Last updated on October 1, 2023
Triplicate Titan | Illustration by Andrew Mar
In Jewish folklore, golems are person-shaped beings made of something like mud that do the bidding of their creator. In Magic, they started back in Alpha with Obsianus Golem and have continued to exist in the game since then.
Karn is the most well-known golem in all his forms, and his Pinocchio-style story has resonated with players for decades. But what are the good golems to play besides Karn? Is golem tribal a thing?
What Are Golems in MTG?
Lodestone Golem | Illustration by Chris Rahn
Golems are a creature subtype of artifact creatures. They’re a relatively small tribe, with only 130 golems so far. In ranking the best golems in Magic, you should know that there are only white, black, multicolored, and colorless golems.
Best White Golem
There’s only one. And he’s pretty deece.
#1. Bronze Guardian
If you’re running golem or some other kind of artifact creature tribal, giving everything ward 2 is pretty tempting. Folks seem to be running Bronze Guardian almost out of habit with the various commanders in the Osgir, the Reconstructor Lorehold precon, but this all feels like a house of cards waiting for a board wipe.
Where I really like this card is in Greasefang, Okiba Boss decks. I like control builds of Greasefang better in 2-player formats, but in Commander sometimes it works best to just build a kind of vehiclepalooza deck that uses Greasefang as added value instead of as a combo kill. Getting Parhelion II out on turn 3 just doesn’t matter as much in EDH as it does in Historic or Explorer/Pioneer.
Best Black Golems
#2. Salvage Titan
#1. Armix, Filigree Thrasher
Armix, Filigree Thrasher sounds like a deep cut off a Coheed and Cambria album from the aughts. That’s about the best I can say about it.
You can churn through your artifacts while killing creatures if you partner Armix with Silas Renn, Seeker Adept or Ghost of Ramirez DePietro, which sounds like a party. But you have to be able to attack with these pretty weak creatures. So I’m sure it’s just simpler to play Emry, Lurker of the Loch instead if you do the work to make sure they can survive that.
Best Multicolored Golem
#1. Alibou, Ancient Witness
Best Colorless Golems
#32. Crosis’s Attendant
No, this isn't Iron Man. Really. No way is it Iron Man. You know what else it isn’t? Good.
Crosis's Attendant doesn't belong on any list of good cards. But just in case you hadn't seen this card, I had to put it in the list as a PSA.
Let’s just move on, shall we?
#31. Colossus of Sardia
Although someone ranked the ‘90s Shandalar PC game as one of the worst Magic video games (cough, cough), if you played it you likely have fond memories of trying to win with the biggest creature in the game, Colossus of Sardia, before you got your Black Lotus‘ and Time Walks.
None of that means Colossus is good. But if you still didn’t quite understand why Necropotence decks were good in 1997, Big Sardie here was a comforting giant who helped you on your way toward greater enlightenment.
I’m sure he’s still out there, wherever you left him, waiting, after all these years, to untap. Go on to the next section without me. I’ve got something in my eye and just need a second…
#30. Steel Golem
I’ve loved this art since I pulled it from a Weatherlight booster. I kept trying to put Steel Golem in decks because of that, and it was always a terrible idea. But in a world of Harmless Offering and Blim, Comedic Genius, this has a place. A small place, and maybe just at the kids’ table, but a place.
Otherwise, yeah, this is pretty unplayable.
#29. Reflective Golem
I think Reflective Golem is better than it looks. It never really took off in the Standard magecraft decks, which were happier to Voltron up their Dragonsguard Elite, but I play it in my Killian, Ink Duelist deck and it does its job.
If you’re playing Precursor Golem in your golem tribal deck, why is this on the sidelines?
#28. Arcbound Reclaimer
I’ll let you sort out the details, but think about Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer or cards like Mystic Forge. Does that make this good? Eh, seems unplayable if your EDH tables don’t let you play infinite combos.
#27. Golden Guardian / Gold-Forge Garrison
#26. Bosh, Iron Golem
That’s not the worst deck to play, but it feels like we all drafted a deck like this once we realized that ramp was a thing in EDH and struggled with pulling out a few overcosted but juicy spells for boring mana rocks, which really feels bad when you first start to do it. But a card like this (or Pia and Kiran Nalaar) allows you to do the mental trick of saying “and when I no longer need all that extra mana, I can just throw the rocks at things with my commander!” to yourself.
Then you realize you’ll never run out of things to do with mana once you’ve actually played a decent number of EDH games and probably won’t do a lot of rock throwing, but still. This is like the training wheels deck for learning decent Commander deck construction.
#25. Geode Golem
You can just feel the turn where Geode Golem works to drop a Kozilek, and it seems to be in a lot of those kinds of EDH decks. But I’ll eat my hat if someone tells me they’ve ever had this work.
#24. Lodestone Golem
Lodestone Golem shows up in a pile of artifact decks, but I’m not really feeling it. Is the tax effect worth it by the time this drops? It doesn’t synergize well with other taxers like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. I guess it’s a decent body if we’re playing Commander in 2013.
Okay. Fine. I can see why you might want Lodestone in your Oswald Fiddlebender deck.
#23. Walking Archive
#22. Ancient Stone Idol
So the ceiling on Ancient Stone Idol is that it snipes away a powerful creature for free when an opponent alphas in with 10 creatures. That’s good. They still hit you with the other nine, so it’s no Settle the Wreckage.
The floor is that it’s a big dumb idiot that can flash in and replaces itself with a smaller idiot, but it costs 10 because everyone at the table is playing combo and control. So there are limits to the Stone Idol.
#21. Howling Golem
This weird Howling Mine on a stick is pretty powerful if you can synergize with it. Howling Golem is a fun include in group hug decks of various sorts. But it’s even more fun in decks that punish the card draw for your opponents, like Adamaro, First to Desire and Zurzoth, Chaos Rider.
Could you pack this into some inefficient stax build that recalls the evil Turbo Stasis decks of yore? Maybe. Who needs friends? If this is your jam, might I suggest Hokori, Dust Drinker for your consideration as your transform into your local game store’s supervillain?
#20. Karn, Silver Golem
Everybody’s favorite golem, Karn gets his spark and a few Cube staple planeswalker cards. This less powerful iteration is a must-include in golem tribal EDH decks and in various other artifact sac decks. But power creep hasn’t been kind to Karn, Silver Golem.
#19. Voltaic Construct
And that combo also works with Karn, the Great Creator, to keep it all in the colorless golem family. But you could also use lots of different cards that animate artifacts, including the most recent Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh.
#18. Battered Golem
C-c-c-c-c-ombo enabler! Just add Splinter Twin!
#17. Phyrexian Colossus
Unplayable. But I had to include Phyrexian Colossus in my mini-article here on colossus-tribal cards!
#16. Maelstrom Colossus
Cascade decks are a thing. And you could do worse than Maelstrom Colossus in your Averna, the Chaos Bloom or Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty decks. Which is exactly what I imagined you did if you drafted one of those commanders in a Commander Legends Draft. If you were lucky enough to play that.
#15. Colossus of Akros
#14. Darksteel Colossus
#13. Karn, Legacy Reforged
Karn, Legacy Reforged has more oracle text than many of these cards put together. In short, it's power and toughness are equal to the most expensive artifact you've got in play, and you get some mana on each of your upkeeps that never goes away.
On its own, it doesn't bring too much to the table. It's very much a “win-more” card that takes an already artifact-heavy board to the next level.
#12. Blightsteel Colossus
There are a lot of Commander decks that want this enormous beater, including new commanders Satoru Umezawa and Jin-Gitaxias, Progress Tyrant. And aside from being stuffed into decks ramping toward Eldrazi, Blightsteel Colossus enjoys hanging out with Braids, Conjurer Adept, piña coladas with Muzzio, Visionary Architect, and long walks on the beach with Ilharg, the Raze-Boar.
#11. Mycosynth Golem
You’re probably packing Mycosynth Golem if you’re playing affinity in EDH, aren’t you?
#10. Platinum Emperion
This wingless Platinum Angel is kind of cool, and you’d be right if you expected to see Platinum Emperion in lots of Muzzio, Visionary Architect decks. It’s also a really heartless card to toss into your Heartless Hidetsugu deck if you’re one of the many dozens of people who play that deck.
#9. Tormod's Cryptkeeper
I know this is controversial after rolling through Colossus Town with you, but Gingerbrute has to be in the top 10 of colorless 1-drop creatures. It’s done work in various formats and various decks. Maybe those decks weren’t top tier, but you can’t tell me someone hasn’t topdecked this on Arena to kill you at least once.
#7. Precursor Golem
Precursor Golem is why you try playing golem tribal, usually with good buddy Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer at the helm. It’s tough to manage the magecraft-style Zada, Hedron Grinder synergies with all the expensive-to-cast golems, but Precursor puts that play pattern on hard mode if you’re too tired of winning with your Feather, the Redeemed deck.
#6. Hollow One
Whoo, boy. This cycling payoff was the business back in those Amonkhet days. Ken Yukuhiro’s wicked Pro Tour Ixalan Modern deck used Goblin Lore, Burning Inquiry, and, of course, Faithless Looting to do things like drop two copies of Hollow One on turn 2 against Reid Duke. This deck could rely on some strong delve creatures like Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Gurmag Angler to go over the top if the Hollow Ones didn’t get there. It could also just end someone’s day really quickly. The sheer volume of cards it could churn through helped minimize the luck in a high-randomness set of cards.
There’s not a lot of love left for Hollow One in Commander. Cycling commanders like Gavi, Nest Warden and Ravos, Soultender use it, as does a different mode of deck churn for Demonlord Belzenlok decks. And really the impact of this card is blunted in Commander.
But this card will see more play if we get a decent Mardu () cycling commander so that we can mix the best of the Amonkhet block cyclers like Archfiend of Ifnir with Ikoria insanity like Zenith Flare. I play that deck with a conscripted Extus, Oriq Overlord as a commander, but I’m looking for an upgrade Wizards!
#5. Meteor Golem
Never as big a deal in 60-card formats as Hollow One, Meteor Golem is now a bit of a staple in cubes that want a flicker theme. And if you’re playing Thassa, Deep-Dwelling as your commander, don’t you want this? The mana cost is steep for this effect, as was the OG Desert Twister, but that’s just a good time once you start blinking for fun and profit.
For you. Pretty much just for you.
But Meteor Golem enjoys hanging out with other commanders. Reanimators like Chainer, Dementia Master and Silas Renn, Seeker Adept enjoy them some exploding meteors. Cheating it into play with Ilharg, the Raze-Boar and Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded is also a nice party for one. But the headliner for the festival, taking the stage after the Lumineers and Arctic Monkeys, is Feldon of the Third Path.
#4. Triplicate Titan
And this is the guy in Feldon’s band who shreds the axe on the sort of guitar solo Nigel Tufnel would do where he plays the guitar with an actual violin. Triplicate Titan is bonkers on that solo. It also does a pretty sweet guest spot for Ravos, Soultender.
#3. Phyrexian Triniform
And this is the guy in Feldon’s band who uncorks the wicked 12-minute drum solo. Phyrexian Triniform is bonkers on that solo.
#2. Sundering Titan
#1. Solemn Simulacrum
It had to be Sad Robot. It’s in almost 200k EDH decks! Non-green ramp, card draw, nice for blinking.
I occasionally hear whispers of fear that we’ve power crept past Solemn Simulacrum. That can’t be true, can it?
Perhaps Jens Thorén’s invitational card is sad because it foresaw that what made it special, ramping and drawing cards, would one day be everywhere. And if every card is special, no card is.
Best Golem Payoffs
Alibou, Ancient Witness | Illustration by Matt Stewart
That ETB Life
The top five colorless golems all have pretty powerful ETB triggers. And a lot of golems have exit triggers too. As opposed to other colorless tribes, like constructs or myr, golems tend to specialize in those triggers. That means golems can be used as overcosted tools for colors that don’t have access to for those effects. It helps to bend the color pie in your favor if you can cheat a card in.
That Pod Life
These things can be big, especially if they have “Colossus” in their name. Although there are usually better colorless big things to seek with your Birthing Pod-style decks, most golems are a lot less expensive for their size. And golems provide a reliable set of 7- to 12-mana creatures to search up, which is convenient.
One of the ways I try to get the table to not eat me first when I play Prime Speaker Vannifar is to explain that I refuse to play Eldrazi in the deck so that I can power it down a bit. Am I successful in that conversation? Well, they don’t call it Rule 0 for nothing. But some day it'll work!
Alibou, Ancient Witness isn’t great as a golem tribal commander because it wants to go wide. But golems are too clunky and expensive for that. Karn, Silver Golem is a nice hipster choice, but it's either underpowered in today’s Commander meta or is just an infinite combo enabler. The real star is a splicer, Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer, which does the things all the other splicers tend to do. Which is to make 3/3 Golem tokens.
I think this deck is hard to get working and still seems pretty underpowered, but Ich-Tekik is green so you can play a lot of ramp and Colossuses and see what happens. You play a deck like this because a bunch of huge robots beating face was one of the things you wanted to do when you learned to play Magic as a tween, so why not let that side out every once in a while?
Karn, Silver Golem | Illustration by Mark Zug
When it comes to constructs versus golems, I’m solidly #TeamGolem. There’s an interesting lonely doomed vibe that myr also get in a different way. It’s like all of them are Sad Robots, where a lot of the constructs look downright jaunty. So I’d like to see the tribe expand and for golem tribal to do something besides make a bunch of 3/3 bodies when things flicker.
Golems have a lot of richness not yet explored in Magic lore, and I think others would be interested as well given how popular Karn remains. But what do you think? Are you content with golems to continue the token-making status quo, or do you want to see some new ground explored? Let me know in the comments down below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.
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