Last updated on March 23, 2023

Marionette Master - Illustration by James Ryman

Marionette Master | Illustration by James Ryman

A question for creature-based strategies in Magic has always been whether to go tall or go wide. Should you have a really big creature, or lots of little ones?

Fabricate is a mechanic that lets you choose the option you most need when you cast the creature. Sound good? Let’s explore this mechanic in MTG with a close look at its rules and best cards!

How Does Fabricate Work?

Highspire Artisan - Illustration by Anna Steinbauer

Highspire Artisan | Illustration by Anna Steinbauer

Fabricate is a keyword ability that triggers when the creature with the ability enters the battlefield. Each fabricate card is written as “fabricate X,” where X is the number of +1/+1 counters you can put on the creature or the number of 1/1 colorless Servo tokens you can create.

Simple enough, but the difficulty is with the stack. The fabricate trigger goes on the stack when you cast the creature, but you don’t get to choose your option until priority is passed back to you. So if you cast Iron League Steed, a 2/2 with fabricate 1, your opponent can respond with a Shock, killing the creature before you get the chance to put a counter on it, which would have made it big enough to survive the spell.

That brings up the other wrinkle to the triggered ability. If your Steed is dead by the time the fabricate trigger resolves, there’s no longer a creature to add counters to, so a 1/1 Servo has to be created.

The History of Fabricate in MTG

Fabricate appeared on 14 cards in 2016’s Kaladesh, and that’s it so far. So it’s definitely not evergreen!

Two of those 14 cards were reprinted in Modern Masters, and two have appeared in recent Commander precons.

What if a Card Has Multiple Instances of Fabricate?

Each instance of fabricate triggers separately. No card has multiple instances of fabricate yet, but if this ever happens you could get both the counters and a Servo if you wanted, each tied to the different triggers.

Gallery and List of Fabricate Cards

Weaponcraft Enthusiast

Best Fabricate Cards

Most of these cards are a bit basic and aren’t played outside of Kaladesh draft because eight of them have fabricate 1, which is too low impact. Anything with fabricate 2 or more is a decent reanimation or blink target.

#4. Weaponcraft Enthusiast

Weaponcraft Enthusiast

Fabricate 2 in black is three small sacrificial bodies for three mana in the color that wants to sac small bodies. Weaponcraft Enthusiast finds a home in general sacrifice decks like Torgaar, Famine Incarnate, the low-powered creature synergies of Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker and decks that like sacking artifacts like Fain, the Broker.

#3. Angel of Invention

Angel of Invention

Angel of Invention is a Cube top end card that’s also a 1- or 2-of in all sorts of builds that take advantage of it as a giant lifelink flier in Modern. It was a tempting piece of God-Pharaoh’s Gift strategies in its Standard and since then.

But that’s all a bit too slow for 60-card formats.

It goes in angels decks in Commander, especially led by Akroma, Vision of Ixidor and a partner in the key color(s), the particular kind of control decks helmed by Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite, and as a nice piece of the Alesha, Who Smiles at Death puzzle.

#2. Cultivator of Blades

Cultivator of Blades

Cultivator of Blades is budget Craterhoof Behemoth. It’s not as good since you likely need some source of trample, but more cards to make more things big is the green way, yes?

This card is nice in Ezuri, Claw of Progress decks and I love it in my guilty pleasure nonsense deck, Syr Faren, the Hengehammer.

#1. Marionette Master

Marionette Master

Various decks have used this Cube staple as a wincon since Kaladesh. Marionette Master found its way into builds with God-Pharaoh’s Gift and a Metalwork Colossus in the graveyard back in the early days.

Never a top-tier strategy in Modern, folks have used Treasures and Blood tokens as fodder, and things like Oni-Cult Anvil just want to come to the party. The trouble is the high casting cost of the Master with those decks.

In EDH this wants to go into any artifact deck in black, from Prosper, Tome-Bound on the high-power side to Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter for the fun. Treasures just put this thing over the top, and if you’re living that Dockside Extortionist or Smothering Tithe  life you can use the Master to win on the spot.

It’s not as clean a win as Revel in Riches, but it also doesn’t feel as cheap.

Wrap Up

Peema Outrider - Illustration by Craig J Spearing

Peema Outrider | Illustration by Craig J Spearing

I was disappointed not to see a new fabricate card in one of the Modern Horizons sets where old keywords were reused.

Because the mechanic is story-limited to Kaladesh we won’t likely see it again until we return there, which might be quite a while since we’re so artifact-heavy starting with The Brothers’ War. It’s a shame because I really like flexible mechanics.

Until then I guess we just keep rocking Marionette Master reprints. Am I the only one who wants to see more of this keyword? Let me know in the comments or over in the Draftsim Discord.

That’s all I have for you for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands!

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