Last updated on January 31, 2023
Teething Wurmlet | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
The most well-known iteration of a trigger when a permanent enters the battlefield in Magic is landfall, but there are equivalents that aren’t keyworded. There’s “creaturefall” on The Great Henge, “enchantmentfall” on Verduran Enchantress, and, of course, “artifactfall.”
Let’s explore this last category and rank the best among them!
Kappa Cannoneer | Illustration by Jesper Ejsing
Artifactfall refers to an effect that triggers whenever an artifact enters the battlefield under your control. Because this trigger isn’t an official keyword, there are variations of this effect.
It’s time to see what’s cooking in the artifact ETB space in case you haven’t looked at these cards as a group. Let’s take a look at all 38!
White isn’t great at this effect, and these are niche plays at best.
#4. Thopter Architect
#3. Phalanx Vanguard
Phalanx Vanguard was like the sad 23rd playable in The Brothers’ War Limited, so this is likely a pass. But there are lots of things that can make creatures with power 2 or less unblockable, so there could be a build that wants this.
#2. Glint Hawk Idol
Glint Hawk Idol seems like it would be okay in an Azorius () fliers deck that wants some board wipe protection, but it doesn’t see much play. The flying artifact synergies deck might get there if something like Tawnos, the Toymaker gets printed with a white pip.
#2. Ingenious Smith
This has been decent in Standard and Pioneer artifact decks, and I absolutely run Ingenious Smith in decks like Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle or Urza, Chief Artificer. But its own ETB is better than its artifactfall trigger, which is limited to once a turn.
#1. Leonin Elder
Cat and lifegain decks sometimes want Leonin Elder, but so far it hasn’t seen a lot of Commander play. Maybe there’s a white lifegain artifacts deck to be made if you’re playing the new Transformers card Ratchet, Field Medic?
This is the sea you fish in for infinite combos. But there’s not a lot to catch.
#6. Weldfast Wingsmith
Weldfast Wingsmith is another card that’s good in Limited, but unplayable otherwise.
#5. Skyswimmer Koi
#4. Replication Specialist
Replication Specialist has a powerful effect, but for a steep cost. Maybe this is a good inclusion in a deck like Mishra, Eminent One or Urza, Prince of Kroog where you may already be leaning into cheating out and copying big powerful artifacts?
Where Replication Specialist really shines is with Dee Kay, Finder of the Lost or Myra the Magnificent as your commander. Attractions are costless artifacts that enter the battlefield, and I think you’d like to copy one if you’re in that deck.
#3. Steelfin Whale
#2. Lumengrid Sentinel
Lumengrid Sentinel is hardly played, but that seems like it’s because Jumpstart 2022 is its first reprint since Mirrodin. I can see it winning the game the turn it comes out if you have a decent board state or grip of artifacts.
#1. Kappa Cannoneer
Kappa Cannoneer does a lot. It goes infinite with Animation Module and Phyrexian Altar, or in Legacy Bomberman shells with Lion’s Eye Diamond and Auriok Salvagers. This can be an early-game wincon in any kind of affinity deck, or the kinds of decks that use low-cost artifacts like Mishra’s Bauble.
This is an odd batch of cards, but there are a few very unique cards in here.
#5. Skorpekh Destroyer
I bet you didn’t know Vermiculos was a thing. It could be a house if it was a little cheaper, or was harder to kill. Couldn’t this be an odd Atog-like threat in a Treasure-heavy deck with Marionette Master strategies?
#3. Ovalchase Daredevil
Ovalchase Daredevil is a fine card to consider for decks that like to use a slow drip of self-mill like Greasefang, Okiba Boss or Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar along with The Underworld Cookbook. Add an Academy Manufactor and Clock of Omens to the latter and you have a combo.
#2. Glaze Fiend
#1. Underhanded Designs
The usual suspects of black artifact commanders get use out of this card, and it’s even better if you can sync with other lifegain and drain cards.
#7. Salivating Gremlins
Towashi Songshaper is easier to use than the other cards that temporarily buff from artifactfall because it’s also an artifact. But the power buff is so small you had to work really hard to make this decent in Limited, so this has minimal value for EDH.
Junkyard Scrapper seems like it could be broken in the right deck, but this Alchemy card is still a slow Hill Giant with upside in a fast format. I can see this in some kind of big red ramp deck that drops extra mana rocks, or as a tool to fetch cheaper pieces of the Aetherflux Reservoir and Mystic Forge decks.
But I’m not convinced.
Too durdly for Standard, Dragonspark Reactor is a nice quiet threat that’s cheap enough to sac as needed for your other synergies if it’s not going to work out. But it gets a little scarier for your opponents if it sticks around long enough in a deck with trigger copiers like Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice or Lithoform Engine.
#2. Ingenious Artillerist
A good buddy to our #1 card here, Ingenious Artillerist can rack up damage in decks like Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter, Prosper, Tome-Bound, and many more. It’s pretty much a must-include in any artifact-centric deck.
Reckless Fireweaver is cheaper and better than the Artillerist’s newly templated and nerfed text that allows all the damage from a big drop of artifacts from, say, a Spell Swindle to get stopped by a Stifle. This may be the best card on this whole list.
Green and artifacts sometimes have a tense relationship, and these cards reflect that. They’re just a little bit odd.
Still pretty bad, though.
Perimeter Patrol was low impact in The Brothers’ War Limited, so there’s no way you really want this in Commander.
I’m surprised at the little Commander play this sees. Sarinth Steelseeker does a lot that Golgari () wants to do, and it seems like a good fit if someone ever figured out a good build for Meria, Scholar of Antiquity.
I get that green and artifacts don’t always get along, but Teething Wurmlet feels easily breakable with things like Trudge Garden. It remains a cute little oddity that has to go in Kibo, Uktabi Prince decks until someone figures out the combo.
These are all really interesting cards, and I’d like to see more in these spaces.
Bonkers in The Brothers’ War Limited, Yotian Dissident feels like it should be right at home in a Selesnya () counters deck with an artifact subtheme. No one is building that right now, but I think you can find something cool if you start with Esper Sentinel and Patchwork Automaton and imagine another type of build. Toss in Lae’zel, Vlaakith’s Champion as your commander with added Master Chef background and you might have something.
Contraband Kingpin seems like it belongs in any Dimir () artifacts deck, but the Kingpin (which is itself not an artifact) can’t quite make the cut in a world where I’m cutting Silas Renn, Seeker Adept in my Mishra, Eminent One deck because it’s not impactful enough.
You came here for the broken cards and have thus far not been impressed. This is what you want!
Baby’s first infinite combo!
Yeah, okay. Gonti’s Aether Heart can get out of hand. It doesn’t take much time for this to go nuts with Mishra, Eminent One, especially because you can use the Warform copy as the one you exile and start the process over again!
The fact that it triggers on any player’s artifacts is what makes this so efficient in EDH.
I’ve gone off with Mirrorworks by copying copies with Mishra, Eminent One and Warform shenanigans in the late game with lots of mana around. Mirrorworks can cause havoc even with something as simple as Jester’s Cap for ‘90s cred in those circumstances. It’s all that and a bag of chips!
This will make you the archenemy in an EDH game, so be careful.
Another sequence of artifactfall cards trigger only when you cast an artifact spell. This is obviously less powerful since it doesn’t trigger when tokens drop or when opponents drop artifacts, but there are still some powerful cards here. You have the bonkers Biotransference, well-known bangers Sai, Master Thopterist and Myrsmith, combo-enabler Mirran Spy, and newer cards like Patchwork Automaton and Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant.
Here’s the full list if you’d like to dig for some synergistic treasures:
- Alela, Artful Provocateur
- Battery Bearer
- Digsite Engineer
- Efficient Construction
- Golem Foundry
- Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant
- Mirran Spy
- Mirrodin Besieged
- Mishra, Artificer Prodigy
- Patchwork Automaton
- Sai, Master Thopterist
- Vedalken Archmage
The best payoffs here in Commander are for artifact-heavy decks of different kinds.
These decks want to mill artifacts or sac and then recur them from the graveyard. These are probably the hardest decks in this list to make work, as you can imagine looking at the abilities on Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Tocasia, Dig Site Mentor. A more powerful option is from the Necron Warhammer 40k deck, Imotekh the Stormlord.
These decks usually like to quickly churn through cheap artifacts to gain different kinds of synergistic advantages. Having ETB effects from artifacts really helps up their power level.
Key commanders for these decks are Breya, Etherium Shaper, Osgir, the Reconstructor, and Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter. A new card that shows promise in all of these builds is Farid, Enterprising Salvager.
These decks want to cast and make a lot of smaller artifact creatures to enable actual affinity cost reductions, like for Urza, Chief Artificer, or for other mana or card advantages, like for Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain and Urza, Lord High Artificer. The ETBs are nice with the volume of artifacts at play in these decks.
“Go Big” Artifact Decks
These decks want to ramp to huge powerful artifacts, often to copy them or their effects to really take over the game. The newest arrival in this space is Mishra, Eminent One, but others include Bosh, Iron Golem and Muzzio, Visionary Architect.
Reckless Fireweaver | Illustration by Deruchenko Alexander
Most artifactfall cards have been made in the last few years, and I think it’s a fun and interesting design space. As with all things post-Dockside Extortionist, the concern about Treasure proliferation means this might be a tentative area for WotC design for a while. That said, as long as cards like Dockside and Smothering Tithe are out there, cards that trigger off artifact ETBs will always be more powerful than they look.
Which of these cards have been most effective in your builds? Let me know in the comments below or on the Draftsim Discord.
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