Last updated on September 29, 2023
Phyrexian Metamorph | Illustration by Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss
Blue: the color of instants and ingenuity. It has some of the greatest artifact synergies in the game based on its love of knowledge and desire to conquer enemies with intellect in the form of complex, powerful, magical machines.
These are my picks for the best blue artifacts for Commander brewing, with some applications in other formats like Pioneer and Modern. If you’re in the market for some of the best of the best artifacts in blue, this one’s for you!
Poppet Factory | Illustration by Simon Dominic
Artifacts are a permanent type in Magic that have all kinds of synergy across all kinds of strategies. To qualify as a blue artifact, a card needs to meet two criteria: it's blue, and it’s an artifact on at least one of its faces. In fact, blue has some of the most synergy with artifacts out of all colors.
Affinity for artifacts is a mechanic that blue decks use to great effect. It benefits you for having artifacts in play with staples like Thoughtcast making appearances across formats. Improvise is another blue mechanic that lets you use your artifacts to fuel mana costs, giving you plenty of ways to turn your trinkets into pseudo-mana sources. Blue also has some of the best artifact tutors in the game with options like Tinker, which packs so much power that it's banned in Legacy and Commander and restricted in Vintage.
Commanders like Urza, Chief Artificer and Sai, Master Thopterist bring tons of power to multiple formats for how they tend to weaponize the cheapest artifacts for more value than is reasonable. Blue wants to cast artifacts, have buckets of them in play, and likes to “animate” them with cards like Rise and Shine, turning humble mana accelerants into 4/4s that can punch hard.
Some major cards to consider when looking at these are the mana value artifact tutors: Trinket Mage, Tribute Mage, Trophy Mage, and Treasure Mage. These all come with an enters the battlefield trigger to go and find a specific mana value artifact. Any artifact with one of these mana values will be a bit easier to find if you want to get it consistently, making combo pieces particularly potent!
Mobilizer Mech may not fit into many decks, but it serves a noble purpose in Kotori, Pilot Prodigy and other vehicle strategies by giving you a cheap way to crew more than one mech at a time. Animating Skysovereign, Consul Flagship or Parhelion II while only needing a single creature with 3 power is great. It’s only 2 mana, making it a cheap cantrip effect with Sram, Senior Edificer and adds to vehicle density for decks including Depala, Pilot Exemplar in the 99.
Poppet Stitcher’s backside, Poppet Factory, transforms the decayed zombies the frontside creates into 3/3s with no abilities. This can have a big impact on decks fielding lots of 1/1 or 2/2 token producers who want to juice them up a bit.
The basic play pattern is to use the Stitcher side to generate tokens while you’ve got ample cheap instants and sorceries, then flip it on upkeep of a turn you plan to go attacking with a wide board. It isn’t the best in a lot of common spellslinger decks on the back because it’s often taking flying off of birds or drakes you’re creating with other token producers, but it still manages to be worth flipping in decks like Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart.
Jetfire, Ingenious Scientist wants to be in a deck built entirely around artifacts with +1/+1 counters. This makes it an interesting commander but definitely leads it to struggle to find inclusions in other decks, as blue isn’t typically known for being a strong +1/+1 counter color. Anytime you can convert some element of a card repeatedly into mana you’re probably able to do some nuts stuff; Jetfire decks can take artifact discount effects and pair them with Stonecoil Serpent and self-bounce effects to combo off pretty easily.
Mycosynth Lattice has a pretty negative connotation that comes with it because normally its best use case is transforming your opponents’ lands into artifacts and pairing them with a Karn to prevent them from tapping for mana. Encroaching Mycosynth is a cheaper way to get a similar effect, but only applies to you. This can make artifact cast and enters the battlefield triggers work on all your non-land permanents. Commanders like Gimbal, Gremlin Prodigy can build around this effect to produce comically large gremlins every turn. It doesn’t just slot into any blue artifact deck but has the kind of effect that can enable wacky loops to end games.
The only things holding Deluxe Dragster back from earning a higher slot on this list is its cost and lacking haste. Casting spells like Cultivate and Swords to Plowshares for free on a near unblockable 4/3 can put you far ahead if left alone. 5 mana is a bit pricey, but it can easily recoup its cost with just one or two attacks. Getting it to connect without haste can be tricky, though.
Mill isn’t always the most viable of commander strategies. Folio of Fancies, however, has the potential to end games when paired with cards like Forced Fruition. It can easily mill 10 to 20 cards at a time, plus it acts as a place to put a ton of mana with effects like High Tide to get hands full on its own. It wants you to build towards it to make it as efficient as possible, but plenty of group hug decks want as many of these effects as they can get. The fact that it acts as a win condition as well is all upside to me.
Courier's Capsule is a common that you can spend 2 mana to cast, and 2 mana to crack for 2 cards. There are many “egg” decks out there that want cheap artifacts that you can sacrifice for cards, and this fits the bill. Two mana is a bit much compared to most eggs, but drawing two cards while triggering a Scrap Trawler to return a Chromatic Star or Mishra's Bauble from your bin to hand is huge. In Emry, Lurker of the Loch, this is a budget-friendly repeatable card advantage tool to make sure you don’t run out of steam.
We see a lot of cards like Concentrate that draw three cards for 4 mana. Robe of the Archmagi can be a 4-mana way to draw three cards every turn so long as you have an evasive shaman, wizard, or warlock to stick it on. Burakos, Party Leader likes to be evasive and is a wizard, making it an obvious possibility with a blue background. Balmor, Battlemage Captain is a cheap evasive wizard that easily can connect over and over, as is Adeliz, the Cinder Wind. If you can ever connect with this more than once and aren’t paying 4 to equip, it’s excellent, and these decks likely can make that happen.
The humble Silver Raven has opportunities to shine in a wide variety of archetypes. Blue creature-based card draw tends to be attached to effects like Curiosity and Costal Piracy, and this little bird is cheap to deploy, has evasion to get in, and gives you a bit of extra card selection on top of it all. If you’re playing Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow or Edric, Spymaster of Trest, you’ll want as many of these evasive cheap bodies as you can find.
It being a 1 mana artifact qualifies it as a contender for many blue decks that just want as high a density as possible to keep flipping cards into play with Mystic Forge or get bonus cast triggers off of Vedalken Archmage.
Mindlink Mech has an interesting puzzle element to it; it wants to be crewed by creatures with a great damage trigger that can’t easily get in on their own. It also pairs well with cards that do something equal to their power on damage but have low power. Examples include Cold-Eyed Selkie and Cephalid Constable, both of which can come down after the Mech and immediately crew it and attack. Even crewing passive effects that you want more of at once like a Kami of Whispered Hopes can result in huge turns. Imagine crewing this with a Nyxbloom Ancient the turn you cast it!
Cosima, God of the Voyage’s backside, The Omenkeel comes down early, is as cheap to crew as you can get, and digs 3 cards deep when it connects to potentially draw you lands form your opponents’ libraries. If you’re a lands deck like Meloku the Clouded Mirror, you’re going to want options to get as many lands in play and your hand as possible. This is cheap, efficient way to do it with a front that can grow as a threat on its own and draw you cards in the long game.
While they’re no Swiftfoot Boots, Winged Boots provide ward 4 and flying for just 1 to equip. This card tends to pair best with cards that already have haste and are looking for protection and evasion. Pako, Arcane Retriever comes to mind as a hasty threat you want to be attacking with while keeping it out of danger. These boots suit the doggo up and get it safely into the skies to fly over blockers and start knocking players out.
Cards that say “draw X” on them are very spooky; they represent tools to draw ludicrous numbers of cards. Mask of the Schemer is no exception. While conniving means you have to loot away however many cards you draw, this still can suit up a 9/9 to dig you 9 cards deep. Even on just a 2/2 or 3/3, you’re looking at a lot of cards every turn with the mask. It can grow the target, making future hits loot you even more cards, and it plays beautifully in decks like Osgir, Rubbish Reclaimer that can take further advantage of the discarded cards.
Sicarian Infiltrator, on its surface, seems a bit expensive; a 3 mana 1/2 that draws a card isn’t making the biggest splash in the world. Squad takes this card and puts it close to Mulldrifter territory. It flexibly casts as a 3, 5, and 7 mana spell, all of which can trigger enters the battlefield effects. Paired with a Panharmonicon, you’re doubling each creature’s draw trigger.
Having multiple artifacts increases your total count for mechanics like affinity and lets you tap additional artifacts to improvise spells like Universal Surveillance. All of this comes together to make this infiltrator able to do a lot of work in a variety of decks, as the Squad mechanic has a ton of power baked into it.
The best clones in magic tend to be cheap. Imposter Mech costs just 2 mana, and it can enter as a copy of any creature an opponent controls. Sometimes, it being a vehicle even works as a form of protection for cards like Mother of Runes and Beast Whisperer who you have no intention of ever actually attacking with.
It can also just be a crew 3 version of an It That Betrays. It being limited to opponents' creatures makes it a bit of a “good stuff” card, but it has a high impact in many games and has a bit of extra synergy as a 2-mana artifact you can discount with Foundry Inspector or draw a card from with a Sram, Senior Edificer.
The Temporal Anchor slots into any deck looking to scry often as a massive card draw engine. 6 mana isn’t cheap, but when you are using Kenessos, Priest of Thassa to scry big fish to the top of your library, you get to keep whatever other cards you see with the Anchor. The only major limiting factor is needing to cast the spells on your turn, so if you’ve got counters you’d like to hold up on the other players’ turns, you’ll probably want to keep those on top.
Research Thief takes the Coastal Piracy effect blue loves and marries it to artifact creatures on top of being on a 3/3 flying body with flash. On its own, you have a tool to hold up interaction on your opponents’ turns with something to do should you not need to fire off your Spell Swindle, and you’re left with a 3/3 flier that draws cards when it connects. Other times, you can flash this in after no blockers are declared for your three thopters, getting a surprise three cards when they hit.
What makes Unctus, Grand Metatect such a powerful artifact is how it makes every blue creature you control become a looter whenever it taps. This combo with cards that untap and tools to make them tap for mana. For example, with a Leech Bonder equipped with a Paradise Mantle you can tap it for mana, loot, then pay for its untap with the mana it made. This lets you functionally loot through your entire library.
Even without these combos, when every attacking blue creature loots for you, you’re getting incredible card selection made even more valuable in discard or graveyard-based strategies.
Whereas The Great Henge and Embercleave see tons of Commander play, The Magic Mirror is far less popular. But it should get more love than it currently gets. Plenty of decks do a great job dumping instants and sorceries in the bin by casting or milling them, standouts including Kess, Dissident Mage and Vohar, Vodalian Desecrator.
These decks typically want as much action as they can get. This mirror comes down in the mid-game and ramps up fast, often drawing your four or five cards a turn by the end of the game, and not usually running you more than three or four mana to get in play. Counter-modulating commanders (namely Chisei, Heart of Oceans) even have tools to get it to a number you want and keep it there for upkeep after upkeep.
Corridor Monitor is a combo piece, and not much else. In Prime Speaker Vannifar, it gives you a creature that costs 2 that untapped Vannifar when it comes in to be sacrificed to get your 3-mana creature that untaps Vannifar, and the chain continues. Jhoira, Ageless Innovator’s first tap can put this into play.
The Monitor untaps Jhoira, letting it tap again, this time being able to slam a 4-mana artifact into play, also potentially continuing the chain. This works for decks like Arcum Dagsson, Drafna, Founder of Lat-Nam, and any other artifact-based commander with a tap ability. If you can use the artifact or creature card type and want to untap something as much as possible, you should consider this little guy.
Blue tends to be a bit weak on the game-ending effects, but Sharding Sphinx gives you a snowballing win condition in the air. On its own, it takes a while to build your thopter army, but with just two or three other attackers, over two or three turns you can create tons of pressure in the air that will bring games to a close.
Are you tired of people tutoring for their best cards to combo off? Are fetch lands out of your budget, and you want a way to punish them? May I introduce you to Mindlock Orb, a simple 4-mana artifact that cuts off all library searching. It’s an artifact version of Ashiok, Dream Render. This kind of effect should be brought up prior to a game during a Rule 0 conversation because some decks (specifically land-based ramp decks) can’t function with it on the table. If your playgroup is cool with these kinds of effects, though, this orb can be a great tool to have access to.
Mirrorshell Crab takes the slot as my favorite common from NEO. A 7-mana 5/7 with ward 3 isn’t exactly a commander or constructed powerhouse; what matters is the 3-mana channel that counters spells or abilities. Channel is an activated ability, meaning it’s difficult to counter. Sometimes you need a way to stop somebody from winning the game through further interaction. This fat crab can do that while also being a cute target to fish out of the bin later with a Goblin Welder to get aggressive with.
Proliferate plus planeswalkers has been a tried-and-true strategy for superfriends decks to employ to get to game-ending ultimates. Ichormoon Gauntlet not only lets every one of your planeswalkers proliferate, increasing everyone’s loyalty, it also gives counters when you cast any non-creature spells. Some non-planeswalker decks that look to stack counters on a single creature, like Vadrik, Astral Archmage, can find the second half is enough to help you storm off and justify inclusion.
The Blackstaff of Waterdeep is a dirt-cheap way to transform any non-token artifacts you have on the table into threats. It has been doing good work in Pioneer, and while not the perfect fit for many commanders, decks like Katsumasa, the Animator and Sydri, Galvanic Genius that want to transform rocks into creatures can have a blast with this efficient little legendary staff.
Shroud on a 7/11 trampler makes Inkwell Leviathan a sticky, chonky attacker. Despite its age, reanimator strategies still fall back on this difficult to interact with a beater for wins. In Commander, it’s a bit less threatening because it has a lot more life to beat through, but if you’re in the market for a big creature to cheat into play that has a decent chance of sticking around to attack for a few turns, Inkwell does that for you.
Witching Well’s strength is tied to the value that comes with it being a 1-mana artifact. Decks like Urza, Lord High Artificer want as many of these as they can get to transform into Mox Sapphires. These kinds of artifact decks want as high a density of cheap artifacts as they can get.
The scry helps top deck manipulation effects or top deck matter effects like Mystic Forge and Future Sight. The extra scry and 4-mana draw two options put this one blue mana artifact over its raven counterpart. It’s easy to fish out with Scrap Trawler and Emry, Lurker of the Loch. It’s just a useful little artifact!
Courier's Capsule shows up earlier as a reasonable egg; Mnemonic Sphere is a near strict upgrade to it. The channel makes it easy to cycle away when you don’t want the card draw costs. Sometimes just having a 2-mana artifact in the graveyard is helpful alongside Scrap Trawler to get repeated value as you sacrifice your artifacts for value. If you want cheap, flexible artifacts that give you value, this sphere can certainly be a consideration.
Flash takes Mindsplice Apparatus from a slow, clunky discount effect to a flexible mana accelerant I’m eager to play in most of my Izzet decks. If you’re already playing Goblin Electromancer, a 4-mana version of it that isn’t on a body has a lot of value on its own. What’s more, you don’t have to forgo holding up interaction for possible problems down the road, nor do you need to risk sorcery speed interaction to destroy it before it can even get in play. Flash is a powerful keyword, especially in blue, and this apparatus takes full advantage of it in archetypes that love playing instants.
Master Transmuter is usually a kill-on-sight kind of creature. If you get to untap with it, you could sneak any giant 10-mana or more artifact into play for just a blue mana. On top of that, if it has haste or is just no longer summoning sick, one blue mana protects it from most interaction because it can return itself as part of its activated ability’s cost. If you want to play scary win conditions like Blightsteel Colossus, this card is a great tool to cheat them in.
Master of Etherium has a rich history in Constructed formats where its lord effect paired with its massive size made it a huge threat for cheap. Commander decks built to produce cheap artifacts can make it comically large. Blue also has no problem giving their team evasion with cards like Wonder to help get it through chump blocks, too. If you’re already playing cards like Hangarback Walker and Arcbound Ravager, Master of Etherium can likely put in work in your deck.
Four mana is a great rate for a mass card draw effect, which is exactly what Bident of Thassa can be in the right lists. If you’re already attacking with evasive, cheap creatures, this is an extra tool to pay off those attacks. Its tap ability shouldn’t be understated either because forcing combat when you can pack effects like Propaganda can lead to major advantages. It even paves the way for less evasive creatures by reducing potential blockers, resulting in even more cards!
Moonsnare Prototype does a pretty close approximation of Springleaf Drum, a card I think is wildly underplayed in creature-based strategies. 1-mana cards that can tap for mana outside of green are invaluable. If you’re playing any 2-mana commander in blue, I’d seriously consider using Moonsnare Prototype to get more cheap ramp effects in your deck.
With all these blue artifacts, you need to eventually convert them into a win. That’s where Cyberdrive Awakener comes into play. It transforms all your noncreature artifacts into 4/4s with flying. That includes every Treasure, Clue, Food, and mana rock. In the friends forever partner decks, this is usually transforming four or five Clues into 4/4s for an easy 20 damage in the air out of nowhere. If your opponents don’t account for it, you can steal a lot of games out of nowhere by just building up some dinky little baubles before transforming them into an army in the blink of an eye.
Artifacts being predominately colorless makes their discount effects particularly busted when put together with little 1-mana colorless artifacts alongside draw triggers. Etherium Sculptor gives you this while also being an artifact that can synergize with all the artifact synergies we’ve talked about so far. You definitely want most of your deck to be artifacts to justify playing this, or have other built-in combos in mind to include it, but in the decks where its powerful, Etherium Sculptor enables insanely early wins.
Torrential Gearhulk shines brightly in eternal formats like Pioneer as a Snapcaster Mage that doesn’t have to pay to flashback the spell. In Commander, where the instants are even bigger, this card gets even better. Flash makes it easy to pull out of nowhere while holding up interaction or other instant speed effects. When your 5/6 body comes with a free Cryptic Command stapled to it I’m very happy, and even more so if it’s a Sublime Epiphany or Discontinuity.
Commander cards have a history of making big splashes in Legacy; Kappa Cannoneer is one such example. Improvise makes it incredibly easy to cast. It comes with built-in protection and is usually completely unblockable. With almost no effort, this incidentally chunks people for seven or more.
In Commander, a format where you’re able to use Bootleggers' Stash to dump twelve Treasures onto the battlefield pretty easily, this turtle starts halving people’s life totals from 40 as early as turns 5 or 6. If anyone wants to stop it, they’re usually paying an extra 4 mana to try. Add commanders like Sai, Master Thopterist or Breya, Etherium Shaper who like producing lots of artifact tokens and you’ve got a recipe for turtle-based destruction.
The Reality Chip takes a card I have a ton of fondness for, Future Sight, and improves it further by giving you a way to split up the costs of getting it into play. It's a powerful combo piece alongside Sensei's Divining Top and one of the many artifact spell discounters (like Etherium Sculptor). Decks that care about what’s on top of their library find casting it incredibly easy. Most decks with blue could put this in if they’ve got any creatures laying around and find it’s providing great value for its cost. The Reality Chip is cheap, flexible, and powerful, all contributing to a glowing recommendation.
Midnight Clock was the first big 3-mana rock outside of Coalition Relic and Worn Powerstone to make a major impact on the Commander format. It turns out that having a Timetwister on a mana-producing artifact is great in lots of decks. You typically get three rotations of the table to plan for the wheel, letting you get the most out of each and every card in your hand and leading it to act as both mana and card advantage in a convenient, flavorful package.
Affinity for artifacts has been a mechanic that’s warped formats since its printing. Thought Monitor, for some reason, needed to exist to make the archetype even stronger in Modern. In Commander, you’re usually paying just one blue mana for it with your artifact lands and a handful of mana rocks. Its mana cost is usually an upside for cards like Scrap Trawler, and it loves to be brought in and out of the battlefield with flicker and blink effects.
#1. Phyrexian Metamorph
Where Thought Monitor is one of the best artifacts for the artifact archetype, Phyrexian Metamorph transcends archetype as a blue staple. Three mana and 2 life to copy an artifact or creature is a rate too good for many decks to pass up.
It can copy your creatures and artifacts, making it great in decks with powerful engine pieces you want multiples of, but also can copy your opponents’ stuff that you’d like on your side of the board. This is probably one of, if not the best clone effect in the game, and can find its way into any deck and perform well in most Commander pods.
Moonsnare Prototype | Illustration by Fariba Khamseh
From card advantage to cheating on mana costs, these blue artifacts can do it all. While they tend to shine brightest in dedicated artifact decks, many have plenty of opportunity to make big splashes in decks blue decks in a wide range of strategies.
Hopefully, these artifacts can help you make some spicy brews that will shake up the table. Lower your curve by adding in a Moonsnare Prototype, or beef up a spell slinger deck’s power with Mindsplice Apparatus!
Have a great day, and good luck brewing with these excellent artifacts!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: