Deck Tech: Mono-Blue Painted Stone with Chris Cornwell-Shiels
Chris Cornwell-Shiels is running a unique Mono-Blue Painter's Servant / Grindstone build in the Legacy Open.
This isn’t your grandfather’s Painter’s Servant deck. We’ve seen a number of different archetypes that abuse the Painter’s Servant/Grindstone interaction, but this one’s packing a different color combination than most. Rather than going U/R for stuff like Goblin Welder and Pyroblast, Chris Cornwell-Shiels has dipped into white for a base blue deck that uses the combo a different way.
For one, he’ll often be naming red to turn on his Hydroblasts, which admittedly makes Force of Will a little weaker. That’s bolstered by the plethora of counter support packed into this little Legacy deck, however. He’s got Sensei’s Divining Top along with Counterbalance, giving him a possible hard lock, but the real teach is Mana Maze. Once Mana Maze and Painter’s Servant are in play, spells become uncounterable—but for a deck like this one, that’s all advantage to Chris. His combo kills you, and he’s got access to a number of effects that lock up the ground.
Ensnaring Bridge is his go-to defensive measure, with Enlightened Tutors to find it or one of your combo pieces, depending on the game state and the opponent. You might notice a lot of threes in this decklist—that’s because Chris also has access to Intuition, one of the most powerful tutors in the Legacy format.
The thing I’ve always liked about Painter decks is their mana. Turns like Ancient Den, Top, Mox Opal and spin the Top are incredibly potent ways to begin the game. The Sol lands—Ancient Tomb and City of Traitors—offer access to the same sort of acceleration. I’m a bit surprised Chris didn’t find room for a single Crucible of Worlds in here, giving his City more oomph and perhaps justifying a few more copies, but perhaps he found the deck not needing that going late. Infinite fetches with Top is a very amusing idea, however.
The sideboard is where the action’s really at, however. See, every Painter’s Servant/Grindstone deck can find itself occasionally drawing dead to Sneak Attack decks, with their Emrakuls and Progenitus effects making it impossible to be decked. Enter Laboratory Maniac! Post-board against these decks, Chris can combo off with a Maniac in play, targeting himself with Grindstone for a win during the nearest draw step.
Beyond that, he mostly uses his sideboard to do an impression of the old Enlightened Tutor Counter-Top decks, which used the Tutor both to establish hard locks and to give the deck consistency against a variety of threats and casting costs.
If you’re looking for a novel control deck with a powerful combo finish, Chris might just have brewed up exactly what you want.