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Budget Highlander: Blue Red Painter

Hello everyone, and Welcome back to another edition of budget highlander! Last week we covered the aggro end  of the spectrum.  I personally love aggro decks, but I know people also want to do sweet, combo-y things, while still having them happen on a reasonable budget.  I wasn’t sure how possible it would be, but was pleasantly surprised while I brewed this weeks’ deck.  It is a Blue combo deck, that has many things going for it.  It is a GREAT starting point for many different tier 1 and 2 highlander decks, it should have fairly reasonable matchups against most of the field, and it somehow clocked in at only 145 dollars!  I present to you Red/Blue PainterTwin:

PainterTwin is a take on a couple of different, very popular highlander archtypes.  It falls somewhere between Blue Moon (a dedicated UR control deck) and various time vault lists.  You are at heart a UR control deck, that also has the ability to finish games quite quickly with your various 2 card game winning combos.  In case you rare not familiar with them they are:  Painter’s servant + Grindstone Splinter,  Spinter Twin/Kiki-Jiki + Deceiver Exarch/Pestermite/Zealous Conscripts, and Twinflame+Dualcaster Mage.   As we generally do, lets take a look at the pointed cards we have chosen for this deck

Sol Ring (3):  This card will be a pretty big staple in any budget highlander deck.  In this deck, Sol ring allows you to stay ahead on mana, win counter wars over important combo pieces, and generally will just speed up your ability to combo kill someone.  It also plays well with accelerating into your backup titan win conditions.

Mana Vault (1): See above.  Mana Vault is worse as a permanent source of mana, but turn 3 titan is a gamebreaking play a lot of the time.  Also the 3 mana boost is great for deploying the Painter Servant grindstone combo all in one turn.

Mystical Tutor (2):  While Mystical Tutor does not grab many of your combo pieces , it is a great all purpose card that can snag you board sweeping, card draw, or a counterspell, depending what state of the game you are at.  You can also mystical tutor for gifts ungiven to grab your combo at a slow pace.

Gifts Ungiven (2):  Gifts is a great card in a lot of decks, and this one is no exception.  Including a noxious revival and a reconstruct in your deck allows you to gifts for grindstone, painter’s servant, reconstruct and revival, and combo kill the turn after if you have the mana.

Dig through time (1) Treasure Cruise(1)  Busted blue draw spells.  They are terrific.  Just be sure to not exile your servant or grindstone, as you can get them back from the graveyard later in the game.  Other cards are totally fine to exile.

Lets go over a quick matchup guide:


Your goal here is to just stay afloat.  Use your burn spells to conserve damage from early creatures.  You should win longer games with the power of blue draw.  Any time you can get a 2 for 1 with a removal spell or a sweeper, do it, as the longer the games goes, the greater your chances of winning get.


This is a war of attrition.  Making land drops and conserving your counterspells is very important.  Use your opponents end step to your advantage, some of these games may be won strictly off flashing in a pestermite and riding it and a couple burn spells for 20 damage.  Don’t be afraid to keep land heavy hands in games 2/3.


Midrange decks can be a bit tricky to navigate, as they tend to have a lot of ways to interact with your combo pieces.   Try to wait to combo off until you have a counterspell or two, and the mana to protect your win.  Do not worry TOO much about planeswalkers, as unless they about to ultimate, they wont affect you too much.


Tempo is generally your worst matchup.  Whenever you can kill a threat, do it!  You will generally die from nickel and diming damage off delver, snapcaster, or whatever threat they can land.  Try to play as the control deck, and don’t run your combo pieces right into telegraphed counters.  Run your basic lands out early as to not get wrecked by wasteland.

Non Budget Upgrades:

As stated, this deck can go a ton of different ways.  The best cards to get for any version would be Mystic Confluence, Cryptic Command, and Force of Will, the holy trinity of non-pointed counterspells.  Snapcaster Mage is another great blue card that fits in nicely with this strategy.  Additionally, Blood Moon effects are very good in this deck, so moon, Back to Basics, and Magus of the Moon are all quite strong.  Imperial Recruiter, while incredibly expensive, is also great, as it fetches basically any combo creature you could need.   If you want to go in a more “powerful” direction, adding the Time Vault combo is also very strong. (Time Vault, Voltiac key, Tezzeret the Seeker, Ral Zarak are the cards you would add in this case).

In conclusion, UR Painter Twin is a very viable deck that has a lot of playability against most Canlander decks.  The games are super interactive and varied, and can really play out like a puzzle, trying to figure out the best lines to win the game.  Hopefully you enjoyed this article, and feel free to contact me on Twitter @oldubzy, or in the facebook comments if there is any decks you would really enjoy seeing in this column!