Artifacts are permanents that represent magical items, animated constructs, pieces of equipment, or other objects and devices. Artifact, the card type, is broader than the normal definition. Natural items can be a Magic “artifact”.
Up until the introduction of the colorless, non-artifact Eldrazi cards in the Rise of the Eldrazi set, artifacts were distinct from other card types in that they were the only existing cards that had wholly generic mana costs (meaning they can be cast using any type of mana), excluding certain cards which cost .
"Artifacts matter" has been a major mechanical theme of several sets and blocks. These include Antiquities, the Urza's block (Artifacts Cycle), the Mirrodin block, the Esper shard of the Alara block, the Scars of Mirrodin block, the Kaladesh block, and the historic mechanic from Dominaria.
Many artifacts are also creatures. They can attack and defend like other creatures and are affected by anything that affects creatures (or artifacts).
Colored artifacts have colored mana costs. The Dissension expansion introduced the concept of colored artifacts with Transguild Courier, which did not yet require colored mana to cast. The Future Sight expansion's Sarcomite Myr was the first and only artifact card at the time of the set's release to require colored mana for its casting cost. The Shadowmoor expansion's Reaper King was the first artifact card with a hybrid mana cost that contained colored mana symbols, but which enabled players to not have to pay any colored mana to cast the card due to the specifics of the card's hybrid mana cost.
The use of colored artifacts as a game concept was taken even further in Esper shard theme of Shards of Alara, which was the first expansion to contain many artifacts that require specific colors of mana to cast, and the entire Alara block prominently features colored artifacts that require colored mana to cast. Colored artifacts returned in New Phyrexia and in a minor capacity in the third Artifact block, Kaladesh. By Core Set 2020 they had become deciduous.
Friendly to artifacts
White and blue, as the colors of civilization, are both very friendly with artifacts. Red is secondary and tends to be associated with Equipment and Vehicles (along with white) or using artifacts as a resource (interacting with things like treasure artifact tokens).
Unfriendly to artifacts
Artifact destruction most frequently occurs in Green or Red, and occasionally in white. Green is also the color which receives protection from artifacts. Green rarely interacts with artifacts positively. Red tends to be the color to gain benefit from sacrificing artifacts. Of the five colors, black generally has the fewest cards that interact on any level with artifacts, with almost all of those cards coming in "artifacts matter" sets.
- A card type. An artifact is a permanent. See rule 301, “Artifacts.”
- 301. Artifacts
- 301.1. A player who has priority may cast an artifact card from their hand during a main phase of their turn when the stack is empty. Casting an artifact as a spell uses the stack. (See rule 601, “Casting Spells.”)
- 301.2. When an artifact spell resolves, its controller puts it onto the battlefield under their control.
- 301.3. Artifact subtypes are always a single word and are listed after a long dash: “Artifact — Equipment.” Artifact subtypes are also called artifact types. Artifacts may have multiple subtypes. See rule 205.3g for the complete list of artifact types.
- 301.4. Artifacts have no characteristics specific to their card type. Most artifacts have no colored mana symbols in their mana costs, and are therefore colorless. However, there is no correlation between being colorless and being an artifact: artifacts may be colored, and colorless objects may be card types other than artifact.
- 301.5. Some artifacts have the subtype “Equipment.” An Equipment can be attached to a creature. It can’t legally be attached to anything that isn’t a creature.
- 301.5a The creature an Equipment is attached to is called the “equipped creature.” The Equipment is attached to, or “equips,” that creature.
- 301.5b Equipment spells are cast like other artifact spells. Equipment enter the battlefield like other artifacts. They don’t enter the battlefield attached to a creature. The equip keyword ability attaches the Equipment to a creature you control (see rule 702.6, “Equip”). Control of the creature matters only when the equip ability is activated and when it resolves. Spells and other abilities may also attach an Equipment to a creature. If an effect attempts to attach an Equipment to an object that can’t be equipped by it, the Equipment doesn’t move.
- 301.5c An Equipment that’s also a creature can’t equip a creature unless that Equipment has reconfigure (see rule 702.151, “Reconfigure”). An Equipment that loses the subtype “Equipment” can’t equip a creature. An Equipment can’t equip itself. An Equipment that equips an illegal or nonexistent permanent becomes unattached from that permanent but remains on the battlefield. (This is a state-based action. See rule 704.) An Equipment can’t equip more than one creature. If a spell or ability would cause an Equipment to equip more than one creature, the Equipment’s controller chooses which creature it equips.
- 301.5d An Equipment’s controller is separate from the equipped creature’s controller; the two need not be the same. Changing control of the creature doesn’t change control of the Equipment, and vice versa. Only the Equipment’s controller can activate its abilities. However, if the Equipment grants an ability to the equipped creature (with “gains” or “has”), the equipped creature’s controller is the only one who can activate that ability.
- 301.5e An ability of a permanent that refers to the “equipped creature” refers to whatever creature that permanent is attached to, even if the permanent with the ability isn’t an Equipment.
- 301.6. Some artifacts have the subtype “Fortification.” A Fortification can be attached to a land. It can’t legally be attached to an object that isn’t a land. Fortification’s analog to the equip keyword ability is the fortify keyword ability. Rules 301.5a–e apply to Fortifications in relation to lands just as they apply to Equipment in relation to creatures, with one clarification relating to rule 301.5c: a Fortification that’s also a creature (not a land) can’t fortify a land. (See rule 702.67, “Fortify.”)
- 301.7. Some artifacts have the subtype “Vehicle.” Most Vehicles have a crew ability which allows them to become artifact creatures. See rule 702.122, “Crew.”
- 301.7a Each Vehicle has a printed power and toughness, but it has these characteristics only if it’s also a creature. See rule 208.3.
- 301.7b If a Vehicle becomes a creature, it immediately has its printed power and toughness. Other effects, including the effect that makes it a creature, may modify these values or set them to different values.
Mono, Poly, and Continuous are terms found on the type lines of artifact cards printed prior to Revised, also known as Third Edition. They served to identify how often and whether artifacts could be activated. There was also a rule from Alpha until Sixth Edition that stated that for tapped artifacts "effects of the artifact cease until it is untapped", giving them rules baggage like Walls. As the rules became more precise, this language was abandoned. Artifacts printed prior to this now no longer carry this additional baggage as to avoid printed-card errata, it left traces through three cards: Winter Orb, Howling Mine, and Static Orb.
- Mono Artifact (Obsolete)
- An obsolete term that appeared on the type line of artifacts with activated abilities that caused the artifact to become tapped as a cost. Cards printed with this text have received errata in the Oracle card reference to simply say “Artifact,” and those abilities now include the tap symbol in their costs.
- Poly Artifact (Obsolete)
- An obsolete term that appeared on the type line of artifacts with activated abilities that didn’t cause the artifact to be tapped as a cost. Cards printed with this text have received errata in the Oracle card reference to simply say “Artifact.”
- Continuous Artifact (Obsolete)
- An obsolete term that appeared on the type line of artifacts without activated abilities. Cards printed with this text have received errata in the Oracle card reference to simply say “Artifact.”
The following is a list of the only artifact tokens without a subtype.
|Token Name||Color||Type Line||P/T||Text Box||Source||Printings|
|Etherium Cell||Colorless||Artifact||, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color.|
|Land Mine||Colorless||Artifact||, Sacrifice this artifact: This artifact deals 2 damage to target attacking creature without flying.|
|Feather||Red||Artifact||, Sacrifice Feather: Return target Phoenix card from your graveyard to the battlefield tapped.|
|Icy Manalith||Colorless||Snow Artifact||: Add one mana of any color.|
|Replicated Ring||Colorless||Snow Artifact||: Add one mana of any color.|
|Tamiyo's Notebook||Colorless||Legendary Artifact||Spells you cast cost less to cast. : Draw a card.|
|Volo's Journal||Colorless||Legendary Artifact||Hexproof
Whenever you cast a creature spell, note one of its creature types that hasn't been noted for this artifact.
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