Ranking Every Equipment with EDHREC – Part 11: Mr. Steal Your Graveyard

(Whispersteel Dagger | Art by Svetlin Velinov)

You Got Any Fun Jokes?

Hello, and welcome back to this series where we rank every Equipment based on the number of decks that play them, according to the data on EDHREC.

I was expecting to be able to talk about spoilers for the new set, and makes jokes about it, but those aren't happening till next week soooooooo I got nothing. Next week, though, I'll have something very funny. I promise. Gonna be the best intro ever or your money back... which is no money... so it really means nothing.

I'm gonna start now.

140: Short Sword: 764 Decks

Hey! Look at that! It's the card I won't shut up about!

I didn't actually intend to talk about Short Sword as much as I have, because it's not good. You certainly don’t play it in the average Pang Tong, Young Phoenix deck. The +1 power is just never gonna tangibly matter against 40 life. Even when you have synergy with it in Equipment decks, like Sram, Senior Edificer, Short Sword is just such bland toast. You can usually find something more powerful, like Shadowspear, or something even cheaper, like Kite Shield, and so on. If you’re the type of player who's been playing for any substantial amount of time, you probably know that Short Sword isn’t good, and you might wonder why I talk about it and its variants so much.

Well, it’s because I see Short Sword a lot, and Honed Khopesh, and Shard of Broken Glass, and I’ll probably see the next archetypical Short-Sword-esque Equipment when it comes out, too. People just love Equipment. They love Equipment! Giving a creature like seven Equipment to make them massive is a super achievable goal for new players. Heck, even for experienced players, it’s a super fun win condition that’s easy to play. Like, yeah, I could play a Storm deck or a control deck and spend 30 minutes a turn cycle, or I could just play Akiri, Line Slinger and kill people. I dig having something like that.

And yeah, Short Sword and friends aren’t the best choice, but the thing is that Equipment commanders are very good now. Sram, and Valduk, and Akiri, and Wyleth, and Reyav make even a dork like Short Sword pretty decent. I still probably wouldn’t recommend the lower-end ones, like Veteran’s Sidearm, but for some of the better common Equipment, like Short Sword, it's a lot harder for me to say what to play over it. You could play stuff like Shadowspear, or Shuko, or Grafted Wargear, but none of those are "strictly better." You’re not making a quick swap, you’re more telling them how to upgrade their deck. That’s a lot more work. Might as well just let people play the easy card.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Unlike a dork like Manalith, I don't think this one is hurting people that much, even if it isn't the best option.

139: Sigil of Valor: 776 Decks

Sigil of Valor looks great at first, but the "attacks alone" clause makes this card fairly awkward. I continue to be a Stan for Veteran’s Armaments partly because it allows you to both "go wide" with a ton of tokens and also "Go tall," with one giant dork. Here, you have to choose between going tall and going wide since you can't attack with your massive board to trigger this. It's usually gonna be better to attack with all your tokens, instead.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Which is not to say the card is bad. It just shouldn't be as ubiquitous as... well, you know.

138: Bladed Pinions: 801 Decks

Isn't it nice when you’ve basically already talked about a card before you even talk about it? I’ve already talked about how little first strike does in Commander, and I’ve already mentioned that the cheaper flying Equipment are much better than the more expensive ones, so from that, I think you could guess what I’m gonna say about Bladed Pinions. Use that fancy logical brain of yours.

Really? You’re gonna make me do it? Do I really have to come out with it?

Ugh. Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I swear, I have to do all the work around here.

137: Heartseeker: 833 Decks

Okay, this card is hilarious in exactly one deck, and it’s the deck you’re all thinking of: Syr Gwyn. You can just turn all your creatures into Avatar of Woe for four mana. Is it awkward to do that, and not attack? Yes, but I don’t care. It’s such a janky synergy, and Syr Gwyn even has vigilance.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Now, I would never play this anywhere else, but Syr Gwyn has over 2,000 decks, and I would never play it without her, so yeah. Slam underplayed.

136: Seraphic Greatsword: 836 Decks

See, sometimes writing about a card months after it was released means that I can represent a obscure, or maybe even new point of view that you might not have thought about before.

Seraphic Greatsword is not one of those cards.

I don't think there's a single thing I can say about Greatsword and the greater "mono-white question" that hasn't already been spoken of to death. I'm sure you all starting formulating diatribes the moment you saw this card, so let's not beat around the bush.

I think this card is very bad. Equip 4 basically sinks this, and while the 4/4 Angels every turn are a decent rate, that’s the best case scenario for this card. That’s just sad when compared with the power of something like Genesis Wave. This was from Commander Legends. It was supposed to be the Mono-White Mythic Equipment to rock the format, and this is what we got.

But see, part of the reason Greatsword is so emblematic of the discussion is that it's not only pretty terrible, but also very within the color pie. White’s strengths were not made with in Commander in mind. A lot of the key white traits (tokens, Equipment, aggressive creatures, combat tricks) don't really fit the strengths of the durdly, value-filled smackfest that is EDH. I agree with the claim tossed around that we kinda made a format where white doesn’t fit, and then asked why white doesn’t fit. It’s like building a Taco Bell, and then some people move in, use it as a pizzeria, and then complain that you don’t have pizza ovens. Seraphic Greatsword is pulling at the best it possibly can on some level. Sure, you could make this card Equip for 0 and draw seven cards when it dealt damage, but at that point, I kinda have to ask why you want it to be white at all. (Though it might have at least been nice for the Greatsword to read "the opponent with the most life" instead of "the player with the most life".)

The problem of keeping white on-brand, and good in whatever Magic is at any given moment, is an ebb and flow as old as time. You're trying to make a color system designed almost 30 years ago fit something that was somewhat unexpectedly layered on top of it. As I said, I don't feel like I have much to add. The one thing I can maybe do is just stress that this isn't exactly an easy problem to solve. If Wizards could just drop a solution out of the sky, they would.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Plus, with stuff like Esper Sentinel, we do seem to be (very slowly) moving in the right direction. Hopefully, a couple of years from now we won't have to talk about this anymore.

135: Flayer Husk: 869 Decks

If you were gonna make me play a two-mana Short Sword, having it come with a body is a decent bonus. Flayer Husk is a much better top deck than the OG Short Sword since it gives you a dork to suit up immediately, but when you draw it turn three, it’s still gonna do exactly what you need it to. It’s fine.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Don’t play these in the average aggressive deck, but when you need Equipment synergies, this is a solid boi.

134: Whispersteel Dagger: 872 Decks

I don’t think anyone knows what to make of Whispersteel Dagger. I couldn't even steal an idea from fellow writer Angelo's set review. He didn't know what to make of this, how am I supposed to do better?

I don’t think it’s supposed to be a mill card, since the random Malignus that you happen to mill is not going to help you mill more cards in most cases. Is it a graveyard card? That’s probably better, but most graveyard-based deck aren’t going to be milling opponents, and even if they are, they probably would rather have stuff from their own graveyard.

Is it just a casual theft card? Maybe, but only hitting graveyards is awkward. The theft decks aren’t the type to be super interactive, so they aren’t going to be killing a lot of creatures. Gather Specimens and Stolen Identity are going to get cooler things for you on average, because your opponents are gonna naturally fuel them with cool spells! Honestly, it might just exist for Anowon, the Ruin Thief. It was printed in his precon, and it works with all the evasive Rogues and incidental milling. It’s probably really fun there, albeit extremely mana-intensive. Anywhere else, I struggle to see a use.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: It’s not boring, I’ll give you that. I’m just not sure what market it’s catering to.

133: Kite Shield: 875 Decks

You kinda have to wonder why the popularity spread on all these 0-mana artifacts is so wide. I mean, the text on these is all irrelevant. I guess Kite Shield text is not the worst on a Puresteel Paladin, but you could swap this for any 0-CMC Equipment and nobody would notice, so why is this higher than the Sigil of Distinction from last week, and lower than the others? Certainly not for that art.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Mmmmm, Cheerios.

132: Sai of the Shinobi: 900 Decks

You can basically take everything I said about Stormrider Rig and apply it to Sai of the Shinobi. I went into rather large detail on Rig when it came up earlier, but if you want a summary: it turns on any shenanigans you have in mind with Koll or Kemba or whoever you want for essentially free. Incredibly busted when it works out.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: If I was gonna tell people to never play Short Sword again, these cards are probably the cleanest swaps to recommend.

131: Scythe of the Wretched: 924 Decks

I am grumpy. I wanted Scythe of the Wretched to be more fun than it actually is because it’s really awkward to do stupid combos with. It's not impossible, but it is a lot harder to abuse than a card like Neko-Te because you need to be killing the creatures to actually gain value. If you want to combo with Tibor and Lumia or Pestilence Demon, you’re gonna need to give it deathtouch, which is just kinda more work than I’m in for. I might as well reach for Charisma-esque combos at that point.

Given that, I guess you want to play Scythe on creatures that are actually likely to kill things on their own, like Ashling the Pilgrim, but there’s some extra text buried on Scythe that makes that prospect a bit more awkward: you actually have to move the Scythe to whichever creature you steal. Sure, if you steal like six creatures at once, it won’t really matter, but if you’re gonna try and steal a creature every turn, or over multiple triggers with something like Kelsien, the Plague, then Scythe gets much worse. It suddenly becomes four mana every time you wanna steal a creature. Yeah, that’s still good, but even when Scythe does what you want it to do, it’s still pretty awkward, and it's so much effort. I am all for weird unique Equipment, but this card is not doing it for me.

Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Scythe's definitely not a bad card. I’m sure some day I'm gonna get blown out spectacularly by it, but it’s a lot of steps for a pretty bland effect in the end.

If James Bond Used This Card, It'd Be a Spythe

Ah! I still have nothing. Go away until next week. I'll be prepped then. Actually, before you go, let me know if anything struck your fancy this article. Do you still see the occasional Short Sword? Do you have a spot for Whispersteel Dagger? Let me know in the comments! Until next week!

Joseph started playing in Theros Block but decided that the best way to play the game was to learn every single card and hope that would somehow make him good at Magic. It hasn't. He is a college student in Santa Fe, New Mexico and also enjoys reading and other games of all shapes and sizes.