If you are a Vintage fan, you might remember the name Ryan Glackin. Last year, he sliced his way to a Top 8 at the 2010 Vintage Championships with his Noble Fish deck. This time around, he has changed gears, switching over to the artifact-laden Workshop deck, but this one has a twist.
"After a bit of testing, we switched over from Magus of the Moon to Slash Panther. You can't ignore the interaction with Phyrexian Metamorph. Also, the blue decks, which Magus was in the deck to beat, have started to play more basic lands, so he just isn't as effective. Plus, with Jace, the Mind Sculptor so popular now, having the Slash Panther to just kill him is very nice."
This deck is basically an artifact-based control deck that uses a suite of disruptive artifacts to control an opponent's ability to play spells for enough time for a Slash Panther or Lodestone Golem to finish them off. Cards like Thorn of Amethyst, Sphere of Resistance, Trinisphere, and the Lodestone Golem make spells more expensive while Tangle Wire, Strip Mine, and Wasteland keep them from having the ever increasing amount of mana to pay. In addition to those, Null Rod, Phyrexian Revoker, and Chalice of the Void just stop them from playing spells or abilities right out. While they're locked down, the 4 or more powered creatures start business. Now, as the game goes on, the lock gets less effective, consequently the size of the creatures really matters.
Usually, the games play out with the Workshop player setting up a good soft lock. A first-turn Chalice of the Void off of an Ancient Tomb followed by a Sphere of Resistance or Thorn of Amethyst is usually a pretty good start. With that in place, a Lodestone Golem or Slash Panther can come down to start to hack away at the opponent's life. After that, to keep them from being able to answer the threat du jour, a Tangle Wire can come down to keep their resources at bay while a Wasteland keeps them strapped for mana. You also have a set of Phyrexian Metamorphs for extra redundancy and versatility. It's the perfect string along.
It is easy to overlook this way to play the deck, though. When you see a deck that is capable of powering out a first-turn Lodestone Golem and following that with a Slash Panther or two, most people start basking in their third-turn kill. However, this just isn't how Vintage usually works.
"Making a first-turn Slash Panther is almost always a mistake. There are just too many decks out there that can just kill you if you don't find a way to disrupt them. If they resolve a Time Vault and Voltaic Key or land a Tinker, which usually gets Blightsteel Colossus these days for a one-shot kill, you just lose. You can't give them a chance. You almost always want to set up a nice defense before you go for the kill. Admittedly, there are occasionally games you win by being incredibly aggressive, but they don't usuay go that way."
This deck is designed to deal with the large number of blue-based decks in the field. With cards like Thorn of Amethyst and Sphere of Resistance to keep them from playing too many inexpensive spells in one turn, as well as Slash Panther for Jace, the Mind Sculptor, they seem to have a good amount of game against blue. In the mirror match, those cards that are so good in that matchup become incredibly useless. The sideboard takes care of that, though.
This is a great example of a resource denial strategy that is not only completely viable, but quite powerful in Vintage right now. If you like setting your opponent in a vise and watching them squirm helplessly as you slowly squeeze, this is certainly the deck for you.