The Painter’s Servant/Grindstone combo is powerful, consistent and fairly lean, which forces opponents to respect it throughout the game. Historically, red-based Painter’s Servant decks have been the de facto shell for the combo. This is for good reason, since Pyroblast is an excellent Legacy card by itself and cards like Goblin Welder create a powerful, resilient engine for the deck.
However, there have been a ton of powerful blue artifact cards printed over the past few years and the blue-artifact shell makes a solid home for the Painter combo. Combining the combo and the blue-artifact shell has led to Magic Online player DNSolver having a dominant run in the Legacy Challenges and putting up a ton of consistent top finishes, rounding it out with a win (and a second place finish) this past weekend.
I think there’s a lot of appeal to building your deck like this in general, but it also fits perfectly into the expected metagame right now. Let’s take a look at the deck and see why it has been performing so well lately (outside of DNSolver’s mastery).
Legacy Blue Painter by DNSolver
The Game Plan
This is a Painter’s Servant/Grindstone combo deck combined with the 8-Cast engines. This gives the archetype an explosive combo potential on top of the ability to play a long, grindy game against interactive decks. The 8-Cast shell has more explosive potential than modern-day Red Painter decks, so including the Painter combo here is setting you up for a quicker, more explosive strategy. There is a cost to building your deck in this way, since you do lose some of the key staples of 8-Cast such as Chalice of the Void, but the Painter combo is extremely well-positioned at the moment, which makes this an excellent approach. Like Red Painter, this deck is not all-in on the combo, and has a lot of other core pieces that help round out the game plan and make it difficult to consistently disrupt, which puts you in a great position in many matchups.
Emry has more than proven itself to be one of the core elements of this style of deck. It is fairly easy to cast for a single mana and once it’s in play, it becomes incredibly difficult for opponents to interact with your key artifacts. On top of that, it’s a mana/card engine when combined with Petal/Bauble and if you ever get to return a Thought Monitor, you should have more than enough resources to leave your opponents in the dust.
This deck doesn’t go all-in with the full eight Baubles, but having four Mishra’s Bauble increases the consistency of cards like Metallic Rebuke and Mox Opal and allows you to have a card advantage engine with Emry, as well.
Like most Saga decks in Legacy, this is the card that rounds out the whole game plan. It threatens opponents by itself, has a variety of different options to tutor up, and finds your key combo piece.
Ancient Tomb continues to be one of the most powerful cards in the entire format and this deck perfectly takes advantage of it, allowing a fast combo kill or an early Saga activation (and much more).
Seat makes your affinity and metalcraft cards so much more potent. They are a bit exposed to cards like Meltdown but overall the upside is more than worth it.
This is functionally an Island that gives you some extra disruption if you need it.
Having a dedicated anti-combo card can be really important in Legacy and it’s nice that this one is also an artifact (which barely disrupts you, if at all).
Mono-blue is light on removal options but Dismember is certainly effective enough to slow down opponents and keep the board clear.
This card has been picking up in popularity and it mainly serves as an anti-mirror card against other Servant decks. It can also act as a bad graveyard hate spell, so it definitely has some other utility.
This deck doesn’t have a ton of black sources but it has enough to make this card a solid choice. Engineer continues to be one of the most powerful cards in the game against small creatures so I like seeing it here.
This is a nice way to sidestep disruption against your primary plan. Casting Kappa early will make it almost impossible for opponents to race or answer your plan. It can be a bit clunky, especially in multiples, so I do like only have a pair in the board, but it’s a very valuable sideboard card against a lot of matchups.
This deck has more than enough card advantage to support an extra three Forces and this will make it more easier to manage opposing combo decks.
Tips and Tricks
- Grindstoning yourself when you have an Emry in play can increase your chances of finding a powerful artifact to return.
- If you suspect your opponent has a removal spell, keep up your combo and force them to hold their mana up. Getting a second Grindstone in play can help force the action since that will allow you to activate in response.
- Tutoring Aether Spellbomb with Saga to bounce your own Thought Monitor can be a nice way to refill in a long game.
Sideboard and Matchup Guide
Out: 1 Haywire Mite, 4 Force of Will
In: 2 Kappa Cannoneer, 3 Dismember
While they do have a lot of effective disruption for this matchup, you have a lot of ways to navigate through it. Having a number of game plans, each of which having the power to take over the game, puts Delver in a situation where they need the right answer at the right time. I like cutting Force of Will because this is largely a grindy matchup where a lot of resources will be exchanged. This does open you up to Meltdown a bit more but this deck has the ability to play through that somewhat, since you can threaten the combo at just about any time.
Out: 3 Metallic Rebuke, 1 Pithing Needle, 1 Soul-Guide Lantern
In: 3 Dismember, 2 Kappa Cannoneer
This is one of the reasons to play Mono-Blue Painter. You have a strong combination of disruption for their interactive cards, the ability to play a very explosive game and a variety of game plans which are effective against Initiative. The Painter combo is quite good against them, since it sidesteps a need for the combat step altogether and allows you to have a game plan that can ignore what they’re doing. It is open to removal, which is a downside, but considering that they need it at just the right moment, it’s a great plan for the matchup. Playing an explosive artifact game can also be effective here and having cards like Thought Monitor to occasionally take initiative is some nice upside.
Out: 1 Haywire Mite, 1 Shadowspear, 1 Lotus Petal
In: 1 Soul-Guide Lantern, 2 Kappa Cannoneer
All of your game plans are effective in this matchup, which is a great place to be. They do have some really effective disruptive tools, mainly for your combo, so I could see wanting to trim on those pieces. However, threatening the combo early and quickly is still a nice plan in the matchup. Overall, just pick your spot and lean into your engine pieces and you should be alright in this matchup.
Out: 1 Shadowspear, 1 Haywire Mite, 1 Aether Spellbomb, 1 Soul-Guide Lantern, 1 Snow-Covered Island
In: 3 Force of Negation, 2 Ethersworn Canonist
This should be a pretty solid matchup. You have a ton of disruption, a threatening two-card combo and individual pieces that can be difficult for them to manage. Specifically, having Grindstone in your deck makes their situation quite a bit more awkward since they have to make sure they play around the Millstone portion of the card. They’re still a very scary deck, so definitely keep that in mind as you set up your game plan, but overall I think this should be good for Mono-Blue Painter.