Content of the article: "Very In-depth Workshop Dwemers Guide (3/3)"
While the ability of this deck to be strong in every stage of the game makes counter-play difficult, there are some things you can do if you're more interested in beating than playing the meta deck. First I'll talk about decks as a whole that have a fair, maybe even favorable matchup against Workshop, then I'll list some cards in particular that Workshop hates to face.
-Prophecy Decks – Long the bane of aggro players and source of complaint from the player base (and no few salty scoops), prophecy is a polarizing mechanic. What's not up for debate is that Prophecy decks absolutely stuff the plan A element of a Workshop deck. While the Dwemers do have the strongest kill-by-six potential, that is without factoring in three or four free cards popping out while you're attacking. But don't think beating Workshop is as simple as just loading up your deck with Prophecies and rolling face. The second your Workshop opponent sees a Protector of the Innocent or a Lurking Crocodile, your prophecies will dry up as he transitions into the value and control half of his deck. You will need a very tight decklist with well-chosen non-prophecy cards to apply enough pressure to break through the defensive aspect of Workshop once the jig is up.
- Dagoth- Almost all of the individual cards Workshop dislikes facing happen to be gathered nicely into a good deck of these three colors. Workshop is very bad at dealing with big creatures, especially if they have breakthrough, and that's pretty much Dagoth's jam. Dagoth is still in danger of getting alpha striked, but with sufficient preparation for the early game Dagoth can prey on Workshop's weaknesses better than any other color combination.
-Combo Monk – Technically there is one deck faster at alpha striking than Dwemers and that's Combo Monk. Dune Smuggler, Master of Thieves, Thieves' Den, Mad Dash, Swift Strike, Monk's Strike and Cliff Racers can go toe-to-toe with what Dwemers are trying to do and end the game before they can come online. It's not even a terribly inconsistent deck and can run prophecies without giving up on its core plays, making life even harder for Dwemers since yellow/green is not typically prophecy-heavy apart from Javelin and they won't be cautious most of the time. One of the most consistently-underrated decks out there and simply the fastest potential kill in the game.
-Invade – Please don't hit me! One of the biggest reasons for Dwemers to run Dismantles or Edicts is because it has a very hard time dealing with Invade otherwise. Invade will fold to a good Alpha Strike, but unlike other archetypes it won't be outvalued in the midgame while simultaneously being able to heal back up out of lethal range of late-game bombs if plan A goes wrong. If you suspect you're facing a Dwemer player while running invade, keep anything in hand that can deal with Sanitizers and subsequent Factotums and prepare to build up your gate in relative peace.
-Goblins – This is probably the least scary of the matchups I'll mention, but due to it's high roll opener and smattering of Dwemer checks I'll mention it here. Obviously an early Murkwater Skirmisher is extremely powerful, and two probably end the game since you'll be getting good trades and hitting face faster than Dwemers can keep up. It's also noteworthy that there are more targets than usual for your Curse effects since many Dwemer can have high attack and 1 toughness, making Murkwater Scourge one of the scariest anti-Dwemer cards. But unlike other matchups as Goblins, if you fail to get the high-impact cards early enough, Dwemers will be able to recover from your early game and out-value you in the mid. Still, early Scourges, Skirmishers and Butchers will beat Dwemers just like any other deck.
-Redoran (Honorable Mention) – Not really a bad matchup because it's not a great deck on its own, but worth mentioning that Redoran can run every single piece of Support hate in the game. 3x Edicts, 3x Dreughs, 3x Archers, 3x Dismantles, 3x Giants and 3x Shadowfens (technically along with 3x Soul Tear and 3x Reanimate and 3x Black Worm Necromancer and 3x Ordirniran Necromancer with buff if you want to be truly ridiculous) can mean that your supports are basically always removed, but that doesn't make for a particularly strong deck.
The following cards are especially effective against Workshop Dwemer, either because they are particularly good at disrupting the Plan A or because they are able to overcome the insane midgame value. I will not include cards that are are only threatening in a mirror match as those are inherently difficult and I've already discussed them. The first seven mentioned are a chain in Red that if played in sequence will beat a Dwemer deck every time, especially the last three.
-Tiny Dragon – Much higher value against Dwemers than any other matchup, due to the high frequency of 1 toughness creatures. A Dragon will answer a Constructor better than any 2-drop except Barrow Stalker, but will also put the screws to an Ally's spiders and a Dynamo plus the odd single-buff Assembled Sentry. Dropping a Tiny Dragon will often be the difference between getting run over by a Halls and completely neutering it very cheaply.
-Skaven Pyromancer – Similar to Tiny Dragon, Pyromancer has all the same benefits at the cost of an extra Magicka, but is also able to completely answer an Ally (in terms of board state if not value) and a Dwarven Spider, as well as a double-buffed Sentry.
-Dushinkh Yal Archer – An Arabic curse or the absolute best card to use against Workshop Dwemer? The absolute best card to use against Workshop Dwemer. For a measly 4 magicka you will take out a support (Workshop if played on curve, Halls if saved for later) or a 1 defense creature and put a 3/3 guard on the field. It will always be at least a 2-for-1 and often more. In this meta, if your deck has red, you should be running this card.
-Hand of Dagoth – This guy is everything Dwemers hate. His Breakthrough lets him attack through Factotum guards (unless they are very buffed), his Drain lets him aid the stabilization effort, his Ward means it will take at least two of your guys to bring him down, and his stats mean that Crushing Blow and buffed 0/1s won't handle him even with his ward down. He is the first in a sequence of four cards that will beat Dwemer every time, though his deckbuilding requirements make him less consistently drawn than the other cards on this list.
-Cradlecrush Giant – Similar to Tiny Dragon and Skaven Pyromancer in terms of one-sided wiping, costs a lot more, and comes with a very threatening body. The tempo swing this giant brings with him is usually enough to put the Dwemer player on the defensive, and his reasonable bulk means not even Lightning Bolt will be able to answer him. Usually the strongest turn 6 against Dwemmers, and if played immediately following a Hand of Dagoth is a complete nightmare.
-Belligerent Giant – When this guy comes down he often signals game-over for Dwemers. Destroying a support and putting down seven breakthrough offense that threatens to Rage the next turn is completely crippling for a deck that has a lot of low toughness creatures and relies on its supports. If you just got done playing Hand of Dagoth into Cradlecrush Giant when you play this guy the Dwemer player is all but doomed. That doom will be assured if the follow-up is:
-Unstoppable Rage – One of the few things that can kill a stabilized Dwemmer decks, Unstoppable rage is pure hatred for weenies. When played with Breakthrough it's likely to just do lethal damage on its own, but even just clearing the lane is often enough to break open a hole that won't be recovered from.
-Ice Storm – While Dwemers doesn't immediately lose to this like many aggressive decks, it still doesn't like to see it. It's a boardwipe (one of surprisingly few in the game) and it hits almost everything Dwemers can play up to that point (the only exceptions being Hulking Fabricant, Cliff Racer and Dwarven Dynamo or Wardcrafter's target).
-Immolating Blast – Not quite as scary as Ice Storm as it will leave a body up in each lane, but still not something you want to see the turn before Halls comes online.
-Dismantle – Against most decks this is just Support hate, but against Dwemers it also functions as the cheapest spot removal in the game.
-Azura's Edict – Dwemers are more dependent on their supports than anything but Support Monk. Edict is basically a more expensive Dismantle against Dwemers that's also a great card against other decks.
-Shadowfen Priest – In kind of an awkward place where he's more expensive than most of the Support hate and has a worse body than Archer, while cheaper than Giant but much less threatening. Most of the time you're actually ok with your opponent taking a turn to play this card as a result, but it is worth mentioning. The silence is sometimes relevant, especially silencing something you were counting on being shackled to win a race.
-Defense of Bruma – Nothing ruins a Halls turn like a wall of guards out of nowhere, potentially for free. Since Dwemers tent to have poor toughness, they will have to trade for even 1/1 tokens that get buffed by this most of the time.
-Shrieking Harpy – The bane of all aggression. Nothing is worse than thinking you're about to get lethal and then Bam! one of your attackers is taken out of the fight. It's especially infuriating on prophecy but can still ruin your next turn when played from hand, and trades with most of your creatures.
-Defender of the Innocent – Another card that is primarily troublesome because of its Prophecy status, though still effective from hand. Pretty much the same entry as Harpy except it is more threatening but vulnerable to a breakthrough assemble-boosted Factotum.
-Piercing Javelin – One of the cards I swear is programmed to proc way more frequently than it should off rune breaks. This one is much less scary from hand since you're usually going wider than you are tall, but can still answer a Hulking Fabricant or big Factotum.
-Lightning Bolt – Similar to Javelin except it also has the potential to kill you, costs one less to remove basically any of your creatures, and is in a Dagoth color. Yikes!
-Sharpshooter Scout – Definitely something that was put into a deck specifically for Dwemers (unless Doomcrag decks are still a thing?), and it will do its job. Removes a lot of your creatures for 1 at prophecy speed. Probably not something you'll see a lot since there is no sideboarding, but worth mentioning.
-Fear Totem – Probably better in the deck than against it, because many of your attackers don't mind being played again for more value, but still something that can disrupt a lethal attack.
-Flaming Breath – Another pure silver bullet, this card is laughable against anything else but surprisingly good against Dwemers. Another reason not just not attack rather than reduce your opponent to 1 above a rune break, albeit a minor one.
-Green Pact Ambusher – In addition to disrupting a lethal attack, Ambusher's little-used ability allows it to come down and attack for free if you end a turn with a full lane, something that happens a ton. That extra 4 damage out of nowhere even when you avoided breaking a rune can be just enough to kill you.
-Cast Out – Pretty much only scary as a Prophecy as most of your creatures like being returned to hand, but as a Prophecy it can disrupt lethal.
-Covenant Plate – Disrupts lethal as a prophecy and has reach and creates a guard from hand? Now that's a card Dwemers would rather not see played at all.
-Dremora Archer – Ridiculously bad most of the time (just a sharpshooter that costs 2 more), but occasionally sees play in Invade decks and is still perfectly capable of disrupting lethal.
-Morkul Gatekeeper – Similar to Covenant plate, offers a lot of what Dwemer doesn't want to see. Lethal disruption, reach and a guard body are all bad news.
-Grahtwood Ambusher – Lethal disruption and board clear for weenies isn't really enough to justify the 5 cost when played from hand on a 4/2, but it's another possibility to be aware of.
-Cliff Hunter – This is pretty much a more expensive Javelin, except it can't kill Dynamo targets and it can become a 3/3 if it kills an unbuffed weenie. Javelin is really good so maybe a Javelin that costs 6 is playable in some decks.
-Pointy Wall of Spikes – There are a couple other cheap lethal disrupters in Blue but I'm not including them because they don't threaten back or even kill the attackers. Pointy Wall of Spikes, however, usually does kill the attacker, though you get to choose which one eats the spikes so it's still not amazing.
-Blast from Oblivion – One of Invade's only prophecies and super-triggering when it procs. Kills one of your attackers and buffs their gate at the same time, feels bad.
-Burning Touch – A Fire Bolt that costs 2 more from hand an usually not played, but it can disrupt lethal and kill the attacker.
-Camlorn Sentinel – Not particularly threatening, but still disrupts lethal and can 2-for-1 against a lane with only buffed 0/1s.
-Fire Storm – Been just a list of most prophecy cards for a while, but this is one that is more than just lethal disruption with crackback. I expect it to see a lot of play in the current meta. As a prophecy it is devastating as you'll probably lose all your creatures in a lane, but even from hand it's basically a one-lane Ice Storm that costs 2 less against Dwemers. Very scary and what do you know, in a Dagoth color!
-Grave Grasp – Another mostly-techy card, but a particularly effective one. The 1/1s it generates will be able to trade with a lot of your creatures and it has to potential to blank not just one, but two of your attackers.
-Spear of Embers – Pretty much only played in a deck that is a little too devoted to being stacked with prophecies, but does have both reach and lethal disruption. Can also pump a guard in a lane you were planning on removing later in your attack sequence. From hand it's a lot like a Javelin against Dwemer so not awful.
-Staff of Ice – Another blue weapon that is mostly bad but much better against Dwemer as it can disrupt your lethal and pump a guard out of nowhere. From hand it's not the absolute worst as it functions similarly to a Javelin against Dwemer and buffs a creature for its trouble.
-Fate Weaver – This is a bit of a meme card most of the time, but with how good Prophecies are in the meta right now this is potentially just adding a free 3/3 body to whatever else prophecy you just triggered. From hand it's super-expensive but will usually be a double-play in decks that were built to support it.
-Golten Initiate – Yellow also has a lot of cheaper prophecies that can disrupt lethal that I won't mention for the same reason as in Blue. Golden Initiate breaks the mold a little bit because while it doesn't disrupt Lethal, it does have a fair body with drain, making future attacks less likely to kill. It also trades safely with most of your creatures when Halls isn't up.
-Xivkyn Channeler – What happens when you let your cat name a card. While it doesn't disrupt lethal by stopping an attacker, it does put your target at least 4 (usually 6) points further out of reach. Where this is really scary is if you chose to ignore a big gate and go face and suddenly there's another 3/3 who might get guard and maybe even ward standing in your way while your opponent is about to go off next turn. This is the biggest reason Invade is a scary matchup.
-Cloudrest Illusionist – One of the strongest cards with prophecy in the game. As a prophecy it blanks up to 4 damage which is bad enough, but it's also very threatening for a prophecy with 4 offense. On top of that, it's still good from hand with a respectable body for its cost and the ability to clear out one of your bigger bodies without trading. There's nothing about it that's threatening to Dwemer in particular, it's just a crazy good prophecy.
-Loyal Housecarl – Yep, it's here because it can disrupt lethal. But it has more ability to do that with most, as in addition to becoming a 4/4 blocker on its own (and therefore impervious to Crushing Blow), it can also give its buff to a beefier creature and potentially blank a ton of damage. It also has the dreaded component of extra reach, making it still good (though not great) from hand. This is a card that pretty much only sees play at high levels because it's not flashy, but it does a lot of very specific things very well, and top players know its power well.
-Fighter's Guild Recruit – It's FGR. Everyone should know what this card is about and why aggressive decks hate it by now, but it's especially nasty because it can take out buffed Factotums later in the game.
-Bitterfish Witch – More lethal disruption, but being a Goblin makes it more than just a thing that pings a 1 toughness creature. It threatens to turn into a 4/4 on the crackback and boosts Butcher, and even if none of your attackers have 1 defense it still blanks 1 attack, which can be the difference between victory and defeat.
-Blacksap Protector – Nothing fancy here, just a guard with reasonable stats that can pop out of the deck. Still enough to ruin your day, and an option for a Dagoth deck that wants to hard tech against Dwemer.
-Moonlight Werebat – No lethal disruption (yay!) but a threatening offense and drain (boo!). Similar to Initiate, trading the ability to easily trade for more crackback and healing. Oh, and Dagoth coloring.
Valenwood Sentry – A worse Blacksap Protector.
Assassin Beetle – Not threatening on his own, but in a Prophecy-saturated deck he tacks on a 2/2 body to another cast. Unlike the Fate Weaver, however, you get to choose which prophecy is cast and it can't fail to find one off the top, but it can fail to find one in your hand and you don't get the cantrip. Wouldn't even be here if it weren't for how much Dwemer hates Prophecies and he just adds a 2/2 body to a different Prophecy.
-Ransack – Another mostly-bad card that gets better against Dwemer. It has double-duty lethal disruption, killing an attacker and gaining 3 health. From hand it is expensive but again is mostly an expensive javelin against Dwemer with a heal for 3 on top so completely rotten.
-City Guard – Completely unremarkable but disrupts lethal and adds 2 threat.
-Fharun Defender – Orc Aggro will never be completely unviable as the beefiest aggro archetype, and while he was far from an automatic include before, his usefulness against Dwemers in particular means he'll probably be in every Orc deck, of which there are always some.
-Covenant Mail – Lethal disruption, tiny bit of reach, ability to block multiple attacks under the right circumstances. Not one of the worst but still not something you want to see on top of your opponent's deck when you decide to go swinging.
-Mentor of the Watch – One of the best aggro counters out there and a card I'm shocked doesn't see more play. Not only can he disrupt lethal, but he also gives guard to another creature of your choice in hand, which can help stabilization immensely! It's a good thing he's Purple which is arguably the least threatening color to Dwemer because he's a monster at stopping plan A.
-Mummify – A Javelin that leaves a 2/2 body and exiles its target. There are worse things to get hit by as it still leaves you with the mummy but lethal disruption is lethal disruption. Can also be frustrating if you were wanting to Yagrum or Headless Zombie its target later.
-Bonewalker – Another card I'm very glad is Purple. With your wide boards, this guy is very frequently a free 4/5 or even 5/6 guard. Even from hand that's potentially better than a Hive Guardian. Against a full lane he can eat two things that aren't Ally or Dynamo buffed even with Halls up. Frightening.
-Midnight Sweep – The final reason that I'm glad Purple tends to be weak to Dwemer as a whole. Can disrupt lethal in two lanes simultaneously, puts out 4 damage if neither summon died, and is a reasonably-priced card from hand.
-Lurking Mummy – Has the distinction of being the only prophecy with an offense that lets him eat anything but an Ally and a defense that lets him eat two things if not being attacked by an Ally. Makes him a particularly threatening card for Dwemers but he's pretty bad in general as he costs way too much from hand for what he offers against any other deck.
-Guildsworn Apprentice – Disrupts lethal, Cantrips, and lurks in one of the hard matchup's colors.
-Tyr – Please no! No more daddy, make it stop! Tyr is the absoute worst card to reveal when attacking face. He can stop lethal if he needs to and if not that's 5! breakthrough crackback your opponent just got for free. Even from hand he's a good card all around. His colors also allow him to go into arguably the best decks for non-Dwemer aggro. This guy is one of the reasons you cringe and brace yourself when facing Crusader.
-Midnight Snack – Not too exciting, just a lethal disruptor with a little bit of crackback. There is the fringe benefit of reducing a dragon's cost, but dragon decks are a good matchup anyway.
-Sparkling Spider – A card so bad it's not even recommended from Dwemer decks, but it is still lethal disruption with some crackback threat.
-Portcullis – This card is on here for a very obscure reason. On its own it can eat as many as three attacks with Halls up and that's something. But it's also part of the Bone Armor+Ring of Imaginary Might deck which, while not exactly a bad matchup due to its complete relying on drawing Ring, is one of the few decks capable of holding off plan A and delivering its OTK combo before Workshop can deliver its own. Between being a part of that deck and blanking an insane amount of damage at prophecy speed, I thought this card deserved a mention.
-Dark Harvester – The Prophecy Hall of Villians section ends with a whimper, as the worst-of-them-but-technically-still-lethal-disrupting Dark Harvester rounds out the set. For four magicka, a 2/4 guard body that gains 4 health isn't great, but coming out for free sometimes makes up for it. Wait, what's that off-camera guy? It doesn't cost 4? Well ok I guess since it has prophecy I can see it costing 5. What? More? Seriously, a 6 cost? Ok that's pretty terrible and if you ever have to cast it from hand it will feel really…WHAT? SEVEN MAGICKA!? * flips table *
-Murkwater Scourge – Ok please don't play this card. I like winning with my Workshop deck so if you could kindly dust all of your coppies of this card that'd be great, thanks. So the reason this guy is on here despite me saying that Goblin matchup isn't the end of the world is that he doesn't need the rest of the Gobbos to do his potentially 3-for-1 thing. At the very least he is pretty much always a 2-for-1 and he can't just be left alive because 3 attack is a little too much to let hang around for multiple turns. While Tyr is the worst of the Prophecies and Hand of Dagoth is a close second, this is the guy I most dread seeing on my opponent's side of the board.
Did I spend my time wisely while recovering from Covid writing an absurdly long article for a dying game about a single deck archetype? Maybe. Did I do a thorough job of it? I think so. Please let me know what you think of my analysis and especially what possible counters and flexes I may have missed. Love you all, even if you're like a flat-earther or something. Peace!
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