Blind? Sure. There’s no guarantees that they have a sphere at all and certainly not on turn 1 if inspector didn’t resolve. You are missing the forest for the trees. The forest is their clock, which is dangerously fast with mr. inspector. Without it one can trust an oath deck to get to 3 lands by the time it matters. With it in play all bets are off and insane speed is no a possibility. Remember that sphere hampers their speed as well with no inspector in play and their ability to lethal you. I have the same problem with players who don’t force Lotus vs blue only to get blown out by multiple threats the following turn. Again, do not conflate my comments with this particular scenario where the shop player kinda had it all and also topdecked like a champ. Understand that I’m playin the numbers and making the play that wins me the majority of games.

@stormanimagus Yes, Inspector is a good card. No, you don't blind Force it. It's contextual and I have played many more competitive matchups against Shops with Blue decks than you have. Having a turn 2 Oath of Druids on the play is one such instance when I wouldn't do so. Please stop assuming 70% of Vintage players are morons.

last edited by Guest


I only do cause they repeatedly demonstrate that they are. Sorry, but i also have a lot of experience with the matchup and your line is frequently incorrect even if you have a turn 2 Oath. It really depends on your hand and the other support cards you have though. Sorry, not backing down on this.

last edited by Stormanimagus

It is absolutely possible for two people to disagree on a line of play without calling each other names. Please find a way to do so.

Are people still calling for a Shops restriction or did this blow over? My personal feeling was that blue decks just needed to start playing 8+ artifact hate spells between the main and SB. I think you're starting to see that now.

Take this Grixis Pyromancer deck (6-0 Vintage Challenge Dec 02, 2017):

MD: 1 Dack Fayden
SB: 4 By Force, 3 Shattering Spree, (1 Mountain)

And this Team Leovold deck (6-0 Vintage Challenge Dec 16, 2017):

MD: 2 Dack Fayden, 2 Abrupt Decay, 1 Kolghan's Command
SB: 1 EE, 3 By Force, 1 Abrupt Decay, 1 Ancient Grudge

I think Kolaghan's Command and Abrade are underplayed and so are wrath effects.

I also support the Mental Misstep restriction-- to me it ticks all the boxes: (1) too good, (2) not fun, and (3) format warping/homogenizing. But I'm willing to see how the format evolves.

last edited by hyperborea

@hyperborea This strategy really only works if you believe in vintage being a binary format (maybe trinary if you count dredge) between shops and blue. The argument from many people is that the very existence of Shopsx4 keeps decks out of the format.

I think this debate still rages in the hearts and minds of everyone, it's just that everyone made their point and really all we can do is wait for the banned list announcement or a new set to come out with some other card that contributes to the discussion. Otherwise nothing has changed much and everyone is just beating the horse.

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