Mardu Artifact Sacrifice
Another week back in Kamigawa, another artifact deck to highlight. I promise the next 5-0 deck highlight won’t be completely artifact-centric, but I had to talk about this deck (and not just because my Showcase Savai Triomes are burning a hole in my binder).
On Neon Dynasty release weekend, umeboshijiisan 5-0d with a Mardu Anvil deck, which was really just Rakdos Anvil with a playset of Portable Holes in it, largely to deal with Ensoul, Jund Food, Rakdos Anvil mirrors and Auras. On the league dump in the Subreddit, Tyrant of Tales commented that a Mardu Anvil list that isn’t running Hidden Stockpile is a sin, which got me thinking about a true Mardu Anvil deck with Hidden Stockpile, Thraben Inspector and some number of Rite of Oblivion. This Mardu artifacts deck doesn’t have any of those things, but leans into white for Oswald Fiddlebender and Ingenious Smith. Let’s take a look at the list!
Any low-curve permanent with the ability to tutor can be extremely powerful, and it took a bit for Oswald Fiddlebender to find that power in Pioneer. For one white mana, Oswald can sacrifice any artifact to tutor out any artifact with a mana value one higher onto the battlefield. What this means in this deck is the following:
|Sacrificed Artifact||Tutor Targets|
|Blood Token, Food Token, Construct Token||Blood Fountain, Terrarion, Witch's Oven, Experimental Synthesizer, Portable Hole|
|Blood Fountain, Terrarion, Witch's Oven, Experimental Synthesizer, Portable Hole||Glass Casket, Oni-Cult Anvil, Weathered Runestone|
The power in the ability to turn a Blood Token into another Blood Token and another artifact, mana fixing and card draw, a Cat/Oven combo piece, card advantage, or removal, respectively, on every turn without casting a spell to do it can not be overstated.
Sacrificing any of the above tutor targets for an emergency Weathered Runestone against Auras or Winota, a Glass Casket against Mono-Green or midrange decks, or to grab the Oni-Cult Anvil and get the engine going is extremely potent here too. Not to mention that two of those artifacts (Terrarion and Experimental Synthesizer) want to be sacrificed anyway and provide card draw or card advantage when you do so.
This is the other reason to lean further into white, as she not only draws you into one of the 22 artifacts in the deck, but can get out of control pretty quickly in the right matchup and provide a wincon outside of grinding your opponent to death with the Anvil. If we were looking specifically for a spiraling wincon, Patchwork Automaton is probably better in this slot, but card selection and draw on turn two with an empty board will also feel better most of the time, plus Automaton only looks for casted artifacts – not artifacts put into play with Oswald or created by the Anvil, Oven or Deadly Dispute.
The non-white cards are pretty standard Rakdos Anvil fare, until you look closer and notice there are no Voldaren Epicure or Bloodtithe Harvesters but there are four Cauldron Familiars and three Witch’s Ovens. As soon as Rakdos Anvil started making itself known, I started brewing a Jund Anvil version that I was referring to as 8Ovens – a reference to the idea that Oni-Cult Anvil is kind of just Cauldron Familiar and Witch's Oven rolled into one card with less steps (with the infamous Cat/Oven combo, you sacrifice the cat to the oven, make a food, sacrifice the food to return the cat to the battlefield, draining one life on ETB. With the new Anvil card, you sacrifice an artifact, drain one life, make another artifact). Having more than four Cat/Oven effects (and, of course, Lurrus of the Dream Den) makes this deck capable of grinding out games into oblivion. Always in wait, though, are two copies of Meathook Massacre to come out and swing huge points of life depending on the boardstate at the time. A Meathook for X=0 on turn two can be great sometimes too, though, as it sort of acts as a Blood Artist for your endlessly-charred cats and endlessly-forged Construct Tokens.
Mardu hasn’t had a strong home in Pioneer for awhile. Of course, this was just one league 5-0 one time, but I wouldn’t be incredibly surprised to the Rakdos Anvil deck venture into white at least for Portable Hole more often – and if you’re going to go into white, Ingenious Smith and Oswald Fiddlebender are both very strong temptations to going just that little bit further. The tri-color manabase isn’t cheap, though, so if you’re thinking about making the jump into white, maybe try it with proxies or through a rental service first. I’m definitely interested to see if AdeptoTerra comes back with an updated version of this deck in the next league. If so, we’ll make a note of it here.