I hate workshops. This is from a guy whose major successes in Vintage came from wielding the 3-mana monster via TheManShow, TheRiddler, and other shop iterations. I've also accepted the card will never again be restricted, to my dismay. I could go on and on about how it is the most broken unrestricted card in the game by a wide margin - it is. But I don't want to get into a "restrict workshop" debate. It's not happening. We'll see Trump's 2016-2018 tax returns before we see workshop restricted. That is to say - never gonna happen.
Now that that's aside, the question becomes "How do I beat this monstrosity?" The argument that there shouldn't be zombies does us no good when we are in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. The only relevant question becomes "How the F do I kill these damned zombies?"
A common response I see is "play FoW on their threat/lock piece and go off on your turn 1." That's great...unless you don't play FoW. "Then go underneath the bridge with dredge." Possible - but I don't want to play dredge, I want to play magic. Even with that last offering, dredge sometimes gets rolled to shops on the draw too, when they open with spyglass naming bazaar, or play sphere + wasteland. I won't become a blue mage (NEVER! NEVER! NEVER!!!), and I don't think dredge is that well-positioned vs shops in addition to being terribly unfun to pilot IMHO.
So where does that leave me? Well, ANY other option beyond FoW or dredge is on the table. Those can't possibly be the only 2 options to beating shops.
When I test, I always put myself on the draw. It's not exactly true to IRL, but if you lose the coin flip, you are on the draw at least twice. When I am on the play vs shops, there are a number of strategies I can run to puke my hand onto the board and stab the shops deck before it ever wakes up. I figure if I test as if I'm on the draw, I will build a more resilient deck that doesn't crumble to turn 1 disruption when I haven't had the chance to drop the jewelry and go big goldfishing.
So here's the rub: When the opponent is shops and I am on the draw...I almost never get to play magic. Keep in mind, I am not playing FoW or dredge. That means my opponent almost always will play one of the following lines -
- Workshop, inspector, mox, sphere. This is usually followed by strip/waste/sphere/metamorph the sphere/blah, blah, blah. I get to play land, cast nothing (or a mox that gets revokered on the following turn to compliment the strip mine) and pass the turn as spheres pile up
- Tomb, sol ring, trinisphere...follow with waste/strip and that's gg.
- Shop, inspector, sol ring, inspector, overseer, ravager, thorn. This is usually followed by a ballista or a waste and I'm taking 20 before my turn 3. Seen this happen too frequently - it's a nightmare.
- Shop, mox, mox, chalice, golem. more rare with restrictions, but it still happens.
- Tomb, chalice, sphere. Followed by tolarian, sphere...metamorph the sphere, waste...another sphere, waste...and eventually a mishra's factory beatdown while a 1cmc spell costs me 5 mana to cast - and I have 1 land.
The list goes on...
I've tried running maindeck ancient tombs which have only proven to add to the opponent's clock and make a juicy target for wasteland. I've tried running 5 fetches and 6 basics, and even if lands survive, they can't keep up with turn 1 sphere, revoker, turn 2 metamorph the sphere, turn 3 golem, revoker, turn 4 metamorph the golem, etc. It seems that when I'm on the draw, shops is always a mana-denier ahead of my mana-makers.
I know this seems like a boo-hoo, shops is peeing in my cereal whine...but I legit want to know HOW do I get out from under shop's thumb when I'm on the draw 2/3 and don't have FoW/grave-trolls? What has worked for others? Maybe the answer is - there's no alternative...play FoW, dredge, or the mirror...but I'd like to hope I can run something like humans or survival or depths or SOMETHING and win on the draw with at least a 50% rate. HELP???