Arguably one of the most fun things in Magic: the Gathering is finding cards with different abilities and putting them in a deck they have synergy with.
When you’ve crafted a deck with a high level of synergy, these extra abilities work together for a devastating effect.
Like any other card, artifacts can also have bonus abilities. One type of ability they have can occur immediately and automatically when they’re cast.
In this guide, we’ll show you a few of the best MTG artifacts with ETB. This is what we’ll discuss:
- What ETB means
- Top 10 MTG artifacts with ETB
- Our suggestions
What does ETB mean?
If you haven’t played the game for long, there are quite a few phrases in MTG that can be confusing. One you might hear every so often is ETB.
So what do those three letters stand for? They stand for “enters the battlefield.”
Enter the battlefield effects are abilities that occur whenever a permanent card of some type enters the battlefield. They happen automatically without you needing to do anything other than get the card onto the battlefield.
These are astonishingly useful effects sometimes. There are many ways to interact with them, with cards like Panharmonicon that cause ETB effects to happen twice each time.
Bladewing the Risen is an example of a card with an ETB ability. When it comes onto the battlefield, you get the opportunity to return a dragon from your graveyard to the battlefield.
Top 10 MTG Artifacts with ETB
As there are so many artifacts in Magic: the Gathering with enter the battlefield effects, we’re including only 10 noteworthy examples.
If you’d like to see all of them, you can click here to view a complete list.
As always, we’ve chosen to exclude any artifacts from the Power Nine. Our reasons for doing so are that they’re not readily available cards, and they’re so overpowered, they would top pretty much any list they were on.
You can find a whole list of the Power Nine here if you’d like to learn more.
The cards on this list were chosen because they’re either very powerful or notable. With that in mind, our list includes the following:
- Chrome Mox
- Contagion Engine
- Extraplanar Lens
- Gauntlet of Power
- Isochron Scepter
- Mox Diamond
- Painter’s Servant
- Solemn Simulacrum
It’s almost always better to play multi-color decks in formats where you have time beforehand to make the deck. That’s because using more colors gives you more cards to choose from.
The issue with multi-color decks is that you don’t always get the mana colors you need to cast specific spells. Chrome Mox can help you fix that.
When it enters the battlefield, you can exile a permanent that’s not an artifact or land from your hand. From then on, Chrome Mox can be tapped for one mana of any of the card’s colors.
This is one nasty card. Use Contagion Engine right, and you can destroy every creature another player controls.
When it enters the battlefield, you get to put a -1/-1 counter on all of a specific player’s creatures. Then you can pay four and tap Contagion Engine to proliferate twice.
Proliferate allows you to choose permanents or players with counters on them and add another of that type of counter to them. Creatures can only take as many -1/-1 counters as they have toughness, so once you bring them to 0, they die.
The nasty part is that it doesn’t matter whether the creature is indestructible or has protection from any color. Contagion Engine gets through it all.
As of February 2020, Embercleave saw a lot of play in the Standard format. It’s an invaluable equipment that attaches to a creature you control when it enters the battlefield.
The creature wielding it gets doublestrike, trample, and a +1/+1 counter. Further adding to its power is the fact it has flash, which means it can be played at any time.
If you’re worried about its converted mana cost of six, don’t be. For each attacking creature you have, the cost of Embercleave is reduced by one.
Want to learn more about artifacts with counters? We have a guide on the topic right here.
Getting the mana colors you need is always powerful. That’s why Extraplanar Lens is so sought after.
When it enters the battlefield, you can remove a land you control from the game. Then, whenever another land with the same name is tapped for mana, you get one extra mana of any color from that land.
It potentially doubles your mana pool. Ideally, you use a land you have the most of in your deck with Extraplanar Lens, so that you’re tapping a land with the same name often.
When a card has more than one use, it’s more valuable. That’s why Gauntlet of Power could be good addition to a number of decks.
It’s perhaps strongest in a mono-color deck. When it comes onto the battlefield, you choose a color.
All creatures of that color get a +1/+1 boost. Then, whenever you tap a basic land for the chosen color, you get one extra mana of that color.
Stronger creatures and more mana translates to a tremendous advantage for you.
Many call Isochron Scepter a “broken” card because it can be so unbelievably powerful. When you cast it, you can exile an instant card that costs two mana or less from your hand.
From thereon, you can pay two mana and tap Isochron scepter to cast that instant spell whenever you want. Depending on what instant you use, this can be a game changer.
For example, if you use Lightning Bolt with Isochron Scepter, you’ve got some convenient removal. At any time, you could deal 3 damage to a creature or player.
Pretty much any card with Mox in the title is going to be good. Mox Diamond is no exception to that generalization.
For starters, it costs you literally nothing to cast it. Instead of paying mana, you discard a land card to cast Mox Diamond.
Then, once it’s on the battlefield, you can tap it to add one mana of any color you want.
When Painter’s Servant enters the battlefield, you choose a color. Every single card in the game, whether it’s been played yet or not, becomes that color in addition to its other colors.
Painter’s Servant suffered a long ban due to its effect. There are a number of game-breaking combos with it.
For an example, consider Iona, Shield of Emeria, which allows you to pick a color that other players can no longer cast when it enters the battlefield. With Painter’s Servant, you can make all cards that color you pick, effectively making it impossible for anyone else to cast spells.
Nowadays, Iona, Shield of Emeria is banned in Commander and Painter’s Servant is not. Although that eliminates one combo, there are certainly others to be explored with Painter’s Servant.
This isn’t a card that has an ETB effect itself per se, but it deserves to be on this list, nonetheless.
What Panharmonicon does is make all your other cards with ETB abilities even better. When it’s out on the battlefield, any artifact or creature with an enter the battlefield ability has that ability happen twice instead of just once when it’s cast.
If your deck is focused on ETB effects, you pretty much have to use Panharmonicon. It’s a staple of the strategy.
This card sees play in pretty much every Commander deck. That’s because Solemn Simulacrum has two uses.
First, when it enters the battlefield, it lets you add another land to your battlefield. More mana is generally always helpful, especially in slow games like Commander.
Then, when Solemn Simulacrum dies, you get to draw a card. Card advantage like this is also always useful, because you never know when you’ll draw something that gets you ahead or eliminates a threat.
If we had to recommend one of the artifacts in this list over all the others, we’d recommend Mox Diamond. The reason for that is that it’s an artifact that costs zero and gives you one mana of any color.
There’s a reason why it’s so rare and valuable. It would be indispensable in a multi-color deck, especially in the early game.
However, Painter's Servant is an extremely interesting choice, too. There are numerous combos with it, and since it was recently unbanned in Commander, we’ll undoubtedly see many players using it again.
If you’re interesting in more artifact abilities, check out our list of top artifacts with activated abilities here.