Ranking Every Equipment with EDHREC – Part 17: That's Not What Meek Means at All!
(Sword of the Meek | Art by Franz Vohwinkel)
Appealing to the Cool Kids
So I've been doing some research, and it turns out I've been doing this thing all wrong. Did you know you're supposed to be negative on the internet? I know, I've never heard of it either, but apparently that's how you get those big money clicks. Well, I suppose I can always give it a try. Ahem.
Everything sucks! Magic sucks in particular, and because it sucks so much, we're gonna talk about every single Equipment and how much they all suck, and how many decks they're in (which all suck) using data from EDHREC, which is a terrible shill website that sucks!
Is that enough? I think that's good enough. Okie dokie! Let's earnestly examine these exotic and elegant Equipment. Ah! I love Magic!
80: Vorrac Battlehorns: 2,393 Decks
I have now concluded I talked about trample waaaaaaay too early. I could have used my OG trample talk for literally any one of these trample Equipment and it would have meant the same thing. Suffice it to say, I'm gonna need more than just trample to make me want to play this card.
Can we do anything cute with the bit about only being able to be blocked by one creature, aka the Stalking mechanic? Not really. It’s pretty cute with commanders that have menace, like Greven, Predator Captain. It basically makes them unblockable, and that's fairly legit. Outside of that, though, it's way more work for evasion than I really want. Overall, underwhelmed.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: It's also kinda cute with trample itself since you can't chump block it, but that's probably not going to help your blocker get through a 10/10.
79: Fleetfeather Sandals: 2,411 Decks
The theme today appears to be “keyword soup Equipment”, though flying and haste are a better pair than trample and 'stalking'. I'd much rather have hard evasion and faster draws than soft evasion and... more soft evasion.
That said, haste for two mana is a lot more awkward than even haste for one, and if all you want is flying, you’re probably better off with a boring card, like Wings of Hubris, or a slightly more interesting card, like Zephyr Boots, so despite being better, I'm still not into it.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: It’s not awful, but it doesn’t seem incredible.
78: Moonsilver Spear: 2,529 Decks
This card has to be better than Seraphic Greatsword, yeah? Moonsilver Spear costs two more to cast than Greatsword, but costs the same amount to Equip, and it also makes the Angels regardless of who you swing at. That seems like a much better deal. I guess the Greatsword gives +2/+2, which is better than first strike, so maybe that gives Greatsword the edge.
Wait, why am I doing this? Turns out it's depressing to compare a random rare with the flagship white mythic from Commander Legends, especially when neither is something I’m excited to play. No matter how you slice it, four to Equip is just way, way too slow on this.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: It’s kinda cute in Geist of Saint Traft, but beyond that? Ehhhhhhhh.
77: Grappling Hook: 2,552 Decks
Hello, double strike! If you were gonna make a list of the top 20 mechanics for Commander, I'm pretty confident double strike would be on there. Mainly because it's one of the few mechanics keeping combat relevant. It’s pretty difficult to play Voltron decks or aggro decks without some form of double strike because it halves the amount of damage you need to do. It makes an 11-power commander lethal. It turns 40 life into 20 life. Against the monstrously high life totals that perpetuate Commander, you need double strike just to compete, so it’s no surprise these cards that give double strike hold a very, very high priority.
And don’t go thinking Wizards doesn’t understand double strike’s value, because they make you pay an arm and a leg for it here. Grappling Hook cost four to cast and another four to Equip. They're charging a heavy premium. They do give you a small bonus with the pseudo-Provoke ability, which can let you pick off smaller creatures, but that ability is kinda awkward. I don't know about you, but when I have a 10/10 with double strike, my first thought is not, "Oh, I should kill my opponent's Elvish Mystic!" If this card is doing its job, half the text on it probably won't matter.
I don't even think I care, though. It’s expensive and derpy, and certainly not the best way to give double strike, but double strike is just that good, and there's only so many permanent ways to do it. Plus, even if it rarely matters, the blocking text is all upside. Almost any creature carrying this is going to be slightly terrifying, and that's all I want.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I figure people would be mad if I didn’t do this.
76: Mage Slayer: 2,590 Decks
Here we have double strike but with extra steps. Mage Slayer a little bit better than double strike because if you can’t get in, you can still deal damage at least once, but it’s not substantially better than even Grappling Hook or other cards that give double strike, so it’s pretty interchangeable.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: It also works really well with double strike, so why not just play them all?
75: Ring of Valkas: 2,633 Decks
For the last card of a pretty underwhelming cycle, Ring of Valkas is fine. It’s not good. I think I'd prefer Crystal Slipper to Ring of Valkas, and Slipper's already worse than Swiftfoot Boots, so we’re multiple degrees removed from "good cards" here. However, similar to Slipper, Ring of Valkas is a much cheaper alternative to the more expensive haste-enablers that gets the job done. I like it better than a lot of the other haste Equipment we’ve seen. The counters make it so the card continues to be relevant on later turns when haste stops being useful.
I’m also a little bit more inclined to be nicer to this for two specific commanders: Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh and Wyleth, Soul of Steel. Rograkh costs zero, so it’s not impossible for the counters on Valkus to end up mattering, and if you have to start over, it’s not quite as horrendous. As for Wyleth, Ring of Valkas happened to be reprinted in the Commander Legends precon, and speaking from experience, the card’s fine there. Not nearly the best option, but it's functional so I’m not gonna quibble much.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Better than Ring of Thune, at least.
74: Lashwrithe: 2,696 Decks
Ooh. Ooh! Oooh! I love Lashwrithe! It's arguably one of the best mono-black payoffs. First off, it just starts as a massive creature. You draw Lashwrithe late game, it’s gonna be 10-15 power, possibly even more. Yeah, Nightmare isn’t a busted card, but the more synergy-focused and lower to the ground the average deck is, the less prepared they are to be hit for 10 a few times over the course of a game. Plus, nobody ever wants to waste a kill spell on a Germ token, so it can do work on its own.
On top of that, it then just makes any creature a threat. Any random Gonti, Lord of Luxury just sitting on the board is suddenly a very real threat with this in play, and it costs basically nothing to move the Lash around. Four life is a drop in the bucket, and even if this ends up being a problem, then you can always pay mana instead. Lashwrithe is also completely synergy-agnostic. You can be a graveyard recursion deck, or mono-black spellslinger, or Demon tribal, and as long as you have a few creatures, Lashwrithe becomes a random card you can draw late game to luck into a win!
I haven't even mentioned Lashwrithe in the Voltron decks! Put it on Korlash, Heir to Blackblade and double his power. Put it on Volrath, the Fallen and you don’t need to discard Draco for the kill. Put it on Ob Nixilis, the Fallen to reward yourself again for playing all those Swamps. This card is just really funny in a lot of decks, but I wanna stress, Lashwrithe is also just very good. Unless you're in a very high-powered meta, try this card a few times. It can steal games you had no right to win.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I don’t even mind that it’s a terrible Living Weapon card. The art’s not even that bad.
73: Golem-Skin Gauntlets: 2,849 Decks
Golem-Skin Gauntlets needs one other Equipment to be comparable to Bonesplitter, and two Equipment to be comparable to Grafted Wargear. That’s not bad, but for two to Equip, it doesn’t really feel worth it. Gauntlets could theoretically be much more than either of those cards, but if something is already Equipped with five Equipment, I’m guessing they won’t need the +4 power here.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: There is an exception, though. This card is hilarious in Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith - one massive creature holding 17 Rocks and brass knuckles.
72: Sword of the Meek: 2,885 Decks
Let’s not pretend that anyone is doing fair things with Sword of the Meek. Let me introduce you to the one and only Thopter Foundry! If you've never seen this... combo? Synergy? Uh, let's just call it nonsense. If you've never seen this nonsense before, Thopter Foundry can sac Sword to make a 1/1 that immediately brings Sword back to play. This basically means these two cards let you pay one mana to make a Thopter and gain a life. Hooray!
Now the hemming and hawing about whether this is a "combo" or not is because these two cards don't make a self-sufficient infinite combo. Presumably you'll run out of mana at some point, so these don't win you the game right away by themselves. That said, it doesn't take much to make this actual factual infinite. Add Urza, Lord High Artificer, Ashnod's Altar, or Mana Echoes, and now each Thopter makes more mana than they cost to produce. Oh, and you gain infinite life, too, just for funsies. Artifact decks certainly don't struggle with going infinite, (just look at Breya's page for, like, two seconds) but Thopter Foundry is a decent card outside the combo, and Sword of the Meek can start the combo in your graveyard, so there's a lot of merit to playing this infinite combo specifically.
So what about that soft "combo?" What if we didn't run any ways to make Thopter/Sword truly infinite, and just ran it as a way to pay one mana and make a Thopter? In the optimized world, it's easy to forget that there are a lot of folks who don't like to play instant "I win" buttons. I personally have no strong stance either way, but my playgroup tends to frown upon the anticlimactic feel of a pure infinite combo, and as such, I think there's something to playing Thopter/Sword as a soft combo. Even if you don't go full Urza fun times, a Marionette Master or Tempered Steel is gonna make Thopter/Sword lethal fairly quickly. On top of this, both cards are pretty cheap now, so it's easy to slot this "combo" into a deck to give it a quick way to end the game while also feeling less like the game just suddenly stopped on a dime. I think if you live in a meta that doesn't like the instant win of the full Thopter/Sword, see if your group won't mind the soft Thopter/Sword. There's merit to trying it.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I'm always annoyed I can't play Thopter Foundry in Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer. Stupid Esper taking all my fun!
71: Sigiled Sword of Valeron: 3,006 Decks
Hey, Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale! Been a while since we talked about you this series, but it's hard to find a bigger signal to "PLAY THIS IN KNIGHTS" than Sigiled Sword of Valeron. It’s certainly not seeing much play anywhere else. Most decks running Equipment aren’t really in the market for random 2/2 tokens.
Heck, most decks probably aren’t in the market for random 2/2s. Even vanilla Knight decks, like Aryel, Knight of Windgrace, would probably rather just cast Knights. If this card is for anything, it's for Syr Gywn Knights, specifically, since you get both the Equipment synergies and the Knight synergies. That's fine. Some cards are niche, but it probably shouldn't be seeing much play outside that niche.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist. I don’t actually think this card belongs in Ardenn. It’s just been a while since I said his name too.
Didn't Want Him to Feel Left Out
Well, that was fun.
I mean, no! It sucked! Like, everything sucks, and you better tell me how much it sucked in the comments! Definitely don't tell me about if you have any cool decks with Sword of the Meek. Don't talk to me about how awesome Lashwrithe is, or any other cool or interesting thoughts on these cards. They all suck! See you never!