Thank you for taking the time to undertake this experiment and write this piece. Overall I greatly enjoyed this and for once don’t feel alone as a Workshop pilot who takes copious notes and tracks their results.
It felt like you slightly undersold the challenges and difficulties of running Shops. I’m not sure if that was done deliberately or if this was just a byproduct of your results which were obviously quite strong.
I enjoyed the way that you framed the Vintage Metagame with regards to 70% Blue 20% Shops 10% Dredge, but I disagree that restricting Mental Misstep solves this problem. If it’s not Mental Misstep it will be Red Elemental Blast or Spell Pierce, this problem will persist.
My take on the underlying problem is that Workshops has never actually reached the proportional Metagame percentage that it should given its power level. If the meta were 50% Blue, 40% Shops and 10% Dredge then card’s like Ancient Grudge, Dack Fayden, Hurkyl’s Recall etc would replace some of the Missteps/Pyroblasts and Workshops would thus be weakened.
I think economically something like this could only happen on Magic Online because of paper card availability in a tournament like Eternal Weekend and we would almost certainly see Mishra’s Workshop restricted before this happened, probably before the Metagame fully adjusted to this because the restrictions of Chalice, Lodestone and Thorn has by and large eliminated the strategic diversity of the Workshop archetype. This has gotten to the point where the big argument amongst Shop pilots is what you want your 7 main deck “flex slots” to be because everything is “Workshop Aggro”. The Blue decks have been homogenized, but to a much lesser degree as there are certainly more than 7 cards separating Oath, Xerox Control, Delver, Outcome, BUG etc despite all of these decks sporting Force of Will, Ancestral Recall and Time Walk. This is a long way of saying that I don’t think this problem is easy to solve and that Mental Misstep being restricted would do little to change the calculus.