I think this and Endless one are different enough that the comparison isn't too diagnostic of this card's playability. They serve different needs.
That said, I'm with you in that I wouldn't make a bold prediction about this card being widely played, format defining, etc. This is a hostile metagame for artifacts that enter the battlefield with no immediate benefit.
However, I do think it offers some unique benefits to Shops decks and merits exploration on those grounds.
For example, prison style lists are often too slow to close the game quickly enough due to the restrictions of Thorn, Lodestone, and Chalice. In those decks, increasing the offensive potency comes at the big cost of sacrificing the lockpieces (i.e., to close out the game, you need more creatures and end up cutting Wires/Rods etc.). This incentivizes going for a few big creatures creatures that can shoulder the offensive burden alone. But with Spheres and Rods, casting that Steel Hellkite is tough. This card can be both big enough to close out a game and can be cast for much less if needed (reminds me of Trike versus Ballista). Granted, I don't think this style of list is playable right now, but I will always try.
I'll be testing it in some older style Shops lists. Like most things I test with Shops, it probably won't work out.
This seems incredibly good to me if it can find a home.
Shops pilots have wanted threats that are immune to Dack for a long time.
Certainly, Arcbound Ravager and Ballista provide some degree of immunity to Dack, but this accomplishes the feat without an enabler. The trample means that Dack is under direct assault.
This could also fit in other types of Shops decks, too. A traditional Stax deck would love this. I suppose anything that plays Traxos should consider this.
Wow, what a spectacular post. Thank you for sharing all of your insight here.
1. Null Rods in the main deck
I agree with you about Null Rod. I went to the full four in the maindeck recently and shoved some of the Spheres to the sideboard. I like having at least a couple of Spheres in the maindeck in the Workshop style list.
I like that a Sphere and a Null Rod can partner up to do a decent Defense Grid impression under the right circumstances, which is critical with all of those Force of Vigors lurking about.
2. Reactive Countermagic and Permanents
I've also been unimpressed with Pyroblast, Mindbreak Trap, and Leyline of Sanctity. Both are too situational and get in the way of developing the board.
However, I think that Veil of Summer has promise, as it's more flexible and replaces itself. I tried it in a few leagues last night and I was impressed. The card was responsible for winning several games/matches against PO and one against storm. I don't think anything else would have worked in its place.
Veil of Summer counters the following (and draws a card in the process):
a. bounce effects: Hurkyl's Recall, Chain of Vapor
b. discard: Thoughtseize, Unmask, Cabal Therapy
c. removal: Assassin's Trophy, Abrupt Decay
d. graveyard hate: Ravenous Trap
e. blue counterspells: even Flusterstorm!
f. permanent-based exile/bounce: Ashen Rider's enter-the-battlefield triggers, JTMS,
Teferi(Edit: nope, can't instant speed)
All that said, it wouldn't surprise me if Thoughtseize is still the better card to play. It does much of the same job and has more flexibility.
3. Oath of Druids
I have mixed feelings about Oath.
The card is there as much for "tutoring" Loam as it is for summoning the big fellas. The idea is that Oath forces them to have two kinds of answers. If they have Priest/Cage, you get to use Loam if they have no graveyard hate. That has come up several times. If they have graveyard hate but nothing for Oath, well, you get the idea. The best target, by far, has been Muldrotha, the Gravetide. You get to play Crucible and Fastbond from the yard and go off.
Another thing I like about Oath is that it can be used to increase the range of acceptable hands. For example, if I am against combo or storm, I want a lockpiece like Null Rod. However, a hand with Null Rod and no reliable path to victory won't get there. Increasing the number of plausible paths to victory likewise increases the probability of keeping a decent hand with Null Rod.
Oath does have problems, though:
a. It's best in the creature-based matchups (Shops, Dredge, and Survival). Obviously, this is not a huge selling point, and necessarily takes away from cards that are better against our "problem children."
b. Hard to cast the big creatures, giving blank draws
c. Makes their Force of Vigors even better
d. Waters down the traditional lands package (you have to cut somewhere, and it's generally not the disruption)
Some of these issues can be mitigated by the choice of Oath package. Using castable creatures is a big one. I've Oathed into Ramunap Excavator. Courser of Kruphix seems plenty reasonable, too.
I've also Oathed into Collector Ouphe and...it wasn't bad given that the Ouphe comes in only in the matchups where it's very impactful.
I've also tried cards like Draglonlord Dromoka to shut off Ravenous Trap etc to get at least one Loam activation.
There's a lot to try with Oath.
Anyway, you've also mentioned a bunch of other possibilities. I'll be mulling these over and testing them.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. Good luck with the brewing!
Congrats on the win. The list looks great, and I look forward to trying it out myself. Have you played/tested much versus combo and Outcome? Those are the two matchups I struggle with the most.
I've been extremely impressed by Glacial Chasm playing the role of infinite-combo enabler.
That's why there are two copies in the 5-0 list that @Mike-Noble linked to (I based that deck off of his list).
Other desirable features of Chasm are that it is uncounterable when played from the hand, can be tutored via Crop Rotation or Loam, can be played from the graveyard, gets Riftstone Portal into the graveyard, and can buy a few turns under heavy pressure.
Edit: I should also add that you can copy Chasm with Thespian's Stage to buy even more time if you need to. That's come up a few times.
Played the above list to a middling 4-3 at the NYSE.
I won against the best match ups (Xerox, Dredge), lost two of my three medium match-ups (Karn Shops, BUG, Doomsday), and lost against the horrifying nightmare match-up (Dark Times with Crop Rotation into Bojuka Bog main deck. Quite rude if you ask me.):
Karn Shops: 1-2
Xerox (URW): 2-0
Big-blue BUG (Brian Kelly contraption): 1-2
Xerox (URW): 2-0
Dark Times: 0-2
Overall, I'm not too displeased with how the deck performed, as I only lost one more match than I would expect given performance in the leagues (around a 70% win-rate, which on average should result in a 4.90-2 record in 7 matches). I suppose that's to say that the result was below-par by one match.
I certainly made some questionable mulligan decisions in two of the match-ups I lost, especially when deciding which cards to bottom. The silver lining is that those skill-testing decisions were made possible by the London mulligan, which I otherwise detest for Vintage.
As a side note, four of my seven opponents knew exactly what I was on due to frequent run-ins in the leagues, so there was little surprise value to reap. Vintage is a small world.
I 5-0'd twice last week. It would have been three times had I not been inattentive and punted a lethal attack (opponent couldn't empty hand with Ensnaring Bridge in play and I missed it). I also 4-1'd four times. Overall, I've gone 35-10 with this specific list:
I know the deck can seem like a pile of nonsense at first glance (perhaps for many more glances after that).
I plan to write a primer to explain the deck once I've tracked the critical details of at least 100 matches across the various recent lists (e.g., die-roll, match-up, hand size, lockpiece on turn 1, Bazaarless hands etc.). I've played more than that already, but I had not been diligent enough with the tracking to give a full picture.