First appearing all the way back in 1993’s Alpha with Chaos Orb, Artifacts are an integral part of MTG. So much so, in fact, that it’s hard to imagine playing a game of Commander that doesn’t involve these cards. Between mana rocks, equipment, and creatures, these cards are too good not to use!
While Magic: The Gathering has no shortage of powerful cards, many of the best cards ever printed are Artifacts. This is especially true of the cards that provide early and efficient mana since artifacts that make mana are not restricted by the one land per turn clause.
Allowing you to get ahead for little to no cost, these cards almost always make amazing inclusions to any deck. Due to this strength, many of MTG’s Artifacts are undeniably iconic. Everyone knows about the Moxen cycle and Black Lotus, after all.
Ultimately, with so many incredible artifacts to choose from, picking the best ones can be rather hard to do. Thankfully, however, that’s exactly what we’re here to do today. From prison-style lock pieces to absurdly efficient mana sources, this list has it all. While some may not be far from cheap, here are the top 11 best MTG Artifact cards of all time.
11 | The One Ring
Currently, The One Ring is the latest MTG card to grace this prestigious list. Printed in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, this Legendary Artifact certainly lives up to its namesake. Immediately after its release, The One Ring was immensely popular, making waves in every format. While this has subsided now, the card still gets played everywhere it’s legal: Modern, Legacy, Vintage, and Commander.
In Commander, The One Ring is so good that practically every deck wants a copy. Thanks to being a colorless Artifact, every deck can use it if they want to! Capable of Ancestral Recall-ing over two turns, and only getting even better after that, The One Ring offers near-unparalleled card draw. Beyond this, you also get Protection from Everything for a turn which isn’t to be underestimated.
Due to the, quite frankly, obscene levels of draw it provides, The One Ring is absolutely everywhere. So much so, in fact, that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it moving up this list in the future. Alongside moving up this list, The One Ring is consistently moving up in price. The amount of $100+ The One Ring variants there have been is worryingly high!
To prove even more that The One Ring is more than deserving of a place on this list, digitally, the card has been nerfed. In the Alchemy and Historic formats on MTG Arena, Wizards increased the activated effect of The One Ring. While this change massively reduced the amount of digital play the card sees, it does not affect the paper variant.
10 | Skullclamp
Skullclamp feels like a complete design oversight. What was likely supposed to be a downside, by giving the equipped Creature minus one toughness, Skullclamp turns into a draw engine when paired with one-toughness Creatures.
This card is excellent in any Death and Taxes-style deck with Stoneforge Mystic and pairs nicely with token producers such as Sai, Master Thopterist, but the ways to abuse Skullclamp are plentiful. Pair that with its simple one-mana equip cost, and it becomes easy to draw tons of cards. Perhaps too easy, as the card is banned in Modern and Legacy for good reason.
9 | Trinisphere
To those who haven’t played with or against Trinisphere, this card may look innocuous. It hits both players simultaneously, how bad can it be? For the decks built to abuse it, it can make the games feel quite lopsided.
Trinisphere tends to be more effective in older formats, where there are more ways to turbo this card out turn one. In Modern, the card shows up most often in the sideboards of Tron decks to grab with Karn, the Great Creator. However, the real power lies in decks that can play the card ahead of schedule.
In Legacy, decks like Mono-Red Prison utilize this card alongside Ancient Tomb and Chrome Mox with the intention of playing Trinisphere turn one. Even though both players are now under the same tax effect, the player with Ancient Tomb and Chrome Mox in play is at a significant advantage. Any deck reliant on casting cantrips like Brainstorm cannot set up their draws. Sometimes, the opponent will not even have access to three mana and will be locked out of the game for a long period of time.
In Vintage, this is taken to the extreme when paired with Mishra’s Workshop, which can cast Trinsphere turn one by itself. Trinisphere is also considerably more powerful on the play, where you can cast your free spells like Black Lotus and Mox Sapphire, then land Trinisphere, preventing your opponent from doing the same. While there are plenty of other cards that get better on the play as well, Trinisphere’s ability to completely lock your opponent out of the game is fairly unique. There’s a reason Trinisphere is restricted in Vintage, and it earns a spot on this list.
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8 | Chalice of the Void
Chalice of the Void is an unbelievably powerful card that has the ability to completely shut off specific strategies. Much like Trinisphere, Chalice gets better as the format gets older and the card pool gets deeper. Chalice also feels most brutal on the play, especially in Vintage, where you can play your zero mana Artifacts, then land a Chalice on zero locking out your opponent’s chance to do the same. Chalice is Restricted in Vintage as well, but gets the nod over Trinisphere on this list because it has more application in Modern and Legacy.
In Modern, a Chalice on zero can prevent Cascade decks from casting either Living End or [/tooltips]Crashing Footfalls[/tooltips], two of the most powerful strategies in the format. This doesn’t even take into account the volume of decks in Modern and Legacy where a Chalice on one is extremely problematic. For anyone trying to cast Brainstorm, for example, Chalice can dominate the game and leave you unable to cast spells. Chalice on one also requires specific answers, as Artifact destruction at one mana doesn’t work. Chalice is a great versatile hate-piece and earns the number eight spot.
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7 | Mana Vault
Much like Dark Ritual, Mana Vault gives a burst of mana for one turn. After that, it stays in play but doesn’t untap. Instead, it gives you the option to untap it for four mana on your upkeep or take a point of damage.
For decks that can abuse the mana upgrade in one turn, this is plenty good enough, hence the card remaining on the Legacy banlist and Vintage restricted list. In Vintage, Mana Vault is a great mana accelerant for Paradoxical Outcome, which can reset the Mana Vault, allowing for additional burst of mana in the same turn. Mana Vault is a bit narrower than some of the other mana accelerants that will appear later on this list by not being a repeatable source of mana, which is why it sits at number seven.
6 | Mox Opal
Mox Opal is the first of our zero-mana accelerants on this list. The card is a staple in pretty much any Artifact-centric deck where it is legal. While it is Banned in Modern, it is exceptionally powerful in Legacy and Vintage. In Legacy, the card is best in Eight-Cast, which is focused on playing lots of cheap Artifacts to maximize the power of Urza’s Saga and both draw spells, Thought Monitor and Thoughtcast.
While piecing together three Artifacts to enable Mox Opal may sound difficult, there are ample Artifacts to play for cheap, especially in Vintage. Notably, Mox Opal counts itself, so you only need two more Artifacts in play to allow it to tap for mana. With access to the original Moxen and Black Lotus, this is trivial. Mox Opal even gives the bonus of tapping for any color, unlike the original Moxen.
Mox Opal is still more narrow than the other mana accelerants on this list and takes a little work to get going, hence the number six spot on this list.
5 | Time Vault
Printed way back in Alpha, Time Vault is a premier combo piece restricted in Vintage and banned in Legacy. On its own, Time Vault seems relatively unassuming. It basically lets you skip a turn to untap it, then tap it at any time to take an extra turn. If Magosi, the Waterveil is any indication, skipping a turn to later take an extra turn is not worth the cost.
Time Vault, however, is easily exploitable. When paired with Manifold Key which lets you untap an Artifact for one mana, you can tap Time Vault to take an extra turn without skipping a turn. Because Manifold Key untaps every turn, this is repeatable, letting you take infinite turns!
This combo is super easy to set up, especially given the amount of Tutor effects in Vintage. Tinker can find either piece of the combo, for example, and the opportunity cost of putting one copy of each piece in your deck is very low. Even though Time Vault does very little on its own, the easy combo potential puts it at number five on the best MTG Artifact list.
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4 | Mana Crypt
As mentioned with Mox Opal, a lot of MTG’s most powerful Artifacts are those that tap for mana at little to no cost. Mana Crypt is a prime example of this, and the rest of the list features cards that are very similar. Mana Crypt costs zero mana and can immediately tap for two mana. Unlike Mana Vault, this card untaps during each of your turns. This card is truly a step up above the rest so far, so why is it down here at number four?
The biggest reason is that the other cards ahead of it have even less of an opportunity cost than Mana Crypt! Mana Crypt only taps for colorless mana, meaning it is restrcited slightly in what it can help cast. Most importantly though, is that every turn cycle you have to flip a coin and if you lose the flip, you take three damage. Three damage may not seem like much, but if the game stalls out, the damage does add up over time. That said, the upside always heavily outweighs the downside for Mana Crypt. Vintage games generally end too quickly for the damage to matter much, and players have 40 life in Commander, making the potential Bolt to the face less relevant. You can even sacrifice Mana Crypt to Tinker to bypass the cost.
Mana Crypt is an absurd card, and it being down here at number four speaks volumes to how insane the next three cards are.
3 | Sol Ring
That’s right, Commander all-star Sol Ring comes in at number three. Even in casual Commander, a turn one Sol Ring can dictate a lot about the game. In Constructed, however, this is only exacerbated.
Sol Ring is quite similar to Mana Crypt. Although it has an upfront cost of one mana, it still taps for two mana, setting you ahead even the turn you play it. After that, there is no downside! Sol Ring does all the same for you that Mana Crypt does without the potential for damage to add up.
Despite Sol Ring easily topping many other lists, including the best Commander cards of all time, players may be surprised to find that it is not the MTG best Artifact. The only reason it doesn’t crack the top two is that it still only taps for colorless mana, whereas the top two can tap for colored mana.
2 | Moxen
Each of the five colors of MTG has its own original Mox. While Mox Sapphire is likely the strongest as it can tap for blue for Tinker or Paradoxical Outcome, I decided to group them all together to save slots for other cards on this list, as the Moxen are similar enough. Unlike Mox Opal, these cards have no restrictions. Additionally, they aren’t legendary, so you can play as many as your format allows. However, given that the Moxen are all banned in Legacy and restricted in Vintage, you will only ever see one of each in play in any major Constructed format.
The Moxen cycle really shape Vintage as a format even with the restricted clause, given that there are five Moxen available. Their existence is the reason a deck like Paradoxical Outcome is so powerful, as they come down for free and immediately tap for mana. Many other cards on this list like Trinisphere and Chalice of the Void get significantly better the more Moxen you have available, and significantly more backbreaking when you are reliant on Moxen, but face down one of these on the draw.
It may seem ludicrous that the Moxen are not considered the best MTG Artifact. The only reason they sit at number two and not number one is because the next card on this list can tap for three colored mana, not one…
1 | Black Lotus
As many of you may have guessed, Black Lotus still remains the MTG best Artifact after thirty years. As perhaps Magic’s most iconic card of all time, Black Lotus has stood the test of time and has arguably only gotten better.
It may seem crazy that a mana accelerant with a one-time use would be this high, given where Mana Vault fell to on this list. Black Lotus costing zero mana and tapping for three mana of any one color is such an absurd rate that it gets the number one spot regardless, hence it being banned in Legacy and Restricted in Vintage. There are also plenty of ways to abuse this effect beyond its one-time use.
One way to abuse Black Lotus is when pairing it with Storm cards like Yawgmoth’s Will. For those that are familiar with Storm in Legacy making use of Lion’s Eye Diamond, Black Lotus functions similarly but without the major drawback of making you discard your hand.
Another way to abuse Black Lotus is with Lurrus of the Dream-Den as your companion. With Lurrus, you can bring back Black Lotus every turn and get a huge burst of mana!
Of course, even using Black Lotus traditionally to power out something like White Plume Adventurer can put you so far ahead that the mana being used for only one turn doesn’t feel like much of a drawback. Black Lotus really does it all and showcases just how broken some Artifacts can truly be.
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