“There are things known and things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception” –Aldous Huxley
In time, darkness always gives way to the light.
As the Sun rises over a brave, new Vintage world the time to stop mourning the loss of Chalice of the Void has come. Sitting here in the cold, callous comfort of Mishra’s Workshop I must accept that the end is not coming, no matter how certain of it I may have been. Instead, only a crisp sterile light has come. It illuminates the shadowy corners of the workshop and brings sight to the treasures cast aside long ago. The trinkets of days gone by. But now, in this moment, they have a new glimmer. They provide new hope.
My hands can no longer remain idle. They are compelled to tinker with old tools to help shape a new Vintage world. What is lost will pale in comparison of what is to come. There is no end to what can be accomplished. It is time to see things as they now are and to work to make them they way they should be.
The restriction of Dig through Time was pure delight for us Workshop Mages because blue players can no longer Delve in search of answers to our soft locks and fast clocks. Dig was perhaps the most frustrating card from the prior era and it’s restriction will bring some of the gamble back to the game.
The restriction of Chalice of the Void was a devastating blow. The card really forced the hand of many decks and it hindered the way artifacts could be sabotaged. There was always a lingering sense that it was a crutch, and perhaps even a hindrance, but it helped balance the format. No matter what the truth was those days are over and life will go on without it.
Thirst for Knowledge has been set free. History tells us this is a dark moment because in the past this card gave blue decks a stranglehold on everything sacred, although much has changed since it was last unrestricted. There is no question that Thirst will carve itself a out a place in this new world, but that does not mean the damage it will do has to be feared.
Instead of regarding Thirst as an enemy perhaps it is time to utilize it. Instead of trying to mitigate the damage and fear big blue decks perhaps we should wield this weapon ourselves…
The last B&R announcement completely changes the way decks must be built, especially decks designed to abuse the power of Mishra’s Workshop. First and foremost, there is no longer a focus on smothering the life out of one drops. As such, there is no longer a reason to exclude them. Though Chalice may no longer be a factor, Mental Misstep has only grown stronger. While giving Misstep targets in the Shop match up may seem counterproductive, it may well be worth the risk moving forward.
A long time ago, I stumbled across the deck: Goblin Charbelcher. I learned each piece of the deck intimately, and I understood it on a level that I have few decks before or since. One of the most intricate and bewitching cogs in the canon was Goblin Welder. When I picked up Two Card Monte, it had been years since I last employed the little monster. This time, giving him a job in my Workshop deck taught me that I knew only a fraction of his talents. The raw power and constant utility were undeniable and from the first moment I understood that the days ahead would be filled with finding ways to play Shops and Welders together.
Accepting this, there was a single question that came to my mind: where would be the next epic Welder and Ben Perry team up?
I did not have to wait long for an answer. Before I even set to work constructing my own abomination, I was reminded that I know the best people. Tom Dixon shared a list that he and Roland Chang sculpted from an understanding that runs much deeper than my own. From the moment I laid eyes on it, I was hooked.
But I had questions… There was much that could be learned by asking, but there was far more to be learned from doing. I assembled the deck to the best of my ability and made a few adjustments based on the observations Tom provided. When I had it crafted, I unleashed it with fervor in a series of games with a few local vintage fiends, mostly against Delver decks.
I was far from disappointed. I occasionally found myself making mistakes that would cost me position and sometimes even an entire game, but the deck lent itself so much to my passions that I found myself winning games I never before believed possible. The more games I played with it, the more I wanted to play more and improve my plays. For as much as I despised it from its onset, this New Vintage World has quickly become a delightful place to belong.
I have stepped into the light, and I have brought with me this masterpiece. I will break it down briefly below, explaining the changes I made from the original list, my reasoning, and provide the opportunity to it in both forms.
Five Color Stax
By Ben Perry
4 Thirst for Knowledge
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Crop Rotation
1 Sundering Titan
4 Goblin Welder
The manabase I found was so perfect that I haven’t even thought to alter it.
Since the whole point of playing vintage, as any reasonable person would tell you, is to play with Mishra’s Workshop, not just because I traded most of my blue cards to acquire them, but because they are the forefront of this deck and likely any deck that I will devote time to writing about.
More than other Workshop decks the Wasteland and Strip Mine lands really demonstrate their power here. While I have played Crucible in other builds this is the first one where it is a core part of the strategy. Besides, I have recently been playing a heavy amount of Old School Magic (aka 93/94) and it has reminded me how important Land Destruction has been throughout Magic’s history. The chance to recapture the joy of continually destroying a player’s mana base should not be taken for granted.
The five color Lands are so crucial to the development of this deck, and most of the time seven is enough. There is not much to say about the selection, as Mana Confluence provides such a delightful upside over the reverent City of Brass of our former days, especially when played alongside Tangle Wire. Gemstone Mine rounds the mix out perfectly.
Bazaar of Baghdad is powerful utility alongside Goblin Welder, and while not essential to the deck it holds itself very well and has provided more than a few opportunities to recover from games I otherwise would have lost.
Barbarian Ring puts in work in ways that surprise and delight me time and time again. From killing a Delver to finishing off a Dack Fayden, this card has won games for me that no other land would. When Tom first shared this deck, he mentioned that he was able to kill a Laboratory Maniac with a Ring off of Crop Rotation to steal a post sideboard game against Doomsday. I revel in the understanding that I will use this against many threats, and each time will be sweeter than the last.
No artifact based strategy is complete without Tolarian Academy, so included.
The cost of playing colored spells has to be felt somewhere but unlike Two Card Monte I did not have to give up Spheres completely. Trinisphere is a natural fit and Sphere of Resistance is a pleasure both in the early and late game. One of the few changes to the Main deck I’ve made was to add the fourth Sphere.
Tom was only running three, but I wanted the fourth enough that I added it as the 61st card in my list. This gesture will offend the better senses of many, and I admit that it could easily be a mistake, but nothing seemed reasonable to cut and I wanted it more than I desired to preserve the rhetoric that decks must always be 60 cards for the purpose of optimization.
The reason I wanted Workshops to begin with was to play Smokestack, something I have longed for since the first time I cast Braids, Cabal Minion so many years ago. In the process of doing so I have fallen in love with Tangle Wire, and this deck was built to make them thrive in unison. Crucible plays so well with Smokestack as well as Wasteland that it deserves only reverence in this build.
The trinity of Robots are akin to perfection. Each provides answers at times that no other would and there have been games where I have tinkered for each of them. Sundering Titan is my favorite, as the ability to destroy turns of mana development while providing an overwhelming threat is borderline ecstasy. But the more I play with Batterskull, a card that I prefer to Wurmcoil Engine at most times, the more I embrace it. Triskelion will never cease to impress me.
The artifact mana is pretty standard. The inclusion of Mana Vault is a pleasant return, and even if it runs the risk of being misstepped. Every time a Vault or Ring bite a Misstep it happens that a Goblin Welder becomes more likely to find his way to the battlefield. Sometimes a liability can become a benefit.
The Spells of Many Colors:
When you begin to carve into the meat of the deck there seems to be a lot going on. In essence, the cards are mostly tutors, draw spells, and utility. The ability to run Ancestral Recall, Time Walk, Demonic and Vampiric Tutor, as well as Tinker, gives you threats not seen in a Workshop deck often in recent times. But now that we have returned to this as a possibility it is hard not to take every opportunity make them a reality.
The Crop Rotation is worthy of its place and if it were not for the heavy presence of Mental Misstep I would consider running a second copy. Often what this deck seeks is a specific land, and the ability to find at instant speed can be all the difference. It seemed like the odd card out when I started to build the deck, but once I played with it I was reluctant to cut it from the mix.
Goblin Welder has a home, and I am happy to share it with him. I agonize over his loss every time he is countered. I share his pain every time he is struck in the dome with a lightning bolt. But I also bask in his victories, and I love nothing more than employing him to sculpt victory with this weapon.
Thirst for Knowledge is such a powerful card that it cannot be left for only a small selection of wizards. It belongs in this deck as much as it does in any other. This is the other place I made a change to the deck. Tom Dixon was running only three in his build, playing a lone copy of Dack Fayden over the fourth Thirst. I do not own a Dack Fayden, and when I initially had a proxy copy in the deck, I often struggled to cast it because of its color requirements. It is likely that one copy of Dack is the correct decision. It is impossible to deny the appeal of stealing an artifact and sacrificing it to Smokestack. But the fourth copy of Thirst is far from a disappointment and for the time being it will remain in my deck.
The world is a vast wilderness. If you are lost in the woods of this post-restriction fairy tale, there are many worse paths you could explore than this one. If Thirst and Shop fighting side by side doesn’t get your heart all a-flutter then this clearly isn’t the Vintage deck for you. However, for me this deck was “love at first sight.”
It is a Brave New Vintage world out there and anything is possible if you can dream it up. Welders, Shops and TFK all fighting side by side is the deck of my dreams and likely the deck that is going to give my opponent’s nightmares after the tournament.
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