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Much Abrew: Painter Prison (Legacy)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, for Much Abrew, we're focusing on a format that we really don't play often enough: Legacy! When it comes to gameplay videos, I usually record them for about a week ahead of when they actually go live on the YouTube channel, to allow time for editing, writing the article, and everything else. This means that when I was recording Much Abrew last weekend, the companion update was looming, and I really wanted to avoid posting outdated content where people were playing companions based on their old wording. The solution to this problem was Legacy, where the two most playable companions have already been banned outright! Add in that Legacy is perhaps my favorite format to play and that today's deck is a unique take on one of my favorite archetypes (Blood Moon Mono-Red Prison), and heading into a Legacy league was an easy choice! 

As for the deck itself, it's basically a hybrid of Mono-Red Painter's Servant / Grindstone Combo and Mono-Red Prison. While these plans might not seem related, they do interact in some interesting ways. For example, artifact tutors like Goblin Engineer and Karn, the Great Creator that we have to find Painter's Servant and Grindstone can also snag prison pieces like Ensnaring Bridge and Mycosynth Lattice, while Painter's Servant can turn Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast into one-mana land-destruction spells that allow us to snip whatever basic lands our opponent happens to play to get around our Blood Moons! How good is Legacy at the moment? Is a Prison–Painter hybrid a competitive option in the format? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Painter Prison

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The Deck

  • Record-wise, Painter Prison was solid. We came super-close to a 5-0, finishing 4-1, with our one loss coming to a Punishing Fire deck that seemed like a really tough matchup for our deck because even though it was four colors, it didn't really care about Blood Moon (thanks for nothing, Arcum's Astrolabe) and because Punishing Fire is really good at killing small creatures, which our deck is full of. Otherwise, we crushed some Delver decks, slogged our way through Death and Taxes, and got a free-ish win in round five where we won game one almost instantly and our opponent disconnected before game two.
  • Painter Prison is sort of two somewhat related decks mashed together. Deck one is Mono-Red Painter. Here, our main goal is to stick a Painter's Servant to turn everything blue and then play and activate Grindstone, which will mill our opponent's entire deck (since every card is the same color thanks to Painter's Servant). In theory, we can pull off our combo as early as Turn 2 with the help of Sol lands like Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors, along with extra mana from Simian Spirit Guide. Turn 1 Painter's Servant off of a Sol land into a second Sol land on Turn 2 gives us the four mana we need to play and activate Grindstone to win the game. 
  • You probably noticed that we only have three copies of Painter's Servant and three Grindstones in our main deck, which looks weird since they are our main combo pieces. That's because we have Karn, the Great Creator to snag the extra copies from our sideboard. Oddly, playing just three copies of our combo pieces in the main deck is actually an attempt to make the deck more consistent, as strange as that sounds.
  • Along with Karn, we have a bunch of other ways to assemble our combo. Goblin Engineer can tutor either Painter's Servant or Grindstone into the graveyard and then either reanimate them itself or set up Goblin Welder to reanimate them. Meanwhile, Imperial Recruiter can directly tutor up Painter's Servant or indirectly help us find Grindstone by grabbing Goblin Engineer to set up the tutor / reanimation combo.
  • The second deck that Painter Prison is influenced by is Mono-Red Prison. While we aren't a full-on prison deck (we don't have Chalice of the Void or Trinisphere), we do have the ability to play Blood Moon or Magus of the Moon on Turn 1, which can get some free wins all by itself.
  • Perhaps my favorite part of the deck is how the two plans subtly interact with each other. The tutors that we play to find Painter's Servant and Grindstone can also find Ensnaring Bridge or Mycosynth Lattice from our sideboard, for the hard-lock with Karn, the Great Creator. Meanwhile, setting Painter's Servant on blue not only enables our infinite mill combo but also turns Pyroblast (and after sideboarding, Red Elemental Blast) into the most absurd one-mana spell in Magic, countering any spell or destroying any permanent for just a single mana! This not only helps us defend our combo but also strengthens the Blood Moon lock by blowing up random basic lands our opponent happens to draw. Furthermore, Karn, the Great Creator keeps our opponent from using Arcum's Astrolabe to fix their mana and play through our Blood Moons. 
  • While I'm not going to go in-depth on changes to the deck—I feel like I need to play the archetype a lot more before I'm qualified—I will say that in some of our matchups, I really, really wanted to tutor up Liquimetal Coating from our sideboard with Karn, the Great Creator to blow up our opponent's lands. While I'm not sure what to cut from the sideboard to make room (perhaps Irreverent Revelers, which feels like an odd inclusion), next time I play the deck, I'm definitely going to find the room for Liquimetal Coating
  • So, should you play Painter Prison? I think the answer is yes. The deck felt surprisingly competitive, especially considering we're a Blood Moon deck in a Arcum's Astrolabe format. In a broader sense, if you play Magic Online and use a loan program, you should definitely give Legacy a try, if you haven't already. Even though Legacy is (sadly) absurdly expensive in paper, on Magic Online, it costs roughly the same as Modern or Pioneer (and if you use a loan program, you can borrow cards for whatever format you want). While Legacy has a weird reputation of being all unfair combo decks, in reality, I feel like I play far more "real" games of Magic (ones that last for five or more turns and are interactive) in Legacy than in formats like Modern, Pioneer, or even Standard. Plus, thanks to the full banning of Lurrus of the Dream Den and Zirda, the Dawnwaker, companions are less prevalent in the format, if they are a card type you'd like to avoid. 


Anyway, that's all for today! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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