Who Needs Red for Painter’s Servant in Legacy MTG?

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).


Unlock CFB Pro and get all the benefits of a TCGplayer subscription for one monthly fee. Join now!


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. 

Card Choices

This is the primary combo of the deck and the thing that differentiates this deck from 8-Cast. Having access to a clear two-card combo is a huge upside in Legacy, especially when you can back it up with Force of Will. As we’ve seen with Red Painter, having Urza’s Saga significantly increases the consistency of the combo since you functionally have access to four more copies of Grindstone, which means your opponents will have to respect the combo more often. While you only have the four copies of Painter to draw and no additional ways to consistently find them, this deck does have a fair amount of card advantage (and even some card selection with Emry), which certainly helps you find the Painter. The downside of having this combo is that you can’t rely on Chalice of the Void to disrupt opponents. However, Chalice is not quite as good as it once was, so that’s not a huge cost. The upside of having a one-shot combo is very meaningful in this current metagame and overall I like this way of building the deck more than traditional builds of 8-Cast at the moment.

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 still retains the “8-Cast” component of the deck, which makes it fairly easy to out-card your opponents. The card advantage element of this archetype is why it has been so successful over the past few years. There is a lot of good artifact hate in the format but cards like Thought Monitor and Emry both allow you rebuild with relative ease against most artifact hate. Thought Monitor is particularly nice since it serves multiple roles in the deck, including trading with Delver and dodging cards like Meltdown.

Most 8-Cast decks play Force of Will, which makes sense because you have so much card advantage. It’s even better in this deck since it both protects your combo and works well with Painter’s Servant by allowing you to pitch any card in your hand. Rebuke is not a common choice, but it’s fairly easy to cast for a single mana, which is important for protecting your combo and disrupting opponents. Unlike Red Painter, you can’t rely on Hydroblast since hitting red cards is not nearly as potent as Pyroblast, which relegates Hydroblast to another combo card (since you’ll need Painter in play most of the time).

While the primary Saga target is Grindstone, which allows you to set up your combo with increased consistency, this deck does play a robust Saga package. All-in-all, this is a straightforward package, where you can get the right target for the right moment.

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.

Fast mana is one of the cornerstones of Legacy and these allow you to have starts that opponents will struggle to keep up with.

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.

Spire of Industry is not a common card but it does help you splash some key cards, like Haywire Mite, which has some nice upside. I could see wanting more basic lands but of the most part, just having a single Island should be alright.

This is functionally an Island that gives you some extra disruption if you need it.

The Sideboard

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.

Some extra Saga targets to answer graveyard decks and artifacts, respectively.

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

Izzet Delver

Izzet Delver

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. 


Mono-White Initiative

Mono-White Initiative

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. 


Four-Color Control

Four-Color Control

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. 


Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top