A combo deck in Legacy that doesn’t rely on blue or drawing cards? Those are the very qualities that have so many players loving Painter Combo.
Painter’s Servant is not a very exciting creature on its own. A 1/3 for 2 can block a few things, but it dies to all of the removal in the format and isn’t especially threatening. Its ability to make all cards in all zones a single color, however, creates a two-card combo with Grindstone. Activating a Grindstone with a Painter in play (on any color) will leave the opponent with 0 cards in their library. Assuming they don’t have an Eldrazi in their deck to counteract it, this ends the game during their draw step.
Finding ways to assemble this combo and keep the opponent from interacting with it is what makes the deck interesting.
Many versions rely on Enlightened Tutor to assemble the combo, as it’s a single mana and can get either of the missing pieces (as well as many key lock pieces). It does, however, create card disadvantage, so it’s not used in this list. Instead, Imperial Recruiter is a way to find your Painter or perhaps another creature to help you get the job done.
Goblin Welder can assemble the combo even if one or both parts are in the graveyard. While Welder can mess with opposing artifacts, it’s a great way to battle against removal spells.
Monastery Mentor is your back-up plan, especially against decks with large Eldrazi that can’t be milled out. You can create a pretty large army quickly with so many 0- and 1-mana spells in your deck.
Simian Spirit Guide is a Lotus Petal that only produces red, but it can be found with Imperial Recruiter when you need extra mana. This deck also runs Lotus Petals, but in Legacy you can run into Counterbalance, Chalice of the Void on 0, or even Trinisphere. There’s also a pair of Chrome Moxes as even more ways to cast a turn-1 Blood Moon and artifacts to Weld away.
Sensei’s Divining Top is one of the best ways to make sure you find the pieces you need in a timely manner. Top has excellent synergy with Goblin Welder as you can activate it and then Weld it away in response, netting you some additional cards.
Swords to Plowshares provides your main creature interaction. It’s the best removal spell in the history of Magic.
Pyroblast is a main-deck 4-of. This isn’t outrageous in a format dominated by blue decks, but would normally be ill-advised. In a deck with 4 Painter’s Servants, and many more ways to go find them, it becomes a formidable spell. A Painter on blue turns Pyroblast into a 1-mana, counter-anything-or-Vindicate-anything split card.
There are some planeswalkers to help you play the late game. Ajani Vengeant can lock a permanent down, throw around some Lightning Helixes, and then wipe out your opponent’s lands. Nahiri, the Harbinger doesn’t have Emrakul to search up, but discarding excess cards or using the ultimate to find a Painter are both great abilities.
With plenty of Sol lands to get off your combo or Blood Moons early, Painter has a quick combo and lots of early interaction to mess with all of the best Legacy decks out there.