Everyone has a favorite thing about a game of Magic. Not so much the flavor or the story, but the actual game mechanics and how you personally interact with your game pieces. Some people are really into drawing cards, some people enjoy the feeling of shuffling their deck and look to do it as many times as possible, others go giddy showing off all 800 of their custom tokens. Personally, two of my favorite ways to interact with my game objects are to play with a lot of trinkets – or cheap artifacts that don’t really do much on their own – and to spread out and scoop up as many cards as possible at the end of the game. Today’s deck encompasses both of those, along with many more fun interactions for a list that has a little bit of something for everyone. Let’s dive in to some Rakdos Anvil.
Budget Pioneer Rakdos Anvil by Darren Magnotti
Up until relatively recently, Anvil decks in Pioneer were “shadow banned” due to the popularity of Karn, the Great Creator. Being a deck that looks to advance its game plan almost exclusively by activating the abilities of artifacts, having that shut off by an S Tier deck was a crippling blow for Anvil players everywhere. These days, Karn has more or less been bullied to the wayside, which means that the Anvil can come back in full force.
Rakdos Anvil is a deck that looks to utilize the synergy between its namesake, Oni-Cult Anvil, and any myriad of small artifacts ranging from Blood tokens to trinkets like Experimental Synthesizer, sacrificing the artifacts to generate additional value over time. The plan is very similar to today’s Rakdos Sacrifice decks, which are driven by Mayhem Devil and Cauldron Familiar, but plays on the axis that doesn’t depend on creatures resolving and can thus exist in environments much more hostile towards them. The basis of the deck is dealing noncombat damage via the Anvil itself alongside some burn-adjacent spells like Shrapnel Blast and Makeshift Munitions, in order to play around the removal-heavy decks and gain access to a better control game against those creature-heavy strategies as well. It plays a midrange game, pivoting between the beatdown and the control roles based on the situation, and is extremely flexible and consistent in doing so.
Closing out the “cards that end the game” suite is Vraan, Executioner Thane. This big bad Vampire turns each creature and creature token into a missile headed straight for the opponent’s heart. Typically this sort of effect only deals one damage, and it doesn’t take a university degree to know that Vraan’s two life loss is about twice as good as that. The important thing to note here is the rate at which the deck wants to be functioning anyway, which is slowly. Anvil only makes one creature a turn, and the other creatures in the deck typically take up a turn’s worth of resources on top of whatever else you have going on as well, so it’s not like there’s going to be a fat pile of tokens to proc the effect six or seven times a turn. The two life drain happening on both our and the opponent’s turns matches the pacing of this deck perfectly and really maximizes the strain that we can put on the opponent’s life total over time.
How Does It Play?
Anvil performs an intricate dance each game that rewards familiarity and knowledge of how the opponent’s plans work. While no piece is individually as powerful as something like a Mayhem Devil, the deck is extremely streamlined and functions well within itself to achieve the goals. Most of the cards in the deck line up in such a way that there are very few awkward draws, which makes mulliganing a lot easier, and the general lack of creature reliance keeps it insulated from other controlling decks. The best part of the deck is its consistency though, thanks to all of the digging going on. It offers flexibility and adaptability, which makes it a better choice in certain fields than it’s Cat-Oven counterpart.
In terms of the budget list, I’m frequently impressed by these decks that are leaning on a pile of uncommons already anyway. I found very few differences in my testing between this and the full version, with the exception being The Meathook Massacres. This single card just adds so much to the deck that it’s easily missed when you can’t find the singular copy, whether it’s helping you stay alive against the aggressive red and white decks out there or speeding up the clock against control. Outside of that, I didn’t feel like anything was ever “missing” from the deck like I do with other builds. It offered a smooth play experience and is something that I’d easily recommend to anyone looking to get that true midrange experience.
Pioneer Rakdos Anvil by Scipios
This is for the most part another open and shut case of “buy the lands and that one mythic.” It’s an unavoidable truth when playing on a budget, but especially when playing a popular color combination such as Rakdos. The mana base is going to be pretty far detached from reality when looking to get into it for the first time. I will make a point to gesture towards Ob Nixilis in the sideboard, which I found to be a critical inclusion in my testing with the full list. Having the ability to pivot into a more solid control deck from the sideboard was something really lacking in the budget post-board games. This guy is one card I’d recommend grabbing before anything else when making the leap upwards here. There are a few different ways to take the final build as well, such as featuring a reanimator package with Vat of Rebirth and Atraxa or including Herald of Anguish main-deck to add an extra line of attack from the skies. The deck is flexible enough to really support any plan that you want to include, so go wild!
That’s all for this one! I’m happy that artifact decks like Anvil have finally found the wiggle room to make a slight comeback lately as artifacts are my favorite card type and they were sorely missed during the dark days of Karn. Hopefully we’ll see some more strategies akin to this, if not a bolstering of this specific one with the release of March of the Machine in a few short weeks! Until next time, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading.