Last updated on April 1, 2024

Mana Crypt - Illustration by Dominik Mayer

Mana Crypt | Illustration by Dominik Mayer

Artifacts are as integral to Magic as creatures and lands, and they’ve been around since the beginning. They’re essentials in every new Magic set, sometimes with entire planes or blocks using artifacts as a central theme. Mirrodin block, Kaladesh block, and Antiquities are just a few examples of sets that put artifacts front and center.

They’re also often used as a driving force in the lore. Mirari, The Immortal Sun, Helvault, Legacy Weapon… the list continues. Feels like we’re always traveling to new planes in search of some mystical hunk of metal that’ll turn the tides of whatever multiversal war is going on in the story.

I combed through over 3,000 artifacts to deliver you the best of the best, so let’s lay down some ground rules and get to it.

Table of Contents show

What Are Artifacts in MTG?

Mycosynth Lattice - Illustration by Anthony S. Waters

Mycosynth Lattice | Illustration by Anthony S. Waters

Artifact is one of the original card types in Magic. They’re similar to enchantments in that they’re permanents that stay on the battlefield once they resolve, but they tend to have a different flavor and purpose than enchantments.

Artifacts were always colorless for a long time, but modern Magic has allowed colored mana symbols in the casting costs of artifacts. They also have several common subtypes, from equipment to vehicles, and it’s often used as the card type for tchotchke tokens like Treasure, Food, and Blood.

In the interest of keeping this list focused on the absolute best of the best, I’ll be picking out only the most universally powerful artifacts from smaller subsets of cards. You could write entire best-of articles for mana rocks, equipment, vehicles, and so on (and we have!), so check those out for more comprehensive lists of those individual types of cards.

Commander is the focal point, since a category with this many cards needs to be narrowed down to avoid weaving in between too many different formats. I’m also evaluating cards from the perspective of how they perform in modern Magic. An older version of this list could [rightfully] include cards like Gilded Lotus, Illusionist's Bracers, and Primal Amulet, which still very much have a home in Commander, but they no longer stand up to the best of the best artifacts.

And it goes without saying this is all from personal perspective, so I’ll undoubtably either miss one of your favorites or leave it off intentionally. Before you pick up the torches and pitchforks, come join me in the comments below and make a case for why you think a card deserves to make the list!

I normally wouldn’t include ban list cards, but c’mon, I can’t leave Black Lotus off a list of best artifacts, can I? I’ll be evaluating ban list cards based on how they would perform if they were legal in Commander.

Final note, I’m intentionally ignoring cards from the following categories:

#100. Leveler

Just kidding. Alright, quit playing around, we’ve got a lotta cards to get to.

#100. Ancestral Statue

Ancestral Statue

First up is Ancestral Statue, a colorless combo piece that easily facilitates infinite ETBs. It’s most commonly used with Animar, Soul of Elements, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, and other cost reduction commanders, paired with ETB payoffs like Impact Tremors.

#99. The Chain Veil

The Chain Veil

One of the earliest planeswalker payoffs, The Chain Veil serves one of two purposes. Either A: doubling planeswalker activations, as intended. Or B: going infinite with ‘walkers that untap permanents.

#98. Throne of the God-Pharaoh

Throne of the God-Pharaoh

Throne of the God-Pharaoh provides passive damage for decks that are great at getting their own creatures tapped. Vehicles can help you side-step combat, and it’s basically a 2-mana damage doubler for a board full of 1/1s.

#97. Steel Hellkite

Steel Hellkite

The glory days may be gone, but Steel Hellkite can still wreak havoc on boards, especially ones populated by tokens. Apparently, this card had firebreathing the entire time? Who knew?

#96. Altar of the Brood

Altar of the Brood

“Altar” in Magic may as well mean “infinite combo.” Altar of the Brood turns infinite ETBs into infinite mill, and it counts any type of permanent entering the battlefield.

#95. Metalworker


Metalworker’s an artifact-matters creature that can effortlessly tap for upwards of 6-10 mana. That makes it one of the most explosive mana dorks in Magic, though a $100+ price tag means you don’t see it at tables too often.

#94. God-Pharaoh's Statue

God-Pharaoh's Statue

God-Pharaoh's Statue is an extremely spiteful stax piece, especially if you ramp it out early. 1 life per turn doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an added annoyance when your spells are being taxed this much. Imagine your landlord throwing small pebbles at you while telling you your rent is going up.

#93. Mycosynth Lattice

Mycosynth Lattice

There are easier ways to lock players out of a game, but Mycosynth Lattice does the trick with any card that stops activated abilities from artifacts. Try Karn, the Great Creator for the one-sided version, or Stony Silence to get in on the [in]action yourself!

#92. Darksteel Forge

Darksteel Forge

Not seeing this one too much these days, but Darksteel Forge does cost 9 mana, and the format has largely shifted towards exile-based removal. It’s still fine to cheat into play, and black/red decks have a tough time removing it.

#91. Vedalken Orrery

Vedalken Orrery

Vedalken Orrery provides an effect that literally any deck’s happy to have, but it’s just hard to run a 4-mana “do-nothing” and hope you untap with it unscathed. Maybe cast this later in the game when you can flash something in to protect it.

#90. Staff of Domination

Staff of Domination

Dominant no more, my friend. Staff of Domination is a popular infinite mana sink, but it’s not really used for its random utility modes anymore. Some decks are interested in the untap effect, but it’s mainly a win-con with an arbitrarily large amount of mana.

#89. Torpor Orb

Torpor Orb

Torpor Orb’s effect appears on multiple different cards, but mostly on creatures that can be removed easily. ETB/flicker decks rely on their creatures to deal with artifacts/enchantments, so Torpor Orb could lock a deck like that out of the game. Friendly reminder to flicker decks everywhere to always pack a few instants/sorceries to deal with permanents like this.

#88. Thaumatic Compass / Spires of Orazca

Thaumatic Compass Spires of Orazca

Half Journeyer's Kite, half Maze of Ith, Thaumatic Compass is a pet card that asks very little of you but gives you plenty of utility for a cheap initial investment. It even gets you out of early-game mana ruts and works towards its own goal of transforming into Spires of Orazca.

#87. Illustrious Wanderglyph

Illustrious Wanderglyph

Illustrious Wanderglyph repurposes the Tendershoot Dryad design for artifact creatures. It’s actually even better than its inspiration since the Tempered Steel effect counts all your other tokens, not just the Gnomes created by this effect.

#86. Helm of the Host

Helm of the Host

A fan favorite, but a citizen of Clunk City nonetheless. Players love Helm of the Host, even when they’re not going aiming a one-shot kill alongside Godo, Bandit Warlord, Combat Celebrant, or a host of other extra combat cards. Helm’s incredibly expensive to cast and equip, but who am I to step between a card and its loyal fanbase?

#85. Reckoner Bankbuster

Reckoner Bankbuster

You probably know Reckoner Bankbuster from its long, banworthy stint in Standard, though I encourage players to test it out in Commander too, especially in decks seeking more card advantage. It caps out at three cards (proliferate, anyone?), but it also leaves you up a Treasure, a 1/1 token, and a 4/4 vehicle after the bank heist is over.

#84. Myr Battlesphere

Myr Battlesphere

Myr Battlesphere, aka “Battleball,” is still respectable top-end if all you care about is making a bunch of artifacts. The attack trigger is and always has been largely forgettable, but five artifacts for 7 mana is exactly what some decks want. Check out Threefold Thunderhulk as the latest riff on Battleball.

#83. Cloudstone Curio

Cloudstone Curio

Cloudstone Curio is another infinite combo enabler, though a little trickier to use since it usually requires three separate cards to work. If you encounter it in the wild, you should definitely destroy it if given the chance.

#82. Thousand-Year Elixir

Thousand-Year Elixir

Thousand-Year Elixir’s a handy tool for decks full of creatures with tap abilities. Think Baba Lysaga, Night Witch or Inquisitor Greyfax.

#81. Meteor Golem

Meteor Golem

It’s hard work, but it’s an honest living. Meteor Golem’s inefficient, but it makes for a great flicker/reanimate target and gives mono-black decks an out to troublesome permanents. I haven’t touched Spine of Ish Sah since Golem was printed, though Spine has its synergies, too.

#80. Embercleave


Believe in the ‘Cleave. Embercleave can usually push in a large enough attack to take a player out, though other opponents play more cautiously after that point.

#79. Crucible of Worlds

Crucible of Worlds

Crucible of Worlds holds up in decks that regularly get lands into their graveyards, but this text gets tacked onto so many cards these days that it’s no longer a unique effect.

#78. Conduit of Worlds

Conduit of Worlds

What did I just get through saying? Conduit of Worlds is a more expensive, color-restricted Crucible of Worlds that lets you cast a permanent from your graveyard each turn. That restricts you to one spell per turn, but it doesn’t cost you any cards from your hand.

#77. Herald’s Horn

Herald's Horn

Generic typal artifacts are plentiful, but quick shout out to Herald's Horn. It’s functionally a mana rock that sometimes draws cards for dedicated typal decks. Basically Sol Ring plus Ancestral Recall.

#76. Duplicant


Duplicant’s age is definitely showing, but being colorless is an advantage, giving colors that don’t have “187 creatures” a clean but expensive way to take out opposing threats.

#75. Burnished Hart

Burnished Hart

Some players argue that Burnished Hart is slow or unplayable, but I’ve always been Team Hart. If you’re going for deck optimization, Hart doesn’t make the cut. But if you’re not trying to spike every EDH game you play and people in your playgroup aren’t winning on turn 5, this card’s actively good.

#74. Amulet of Vigor

Amulet of Vigor

Look! A card that’s good in Commander and great in Constructed. Powerful lands are often balanced by coming into play tapped, and Amulet of Vigor overrides that restriction. Only very specific decks need an effect like this, so it’s not quite a staple.

#73. Tiller Engine

Tiller Engine

Tiller Engine is basically Amulet of Vigor with extra text, at least as far as lands are concerned. This almost-landfall ability can also tap down opposing non-lands, which is nice added functionality, though being a creature makes it more vulnerable to removal.

#72. Panharmonicon


Panharmonicon introduced the “double triggers” template, and Wizards has run with that text ever since. It has the Vedalken Orrery issue where you’re just crossing your fingers you untap with it, plus the Crucible of Worlds problem where it’s no longer unique. Doesn’t matter; people will play this card until the end of time.

#71. Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer

Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer

Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer makes good use of all the trinkety artifacts in Magic. It’s fun figuring out the best token you can transform everything into, it takes players from 40 to dead in an instant, and it gets new support cards just about every set (thanks, Treasure tokens!).

#70. The Mirrodin Artifact Lands

Ah, the lands that broke Standard, but never broke Modern because they were banned from the get-go. These lands are simultaneously great for artifact decks, and dangerous for Commander. Having a land drop supplement your strategy is great, but losing a land to Vandalblast or Farewell is backbreaking. You should not run these without good reason.

#69. Cityscape Leveler

Cityscape Leveler

I like my Levelers like I like my Eldrazi: leveling cities to the ground. Cityscape Leveler feels like a slightly dumbed down version of Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, straddling the power territory just below the colorless titans, making it something of an honorary Eldrazi.

#68. Vedalken Shackles

Vedalken Shackles

Pet card incoming. Vedalken Shackles does work, provided your mana base leans heavily into islands, which includes lands like Xander's Lounge and Watery Grave. Fulfil that condition, and you’ve got an on-demand way to grab opposing creatures. Steal something indefinitely or yoink a creature straight out of combat. Better yet, steal a blocker from someone else, chump with it, then untap Shackles and do it again the following turn.

#67. Breya, Etherium Shaper

Breya, Etherium Shaper

Breya, Etherium Shaper was incredibly popular when it first released, but 16 million new legends will put a damper on any commander’s popularity. Players likely enjoy Breya’s open-endedness. You can lean into interesting artifact synergies or go full combo with Nim Deathmantle and Ashnod's Altar.

#66. Thunderhawk Gunship

Thunderhawk Gunship

Thunderhawk Gunship impressed me out of the Warhammer 40k decks. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say this is Grave Titan with wings, and it’s sometimes even better since it jumps your entire team in the air.

#65. Sword of the Animist

Sword of the Animist

It’s funny to think that Treasure tokens have somewhat eclipsed other forms of colorless ramp, but I find Sword of the Animist still pulls its weight. Check out Bitterthorn, Nissa's Animus for the Phyrexianized version.

#64. Phyrexian Metamorph

Phyrexian Metamorph

Phyrexian Metamorph was once the undisputed best clone in Commander, but 10+ years of set releases have provided competition. The combination of copying artifacts and effectively costing 3 colorless mana keeps it relevant.

#63. Basalt Monolith

Basalt Monolith

Basalt Monolith is a fiddly artifact that can give you a burst of mana, though it’s more commonly used for evil. It produces infinite combos with Mesmeric Orb, Zirda, the Dawnwaker, Rings of Brighthearth, Wake Thrasher… you get the point.

#62. The Ozolith

The Ozolith

The ultimate counters card, no matter what kind of counters you’re working with. The Ozolith would be a must-play +1/+1 counter card were the price not so high ($20+ at the time of writing). It also works with ability counters, which was intentional given its original printing in Ikoria.

#61. Staff of the Storyteller

Staff of the Storyteller

Staff of the Storyteller’s a cool way to get card advantage in a token deck. Every instance of creating creature tokens is worth a card, though it takes some time and mana to cash in on those story counters.

#60. Idol of Oblivion

Idol of Oblivion

Idol of Oblivion gets the nod over Staff of the Storyteller by virtue of being colorless. Though no one’s stopping you from running both in a white deck! The 10/10 Eldrazi text barely matters; this is just a card draw engine through and through.

#59. Angel of the Ruins

Angel of the Ruins

What’s worse than being an artifact/enchantment deck targeted by Return to Dust? What if it came on a 5/7 flying body that easily cycles into the graveyard for reanimation effects and provides an ETB that’s easy to flicker and reuse? Yeah, that’s Angel of the Ruins.

#58. Sundering Titan

Sundering Titan

Ban list alert! Sundering Titan was nixed from Commander for its oppressive mass land destruction potential. It blows up lands on the way and out, which means a standard flicker effect triggers this ability twice. With the prevalence of triomes and dual lands, Titan can destroy five lands per trigger without harming your own mana base.

#57. Commander’s Plate

Commander's Plate

Commander's Plate is an excellent piece of equipment that scales best with mono-colored decks. It’s usually a Vulshok Battlegear that makes your commander immune to combat and most forms of removal.

#56. The Immortal Sun

The Immortal Sun

The Immortal Sun combines four useful abilities on one card, but it’s also a 6-mana artifact that you need to untap with before you get any real value off it. That makes it removal target #1 for everyone, and players run more artifact removal these days, so it doesn’t actually stick around that often.

#55. Ramos, Dragon Engine

Ramos, Dragon Engine

Ramos, Dragon Engine is your typical 5-color soup commander. You can build around it however you want, though Ramos specifically incentivizes multi-colored cards. It can also one-shot players out of nowhere, and it creates large bursts of mana, just enough to activate Door to Nothingness.

#54. Mox Amber

Mox Amber

Mox Amber excels in legends-matter decks and flounders anywhere else. The word “Mox” usually indicates a powerful card, though most of them are either banned in Commander or tuned for Constructed/cEDH.

#53. Relic of Legends

Relic of Legends

I’m already a big fan of Honor-Worn Shaku, and Relic of Legends fits a similar mold for decks full of legends. Some players claim that 3-mana value rocks “aren’t playable in Commander anymore.” Nay, I say; you’re just not playing the right ones.

#52. Krark-Clan Ironworks

Krark-Clan Ironworks

Krark-Clan Ironworks fits a narrower range of decks than Ashnod's Altar, which I promise we’re getting to. It was banned in Modern for encouraging strong, lengthy combos, but there’s nothing stopping you from recreating those combos in Commander.

#51. Canoptek Scarab Swarm

Canoptek Scarab Swarm

Throw a dart at a wall of Warhammer 40k cards and odds are you hit something super powerful. Case in point: Canoptek Scarab Swarm. It’s an army in a can that feasts on an opponent’s graveyard. Colorless too? Ship it!

#50. Conjurer’s Closet

Conjurer's Closet

Conjurer's Closet is beloved by blink players everywhere, though being colorless is the only thing keeping it around. Soulherder, Teleportation Circle, and Thassa, Deep-Dwelling are all cheaper and better, but not every deck can run them. Plus, some decks just want critical mass of these effects.

#49. Altar of Dementia

Altar of Dementia

There’s that “Altar” word again, and this isn’t even one of the best ones. Altar of Dementia is a free sac outlet that can mill players out with the right combination of recursive creatures, though it’s also great at fueling your own graveyard, too.

#48. Solemn Simulacrum

Solemn Simulacrum

I’m not entertaining any discourse about Solemn Simulacrum falling behind the times in Commander. It’s the classic 3-for-1 we all know and love, and I’m still happy to run a copy in most decks. Remember: Deck optimization isn’t a requirement for playing and enjoying Commander.

#47. Jeweled Lotus

Jeweled Lotus

Oh god, here we go: Jeweled Lotus ain’t that good. There, I said it. Obviously, you can tune a deck to maximize Jeweled Lotus and completely go off, but in your average run-of-the-mill casual Commander deck, you’re going to either draw Lotus late when it hardly matters, or you’re going to blow it early, get your commander removed, and just be down a card for your efforts. People are way too eager to throw this hunk of junk in any deck because it reads like some huge Commander powerhouse, but it’s actually pretty tame outside decks that are intentionally trying to break it.

#46. Agatha’s Soul Cauldron

Agatha's Soul Cauldron

Agatha's Soul Cauldron messes around with activated abilities, which is fairly novel territory in Magic, and it provides incidental graveyard hate while doing so. “Activated ability” decks are more of a thing than ever thanks to this card, and it opens up some interesting lines of play. And combos of course. Always with the combos.

#45. Shorikai, Genesis Engine

Shorikai, Genesis Engine

Even ignoring obvious infinites with Intruder Alarm, Shorikai, Genesis Engine is just a sweet value engine. Get it, engine? ‘Cuz it’s a vehicle? Sorry, guess I’ll pilot myself outta here. In all seriousness, it’s also just really cool to have a vehicle as your commander.

#44. Midnight Clock

Midnight Clock

Ask not for whom the Midnight Clock ticks. Here’s another top-tier 3-MV mana rock, one that gives blue access to some coveted ramp, then becomes a draw-7 in just a few turn cycles.

#43. Roaming Throne

Roaming Throne

Roaming Throne has plenty of buzz surrounding it. It copies all triggered abilities of the chosen type, not just ETBs, which opens up so many more interactions than the average Panharmonicon effect. Ward is also more of a nuisance than you’d expect in Commander.

#42. Shadowspear


Farewell, Loxodon Warhammer. I wouldn’t fault anyone for running Warhammer, but Shadowspear certainly modernized the design, lowering the cost to cast and equip and adding in a ridiculous activated ability that no one remembers until it’s too late.

#41. Akroma’s Memorial

Akroma's Memorial

If you’re going to flat out spend 7 mana on a card, it better have the impact that Akroma's Memorial does. Drop this and suddenly all your creatures become deadly threats, with double protection to make combat miserable for your opponents. As if the whole flying/first strike/trample trifecta weren’t already enough.

#40. Nevinyrral’s Disk

Nevinyrral's Disk

Nevinyrral's Disk is cheaper than most colorless sweepers, but the effect is on a turn’s delay. Players are often scared to overextend into Disk and don’t play anything at all, which prompts you to leave its activation up as a threat without actually using it. It’s also an obnoxious combo with indestructible effects, since it normally destroys itself instead of sacrificing as a cost.

#39. Blightsteel Colossus

Blightsteel Colossus

Blightsteel Colossus is almost single-handedly responsible for millions of players’ disgust towards infect. It’s basically part of the Phage the Untouchable club since it can one-shot people, though I think the infect hate is undeserved. A topic for another time, I suppose.

#38. MH2 Bridges

Modern Horizons 2 tweaked the artifact land formula, designing them as indestructible taplands. That way you can add to your artifact count without losing them to a stray Austere Command. Exile-based removal… well that still gets ‘em.

#37. Smuggler’s Copter

Smuggler's Copter

Wizards overshot their first attempt at vehicles, at least as far as Smuggler's Copter is concerned. This chopper holds up in Commander, letting you convert any small creature into a hefty flying looter scooter. Why does it loot on blocks too? The world may never know.

#36. Mindslaver


Mindslaver effects are an utterly demoralizing way to lose a game. They’re “stop hitting yourself” incarnate, and people despise them. You can thank OG Mindslaver for that, which sees play in big mana decks, artifact decks, or decks that can tap into its legendary status.

#35. Birthing Pod

Birthing Pod

The card that birthed an entire subcategory of cards. Birthing Pod and cards like it are fun to build around, asking you to incorporate a chain of creatures in your deck so you can work towards gradually more and more expensive creatures. “Pod decks” usually devolve into combo decks, but fair Pod decks exist too, using it as a value engine.

#34. Baleful Strix

Baleful Strix

Perhaps the cleanest Magic design ever put to paper? Baleful Strix is the ultimate 2-for-1, drawing a card now and trading for something later, whether that’s a removal spell or another creature.

#33. Archaeomancer’s Map

Archaeomancer's Map

White ramp? In this economy?

Archaeomancer's Map is Burgeoning-lite that draws two lands on ETB, It’s highly effective as a white card, since white doesn’t have as many options for ramp effects.

#32. The Boots

Commanders are often essential to their decks, so you want to ensure they stay protected, and there’s no equipment quite as protective as Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves. Greaves is usually the first choice, followed by Boots if you plan on targeting your own creatures a lot, and some decks are happy with a copy of each.

#31. Sword of Hearth and Home

Sword of Hearth and Home

All the “Sword of X and Y” cards are great, but I’m limiting my inclusions here to the absolute best of the cycle. Sword of Hearth and Home provides blink and ramp all at once, making it perhaps the most value-oriented sword in the cycle.

#30. Sword of Forge and Frontier

Sword of Forge and Frontier

Let’s tackle Sword of Forge and Frontier, too. It’s another value sword that offers ramp + card advantage, similar to Sword of Hearth and Home but with better protection. Pro-red dodges most red removal, especially board wipes like Blasphemous Act.

#29. Wurmcoil Engine

Wurmcoil Engine

If Baleful Strix is in the Top 10 best designs ever, Wurmcoil Engine deserves a slot in the Top 10 Coolest. Lifelink makes the card, allowing Wurmcoil to immediately stabilize just about any board.

#28. Scroll Rack

Scroll Rack

Now we’re transitioning into powerhouse artifact territory, including hyper-efficient and completely broken artifacts. Scroll Rack’s an excellent way to dig for answers, stack your library for top-deck cards like miracles or Future Sight, or even just exchange cards you don’t need in your hand to tuck away with a shuffle effect.

#27. 2-Mana Value Mana Rocks. All of Them

I could quibble over Signets, Talismans, Fellwar Stone, Mind Stone, and so on, but truth is all the 2-mana rocks basically play out the same regardless of extra utility. 2-MV rocks are a pillar of modern Commander, and even most casual decks should be looking to play a handful of these if they want to remain somewhat competitive.

#26. Arcane Signet

Arcane Signet

Okay, okay, okay. I’ll put Arcane Signet slightly above the rest, but just by a smidge. It’s the easy-mode hands-free best-of-the-best 2-MV rock, and it slots into any deck with 2+ colors without question.

#25. Grim Monolith

Grim Monolith

Net positive mana rock. Grim Monolith’s one of the worst of the fast mana offenders and still pretty darn good.

#24. Portal to Phyrexia

Portal to Phyrexia

I’d say 9 mana is a lot, but no one running Portal to Phyrexia is trying to hardcast this card. They’re going for some sort of Goblin Welder line that gets this out early, gobbles up opposing boards, and leaves you up a Debtors' Knell. Did I mention colorless artifacts can go in any deck?

#23. Aetherflux Reservoir

Aetherflux Reservoir

As close to the Death Star as we’ll ever get. Well, at least until the inevitable Star Wars Universes Beyond crossover. Aetherflux Reservoir laser cannons a player (or creature, if you have an agenda) right out of the game, but at the cost of 50 life. It’s auto-win with infinite life combos, plus there are some funny plays that involve animating it, giving it lifelink, and going to town on anything in sight.

#22. Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Golos, Tireless Pilgrim

Free Golos, Tireless Pilgrim! This 5-color value machine was everywhere before it hit the ban list. The main reason it was banned wasn’t because it’s overtly oppressive, but because it’s so good as the commander of just about any strategy that it actually stifles creativity and diversity, fielding out more synergistic commanders in their own decks. On second thought, let’s keep Golos banned.

#21. Sword of Feast and Famine

Sword of Feast and Famine

Does Sword of Feast and Famine charge rent? Because this card is a house. Don’t believe me? Check out any episode of Game Knights, where it inevitably shows up in just about any Josh Lee Kwai deck. It’s essentially a mana-doubler with disruption attached, and the twin protection abilities make it easy to connect against someone. They can’t all be running decks.

#20. Walking Ballista

Walking Ballista

Is your Ballista running? Well, you better go catch it! Oh, it’s a Walking Ballista? Never mind then. Triskelion would’ve made this list some time ago, but it’s Ballista’s world now. Part of numerous infinite combos, Ballista can play board control of player control, depending on your mana situation.

#19. The Great Henge

The Great Henge

Great indeed. The Great Henge does everything under the sun and more. Adds mana, gains life, draws cards, makes your creatures bigger, and usually costs around 2-4 mana? I demand to know who made this. Thankfully it’s locked to green decks, but also dear god it’s playable in green decks.

#18. Phyrexian Altar

Phyrexian Altar

Another day, another Altar. Still not the last one. Phyrexian Altar is 10% sac outlet, 90% combo engine, and it would’ve 100% said “activate only once per turn” if printed today. As is, it’s one of the best sac outlets in Magic, to the point of being broken.

#17. Isochron Scepter

Isochron Scepter

Quick EDH lifehack: If you hit someone with Thada Adel, Acquisitor and see Isochron Scepter in their library, take it, leave it exiled, and that opponent might literally be unable to win anymore. “Dramatic Scepter” decks combo it with Dramatic Reversal, but even without combos it can be a problem with a counterspell or removal spell tucked underneath it.

#16. Winter Orb

Winter Orb

Misery, thy name is Winter Orb. Winter Orb’s a minigame all about finding a way to tap it down before your turn begins. It’s best friends with Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and Urza, Lord High Artificer, to the point where people usually ask if you’re playing Winter Orb when you present one of these commanders at the table.

#15. Candelabra of Tawnos

Candelabra of Tawnos

Candelabra of Tawnos is rarely seen at Commander tables, but that’s probably got something to do with being a Reserved List card worth almost a grand. If you do snag a copy and you’re itching to play with it, combine it with lands that tap for multiple mana at once, or make it part of a classic High Tide combo.

#14. Bolas’s Citadel

Bolas's Citadel

There are only two outcomes when you resolve a Bolas's Citadel. Either you’re winning, or you’re dying before it gets to your next turn. As the Citadel player, you can rattle off spells until you hit a land pocket, and as the non-Citadel players, you should be trying to kill the Citadel player.

#13. Mana Vault

Mana Vault

You can’t fool me. Mana Vault is just a colorless Dark Ritual in disguise. Except Dark Ritual doesn’t stick around to be used again down the line. Not that that happens often, since the untap cost usually eats up an entire turn’s worth of mana.

#12. Academy Manufactor

Academy Manufactor

Math, the card. All’s fun and games ‘til someone has three copies of Academy Manufactor on board and casts a Brass's Bounty. It’s the ultimate trinket card and slots into an absurd number of fiddly artifact decks.

#11. Paradox Engine

Paradox Engine

Paradox Engine, a card that wins the game and takes 30 minutes doing it. Life’s too precious to sit around watching someone tap and untap their mana rocks over and over again. Keep it on the ban list where it belongs.

#10. The One Ring

The One Ring

I’m starting to think there might be more than one copy of The One Ring out there. Goes in every deck? Cascading card advantage on an indestructible permanent? Extremely hard to die the turn you cast it? Becomes a liability when you’re at 2 life? Check, check, check, and… wait a minute, what was that last part?

#9. Esper Sentinel

Esper Sentinel

This tedious little nugget is one of white’s best cards, point blank. Esper Sentinel either taxes your opponents’ mana or draws cards, which is a lot for a 1-drop with human and artifact synergies. Bump its power up to all but guarantee you’re drawing when it triggers. Responsible players pay the , but no one pays the .

#8. Sensei’s Divining Top

Sensei's Divining Top

Toss a Sensei's Divining Top in a random deck and it’s going to be good without exception. You can be more intentional with it, setting up top-decks and infinite combos with mana-reduction abilities plus cards that let you play from the top of your library.

#7. Skullclamp


There’s a well-documented story that Skullclamp originally gave +1/+1, but the designers deemed that too powerful and switched it to +1/-1. Now look where we are. X/1s quiver in fear at the sight of the Clamp, being callously tossed away for extra cards left and right. This has all the makings of a card you’d expect to be super expensive, but numerous reprints have kept it in the realm of mortals.

#6. Ashnod’s Altar

Ashnod's Altar

There it is! The best sac outlet in Magic. Ashnod's Altar goes infinite with a paperclip and a plastic bag, and it might be the most combo-centric card in all of Magic. Even when it’s being used “fairly” it’s still generating boatloads of mana.

#5. Time Vault

Time Vault

Do you have a repeatable way to untap an artifact? Congratulations! You just won with Time Vault. Well, you don’t win outright, but I assume if you’re taking every turn for the rest of the game, you’ll find a way.

#4. The Alpha Moxes

Power 9 at the top of the list? You don’t say. However you rank each individual Mox against the others, it’s clear the original Moxes are some of the best cards ever printed. Moxes? Moxen? Google says both are acceptable.

#3. Sol Ring

Sol Ring

Ah, the original sin of Commander. It’s egregious that Sol Ring was allowed into the format from the beginning, and now Commander’s so far along nothing can be done about it. People love to give their poppycock takes on why Sol Ring’s fine, but it’s not and never has been. It’s just so far ingrained in what the format is at this point.

Fast mana, no concessions, near-mandatory to play in every deck, and included in every precon. You know it, you love it. Or hate it. Some people definitely hate it.

#2. Mana Crypt

Mana Crypt

Ditto everything about Sol Ring, but dial it up to 11. There’s no real reason Mana Crypt should be legal in Commander, but it is, so we live, learn, and buy Double Masters packs hoping to open one.

#1. Black Lotus

Black Lotus

You know, there’s a valid argument that Sol Ring and Mana Crypt would be better on average than Black Lotus in Commander, but we bow to the king and show our respects. I don’t have the heart not to put Lotus as the best, banned or not.

Best Artifact Payoffs

Artifacts are one of the most widely supported card types in Magic, with entire sets designed around them. A comprehensive look at artifact payoffs would warrant an entire separate study, so let’s keep this brief.

Tons of commanders synergize with artifacts, some of which are artifacts themselves and feature somewhere on this list. You’ve got Breya, Etherium Shaper, Glissa, the Traitor, Daretti, Scrap Savant, Urza, Chief Artificer, etc. I could continue and not even scratch the surface.

There are planeswalkers whose entire character revolves around artifacts. Basically any version of Tezzeret, Karn, or Daretti features some interaction with artifacts.

Artifact decks also make the best use of the tchotchke tokens we keep seeing in new sets. Treasure, Clues, Food, Blood, Maps, Powerstones. All artifacts.

Some keywords to be on the lookout for in an artifact deck include: affinity (for artifacts), improvise, bargain, craft, and metalcraft.

Some subcategories of strategies that also fall under the artifact umbrella include Treasure, equipment, and vehicle decks.

And naturally, since artifacts are mostly colorless cards, and include some of the biggest design mistakes in Magic, they tend to produce infinite combos quite easily. Basalt Monolith, Ashnod's Altar, and Paradox Engine are examples that made the list for their combo potential, and there are plenty of others that didn’t make the list.

As a Matter of [Arti]Fact

Skullclamp - Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren

Skullclamp | Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren

Turns out there are a lot of artifacts in Magic. It’s an almost Herculean task to narrow the list down from over 3,000 cards, and then rank the ones remaining from worst to best. This list took an unbelievably long time to compile, and I still guarantee you I missed one or two.

But now I’m passing the buck to you! Someone out there has an artifact in mind that they’re burning to add to this list, and I assure you there were plenty of others that came close. But if you have a compelling reason why a certain card should be represented here, I want to hear it! Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.

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  • Avatar
    Justin August 19, 2022 7:21 pm

    What was your criteria for inclusion? You are missing a few really big key artifacts. I get not including cards legal only in Vintage like Black Lotus (the best artifact ever) or the Moxes or Time Vault, but uh….

    Skullclamp? How did you miss that one? It’s not even mentioned here. Banned in every format but Commander and EDH, it’s one of the most broken cards ever. Def should be #1 on Equipment, artifacts in EDH, maybe a few other lists.

    Also Sol Ring? That seems like one you missed.

    • Avatar
      Sterces May 23, 2023 6:50 pm


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