I think the time is right for Dredge to sneak in a win. It's flying under the radar right now, which is always when it's at its most dangerous. There's not much combo (it seems like no one plays DPS offline), there's lots of Shops, and the format just feels slow in general. If a good Dredge pilot makes it through the early rounds unscathed by Belcher or one of these glass canon Paradoxical Outcome decks, I think they'll have a great shot. Sideboards at the top tables, based on EE5, will look like:
2 Containment Priest
1 Pithing Needle
1 Ravenous Trap
That's pretty smooth sailing.
The analogy between Gush and Workshops isn't a bad one; I think everyone knows what you're getting at. Just a couple things, though:
- Gush is a bigger part of the meta than Workshops (they're both huge parts obviously, but still) and
- People can play other blue decks if Gush goes away. The same can't be said about brown decks if Workshops goes away.
I know 2. gets at your point about Pillars, but I don't think any shops players are going to pretend that they're being protective of the card Workshops purely out of wanting to keep the meta "balanced" or "for the good of the game" or whatever. We all want to keep our pet deck. And having to go from shops to, I dunno, hatebears or some other prison-ish deck would be much more painful than a Gush player being forced to switch to a big blue or Thoughtcast deck. Anyway, that's how I feel about it.
So many blue decks seems to on a "one for one" plan against Shops lately - a swords on a dude, a fragmentize on a thorn, that sort of thing. So if they stumble for one turn it's all over and they get overwhelmed with resistors/wastelands. No one is casting Hurkyl's or Ancient Grudges. I think that's potentially one reason that Landstill with bombs like Energy Flux did so well (other issues notwithstanding).
Regarding Ancient Tomb - it's played as sideboard tech in Storm, in decks like Two-Card Monte, Blue Moon, etc. That restriction would punish a lot of the fringe/unique decks in the format. I know you know all this, but it feels like the wrong target (assuming anything needs to be targeted).
More generally, as someone who started playing vintage in 2012 - when Forgemaster Shops was really ramping up in popularity - I am still just baffled as to how Workshop decks continue to make up more and more of the top tables (and draw more and more ire) compared to the 4 Lodestone/4 Chalice days. Sure, Forgemaster Shops took down some tournaments, but it never seemed to be overwhelmingly dominant or win the really big ones. Blue still reigned supreme. And Blue decks have only gotten more toys since - Delve spells, unrestricted Thirst/Gifts, Dack.
Is it just that with MTGO people realized how powerful Workshops + spheres are? And so more people are now playing them? Or is TKS just THAT powerful? Was Shops underplayed before 2015? I lost so many games to Bug Fish and Confidant Control while playing spheres + Lodestone + Chalice in 2012 and 2013. What went wrong since?