Hello everyone! It’s been a few weeks since I did the first one of these, but like I did with Gruul Werewolves, I’m doing another rotation proof deck guide!
Rotation Proof Standard 2023 Decks
- Standard 2023 Mono Black Aggro Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
- Standard 2023 Boros Aggro Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
- Standard 2023 Selesnya Enchantments Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
- Standard 2023 Rakdos Anvil Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
- Standard 2023 Gruul Werewolves Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks
With a full Standard rotation coming soon on September 1, 2022 (MTG Arena release date) with Dominaria United, understanding what’s going to be viable at the start of the format is going to be invaluable in navigating a brand new format. To that end, I’m going to be scouring the available decks in Standard, see what decks are likely to be strong even without the new set, and better yet, you can build and play them right now for a strong deck that won’t lose any new cards!
To accomplish this, the best way is to find strategies that are relatively contained within a set, have powerful synergies, and are strong enough to likely hold up to the test of time. To that end, if we’re going to talk decks, we may as well hit the best of the best going into the new format. If I had to pick right now what was going to be the best strategy going into the new rotation, Rakdos Anvil would be one of my top picks. It’s already an on again/off again deck in Standard that is extremely powerful, and the best part about it, it’s hardly losing any cards!
Let’s take a look at the deck.
Upon first inspection, beyond the lands, it may be hard to tell what is even missing from the normal list! That’s definitely a good sign for a Standard 2023 deck and a feature that very few other decks could have. However, the card that is missing (again, beyond lands) is Deadly Dispute which is one of the best cards in the deck.
While it will definitely hurt to lose this, if you want to play with it in the meanwhile, go for it! Common wildcards are completely inconsequential so you’re not going to miss 4 of them. If you want to sub these in, cut the Sokenzan Smelter and Fell Stinger. I digress, let’s do a breakdown!
Rakdos Anvil is all about efficiency, and while it has a slew of good one mana plays, let’s start with the creatures. Voldaren Epicure is important in this deck as it simply provides an artifact for one mana. Sure, we could just play one mana artifacts, but getting a 1/1 body to work with as well as a ping shouldn’t be underestimated, especially in a deck that’s looking to win through many instances of chip damage. Although it’s a one of, Unlucky Witness is a great play both early and late as it can help you dig towards cards you need whether that’s an Oni-Cult Anvil, interaction, or more card advantage.
Moving up the curve we have the absolute multi-format all star that is Bloodtithe Harvester. Realistically you just play Harvester in every deck you can as it’s removal and pressure all in one card, but in this deck, the Blood token is much more impactful because of Oni-Cult Anvil.
Next we have Sokenzan Smelter as our backup engine. Smelter works extremely well with Oni-Cult Anvil as you can convert the 1/1s off of Anvil into 3/1s or sacrifice a different artifact to get both in a turn! Even if you don’t have an Anvil out, converting a lot of the artifacts you’ll have sitting around into meaningful pressure is a huge deal.
Finally we reach the top of our curve! Considering we cap out at 3, it just goes to show how efficient this deck is.
First we play 4 copies of SNC’s premiere planeswalker, Ob Nixilis, the Adversary. While it inaccurately garnered Oko comparisons in the first few weeks of play, it is still an extremely powerful card that can pressure opponent’s very quickly and very early which works in perfect concert with our ping them out game plan.
Next, we have Fell Stinger, which simply put, is our Deadly Dispute surrogate. It’s definitely worse as we lose life and have to sacrifice a creature, but getting a 3/2 Deathtouch out of the deal is a pretty nice stat line. If you want the most similar analog to Deadly Dispute, you could play Reckoner's Bargain, but I like having the body a bit more than the life gain and mana.
Next we come to our artifacts. Experimental Synthesizer is one of the best cards in the deck as it’s a functional one mana draw 2. You do have to be mindful of when you cast it as there is a chance you can’t play the exiled card, but as long as you wait until later in the game, this should never be an issue.
Then we have the name-sake of the deck, Oni-Cult Anvil. This is most reminiscent of the famous Cauldron Familiar / Witch's Oven loop as both provide a steady stream of blockers while draining the opponent for 1 each time. While Oni-Cult Anvil is a self-contained engine in the sense it doesn’t need another specific card to function, it is a bit weaker as getting the 1/1 is limited to your turn, stopping many shenanigans. Never the less, Anvil is an extremely powerful build around that scales super well in multiples and can make grinding out opponents trivial.
Finally we come to the interaction portion of the deck!
Voltage Surge is an absolute killer as it can kill pretty much anything you need it to. Generally, just dealing 2 will handle a good crux of the creatures in Standard, but if you sacrifice an artifact (which is obviously easy for this deck), dealing 4 is a big deal and kills pretty much every relevant threat.
Infernal Grasp is simple, it’s just a great removal spell! The 2 life is much less consequential in this deck than it is others as Anvil naturally gains us life.
Finally, we have The Meathook Massacre which is one of the most feared cards in Standard. It can wipe a board while gaining you a lot of life or outright kill the opponent with triggers! The fact that this can be used offensively or defensively makes it so versatile and scary for the opponent in any matchup.
Overall, this deck is so powerful because it has an extremely consistent and hard to disrupt game plan without being completely insular. This isn’t like a combo deck where every card has to work towards it, rather you get to play just strong cards like Ob Nixilis, the Adversary and Fable of the Mirror-Breaker, excellent removal, and then cards that work towards your engine. While this deck is just decently positioned now, when the new Standard comes and is presumably weakened, this looks like an easy top contender.
Tips and Tricks
- If you use the Casualty ability on Ob Nixilis, the Adversary and want to -2 one of them, do it on the original. The opponent is more likely to go after the Ob Nixilis with less loyalty and this could set you up to cast another two copies the next turn!
- Unlike other “impulse draw” cards, Unlucky Witness only lets you play one of those cards and until your next end step unlike something like Light Up the Stage where you could play both and had two turns to play them.
- Try to avoid sacrificing the Blood tokens produced from Voldaren Epicure or Bloodtithe Harvester as little as possible to the rummage ability. If you really need the cards, obviously do it, but you’d rather save it for a Sokenzan Smelter, Oni-Cult Anvil, and Voltage Surge.
- Barring the opponent having artifact removal, you should have the inevitability in most matchups. That means that preserving your life total should be one of your top priorities in general.
- Don’t forget that making the Knight token off of Experimental Synthesizer may be better than sacrificing it to another ability when you have a lot of lands out.
- Be mindful of Oni-Cult Anvil math and how it’ll affect your race. One of the most common mistakes with this deck is to not sacrifice artifacts enough to drain and you barely lose the race. Try to parse out how many tokens you need to keep around to keep living and look to leverage the rest for damage.
- Playing The Meathook Massacre on turn 2 to immediately start getting some pings when your creatures die is a very legitimate line in matchups where the opponent doesn’t play many creatures.