Optimus Prime, Hero | Illustration by Volta Creation
Universes Beyond allows WotC to introduce different franchises to MTG. With The Brothers’ War and its artifact theme, Transformers got their own Beyond treatment on 13 new cards. They’re all double-faced cards (DFCs), with one side as a creature and the other as a vehicle.
All those vehicles have the living metal mechanic, but what is living metal and how does it work? Which are the best cards that use this mechanic? Let’s dive in and find out!
Soundwave, Sonic Spy | Illustration by Volta Creation
Living metal is a mechanic applied to vehicles in the Transformers set. Vehicles with living metal are also creatures on your turn. These vehicles don’t have the crew X mechanic that’s present on every other vehicle, because they’re always creatures on your turn and on your turn only.
All of the Transformers cards have two mechanics: more than meets the eye and living metal. More than meets the eye allows you to cast the vehicle part, which has living metal. If you pay the normal cost, the card enters the battlefield as a creature. It’s usually cheaper to cast the vehicle first and then convert it (with some exceptions, like Cyclonus, the Saboteur), either by attacking or doing something else.
No, living metal is a static ability called “characteristic defining,” and it’s valid at all times.
Living metal cards are artifact and vehicle cards all the time. They’re also a creature with the power and toughness printed on the card on your turn.
Can You Crew a Living Metal Card?
Living metal vehicles don’t have the crew mechanic, so they don’t behave like normal vehicles that can be crewed.
No, a living metal creature is an artifact and a vehicle on your opponent’s turns. You aren’t be able block with it, but opponents also can’t target it with creature-specific spells.
All Transformers cards have two sides: the creature side and the vehicle side. The living metal mechanic makes it so that the card is a creature only on your turn. If you want the card to be a creature on your opponent’s turn you need to convert it, which can be done in a few different ways.
For example, Ratchet, Rescue Racer converts whenever your artifacts are put into the graveyard from the battlefield. If you can sacrifice an artifact on your turn, you’ll have Ratchet, Field Medic, a creature without living metal.
Yes! If you make an artifact into a creature by other means (auras, enchantments, and the like), you can make your vehicle a creature at all times. You can also use cards like Ensoul Artifact, which make it a 5/5.
Living metal is certainly flexible in the sense that you can pay different costs and have different cards. Almost every card with living metal has some synergies with artifacts or spells, so they can be powerful to build around. And all living metal cards are legendary for Commander purposes.
- Prowl, Stoic Strategist / Prowl, Pursuit Vehicle
- Ratchet, Field Medic / Ratchet, Rescue Racer
- Jetfire, Ingenious Scientist / Jetfire, Air Guardian
- Blitzwing, Cruel Tormentor / Blitzwing, Adaptive Assailant
- Starscream, Power Hungry / Starscream, Seeker Leader
- Slicer, Hired Muscle / Slicer, High-Speed Antagonist
- Arcee, Sharpshooter / Arcee, Acrobatic Coupe
- Cyclonus, the Saboteur / Cyclonus, Cybertronian Fighter
- Flamewar, Brash Veteran / Flamewar, Streetwise Operative
- Goldbug, Humanity’s Ally / Goldbug, Scrappy Scout
- Megatron, Tyrant / Megatron, Destructive Force
- Optimus Prime, Hero / Optimus Prime, Autobot Leader
- Ultra Magnus, Tactician / Ultra Magnus, Armored Carrier
You have a mix between an evasive threat that can grow and also get more cards. It also has synergies with artifacts and artifact tokens, which can be sacrificed.
This is probably best in a white-based lifelink deck filled with angels since you’ll recover good artifact creatures and get recursion going. The bad part of the card is that a 1/4 with lifelink is usually good on defense. The living metal mechanic only works on your turn, so you’ll need to lose an artifact.
It gets better! You can cheat a big creature into play attacking when it converts into Ultra Magnus, Tactician, usually a theme of Naya () EDH decks.
Optimus Prime, Autobot Leader is no joke. A 6/8 that bolsters 2 and has trample is very strong. And it converts to Optimus Prime, Hero if it deals combat to a player, a 4/8 that bolsters 1. It even has death insurance, going back to Optimus Prime, Autobot Leader, so the only way to safely deal with that is with exile effects.
It’s best to have an artifact lying around so that your opponents need at least two instant speed exile effects since red has plenty of artifact sacrifice synergies. Optimus Prime is the threat that stays on the battlefield, hits hard, and is very hard to deal with. It also works well with tokens, +1/+1 counters, and sacrifice effects.
Megatron, Tyrant | Illustraiton by Volta Creation
Like it or not, Universes Beyond is now part of MTG. I for one am very excited about the introduction of new franchises next year, like Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who. Maybe Transformers isn’t your cup of tea, but at least there are some designs that are interesting. Living metal is a mechanic that can return in vehicle designs someday and I’m okay with that, even in a Standard-legal set.
What do you think of the mechanic and the cards? Are you pro or against Universes Beyond? Let me know what you think in the comments below or in our Draftsim Discord.
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