Last updated on July 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!
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.
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.
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.
#7. Blade Splicer + Master Splicer
Flicker. Make golem. Repeat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the very best artificers in the game are here, including most of the popular blue artifact commanders.
Wing Splicer is another classic blink-to-make-a-golem target.
Muzzio, Visionary Architect is good if you’re already winning. If you’re spending three to dig four deep, you’re losing.
#11. Vedalken Engineer + Soldevi Machinist
Ramp! But Chief Engineer is happiest if you’ve already gone wide, so not the best artifact ramp.
Ramp! Etherium Sculptor is also an artifact, so bonus!
I pulled it out of my Mishra, Eminent One precon deck for being too slow! #shotsfired
#2. Arcum Dagsson
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
And that’s the Feldon of the Third Path deck. Pretty deece.
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
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.
So cheap, powerful, partially janky cards like Time Sieve are your likely targets here.
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.
Reckless Fireweaver is cheaper and better version of Artillerist. This may be the best card on this whole list.
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.
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.
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.
Isn’t this just a win-more card?
Note that the Steelseeker doesn’t require you to grab the land. You can still bin them.
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.
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.
Craterhoof Behemoth is a beast, for those games when you totally need two.
I play this as an Oni-Cult Anvil-style deck, and it’s pretty fun. Durdly, but fun.
#12. Tawnos, Urza’s Apprentice
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
Could it be anything else? Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain draws lots of cards, as a commander or in the 99.
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.
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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