Burning Through Type One, Part 3: The Prison Matchup, And The Future Of Long.dec

Nick Eisel says:”Even if you don’t play Vintage, reading Stephen’s articles will arouse your brain and get you involved instead of the usual zombie-like state that is achieved after reading another mundane Magic article. The format he uses to get this information into that mode of thinking is superb and I’d personally like to compliment him.” And given that Nick’s such a fan, shouldn’t you take a look at the third installment of how to play a deck that’s so fast that games only go to turn 4 once in every twenty games?

In Part One, we looked at a new deck, examined how it operated, basic principles for playing the deck, and presented a few sample games against Goblin Sligh just to get a glimpse, in the context of actual games, how powerful the deck can be in the face of minimal opposition.

In Part Two, we began to take a look at how to play Long.dec against one of its most difficult matchups, blue-based control, and I presented some fundamental ideas on how to beat it. I demonstrated how Long has the capacity to blitz by blue-based control by winning before it can optimize its hand, preemptively answer threats with cards like Duress, or get two blue mana into play for Mana Drain. We also looked at how Long can overpower a control deck by throwing out multiple threats in one turn through a precise combination of mana accelerants and game-breaking spells. I also explained how Long may actually want to slow down the game (as well as speed it up) depending on the situation – the point being that the goal shouldn’t always be to win as quickly as possible because you may end up giving the control player an inadvertent tempo advantage by walking into a Mana Drain. Finally, I made the point that a key to beating control is to think ahead and maximize all your threats so that each card, as far as possible, presents a real step towards you winning the game.

One final point that I could have made more clearly is that Long also has the capacity to quickly recover in a topdeck war, provided that it has sufficient mana available (and my only mana source isn’t countered), because each spell it topdecks is immediately effective, impacting the game. This is so because the majority of the deck is mana – and the vast majority of that is an accelerant.

Today, we are looking at the Workshop matchup. Mishra’s Workshop-based decks, aside from blue0based control, make up the other tough matchups that the Long player needs to understand.

Something that I should have mentioned in Part Two, but is equally important here, is that by simply knowing the matchup, you can change the very nature of the matchup. By understanding the principles that I have described and are familiar with the matchup, and if your opponent hasn’t done the same, then you have a significant advantage when you sit down for a tournament match. And with that let’s take a look at:

Long Versus Workshop Prison

Compared to the Control matchup, the analysis is surprisingly straightforward and boils down to a few key questions. Let’s take a look.

Long v. $T4KS

My test partner is Mike Lenzo, and he is playing Neo-Stax – Stax slightly modified to incorporate a full complement of Wastelands.

I win the coin flip.

Game One:

Turn 1:

I didn’t record my hand, but six of my cards were Mox Jet, Mox Sapphire, Mox Emerald, Timetwister, Dark Ritual, and Duress. I played a turn 1 Timetwister and drew into a Yawgmoth’s Bargain with sufficient acceleration to play it on turn 1. Instead of going for the kill immediately, I decided to wait one turn to untap with full resources mana resources available. This can be a risky play.

Let’s take a look at the Neo-Stax deck:

4 Mishra’s Workshop

1 City of Traitors (probably shouldn’t be here, we were testing it out)

4 Wasteland

1 Strip Mine

4 Volcanic Island

1 Badlands

4 Fetchlands

6 Moxen

1 Mana Crypt

1 Mana Vault

1 Grim Monolith

1 Lotus Petal

1 Black Lotus

1 Sol Ring

4 Goblin Welder

4 Sphere of Resistance

4 Tangle Wire

4 Smokestack

4 Meditate

1 Wheel of Fortune

1 Timetwister

1 Time Walk

1 Tinker

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Memory Jar

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Triskelion

1 Karn, Silver Golem

With my Yawgmoth’s Bargain successfully in play, if I wait one turn to go off, what is the worst he can throw at me? The worst, by far, is Sphere of Resistance, which can be accessed multiple ways. The only way I could probably lose, however, is if he plays two Spheres. I could answer one Sphere by using a Burning Wish to fetch out Primitive Justice, or, possibly, I might not even need to do that to win. I have plenty of mana sources on the table, including three Moxen, Sol Ring, and a land, having spent two Dark Rituals. Tangle Wire is not going to stop me, and it’s still going to be worth waiting a turn. Smokestack and Goblin Welder are both too slow, but if I start to draw cards and I don’t have enough tools to win this turn without first untapping, I risk being vulnerable to a draw 7 that he might play on turn one. Given the risks, and given that I have already drawn an abnormal amount of acceleration, which makes it less likely for me to get the tools I need to go off, I decide it is safer to wait one turn.

Mike played a Polluted Delta and fetched out a Volcanic Island. He played a Goblin Welder and passed the turn. I suppose he was lucky to have land at all after the Timetwister. Playing against decks without Force of Will is surprisingly simple; you merely have to play around key cards that they might play, such as a Sphere of Resistance.

I handily win off of my Bargain on my second turn.

Game Two:

My opening hand is Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Mana Crypt, Mox Diamond, Chromatic Sphere, Mystical Tutor, and Underground Sea.

Turn 1:

Stax goes first:

Mox Sapphire, Polluted Delta->Badlands.

I draw City Of Brass. I play the Mox Diamond, discarding the City. I play the Mana Crypt. I Mystical for Mind’s Desire off of the Underground Sea. I use one mana from the crypt to put a Chromatic Sphere into play.

Storm Count: 4.

Then I play both Lion’s Eye Diamonds. I sac both LEDs (discarding my hand), adding UUUBBB use the last colorless to sac the Chromatic Sphere and draw Desire, adding black to my pool.

I Desire for seven on turn 1… And the first card we flip over is Yawgmoth’s Bargain. Mike scoops.

He simply needs a more explosive hand than playing a land. He reveals his hand and he has Workshop, Tangle Wire, and Smokestack. None of those are sufficient to stop me, as I won on turn 1.

Game Three:

Opening hand: City of Brass, Lotus Petal, Dark Ritual, Sol Ring, Chromatic Sphere, Duress, Tinker, and Ancestral Recall. He is playing first. And so this is one of those hands where the particular decisions I make depend heavily on what I draw, and if I want to use my Ancestral immediately or try and Tinker. That also depends on how much pressure Mike applies on turn 1.

Turn 1:

Mike starts with another bad opening of Volcanic Island, Goblin Welder.

Since Mike has done almost nothing of consequence, I decide to go the Ancestral route.

I play the City of Brass, cast Ancestral into Mox Emerald, Burning Wish, and Demonic Tutor. I break the Petal to cast Dark Ritual and Sol Ring. I play the Mox Emerald and tap it. I then Tutor up Black Lotus with 2B floating. With the remaining to mana I cast and use the Chromatic Sphere to get red mana and play the Burning Wish for Yawgmoth’s Will. I play the Lotus, sacrifice it for Black to cast the Will.

Storm Count: 10

I replay the Petal, the Black Lotus, Dark Ritual, and replay Demonic Tutor fetching out my maindeck Tendrils for thirty points.

This hand turned into one of those”I win now” hands. Usually, however, my Ancestral Recall’s aren’t that perfect. Ironically, the Brainstorm would have been just as good – I would have put back Tinker and Duress.

Game Four:

My opening hand is a little slow: Gemstone Mine, City of Brass, Dark Ritual, Demonic Tutor, Burning Wish, and Mind’s Desire.

Turn 1:

Mike plays Mishra’s Workshop, Mana Vault, and Sphere of Resistance – which is also called”Long loses.”

It is extremely difficult to play underneath a Sphere with this deck – but then, that’s the trick isn’t it? If you can beat Sphere, you’re golden. Even if you can’t fully beat it, we need to understand how it functions and probe for ways around it. Our most obvious answer is to Wish up Primitive Justice; the problem here is that I lack the acceleration to make that a reality in the near future.

I play Gemstone Mine and pass the turn.

Turn 2:

He drops a City of Traitors and casts Triskelion off of the Vault, Workshop, and City.

I play City of Brass and tap both lands to play Sol Ring. If I survive to untap, I can cast the Wish for Primitive Justice if I draw another land.

Turn 3:

He draws and then attacks with Triskelion. He plays another Sphere and I scoop. While I may have a shot at winning when one Sphere is on the table, I really have no realistic chance of winning pre-sideboard when two Spheres have resolved. One problem is that my Gemstone Mine isn’t going to stay around very long if I keep having to use it to play tutors to fetch out answers. If I had had a faster start, I might have been able to do something about it.

Game Five:

I Paris mulligan away a hand with all mana and a Tendrils into a juicy hand of six: Gemstone Mine, LED, Brainstorm, Wheel, Tinker, Duress.

Turn 1:

I debate whether to Brainstorm or Duress. If he has a Sphere, I lose; if he has a Wasteland, then I lose. And so, for some reason I have a brain fart and I play Brainstorm instead of Duress, and I see: Burning Wish, Tendrils, and another Brainstorm. I put back Tendrils and Tinker.

It doesn’t matter though, because he goes,”Wasteland, Waste your Mine,” – which is bad enough, but then he plays Mox Jet, Lotus Petal, Sphere of Resistance. I concede.

Game Six:

Tolarian Academy, City of Brass, Demonic Consultation, Vampiric Tutor, Brainstorm, Duress, Yawgmoth’s Bargain.

The obvious play is turn 1 Duress, and then vamp on my next upkeep for Lotus and then do some tricks on that turn to try and get Bargain into play.

Turn 1:

I duress him and I see Mox Pearl, Volcanic Island, Grim Monolith, Sphere of Resistance, Tangle Wire, Smokestack, and Meditate. I debated whether to take the Pearl or the Sphere; if I take the Sphere, he can play”Grim Monolith, Tangle Wire” – but if I take the Pearl, he may not be able to play the Sphere, or anything at all, before I win. I decide to take the Sphere.

He drew Wasteland. Wasted my only land. This also foiled my Vampiric Tutor plans.

Turn 2:

Luckily, I topdeck Lion’s Eye Diamond so I can actually use my Academy. I play both the LED and the Academy and cast Brainstorm into Necro, Dark Ritual, and Gemstone. I put back Bargain and Vamp. The fact that the Academy doesn’t produce Black means that the Wasteland has thrown me back into the Stone Age. It will be at least a few turns until I am able to do anything, as I not only have to plow through two non-mana producing cards, but hope to draw another black mana producer after them. Meanwhile, I’m a sitting duck to anything he plays during the next few turns. It looks grim.

He plays Grim Monolith off the Volcanic Island and Mox Pearl, and taps it for Tangle Wire.

Turns 3 and 4:

However, for the next two turns, he draws nothing and we both tap down.

Turn 5:

I draw and play Gemstone Mine (very lucky!), Dark Ritual, Necropotence. I Necro for eight into lots of mana and Burning Wish.

Mike still can’t get a third mana source.

Turn 6:

I play City of Brass, Mox Jet, Dark Ritual, Mana Vault, and Chromatic Sphere and cast Burning Wish. I fetch out Yawgmoth’s Will and simply recast all the stuff in my graveyard for an easy win, getting Tendrils with Vampiric Tutor and drawing it with Brainstorm for lethal damage.

This game was a little strange as he topdecked terribly; any other pressure and I would have had a difficult time turning this game around. But by the same token, it only takes a small opening to exploit and Long will turn a loss into a win.

Game Seven:

Opening hand: Underground Sea, Underground Sea, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Dark Ritual, Mox Sapphire, Time Walk, Burning Wish. He plays first.

Turn 1:

He Fetches out Badlands. He the plays a Mana Crypt and a Sphere of Resistance. Here we go again.

I play and tap Sea for a Mox Sapphire, which I tap for LED, then I pass the turn. This is a good start. I have Burning Wish with sufficient mana to actually answer the Sphere by sacrificing the Lion’s Eye Diamond and fetching out Primitive Justice. Can it be done?

Turn 2:

He taps the Crypt and the Badlands to drop Grim Monolith and passes the turn.

I Time Walk. I then untap, play the Burning Wish, fetching Primitive Justice. I then blow up his Sphere. However, my hand is empty – I now need to topdeck.

Turn 3:

He played another Sphere. I had no way to answer that besides another Wish to get Vindicate. We played a few more turns, and I decide it is most valuable to spend out time moving onto another game. I scoop.

Game Eight:

Opening Hand: Tolarian Academy, Gemstone Mine, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Chromatic Sphere, Demonic Consultation, and Demonic Tutor.

Turn 1:

This is a tough hand to play out. I wasn’t as experienced with the deck as I am now, and so it took quite some time to figure this hand out. After some deliberation with some observers, the plan we decided upon was to play the Gemstone Mine and Consult for Wish on his turn 1 endstep, then untap, play both LEDs, tap the Academy for two and the Gemstone Mine, Demonic Tutor up Burning Wish, response sac the LEDs for RRRBBB, play the Wish and then Yawgmoth’s Will – then play all the stuff again and tutor up a lethal Tendrils.

Unfortunately, he plays Jet, Ruby, Demonic Tutor. He then plays Workshop, and Sphere of Resistance.

Ugh. I decide to play it out because I have Tolarian and a Wish.

Turn 2:

I play the Tolarian and drop an LED, then tap the Tolarian for another LED. I pass the turn. He strips Tolarian.

Now I am seriously stunted. For educational purposes, I should have played this game out, but I didn’t want to do the hard work at this point and so I scooped.


We decide to try some sideboarded games:

+ 3 Hurkyl’s Recalls

– 1 Tinker

-1 Tendrils

-1 Chromatic Sphere

This was somewhat early in my testing, and at the time, the consensus was that Hurkyl’s was the proper answer.

He sideboards in three Arcane Laboratories.

Game One:

Gemstone Mine, Underground Sea, Mox Jet, Chromatic Sphere, Dark Ritual, Burning Wish, and Hurkyl’s Recall,

Turn 1:

I play Mox Jet, and Underground Sea. I decide to keep mana up to play Hurkyl’s if need be. This is a new situation for me.

Mike plays Black Lotus, Mox Emerald, Sol Ring, Mana Vault, Goblin Welder, Tangle Wire, Sphere of Resistance.


My Hurkyll’s is dead. I am shut down. He got a very good draw, and can already start Welding Vault and Lotus.

Turn 2:

I tap down, draw Timetwister, and play my Gemstone Mine and pass the turn.

He draws and plays a Mana Crypt. He Welds Lotus back in after playing a Crypt. Then he plays Smokestack.

This is what Stax is about, and he doesn’t even have a land. He doesn’t even have a land!

Mike points out that of all our games, we haven’t even gotten to turn 3 yet. He speculates that if you can’t win by turn 2 you can’t get to turn 3 against Long.dec. What is readily apparent from that game is the sheer inadequacy of Hurkyl’s Recall. It is possible that that was just a very narrow situation in which Hurkyl’s was bad, but, it seems in general that the Stax player has time after a turn 1 Sphere because it takes at least two turns to get Primitive Justice and play it. Seal of Cleansing makes a lot more sense. Not only could I have played it on turn 1, but that fits the theme of the deck: set up your combo on turn 1 to win on turn 2.

Game Two:

I play first this game.

Opening hand: Gemstone Mine, Gemstone Mine, Black Lotus, Mox Pearl, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, and Demonic Tutor. This is one of those turn 1win hands.

Turn 1:

I play all my mana. Storm Count: 4

I Demonic up Burning Wish, play it sacking LED in response. I get Yawgmoth’s Will and play it. Storm Count: 7

I replay the LED, Lotus and Ritual, and Tutor up Tendrils. Storm Count 11. I Demonic up a Wish and then easily fetch out Tendrils and win.

Mike fans his hand: He had Mox Sapphire, Mox Pearl, Sphere, Tinker, Smokestack, and Polluted Delta.

Mike: We haven’t seen turn 4 yet tonight.

We then take a break and decide that Welder Mud may present a more formidable matchup for two reasons: First, it’s more consistent. It has a stronger mana base and is more able to play a Sphere on Turn 1 because it has City of Traitors. Second, it has all the tools that Stax has – but given the speed of the matchup, it seems that consistency is more important than merely how good the cards in the deck are. After all,”Meditate, Yawgmoth’s Will” doesn’t really add much to the matchup, as it is decided in the first few turns anyway. And Welder Mud naturally uses the full Wasteland complement anyway.


I win the coin flip, and I’m playing first.

Game One:

My opening grip: Black Lotus, Mox Jet, Mana Vault, Duress, Chromatic Sphere, Demonic Tutor, and Burning Wish. This smells like one of those”I Win Now” hands I talked about in part one. It’s got two Tutors, plenty of Mana, and a Duress to clear the way. Since he isn’t playing with Force of Will, the only reason I’d play the Duress is if I am unsure if I can win this turn, or to boost the storm count.

If you get this kind of hand, and you don’t know what you are playing against, the biggest mistake you could make would be to play the Lotus first, as it is most likely to get countered. But against Mud, there it doesn’t matter, so the first concern is optimizing your mana. Before you start playing hands like these out, though, figure out all the details first so that there is no error. You don’t want to screw up a gift like this.

Turn 1:

I drop Black Lotus, and pop it for Black. I drop the Mox Jet and tap it for black. I play and tap Mana Vault. 3BBB floating. Storm Count: 3.

I use 1B and play Demonic Tutor for Lion’s Eye Diamond. I play the Diamond. Storm Count: 5

I use two to play the Chromatic Sphere and activate it for Red, and I draw Mox Emerald. RBB floating. I play and tap the Mox. I play the Burning Wish leaving B up and sacrifice the Lion’s Eye Diamond in response floating BBBBG. I discard Duress. I fetch out Yawgmoth’s Will and play it. Storm Count: 9.

I replay the Lotus and the LED. I sac the LED and Lotus for Black with eight black floating. I replay Demonic Tutor and I find Tendrils and play it for twenty-six points with a mana left over.

Walk through it in your mind – twice if you have to. One error and there is no turning back. For example, if you blindly started with Mox, Lotus, Mana Vault, Sphere, Burning Wish, Yawgmoth’s Will, you would not have enough mana to tutor up the Tendrils and play it. But it would be too late.

It’s fortunate that I went first, and that I won on turn 1. Mike fans open his hand: Black Lotus, Mana Crypt, Goblin Welder, Mountain, Sphere of Resistance, Smokestack, Metalworker and with a Sol Ring on top of his library. Mike would have had first-turn Sphere and Smokestack had he gone first, and a first turn Sphere, Smokestack, and Goblin Welder if he had gotten a turn. I think you can see that there is no room for error.

Game Two:

My opening hand: Black Lotus, Mana Vault, Mox Pearl, Chromatic Sphere, Dark Ritual, Duress, and Mystical Tutor.

This hand falls into the”Bargain/Necro/Desire” hand. It’s a turn 1 mystical for Mind’s Desire, draw it with Chromatic Sphere, and Desire for seven copies.

How? Play the Lotus, Play the Mox. Tap the Mox to play Mana Vault. Sac the Lotus for Blue. Mystical up Desire. Tap the Vault to play Chromatic Sphere. Pop the vault for black drawing Desire. Play the Dark Ritual, and cast Mind’s Desire with precisely enough mana.

That’s a turn 1 kill… But

Turn 1:

City of Traitors, Sphere of Resistance. If that isn’t a reason to play Mud, I don’t know what is.

I have no land… For nine turns. Too bad I can’t play my Lotus… Or my Mox… Or anything. The lesson is that a turn 1 Sphere will hose these hands in a worse way than Force of Willing the Black Lotus will.

Game Three:

My opening hand is Tolarian Academy, Gemstone Mine, City of Brass, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Brainstorm, Duress.

I swear it is aberrational – but once again, we have a hand held tenuously together by the presence of Duress.

Turn 1:

I drop Gemstone Mine and play Duress. I force him to discard Grafted Skullcap and pass the turn. He kept one of those Wasteland, mana-heavy hands only because he thinks he has a good shot at destroying all my lands and topdecking lock parts before I can go off. He may be right.

Mike: Wasteland my Gemstone Mine, Mox Ruby, go.

Turn 2:

I pluck Necropotence. I drop the Academy and play LED. Tap academy for Brainstorm. I see Time Walk, Dark Ritual, City of Brass. We aren’t going anywhere soon, so I put back Wheel, with Necro on top.

Mike Wastelands my Academy.

Turn 3:

I drop City of Brass, Dark Ritual, Necropotence. I set aside seven, go down to twelve life. It’s already turn 3 and he hasn’t applied tremendous pressure, so it seems like I can use Necro slowly. I pick up two Dark Rituals, Chromatic Sphere, Mox Emerald, Wheel of Fortune, Brainstorm, and Demonic Consultation. I have to discard Brainstorm and Wheel, removing them from game.

Mike is finished with his Wastelands and drops Workshop, Metalworker. Either he’s got nothing, or he’s setting up a fantastic turn 4.

Yes, that’s right, I said turn 4. This is the first game that went to turn 4.

Turn 4:

And once again: Holy cow, it’s turn 4!

I drop City of Brass, Time Walk. I”draw” five cards, go down to six life. I discard Mind’s Desire and Duress, removing them from game. Time Walk is amazing with Necropotence if you haven’t noticed.

Time Walk turn: I drop Lion’s Eye Diamond. Tap Emerald, Sol Ring. Tap Ring, Chromatic Sphere. Tap City of Brass, two Dark Ritual. Use Sphere for Red, draw Timetwister, cast Burning Wish for Mind’s Desire (discarded, and so RFGed from Necro).

Seven-card Desire: Gemstone Mine, Burning Wish, Mox Pearl, Mana Vault, Yawgmoth’s Bargain, Time Spiral, and Dark Ritual. Play Mox and Vault, Dark Ritual, Burning Wish for Tendrils with 11 storm.

It’s worth noting that even with only eleven lands, double-Wasteland was insufficient to hose me. If that’s all you take from this game, so be it.

Game Four:

My opening hand is Sol Ring, Dark Ritual, Mana Crypt, Mystical Tutor, Duress, Duress, and Demonic Consultation. I Paris.

I forgot to notate my new hand.

Turn 1:

Mike: Mishra’s Workshop, Mox Ruby, Black Lotus. Sac Lotus for three red, two Welders. Tap Workshop, Winter Orb, then Sphere of Resistance.

Um… Damn?

I drop Gemstone Mine and tap it, going to two counters, to play Mox Ruby.

Turn 2:

Mike attacks with both Welders.

I draw Brainstorm and play Chromatic Sphere.

Turn 3:

Mike taps Mox Ruby, Welds out Mox, into Black Lotus, sacs Lotus, taps the Workshop and Karn, Scooping Golem enters play. He destroys my Mox and my Gemstone Mine has one remaining counter on it.

This game basically illustrates the maxim that Sphere of Resistance can just wreak havoc on your deck. Essentially, Mud is best suited to use Sphere because it has a better mana base in terms of being able to consistently cast Sphere on turn 1. Additionally, Powder Kegs and more Karns can really disturb your multi-turn attempts to answer the Sphere. Finally, the full complement of Wastelands is most effective when Sphere is in play.

Game Five:

My hand: Lion’s Eye Diamond, Gemstone Mine, City of Brass, Burning Wish, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, and Duress.

Turn 1:

I lay LED, Gemstone Mine and cast Duress. I make him discard Powder Keg.

Mike Wastelands my Gemstone Mine, and drops Mox Sapphire.

Turn 2:

I topdeck Duress. I play my City of Brass and cast Brainstorm, looking for more land. I see Burning Wish, Underground Sea, and City of Brass. I put the Burning Wish on top and the Sea on top of that.

Mike Wastelands my City of Brass and drops a Mox Ruby.

Turn 3:

I draw Underground Sea, play it, and Duress, seeing nothing of consequence.

Mike plays City of Traitors, and casts Metalworker.

Turn 4:

I draw the Burning Wish, play a City of Brass, and cast Brainstorm. I draw LED, Mystical Tutor, and Demonic Tutor. I put back Burning Wish and Demonic Tutor. I play the LED and pass the turn.

Mike plays another Metalworker and attacks with the first.

Turn Five:

I draw the Tutor and cast off of my two land to find Black Lotus. I play and Sac the Lotus for RRR and cast Burning Wish. In response I sacrifice both Lion’s Eye Diamonds for UUUBBB. I fetch out Yawgmoth’s Will and replay the Lotus and the LEDs.

Storm Count: 7. I sacrifice the LEDs for UUUBBB leaving RUUUUBBBBB floating. I play one of my Brainstorms to ramp up the Storm Count. I then Tutor up a lethal Tendrils.

Game Seven:

My hand: Gemstone Mine, City of Brass, Dark Ritual, Mana Vault, Mox Diamond, Wheel of Fortune, Demonic Consultation.

Turn 1:

I play Mox Diamond, discarding City of Brass. I play Gemstone Mine, Dark Ritual, Mana Vault. I play Consult for Lion’s Eye Diamond so that my Wheel is maximized. I can’t really get Burning Wish, as Yawgmoth’s Will doesn’t do my any good as I won’t have another source of Red.

I remove quite a few cards and finally see LED, which I play. I then play Wheel, and sac LED for Black. My new hand is Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Black Lotus, Mana Crypt, Memory jar, Chromatic Sphere, and Tendrils of Agony. I unload my hand – New hand playing both LEDs, the Lotus, the Mana Crypt… Sac lotus, use Mana Crypt, Tendrils for Turn 1 win.

Mike fans open his hand: Double Mishra’s Workshops, Tolarian Academy, Tangle Wire, Metal Worker, Smokestack, and Sphere of Resistance.

I have used more games than probably necessary to illustrate what should be glaringly obvious: There is little in these decks so far that really threatens you aside from Sphere of Resistance. However, their capacity to play it is only limited by the consistency with which it appears in the opening hand, not the limitation of mana to use it. One unresolved question is the degree to which a Workshop player should mulligan until they see a Sphere. I think you can also see, that unlike Force of Will, Sphere is not something you can plow over or blitz by.

While I wish that I could offer up a sample game as an example of how to play around Sphere or find an answer to it, I think the preceding games demonstrate that Hurkyl’s Recall was not as effective as we hoped, and that Seal of Cleansing appears to be the best sideboard solution. In spite of being able to offer up a specific example, testing has suggested two things: The first is that you should win somewhere between 10-20% of the games where a Sphere resolves by being able to Wish out Primitive Justice and use it.

Long V. Stacker 3

Stacker 3 is a”Tubbies” deck (Su-Chi/Juggernaut) with prison elements. One early fear was that Stacker 3 would present the biggest threat to Long, as it not only had maindeck Sphere of Resistance and full Wasteland complement, but it also had Pyrostatic Pillar maindeck on top of some beefy threats. On the surface, Pyrostatic Pillar appears to be a terminal solution to Long. In a deck that has eight turn 1 answers to Long, how bad could it be?

Game One:

Opening hand: Black Lotus, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Tinker, Windfall, Mana Vault, Chromatic Sphere

This is another one of those really, really busted hands that you know are going to do some damage against decks without Force of Will.

Turn 1:

I play Black Lotus, saccing it for Blue playing Mana Vault, LED, and LED. I tap Vault for Sphere. UU2 floating. I play Windfall leaving U floating, sacking LEDs for UUUBBB.

I have UUUBBBU floating. I draw into Dark Ritual, Lotus Petal, Gemstone Mine, Brainstorm, Necropotence, Chromatic Sphere, and Yawgmoth’s Bargain.

I play Petal, Ritual, Bargain. Nineteen life, draw Tolarian. Play it. I draw six more cards until I see Burning Wish, which fetches me Tendrils. Turn 1 win.

My opponent fans open Mishra’s Workshop, Mountain, Su-Chi, Sphere of Resistance, Tangle Wire, Pyrostatic Pillar, and Ankh of Mishra.

Game Two:

Opening Hand: Gemstone Mine, City Of Brass, Mana Vault, Lotus Petal, Brainstorm, Burning Wish, Tinker.

Turn 1:

My opponent plays a Mountain and passes the turn.

I draw Vampiric Tutor. With this hand, I have quite a few options. One options is casting Tinker – but at the loss of two mana on my board. My opponent had mulliganed to five and only has four cards in hand – so I definitely don’t want to give him seven.

Option One: Gemstone Mine, Lotus Petal, Tap Mine for Vamp for Lotus, sac Lotus Petal for Brainstorm, draw Lotus, play it, sac it for Blue, play Mana Vault, Tinker away Vault, leaving UU up and try and win with Jar. But as I said, I lose two mana sources under that plan with no guarantee of winning. Another problem is that I don’t have black and I could stall.

As a worst-case scenario, next turn we could see Sphere or Pillar, which would suck. I also have Wish – so if I just play the vault on turn 1, I could Burning Wish for Justice against Sphere or Simplify against Pillar.

Option Two: I play Vault, Petal and pass turn trying to maximize my Jar next turn with extra black mana. Under this scenario, if he plays Pillar or Sphere I can wish for simplify, Justice, or Hull Breach. Keep in mind, if I had black I could play Yawgmoth’s Will, which would certainly win me the game.

Option Three: Naked Brainstorm and slow play it with optional Vamp. I think what it boils down to is a simple fact that you cannot risk slow-playing against Workshop decks. Unlike Control, whose answers you can overpower through slow play, Workshop decks use single-card hosers that murder you except in narrow circumstances where you have sufficient mana on the board to Wish out Primitive Justice, getting a narrow window of opportunity to act before the opposing deck plays more lock spells.

Option three might have greater merit if I only had one land, as it would give me a chance to see more land. But option two seems like a nice compromise, but it really doesn’t give me much at all and exposes me to a potentially deadly Sphere of Resistance.

I go with Option One.

I Vamp for Lotus. (By the way, my top three cards were Duress, Wish, and Sphere.) Then I play Brainstorm from Petal. I draw Lotus, Dark Ritual and City of Brass. I sac the Lotus for Blue playing Mana Vault and Tinkering it into Memory Jar with UU floating. I break the Jar and draw Lion’s Eye Diamond, Mox Emerald, Chromatic Sphere, Underground Sea, City of Brass, Brainstorm, and Burning Wish. Play LED, play the Mox, tap Sphere. Siphon a Blue into the sphere to get red. (We are at eight spells.) Burning Wish for Will, response sac LED for black. I play the Will and it’s all over. It’s merely a formality to Vamp up Tendrils, draw it, and then play it.

My opponent’s hand was:

Mulligan (a.k.a. Junk): Wasteland, Mountain, Ankh, Tangle Wire, and Su-Chi. (Top card: Sol Ring)

Game Three:

Steve’s opening hand: Black Lotus, Mox Jet, Mana Vault, Chromatic Sphere, Duress, Yawgmoth’s Bargain, Memory Jar.

Our notary takes note of my opponent’s hand as well:

Mishra’s Workshop, Mana Crypt, Mox Sapphire, Mountain, Juggernaut, Goblin Welder, and Pyrostatic Pillar.

Turn 1:

My opponent drops Mox Sapphire, Mountain, Mana Crypt, Pillar. Let the pain begin.

I say bring on the pain. It’s pretty obvious that if he had a Sphere of Resistance, he would have played it. That is something you can rely on – that if your opponent has played first, and you haven’t seen a Sphere, it is a safe assumption that they don’t have one. That being the case, it isn’t urgent that you play Duress.

I draw Mystical Tutor. I drop Jet at eighteen life, Lotus at sixteen, Vault at fourteen. At this point, I can play Bargain… But Bargain is out of the question with Pillar on the board. Because I would need at least six life to be able to Wish for Simplify (The Wish, the mana, and the Simplify). That’s assuming I get a land.

Jar is better because it is cheaper than Bargain. Plus, I can stack my Jar with Mystical or float a black through into the Jar hand. Alternatively, I could Mystical/Sphere into Timetwister with a black floating. The differences between the two are slight. However, Jar gets around Pillar, while Twister does not. Additionally, I may not want to clean up my graveyard in anticipation of a nice Yawgmoth’s Will.

I play the Jar with a black floating. I sacrifice it and draw City of Brass, Lotus Petal, Mox Pearl, Dark Ritual, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Demonic Tutor, and Burning Wish. It doesn’t get much better than that. I have a two-life cushion because of Jar. Storm Count so far is 4.

I drop LED (twelve life) and play Dark Ritual off the mana floating (ten life). I play Petal and the Mox Pearl (six life). I tap the City and the Pearl to play Demonic Tutor (three life), and in response sacrifice LED for black. I tutor up Tendrils and play it for lethal damage.

Unlike the earliest Storm decks using four Mind’s Desires, or the Storm decks in Extended, this deck is not reliant upon Mind’s Desire and using one to hit another to fuel a combo chain reaction. The result is that Pyrostatic Pillar loses a lot of its potency. While it is certainly a threat, especially if combined with other sources of damage, the net effect of Pyrostatic Pillar isn’t even close to as threatening as Sphere. Pillar merely forces the Long player to play flawlessly, something they should be doing regardless.

Game Four:

Opening Hand: Gemstone Mine, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Chromatic Sphere, Ancestral Recall, Brainstorm, Brainstorm, and Timetwister

Turn 1:

My opponent plays Mishra’s Workshop: Ankh, Mana Vault go.

I draw Duress – but as I explained earlier, it’s senseless to play it when you can be assured that my opponent doesn’t have a Sphere. However, a fear of Pyrostatic Pillar is not going to stop me for playing Ancestral Recall, which draws me an Underground Sea, a LED, and Windfall.

Turn 2;

My opponent plays Mox Pearl, Mountain, Goblin Welder.

I draw Dark Ritual. I Play the Sea, tap, Dark Ritual. Play Sphere. Tap Mine. Play Brainstorm into Mana Vault, Tolarian Academy, and Tinker. Put Twister on top. Use 1 floating black for Vault (spell #4). Sac LEDs for BBBUUU. Tap Vault… 3BBBBUUU floating. Break Sphere for R and draw Timetwister. 2BBBBUUUR floating. Twister (Spell #5). BBBUUR floating.

We Twist. My new hand is Black Lotus, Mox Sapphire, Lotus Petal, Chromatic Sphere, Tinker, Necropotence, and Memory Jar.

I play/sac/tap Black Lotus, Lotus Petal, and Mox Sapphire (Spell #8). I now have BBBBBBUUUUR floating and I Cast Memory Jar (Spell #9). UUBBBBR floating. I use the Jar.

My new hand is Burning Wish, Chromatic Sphere, Mind’s Desire, Ancestral Recall, and two Brainstorms. No fancy show; I just Wish out Tendrils and play it for the win.

Game Five:

We decide to try a little experiment and seed Stacker with a Sphere in its opening grip.

I mulligan into City of Brass, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Burning Wish, Tendrils of Agony, Vampiric Tutor, and Brainstorm.

Turn 1:

My opponent drops Mountain, taps it for Sol Ring. Black Lotus – sacs it for RRR. And drops Goblin Welder, Pyrostatic Pillar, and Sphere of Resistance.

That’s what we get for seeding decks.

I drop City of Brass and tap it to play Lion’s Eye Diamond. My obvious goal here is to get Hull Breach and kill both the Pillar and the Sphere at once.

Turn 2:

He drops a Mishra’s Workshop and plays Juggernaut. He swings with the Welder for one. I’m at sixteen life.

I draw and play a Mox Pearl. Thirteen life.

Turn Three:

My opponent swings with Juggy and Welder. I’m at seven….And I’m basically shut out.

I topdeck a land, but it’s too late. One turn earlier, I could have Wished out Hull Breach and killed both Pillar and Sphere. But even if I can now, Juggernaut finishes me off.

Just to see what would have happened, we calculated that I would have won without the Sphere.


Playing against Workshops is no easy task, but by knowing more than your opponent, you will be well equipped to handle it. Sideboarding in three Seals handles most difficulties.

Before we close out, I would like to make a few comments on the metagame before Mirrodin shakes the whole thing up. In all my testing, and in the last two articles, you can see that Long has pretty even results with the Workshop prison builds and control. In my opinion, the Tier One is defined by these three decks. There are decks that are very close. Dragon is a ridiculous combo deck which rubs up against the Tier One threshold, if it isn’t already in it. The only reason I don’t consider it so is because Long.dec is simply the superior Combo deck in that it’s faster and has the most broken cards and overall brokenness. While Tog usually has some serious problems consistently beating Dragon, Dragon and Mud are evenly split.

But one of the key elements about type one right now is that it is difficult to actually analyze which is the best deck because at its uppermost level, the win ratios are so close that a slight difference in luck can mean the whole match. Whoever wins the metaphorical coin flip may make all the difference in the world. There are some other good decks that are worth playing: Neo-Academy and Dragon, for example.

Some of you are no doubt wondering what the impact of Mirrodin is going to be on this deck. It will undoubtedly be profound. Mirrodin has introduced five cards that are obviously going to be used – and in a format like Type One, that is massive upheaval. Chalice of the Void is arguably more difficult to deal with than Sphere of Resistance, but at a much cheaper cost. It may be that this deck evolves into a more formidable form post-Mirrodin using Chrome Moxen, Force of Wills, and Spoils of the Vault. It could also be that the use of Chalice becomes so widespread that no one would want to risk playing this deck. And so it may turn out that the most formidable foe to Long’s preeminence in Type One is actually a card instead of a deck.

One thing is for certain, though: This deck thoroughly broke Lion’s Eye Diamond and the impact of that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Stephen Menendian

You can Reach me at [email protected]

I’d like to thank Max Joseph, Jameson Ordenoff, Kevin Cron, Mike Lenzo, and others who test and tune and do all sorts of other helpful things. You guys rock. Dave Boruta was very gracious with his time helping me with invaluable edits.

Before you go, I have something that I’d like to suggest you take a look at this product: This book is awesome. It’s called”Goofballs!” and it’s very geared towards a more mainstream crowd of gamer, those who grew up watching Sesame Street and reading the Cat in the Hat, but now watch movies like”Dumb and Dumberer” and”American Pie” looking for campaign ideas, instead of Monty Python and reading”Discworld.” The Artwork is the really the best part of this product, even in spite of some of the more immature references. There’s actually some useful stuff in here like a few of the Prestige Classes and one or two of the Magic items. It’s up to individual readers and DMs to find and select which ones are best. A lot of the stuff here is funny, and I recommend it to people who are looking for something different – and for six bucks, what do you have to lose?