Urza and Mishra Count Down Their Top Ten Artifacts!

Sure, we’re a month into Dominaria United, but I’m going to let at least another five months go by before I buy any of that. I’m certain there will be great deals, I just have to let them find the bottom.

Instead, what I want to do is a fun exercise with artifacts and The Brothers’ War: What are the top artifacts in Commander and which ones are ready for a bump? It’s true that some of these will be cards we’ve mentioned before, and some of these might get the ‘retro frame artifacts’ treatment, being one of five hundred numbered copies too.

I can’t predict what will be in that subset of cards, this Artifact Archive, but this will be a good list of cards that might go up because they are good and they are popular. If something feels likely to be an inclusion for that subset of cards, I’ll mention that.

One warning about the EDHREC ranks: This is a database created by the most enthusiastic of people, and has a bias towards preconstructed deck inclusions. Don’t get too wrapped around the handle of this data, but do allow it to inform some of your decisions.

Timeless Lotus (cheapest version is $20, most expensive $35, 3200 decks on EDHREC) – One of the things we noticed right away was that there were no Extended Art or other Showcase version for this, Karn’s Sylex, and Weatherlight Compleated. This seems to scream out that the special version is coming, because not even Wizards would print a special version and then in the next big set give us a retro frame version. 

I will likely be all over the retro frame versions when they come out, being a great mana rock but keep in mind that it can only be in five-color decks. I imagine that the popularity of this card has a lot to do with five-color Dragon decks and Jodah, the Unifier being in the same set.

Herald’s Horn ($7 to $20, 77,000 decks) – We are getting a special foil version for the Year of the Tiger later this year, and there’s a Surge foil in the new Warhammer 40k decks. That’s two very good foils but in the same frame. Putting this in as a retro frame card is very likely, but if it’s not, watch out on both foil versions. This is a very popular card despite never getting large-quantity printings.

Whispersilk Cloak ($3 to $12, 76,000 decks) – This is in the all-foil Heads I Win, Tails You Lose deck coming soon, thanks to printing delays. It should have arrived a whole lot sooner, but for our purposes, it’s not that big a deal. Not a new frame, but also not really reprinted in a major way for several years now. I expect the first premium version of this to do very well.

Panharmonicon ($5 to $40, 71,000 decks) – We’ve got the Secret Lair blueprint version, and we already have a retro frame version from the Time Spiral Remastered set. It’s not impossible for Wizards to give us a second retro frame, but we also just got an Extended Art foil and an etched foil from Double Masters 2022, so being in the Artifact Archive is not happening. I don’t want to spec on 2X2 yet, but I’m tempted by the blueprint version, being as rare as it is.

Isochron Scepter ($11 to $40, 68,000 decks) – Amazingly, this has never had an alternate frame. It’s got a super-sweet Eye of Sauron thing going on with the FNM version from way back when, but this is a prime candidate for inclusion in The Brothers’ War set. If it dodges that reprint, we’re off to the races.

Phyrexian Altar ($29 to $500, 67,000 decks) – At least three times, Wizards has reprinted a card whose original was in the retro frame: Time Spiral’s Timeshifted sheet, Mystery Boosters, and the judge promo Animate Dead. There might even be more, there’s so many cards to keep track of these days! I don’t think they would put a new retro version of Altar out there, given the history and the recent printing, but again, I’m still waiting for 2×2 to hit its floor.

Altar of Dementia ($8 to $20, 62,000 decks) – This was originally in Tempest, has its first foil in Conspiracy of all things, and has kept its price due to a total lack of reprints. If this is in the Artifact Archive, I’d expect it to be pretty cheap at the end of things, and then I’m content to swoop in and buy up some copies.

Helm of the Host ($16 to $33, 55,000 decks) – Extremely popular for an artifact with a crazy-high cast and possibly the highest equip cost of anything people play in Commander, this is so very ready for a reprint and I fully expect it to do well in a retro frame. Don’t buy any of these, even for personal use, until after we get the full list in BRO.

Thousand-Year Elixir ($5 to $81, 48,000 decks) – I’ve got a couple of decks that love this card, but it’s only had the one foil printing, way back in Lorwyn. It’s also got a price that’s high due to scarcity, just like Altar of Dementia. It’ll always be a niche card, but very very good in that niche. Retro version is very likely here, and hopefully the cheapest copies get down to a dollar.

Alhammarret’s Archive ($8 to $25, 45,000 decks) – This is a card that makes a table gnash their teeth and turns a free-for-all into an Archenemy battle. Doubling up on card draw and life gain is a tough bargain to pass up, and this has only gotten a Mystery Booster reprint and a Commander 2021 set of copies since its debut in Magic Origins. I’m doubtful that this will be reprinted, and it doubles up two effects that decks love to do, so wait for the list to come out and then move in.

Cliff (@WordOfCommander) has been writing for MTGPrice since 2013, and is an eager Commander player, Draft enthusiast, and Cube fanatic. A high school science teacher by day, he’s also the official substitute teacher of the MTG Fast Finance podcast. If you’re ever at a GP and you see a giant flashing ‘CUBE DRAFT’ sign, go over, say hi, and be ready to draft.