Urza, Lord High Artificer – Modern Horizons
Date Reviewed: Nov. 10, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
When we first reviewed Urza, Lord High Artificer, I had no idea that we’d soon have a set where we got to see him in action as the ruler of Argive. It’s a good time to revisit him, because he ended up foreshadowing several of The Brothers’ War‘s themes and concepts. There’s the simple ones like Construct tribal, and the subtle ones like getting consistent advantage out of a randomized ability. There’s also the way that he was the first black-bordered card to give us a more direct portrayal of the incredible power Urza was renowned for in the story – turning all of your artifacts into colored mana sources to ramp out even bigger and more powerful artifacts is something we could only have dreamed of in the days of Antiquities. And all of his game text comes together into something very dangerous: if you have even a couple of artifacts to boost the Construct token, you also have enough to cast big spells, and if you don’t have big spells in hand, you can use them to power his Temporal Aperture activated ability. There’s a good reason why Urza is the person who every artificer aspires to be.
Limited: 3 (Modern Horizons isn’t unusually artifact-heavy, but I think his activated ability has the potential to do interesting things)
Commander [EDH]: 4.5
Way back in the dark ages of 2019, when Urza’s first proper black-bordered appearance made it into the game, I was initially a bit cautious in my estimation of his power; he had a potent suite of abilities, but I wasn’t sure if they’d pan out, given his mana cost and his lack of self-sufficiency. Turns out I might have been a bit too pessimistic, as in the three years since, Urza, Lord High Artificer has made quite the name for himself in Modern and, to a lesser degree, Vintage. Which is impressive!
The main thing that really makes Urza tick is his mana ability; he brings one artifact with him, but being able to tap any artifact for mana, without summoning sickness considerations, is massive.He’s pretty hard to shut down, ducking past most artifact-impeding strategies (making for a good back-up plan), and while his Mind’s Desire-like ability can be potent, the main attraction is turning all your artifacts into criminal amounts of mana and keeping rude chains and combos going with them (like with Thopter Foundry). Really, the only way to keep him from going off completely on resolution is something like Phyrexian Revoker, but even that’s imperfect.
I’d say Urza’s proven himself, a rather unpleasant combo extender who makes a board into a massive, indomitable nightmare after only a couple of turns. He’s not for every deck, but he’s proven that the ability to turn anything into more mana is usually a good ability to have.
Limited: 3 (not unplayable, but his friends are mostly from other sets)
Commander [EDH]: 4.25
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