Pact Weapon - Illustration by Volkan Baga

Pact Weapon | Illustration by Volkan Baga

While blue is Magic’s strongest color, the historic champion of card types is almost always artifacts. There’s a reason the Power Nine is mostly artifacts, with a few blue spells thrown in. Artifacts are often the source of mana advantages and tools any deck can use because of their colorless nature.

A recent change in Magic game design to address this great power is an uptick in colored artifacts. It allows for artifacts with powerful abilities while keeping them constrained to the mana system to avoid things like Smuggler's Copter just going into every single deck.

Let’s see what black has to offer!

What Are Black Artifacts in MTG?

Blood Fountain - Illustration by Evyn Fong

Blood Fountain | Illustration by Evyn Fong

Black artifacts are cards with the artifact type and a black mana value. These artifacts also count as being black spells on the stack or in hand and black permanents in any zone that cares about their color; for example, you can Ringsight for Bolas's Citadel if you control a black creature.

Black artifacts have effects that fall within black’s share of the color pie. You’ll see plenty of ways to pay life for board or card advantage, means of sacrificing creatures for power, and more than a few cards that interact with your graveyard.

#30. Vat of Rebirth

Vat of Rebirth

Vat of Rebirth is a little slow, but it’s a great tool for aristocrat-style decks to get graveyard recursion. The 3-mana activation is a little expensive, but you get to do this multiple times a game. Building up four counters is easy alongside Treasure tokens. If the Vat is in play, you can get three of the four requisite counters by sacrificing three Treasures to pay the activation cost.

#29. Blood Fountain

Blood Fountain

Blood Fountain is an unsuspecting artifact from Crimson Vow that’s found success in Pauper. Producing two artifacts for a single mana is great in any deck trying to leverage cards like Cranial Plating. Since they both sacrifice themselves, they work well with cards like Disciple of the Vault and Marionette Master while giving you a bit of card draw in grindy games. It’s a great piece of artifact decks or graveyard strategies that want to grind out a long game.

#28. Serpent’s Soul-Jar

Serpent's Soul-Jar

Serpent's Soul-Jar is one of the most specific cards here since you need to play elves for it to work, but replaying your elves if they die is fantastic. This artifact can serve as protection for pieces like Priest of Titania or Circle of Dreams Druid, but it’s also a great engine. Imagine slapping a Skullclamp onto Elvish Visionary to draw two cards, then immediately replaying the Visionary for another one!

#27. Bag of Devouring

Bag of Devouring

Bag of Devouring offers plenty of slow, steady card advantage. This artifact is a little awkward; exiling the sacrificed cards makes similar effects like Blood Artist or Midnight Reaper harder to play. This artifact is at its best with cards that want to sacrifice themselves for value. Edict creatures like Plaguecrafter or Demon's Disciple seem good with this, as are like Sadistic Hypnotist sacrificing creatures with solid ETBs to replay.

#26. Salvage Titan

Salvage Titan

Who doesn’t love a free 6/4? In a world where many basic game actions reward you with Treasure, you'll often get Salvage Titan for free. You can even recur from a stocked graveyard. If you can find a way to bounce this to your hand, it seems like it could become a powerful combo engine that sacrifices artifacts.

#25. Skorpekh Lord

Skorpekh Lord

Skorpekh Lord gives aggressive artifact decks a bit of a lord. Giving +1/+0 isn’t as good as the blanket +1/+1 provided by cards like Chief of the Foundry, but the menace is intriguing. A board full of menacing creatures is tricky to block. Artifact creature aggro tends to lean on fliers, especially 1/1 Thopter tokens. A 2/1 creature with menace and flying is hard to block, so a fleet of them from something like Thopter Assembly or Sai, Master Thopterist, spells doom for an opponent.

#24. Puppet Conjurer

Puppet Conjurer

Puppet Conjurer requires you to have access to blue mana and has a blue-black color identity in Commander, but it’s great for sacrifice decks. Making a free token to kill every turn works well with cards that need you to sacrifice multiple creatures, like Whisper, Blood Liturgist or Priest of Forgotten Gods. It even sacrifices the token itself, so you can activate this on the end step before your turn to get a one-mana trigger for cards like Bastion of Remembrance or Dictate of Erebos.

#23. Wand of Orcus

Wand of Orcus

Every color has a clunky equipment that’s a little overcosted but still works. Wand of Orcus does that for black. Once you get this going, it’s hard to stop since you can equip this to the tokens it makes. Deathtouch lets any creature trade, and it’s hard to have good blocks against a wide board of 2/2 deathtouch Zombies. You’ll want to pair this with fairly beefy creatures, like Doom Whisperer or Ebondeath, Dracolich.

#22. Lucille


Lucille is another piece of equipment that’s a little costly but puts a lot of pressure on the opponent. The combination of menace and forcing your opponent to sacrifice a blocker makes it hard to stop this equipment, especially once you start making Walkers to equip with Lucille after your opponents find an answer to the initial threat. Menace pairs well with black’s deathtouch creatures, like Gonti, Lord of Luxury or Varragoth, Bloodsky Sire.

#21. Armix, Filigree Thrasher

Armix, Filigree Thrasher

There’s nothing black wants to do like stacking its graveyard. Armix, Filigree Thrasher turns this into a source of removal. Discard cards to kill creatures is a great deal in a color that has Reanimate and Necromancy. This effect pairs well with cards that produce multiple artifacts like Blood Fountain and self-mill like Out of the Tombs.

#20. Sphere of Annihilation

Sphere of Annihilation

Sphere of Annihilation is always a fun effect. It’s a slow wrath that’s vulnerable to interaction but buys time. If you play this on, say, X=3, and nobody has an answer, you stop the entire pod from playing small creatures for a turn cycle while still dealing with that Professional Face-Breaker or Collector Ouphe you were worried about. It also plays well with Shimmer Myr for a surprise wrath and Karn, the Great Creator to recur this ability.

#19. Trazyn the Infinite

Trazyn the Infinite

Trazyn the Infinite’s strength is all in the name, baby. Much like Necrotic Ooze, there’s only one reason to play this card: find a way to go infinite. About a billion mana rocks go infinite with Pili-Pala in your graveyard, including Sol Ring, Basalt Monolith, Worn Powerstone, and really anything that taps for two or more mana. Throw in a Walking Ballista and Trazyn takes out all your opponents in one go.

#18. Lychguard


Lychguard refills your hand pretty easily. This creature is great in a deck that wants to fill its graveyard with self-mill cards like Mesmeric Orb. You can mill, mill, mill, then use this to get back legendary combo pieces like Mikaeus, the Unhallowed. It’s also great insulation against board wipes, acting as a mass Raise Dead to help you rebuild.

#17. Netherborn Altar

Netherborn Altar

Trading life for a mana advantage is a familiar deal for black mages. You’re never playing Netherborn Altar outside of Commander. This card is great in decks with expensive commanders that cost five or more mana. It’s hard enough getting Trazyn the Infinite or Vilis, Broker of Blood out the first time, before commander tax adds up. The Altar pays the commander tax with 3 life instead of 2 mana, which is an excellent deal to achieve greatness.

#16. Immortal Coil

Immortal Coil

Immortal Coil is a spicy one. It’s likely too fragile to be good:  you lose the game on the spot to something like Bojuka Bog or Endurance for zero mana. The upside is an amazing draw engine and protection from damage. You need to really stock your graveyard to make this one work with cards like Mesmeric Orb, Perpetual Timepiece, and Out of the Tombs. Playing this with green seems like a fantastic idea; not only do you get great mill through effects like Hermit Druid and Grisly Salvage, but you can also Nature's Claim your Coil if you’re about to lose to it.

#15. Technomancer


What’s better than getting one reanimation target? Two! The power of Technomancer is it’s always at least a two-for-one. In a deck dedicated to reanimating artifacts (a Sharuum the Hegemon deck would love this), you bring back the Technomancer to snag something else. It can be a big artifact like Noxious Gearhulk or some smaller ones like Myr Retriever and Scrap Trawler to set up a combo.

#14. Blade of the Oni

Blade of the Oni

Blade of the Oni makes excellent use of the reconfigure ability as an early threat that’s hard to block while making late-game beaters that outsize your opponents. The Blade boosts your creature’s base power, making it a perfect option to pair with cards that stack +1/+1 counters on creatures. A 7/7 seems like quite the beater. It’s also fantastic with deathtouch creatures, forcing your opponents to put their entire board in front of a monster that kills up to five creatures.

#13. Chronomancer


Chronomancer embodies elegance through simplicity. It’s not much, but it’s a cheap sacrifice outlet to get artifacts like Ichor Wellspring or Spine of Ish Sah into your graveyard while drawing a card. Any artifact deck that wants to get artifacts into the graveyard is more than happy to play something this cheap and repeatable.

#12. Pact Weapon

Pact Weapon

Pact Weapon does tons of work. It’s a free discard outlet once it’s in play to send things like Archon of Cruelty to the graveyard for easy reanimation. If you’re already playing with big creatures, there are some tricks you can use like Academy Ruins or Jace, the Mind Sculptor to keep a huge spell like Emrakul, the Promised End on top of your library for maximum pumps. Also, getting a Dark Confidant trigger every time your random 1/1 attacks provides fine card advantage.

#11. Altar of Bhaal

Altar of Bhaal

Altar of Bhaal gives you some repeatable animation. Bone Offering is a fine addition, but I’d want to play this as the Altar and feed it tokens from cards like Tevesh Szat, Doom of Fools or Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia that come at a better rate. Then you can start getting your Archon of Cruelty, Noxious Gearhulk, and other great reanimation targets for a small mana investment, and your opponents can’t kill them.

#10. Imotekh the Stormlord

Imotekh the Stormlord

Imotekh the Stormlord is another choice for aggressive black artifact decks. A few ways to get artifacts out of your graveyard nets you a ton of board presence. This could be done by reanimating artifact creatures or exiling cards from your graveyard to cards like Immortal Coil. Once you’ve got an army of 2/2s, you can start attacking with tons of menace damage thanks to Imotekh’s pump ability.

#9. Mask of Griselbrand

Mask of Griselbrand

Mask of Griselbrand wants you to sacrifice some big creatures for big card draw. The Mask works alongside cards like Soldevi Adnate that reward you for sacrificing large creatures. Since the equip cost is high, it’s not worth sacrificing creatures with two or three power; you want to hit with an 8/8, gain a bunch of life, and draw enough cards to make Griselbrand proud.

#8. Noxious Gearhulk

Noxious Gearhulk

Noxious Gearhulk is one of my favorite Cube cards. It’s fantastically statted as a threat that swings games. You get a fairly large beater that kills your opponent’s best threat while gaining a bit of life to stabilize you, and this card is hard to block with menace. If your opponent doesn’t have a removal spell, this is often a three-for-one that kills one creature on ETB and two more when they trade in combat.

#7. Necron Deathmark

Necron Deathmark

What puts Necron Deathmark just above Noxious Gearhulk? Well, it’s a mana cheaper and has flash. These benefits offer way more flexibility, but the real strength is the mill. You almost always want to mill yourself to fuel all those great graveyard strategies you’ve seen in black. This is often very close to 5-mana kill a thing, make a threat, and draw two or three cards.

#6. Illuminor Szeras

Illuminor Szeras

Illuminor Szeras turns a creature into a bunch of black mana, which is a fantastic exchange for black decks. You can sacrifice creatures with great ETBs like Necron Deathmark or Archon of Cruelty to reanimate or pitch cards that want to die like Dross Scorpion. Any card that produces a burst of mana is powerful, especially with many potential synergies.

#5. Executioner’s Capsule

Executioner's Capsule

Executioner's Capsule isn’t fancy, but it’s an effective tool in decks that recur artifacts. It pairs nicely with cards like Scrap Trawler, Lurrus of the Dream-Den, or Muldrotha, the Gravetide to repeatedly destroy creatures. It takes a small effort to get this card’s value, but it’s worth it.

#4. Anrakyr the Traveller

Anrakyr the Traveller

Cards that let you pay life instead of mana are always powerful cards worth playing. Anrakyr the Traveller needs to attack, but you’re rewarded with cards like Portal to Phyrexia and Bolas's Citadel for free. Since Anrakyr checks the graveyard, your opponents struggle to remove these threats, and you can tutor for them with cards like Entomb and Unmarked Grave.

#3. Whip of Erebos

Whip of Erebos

Whip of Erebos is the best black artifact for anybody reanimating creatures. You only get one shot at the creature since it gets exiled, but that’s a fair trade-off with haste and often enough when paired with something with great attack triggers like It That Betrays. Lifelink is also a relevant clause that makes it impossible for your opponents to win a race against this card.

#2. Wishclaw Talisman

Wishclaw Talisman

Wishclaw Talisman has become one of my favorite Commander cards. A Demonic Tutor you donate to another player is a powerful effect that opens avenues for bargaining and deals. It’s also a great Cube card for combo decks betting on their ability to close the game in a single turn or that their best cards are better than their opponents.

#1. Bolas’s Citadel

Bolas's Citadel

Bolas's Citadel is an incredible black artifact. Even putting the combos with Sensei's Divining Top and Aetherflux Reservoir aside, the value is obscene. You often pay ten or more life to cast four or five spells, giving yourself a solid lead. It’s a premium option for decks trying to cheat artifacts into play with cards like Tinker and Goblin Engineer.

Wrap Up

Anrakyr the Traveller - Illustration by L J Koh

Anrakyr the Traveller | Illustration by L J Koh

What do you get when you pair one of the most broken card types in Magic with a color known for using life and its graveyard to cheat things into play? Tons and tons of value. Black’s recursive elements often make it hard for your opponents to interact with some of these pieces, while others go over the top of them.

Most black decks benefit from using these cards to cheat on mana costs and recur or cast powerful threats for free. What are your favorite black artifacts? Do you play Bolas's Citadel? Let me know in the comments below or on the Draftsim Discord!

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