Two weekends ago I took part in the 4Seasons Tournaments, an Eternal Weekend event held in Bologna where I played Legacy and Vintage. While paper Vintage is close to non-existent in most areas, online Vintage is pretty popular, with MTGO Leagues firing frequently and Challenges well attended. Personally I don’t play much Vintage online, but I do enjoy playing it in paper from time to time with my friends.

What I like the most about Vintage is the blue control mirror matches: not just the swings that Black Lotus and Ancestral Recall produce, but also the high density of technical plays required to navigate the match successfully.

Unfortunately, blue control desk have been rendered unplayable with the printing of Karn, the Great Creator. Since War of the Spark, Vintage has become a place where you either play Karn or you play Tinker, making it not a very fun place to play anymore.

The Most Busted Deck in Vintage

A month ago, I played Jeskai Mentor and I got annihilated in a local event, finishing 1-3. At that point, I was locked into attending the 4Seasons Tournaments, and since I’d decided that I wanted to do my best to win, I had to join the dark side: Mishra’s Workshop.

Workshops

Andrea Mengucci, 6th Place

1 Strip Mine
1 Inventors' Fair
4 Mishra's Workshop
1 Tolarian Academy
4 Ancient Tomb
4 Wasteland
2 City of Traitors
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
4 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Lodestone Golem
3 Thought-Knot Seer
4 Walking Ballista
1 Trinisphere
1 Black Lotus
4 Sphere of Resistance
1 Sol Ring
2 Karn, Scion of Urza
4 Karn, the Great Creator
1 Mana Vault
1 Mox Emerald
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Opal
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
4 Grim Monolith
1 Thorn of Amethyst
1 Chalice of the Void
3 Voltaic Key
1 Mana Crypt

Sideboard
4 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Pithing Needle
1 Mycosynth Lattice
1 Sorcerous Spyglass
1 Time Vault
1 Crucible of Worlds
1 Witchbane Orb
2 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Voltaic Key
1 Tormod's Crypt

I was ready to submit Ecobaronen’s Shops (the winner of the Vintage Challenge the previous weekend), but the day before the event I reached out on Twitter to Brian Coval who was battling it out at SCG Con, and he enlightened me with his list.

His new technology was to play Thought-Knot Seer in the same deck as Mishra’s Workshop. Thanks to Grim Monolith and Voltaic Key, the deck produces an incredible amount of colorless mana, making it easy to play Thought-Knot Seer or Karn, the Great Creator as early as turn 1 even though they can’t be cast off of Mishra’s Workshop.

The only thing that I would change if I were to play this deck again would be to cut a copy of Karn, Scion of Urza for the fourth Thought-Knot Seer, which was amazing the whole event. Thought-Knot Seer dodges Energy Flux, By Force, and Lightning Bolt, which are death knells for any other Shops deck.

Energy FluxBy ForceLightning Bolt

Karn, the Great Creator is a one-card combo with Mycosynth Lattice or Time Vault + Voltaic Key. Also, Karn just incidentally shuts off Shops Aggro and Paradoxical Outcome as well a tenth of most decks in the format (i.e. Moxen).

Mycosynth LatticeTime VaultVoltaic Key

Sideboarding in general is super straightforward with this deck: Grafdigger’s Cage comes in against Dredge, and some Spheres get cut in the mirror for Wurmcoil Engine

The only card that I was consistently losing to was Tinker. I boarded out 1 Karn, Scion of Urza and 2 Walking Ballistas for 3 Grafdigger’s Cage in every matchup I expected them to play Tinker (Grixis Control, Paradoxical Outcome, and Storm) because that’s really the only way they can get you.

Modern Horizons and the London Mulligan

Vintage may seem like a stable format, but Modern Horizons and the London Mulligan are set to shake it up.

Force of Negation will have a huge impact on the current format. The only way to possibly beat a deck with Mishra’s Workshop on the draw is by playing a Force of Will, and now you can increase the number of copies to 5-6 main-deck and 8 postboard, which will give a huge boost to any blue deck.

As last week’s Vintage Challenge showed, blue isn’t restricted to fair decks. There were three copies of Dredge in the Top 8, and all of them were playing 4 Force of Negation, which are incredible in at both stopping your opponent’s plan and countering their graveyard hate.

Even though the London Mulligan will make it so that your opponent will be more likely to have Mishra’s Workshop or Bazaar of Baghdad in their opening hand (a frightening prospect), it seems less advantageous for Dredge than for ‘Shops. True, in game 1 Dredge will benefit greatly from the London Mulligan, but postboard their opponents will be more likely to draw their Leyline of the Void or Grafdigger’s Cage. However Mishra’s Workshop decks will remain a problem precisely because they often make it impossible to deploy your sideboard hate, thanks to taxing effects like Sphere of Resistance.

Bazaar of BaghdadLeyline of the VoidGrafdigger's Cage

While I was very much against the London Mulligan in Vintage, I think that the printing of Force of Negation will help mitigate its effects, and I have hope that the format won’t warp too much because of this new mulligan rule.

Oh, and Karn, the Great Creator? Please restrict it. If it were a symmetrical effect like Null Rod and Stony Silence, it wouldn’t be problematic, but the fact that losing the die roll often means that you lose the match doesn’t lead to fun games at all. Force of Negation won’t be enough to stanch the bleeding. The planeswalker is by far more messed up than either Lodestone Golem or Thorn of Amethyst—and those are restricted! I think it’s time for the banhammer.