Legacy Mono-White Painter – Deck Guide

I’ve been trying to cover as many decks that will be around if there are any substantial changes in Legacy coming up. Fortunately, there has been a ton of innovation lately that has really taken advantage of some less-than-common cards in the format. For instance, Magic Online user SWST recently put up a 5-0 with a Mono-White Painter deck that looks quite innovative. This is not an approach to the archetype that I have ever seen before, seeing as mono-white artifact-based combo has traditionally utilized Auriok Salvagers, and I think this deck looks pretty cool.

Let’s take a look at the deck and see what differentiates it from other Painter decks in the format.




Legacy Mono-White Painter by SWST


Header - The Game Plan

This is an artifact-based toolbox deck that can shift between a midrange and a combo strategy. The primary way to win the game involves combining Painter’s Servant and Grindstone to mill your opponent out on the spot. To help put that together, you have Oswald Fiddlebender to tutor it up, as well as to solve just about any problem. Karn, the Great Creator further provides access to a toolbox. On top of all of this, this archetype runs a ton of different engines that can each take over the game in different ways, as well as Urza’s Saga to completely dominate the board if unchecked.


Header - Card Choices

I’m starting here because Oswald is the primary reason to build the deck in this way. A Birthing Pod for artifacts is clearly a potent effect. It provides this deck inevitability and utility at the cost of being a fragile 2/2. If you ever get to untap with it though, the world is at your disposal and there’s essentially no limit to what you can do. Considering that Painter combo is creature-based, having Oswald be a lightning rod for removal isn’t actually that bad, either. Playing white over red in a Painter’s Servant deck is a bit of a cost, but Oswald is definitely reason enough to justify it assuming you’re alright with opening your deck to removal a bit more.


Karn has already proven itself to be quite effective in Legacy, but it hasn’t been too popular as of late. It’s a bit exposed to creature combat which is a huge part of Legacy at the moment. While it can get Ensnaring Bridge, this can be a bit slow these days, which is why we haven’t seen too many Karns lately.

That being said, this deck is really well suited to maximize Karn. There are a ton of effective tutor targets which complements Oswald’s ability quite well. In addition, since this deck plays four Portable Holes, it can actually keep the board somewhat clear before Karn comes down, which should make it more likely that you can untap with it. 


This is the combo we all know and love, but seeing it in a mono-white shell is certainly novel. This deck has a fair amount of ways to put these cards together and end the game on the spot. This deck isn’t quite as fast as other versions and can’t really explosively end the game out of nowhere, but it has a fair amount of consistency to make up for that. It’s a bit unfortunate that these cards don’t really do anything on their own as they do in red Painter decks, but using Oswald as an engine is a bit less clunky than using Imperial Recruiter and Oswald can assemble the whole thing by itself, so it will make this combo happen more often.


Canonist is generally a solid hate card in Legacy and having access to at least one copy makes sense in an Enlightened Tutor/Oswald deck. The second copy is certainly a nod to this deck being a bit of an underdog to combo decks and having it in play will help slow most decks down long enough for you to put together your combo.


This card has picked up a bit of play lately. It’s a nice card to increase consistency while being an uncounterable way to put a solid blocker in front of cards like Dragon’s Rage Channeler. It is a bit clunky, but the effect is reasonable in the format at the moment so it seems like a reasonable inclusion.


While Enlightened Tutor may seem like the perfect card for this deck, since it finds all sorts of removal, engines as well as the combo, it is card disadvantage, so leaning into more copies is pretty costly. Two copies will increase the consistency of the deck pretty substantially though, so I like having a couple in the deck.


These are the three-drop tutor targets for Oswald and Enlightened Tutor to find and they are effective ones at that. There are plenty of games that Ensnaring Bridge will simply end once it hits the battlefield, so it’s certainly one of the best targets in the deck. Crucible will provide some resilience against Wasteland, but its primary purpose is to create an engine along with Urza’s Saga and Wasteland, which will quickly bury any player trying to play a fair game.


These are the one-drop tutor targets for each of Oswald, Tutor and Urza’s Saga. We have seen each of these in a variety of Urza’s Saga decks and they each have their role. Pithing Needle basically always has some target in Legacy. Shadowspear is a great way to win races with the Urza’s Saga Constructs. Expedition Map keeps the Saga train chugging along. Soul-Guide Lantern is a great way to answer graveyards. And Retrofitter Foundry is a pretty effective engine against fair decks and that clog up the board and provide an alternate win-condition.


This was a great pick up for this style of deck over the past few months. If it wasn’t for Prismatic Ending, we’d be seeing this card in all sorts of white decks. As it stands, you have to be interested in the artifact portion of the card, which this deck certainly is. It works well with Oswald coming in or going out, as it lets you turn random Ancient Dens into removal spells and random removal spells into combo pieces.


This deck plays one copy in order to search up with Urza’s Saga to maintain the mana you lost from sacrificing a land. I could actually see this deck wanting to play more copies of the card, but it’s not like every permanent in the deck is an artifact so a single copy is reasonable.


Like most artifact-based decks these days, this deck is first and foremost a Saga deck. This gives you the ability to play through countermagic, develop a huge board and assemble the Grindstone combo (or whatever else you need at the time).


Ancient Tomb remains one of the most powerful lands in Legacy and drawing it will enable your most powerful starts. The life loss can hurt, but this deck has plenty of uses for extra generic mana, so be on the lookout for Ancient Tomb in your starting hand.


This deck needs plenty of white sources. Ancient Den is essential in an Oswald deck since this will get the chain going. The rest are just nice ways to be relatively immune to Wasteland, and having Flagstones can start to set up a mana engine with Crucible in play (along with a second copy of Flagstones).


In general, I have run out of interesting things to say about Karakas, since it’s just so clutch in Legacy at the moment. In this deck, it can help you protect Oswald, which is a nice bit of value, in addition to all of its other functions (Ragavan, Griselbrand, Uro, etc…).


Most artifact-based decks don’t run any Wastelands, but in a deck with Crucible of Worlds, this will let you set up a relatively easy way to lock opponents out. Having four copies means that you will be able to disrupt their mana base even without Crucible in the mix.


Header - The Sideboard

These are the sideboard Karn tutor targets that will basically never be sideboarded in. Bridge, Coating and Lattice are each lock pieces for different circumstances. Grindstone is an additional copy of your combo piece. Helm is a nice card to have access to when you sideboard in Rest in Peace as a way to one-hit-KO your opponents.


This is arguably the most powerful graveyard hate in the format. The only downside is that it can be too slow for Legacy against decks like Dredge and Reanimator. However, it’s an excellent sideboard card right now since it’s great against Murktide Regent and Dragon’s Rage Channeler.


Unlike Rest in Peace, Surgical is not a very powerful card, but it is fast enough for Legacy combo decks so it’s always a nice card to have.


Seal is a slow Disenchant that you can tutor with Enlightened Tutor, so it makes a lot of sense to include here.


Apparition is a powerful removal spell that answers a pretty wide range of cards. The body doesn’t matter too much and double white could be hard at times, but it’s versatile enough that it makes sense to include here. 


Swords to Plowshares is key against Murktide Regent and has plenty of other uses, so it seems like a great sideboard card here.


Header - Tips and Tricks

  • If you have Rest in Peace in play, any artifact your opponent kills will be tutorable by Karn since it can search for cards in exile, as well as your sideboard.
  • Enlightened Tutoring for an Urza’s Saga is an effective way to set up a powerful board state, so keep that in mind.
  • With Liquimetal Coating in play you can target your own lands to start the tutor chain with Oswald Fiddlebender.


Header - Sideboard Guide

Izzet Delver

Izzet Delver

Out: 2 Ethersworn Canonist, 1 Pithing Needle, 2 Oswald Fiddlebender, 1 Enlightened Tutor

In: 2 Swords to Plowshares, 2 Skyclave Apparition, 2 Rest in Peace


Izzet Delver has plenty of tools to disrupt the combo and a relative fast clock. However, the Ragavan plan isn’t that effective here and this deck is actually reasonably well set up against cards like Null Rod and Meltdown. Focusing on surviving is more important than winning, and I would prioritize removal-heavy hands pretty highly. I don’t think relying on Oswald is a good approach since they have a ton of removal against it, so siding out a couple of copies seems reasonable.



Four-Color Control

Four-Color Control

Out: 4 Portable Hole

In: 2 Skyclave Apparition, 2 Rest in Peace


There isn’t too much to bring in here, but having ways to keep Uro in check can help prevent them from taking over the midgame. Having Rest in Peace in the deck is nice too, since Karn is one of the better cards in the matchup so being able to search up Helm of Obedience to one-shot them is pretty good. Lean into Urza’s Saga early and use the board presence it generates to pressure them to the point where they have to interact and then go for a haymaker or a combo a bit later.



Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes

Out: 2 Ethersworn Canonist, 3 Eternal Dragon, 1 Soul-Guide Lantern

In: 2 Swords to Plowshares, 2 Skyclave Apparition, 2 Seal of Cleansing


Death and Taxes is the kind of deck that can gives decks like Mono-White Painter weird amounts of trouble. They have a lot of incidental disruption and the ability to keep up with most fair games. They also have a decent amount of interaction for the engines and combos in the deck so that makes it a bit more difficult. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to try to go for a fast combo since it can be tough to play a late game against them. The removal you bring in does help you keep up with them, but it’s going to be pretty important to try to enact a cohesive plan in this matchup.





Out: 2 Portable Hole

In: 2 Surgical Extraction


As always with non-blue decks, this is a tough matchup. This is a slower version of Painter, so racing them is quite a bit tougher and having white cards is definitely worse than red cards here. I’d value hands with Oswald or a fast Karn very highly and essentially you do just need to race them. Remember that Grindstone can disrupt their combo to some degree, which can potentially buy you a very relevant turn.



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