Last weekend I battled at Eternal Weekend in Paris. Two years ago, I fulfilled a dream I’ve had since I started playing Magic, and invested in a set of Power 9. Vintage isn’t my favorite format. It isn’t particularly healthy or skill-intensive. Despite that, I still have fun playing from time to time.
I played Sultai Delver in the Legacy main event.The tournament didn’t go well, and I dropped at 1-2 after losing two matches against Sultai Control that once again proved the supremacy of Baleful Strix over Delver of Secrets. I’m not sure that I’ll play Delver again in Birmingham this Friday—I’ll probably go with my old friend the Strix instead.
Vintage was a different story.
At the North American Eternal Weekend last October, I was very sad about the format. I played Grixis Control, and faced three Shops and three Dredge in nine rounds. I didn’t enjoy any of my games, and my tournament was miserable.
But after a few glimpses of my Power 9 in the binder, I told myself that I if I wanted to attend this event, I needed to play the best deck: Shops.
Despite owning most Magic cards, I am still missing Mishra’s Workshop. Luckily, Luca, the guy who taught me how to play Magic, owns every card, and was coming with me to Eternal Weekend, so I got the Workshops I needed—I was committed to playing Shops!
This was the list I ended up playing, and the one that I recorded with for ChannelFireball.
Andrea Mengucci, 22nd place at European Eternal Weekend 2018
The tournament started out great. I was 4-0 after defeating one Dredge and three Paradoxical Outcome decks, thanks mostly to my mismatched Null Rods in the sideboard. Then the heater faded, and I lost to Alfonso Zarzoso and his Jeskai Control deck, which ended up winning the whole thing, and then to the runner-up of last year’s Eternal Weekend in a crazy Shops mirror.
I ended up 5-3, beating another Paradoxical Outcome deck and losing to another Jeskai Control deck.
I ended up going 7-1 in game 1s, losing only to Dredge, which demonstrates both how great this deck is and how easy it can be to tear apart post-sideboard. My opponents played many Hurkyl’s Recalls targeting me, but also some Fiery Confluences and even Pulverize!
Shops is an unfair deck that can be kept in check if you bring a proper sideboard to the table. It can be miserable to play against, but it’s a pillar of Vintage, and I was wrong when I was advocated restricting Mishra’s Workshop. People in Paris definitely brought a proper sideboard—Shops was the second-most played deck, yet none made it to the Top 8.
After this weekend, I don’t think I’ll ever play Shops again in my life. Partly because I don’t like to borrow cards, but also because I didn’t enjoy many of my games and I didn’t feel the deck was as powerful as I thought it was.
Still, after Dominaria was released, I found myself toying with some interesting new options.
Karn, Scion of Urza was the card I thought of first. Despite the fact that you can’t cast it off Mishra’s Workshop, it is very synergistic with the deck. And 4 mana isn’t that hard to achieve—or at least that’s what I thought.
In my few playtesting games I was impressed by Karn. It was great in the mirror and it was good against Hurkyl’s Recall and hate cards. I decided to play one in the main and one in the sideboard.
At the tournament, however, I wasn’t able to cast it once. I had it in my hand multiple times but never had the mana for it. Between Sphere of Resistance and Thorn of Amethyst, its cost was too high, and Mishra’s Workshop couldn’t help. I wouldn’t recommend Karn at all.
I also found that this deck was often losing to mana screw, especially after a Wasteland or a Null Rod. That’s why I chose to raise the land count and add four Ghost Quarters, two in the main and two in the sideboard, which would have helped in the mirror and in a few other scenarios.
I heard some talk about Traxos, Scourge of Kroog as a good Shops creature, but I dismissed it. I figured you’d want to be able to use your artifacts as disruption and play them as early as possible—not keep them in hand to untap Traxos.
It turns out that Traxos can be untapped in the second main phase. It’s the biggest creature in the mirror match and against non-Swords to Plowshares decks, but most importantly: it can be cast with Mishra’s Workshop!
In my match against the runner-up of last year’s European Eternal Weekend, we had a crazy close game 1, when my opponent kicked things off with Black Lotus into Traxos, but I was able to defeat him thanks to an Arcbound Ravager that pumped my Walking Ballista exactly one counter more than Traxos power. But after that game, he schooled me with his Null Rod plus Traxos sideboard plan. That easily overwhelmed my Ghost Quarter plus Crucible of Worlds plan.
I’m not sure of the right number of Traxos to play. I would definitely play four between main and sideboard—maybe two and two is the right configuration since it’s a legend and costs 4 mana.
It was nice to play Vintage again, and I can’t stop thinking about Eternal Weekend in Pittsburgh in Columbus. I’ll probably see you there!