Welcome back! We last left off with my dim understanding of how to best play my current Workshop build and the decisions I like in it. For this week, I am going to try something a little new, a tournament report.
This past weekend was the Team Serious Invitational in the home of everything that is good and holy, the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, MI. I beg your patience and forgiveness as I stumble through a tourney report and promise to get better because I plan on crushing more of these. *spoiler alert* I did not win!
No Bans Are a Mixed Blessing
In my last article I did not want to comment on the ban and restricted speculation and I dont want to comment anymore here either. Just repeat what you have seen for two weeks now. No changes were made to any format. That said as a Workshop pilot the number one card I hate to see is Dig Through Time, seriously WOTC!
Rather than make you guys read the Tournament Report and then go into my thoughts, I will accommodate your mouse finger from scrolling to the bottom. Below is the list I played with a few changes from the original list I posted.
What is Old is New Again
In the same vein as the previous articles I am suggesting my changes and the reasons behind them. I welcome any and all of you to comment below or on social media to question my decisions. Going in to the event I predicted 2-3 Monastery Mentor, 1 Goblin Charbelcher, 1 Bomberman, 5-6 Mishra’s Workshop, 2 Dredge and the rest filled out by random tiers of competitiveness based on the list of invited players.
Starting at the top, the first omission is a second Cavern of Souls for a Buried Ruin. I have found Cavern to be very strong against blue decks in general but it came down to having a more functionally useful card in more than one matchup. My plan going in to the day was to play Kuldotha Forgemaster and some number of Arcbound Ravagers. My previous experiments with Smokestack made me really appreciate how useful graveyard recursion could be. And on the day I was very happy with its inclusion and never ran into the situation where I wished it was the second Cavern.
That being the only change to the manabase; let’s segue into Arcbound Ravager. I was inspired from seeing Ravager in the Vintage Super League (VSL) and really appreciated the reach he gave some decks while offsetting your opponent’s removal to a degree. In theory, I liked him to kill the artifact Dack Fayden was going to steal, change the combat math in my favor, or negate a Ingot Chewer.
The other obvious and head scratching change is when I decided to cut the Smokestack and Crucible of Worlds from the first iteration and added Batterskull. Why Batterskull? Why not? My choice was based on the current metagame, this a D00d meta and I wanted something I could race with and secure my life total. Also, Batterskull is not artifact Dack Fayden can profitably steal unless he also has the mana to equip to a creature. Hint, he controls the artifact but you control the germ which can still swing at Dack with vigilance and lifelink. Also, for three mana, you just bounce the equipment to avoid that situation.
I will also admit to the fallacy of deckbuilding and looking to be cute, no, I am not still on my decision to add Batterskull, it is switching Thorn of Amethyst for Sphere of Resistance. One of my problems in testing is that unless you have an Ancient Tomb which will kill you or a Mishra’s Workshop it is very easy to get locked out of games. I was willing to let my opponents creatures slip in under a sphere if mine did as well. More on this change later and my overall thoughts on using this configuration in the future.
Finally, the changes to the sideboard were mostly a concession to my fear of dredge and wanting more resiliency than just Grafdigger’s Cage for Dredge. Crucibles in the face of Workshop opponents Wastelands and a 3rd Sphere of Resistance for control or combo.
Round 1 vs. Duane H playing Terranova Shops
Duane was the host of the tournament and all around good guy. We had played together most recently at a Team Serious Open in Warren, MI, with me losing in the swiss and then winning in the Semifinals.
Sadly game one was decided by our opening hands, I opened with a hand that contained Wasteland, Phyrexian Revoker, Ancient Tomb and four other cards. He won the die roll and after trading a few lands I was left with my Ancient Tomb and he had a Mishra’s Workshop. I wasn’t able to overcome the loss of life in time to stabilize and lost pretty quickly.
I will try to be more detailed whit my tournament reports in the future but I didn’t take much, if any notes. The takeaway for this matchup is that Mishra’s Workshop is one of your best resources so its something you need to protect at all costs. I do not believe I had a play with my opening hand that at least contained a Workshop in addition to a Wasteland, Strip Mine and Phyrexian Metamorph. I don’t recall what if anything I played on my opening turn but Duane played land, mox, sphere. On my turn I striped his land and passed. He then played workshop and cast Crucible of Worlds. I “cloned” the Crucible with my Metamorph off my own Workshop and passed.
Going in to the turn I knew I was planning on cloning the sphere but I thought I had a line of play to Waste/Strip my opp twice and I did not follow through. I believe I had played a Mox at some point that allowed me to take more damage off the Ancient Tomb but instead played the Workshop. I mention it because the game devolved with him always having the ability to waste me first. I have found that the obvious line of wasting an opponent is more important when dueling Crucibles exist and it put me on the back foot so he was able to develop his board quicker and ground me down with Revoker and Mutavault beats before I could stabilize.
Any reflections on games or the match can go after, and before the match record score below.
0-1, 0-2 in games.
Round 2 vs. Nat Moes playing Jeskai Ascendancy
I am sure every drug user can remember the person that got him addicted. Nat Moes was my pusher and he did not even know it. I stumbled on his article series on here and I feel in love with a deck showcased at that week’s TSO. I had just met the guy a few hours previous but it was now my job to destroy him. Gulp.
I was not sure if Nat was on Pyromancers or just Fatestitcher so I cut the one Ravager and three Batterskulls for an added Sphere, Dismember, Crucible and Ghost Quarter. I was not sure how many basics he was running but was willing to try to cut him from a color if I could.
I will leave describing this game in greater detail to Nat if he decides to chronicle his experience but this was one for the ages and it was punctuated by a few things of note. First, and more importantly, after jockeying for position and trading a few resources, I had a board state of two Workshops and a Black Lotus. For some reason I sacrificed the Lotus in order to cast a Chalice at three. It’s important because at the time I also controlled a Buried Ruin and didn’t have a way to activate it. It took me many crucial turns of back and forth before I came up with a Ghost Quarter and Cavern of Souls to activate it, returning a Karn, Silver Golem that was countered earlier.
That delay had allowed Nat a stable manabase and a pair of Young Pyromancers and was assembling an army through a later Chalice at 1. The second takeaway was that I was aware that Nat had the ability to just overwhelm my current board with his army so I chose Karn as a way to block with the few precious non creatures I already had in play. The mistake was not turning his moxen in 0/0 creatures. I have utilized that ability of Karn but I blinded myself to thinking about it. His mana base was stable but it would have been a way to stifle his development and cut some outs.
My hidden take-away was just how absurdly broken Dig Through Time is, I had several spheres in play throughout the game and yet Nat was still able to fire off three while tapping no more than 2-3 mana sources for each. Games that go long are very hard to win when your opponent can start to chain Dig’s. In total this game took almost 40 minutes in play and I think it would have been fair for me to concede and move to the third given that I had no way to gain life or a creature with enough toughness to get through his Elemental tokens.
With over a minute in the Round Nat and I shuffled and drew seven, I saw a hand of Workshop, Chalice, Lodestone, Mox and some other spells and land. Snap keep, I deploy the Mox, play a Chalice at zero, Workshop and cast Lodestone with my fingers crossed. It resolved, he plays a land, I beat face, cast a Thorn of Amethyst, it resolved, I play a second land and cast Tangle Wire, Scoop, scoop, 30 seconds are left in the round.
2-1, 2-1 in games. To repeat, it was probably correct to scoop earlier in game 2 if I was unwilling to attack my bigger dudes into his.
Round 3 vs. Ben Perry playing R/G Goblin Charbelcher
I only have one previous experience playing with Ben and was not sure what he was on until I looked over during Round 1 and saw him lose when he activated his Goblin Charbelcher and his opponent, with a Leyline of Anticipation in play, played a few spells before casting and activating his own Charbelcher. His opponent did not miss.
Ben won the die roll and I kept a hand with fast mana, a revoker and sphere effect. He mulliganed into turn 1 Wheel of Fortune, I pray and draw seven, almost a mirror of my first hand except I just have a Ancient Tomb and a Thorn of Amethyst with a Mox and Revoker. He plays a few spells and hard casts…Elvish Spirit Guide…and passes. After checking for streaks I play my mox, Ancient Tomb and Thorn of Amethyst. I later cast the Revoker naming Goblin Charbelcher, a second Revoker is added to lock down a Mana Crypt he played leaving him with Chrome Mox, Taiga and a Black Lotus with a few in hand. We continue to play draw go, a second Elvish Spirit Guide is added to the board and our racing comes to a close. He pecks his way to getting me down to 4 before I topdeck a Mishra’s Factory and can finally cast a Batterskull. Ben promptly scoops to game two.
Ben opens with a flurry of spells and Empty The Warrens for seven, I do not draw a combo of cards that gets me close to out and pack up on my turn 2.
On the play I keep a hand with Workshop, Wasteland, Revoker, Chalice and Thorn plus my bad memory. Ben opens up with a Leyline of Anticipation. Here’s where sequencing got a little iffy. My play at the time was going to be Thorn off Workshop but I opted for the Chalice at zero which promoted him to “flash” in Mox Pearl(?) and Black Lotus, knowing this, I cast Revoker, in response he sacrificed Black Lotus and hardcast…Simian Spirit Guide…I name the Mox with Revoker and pass. We raced for a few turns but my 2nd turn Thorn was quickly followed by a pair of Lodestone Golems and he was not able to string together a set of cards that helped.
2-1, 2-1 in games. The real takeaway was how impressed I was with Leyline. That card can do some real work and better informs him on what spells he should be playing not the other way around.
Round 4 vs. Bret Nemeth playing Omni Oath
I was immediately predisposed not to like Bret despite his friendly nature, he came in to Ann Arbor clad in the scarlet and gray. Opinions remain mixed.
I have two quick takeaways in what was a very quick match. Bret won the die roll and cast Gitaxian Probe, played a Mox Jet and fetched for a Tropical Island playing Oath of Druids. I spent my turn wasting his Trop, on his upkeep he cast Vampiric Tutor for Forbidden Orchard, played it and passed. On my turn I played an Ancient Tomb and cast Revoker naming Griselbrand when it resolved. Passing back to him he activated his Oath and finds Griselbrand, yay. He drops an Underground Sea and passes. On my turn I deploy another Revoker, this time on Mox Jet and pass.
He decided to activate his Oath a second time and starts flipping cards, I am counting them as they go and we both start to notice his deck is getting awful thin. Sure enough, the last card was Emrakul and after looking through his graveyard for a way out sees he has no way of being able to draw a card and loses.
Afterwards, I talked with fellow Shop pilot Duane and we both agreed it was too greedy for him to have Oathed a second time. Our logic was that Griselbrand was a threat we needed to answer first before he needed to think about Oathing again. I was on a three turn clock that could very easily be two with my only land in play being Ancient Tomb.
Later on the ride home with general good guy and future villain Kevin Cron, he actually sided with Brett, he only had a one in 48 chance of hitting the Emrakul as his last card while I had the out of grinding him with any number of threats to include a possible Duplicant or Metamorph. It is possible that knowing my outs was strictly Metamorph or running Tangle Wires all while he bricked was not making me feel too confident. So, what do you think? Do you Oath or try to win on the back of Griselbrand?
I manage to overlook my initial judgement of Bret because of his affiliation and keep a hand with Workshop, Thorn of Amethyst, Wasteland, Lodestone Golem, Mox and Grafdigger’s Cage. In my mind my play was Workshop, Mox, Thorn into cage. Bret tanks for a solid 5 before keeping and leading off with Black Lotus, fearing the worst slow roll ever I say okay, and he casts a Preordain. His Preordain found him a Trop and Oath. Still pretty good but here I brain farted and could have opened the door. I play Workshop into Cage not Thorn and he missteps, d’oh. The Mox and Thorn resolve and after having no play for his turn two my Wasteland and subsequent d00ds lock things up when he does not draw more than basic island.
3-1, 2-0 in games
Round 5 vs. Kevin P playing Dredge?
Kevin was the one guy I knew for certain was on Dredge so I would have been comfortable playing but we were both able to intentionally draw into Top 8.
3-1-1, 0-0-1 in games.
Quarterfinals vs. Nam playing Metalworker Workshops
Some days I just do not know what to write and others I just cannot shut up.
I had one near miss two rounds previous with Bret but I dodged a giant bullet when Nam wasted my Wasteland instead of my Tolarian Academy and board of 2 artifacts to protect his own Mishra’s Workshop. He had a Wurmcoil Engine in hand and wanted to make sure he could make the Wurm. Instead I grinded out a few artifacts until I had 2 Batterskulls and a revoker in play, we stalemated when he made his second Workshop and cast Wurmcoil until I went runner, runner, runner Tangle Wire to beat down and on the final turn swung both Batterskulls into Wurmcoil and bounced the one he blocked, while he was at 2.
This was a neat game where we trade lands until he casts a Metalworker; good thing I have my one copy of Phyrexian Metamorph to get my own. His makes Steel Hellkite and mine turns into Kuldotha Forgemaster and Phyrexian Revoker naming Steel Hellkite. We entered a short stalemate where he takes a turn off and my Forgemaster becomes active and I don’t activate until his following end step and find the Second Metamorph cloning his Hellkite. The next end step sees me activating for a Batterskull leaving me with just enough lands and mana sources to equip the hellkite and end the game.
Semifinals vs. Duane H playing Terranova Workshops
Anticipating a chance to redeem my earlier loss Duane informs me he intends to drop so that Kevin and I can have a rematch of Warren. We still sit down and split a few games, I won where I went big and lost where he ground me out.
Finals vs. Kevin Cron playing UrW Mentor
This is the matchup I had been looking forward to all day and was ready.
A lot of things happened in game one but the game was decided when Kevin played basic Island into Mystic Remora. I responded by casting a Thorn of Amethyst, Mox, Chalice at zero. This was another issue I brought up on the way home, and I think it would have been better to have played the Revoker on a card like Dack Fayden instead of the Top I chose on my turn 2. I don’t give him three cards via his Remora and make him decide what to do next. Also my sequencing was just horrible, I am only open to something like Mindbreak Trap and instead lose my turn 1 Revoker. The other glaring issue I have is that I Chalice at zero instead of one. Sadly one error compounded into another, I kept a hand with Phyrexian Metamorph just so I would have the opportunity to copy a future Mentor and I just spaced and copied a Thorn. To that point it is possible that the Thorn I played could have been a Sphere and copying that with the Metamorph would have put Kevin at least two turns off of casting his Mentor. From there I fought the good fight but I had given up too much card advantage and against a quality opponent like Kevin that was all the edge he needed.
I sided out one Forgemaster and one Ravager for an extra Sphere and Dismember.
I would like say I was able to soldier on but my opening seven contained two Forgemasters and one Mox Ruby as my lone mana source. The six was not better with a single Wasteland. But my five was pretty promising and the draws started off well but was quickly outmatched by Kevin’s.
Other sideboarding notes can go here.
I really do not like Dig Through Time, all joking aside my biggest regret was having to mulligan to 5 in game two and not being able to play a competitive final match. I was comfortable with the Arcbound Ravager and Batterskulls but in hindsight I would have played the Sphere of Resistance instead of the Thorn of Amethyst. I welcome any and all criticism or questions below or on social media. I am Justin Waller on Facebook or @spellbombftw on Twitter. Until next time, take care!
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