by Steve DDT Giannopoulos
4 x Ancient Tomb
4 x City of Traitors
3 x Great Furnace
5 x Mountains
2 x Scalding Tarn
4 x Simian Spirit Guide
3 x Imperial Recruiter
1 x Phyrexian Metamorph
1 x Kargan Dragon Lord
1 x Phyrexian Revoker
4 x Painter’s Servant
1 x Jaya Balard, Task Mage
1 x Spellskite
2 x Magus of the Moon
1 x Goblin Welder
3 x Chrome Mox
2 x Sensei’s Divining Top
4 x Grindstone
4 x Blood Moon
4 x Lightning Bolt
3 x Red Elemental Blast
3 x Pyroblast
3 x Thorn of Amethyst
1 x Pyroblast
1 x Red Elemental Blast
2 x Tormod’s Crypt
2 x Relic of Progenitus
2 x Koth of the Hammer
3 x Ensnaring Bridge
1 x Manic Vandal
You may or may not already be familiar with this deck, so why post it?
Well, the main reason right now is that its most expensive card has suddenly become more affordable and will continue do drop in price. The culprit?
Yeah, they actually did it…
It was recently confirmed as being an upcoming Judge Rewards Promo. Meaning it might have some random 100$+ price tage upon release but that will go down as the market becomes flooded with them (the more judges will flip them). The original is currently sitting at 300$+ but might take a slight dip in the near future. Still, the Judge Promo will be the one to obtain for those of you looking to play with it instead of just collecting it.
The Recruiters are often associated with the Aluren deck and have been the main reason that we don’t see much of the deck in local Legacy tournaments. Historically the deck that has had the most success with the Recruiter is Painted Stone.
The deck derives its name from the 2 key combo cards:
1) Painter’s Servant: a seemingly harmless 1/3 artifact dude that never really made an impact when he was Standard Legal. Can be pretty insane if you follow it up with Iona, Shield of Emeria. Perhaps in a crazy reanimator Modern deck or something. It’s banned in Commander however, so it won’t be possible there.
2) Grindstone: a long-neglected old card.I personally used it in my old Bomberman deck, but it was mostly just to clown around. Basically never saw much play until the printing of Painter’s Servant. I find it quite cool that every time a new set is released in the past few years it seems to combo and breathe new life into older long-forgotten cards.
Natural Order > Progenitus
Show and Tell, Sneak Attack > Emrakul
Dark Depths > Vampire Hexmage
and so on …
Basically it’s all about getting the 2 namesake artifacts in play and activating Grindstone to mill your opponent’s whole deck, since the 2 cards will always share a color. You might not want to pull the trigger right away if your opponent has open mana though. One Swords to Plowshares or destroy effect and the combo loses out. Obviously, it’s the Painter’s Servant you need to protect because once the Grindstone is activated, destroying it won’t do your opponent much good.
Still Legacy’s top removal spell.
To do this we name the color blue AS Painter’s Servant enters the battlefield. This is important since “as it enters the battlefield” effects cannot be responded to. We need to have either of the 6 copies of ‘Blast’ cards in our grip. Red Elemental Blast or Pyroblast will do the trick. Since we named blue with Painter’s Servant, we can pretty much now counter ANY spell for the small cost of 1 red mana.
Hmmm, maindeck counterspell hate…
What if they counter your Painter’s Servant?
Well, if you fear a counterspell, your best bet is to not cast it until you will have open red mana and Pyroblast/Red Elemental
Blast. Alternatively, you can pretend to not know how to play the deck and simply cast it with no open mana. This will confuse your opponents who will try to Force of Will it only to walk into a exiled Simic Spirit Guide from hand and a Blast.
This ‘hidden’ mana is sooo good in this deck. I cannot stress this enough. From accelerating us early on, to being the card you remove for Chrome Mox, to throwing off your opponent’s math. Sometimes you will have the combo in play with only 2 open mana up (usually an Ancient Tomb) and your opponent will tap out at end of turn to cast something. You then spring into action
by removing Simian Spirit Guide from your hand and activating the Grindstone for the win!
It gains even more value against decks that play Daze. They will think they have countered you by bouncing an island back in their hand and then you will show them a little dose of red trickery.Daze, however is mostly played in Merfolk decks which are not as popular as they once were (much like this deck actually). Still, you never know…
Another card that offers the combo more resilience is our 1 copy of Goblin Welder. This little guy does so much when one of our pieces has been countered or destroyed. He allows us to scrap Great Furance or any one of our other actual artifacts and trade them in for our combo piece. Heck, he can retrieve both combo pieces from the graveyard with enough fodder. One word of warning though : read the updated Goblin Welder text as the 2 targets actually have to be fully exchanged in order for the effect to work. I believe at one point it was possible to target your Sensei’s Divining Top and another artifact to swap then activate the Top’s effect to draw and the Welder effect would still work.
He’s either wrecking or fixing things
With the current ruling, the reverse actions would be true:
Tap Sensei’s Divining Top to draw and in response switch it with a graveyard artifact via Welder. You would basically get the card draw and the switch. Not a bad trade off when you’re in a bit of a bind.
What’s with the rest of the cards?
If you have played Legacy for a while, you may have noticed that this deck is bolstered by some elements of the Dragon Stompy or Mono Red ‘Control’ decks. While these decks don’t control in the reactive sense via Counterspells and permanent destruction , they do pro-actively impede your opponent’s progress and often accelerate yours.
The deck contains 4 Blood Moon and 2 Magus of the Moon as ways of ‘mooning’ your opponent. No, not litterally mooning them. That would cause you to violate the DCI policy. You would effectively shut down their Legacy manabase. The typical configuration of one such mana base usually consists of 4-8 fetchlands about 2-5 basic lands ,a bunch of dual lands and utility lands (usually Wasteland).
Ahhhh, good old expensive dual lands!
If you managed to land a Turn 1 or 2 Moon you have pretty much color screwed the traditional Legacy decks. This is especially true of those with a high fethcland count as they will not be able to activate their fetches. Alternatively, their fetches will actually produce mana. The Blood Moon/Magus of the Moon aslo benefit you in the sense that they negate the 2-mana lands’ drawbacks. No more taking 2 damage from Ancient Tombs and no more sacrificing your City of Traitors when you play a land.It also protects your lands from Wastelands and shuts down so many utility lands that it would be too long to explain them all.
Just to name a few: (Gaea’s Cradle, Serra’s Sanctum, Maze of Ith, etc)
The count is not 3/3 or even 4/2 in favor of the Magus of the Moons because the format does contain Swords to Plowshares and we opt to play more of the permanent that has a greater chance to stay in play. It can oftentimes happen that we draw too many and would prefer that at least if they were creatures we coudl attack with them, but that’s the opportunity cost.
Ancient Tomb/City of Traitors ?
That’s some good acceleration!
The 2-mana lands of legacy with maybe perhaps the Mercadian Masques charge lands and Crystal Vein and the Fallen Empires Lands.These are your big boys! They get you that early Painter’s Servant and perhaps follow up with a turn 2 Grindstone plus activation for the win. It happens quite a bit and not many decks can really answer it that early.
Again, maybe turn 1 you can also drop a Chrome Mox for red mana and keep a Pyroblast in hand. ( God hand much?)
These have been the pillars of the Stompy-style decks that were popular circa. 2008-2010. Demon, Fairie, Dragon, Angel and Neo-Green Stompy. (I renamed the green one because the old Green stompy used to play things like R0gue Elephants and as little as 9 lands, so it’s really not the same).
Probably not ‘rogue’ for its stealth
These decks had some key lock down elements that were common, namely:
Chalice of the VOID
We be hatin’
Usually set to 1 and sometimes at 2, this thing could completely lock down a few decks or at least render them really less efficient. While it totally didn’t kill Storm decks, it was a good start. Does good against Elf deck in multiples First at 1 then at 2, a huuuuge portion of their deck now does nothing.
Slowing things down since 2004
This can either be really good or utterly useless at times. Against the more traditional Legacy decks, it’s great. Beware the random metagame though! This will often be the first card you side out against a lot of the random players at your local game store.
Guess what though?
We don’t play these cards, but we can still use them to our advantage.
Pretend we are Dragon Stompy
Think about it: you play an early 2 mana land, Chrome Mox and drop a Magus of the Moon/Blood Moon. What does your opponent think you’re playing? If they are well-versed in Legacy, they might consider Dragon Stompy to be a possibility. This is also due to the fact that Imperial Recruiters are harder to get a hold of.
Play as little of the non-Stompy cards as long as you can. Keep that Lightning Bolt or Sensei’s Divining Top in your grip unless you reaaally need to play it. I would advise the total opposite against the Mono-black Pox decks as they have a nasty habit of making you discard cards. Some creatures Like Phyrexian Metamorph or Phyrexian Revoker are very decent to play early on and not totally give away the deck. Jaya Balard is a judgment call, she’s not very common in the Stompy builds. Simian Spirit Guides as creatures can
also be OK here if you don’t need the acceleration and are playing against a less aggressive deck.
I have done this at a couple of card shops with decent results. Obviously it is more effective on Round 1 or if there is a high number of participants in the tournament so that people that have already finished their games don’t come over to scout yours.
Back to the lands.
They present us with great opening plays but punish us for playing them wrong. If you don’t need to play a 2-3 drop early on, don’t play Ancient Tombs as your first land. You may get punished by an opposing Wasteland early on, without having reaped the benefit of the Tomb. Instead, play that totally safe Mountain or Chrome Mox and pass the turn. If your hand is not epic, I find it OK to sometimes go Ancient Tomb> Sensei’s > top if you’re on the draw and you suspect your opponent is not likely to be playing Wasteland. This sets up a probable land drop for turn 2 ahead of time and allows us to play a 3-drop like Magus or Recruiters to start tutoring up.
City of Traitors is quite possibly the worst land you can play on turn 1 unless you are planning on 100% resolving a Moon. Also keep in mind that if you keep and uncracked fetch in play (pretty good if you have Sensei’s Divining Top ) and then fetch with the City in play, you won’t have to sac. it. It only looks for instances of you actually playing a land.
The on again/off again burn
Yes, that nice little Red boon! (Boons are the Alpha set’s 3-for-1’s). Why would a combo deck play this? Well, as you can imagine, there are a few creatures out there that hamper our deck quite a bit.
Let’s examine them:
Qasali Pride Mage
He’s just mean! he’ll take down either combo piece and beat us down when he doesn’t need to. We can punish greedy players who play him on turn 2 without keeping the 1 mana to activate him, thinking we have no way of dealing with him.
While not directly killing our combo, the insane card advantage he can provide your opponent can very much deal with our combo if we don’t pull it off ASAP.
Nasty things can happen if this connects on our opponent’s turn 2. We don’t want this to happen.
Kataki, War’s Wage
Out of the sideboard and into utterly owning our deck. We need him gone, fast.
The machine gun Zombie deck is a blast to play and is gaining popularity. This guy can flat out take away a combo piece. We need that piece back!
Lightning Bolt also does what it used to do when Jund decks were fighting blue/white decks : It kills Jace the Mindsculptor. Don’t the blasts already do that?
Yes, but it never hurts to be extra sure in this case.
They also have the random utility of possibly killing our Ad Nauseam opponents if they go to 3 life or less after resolving Ad Nauseam. Maybe 6 or less if we have 2 bolts and Mountain + Simian Spirit Guide.
There is the almost never moment when you are actually stuck attacking with your dudes and would normally come up short damage-wise. This little red card seals the deal! This usually happens when you are attacking decks with Magus of the Moon and Simian Spirit Guides and they start to recover later in the game.
I wonder how much 350$ is in Yen …
These guys are pretty much there to fetch our Painter’s Servant and combo off. Also tutors up any other creature. I have found myself getting Kargan Dragon Lord a lot of times when the combo option is not in sight or has been put out of reach via hate cards.
She has th best flavor text on older cards
Just a small sample
When you already have a Painter’s Servant in play, you can probably get another one if you fear its removal. Another option is to get this lovely lady and start destroying things. Annoying things. Sometimes these things can be basic lands to further make Blood Moon destructive.
Magus of the Moon
Gotta love the lighting effects
Some deck play almost no basics and sometimes literally none. Fetch this guy early on and you pretty much lock up the game.
To think I was sad to get a foil one in my New Phyrexia box
Grab this guy when you need to protect either combo piece. Warning! Will not work versus Krosan Grip!
When the chips are down and you’ve lost it all, he’s your best bet.
Your tutorable Pithing Needle
Sometimes you might need to shut down Sensei’s Divining Top (versus Counterbalance/Top decks). He’s good for that. You don’t want to auto scoop to an assembled CounterTop. Other times he can name cards like Jace the Mindsculptor and Aether Vial.
The Legend Killer!
If you anticipate a Show and Tell style deck go get him and show him for when he shows you his Emrakul or other big dude. Preferably not Emrakul, because we probably don’t get to mill him out Game 1.
Alternatively, he can sub as a second copy of Grindstone or Painter’s Servant (whichever you feel needs to be backed). If you’re lucky you can maybe copy an opponent’s Top if he doesn’t respond to you casting this. The obvious advantage to this is that he can later go back on top of your deck and copy something else on top of giving you a card in hand.
Acceleration and sometimes fodder
As with the Stompy decks, this thing allows us to accelerate quite well. It becomes exceedingly bad in multiples (which is why we run three instead of four) but can still redeem itself by becoming Goblin Welder fodder. Unfortunately even when we make all cards blue, we still can’t imprint artifacts with it.
Sensei’s Divining Top
Just too good in every format it’s legal in
I don’t have to convince you that this is one awesome card. It’s a freaking 20$ dollar Uncommon that was found in a starter deck a few years back and is played in just about every Commander deck.
The really interesting thing about it in this deck is that it begins the ‘Dig’. The Dig consists of us topping and activating Grindstone on :
Yes, that’s right! You can stop drawing irrelevant cards or not always see the same top 3 cards. Ideally you won’t want the first two cards to share a color. You can control this with the Top.
I know what you’re thinking…and No!
You won’t be screwing yourself over with Painter’s Servant, because if you already have the servant in play you’re winning, right? You know, because you’re milling your opponent with Grindstone.
Basically, you can go ahead and mill yourself with skill. Ideally, if you have something like Blood Moon, Magus of the Moon and land you have 2 options:
1) Re-arrange Blood Moon and land on top, overturn them and stop milling. Then setup your top for another ‘Dig’
It’s the safe way, but it’s slower.
2) Put the Magus and Blood Moon as the 2 first cards to mill then mill land an X? It’s not going to get past that because lands have no color. The bad thing that can happen is that Painter’s Servant is the X card. But this is less risky than it seems because the deck has 3 other ‘Painters‘ in the form of Imperial Recruiter! So, it ‘thins’ our deck of two more cards than option #1 with a small downside. You get to see 3 totally new cards with Sensei’s Divining Top and continue to ‘Dig’ for the Painter’s Servant.
You also probably never want to draw with the Top at any point in this process as you will probably end up milling it, something to keep in mind.
Commence digging !
Let’s go ahead and jump to our sideboard, shall we?
3 x Thorn of Amethyst
Slows down the Storm
We want to hate out the other combo decks and a Thorn on turn 1 is a great start. A Trinisphere is too debilitating to us if we plan to combo early, but a thorn is a little less painful for us and more to them.
3 x Ensnaring Bridge
Not even the mighty Emrakul will be attacking
So your opponent has an Emrakul and you will need to remove his graveyard once you combo mill him with the Eldrazi ability on the stack? What if he can get to just cast or cheat Emrakul in play? That’s riiiight! You probably won’t have 15 cards in hand for Emrakul to attack and you can dump your hand pretty well against small creatures as well.
Stare down opposing hordes knowing you’re almost perfectly safe behind the Bridge. Careful though, this is one card you probably want to cast in multiples. Don’t keep one in your hand just in case. Unless of course he’s not attacking with much and he has a ‘Shatterstorm‘ style effect or ‘Pernicious Deed/Maelstrom Pulse‘.
Also: Some people also play Ulamog.
If it’s Krosan Grip you’re afraid of however, I urge you to play that second Bridge.
2 x Relic of Progenitus/ 2 xTormod’s Crypt
So much hate!
I would even maybe recommend diversifying further with a Nihil Spellbomb over one of the 2 or just cutting something for the Spellbomb, since people can Pithing Needle these and will probably least expect the Nihil Spellbomb.
Not going to be drawing anything though…
These are obviously there for when your opponent has the big Eldrazis or to a lesser improbable extent: Gaea’s Blessing! The full mill resolves with all the ‘reshuffle your graveyard back into your deck’ on the stack and then ‘POOF!‘ you take care of that whole nasty reshuffling business.
You will probably want to side these in against decks like Lands, Reanimator, Dredge,etc. Just sayin’!
Post-sideboard, this guy can be huge if your opponent is trying to sneak stuff like Pithing Needle or Null Rod in play to shut down the combo. You probably want him in against decks that play Umezawa’s Jitte since it can potentially also kill you Servants over and over. He’s also pretty good in the ‘almost never seen mirror match’.
2 x Koth of the Hammer
What? How did he make it in here?
This is basically for when everything does not go as planned, probably versus decks that can control our whole combo or pack infinite hate against it. Decks that usually pack few creatures to attack Koth with.
He needs the Moons to stay in play and can be protected by Ensnaring Bridge. Hit ultimate and you’re golden, or maybe just kill him with 4/4 Mountains before that.
Potentially can be cast on turn 2-3 (1 is a little too demanding but possible). Make sure you have an actual mountain or Moon effect up, otherwise he’s not doing much of anything.