On Workshops/Prison/Obrien's Current Dominance and What Might Be Done About It



  • Split from this thread so as to not take the EW thread way off track.

    @Smmenen said:

    We've restricted Golem and Chalice, and Shops are still the best deck. The problem isn't just Workshop. It's the fact that Wizards continues to print insane new cards. This year we got Vehicles and Eldrazi. Last year Hangerback. There is no end in sight.

    The new prison cards that are sometimes perceived to be too good are often well priced or even too expensive for the formats for which they are printed. WotC is not going nerf artifacts from now until the end of time just to prevent one deck in the smallest sanctioned format from being too powerful. While Workshop may not be the problem, it is a portion of the problem that WotC can address without negatively impacting their more profitable formats.

    Balancing costs on all cards is a fascinating discussion. The simplest parts are quite easy. For example (5) is easier than UUUUU, which is easier than WUBRG. It gets more complex when we compare something like, say, 3UU vs 5U. Unfortunately, artifacts are more difficult. Their primarily-colorless nature means that, outside of something in the card's text box, the only ways to make an artifact harder to cast are to increase the cost or to require <> rather than (1). That second restriction has no effect on Workshop.

    Lands are "intended" to produce approximately one mana per use. Workshop produce thrice that. The only other land that matches that efficiency and is relevant to Vintage* is the restricted Tolarian Academy. Effectively, lands that produce >1 mana act as one-sided cost reducers in a deck full of two-sided cost increasers.

    Mana Availability over 8 turns: Workshops God Hand w/o Restricted Cards vs "Default" Mana Available

    Most "cost reducing" lands have some drawback. Eldrazi Temple only reduces costs for Eldrazi. Gaea's Cradle only reduces costs if you're playing a creature deck. Ancient Tomb costs life. While Workshop does have a drawback, that drawback primarily functions to place Workshop in a deck where that drawback is all but non-existent. While most cost reducers are indeed played only in decks where their drawbacks are minimized, they are never minimized to near-zero. For example, a turn one Gaea's Cradle does nothing without one of the few, usually bad, zero mana creatures. Whereas all a Workshop needs to be good in your opening seven is to not have drawn one of the worst possible hands for you.

    In a world where cards have no history or cost, I think a Workshop restriction is not only obvious but has been so for quite some time. However, as we do not live in that world, we will likely instead have several Shops cards sacrificed at the altar of not restricting an eight hundred dollar four-of.

    I could certainly be talked into an Ancient Tomb restriction. While I don't think it would nerf Workshops to the point of not top-8ing, it might encourage people to build my second deck ever and my first Vintage deck, 5C Staxx.

    @BazaarOfBaghdad said:

    A new card of Grafdigger's Cage-accessibility preventing all mana taxing would be a nice shakeup.

    I'd love to discuss how this card might be written. I'm thinking something along the lines of

    Cost reducing effects controlled by other players are not applied to cards you own.

    This would allow Trinisphere to continue to function, so Workshop isn't 1000% hampered. Alternatively:

    Cards you own may be cast for their casting cost.

    Would put you in the same clause as Trinisphere. The text however, looks really dumb.



  • A card could be printed conscientious with the following text:

    "Cards cannot have their costs altered."

    With a console wording it nerfs spheres, Gush, and Force. It would be format warping.

    Likely an effect like this is way too powerful to exist on anything other than maybe a leyline though given the constant looming threat of combo decks now, like Petition and Paradoxical.



  • @vaughnbros said:

    A card could be printed conscientious with the following text:

    "Cards cannot have their costs altered."

    With a console wording it nerfs spheres, Gush, and Force. It would be format warping.

    Likely an effect like this is way too powerful to exist on anything other than maybe a leyline though given the constant looming threat of combo decks now, like Petition and Paradoxical.

    Would need to be cheap enough to beat out spheres while being expensive enough to not say "Target player discards Force of Will" in Storm decks.



  • At a 1G with an addition line of: This card's cost cannot be altered. Might work. The color making it more difficult for storm to abuse, and almost just worse than City of Solitude against blue.



  • Another potential solution is to make an alternate casting/activation ability, a la forecast and evoke. For permanents, I was thinking along the lines of: '[cost]: Exile this card from your hand, then put it onto the battlefield if it was exiled in this way.'
    It shakes up the format by dodging both sphere effects and countermagic. Of course, something similar could be templated for non-permanent cards.



  • The same solution I've advocated for years:

    ForaAuraAtog
    Channel — {G}, Discard ~this~: Destroy target artifact or enchantment
    {Various Atog Abilities}
    1/2



  • Wizards are reluctant to restrict workshop things.Surely they restricted 2 best cards,Golem and Chalice in two years.But...

    cards restricted from blue-black based combo:Ancestral Recall,Brainstorm,Demonic Consultation,Demonic Tutor,Dig through Time,Imperial Seal,Library of Alexandria,Lion's Eye Diamond,Memory Jar,Merchant Scroll,Mind's Desire,Mystical Tutor,Necropotence,Ponder,Time Vault,Timetwister,Tinker,Treasure Cruise,Vampiric Tutor,Wheel of Fortune,Windfall,Yawgmoth's Bargain,Yawgmoth's Will. 23 cards.

    cards restricted from workshops:Chalice of the Void,Lodestone Golem,Strip Mine,Trinisphere.4 cards.

    This is apparently injustice.They should restrict main pieces of workshops or unrestrict some cards for blue-black based combos.



  • Wow! I wonder if it has anything to do with everyone playing Paradoxical Outcome and Esper?

    Top 32
    53 Thorn of Amethyst
    56 Ancient Tomb
    11 Ingot Chewer
    2 Lightning Bolt
    0 Young Pyromancers

    Gush decks can be favored against Thorn decks whenever they want, they just sacrifice win percentage against other opponents. That's what happens in a real metagame. To improve some matchups, you get worse in others. EE had 1 Thorn deck in the top 8. In P9 Gush won a majority of its matches against Shops and shops had 45% win rate on the day. This is distinctly not a problem.



  • This issue is tricky, because it's not just Workshop.

    It's prison, which has three facets in vintage: Workshop, Hatebear, and Eldrazi.

    This is not a easy issue to navigate. While Workshops had three in the top 8, Eldrazi had two. Jacodrazi also has the distinction of being a good budget deck, meaning that harming it is not necessarily a good thing. Just targeting something in the Shop builds feels unsatisfactory.

    I'd come at it all from a different anfgle- what are traditionally solid decks against prison and what is keeping those decks from being played?



  • Luckily we have a new card to help combat all 3 of these archetypes - fragmentize. It deals with thorn, null rod, stony silence, sphere, rest in peace. Its a great common that was sorely needed. Unfortunately its just another white piece forcing the meta more into white (ok, u/w) which means mentor is just being propped up more. While its great to help combat various prison strategies it doesn't promote diversity. Fragmentize just leads us back into making another common strategy even more viable.

    Green really needs some love as more than just a splash color for fastbond, library and dromoka.


  • TMD Supporter

    Blue has counters, card draw, extra turn cards, turn one wins. Workshops deck fight against this with accelerated mana (that some blue decks use), thorn affects, and creatures. I think that's all fair. Blue decks fight on a different access then artifact decks. Blue decks can fight shop decks, but you have to know how to play around the hate.

    If you hit workshops, you kill workshops and you kill fringe decks like 2 card monte. Blue decks will start running rampant in the format and the format will get stale in my opinion.

    If you hit ancient tomb, you hurt Eldrazi. Eldrazi is incredibly good for the format, as it's a deck that has no reserved list cards and doesn't cost an insane amount of money (comparatively speaking). It's super healthy for the format. Let's not kill it.

    I think there can be argument made for hitting thorn of amethyst, but if that goes, I think Gush needs to go at the same time. Sphere of Resistance is fine, as it can backfire on the shops player.



  • The real question is when they're going to print the Fyndhorn Elves version of Bazaar of Baghdad. Bazaar of Kaladesh? It fits right in with the set themes and everything. Real missed opportunity. Oh well, I guess for now I have to tolerate all you scrubs tapping mana to cast spells.



  • Well, I think it's safe to say that Wizards will eventually print solutions to this problem. What form they will take, who knows. Rich's suggestion sounds like a good one, since they like stapling effects to creatures, and abilities like Channel, Forecast, or abilities stapled to Cycling have precedent and are due for a comeback.

    Still, perhaps there's something to be done right now. Why isn't Dredge just wrecking these decks?



  • @socialite observed in the EW thread:

    Thorn was 30 percent of the meta and 41 percent of the top 32.
    "Blue" sans "combo" was 46 percent of the meta and 44 percent of the top 32.

    Why is the working assumption that we should nerf Thorn decks?



  • @kenan said:

    @socialite observed in the EW thread:

    Thorn was 30 percent of the meta and 41 percent of the top 32.
    "Blue" sans "combo" was 46 percent of the meta and 44 percent of the top 32.

    Why is the working assumption that we should nerf Thorn decks?

    Why can't people take the time to read posts made by others?

    My post has less to do with a working assumption on why Workshops needs yet another restriction and more to do disproving the assumption that archetype saturation is solely responsible for the positive conversion rate of Thorn.



  • @socialite I tried. I apologize for being stupid? I was just trying to give you credit for your effort in aggregating that data.

    Anyway, I understand what you are trying to argue based on the post prior to the one I quoted which compared Gush to Shops specifically. But the naive reading of your other statistics comparing Gush to all Thorn decks indicates the contrary. Each slot in the top 32 of EW is 3.125 percent, so your statistics indicate we're about four players away from the naive expectation, which I think is pretty close. The debate, as far as I can tell, is about Thorn decks collectively, so that's the relevant data point.

    There were times in the past year when White Eldrazi was better positioned than Workshops, and apparently the opposite was true at Eternal Weekend. What never happened was a consistent pattern of prison-style strategies flat-out dominating all other archetypes in way that is clearly not accountable by statistical fluctuations.

    The second point people are making is that they don't like playing against Thorn decks, and I have no response to that; obviously at some point if enough people hate it, WotC should do something, but all I'm saying is that I don't think the balance argument exists. I personally think it's dangerous for Wizards to get into the habit of adjudicating what is fun rather than what is fair.



  • @kenan said:

    The second point people are making is that they don't like playing against Thorn decks, and I have no response to that; obviously at some point if enough people hate it, WotC should do something, but all I'm saying is that I don't think the balance argument exists. I personally think it's dangerous for Wizards to get into the habit of adjudicating what is fun rather than what is fair.

    I agree with this last sentence. This is just my opinion, but having researched restrictions and bannings for previous writings, it does seem that Wizards has systematically levied restrictions on blue cards for being overpowered, while restricting artifacts on the "unfun" aspect of their play.

    With that said, I feel there is an inherent bias (either on the part of wizards, or on the part of the majority of players) to limit "lack of interactivity" to prison effects and not just overly powerful strategies, as if the lack of resolving a single spell is okay because you got to tap mana for it.

    Whether it is due to standstill drawing your opponenent into a wall of counters, or not being able to mulligan or draw into a Cavern of Souls as the non-blue player in a match against something as oppressive as Gush Mentor, or losing to turn 1 Vault/Key, the relevance of playing that game is the same as if being buried under spheres: there is none. But people dont respond to these losses the same way, and thus the arguement of bias exists .

    I think people at this event understood that Paradoxical Outcome and Gush would be played, and that Shops would be played, and those who did well built their lists for such a metagame. If it means playing more Hurkyll's and Dacks in the maindeck, then so-be-it. If the numbers in rge metagame between gush decks and landstill decks were flipped for the tournament, you'd most likely see 0 shops in the top 16, and we would be complaining about dredge taking 1/2 of the top 8 spots.



  • @Jostin123 said:

    I agree with this last sentence. This is just my opinion, but having researched restrictions and bannings for previous writings, it does seem that Wizards has systematically levied restrictions on blue cards for being overpowered, while restricting artifacts on the "unfun" aspect of their play.

    With that said, I feel there is an inherent bias (either on the part of wizards, or on the part of the majority of players) to limit "lack of interactivity" to prison effects and not just overly powerful strategies, as if the lack of resolving a single spell is okay because you got to tap mana for it.

    Whether it is due to standstill drawing your opponenent into a wall of counters, or not being able to mulligan or draw into a Cavern of Souls as the non-blue player in a match against something as oppressive as Gush Mentor, or losing to turn 1 Vault/Key, the relevance of playing that game is the same as if being buried under spheres: there is none. But people dont respond to these losses the same way, and thus the arguement of bias exists .

    I think people at this event understood that Paradoxical Outcome and Gush would be played, and that Shops would be played, and those who did well built their lists for such a metagame. If it means playing more Hurkyll's and Dacks in the maindeck, then so-be-it. If the numbers in rge metagame between gush decks and landstill decks were flipped for the tournament, you'd most likely see 0 shops in the top 16, and we would be complaining about dredge taking 1/2 of the top 8 spots.

    The concept of counterspelling someone out of the game is pretty laughable to me especially when used as an analog to prison based strategies; as if the fundamentals between the two are even remotely similar (they're not).

    I know this is your opinion and you're welcome to throw this back in my face but I feel as though a large majority of your post just isn't based in reality let alone a firm understanding of basic game principles.



  • @socialite Counterspells aren't printed in standard formats very often for this exact reason... just like mana denial is rately printed. New players like to be able to cast and resolve their spells. Vintage is supposed to be a format where you can have fun playing the strategies that Wizards deemed too powerful for beginners. It's not supposed to be yet another safe zone for people who don't want to play the proper number of lands in a deck.



  • @vaughnbros said:

    @socialite Counterspells aren't printed in standard formats very often for this exact reason... just like mana denial is rately printed. New players like to be able to cast and resolve their spells. Vintage is supposed to be a format where you can have fun playing the strategies that Wizards deemed too powerful for beginners. It's not supposed to be yet another safe zone for people who don't want to play the proper number of lands in a deck.

    Counterspells aren't printed at less than three mana you mean. I agree Vintage is a powerful format and it shouldn't be a safe zone for people who do not understand tempo, card advantage, mana investment, and mana efficiency. Let's not get me started on the people who complain about Force of Will as if trading two cards for one and proceeding to have a game past turn three is "unfun" or the oppressiveness of the completely unplayble Mana Drain (despite people still jamming Landstill). We should totally go back to the skill testing format that is 4x Chalice of the Void and 4x Lodestone Golem.

    Thanks for throwing in the old improperly designed mana base fallacy, got a good guffaw out of that one.



  • @socialite Just like land destruction isn't printed at less than 3 mana anymore, graveyard strategies aren't printed as manaless, and there are rarely great combo decks in standard. Force of Will is degenerately broken. Combo decks play it as well. Lets not pretend that they don't. Just because its an important card to keep the format fair doesn't mean its not silly. I wasn't against either restriction to Shops really so I'm not sure why are you are bringing them up. Continuing to restrict the deck is absurd though, I can't even remember the last time I've been locked out by them. You have a drain deck winning, its obviously not shops fault that they aren't in existence right now.

    My reference to the bad mana bases is totally relevant. You have these Paradoxical outcome decks now that are running 10 or 11 lands. The guy that won the P9 in September was running such a list giving them confidence to play such a deck. Then people complain because Thorn decks were crushing them all day.


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