Boseiju, Who Endures | Illustration by Chris Ostrowski
Artifacts are everywhere in MTG. Did you know that The Brothers’ War is the first artifact-themed set in Magic’s history that didn’t resulted in Standard bans? At least, it hasn’t yet.
Six of the infamous “Power 9” are artifacts, every Commander deck typically plays a Sol Ring, and competitive formats are littered with obnoxiously powerful artifacts, from Chalice of the Void to Mycosynth Lattice.
The point is, you need to know how to remove artifacts. I’ve scoured Magic’s enormous card pool to bring you my picks for the best artifact removal that the game has to offer. Let’s get into it!
What Is Artifact Destruction in MTG?
By Force | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve
Artifact destruction is any spell or ability that can remove an artifact from the battlefield or shut it down altogether. Given how powerful artifacts can be, their answers must be strong and varied. This list includes ways to attack artifacts in all colors.
To keep this list concise I won’t include cards that attack any permanent, like Vindicate or Maelstrom Pulse. All of these cards specifically attack artifacts, though they may also hit other things every now and again.
Best White Artifact Destruction
#6. Kataki, War’s Wage
If you had four artifacts in play, could you really afford to pay four mana every turn to keep them all around?
Kataki, War’s Wage is an excellent creature that forces players to pick and choose which of their artifacts to keep. If they pay for them all then they likely won’t be casting any spells from hand.
Competitive formats are all about cheap and efficient spells. Artifact decks in Vintage centered around Mishra’s Workshop are a huge factor, so a 1-mana removal spell that hits most of the cards in that deck is great.
It still sees competitive elsewhere play thanks to its efficiency.
#4. Dust to Dust
Affinity decks have been menacing Pauper for quite some time, but Dust to Dust is an incredible weapon that white decks have against it. The efficiency here is unbeatable. Getting rid of two at once is exactly what you need if you’re overwhelmed by a pile of powerful artifacts.
#3. Stony Silence
I remember judging a PTQ about a decade ago, and someone asked me if Stony Silence would stop his Darksteel Citadel from tapping for mana. When I told him it did, his response was, “Oh. Well, that sucks, doesn’t it?” He used coarser language.
There have been times when Stony Silence was the best sideboard card in all of Modern. Shutting down activated abilities is often better than straight-up removing threats. You’ll win games before they even get started if you can stop mana abilities, equips, and even Arcbound Ravagers.
I spoke about this in my enchantments ranking, but I’ve seen more complaining about Farewell than just about any other card printed this year. We’ve never seen a board sweeper quite as powerful as this.
It takes a lot for a 6-mana sweeper to see any play outside of Commander, but it’s been pulling its weight in the competitive formats too.
#1. Loran of the Third Path
Color shifting Reclamation Sage into white has been a big success. Loran of the Third Path has human tribal synergies, being a legend lets you bounce it and replay it with Karakas (though sadly not in Commander), and it gives Death & Taxes decks a fantastic new weapon.
This is an all-around great card, and one of the best to come out of The Brothers’ War.
Best Blue Artifact Destruction
#4. Steel Sabotage
The inherent problem with counterspells is that they do absolutely nothing to spells that have already resolved. Steel Sabotage solves that problem beautifully by giving you the option to counter an artifact spell, or bounce one that’s already in play.
#3. Thieving Skydiver
This is a personal favorite of mine. While a simple card like Master Thief can steal artifacts for you, it only does so for as long as you still control it. Thieving Skydiver lets you steal things permanently. I like this in Commander because you can steal a Sol Ring for three mana total.
It also synergizes with ninjutsu abilities and anything else that might bounce it and let you steal more since it’s a flier. This lets you not only deal with problems that you’re facing, but turn them into other players’ problems at the same time.
#2. Energy Flux
Energy Flux has been a powerful anti-artifact card ever since it was first printed in Antiquities. Forget paying one mana per artifact like I talked about with Kataki, War’s Wage; you end up being forced to lose nearly every artifact you have when you have to pay two mana per.
#1. Hurkyl’s Recall
snything short of a powerful effect won’t do as you move into formats like Commander and Legacy.
Hurkyl’s Recall is a massive reset button on artifact-based strategies that usually buys you at least a couple turns to deploy your own plan. That’s a great deal for just two mana, and one that’s made this a Legacy sideboard staple for decades.
Best Black Artifact Destruction
Removing artifacts isn’t something that black has access to. Magic’s color pie determines that each color is able to do specific things in different measures, so while red has the most access to artifact destruction, black gets none at all.
#1. Gate to Phyrexia
Gate to Phyrexia is the exception to this rule. It’s very weak artifact removal, but one of the only options you’ve got in mono black.
On the plus side it’s repeatable each turn, so you can deal with quite a lot for only a small upfront investment. It’s also on the Reserved List, making this Gate a very pricey card.
Best Red Artifact Destruction
#11. Smash to Smithereens
I talked about how it’s important for burn decks to deal damage to the opponent whenever possible in my enchantment removal rankings. Smash to Smithereens is perfect for that, letting you destroy a problematic artifact while keeping up the pressure on your opponent.
Sometimes you just need to get them deaded. Shatterstorm does exactly that for four mana, and it’s been doing so for going on 30 years. It’s as simple as that.
#9. Ingot Chewer
There are two main things that Ingot Chewer does that make it better than other options.
The first is that it’s a 1-mana removal spell that isn’t countered by a Chalice of the Void on one. The second is that it also doesn’t get cast by any of the 3-mana cascade spells that form the basis of Living End and Crashing Footfalls decks.
#8. By Force
You never know how many artifacts you’ll need to deal with. By Force doesn’t care how many you need to destroy, it just helps you get the job done.
Two mana to kill one, five to kill four, or even nine mana to kill eight. No matter how many you need to destroy, By Force gets the job done.
Meltdown is a powerful sideboard card that saw a spike in play in recent years thanks to the emergence of “8-Cast” in Legacy, an artifact-centric deck that looks to play a lot of cheap artifacts and power out as many Thoughtcasts and Thought Monitors as it can. This can clear 8-Cast’s entire board on turn 1 for just a single mana.
And it’s just a decent artifact removal spell against some other decks, making it a very strong choice for the Legacy metagame.
#6. Brotherhood’s End
Brotherhood’s End is still a new card, but one that’s already made waves in a few formats. We’ve never seen a Shatterstorm effect for three mana in red before, so while this only deals with cheap artifacts, that’s more than enough against a lot of decks.
3-damage board sweepers are also very effective, so the modal choice of the two makes for an incredibly powerful card.
The problem with artifact removal is that not everyone runs artifacts, so you can’t always run it in your main deck. Abrade fixes that.
Three damage for two mana is a solid rate for a removal spell. Having that as an option alongside a simple Shatter lets you run it in your main deck and have it not be dead when your opponent doesn’t have a good artifact to remove.
#4. Shattering Spree
While this is very similar to By Force there are some major differences. Shattering Spree is a whole mana cheaper, which is especially relevant for competitive formats. It also requires all red mana so it’s less good in multicolored decks.
These distinctions basically mean that, even though they look like very similar cards, By Force is always better in Commander while Shattering Spree is much more at home in competitive formats.
By this point I’ve shown you a few different board sweepers that can remove all artifacts at once. Unfortunately these effects remove your artifacts as well.
Vandalblast solves that issue by only destroying artifacts controlled by your opponents, leaving yours high and dry.
#2. Fiery Confluence
I’ve already established that removing two artifacts for three mana is good, so three artifacts for four mana should also be good, right? It’s also four mana for a six damage and potentially even a board sweeper.
The flexibility of Fiery Confluence is huge, making it a staple in both Legacy and Commander.
#1. Ancient Grudge
Let me tell you, I’ve cast a lot of Ancient Grudges in my time. Just like Dust to Dust, getting to kill off two artifacts is exactly what we like to see in our artifact removal. But you get incredible flexibility out of this being a cheap spell with a cheap flashback cost.
You don’t need to get rid of both targets in the same turn, letting you slot them in when you have the right amount of mana available. It’s also something you can make use of in a self-mill deck.
Best Green Artifact Destruction
#11. Krosan Grip
Split second is an absurdly powerful ability, and it’s the reason you’d pay an extra mana for Naturalize. Sometimes Krosan Grip is just the perfect way to break through an opponent’s defenses and take care of a problematic artifact.
#10. Acidic Slime
I’ll talk a little more about Reclamation Sage shortly, but a 5-mana version that can also target annoying utility lands like Acidic Slime is very much worth considering. Artifact removal is inherently very narrow, so having other options available is important.
#9. Seal of Primordium
Not only does Seal of Primordium work with all your enchantment synergies, you basically pay the cost up front and use the effect whenever you see fit. This alone gives it an advantage over your typical Naturalize effect.
#8. Nature’s Claim
I’m back to efficiency here. Four life four your opponent is a small tradeoff for a 1-mana removal spell. Maybe not the best in Commander, but Nature’s Claim has seen a good deal of play in competitive formats.
#7. Foundation Breaker
Much like Ingot Chewer, Foundation Breaker is perfect for when you need to get around effects that restrict the mana value of what you’re casting. It’s basically a 2-mana spell with a mana value of four, getting around effects like cascade and Chalice of the Void.
#6. Reclamation Sage
Reclamation Sage is as simple as it gets. A creature that destroys an artifact when entering the battlefield gives you a lot of options. You can flicker it, recur it, and also make use of tribal synergies. And elves have a lot of support, giving the Sage a perfect home.
#5. Collector Ouphe
If Stony Silence is good enough at locking down artifacts, then Collector Ouphe should also be good, right? Sure, this can die to creature removal, but the effect it has on the board is undeniable.
#4. Seeds of Innocence
I was only recently made aware of Seeds of Innocence, but the emergence of Legacy’s 8-Cast deck has made a lot more artifact removal come out of the woodwork. Three mana to destroy all artifacts is as good a deal as you’ll get.
#3. Bane of Progress
Shatterstorm is great, but a 6-mana version that can be flickered and tutored for with ease is just bonkers. This is the most annoying threat on the board in the right deck.
#2. Haywire Mite
Unlike other artifact removal spells Haywire Mite is an artifact itself, which allows you to tutor it with Karn, the Great Creator or Trinket Mage. Above all else it’s fetchable with Urza’s Saga, one of Legacy and Modern’s most impactful cards.
#1. Force of Vigor
One of the most influential cards to come out of Modern Horizons was Force of Vigor. The ability to destroy two artifacts without paying any mana is extremely powerful, especially when speed is the name of the game.
Even with reprints, this is one of the pricier cards from the set.
Best Multicolored Artifact Destruction
#5. Harmonic Sliver
Slivers are one of Magic’s most well-loved and well-supported tribes. Harmonic Sliver turning all your slivers into Reclamation Sages helps you clean out any artifacts you need to.
#4. Knight of Autumn
Reclamation Sage is all well and good, but you get a couple extra modes in Knight of Autumn when you add an additional color. Being multicolored just restricts the decks it can go in, but it still gets the job done.
#3. Wear // Tear
We come back to a spell that’s capable of destroying two targets. Instead of a simple old Naturalize effect, we get the ability to destroy an artifact and an enchantment at the same time. This has made Wear // Tear a common sight in sideboards ever since it was first printed.
#2. Aura Shards
3-mana enchantments that do nothing at first don’t often see competitive play, but getting to trigger over and over again makes Aura Shards perfect for Commander. Plenty of Commander decks are capable of churning out dozens of tokens or repeatedly flickering their own creatures, meaning Aura Shards destroys targets turn after turn.
#1. Kolaghan’s Command
This is easily my favorite card on the list. I’ve played Kolaghan’s Command wherever possible for several years.
There are six possible combinations for these abilities, and every single one gives you an advantage over your opponent. Destroying an artifact plus two damage often kills two annoying threats at once.
Best Colorless Artifact Destruction
#2. Null Rod
Before Stony Silence there was Null Rod. Artifact removal is stronger and more abundant than enchantment removal though a lot of cards hit both at the same time, so Stony Silence is technically a bit better.
But Null Rod is accessible for every color, making it a better choice for many decks. Shutting down artifact abilities is still good enough to beat a lot of decks which makes this one of the best ways to deal with artifacts in general.
#1. Boseiju, Who Endures
Boseiju, Who Endures has taken Magic by storm ever since its printing. Being a land with virtually no downside means that there’s really no good reason to not play one in every green deck.
There are a lot of land synergies that allow you to reuse it, like with Wrenn and Six or Life from the Loam. It’s an activated ability, not a spell, meaning it gets around most counterspells and troublesome cards like Teferi, Time Raveler.
Boseiju just does it all.
Best Artifact Destruction Payoffs
Removal spells aren’t exactly something you can have a payoff for, but there are a few ways to capitalize on artifact removal in particular.
Liquimetal Coating gives you a way to turn any permanent into an artifact and then destroy it. It can also target lands, which lets you attack a deck’s mana base as well.
Karn, the Great Creator is one of the strongest planeswalkers ever made. It can tutor up Mycosynth Lattice and then shut down all your opponent’s lands in one go thanks to its static ability.
Not coincidentally, Mycosynth Lattice was banned in Modern shortly after Karn’s printing.
Farewell | Illustration by Seb McKinnon
Well, that’s my list of the best artifact destruction in MTG. Did I miss any important entries? Would you switch around the order of some of these cards? You can find us on Twitter or Discord to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you.
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