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Artificer Trade School: Academy Redux [PRIMER]

Commander / EDH Artifact Combo Mono-Blue Primer Stax Storm


In the ancient times, we took up Magic the Gathering to ward off the darkness. The cold emptiness of the graveyard shift threatened to break us, like the legions of tech-joint forebears who had vanished into the quit. Our tribe formed to ascend from the madness, to devote ourselves to enlightenment, to realize Renaissance around a rolled out meeting room roundtable and ruin each other with trading cards.

Tribes may Gather for a sense of oneness, but one is by its very nature that of the individual, and the nature of individual in group is dominion. The Academy rose from the ashes of the Dark Ages in the spirit of absolute domination. I, Employee 27847, was the reigning tribal champion, and my Academy deck was the living embodiment of my inner Spike. Whenever my tribe challenged me, it was time to go to school. Drop a handful of moxen, Tolarian Academy for six, Time Spiral into more, Tinker, repeat, storm. Like Urza, I ran that school, uncontested. Like Urza, I got too powerful. Like Urza, but if you like Urza nobody likes you.

Family needs must outweigh darkness even if our darkness become light. I succumbed to the quit. Without the Magic, without the Gathering, I existed for a time, out of time. It turned out to be a long time.

Epochs passed: multiplayer roundtable became EDH, became Commander. I returned to a tribe turned civilization. The now-ruling-casual-with-rules Rules Regime had shut down all four campuses of Tolarian Academy, fired her Tinkerers, and rendered most of their glorious brown toys useless. Thankfully, WOTC had implemented an ingenious plan called the reserved list, to thwart the evil Rules Regime's plan to shit all over my investment. While the Academy might be stuck in a time bubble years behind Gaea's Cradle, my moxen were worth a thousand Commander staples, and Urza, Lord High Artificer had returned to help me spend this fortune and rebuild an institution.

Urza, Lord High Artificer is Tolarian Academy

Urza, Lord High Artificer is Mox Sapphire

Urza, Lord High Artificer is Azielle

The core Tolarian philosophy I've come to adopt, after majoring in numerous powered-down builds, is that the answer to "but Urza is oppressive and overpowered," is simply, "yes, and I'm playing Urza." To grow as an artificer you need to accept, deep within your soul, that you're building an Urza deck, and just own it.

Urza, Lord High Artificer is Urza, Lord High Artificer

Urza is custom built to grind your opponents to a standstill, accelerate you into the infinite, and ensure that nobody can interact with your win con. To maintain one's flow in EDH, one must listen to one's Commander. Urza says, "hey friendly guy, go have friends somewhere else."

Now that we've accepted enrolment at Tolaria, let's go be Tolarians.

The first equation you learn at Tolaria: Urza + infinity = uncontested win.

Urza, Lord High Artificer's third ability, accessible in multiples and at instant speed, can be used repeatedly in response to answers. If any player should threaten to interrupt a win, once infinite, Urza can simply dig until a counter spell is exiled, and continue on with his endgame.

As Urza provides direction as an afterthought, we need only focus on achieving magnitude to win. The following mana engines offer infinite magnitude for our Commander to direct:

With infinite resource available, and a competent director to lead the board, it's time to close the deal.

Since Urza, Lord High Artificer employs an endgame directive of library contents played from exile, our strongest closer will be Thassa's Oracle. The Oracle, dropping its win-con on the stack as an ETB trigger, will complete a hostile takeover even if our opponents push removal through the legion of counterspells we have backing her — and backing her from the exile zone, nonetheless. Laboratory Maniac offers a backup to the Oracle upon next draw, and with multiple cantrips such as Brainstorm waiting in exile with him, that next draw will occur immediately.

This draw-win strategy can be accomplished without the use of Urza, should anything unpleasant befall our Headmaster. Blue Sun's Zenith can sub for Urza as an infinite mana dump, offering both Lab Man, and multiple-opponent decking strategies. In finite math situations, Etherium Sculptor + Mystic Forge + Sensei's Divining Top can draw your library for free, and each provide solid enough value on their own to warrant inclusion in this list. Force of Will and Flusterstorm have been included to ensure this line of play succeeds.

Grind is where Urza's oft-hated second ability shines. Ultimately, the economy of this game boils down to card advantage, and mana advantage. Urza's universal tap-as-mox ability takes advantage of older artifacts' tendency to disable triggered abilities when tapped by shutting down positive balanced effects during opponents' turns, or negative effects during only our turn.

Howling Mine + Urza, Lord High Artificer addresses card advantage by throwing the Mine's group advantage off balance, shutting down the ability on opposing draw steps, while Urza, Lord High Artificer + Winter Orb and Static Orb + Urza, Lord High Artificer throw off the balance of the entire game system, shutting down only opposing players' untap steps. Back to Basics has a similar effect to these cringe-inducing combos on its own, since 30% of the deck is Island.

Urza's common lines of play stack massive storm counts and there's a salt deposit in his sapphire mine: Temporal Fissure will punish anyone who dares to outpace the grind.

While this deck can hold its own in a grind — and I'll sometimes pilot a bounce/counter grindfest, using repeated bounce from Boomerang + Isochron Scepter to create an X/X token army — Urza, Lord High Artificer is a combo Commander at his core.

To support combo play, this is a tutor-heavy deck. Multiple legal Tinker-type tutors were included, both for the sake of their effectiveness, and to pay homage to the Tinker-Academy list that inspired me to build this Commander. Additionally, to make use of the multiple bounce spells normally used as removal, I've included fetch mages such as Tribute Mage and Spellseeker.

Dual-usage continues through the inclusion of Transmute cards. Rings of Brighthearth + Muddle in the Mixture is an artifice/spell combo that fetches an artifice/spell combo for the win. Using artifacts and spells to find artifacts and spells to be the most oppressively overpowered force in the Magic the Gathering Universe is quintessential Urza.

Yes, and I'm playing Urza.

Beyond balancing and tuning stats to produce numerically delicious graphs (20 x <= 1 CMC, 20 x 2 CMC, 20 x >=3 CMC) I have my decks built into functionally and aesthetically balanced five card blocks, such that each block forms multiple mirrored patterns, while adhering to strict functionality and thematic principles within both its mirrored grouping, and the deck as a whole.

It's difficult to describe accurately, or display using this site's interface, but each deck is a functional piece of art, as beautiful to behold as it is true to purpose.

Though I own my decks in paper, I rarely if ever actually play in group. I simply like the challenge of theory-crafting something perfect, numerically, functionally, and aesthetically.

I hope that my OCD outlet provides your playgroup some entertainment.

For you, and forever,



Updates Add


57% Casual

43% Competitive

Date added 1 year
Last updated 23 hours
Key combos

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

8 - 0 Mythic Rares

37 - 0 Rares

10 - 0 Uncommons

14 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 2.00
Tokens 1/1 Construct, 3/3 Ape, 3/3 Frog Lizard, 1/1 Thopter, 1/1 Bird
Folders edh
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Revision 3 See all

23 hours ago)

+1 Blast Zone main
-1 Ghost Quarter main