Greetings, everyone! We continue with another Deck Tech and this time, there's no Atraxa, Grand Unifier on the list!
Let's revisit an old favorite of the format that has returned to the top of the tier: the lethal combination of Painter's Servant with Grindstone – a single activation of the 1-mana artifact is enough to mill your opponent's entire deck when this scarecrow is in play.
Conveniently, when naming Blue in Servant's ability, its Blasts (Pyroblast/Red Elemental Blast) – which are already very useful against most decks in the format – morph into Vindicate /Counterspell for 1 mana.
Around this combo, there is a whole synergistic structure that allows you to find and, if necessary, bring from the graveyard not only its pieces, but also tools for the most diverse situations.
Fable is a fantastic card here, as all chapters of the Saga are useful for the deck: the Goblin Shaman generates Treasures that serve not only to speed up his mana, but also as fuel for the Welder and Engineer, the second chapter has a dual function from drawing cards to find what you need as well as filling your graveyard for the aforementioned Goblins and the Reflection of Kiki-Jiki is simply a bomb that cannot be left alive, as it threatens the end of the game either with a single Goblin Engineer left alive or by the Plan B with Urza's Saga's tokens. (I won't even mention interacting with Fury because this is a family-friendly site).
As for the rest of the deck, there are different ways on how to configure mana acceleration, changing the amount of City of Traitors, Simian Spirit Guide and Lotus Petal – Crystal Vein is a valid alternative to the Exodus rare land.
As for removals, Lightning Bolt and Fury are the preferred cards, although Abrade appears in some maindecks. There are also options on targets from the third chapter of Urza's Saga other than those listed below, such as Shadowspear or Lion's Eye Diamond.
Finally, you also have some artifacts to deal with situations where a simple combo is not an option – not forgetting that they also play well with your Goblins.
Twinshot Sniper, Ichor Wellspring, Lightning Greaves, The Mightstone and Weakstone, and Ensnaring Bridge are valid options. The Sniper, by the way, is the logical option to be fitted in place of the still non-existent in Magic Online Chaos Defiler for those using the digital platform (change the Badlands for Mountain in this case ).
Like every Combo deck, your ideal hand is the one that can make your winning combination with backup protection. But that doesn't mean that this is a deck that needs to go for the throat right away, as there are plenty of resources to find combo pieces, ways to force cards more than once through the graveyard, and game options that force the opponent to have to fend off other threats and pave the way for the complete mill of their deck.
So, what you want are hands with Goblin Welder and/or Urza's Saga that will make life very difficult for any opponent or Painter's Servant with Blasts for protection and, of course, mana to make your game.
Purely reactive hands aren't interesting, but those that can cast Fable of the Mirror-Breaker early to get rid of dead cards can be considered – this is a deck with far more ability to play Midrange style than the most combo decks.
Building the Sideboard
The suggested sideboard is quite varied, not focusing too much on any specific opponent, but with responses to various archetypes.
Regarding graveyard hate, some players choose to run Leyline of the Void. As the list already has the Soul-Guide Lantern in the main deck, I think it's more interesting to play with just 3 Surgical Extraction and open up one more space on the sideboard – playing with less than 4 Leylines is a statistical contradiction. Grafdigger's Cage is yet another option, one you can pick up from Saga.
Magus of the Moon seems to be contradictory in a deck with Urza's Saga (remember that the presence of Magus or Blood Moon destroys Sagas due to too complicated rulings to discuss now), but he is particularly strong in some games, which is worth his presence in these slots.
With the increased presence of mirror-matches, it's common to see players resort to Emrakul, the Aeons Torn or Gaea's Blessing to avoid an instant lose, which is why the Flying Spaghetti Eldrazi is there on the sideboard.
Against creatures, the complement to the main deck's Fury set is almost automatic. Abrade, Dead//Gone, Fiery Confluence and Ensnaring Bridge are the most common suspects. Torpor Orb has been appearing as an alternative to Initiative decks.
Oddly, this is a match where the Combo deck has to act like Control. Painter has plenty of resources and plenty of ways to keep Delver's main threats off the board – you're bound to crack a smile every time you Blast a Murktide Regent.
Once they run out of breath, it's only a matter of time before you find a way to close the game. Obviously, Delver is a great deck to punish any stumbles, so if you don't play more conservatively, they will take advantage of any drop in guard. Post-side, you go in with more removal and draw more explosive cards, as you'll push the control angle even further.
Death and Taxes
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a huge pain, and they have many ways to exile Painter's Servant, which is a problem that stops your recursion with the Goblins. On the other hand, having some Goblin active is a constant threat to them, and you can use this to your advantage by resorting to cards that generate more cards, such as Breya's Apprentice.
It's a matter of patience to find a breach in their defenses - just be aware that even with lands tapped, they have access to Solitude to respond to you and Aether Vial can place a Skyclave Apparition in play. Post-side, more Control elements come in, and some Blasts come out, which are dead until you have a Painter on the table, but this is not a card you want to expose easily.
Game 1 is quite tricky, because they tend to combo faster than you and there are numerous discards to go over your answers. This is an opponent where the best way out is to try to go off as fast as possible.
Post-side, most of the dead and/or slow cards come out, and your chances improve considerably.
While some of the baselines of these two decks are similar, one of them has Chalice of the Void and one of them has major problems dealing with that same Chalice.
They can press very fast with Goblin Rabblemaster and Legion Warboss, Trinisphere is quite troublesome, there's more Fury to keep your Goblins off the board and even Blood Moon can gain points by destroying Urza's Saga.
On the other hand, they have few answers to explosive hands that go over the Chalice, like Saga finding the Grindstone, for example.
Oh, the Mirror. Blasts are particularly bad here, as Painter has to be on the board for them to work, but if you play yours, the risk is making your opponent's life easier by enabling the Grindstone's activation.
Keep in mind that Goblin Welder can affect any graveyard, so one of them active is a game of cat and mouse. Overall, it's a battle over who can accumulate the most resources, and it's not uncommon for the game to be decided by Urza's Saga's Construct tokens.
Post-side, Emrakul is a defense against the combo, but one that can be played around with Soul-Guide Lantern. Not all decks use this tactic, but if you suspect your opponent, you can add one or two Surgical Extraction – take one or two Lotus Petal in that case.
Here I end this analysis of the deck that wants to paint the world Blue just to explode everything for one mana!
See you next time!