Wizards of th Coast has made one thing clear with the recent Banned and Restricted announcement: eventually you will only be able to play four Mishra’s Workshops and 56 one-ofs in your shops decks. After seeing an incredible dominance online (which lets face it, most Vintage data is collected from MTGO), the DCI has seen fit to “punish” shops players again by restricting another “sphere” effect in this deck.

My question is, seriously, how many excuses do we have to keep making for this ridiculous deck? A deck that plays, in effect, five Black Lotus and can reuse four each turn. Honestly, I realize that is a deck is 70% of the metagame and restricting its namesake card might upset 70% of the format’s player base, people who spent good money to acquire those hypothetically worthless cards after a restriction. But for crying out loud, does the DCI even understand why the deck is so dominant? Do you, dear reader? I’ll gladly break it down.

The Workshops deck (there are a few variants) endeavors to play some piece of mana disruption on turn one. Generally Trinisphere, Sphere of Resistance, or Thorn of Amethyst (collectively known as spheres). Then it follows up in the next few turns with Lodestone Golem, Tangle Wire, and Thought-Knot Seer to constrict its opponent from being able to cast spells. Once it has established a lock on the opponent with a combination of “spheres,” Chalice of the Void, and Phyrexian Revoker, it begins the arduous process of picking away at its opponent’s life total with various colorless and artifact creatures ranging from Reality Smasher to Triskelion and Walking Ballista. Some versions play Kuldotha Forgemaster to put a Blightsteel Colossus into play and just end it quickly others play a slower more methodical game with Arcbound Ravager.

I respect the variety and the resilience of this deck, I really do. That is why I think we have seen enough data to move Mishra’s Workshop to the chopping block. This deck excels with access to four of its namesake card, but I think it could still be formidable without that access. Between Sol Lands (Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors) and the fact that this deck never worries about finding its colors its time to do something about Mishra’s Workshop. And it’s time to do something before it’s too late to save it.

What do I mean restricting Mishra’s Workshop will save this deck? It’s simple really: eventually enough players will call for this card’s head or the deck will literally become a pointless 60 card EDH deck of 56 singletons (or there abouts) and four Workshops. One of those two things will happen. Mark my words. If actions are taken now the rest of your deck can be saved. Because once they restrict Workshop, do you really think they will unrestrict all the cards they’ve been restricting instead of Workshop? Do you think that the next restriction announcement for Vintage will really look like this:

Vintage: Mishra’s Workshop is restricted.

Yeah, I don’t either. What about all the other cards they can limit in the mean time? Will you be at EE 2018 playing a deck with one Phyrexian Revoker, Thalia, Sphere of Resistance, and Tangle Wire. These are ards you might not run a playset of now, but something has to fill the spots of the restricted cards. Saving one card over and over again when it’s the right choice to restrict will have unintended consequences down the road.

I have two solutions. The first one is pretty simple: roll back the last wave of restrictions (not Mentor get that silly monk out of here!) and restrict Mishra’s Workshop. Do the hard thing and deal with the fallout. Watch the market on these cards crumble for a time or not. Soften the blow by giving players back their precious spheres—cards playable with Sol Lands on turn one. Watch the metagame in this awesome format open up a little bit. Not everyone will continue to play this deck, other builds will rise and fall and having nerfed mentor we can all look forward to several months of a new metagame.

The other solution is slightly more radical, but I think has legs as well. Errata Mishra’s Worskhop to a Legendary Land. This solves the problem as well I think. One of the main problems with this deck is that draws with two Workshops are unbeatable. Dropping a turn one sphere and then following up with six-mana threats over the next couple of turns is outrageous. Trinisphere into Triskelion into Tangle Wire, Revoker, Sphere. That’s turn three? If this deck is on the play I can only imagine one deck with the tools to come back. Oh right, it’s the SAME DECK!

When your best counter to a deck is playing the same deck, I mean come on! Sorry, a tangent on the legendary change but do you see how that turn three (which honestly this deck can do much worse that a second sphere and killing a mox) could be erased if on turn two you had to lose one Workshop due to legendary status? There is still a Trinisphere and a Triskelion on the board, likely with Revoker or Tangle Wire in the pipe for turn three. That’s still maybe too good, but it’s not out-and-out unbeatable. This errata may affect other things but Legendary status on a land for the most part in Vintage means that you can only have one in play at a time. This might be enough to save your namesake card and not effect its secondary market value too much.

One final note. I think often Wizards and the DCI are too rigid in their thinking because of player backlash. I realize my tone may sound harsh, but I really do believe that they are trying hard to balance this beast of a format. Twenty-five years of this game has to be a challenge to design for. No other game has this level of complexity. With so many variables, doing the same old same old of banning this or restricting that, the idea of an errata may not have occurred to them. I think it’s an approach in design that Digital Games like Hearthstone gain a ton of advantage on the physical ones. What do you think? Do you still plan on playing Mishra’s Workshop in two weekends in Philly? Did you even feel like your deck would miss the Thorn?

Zac Clark is the Founder of Hipsters of the Coast. An avid gamer since his early teens, Zac can often be found in Brooklyn either playing games or taking photos. When he’s not drawing extra cards, wrathing boards and countering spells, he’s taking pictures of other peoples good times and listening to 90’s Music.

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