Hey everyone, Unmistakable here,
Given the warm reception I’ve received to my previous Sowing Salt article (and the complete and utter wasteland that was the July Banned and Restricted Announcement), I’m excited to jump right back in with another installment. This week, I’m going to choose the open-ended topic of commanders that interact with Artifacts. Between reanimation (or scrapyard) strategies, combo artifacts, or even beatdown, the colourless glue that bridges the gaps between the colours of Magic offer flexibility in strategy that can hardly be matched by any one colour. In their ability to do everything at a higher cost, almost all things are available as artifact strategies. What you do with them comes down to preference, though, as I’ve mentioned in detail, I like my artifacts big, stompy, and cheated in on turn 4. This article isn’t just about those, however, and as most artifact commanders are focussed on some colours more than others (Blue and Red in particular), I have made sure to consider other colours as well. As with last time, lets bring on the honorable mentions:
Mishra, Artificer Prodigy: I wanted to put this guy in here. Really, I did. A really unique ability coupled with a unique colour combination for an all-in artifact commander? I’m on board. The problem I have with him comes from his fragility, and the necessity to build around his gimmick. Some decks this works well for; with a Mishra deck if you lose your way of getting around his ability, the deck immediately loses momentum. So I’m sorry, brother of Urza, today isn’t your day.
Muzzio, Visionary Architect: The only one I’ve had personal experience with on this list, Muzzio is a fantastic little niche for an artifact commander. Prizing topdeck manipulation, Muzzio can rampage out of control and drop fatty after fatty after fatty. His omission from the list stems from the fact that mono-blue is an incredibly saturated artifact deck colour, and to include him would be to exclude some other legendaries that I feel are more worthy of the spot. One such legendary being…
Memnarch: Anybody who has played my Muzzio deck can tell you of the sheer power of Memnarch. He’s a fantastically strong commander with a reputation to boot, and is unfortunately also falling just short on the list (If only this list weren’t so short), but also falls victim to the oversaturation of monoblue artifact commanders. A typical Memnarch deck is something to behold, and typically involves fun for nobody who isn’t playing Memnarch.
5) Glissa, the Traitor: My choice for number Five on the list is an interesting one; she isn’t very heavily seen, but it cannot be denied that she’s interesting. Glissa lends herself to a heavily engine-based EDH deck, due in part to her being a recursion engine. As a result, her decks often look much different to those of her competitors in the field; favouring self-sacrificing artifacts such as Nihil Spellbomb or Sylvok Replica. A VERY notable inclusion to anybody looking to take her on as a project is Executioner’s Capsule, which becomes a cheap, repeatable source of removal when saccing it to kill something brings it back to your hand right afterwards. Having Deathtouch enables the Glissa player to utilise Thornbite Staff as not only a kill-spell engine, but abusing her ability for immense value on top of all of this. Popular win conditions for Glissa include beating face with artifact beaters that will almost always take pieces of opposing fields with them, such as Steel Hellkite or Wurmcoil Engine, or repeated uses of another self-sacrificing artifact, Mindslaver.
4) Karn, Silver Golem: The OG Artifact commander, he was always going to make any list that concerns artifact commanders. The planeswalker of the Weatherlight is an intimidating force to be reckoned with, as a (Completely colourless) deck with him at the helm can suddenly animate at will, and the Silver Golem himself can gum the field up by himself, due to his impressive turtling ability to become a 0/8 wall in combat. If 9/9 indestructible Darksteel Forges are your thing, or hitting people with an army of mana rocks, these are all valid. But me? I look at Karn, then I look at Mycosynth Lattice, and see his activated ability become ‘1: Destroy target Land.’. This is where he shines, if you ask me. Not only does he provide a flexible body, and provides an instant army at will, but he’s also one of the most efficient land destruction spells in the game. It should come as no surprise that this is a Karn’s primary win condition, on top of Colossi and the old Forge/Disk lock.
3) Daretti, Scrap Savant: The newest addition to this list, it should come as a surprise to nobody (at least those that have played against him) why the venerable Goblin Pope has made it this far up the list. First off, I will concede the fact that Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer could also be here, and indeed he very nearly was. However, looking into Daretti’s design warmed me to him. First, he’s a cheap planeswalker commander with a VERY synergistic skillset; being a planeswalker with a very valid clock makes him command the attention of the table as soon as his wheelchair parks itself on the battlefield. Monored artifact decks are something that don’t particularly appeal to me – but Daretti makes a strong argument for the deck to be a reckless sacrifice/recursion engine, emphasised by the Scrap Savant’s abilities, Goblin Welder, and Scrap Mastery. Additionally, the planeswalker subtype lends himself an ungodly amount of resilience to stax effects, lending himself well to artifact-based stax builds. All of this powerful recursion make it easy to set up a Forge/Disk lock, but being a noncreature also handily allows him to survive other red win conditions, such as Jokulhaups or Decree of Annihilation. It may seem rash, but blowing up all but Daretti then reanimating your board back is one of the most sickening things to come out of mono-red in a LONG time.
2) Arcum Dagsson: Arcum Dagsson is a great commander; so great in fact that he was on the top of this list in the draft stage for the longest time. His name often is met by groans and rolled eyes for good reason, for as artifact commanders go there are few that rival his efficiency and reliability. Tutors are strong, and a reusable (free) tutor attached to your commander is an easy way to break a deck in two. Being in blue gives you access to some of my favourite artifact synergy cards, such as Fabricate, Power Artifact, Master Transmuter, or Reshape; and Arcum’s affinity for turning creatures into noncreatures helps abuse these to no end. Now, I hear you ask, ‘He looks abusable, but where does the abuse come in?’: Meet Myr Turbine. Arcum wants to set up his engine as soon as possible, and what better way to get a bite of the value-pie than to have your first tutor always be a noncreature that can create creatures as fast as you can destroy them? If facing removal it may well begin with a tutor for Lightning Greaves, but otherwise once the turbine hits, the glorious engine that gives Arcum his reputation is assembled. From here, Forge/Disk is an acceptable win condition as always, though Arcum offers redundancy in his win conditions all the same. Another favourite of mine is generating infinite mana with Basalt Monolith and either Power Artifact or Rings of Brighthearth, then drawing your entire deck with Staff of Domination and emptying multiple player’s decks through repeated Stroke of Geniuses; though different strokes are at play here. In summation, a VERY resilient and powerful commander.
1) Sharuum the Hegemon: Allow me to be transparent with this choice; I LOVE Sharuum (More on that in future, no doubt). The truest artifact combo commander, Sharuum is fast, and she’s deadly. A respectable body with a powerful recursion effect, she grants a deck a second chance in the event of losing a combo piece, while also providing the primary win condition. Regardless of how you attain it, having Sharuum on the board at the same time as a clone (Sculpting Steel and Phyrexian Metamorph are preferred, but it can be done with any clone effect) can create an infinite loop of ETBs and LTBs, which translates to infinite damage in the presence of Disciple of the Vault, or (perhaps my favourite) can instead be channelled into milling an entire table out by targetting each player with 500 copies of Bitter Ordeal. This isn’t all, however, as the robust nature of the commander’s simple yet flexible ability allows the deck to run other combos, such as infinite turns through Thopter Assembly + Time Sieve, or the modern combo of the moment, Sword of the Meek/Thopter Foundry. Assembling any of these combos allow the Sharuum player to completely take control of the game, and in Esper, that player has access to perhaps the best card advantage suite in the game (Through engines such as Necropotence and Ad Nauseam, but also with topdeck selection and manipulation through Sensei’s Divining Top and Ponder/Preordain/Brainstorm). All things considered, Sharuum earns this spot whole heartedly by her nature as a fast and brutal commander.
So there we have it guys, the top 5 Artifact Commanders. Agree with my choices? Disagree? Feel free to leave comments and feedback below, either for my choices or for future editions of Sowing Salt. Until then though, Unmistakable out.