Uncle.Istvan's picture
By: Uncle.Istvan, Colin Iberti
Jan 04 2009 8:01am
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Unfortunately, there has been a drought in tournament reports for the classic scene.  Tournament reports, even though they fill the important gap of informing Classic newbies and veterans alike, have fallen out of popularity. Before I decided to invest my time and money in the Classic format, I was reading articles and tournament reports by walkerdog and dangerlinto. The tournament report represents an opportunity advertise the great aspects of our format and tells Classic players what to expect the next time out. Additionally, due to the new Classic Player of the Year Award each tournament is worth reporting and veteran players are working towards winning a set of MEDIII.


Due to the Player of the Year Race starting and the Premier Event on Sunday, I began to test a new deck that was fun to play and had game against the field. After a week in the Tournament Practice Room and some research on legacy versions I ended up with the following sixty:

Epic Painter

Main Deck:


4 Wasteland

4 Underground Sea

3 Breeding Pool

3 Polluted Delta

3 Flooded Strand

1 Island

1 Swamp

1 Academy Ruins

20 lands


4 (Painter’s Servant)

3 Dark Confidant

2 Trinket Mage

9 creatures


4 Ponder

4 Grindstone

4 Brainstorm

4 Thoughtseize

4 Force of Will

4 Daze

2 Demonic Consultation

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Echoing Truth

1 Engineered Explosives

1 (Executioner’s Capsule)

1 Pithing Needle

31 other spells

4 Tarmogoyf

3 Tombstalker

3 Hydroblast

2 (Tormod’s Crypt)

1 Pithing Needle

1 Engineered Explosives

1 Academy Ruins



The deck plays the two best colors in Classic (Black and Blue) trying to disrupt opponent’s plans using Thoughtseize, Force of Will, Daze, and Wasteland and then winning using the milling combo of (Painter’s Servant) and Grindstone. The deck borrows heavily from the Legacy deck of the same name that has put up a few results in that format.  I would describe the deck as a Combo/Control deck. The combo is not going to win on turn 1 or 2, but it is the threat of the combo that can keep your opponent off balance and in constant danger. In this regard it is much like the Bomberman decks that have recently fallen out of favor in Classic.


Most of the cards are self-explanatory but I want to point a few things out before getting to the tournament report. First, the best change this deck made moving from Legacy to Classic is the change from Lim-Dul’s Vault to the lethal tutor combo of Demonic Consultation and Vampiric Tutor. Demonic Consultation is the better tutor as it puts the necessary piece directly in your hand; however the 2-1 split with Vampiric Tutor is necessary to avoid decking yourself. Besides the tutor package, another important thing to notice is the transformative sideboard. The sideboard allows you to attack using a different strategy in games 2 and 3, using the best creatures available in the format like Tarmogoyf and Tombstalker while laughing at Pithing Needle set to Grindstone. One thing to note though is that you do not need to side in the creature package every time, in some matchups the combo is better and in others you might want to play mind games with the opponents and bring in the package in game 2 but take it out again in game 3.


Finally, the extra copy of Academy Ruins in the sideboard gives you inevitability over decks that like to sit back and use counterspells to keep your combo off the board.


I went into the January 3rd Daily Event, knowing that it was an extremely difficult deck to pilot and expected to punt a game or two if I was not at the top of my game. Foreshadow Alert: I wasn’t at the top of my game. The Daily Event fired at 24 people and the metagame looked like this:







1 Landstill

1 UR Homebrew

1 UW Homebrew

2 Fish

1 Dreadnought

1 Intuition Rock


1 Team America


2 Burn

1 Pox

1 Dragon Stompy

1 Black Aggro

1 Zoo

1 Affinity

1 Elves

1 Epic Painter

1 Ad Nauseaum

1 Belcher

1 Dredge

3 Necro


All in all, I feel like Classic’s metagame is never predictable. There are certainly decks that you  are more likely to see during the course of the tournament, but the archetypes range from Affinity to Pox to Necro. This is part of the reason I chose a deck like Epic Painter, the deck has reasonable matchups against the field and can steal wins with its combo in ordinarily bad matchups.


Round 1: sansantong Affinity (Win 2-1)

Sansantong’s build was unorthodox, playing (Mishra’s Factory) and Cabal Therapy main. Normally, Affinity is a deck I dread to play against in Daily Events as I rarely pack the necessary Null Rod or (Hurkyl’s Recall) in the board. However, with this deck I knew what the gameplan was: combo as fast as possible.


Game 1: Luckily my opponent stalls on one land beating with an Arcbound Worker and trying attempting to hurt my hand with Cabal Therapy. I start the first couple of turns by hiding my combo pieces using Brainstorm and Ponder. By turn 4 I have my combo online and I mill his deck completely. One note is that a lot of opponent’s do not concede and allow you to mill their deck, use this time to scout their threats and know how you will sideboard.



+4 Tarmogoyf +1 Engineered Explosives +1 Pithing Needle

 -3 Dark Confidant -1 Grindstone -1 (Painter’s Servant) -1 Trinket Mage


Game 2: Despite having a Pithing Needles set on (Mishra’s Factory) and Skullclamp, Cranial Plating beats for the win on turn 5 before I can get the combo online.


Game 3: A key Engineered Explosives destroys his two Ethersworn Canonist. I follow up with 2 Tarmogoyf who I brought in as blockers, but they go all the way ignoring his Arcbound Ravager and Disciple of the Vault.


Note: I won Game 3 at 1 life. This deck is a lot like walkerdog’s old BW Pale Ale decks that really require you to be on your game as even small mistakes can cost you the entire game.


Round 2: forthemagic Landstill (Win 2-1)

Game 1: From watching his Round 1 replay, I know that he is playing a slower control deck. My strategy here is to whittle down his resources using Thoughtseize, and key counters to get my combo into play. I begin the game using Thoughtseize that gets Force of Willed, which I Daze. This is a key first turn play that really crippled his hand. I ended up taking his only business spell Counterbalance and went on to combo turn 5.



+4 Tarmogoyf +3 Tombstalker +1 Academy Ruins +1 Pithing Needle

-2 (Painter’s Servant) -2 Grindstone -4 Daze -1 (Executioner’s Capsule)


Game 2: The mind games begin by bringing in the creature package. This package (especially the Tombstalker) helps you get around (Counerblance) and other demands that they have their counterspell package in order. Unfortunately, my opponent had the counterspell package together combined with 3 backbreaking Standstills.


Game 3: I keep the creature package in and it worked wonders in this game. I use my combo as a diversion to force him to counter (Painter’s Servant) and use Pithing Needles on Grindstone. After that I pick apart his hand using Thoughtseize and finally fly over his Counterbalance using my Tombstalkers.


Round 3 Wizardnotofthecoast Necro (Loss 0-2)

And the moment has arrived where you face the “Broken Deck.” Commentary begin: Honestly, everyone should be playing this deck. Whiffy and other have detailed how powerful it is and how resistant to hate and discard it is. These games (especially the first one proves that). So why isn’t everyone playing this deck? Well, a lot of the Classic veterans want to play a more interactive deck and it is a very expensive deck that almost everyone expects to see the ban hammer soon. Honestly, I have all the cards to build it, I just do not find it enjoyable to play. /Commentary End.


Game 1: I pump the fist as I win the die roll and have a godly hand of Breeding Pool, Thoughtseize, Ponder, Brainstorm, Force of Will, Force of Will, Trinket Mage. This hand of disruption and counterspells should be enough to beat Necro if I can draw another land right? Well that answer would be no. I play the first turn Breeding Pool. Wizard leads off with a first turn Duress, I Brainstorm and find Underground Sea, Daze, and Breeding Pool. I decide to Daze the Duress and cast my Thoughtseize the next turn. My Thoughtseize is met with a Force of Will. Next turn Demonic Consultation for Dark Ritual casting Necropotence, which I happily counter. I seem to be in good position from there, but I can’t find a (Painter’s Servant) and I am quickly removed from the game by a non-lethal Tendrils of Agony and a finishing Soul Spike. Ugh is all I can say.



+1 Pithing Needle

-1 (Executioner’s Capsule)


Game 2: I mulligan to 5 and despite a first turn Thoughtseize I get combo’d out on turn 2.


Round 4 bozidar2121 Burn (Loss 1-2)

Game 1: I know Burn is not going to be a great matchup, so I hope to Combo as quickly as possible. I keep a hand that I think has potential with multiple Ponders and a Vampiric Tutor. However, my Ponders fail to find a combo piece and in a move of desperation I play a risky Dark Confidant, which did not work out well.



+4 Tarmogoyf +2 Tombstalker +3 Hydroblast +1 Engineered Explosives

-4 Thoughtseize -3 Dark Confidant -1 Pithing Needle -1 (Executioner’s Capsule) -1 Echoing Truth


Game 2: After a clutch Engineered Explosives to  clean up some Empty the Warrens tokens, I am lucky to combo off a turn before I would be burned out.


Game 3: Remember that foreshadowing from earlier? The payoff is finally here: I flub the game by not countering an end of turn Flame Javelin with Force of Will instead of Daze. He then proceeds to top deck a Grapeshot that when combined with the countered Rift Bolt is enough to kill me.


Round 5 Hank Chinaski Mono Black Aggro (Win 2-1)

Game 1: It’s only fitting that when I am staring death in the face, I am fighting against a Mono-Black Aggro Deck. He is stuck on one land with three Hymn to Tourach in hand. I combo out on Turn 4 and get to see his whole deck.



+4 Tarmogoyf +3 Tombstalker

 -3 Dark Confidant -1 (Executioner’s Capsule) -2 Grindstone -1 (Painter’s Servant)


Game 2: My hand gets completely destroyed from a combination of discard spells. Then my Breeding Pools are destroyed by Wastelands and I can’t combo off in time.


Game 3: For all the marbles. I successfully use my Painter’s Servants and Tarmogoyfs to eat all of his removal. I make a key play of bouncing his Hypnotic Specter and then Dazing it while waiting for double black mana to play my Tombstalker. Just as I am about to attack with my Tombstalker he topdecks a Sword of Fire and Ice and equips it on his Dark Confidant. I can’t attack but I make a key play bringing back a (Painter’s Servant) using Academy Ruins and making every card blue. Because the Sword grants protection from Blue and Red the Sword can no longer be equipped. My Tombstalker is now free to fly over and win the game.


I end up 6th with the best breakers of any 9 pointer. Here is what the top 8 looked like.


Top 8:


Epic Painter

2 Necro



2 Burn


Quarterfinals nofxdarkside Dredge (W 2-0)

Game 1: He mulls to three and I combo on turn three. How cute.


+2 (Tormod’s Crypt) +1 Engineered Explosives +1 Academy Ruins

-1 (Executioner’s Capsule) -1 Grindstone -1 (Painter’s Servant) -1 Dark Confidant


Game 2: I counter his first turn Careful Study and he has no way to get cards in the yard. I sweep up with a (Tormod’s Crypt) and turn 5 combo.


Semifinals prolepsis9 (Dreadstill) (L 0-2)

Here’s where the wagon fell apart. These control matches featuring Counterbalance are the ones you really need to be paying attention and stay sharp. That did not really happen and I made a couple embarrassing mistakes.


Game 1:  I’m too aggressive and get into an early counter war over my Dark Confidant. I lose that battle and don’t have enough cards to fight his early Counterbalance. I make a terrible play walking one of my Force of Wills into a Force of Will sitting on top of his Counterbalance that I knew was there =(



+4 Tarmogoyf +3 Tombstaker +1 Academy Ruins +1 Engineered Explosives +1 Pithing Needle

-4 Daze -3 Dark Confidant -2 Grindstone -1 Painter’s Servant

Game 2: My Executioner’s Capsule is enough to keep him from the Dreadnought + Stifle combo. But his quick
Counterbalance and my inability to resolve a Tombstalker or a Engineered Explosives does me in.


Looking Ahead…


This deck can still be modified to fit a couple different play styles. In Legacy the deck features the Counterbalance + (Sensei’s Divining Top) combo, and does not play Daze. This is not a good solution at the moment due to all the fast combo decks running around.


Another way the deck could go is remove the Breeding Pools for Tundras. This allows you play some great sideboard cards like Circle of Protection: Red and (Orim’s Chant). However, this means that the Big Goyf needs to go. A lot of variations could potentially work. If you have any other ideas feel free to share them in the comments.




Colin Iberti



<Bazaar of Baghdad> I’m glad that you gave that Dredge deck a bit of an overdose.  


scooped agin! by whiffy at Sun, 01/04/2009 - 10:31
whiffy's picture

Fantastic. i thouroully enjoyed that. your list is much better then mine though. gj on top 4 and a quick 3rd place in the poy race.

Well... by Blade at Sun, 01/04/2009 - 15:35
Blade's picture

you should have waited a day and written one for the tourney on the 4th. :)

Nice article by Kaxon(Unregistered) (not verified) at Sun, 01/04/2009 - 21:31
Kaxon(Unregistered)'s picture

Congrats on the great weekend!