TES Matchup Battles: Painter II

Painter is a deck that revolves around the card [[Painter’s Servant]] and [[Grindstone]]. [[Painter’s Servant]] chooses a color, and then all cards become that color. When you then activate [[Grindstone]], you can continue repeating the process because the cards share at least one color since they are all the same color. The process will repeat until the opponent has zero cards left in their library. [[Painter’s Servant]] is also a combo with cards like [[Pyroblast]] and [[Red Elemental Blast]] since you can choose the color blue and counter or destroy any card. Painter has been around for quite some time and in many different variations, but all versions play to that same combo. It also now plays [[Karn, the Great Creator]], [[Urza’s Saga]], and [[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]] to give the deck the ability to play in the mid game. Painter is a powerful deck that has been gaining popularity with these newer additions, so it’s important we know the matchup.

How does Painter matchup against TES?

[[Goblin Welder|]]
[[Painter’s Servant|]]

[[Painter’s Servant]], [[Grindstone]], [[Pyroblast]] – [[Grindstone]] and [[Painter’s Servant]] is the main combo and what the deck revolves around. The entire deck is focused on assembling these two cards with tutors and fast mana in order to combo faster. This puts the pressure on other decks to interact or combo quicker. A secondary combo is [[Painter’s Servant]] choosing blue and at least copies of [[Pyroblast]] and [[Red Elemental Blast]] to counter and destroy anything the opponent can do for one mana.

[[Karn, the Great Creator]] – [[Karn, the Great Creator]] is mainly played in Painter to be a tutor and to give the deck access to certain disruption in game one. Unfortunately, for TES it also means none of our artifacts can be used. This is huge because we have 18 artifacts. It makes it incredibly difficult to win without using any artifacts.

[[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]], [[Urza’s Saga]] – Painter used to be a more focused combo deck where it could play [[Enlightened Tutor]] and [[Blood Moon]] in the main deck to steal wins, but since the printing [[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]] and [[Urza’s Saga]] the deck now has a mid-game. It doesn’t always need the combo to win, but can grind and get card advantage. Both of these cards also help assemble the combo but tutoring or seeing more cards, but they are slower and provide card advantage over a faster tutor with card disadvantage. This hurts Painter in the TES matchup where speed is more important than having a mid-game and card advantage.

[[Mindbreak Trap]] – One of the weaknesses of Painter is extremely fast non blue combo decks. They usually can’t interact much on the first turn outside of a [[Pyroblast]]. Painter does not have the ability to combo on turn one and requires an extremely lucky hand to win on turn it. It just so happens that if a deck is winning on turn one or two then they’re probably playing several spells on that turn, so [[Mindbreak Trap]] helps cover that weak spot to buy enough time for their own combo.

Deck Lists

The EPIC Storm

Main Deck

  • 4 [[Burning Wish]]
  • 4 [[Beseech the Mirror]]
  • 4 [[Brainstorm]]
  • 3 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 1 [[Gaea’s Will]]
  • 1 [[Song of Creation]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 4 [[Veil of Summer]]
  • 4 [[Rite of Flame]]
  • 4 [[Dark Ritual]]
  • 4 [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]
  • 4 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 3 [[Mox Opal]]
  • 4 [[Mishra’s Bauble]]
  • 3 [[Chrome Mox]]
  • 4 [[Bloodstained Mire]]
  • 1 [[Scalding Tarn]]
  • 1 [[Misty Rainforest]]
  • 1 [[Verdant Catacombs]]
  • 1 [[Underground Sea]]
  • 1 [[Volcanic Island]]
  • 1 [[Badlands]]
  • 1 [[Taiga]]
  • 1 [[Bayou]]


  • 1 [[Echoing Truth]]
  • 1 [[Galvanic Relay]]
  • 2 [[Carpet of Flowers]]
  • 3 [[Thoughtseize]]
  • 1 [[Consign // Oblivion]]
  • 1 [[Grapeshot]]
  • 1 [[Empty the Warrens]]
  • 1 [[Tendrils of Agony]]
  • 1 [[Echo of Eons]]
  • 2 [[Abrupt Decay]]
  • 1 [[Peer into the Abyss]]


Main Deck

  • 4 [[Goblin Welder]]
  • 4 [[Goblin Engineer]]
  • 4 [[Painter’s Servant]]
  • 1 [[Breya’s Apprentice]]
  • 2 [[Simian Spirit Guide]]
  • 2 [[Fury]]
  • 3 [[Karn, the Great Creator]]
  • 4 [[Pyroblast]]
  • 2 [[Red Elemental Blast]]
  • 1 [[Abrade]]
  • 4 [[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]]
  • 2 [[Lotus Petal]]
  • 1 [[Mox Opal]]
  • 2 [[Grindstone]]
  • 1 [[Soul-Guide Lantern]]
  • 1 [[Ensnaring Bridge]]
  • 4 [[Ancient Tomb]]
  • 1 [[City of Traitors]]
  • 2 [[Great Furnace]]
  • 9 [[Mountain]]
  • 1 [[Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance]]
  • 4 [[Urza’s Saga]]


  • 1 [[Tormod’s Crypt]]
  • 1 [[Grindstone]]
  • 1 [[Pithing Needle]]
  • 3 [[Surgical Extraction]]
  • 2 [[Mindbreak Trap]]
  • 1 [[Liquimetal Coating]]
  • 2 [[Blood Moon]]
  • 1 [[Ensnaring Bridge]]
  • 2 [[Magus of the Moon]]
  • 1 [[The One Ring]]

Ways to Win This Matchup

[[Dark Ritual|]]
[[Burning Wish|]]
[[Urza’s Bauble|]]

Our Game Plan

In this matchup, the opponent doesn’t have much on turn one or two to disrupt us, so I like to aim for winning by turn three. This is usually the safe point. Once the game reaches past turn three, we are exposed to either of the opponent’s combos or a [[Karn, the Great Creator]]. All of which are tough to beat, so we should be trying to win before then. In doing so, we just have to be very careful about relying heavily on our blue cards. We don’t have that many, but when the opponent has at least six copies of [[Pyroblast]], we can count on them not resolving, so this is where [[Beseech the Mirror]] pulls extra weight. It solves the problem of comboing slowly, like [[Galvanic Relay]], and not being a blue card. Keeping all of this in mind is crucial when evaluating an opening hand. We are really heavily favored in this matchup and there’s no good reason to keep a land that plays into the opponent’s game plan.




-4 [[Veil of Summer]], -1 [[Galvanic Relay]], +3 [[Thoughtseize]], +2 [[Abrupt Decay]]

In today’s meta, most people are playing mono-red Painter. There are some versions splashing a second color, but usually not blue or black for counterspells or discard, so [[Veil of Summer]] is an easy cut. Yes, it can protect against [[Pyroblast]] or a [[Painter’s Servant]] and [[Pyroblast]] combo, but I do not think that’s worth keeping it in. Even then we wouldn’t be able to draw the card off of it anyway. [[Galvanic Relay]] can just be too slow. In most games, [[Galvanic Relay]] can be fine on turn one to two, but we don’t really want to chain them or rely on them every game when the opponent can win on turn two or three as well. In place of those, we just need more interaction and disruption, especially in the post board games when we can be on the draw.


Game Play

I started the first game by keeping my opening seven, lots of artifact mana and a [[Burning Wish]], and my opponent was on the play and led with a turn one [[Ancient Tomb]] into [[Grindstone]]. I took this as them not having a [[Painter’s Servant]] or they probably would have played that instead. I took my first turn and drew another copy of [[Mishra’s Bauble]].

Matchup Battles Painter - Image 1

I really only had [[Galvanic Relay]] and [[Echo of Eons]], and I decided for [[Echo of Eons]] here to try and win on this turn. I drew seven pretty good cards, but not good enough to combo from that point. I sacrificed both copies of [[Mishra’s Bauble]] and ended my turn.

Matchup Battles Painter - Image 2

On my opponent’s turn, I drew two cards from my two copies of [[Mishra’s Bauble]] and my opponent played a [[Painter’s Servant]], choosing blue, to setup a win on their next turn and potentially [[Pyroblast]] any spell. I had plenty of mana and artifacts to be able to [[Beseech the Mirror]] for [[Song of Creation]] and leave up [[Veil of Summer]] in case of a [[Pyroblast]].

Matchup Battles Painter - Image 3

From here, I had enough cards to play from hand to keep drawing and building up storm to [[Burning Wish]] for [[Tendrils of Agony]] for more than enough to win.

Matchup Battles Painter - Image 4


I sideboarded like I recommended in this article, and we were off to the second game. My opponent was on the play and led with [[Goblin Welder]]. I had to mulligan to five cards and kept a rather slow hand with [[Galvanic Relay]] to try and win over multiple turns. On turn two, my opponent played a [[Grindstone]] and just passed back. I cast [[Brainstorm]] looking for a way to combo or to get something going and didn’t find much except for a decent [[Galvanic Relay]] for turn three. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a turn three as the opponent played a [[Painter’s Servant]] with enough mana to activate [[Grindstone]].

Matchup Battles Painter - Image 5


For the third game, I kept a hand with lots of mana, [[Mishra’s Bauble]] and [[Galvanic Relay]] and fired it off along with using a [[Mishra’s Bauble]]. My opponent just played a land and passed the turn. Potentially leaving up [[Pyroblast]].

On my turn, I led with playing out both copies of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] and then casting the [[Brainstorm]], holding priority and sacrificing both copies of [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]]. I wanted to tempt them into casting the [[Pyroblast]] here so I could play [[Song of Creation]]. They didn’t take the bait. I didn’t draw much of use and they could still have [[Pyroblast]], so I decided not to force anything and just cast the [[Galvanic Relay]] from exile to keep it going for my next turn.

Matchup Battles Painter - Image 6

My opponent then tapped out and exiled a [[Simian Spirit Guide]] for [[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]].

Matchup Battles Painter - Image 7

That gave me the green light to play all of my rituals and [[Beseech the Mirror]] for [[Gaea’s Will]] to win the match with an entire graveyard of infinite mana and a [[Burning Wish]] in exile to get [[Tendrils of Agony]].

Matchup Battles Painter - Image 8

Matchup Battles Painter - Image 9


Overall, this matchup is heavily in the TES pilot’s favor. Painter is becoming more of a midrange resilient deck with [[Urza’s Saga]], [[Fable of the Mirror-Breaker]], more [[Goblin Welder]] effects in [[Goblin Engineer]], and not playing the full four of [[Karn, the Great Creator]]. I think these deck choices help Painter in the format, but certainly not against TES. Painter still has a pretty fast combo despite the rest of the deck being slower, so it’s important to not get comfy when evaluating opening hands. I hope you enjoyed this article, can take some of the lessons learned, and apply them to your own playtesting.