Last updated on May 25, 2023
Reckless Fireweaver | Illustration by Deruchenko Alexander
“Artificers are perhaps the ultimate magical dabblers” is the language Keith Baker used to describe the class when it was introduced in Dungeons & Dragons. That same year, 2004, saw the type introduced in Darksteel, with four creatures with unique abilities in regards to artifacts.
That eclectic mix has been a powerful addition to Commander, a format where I see quite a lot of creative magical dabbling. Let’s see what these nifty creatures are all about!
What Are Artificers in MTG?
Lita, Mechanical Engineer | Illustration by Bartek Fedyczak
Artificers are a creature type. Lore-wise they’re technologists who are good with artifacts. There are just about 200 of these nerds, and many are quite powerful.
Best White Artificers
There’s a lot of good artificers in white, so much so that a card like Loran of the Third Path doesn’t quite make the cut. But a special shoutout to my favorite artificer in white, Doomed Artisan. It’s pretty good, but the design and art are both such flavor wins that I find myself wanting to sleeve it up perhaps more than I should.
#9. Ingenious Smith
This card is the perfect example of the tension with artificers. You want Ingenious Smith to fuel affinity strategies, but it doesn’t add to the artifact count. That’s okay in 60-card builds, but it’s an issue in EDH.
#8. Losheel, Clockwork Scholar
If your game plan wants a Tocasia's Welcome in the command zone for your artifact affinity deck, then Losheel, Clockwork Scholar is the card for you.
#7. Blade Splicer + Master Splicer
Flicker. Make golem. Repeat.
Master Splicer doesn’t provide enough upside for costing more than Blade Splicer, but both are welcome to blink players. Maybe more so now with the printing of Malcator, Purity Overseer.
Myrsmith makes you pay a small toll, but let’s start with Losheel, Clockwork Scholar and see how many artifact commanders wouldn’t want this. The bigger downside is that it’s a cast trigger, not an artifactfall trigger, but still.
#5. Digsite Engineer
Digsite Engineer makes Karnstructs, which gives it more EDH popularity than Myrsmith. But I myself like the cheaper card with the cheaper activation.
#4. Argivian Archaeologist
Other cards like Auriok Salvagers or the dozens of creatures that do the Argivian Archaeologist activated ability on ETB have been printed, but nothing matches this Reserved List slugger’s repeatable ability to grab artifacts of any size from the graveyard. It’s a bit inefficient, but we’d see some stuff if it was cheaper to buy and more players brewed with it.
#3. Oswald Fiddlebender
Oswald Fiddlebender, a.k.a. the artifact version of Birthing Pod, is a fun deck to play because it’s pretty skill testing. You can drop early stax pieces like Deafening Silence and then begin to combo off with enough careful deckbuilding and luck, perhaps even very quickly with Illusionist's Bracers.
#2. Lita, Mechanical Engineer
That untapping on the end step is insanity. Looking for a riff on Unwinding Clock in the command zone? Lita, Mechanical Engineer is there for your infinite combo shenanigans!
#1. Stoneforge Mystic
Stoneforge Mystic is a very powerful key to the Modern Hammertime deck, finding a Colossus Hammer to equip with Puresteel Paladin. It serves a similar role in equipment decks in Commander, whether helmed by Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist or a number of Boros () generals, finding various Swords or even the venerable Umezawa's Jitte.
Best Blue Artificers
Some of the very best artificers in the game are here, including most of the popular mono-blue artifact commanders.
#15. Wing Splicer
Wing Splicer is another classic blink-to-make-a-golem target.
#14. Muzzio, Visionary Architect
Muzzio, Visionary Architect is good if you’re already winning. If you’re spending three to dig four deep, you’re losing.
A cast trigger, which makes Riddlesmith a bit worse every year, but this card is a classic for a reason. Artifact-heavy decks sometimes lack good card draw spells and effects.
#12. Whirler Rogue
Whirler Rogue is nice in blink decks and artifacts decks alike. The tap ability can quickly help you win the game if you actually attack in a blue artifacts deck.
#11. Vedalken Engineer + Soldevi Machinist
Both are good artifact ramp. Because Vedalken Engineer makes colored mana it’s strictly better, but I think it’s played so much more than Soldevi Machinist since that card is old and forgotten.
#10. Grand Architect
This provides honest artifact ramp in blue artifacts decks. Grand Architect also gives you infinite mana with Pili-Pala and lots of other stuff.
#9. Chief Engineer
Ramp! But Chief Engineer is happiest if you’ve already gone wide, so not the best artifact ramp.
#8. Etherium Sculptor
Ramp! Etherium Sculptor is also an artifact, so bonus!
#7. Faerie Artisans
All your ETBs belong to me. Faerie Artisans is extra good if you’re running things that copy artifacts, like so many of the cards in The Brothers’ War precon decks.
#6. Master Transmuter
Master Transmuter can do bonkers things, and it really likes hanging out with the Warformed tokens made by Mishra, Eminent One.
#5. Padeem, Consul of Innovation
I’ve never been a believer in Padeem, Consul of Innovation. Hexproof is good when you need to combo off, but the next four cards are better commanders if you just want artifacts faster and bigger.
I pulled it out of my Mishra, Eminent One precon deck for being too slow! #shotsfired
#4. Drafna, Founder of Lat-Nam
People are still sleeping on this The Brothers’ War card. Drafna, Founder of Lat-Nam copies the spell as you’re casting it, which means it’s at its best copying 2- and 3-drops.
So how about ramp pieces like Etherium Sculptor and mana rocks into the more broken things? With a good but not insane draw you can start copying your 2-drop artifacts on turn 3.
#3. Sai, Master Thopterist
Supplanted as mono-blue artifacts’ commander of choice by Emry, Lurker of the Loch and our #1, Sai, Master Thopterist gives you artifact tokens and cards. Isn’t that what you want?
#2. Arcum Dagsson
Arcum Dagsson will turn your Treasures into things like Portal to Phyrexia. That’s stupid good.
#1. Urza, Lord High Artificer
Urza, Lord High Artificer, or “Urza, Lord of Combos,” or “Whirza, Lord of Modern” (before Modern Horizons 2, anyway). Tapping artifacts for blue mana is insanity.
Best Black Artificers
#5. Keskit, the Flesh Sculptor
I get that this isn’t super, but I love Keskit, the Flesh Sculptor paired with Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith and a Scrap Mastery recursion thing.
#4. Wire Surgeons
Wire Surgeons does some powerful things, but is it good enough for six mana in the deck that wants to run it, which needs as many things to be artifacts as possible?
#3. Wreck Hunter
I predicted big things for Wreck Hunter, but I think this card is still being slept on. How are Commander players sleeving Bloodcrazed Paladin in three times as many decks as this, for example?
Flash is always good. The ceiling for this card is to drop a bucket of Powerstones when someone board wipes with an elves deck on the table. The floor is that you make one in response to someone using spot removal and you get a bit of artifact ramp and some cardboard on the table.
And that’s not even considering Orzhov () blink with Minthara, Merciless Soul!
#2. Ashnod, Flesh Mechanist
Ashnod, Flesh Mechanist is a great value card in any artifact deck that runs black. It’s also a great aristocrats commander that works on a budget with a pile of cheap creatures.
It’s not as powerful as Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker, but it goes faster in the early turns and can have a top end of broken artifacts.
#1. Marionette Master
A key wincon in a world of Treasure proliferation, Marionette Master must be answered.
Best Red Artificers
This is a salad bar of awesome effects. I’m beginning to think that red is living its best life when it’s on the artifact grind in Commander.
#10. Slobad, Iron Goblin
Slobad, Iron Goblin seems like it’ll be nutty in decks helmed by any of the new multicolor Mishras. Otherwise it’s likely a little too twitchy.
#9. Scrap Welder
And this card actually is pretty bonkers in Mishra, Eminent One or other decks that copy large artifacts. Folks are sleeping on Scrap Welder since it doesn’t have a great home in Standard.
#8. Audacious Reshapers
Audacious Reshapers is the Marvel Snap Lockjaw of MTG artifact decks. But your luck runs out a bit more easily than with that good boi with 99 cards in the deck.
Still, card draw in red is often dodgy, and this works out decently most of the time.
#7. Feldon of the Third Path
Rummage. Recur hard-to-play cards like Molten Primordial from the graveyard. Repeat.
And that’s the Feldon of the Third Path deck. Pretty deece.
#6. Loyal Apprentice
Loyal Apprentice is no Wedding Announcement, but can I interest you in a hasty Thopter every turn?
Sure, the wheels come off this wagon quickly enough, but you’re playing red cards. That’s, like, your happy place.
#5. Breya’s Apprentice
One of the best humans and sources of red card draw in MTG, Breya's Apprentice does a lot. And don’t sleep on that variation on an Atog effect at the bottom of the wall of text.
#4. Goblin Welder
If you play with this card then you know it can suffer a blowout to artifact removal on the stack, but you can go nuts since Goblin Welder has a repeatable ability. Especially with Treasures and cards like the next one that feed the graveyard.
#3. Goblin Engineer
Goblin Engineer is a nice tutor for small artifacts. You can get back big stuff if you give it a buddy like the previous card, but the more cards you need to pull this off, the less reliable it gets.
So cheap, powerful, partially janky cards like Time Sieve are your likely targets here.
#2. Ingenious Artillerist
A good buddy to the #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.
Both of these are less important than the previous goblins for cEDH purposes, but most decks will want to hit these damage buttons as a wincon.
#1. Reckless Fireweaver
Reckless Fireweaver is cheaper and better version of Artillerist. This may be the best card on this whole list.
Best Green Artificers
This lot is a bit underpowered, which seems on theme for green. But if the green artifacts space in MTG was a stock, I’d be buying given recent printings. So stay tuned.
Okay, hear me out. I know this is in less that 100 decks on EDHREC, but soon you’ll want to sleeve up Lifesmith.
Green has a lot of lifegain payoffs, but using artifacts to get there has never been as good as, say, Essence Warden. But if Teething Wurmlet and Haywire Mite are a sign of things to come, lifegain will be the supported green artifact synergy of the future.
Prediction locked. Hit me up in a year and drag me if needed.
#8. Architect of the Untamed
Apparently there are Temur () energy decks in EDH. I’ve never seen one in the wild because it seems like that can’t work until we get more Kaladesh cards, but I imagine I’d want Architect of the Untamed in that deck.
#7. Vital Splicer
Gotta drop Vital Splicer in a deck with the next card or that Emiel the Blessed Selesnya () blink deck.
#6. Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer
Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer likes to party with a Rebbec, Architect of Ascension pairing on a splicer golem tribal theme. That seems a meme, but I can see wanting to try it.
#5. Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter
If I had a nickel for every time I got suckered into drafting Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter on the wheel in Cube, I’d have a big bag of change. If the artifacts deck in green ever comes together competitively it’ll be because new cards at a better rate have been printed.
Even so, this is probably still fine.
Clamavus looks powerful, but do you actually need it in +1/+1 counters decks? Imagine your commander is Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider.
Isn’t this just a win-more card?
#3. Sarinth Steelseeker
Be honest. Sarinth Steelseeker surprised you with how good it was in The Brothers’ War Limited. To me this screams Golgari () graveyard stuffing while smoothing out land drops.
Note that the Steelseeker doesn’t require you to grab the land. You can still bin them.
#2. Cultivator of Blades
There’s always room for the second best fabricate card. Cultivator of Blades is nice in a counter deck, or in that Meria, Scholar of Antiquity build when it comes together.
#1. Armorcraft Judge
Armorcraft Judge is like a draw eight in a +1/+1 counters deck. One time I drew 15.
It’s also a dead draw after a board wipe, so you win some, you lose some.
Best Multicolored Artificers
There are loads more here than I can reasonably fit, so that leaves off some favorites like Urza, Lord Protector and Shattergang Brothers. Honorable mention to Meria, Scholar of Antiquity, who isn’t quite there yet but is probably one release away from being a bomb.
#15. Tawnos, the Toymaker
Tawnos, the Toymaker just seems fun. Beast tribal seems to be the build of choice since birds kinda want white in the mix.
Craterhoof Behemoth is a beast, for those games when you totally need two.
#14. Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter
I’ll never give up on Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter, haters! Not since I won a game with it when Mechtitan Core wielded both the Vorpal Sword and Umezawa's Jitte! Memeing for the win!
I play this as an Oni-Cult Anvil-style deck, and it’s pretty fun. Durdly, but fun.
#13. Ashnod the Uncaring
Is Ashnod the Uncaring good enough as a general with creatures like Farid, Enterprising Salvager to activate it? I don’t think so.
I mean, in a pinch it doubles Treasure mana, so that’s not nothing, but she’s a little better in a supporting role for Mishra, Eminent One.
#12. Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice
In artifacts, Tawnos, Urza's Apprentice gives you more redundancy in the Lithoform Engine space. Always appreciated!
#11. Tawnos, Solemn Survivor
Broken if its abilities weren’t limited to tokens, Tawnos, Solemn Survivor can still do good work if you’re making Treasures. That second ability can grab a non-artifact creature, by the way.
#10. Jhoira, Ageless Innovator
Once you slide down a 4-drop on turn 3 with this, someone will Bolt Jhoira, Ageless Innovator. But the ramp has already happened by then and the rest of your deck can keep cooking.
If it lives to get to six counters, it’s insanity. Jhoira is as good as the rest of your cards.
#9. Sydri, Galvanic Genius
Sydri, Galvanic Genius goes infinite with lots of things, and it does so without requiring tapping. This card also helps you stabilize with that second ability while you wait for it if that’s the game you want to play.
#8. Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer
If you can start copying ridiculous tokens like whatever Feldon of the Third Path has fished up, then Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer works well. And of course turning all your Treasures into creatures can be useful.
#7. Urza, Chief Artificer
Old-school affinity tribal!
Urza, Chief Artificer folds hard to removal/board wipes since there usually isn’t room for another plan besides sleeving up artifact creatures. But if they leave you alone for a turn or two then you can win really quickly.
#6. Mishra, Claimed by Gix
The attack trigger on this seems fine in Isshin, Two Heavens as One, but kinda nowhere else. It’s actually pretty easy to find Phyrexian Dragon Engine and meld into Mishra, Lost to Phyrexia with Mishra, Claimed by Gix as your commander. And that chooses three ETB abilities.
#5. Hanna, Ship’s Navigator
Even costing three, that activated ability is so often exactly what you need. Hanna, Ship's Navigator likes artifacts, but maybe Bant () enchantress decks even more?
#4. Urza, Prince of Kroog
Urza, Prince of Kroog is Tempered Steel on a stick that can copy artifacts for six. Always good in an artifact deck.
#3. Mishra, Eminent One
I got this deck for my birthday (sorry I didn’t invite you), and it slaps. At a table where you aren’t the archenemy because your deck is new and shiny and scary, when Mishra, Eminent One starts Warforming Spine of Ish Sah or Portal to Phyrexia and you copy that Warform effect, well, that’s why they should’ve ganged up on you earlier!
I’ve even ramped for fun and profit by Warforming Sol Ring or Ichor Wellspring, depending on my needs.
#2. Osgir, the Reconstructor
Osgir, the Reconstructor is a popular precon commander for good reason. Have you read that last ability? It’s not hard to figure out how to make this deck work, especially given how much redundancy there is for the game plan here in Lorehold () colors, including a lot of cards I’ve already discussed.
#1. Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain
Could it be anything else? Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain draws lots of cards, as a commander or in the 99.
Best Artificers Payoffs
Artifact Copy/Recursion Decks
There’s substantial overlap between artifacts decks in Commander, but we might break this down into decks that want a 9-drop like Portal to Phyrexia and decks that don’t. Most of the decks that do, like Mishra, Eminent One, look to ramp or cheat out big artifacts and then copy artifacts or effects. Often there are infinite combos lurking at the edges.
Almost all of those decks have one of the artificers I discussed today as their commander.
Although affinity and sac are generally different decks, they can overlap in their common space of a lot of cheap artifacts and artifact tokens. A critical mass of smaller artifacts is usually key in these decks, and the commander is also an artificer, like Urza, Chief Artificer on the affinity side or Ashnod, Flesh Mechanist on the sac side.
There are 12 artificers unique to Alchemy, most of which are rare or mythic and quite a few of which are good, including Yotian Courier and Reezug, the Bonecobbler. As with non-Alchemy formats, the power of these cards is concentrated in Grixis () colors.
Do Artificers Count as Artifacts?
Not inherently, no. Only 14 artificers are also artifact creatures, including a few on the list today.
That’s part of the tension in playing these cards. Artificers, who have powerful artifact synergies, don’t synergize with each other and take up non-artifact slots in the decks. There’s a fine balance to strike when deckbuilding.
Hanna, Ship's Navigator | Illustration by Chris Rallis
Artificers can be very powerful in the right artifacts builds, especially in EDH. Unlike 60-card formats where the balance of artifacts and artificers is often really tricky to manage, there are only so many artificers (so far!) in Commander that synergize around the deck’s plan, which makes the decisions a bit easier.
What do you think? Do you find a home for artificers in your artifact decks? And if so, did I miss your favorite? Let me know in the comments below or over on the official Draftsim Twitter.
That’s all from me. Happy deckbuilding!
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