The flexibility of an artifact creature at the kitchen table, particularly, with respect to colorless ones, is pretty important to evaluating it as a card. If I can add in Steel Hellkite or Burnished Hart, then my deck can add abilities and options not always available.
For that reason, artifact creatures have a strong and proved presence at any kitchen table. They help win games. They help shore up weaknesses. They are great together as they often help each other out.
According to Gatherer, there are 613 artifact creatures out there. That's a lot! What are the best artifact creatures of all time? While any such list will have some subjectivity to it, I wanted to take a looksee, so I reviewed all 613 cards out there to make sure that my memory matched the cards available and I wasn't forgetting anything important.
Here are my choices for the top artifact creatures ever printed. Please note that this list is for kitchen tables, including but not limited to Commander, multiplayer, and other casual formats.
Honorable Mention - Baleful Strix
Baleful Strix isn't a top ten card, sorry Strix fans. But it's close! The Strix is a flying deathtouch dork that nets you a card on arrival for a mere two mana. It's that cheap cost that makes it work. It has all of the "Keep Away" value of a 1-drop deathtouch dork like Typhoid Rats but as it's in the air. That gives it a bigger range of dorks to fear looking your way as they cannot calmly fly over your defenses. That free card gives you the comfort in knowing that you only spent two mana for this effect, not the card itself, and thus, you keep going. I cannot tell you how many flyers I've keep back with this untapped and ready to trade. It'll net you card advantage when it inevitably does. It's close to the ten set below. But it didn't make it all the way...
10. Memnarch / Bosh, Iron Golem
I am cheating! I have to, but it's my list, so what are you going to do? I am putting them both here at #10 as they are simultaneously very similar and very dissimilar. Let's look!
Memnarch is great at multiple builds. It can make something an artifact permanently, and it plays into any deck's framework where you want to en-artifact your stuff to enhance them with cards like Darksteel Forge or Padeem, Consul of Innovation. Or maybe you want to help abuse something like Mycosynth Golem. Whatever works! You can also use this card in a more controlling build just to steal stuff from your foes permanently. It's a lot of fun!
Meanwhile there's a Bosh Sighting here too! It's got a big ol'booty and it wants to throw artifacts at people's faces in order to take them (or their things) down. It also threatens eight damage all on its own, which ain't nothing. It has a powerful board presence and it can prove itself the winner of many a game.
If I had written this Top Ten List ten years ago, then both of these would have been Top Five entries, with Memnarch smashing at #3 at least. But their casting cost has become more prohibitive for some decks, and thus they drop on this list. Hey! They are artifacts! #6 and #7 above can drop them on the turn they activate. You have mana rocks and such that can drop them early as well as many ways to cheat them out. And in the case of Bosh, his cost increases the damage he does, so there's some built-in synergy there. These are both still major threats at the kitchen table today, and they can kick booty with the best of them!
9. Walking Ballista (Shout out to Triskelion)
I consider Triskelion to be the best-designed card from Antiquities. It was designed well, as a 1/1 with three +1/+1 counters that you can pull off and shoot stuff. It's not too pricy or too good, it makes sense and works in a modern environment, and there will never be a place and time when we look at Triskelion and wonder how it broke a future Standard or anything. It's a well-designed and balanced card and folks still love playing it. Walking Ballista has proven to be both better and yet much worse at the same time as it's more dominant. From Tron in Modern to many decks in Standard, it's had a big presence in various formats, and it's been a stronger card. It's flexibility at turning four mana into damage over time or a bigger dork is good and has power. It's a winner.
8. The Gearhulks
This awesome Kaladeshi cycle has left a strong imprint on kitchen tables everywhere. Each of them has various levels of value. I still prefer the Noxious Gearhulk as my top of the cycle, although Torrential Gearhulk and Combustible Gearhulk are right behind it (and in that order). All of these folks have a powerful presence and really feel like the next Titan cycle. After the success of Primeval Titan and Sun Titan and friends long ago we've had a number of eligible successors that never really stood up. Remember the Soul cycle? Such as Soul of Theros?
Exactly. El yucko. This is not the Sun Titan you are looking for. But Cataclysmic Gearhulk? Not bad. I've found Torrential Gearhulk to be better than Frost Titan at the kitchen table. These are worthy. They rule and will continue to do so moving forward! Gearhulk on, baby!
7. Kuldotha Forgemaster
It seems like all of the most powerful artifact creatures have been printed in artifact heavy sets-blocks. Of the ten entries on this set, a full nine are in Mirrodin Block, Scars of Mirrodin Block, or Kaladesh Block. The last at #6 below is from a block often nicknamed as "The Artifact Block" by players, although it actually had an enchantment theme. Even Antiquities makes a shout out above. Maybe it's just statistics. In a set where more artifact creatures are being printed, there is an increased chance for a big hit. But I suspect it's more than random chance. I think the cards are pushed in power, and this Forgemaster is a good example of that. It's a Tinker that taps. Sure, it requires you to sacrifice three artifacts rather than the normal one, but it's a Tinker on a Stick. A Tinker. On. A Stick. It's repeatable. And if your fetched-artifact is something that makes a lot of artifacts, like Myr Incubator then it's about time for a further gut punch of artifact Tinkering to follow! Allow this to forge your next win!
When I create these lists, I include cards for a variety of people. I have cards on here that are more in the Timmy/Tammy fun stuff line of awesome cads, like #4 below or #10 above. I also have some fun Johnny/Jenny cards that will work well with others and are trying to make a strong combo-rific nature, like #7 above. I also have some Spike cards that are just powerful and get played strongly and quickly to break things. This card feels like it's both my Johnny and my Spike, as it's fast, and can make enough mana that it ends the game, but requires a heavy commitment to artifacts and certain builds to make that happen. You can also see a powerful Spike card hitting at #2 later. This card is so powerful it was banned in Commander for years until recently. The massive amount of mana you can achieve on turn four (at the latest, you can get it working earlier with mana rocks or lands like Ancient Tomb or Mishra's Workshop) is incredibly game-warping. The only issue Metalworker has it that it's a creature and can be killed before you use it. And that happens. A lot. It's basically enchanted with Coalition Flag:
Every removal spell someone casts is coming your way! Lightning Bolt? Smash to Smithereens? Murder? Path to Exile? It's coming! Get ready! But, if you untap? (or have haste?) Oh. My. God. It's that good.
If you want to answer a problem, this is the perfect solution. It exiles your problem upon arrival at the battlefield and then it lingers as a copy of that card's size ready to do battle for your honor. It can also be reused with cards like Academy Ruins restocking it to your library, recursion from your graveyard, bouncing and then recasting it, or flickering it back onto the battlefield for another round of exiling death triggers. That makes this a powerful adjunct to any deck's removal strategy while also adding to your density of creatures. This is a brilliant card that remains so even today! Duplicant...ON!
4. Darksteel Colossus / Blightsteel Colossus
Darksteel Colossus has ruled from on high as one of my "Fundamental Enemies" that you had to be prepared to stop. From cards like Tooth and Nail, Tinker, and #7 above to just plain dropping it and punching your face off, you had to be prepared for this card to kill you in two turns. (Four in Commander). Can you answer my 11/11 trampling, indestructible monster? No? Then death to you my ancient foe! And then Blightsteel Colossus came along and it doubled down on the danger of Darksteel Colossus, killing in one hit with that infect nastiness. Both of these cards are big. They win quickly. And they stick despite various removal attempts. They are the real deal.
3. Wurmcoil Engine
Wurmcoil Engine is a great card. It's played everywhere. Spikes like it because it's powerful, makes two dorks upon death, and the abilities are great. Johnnies like it because it's good at being added as a body to decks with sacrifices or artifact-based triggers. It has a lot of synergy. Timmies love it because it's a big creature that has big presence. Smash away! The combination of these three things in this tight of a package means I have never heard someone bad mouth Wurmcoil Engine. It's pricey, and heavily played by all sorts of players. People celebrated when it was reprinted in Daretti, Scrap Savant's Commander deck. And it works in tons of places and decks. When everyone loves a card as much as Wurmcoil Engine, you know that you have a Top Ten Artifact Creature of All Time, n'est pas?
2. Phyrexian Metamorph
3 mana and two life.
Cards like Phyrexian Metamorph and the Honorable Mention above are perfect demonstrators of a key concept in Magic-dom. Casting costs matter. Curves matter. If Baleful Strix cost just one colorless more, then it wouldn't be here. If the #1 card below cost another mana, it wouldn't make the top spot. The cheaper a given effect is, the better and stronger it can perform, and this is the perfect example of that. Hey, Phyrexian Metamorph is just a Clone effect that can also copy an artifact for 4 mana! There are Clone effects that have more flexibility for the same cost - four mana - such as Clever Impersonator. But the ability to cast this for a turn earlier has allowed this to dominate tournaments. It was heavily played when it was Standard legal. It's made the appearance as a three-mana drop off a Mishra's Workshop in Vintage and copying a key enchantment. It can copy many things in Vintage with artifacts as one of its options. From Legacy to 60 card fun brews and multiplayer, it's got a strong range of options and power for a lot of folks. Phyrexian Metamorph for the #2 spot!
1. Solemn Simulacrum
Could anything else be here? It would be like seeing something other than Swords to Plowshares in a "Top Ten Instant Exiling Removal Spells" list. It's just weird and wrong. Solemn Simulacrum has to be here. There are no other options. No other places it could hit. It has an impact in Standard when it's been legal, and other formats play with it. It's downright essential in Commander and is the Sol Ring of artifact creatures. It's played in countless multiplayer and casual brews. The combination of mana ramp and card drawing ensures card advantage and mana smoothing for any deck. While its artifact creature aspect can improve it in some builds, it's still a strong addition to virtually any deck that doesn't have "Mono-Color" in its title. Its ubiquitous nature has been earned.
And there we are! I hope that you enjoyed our look through all things artifact creature. Anything in here that you love? Anything I missed? Thanks for reading!