Too-Specific Top 10 - Golems
(Malcator, Purity Overseer | Art by Johann Bodin)
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Sundering Titan is the only Golem that can destroy
a land multiple lands?)
Phyrexia: All Will Be One is full of shoutouts to various beloved cards from the plane of Mirrodin and to Phyrexians themselves, but there's none of them I like quite so much as Malcator, Purity Overseer.
There was a cycle of "Splicers" in New Phyrexia that were themselves a shoutout to a card called Precursor Golem from Scars of Mirrodin. They all had one thing in common: they made a 3/3 Golem upon entering the battlefield.
Going even further, these Splicers also left their own personal design imprint on their Golems as long as they stuck around, creating a sort of "Bad Sliver" theme where the more Splicers you have, the cooler your Golems got. It's a bit of a shame that Malcator itself doesn't follow that part of the trend, but it makes up for it with - you guessed it - even more Golems, and with the capability to create hordes of Golems right there in the command zone, how could we not pursue it?
There are 137 Golems currently playable in the Commander format. There are a further 25 cards which make Golem tokens. Unfortunately, many of those Golems and creators of Golems are not in color for Malcator, and almost all of them feel overpriced. So what are aspiring Splicers to do?
Top 10 Golem ETBs
Well, we are in Azorius with a commander that has an enter-the-battlefield ability in a tribe that has a whole subsection dedicated to Splicers who bring Golems along when they come into play. Not only that, but there are a ton of blink effects that can target artifacts in addition to creatures, meaning we could rather trivially turn on Malcator's end of turn Golem as well!
There's no doubt that our main target for blinking will be Malcator itself, but I imagine the first time we plop it down on turn three to get an immediate Golem, followed by another one at end of turn because we played down an artifact land and a mana rock prior to casting it, that folks will be doing all they can to remove Malcator, so with that in mind, we're going to want some other Golems that do things when they enter or leave the battlefield.
So let's see what the options are, shall we?
Criteria: Golems or cards that can create Golem tokens within the Azorius color identity that trigger upon themselves or another creature or artifact entering or leaving the battlefield. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score.
10. Shield-Wall Sentinel
(2,780 Inclusions, 0% of 925,868 Decks)
Continuing on the "feels overpriced" theme that is apparently inherent to Golems, Shield-Wall Sentinel is nonetheless exactly the kind of effect you're looking for in a blink deck: a repeatable tutor. Unfortunately, the Golem-specific options are a little slim, but that's only disappointing news for Golem blink decks. For those looking to broaden their horizons beyond that, there are a ton of really good walls you can find, many of which even have great enter the battlefield effects.
Top 10 ETB Walls
- Wall of Omens
- Wall of Blossoms
- Mnemonic Wall
- Gatecreeper Vine
- Akroan Horse
- Jeskai Barricade
- Wall of Runes
- Carven Caryatid
- Jungle Barrier
There's more than enough here for us to follow a whole tangent and start making an Arcades, the Strategist blink deck, which you know I'm susceptible to, so let's just move on before we do anything rash.
9. Sensor Splicer
(2,839 Inclusions, 0% of 982,486 Decks)
At five mana for four power and four toughness worth of bodies, Sensor Splicer fits our unofficial "overpriced" criteria to a T. At the same time, blinking it repeatedly would give us a whole bunch of Golems, and as long as it stuck around they would have vigilance. Vigilance isn't often a keyword that everyone is beating down the door for (those being more the evasive keywords like flying or trample), but I would ask folks to rethink their keyword prejudices and really consider vigilance. There was a reason that Serra Angel was the original control finisher way back in the day; being able to attack and still be around to block protects you while still maintaining an ever-present threat for your opponents. With 1/1 tokens, that might not feel that relevant, as you're just holding up chump blockers, but Golems aren't just chump blockers.
8. Brass Herald
(3,599 Inclusions, 0% of 2,193,073 Decks)
There's no doubt that there are a lot of words on Brass Herald, and one would think that as we're brewing a Golem blink deck, we'd be stoked to find that there was a Golem that draws more Golems and can then make them larger. There's only one problem: four cards is just not enough. This is a problem decks have had across the board with Brass Herald, to be honest. It may make the initial 99 of a lot of slower lists, but the first time you spend six mana to completely whiff on pulling another Zombie or Pirate or Jellyfish, you take this thing out of its sleeve.
7. Master Splicer
(4,149 Inclusions, 0% of 982,486 Decks)
Hey, four mana for a 4/4! The bare minimum of efficiency! And you even get a 1/1 tacked on for funsies!
In all reality, four mana for five power and toughness worth of creatures is still not enough for your average deck to consider things, but if you've got a whole team full of Golems, you're always going to be happy to see the equivalent of Muscle Sliver even if it's not so low to the ground.
6. Precursor Golem
(4,764 Inclusions, 0% of 2,193,073 Decks)
Precursor Golem is very much a mixed bag when it comes to Golem theme decks. Yes, it will give you nine power worth of Golems for only five mana, which is a deal you're not likely to find just about anywhere. At the same time, it will endanger every Golem you have. There could be some risk/reward involved, since you can also copy your spells that would pump your Golems, but there is still the likelihood that a single Swords to Plowshares will wipe out your entire board.
Strangely, though, where Precursor Golem usually shines is actually in blink decks. Flickering it in and out of existence with activated or triggered abilities nets you two Golems per blink, which tends to add up quickly, and when your entire deck isn't at risk you tend to look much more favorably on that deal. With us combining the two strategies of Golems and blink, there's going to have to be a lot of testing to find out if we can feasibly use Precursor Golem.
5. Blade Splicer
(7,231 Inclusions, 1% of 982,486 Decks)
Now here is some efficiency I can get behind. Three mana for four power and first strike for the team. Blade Splicer is the cheapest of all the Splicers, and it's the one you're always going to hope to see in your opening hand so you can get the ball rolling early.
4. Ancestral Statue
(7,760 Inclusions, 0% of 2,193,073 Decks)
Hey, look, it's bad Kor Skyfisher and bad Rescuer Chwinga, all in one card!
Okay, okay, those in the know are aware that Ancestral Statue is a combo card. With it being both colorless and able to return itself to hand, if you can manage to discount its entire mana cost you can get infinite enters, leaves, and cast triggers. This can be accomplished a multitude of ways, but the most common is with Animar, Soul of Elements, Rakdos, Lord of Riots, or with fellow Golem Mycosynth Golem.
3. Cavalier of Dawn
(9,877 Inclusions, 1% of 982,486 Decks)
At almost 10,000 inclusions, Cavalier of Dawn continues to confound me. Even in a reanimator-style deck where you don't need to worry about the prohibitive mana cost or the fact that it's a death trigger instead of a leaves-the-battlefield trigger, Cavalier of Dawn just doesn't seem worth it at all. Five mana for a not-as-flexible Generous Gift is a terrible rate, especially with three pips, and the tacked-on recursion for artifacts and enchantments is unlikely to hit anything impactful if you're not fully dedicated to artifacts and enchantments, at which point you still have to recast whatever it is that you get back.
I get where peoples' heads are at, because Cavalier of Dawn looks like Thragtusk at first glance, and Thragtusk was a mainstay of blink and recursion decks for most of EDH's history. But Cavalier of Dawn is harder to cast, harder to abuse, and honestly? Thragtusk doesn't really see that much play anymore. Things have gotten too fast for five-mana creatures that don't really actually fit your gameplan.
2. Meteor Golem
(60,224 Inclusions, 3% of 2,193,073 Decks)
Speaking of expensive creatures that I thought had been left behind: Meteor Golem! If paying five for nonland permanent removal seems bad, then paying seven is even worse. The difference, as it always has been, is that you can play Meteor Golem in colors that usually don't have access to this kind of flexible removal. Even that flexibility has started to peter out as far as an argument, however, given that every color combination has gotten better answers over the years.
- White has always had access to exiling every permanent type but lands, and the list of cards that can do it increases with every set.
- Blue has recently acquired the ability to exile artifacts and creatures with the likes of Reality Shift, Resculpt, and Ravenform, along with the ability it's always had to bounce any permanent type and counter any spell.
- Black has recently had its pie expanded to be able to destroy enchantments, most notably with Feed the Swarm. It still struggles with destroying artifacts, although Gate to Phyrexia is right there for those interested in jumping through hoops.
- Red seems to be the only color remaining with a true weakness, as it can't destroy enchantments at all. It still has Chaos Warp, though.
- Green is not as good as the other colors at removing creatures, but is still very capable of doing so through any number of means from fight to Desert Twister.
In other words, if you're not looping Meteor Golem's enter-the-battlefield effect over and over again, there's less reason every day to be playing it, and even if you are looping it, the cost is still just not worth it in most circumstances. You'd have to be doing something crazy like making a blink deck that cares about Golems with a ton of artifact ramp to even consider it!
1. Solemn Simulacrum
(360,935 Inclusions, 16% of 2,193,073 Decks)
While there's no doubt that the popularity of Solemn Simulacrum has dropped off as more colors get better at ramping and mana curves get ever lower, 16% of all decks is still really impressive. While I don't personally think I have any decks still playing it, I do get the ease of just throwing a sad robot in your deck right alongside Sol Ring. That should probably at this point more be restricted to decks that can repeatedly get this little Golem that could in and out of the graveyard repeatedly, but hey: brewers gonna do what brewers gonna do.
This list is fairly all-inclusive when it comes to Golems with enter-the-battlefield abilities, but there were a few that didn't quite make the Top 10 that ended up in my build anyhow:
Wing Splicer might just be the best Golem-maker available in Azorius, with flying being the best evasion ability available. In similar fashion, we're playing a deck that wants to put a ton of artifacts down all the time, and as such Glassdust Hulk's unblockable body that grows as we get more and more out of control is top notch. Finally, Soultether Golem might be the worst legal Golem by the numbers, but in a deck that's looking to plop down a bunch of Golems and swing, a 3/3 Golem for two mana is actually a bit of a steal!
As for the rest of the deck, let's take a look, shall we?
Malcator Blink Golems
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I was pleasantly surprised at just how powerful this deck was. Yeah, it's got a ton of ramp, including six zero- or one-mana rocks, and that's definitely part of it, but overall, what's really the most powerful is just plopping down Malcator with a blink effect. Getting a two-mana rock down on turn two, then playing out an artifact land and an Ephemerate to end up starting off the next turn with 12 power worth of Golems is just very strong, even if they don't have any keywords yet.
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
While I'm perfectly happy to restrict my decks all on my own, I was a bit surprised that Malcator, Purity Overseer ended up as an Azorius-only commander. Don't get me wrong, I get why green was left out in a world where Ich-Tekik, Salvage Splicer already exists and can be partnered up to go crazy with Golems and +1/+1 counters with Ishai, Ojutai Dragonspeaker, but I do wonder whether that feels Golem-esque enough.
Finally, what is your favorite Golem? Does it have an enter-the-battlefield ability? Have you ever built a Golem or blink deck?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the table that only gets set up for special occasions, only to be torn down after, and then put back up, and then torn down, and then put back up....