“Fighting The Machine”: A Commentary on Artifacts in EDH


Anyone who has played Magic has seen the power of artifacts. These colorless spells have been around since the release of Alpha, and even then, they were extremely powerful. From these small (but by no means humble) beginnings, artifacts have turned into one of Magic’s most notorious spell types. Morridon showed the true power of them for the first time, introducing many cards and mechanics that were fundamentally overpowered and broken. Decks such as Modern Affinity and Vintage Shops have always been monsters in their formats. In EDH, artifacts have also had a huge impact, however they have taken a more supplemental role.

One of the first examples of this is the greatly loved but feared card that needs no introduction.

SOL RING

This beast has been around since the early days of magic, accelerating decks and powering out threats for over two decades. A turn one Sol Ring is one of the most classic and powerful plays in magic, and in Commander, it is no different. Playing this card allows various EDH strategies to do some really broken things. Turn two four-drop anyone? This is just the tip of the iceberg to how powerful artifacts can be.

Our next card is actually several; this set of cards is a fixing and acceleration staple in almost every Commander deck imaginable, and is even probably being run in one of your decks already.

AZORIOUS SIGNET and other mana rocks

When many people see these cards, they don’t instantly see overpowered. They just provide an extra mana and fixing, good, but not overpowered. These cards have traditionally been very underrated, the fact that almost every EDH deck that can run them does speaks for itself. The even more prevalent fact is that most decks that do not have any kind of artifact theme (or even subtheme) run these cards. They are so good that they can be run without any cost reduction or untap effects. The reason for this is because color fixing in EDH is incredibly important, and not only being able to filter through the colors you need, but effectively play two lands in one turn is just really good in a singleton card format.

Our next cards are two that I grouped into a pair. Both of these cards are cheap, lop-sided, and brutally punishing for any deck not prepared for it.

SMOKESTACK & TANGLE WIRE

Ugh. These guys. Always referred to as “Fun Police” cards, running them in Commander almost guarantees you dirty looks and possibly a deck box thrown in your general direction. These cards either tap down or destroy almost every card in play. While technically “fair”, because it effects both sides equally, we all know how “fair” cards like Balance and Wrath of God are. Typically the decks that run these cards try and out value their opponent and come out on top by playing extra resources to get by. Some other cards that are similar to these are Winter Orb and Static Orb.

This card is one that makes almost every other artifact broken. It breaks games, and hearts.

VOLTAIC KEY

Infinite mana and turn combos galore. This card untaps artifacts for a low low price. While in and of itself the key isn’t broken, what it can do with other strong artifacts and how it interacts with them is what makes it so scary and powerful.

Another very powerful set of artifacts in the format are equipment cards, more information about some notable ones can be found here.

But what do you think about artifacts in EDH? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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