Last updated on July 31, 2023
Academy Manufactor | Illustration by Campbell White
It would seem that Magic has quite a few manual-labor robots running around keeping the different planes of the multiverse up and running. That’s probably a good thing, what with every plane being at war and all.
But when do we stop to appreciate the assembly-workers hustling behind the scenes? Let’s show some love to the little machines who make it all happen!
What Are Assembly-Workers in MTG?
Cogwork Assembler | Illustration by Joseph Meehan
Mishra's Factory made the first reference to this creature type in 1994’s Antiquities, but it wouldn’t be revisited until 2006’s Time Spiral. They reappeared again in 2016’s Kaladesh block and have since become a little bit more common.
Assembly-workers tend to be simple creatures with artifact-specific synergy and often include copy effects or abilities that directly interact with other assembly-workers. They often serve as work-horse filler cards in Limited sets with heavy artifact themes and rarely have an impact in other formats.
Best White Assembly-Workers
#2. Arcbound Prototype
The only reason you’d consider playing Arcbound Prototype is if you’re trying to run as many modular cards as possible. Modular creatures pull double-duty in Hardened Scales-style or Commander decks lead by Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp, even if they’re unexceptional stand-alone cards.
#1. Autonomous Assembler
Autonomous Assembler crushes the fierce competition posed by the only other white assembly-worker. It’s a beater that can be cast as a white 2-drop or a colorless 5-drop, and it grows itself over time regardless of which mode it started on.
Best Colorless Assembly-Workers
Self-Assembler just doesn’t have a home in the format if we focus solely on Commander. “Catch-‘em-all”-style cards like this don’t make sense in a Singleton format, so best to leave this one for Limited.
You’d think you’d have a little more to offer an archetype full of, well, assembly-workers with a name like Assembly-Worker. That’s like naming yourself Dave and being amongst the worse Daves out there.
It would take some incredible assembly-worker support to make this a viable option in any format.
#11. Mine Worker
It’s hard to properly rank the “Tron land” assembly-workers from The Brothers’ War because they’re only relevant when you control all three at once. Mine Worker is certainly the worst of the three and doesn’t even get that much better once you’ve assembled the whole team.
#10. Power Plant Worker
Power Plant Worker is the brawn of the Tron land trio, turning its simple pump ability into a permanent +1/+1 counter buff as long as its friends are on board. This is the type of stat-line and ability that only matters in Limited where it’s actually pretty fun to assemble the squad.
#9. Foundry Assembler
Artifact-focused decks can cast Foundry Assembler for as little as zero mana, but doing so leaves you with a “now what?” feeling. Sure, you tapped four or five artifacts and improvised a cheap creature into play, but the resulting vanilla 3/3 doesn’t feel like much of a reward.
#8. Tower Worker
I’d like to say that this towers above the competition, but there hasn’t been much competition yet. Tower Worker is the best of its buddies which isn’t a hard feat, but extra mana is always useful and it keeps annoying fliers off your back.
#7. Urza’s Factory
It’s hard to be too down on a land that still adds mana and offers some extra utility, but the activated ability on Urza's Factory is priced way too high. This doesn’t justify its cost unless you’re leaning heavily into the assembly-worker theme, and why are you doing that?
At least it counts as an Urza’s land for Urza's Workshop.
#6. Mishra’s Self-Replicator
Mishra's Self-Replicator is cool in concept and weak in practice. The ability to keep duplicating itself is neat and the copies can start copying themselves as well, but the initial investment of five mana for a 2/2 is a tough sell.
#5. Dutiful Replicator
I’m terrified of the idea of robots and machines that can re-create new versions of themselves, so I’m grateful that Dutiful Replicator only copies other things. Granted, those things have to be tokens, but it’s at the very least an interesting take on the populate ability.
#4. Mishra’s Foundry
The next two cards are lands that animate into assembly-worker artifact creatures and provide a combat bonus to an assembly-worker. Mishra's Foundry is the clear second-place choice since its animation ability is more expensive, and its pump ability is much more restrictive.
#3. Mishra’s Factory
Turns out Mishra had it right the first time. Mishra's Factory has altogether better numbers than Mishra's Foundry, with the big tie breaker being that the Factory can animate cheaply and is active while blocking.
#2. Cogwork Assembler
Cogwork Assembler doesn’t look all that impressive on first blush, but its appeal comes from being a mana sink for infinite mana. Having infinite mana means infinite activations too since activating its ability doesn’t require you to tap the Assembler.
#1. Academy Manufactor
What you have to consider is what happens when you cast something like Brass's Bounty or Spell Swindle and get a bunch of tokens all at once, or copying the Manufactor and having multiples in play. I’ll let you figure out the math on that one.
Best Assembly-Worker Payoffs
It’s not easy to find good rewards for filling a deck with assembly-workers. Not only are they generally weak across the board but there are only 15 in total, including the lands.
The one thing they all share in common is being artifacts, so I could imagine an affinity deck that might want a couple of these.
One or two of the assembly-workers lend themselves to specific combos. Cogwork Assembler converts infinite mana into a win, and Academy Manufactor does a close impression to making infinite tokens once you get a few copies of it on board.
A Hard Day’s Assembly-Work
There’s not a lot of depth to the assembly-worker line of creatures right now. WotC tends to relegate new assembly-workers to artifact-heavy sets, and they’re usually gimmick cards that reference or care about other assembly-workers. A few of them break through the mold, but this is a creature type populated by filler Limited cards for the most part.
Have you found a niche for these creatures in your decks? Are you clamoring for WotC to print more? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.
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