$50 Deck Tech - Anhelo, the Painter
Back to the fun articles! Let’s do another $50 commander list, this time around a newish favorite of mine, Anhelo, the Painter. This ugly mug eats your small creatures to Casualty the first spell you cast each turn. So I tried to focus on having 2+ power creatures that want to die, big ol’ spells that make 2/2’s, and impactful instants and sorceries that would be fun to copy.
To start off, here is the decklist itself:
I wanted to use this list to demonstrate the way I build commander decks. When I sit down to craft a new list I pick my commander first (obviously) then, depending on the budget, I put in my less than 3 CMC mana rocks and the fetches, shocks, and duals that apply. I try to have around 45 mana sources between the lands and rocks. I always do my lands first so I’m not tempted to cut a land at the end. Once my lands are taken care of I move on to:
Plan A is the primary goal of the deck. Every card in the deck should lead towards that plan. In combo decks this would be your combo pieces along with ways to protect and acquire your combo. In this deck it is 2 power creatures with death triggers and giant instant and sorceries (and if those sorceries also make 2 power creatures, even better.)
Some of the more impactful cards in this section for the creatures are: Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia, Solemn Simulacrum, and Youthful Scholar. Jadar makes a never ending stream of fodder for Anhelo, along with his less effective buddies Diregraf Horde and Overseer of the Damned. Solemn Simulacrum is a card I usually do not put in my commander decks anymore. He is usually a little too slow and clunky for most of my decks but this is exactly the type of deck he’s perfect in, he plays into the synergy and puts me up two cards quickly.
Youthful Scholar is a piece of draft chaff I’m going to assume most of you haven’t played before. It was pretty awesome in Khans of Tarkir draft because of all the Exploit and it will be good here for exactly the same reasons. Turning him into an extra copy of your spells and two additional cards is perfect here (along with his less successful versions Kingfisher and Clone Shell)
When it comes to upgrading this particular part of the deck there aren't a whole lot of impactful upgrades, most of the cards you want are dirt cheap. You could run Drivnod, Carnage Dominus to double up on the dies triggers, but ultimately you want cheap creatures with dies triggers that either replace themselves or do some on board damage.
The second part of this deck’s Plan A is the fun part: the big sorceries. You get the big thumpers like Cruel Ultimatum, Magma Opus, and my personal favorite spell in the deck Time Stretch. But you cannot run a deck on 7+ mana spells, you need the 2-5’s to keep yourself alive until that happens: Enter the God Eternals, Hurl Through Hell, and Wrecking Ball will keep your opponents off your back and give you the velocity to end up winning the game.
Breaking the budget on this section is where you can really decide what you want this deck to be. If you fill the deck with expensive card draw spells I would pair it with something like Psychosis Crawler or one of the Blue/Red Niv Mizzets and start plinking your opponents to death. If you want to be an absolute psycho, fill the deck with extra turn spells and really make yourself a target in the next game you play. The first time you double (or triple or quadruple) resolve an Expropriate you will win on the spot.
The final part of Plan A are the cards that support your commander. In this deck’s case I couldn’t run a lot of the ones I wanted to because of the budget constraints. I was only able to fit three of them in and they are Errant, Street Artist, Double Vision, and Cormella, Glamour Thief. Errant makes your already silly commander ability even better. Getting another free copy of your Casualtied spells is when this deck really goes over the top, hitting each opponent with a Cruel Ultimatum or taking 6 extra turns with a time stretch is exactly what I want to be doing with this particular commander.
For upgrading this part you get some of the more expensive pieces I wasn’t able to put in. Twinning Staff, Chandra, Hope’s Beacon, Storm Kiln Artisan (stupid $8 uncommons), Veyran, Voice of Duality and Archmage Emeritus being just a few of the more powerful options (there are actually about 2 dozen copy spell upgrades you could play but I don’t want to just list them all). I would stay away from one shot copy effects like Fork and Dual Caster Mage. I would prefer to have the ones that trigger over and over again.
Now that we have Plan A covered we can move on to the part of a commander deck no one really likes:
I am a firm believer in the fact that every commander deck should have about 1/3 of its non-land cards be some kind of interaction. Ideally your cards benefit your Plan A and work as interaction, in this deck you have cards like Twisted Justice and Hurl Through Hell. Both of these cards are decent removal spells that give you some decent card advantage. Similarly cards like Syphon Flesh that I don’t usually like very much becomes a premium removal spell that gives you six more creatures to feed to Anhelo.
I also put lots of single target creature removal into the deck, something I don’t usually do, but with Anhelo’s ability working on each turn doubling up Terminate with a creature that doesn’t matter anymore makes it worth playing. I’m also running several artifact destruction spells to keep your opponents from getting too far ahead of your Grixis self. Things like Kolaghan’s Command and Bedevil keep the board clear so you can win with your, admittedly, stinky creatures.
Upgrading this bit gets expensive fast. Free counterspells, premium mass removal, and Cyclonic Rift will make this deck better but aren’t strictly necessary. This is one of the more powerful budget lists I’ve ever made because all of the synergy is so powerful. It relies pretty exclusively on the commander so keeping him alive should be a priority with things like Lightning Greaves, Deflecting Swat, and Darksteel Plate.
The last section of a commander deck I look at is:
This is where I put the cards that don’t necessarily fit into any of the other categories. Rhystic Study, Fact or Fiction, Demonic Tutor, etc. This deck doesn’t have a lot of these cards since most of them are staples and on the expensive side. It also doesn’t need most of them because the synergies are so powerful. That’s not to say that you won’t benefit from running a Rhystic Study but with all the card draw in the deck and all the advantage you will get from your commander’s ability you really don’t need it.
The value pieces I did manage to put in are Torrential Gearhulk, Fact or Fiction, and Rags//Riches. I’m not 100% sold on the split card but getting to steal two creatures from each opponent seems pretty decent and getting to clean up hoi polloi while keeping your commander alive should be fine too.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed walking through how I build a commander deck and I hope Anhelo has given you some ideas for a new brew in the future. If you have any questions or comments about the list please drop them in the comments.