Ranking Every Equipment with EDHREC – Part 20: Article of Swords and Sticks
(Stoneforge Masterwork | Art by Ben Maier)
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50: Stoneforge Masterwork: 4,850 Decks
There’re a lot of tribal decks and, as such, there’re a lot of tribal payoffs. Stoneforge Masterwork won’t be the best payoff in the average deck since you generally prefer mass pump as opposed to individual pump. Pound for pound, your Vanquisher's Banner is gonna do more work for you in the average deck.
That doesn't mean the card has no home. It just means you have to look a bit harder. Something like Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin, who wants to pump one creature, or Arahbo, Roar of the World, whose EDHREC page shows an Equipment subtheme, are commanders with a specific reason to play a card like this.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Pretty funny in Mistform Ultimus.
49: Paradise Mantle: 4,929 Decks
Unlike the other zero-mana Equipment, the text on Paradise Mantle matters a little bit more. It can turn any creature into a Birds of Paradise! The potential for soft ramp definitely makes it the best of the zero-mana Equipment, which might sound neat, but means nothing when the alternatives are Spidersilk Net and Accorder’s Shield, where the card text might as well not exist.
Plus, let's face it, 99% of the time Mantle’s going to do the same thing as Kite Shield anyway. It's gonna draw you a card off Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain and then sit worthlessly on the battlefield. Maybe every 1 in 100 games you'll put it your Sram, Senior Edificer and get a little bit of a faster start, but most of the time, it's going to do basically nothing. I feel the same way about Mantle that I do about snow lands. Sure, you could 100% optimize your deck by playing Mantle for the 1% of times it will end up mattering, or you could just not. You could save your time and money and buy a burrito instead. Your life will probably be identical.
Is there anything else here for nonartifact decks? The answer is... mayyyyybeeeeee? It’s a decent way to tap creatures like Emmara, Soul of the Accord, but there are a million cards that can fulfill that same function. There are a few infinite combos, but they’re more memes than dreams. It’s kinda cute with Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh but it's not that amazing. I just keep going back to that price tag and thinking I can get the basic things I'd want from Mantle from, like, seven other cards, and most of those cards impact the board more than Mantle ever will.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I waffled a bit between Just Right and Overplayed. It does work in the decks that it’s currently in, but ultimately, it's not a card you need to seek out unless you really like this thing.
48: Sword of Body and Mind: 5,101 Decks
Yes, it is only now, in the top 50, that we finally reach the first of the most popular Equipment cycle of all time: the Swords of X and Y. A still incomplete ten-card cycle of Equipment that each give a creature +2/+2 and protection from two colors. It’s been around for as long as Equipment have existed, spanning multiple sets across almost 20 years. They not only remain casual favorites, but they've seen play in formats from Standard, to Modern, to Legacy, to Cubes of all stripes. It’s probably one of the most beloved cycles in all of Magic.
And Sword of Body and Mind is just bad in EDH.
I distinctly remember playing my Meren of Clan Nel Toth deck, getting hit by a creature equipped with Sword of Body and Mind, and being very pleased. That basically sums up my thoughts on this card. Its mill trigger is often helpful to opponents, and the Wolf doesn’t do nearly enough to mitigate that. Even non-graveyard decks are still running recursion, like Regrowth or Reanimate, and worst case scenario, you won’t be able to attack anyone with this Sword for fear of fueling the Geth, Lord of the Vault player! You can’t run this without having some use for the mill.
Okay, then, maybe you just run Sword in a dedicated mill deck, except that outside of Szadek, Lord of Secrets and maybe Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker, mill decks aren’t good at combat. They'd rather just have their mill on spells, so this card doesn’t fit there either. Really, the only true place for this is decks that want to abuse their opponents' graveyards, like the aforementioned Geth, Lord of the Vault, but you have to lean into that very hard. Otherwise, there's just too much chance for something to go wrong.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: They get better in EDH from here, I promise.
47: Rogue's Gloves: 5,159 Decks
Rogue’s Gloves feels a bit like a relic from a few years ago. Back in 2015-2018, when the Boros decks absolutely needed card draw, this Equipment provided that card draw, cue the Seinfeld theme.
However, I don't think you were ever happy to play Rogue’s Gloves. It doesn’t do anything else, it cost two to Equip, and you have to hit players, so it’s a lot of work to draw a single card off this. Now that every other set has some sort of Boros Equipment payoffs (seriously, I’m glad Boros is better, but I’d kinda like to play something that isn’t Boros Equipment), our card draw is getting a lot better, so I don’t know if they have to play this anymore.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I think if it cost one, or if it gave +1/+1, or if it gave it some form of evasion (Zephyr Boots for the win), then I might be a bit nicer.
46: Cranial Plating: 5,172 Decks
You know, it’s kinda unfair that Cranial Plating isn’t the most busted Equipment ever printed. Broke Standard for a while, was the backbone of Extended and Modern Affinity, and even sees some play in Legacy occasionally. All that, but it still gets overshadowed by one of the most broken Equipment of all time. What a world.
Unfortunately, it also gets kinda overshadowed in Commander as well, due to that black color identity. Don’t get me wrong, it’s super good. It’s gonna be a huge boost in most artifact decks since, unlike Golem-Skin Gauntlets, Plating counts not just your other metal weapons, but also your random mana rocks and artifact creatures. It’ll give your commander 5-10 power late game just by accident, and a lot more if you're dedicated to artifacts on purpose, especially Treasure tokens. It’s even got the instant-speed Equip to attach to any dork that might happen to get through unblocked. Plating can be very good, it's just that the black color identity kicks it out of all the Boros or Izzet Voltron decks that might make use of it. When you can plan for it, it does a lot of work.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: As more black artifact commanders come out, this might become an 'underplayed' some day.
45: Heirloom Blade: 5,415 Decks
I often see Heirloom Blade played in the typical tribal beatdown deck (AKA my brother’s favorite way of smashing my dumb durdly nonsense). The idea here is that you'll play a bunch of dorks, and if those dorks die, the Blade will replace them. I mean, the precon decks this card was printed in are almost all exclusively aggressive tribal decks, like Arahbo, Roar of the World. It’s not bad in that type of deck, but it just feels like you could run something better. Like, instead of waiting for your dorks to die, you could run a protection card, or just run another big creature.
Where I want to see Heirloom Blade more is in aristocrats-style decks. You see a bit of that with Silvar, Devourer of the Free, whose data shows us he runs the Blade a fair amount, but I think the tribal aspects are still distracting people. Look at the average deck for Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. There are a lot of Humans, some Goblins, even multiple Spirits, Aetherborn, and Demons. With some clever play, this card can often draw or even straight-up tutor relevant creatures. I think Heirloom Blad is a weird aristocrats card in tribal clothing. If you can put up with a little bit of math, play this card in decks that have sacrifice outlets and some common creature types, and I think it could be sneakily incredible.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: An 'overplayed' in tribal decks, but an 'underplayed' in aristocrats/toolbox decks.
44: Sword of War and Peace: 5,460 Decks
Let’s try this Sword thing again. Sword of War and Peace, whatcha got for us? Damage and life! That’s better. It's not actively harmful for us, so that's a good start, I guess.
Seriously, though, the lifegain is mostly just a neat bonus, but that damage ability can do a lot of work in aggressive Voltron decks. Punish the Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur player for being greedy! That said, it’s not gonna do much unless you’re fully committed to fast kills. If you’re more a midrange Equipment deck, like Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith, then War and Peace is probably gonna be too low-impact.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Much better than Body and Mind, but still not quite there yet.
43: Blade of Selves: 5,484 Decks
I am a little bit surprised they’ve never gone back to Myriad. Part of the problem with aggro, or Voltron, or, well, creatures in general, is that not only do you have to deal twice as much damage to kill someone in EDH, but you have to do that to three opponents! Myriad is such a cool solution to that. You can swing your beaters at everybody, and cut your clock down by two-thirds! I always enjoyed the flexibility that brought to a table, but outside of Blade of Selves, they only did one other cycle of creatures with the mechanic, which is disappointing.
It doesn’t help that Blade of Selves doesn’t see play because of the combat shenanigans. Myriad can make two ETB triggers of whatever creature you want, so that's the primary reason people are playing this card. That’s two Gonti, Lord of luxury triggers, two Keiga, the Tide Star triggers, two Kokusho, the Evening Star triggers, etc. Basically, if a commander has a good ETB, it’s probably gonna make good use of this card, and that’s not a bad thing. Compared to a card like Helm of the Host, this can get nutty much faster because it costs less to cast. Blade of Selves is really good, it's just currently being used in ways that aren't even why I like Myriad in the first place, and I hope we’ll see this mechanic again soon.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Until then, play this in stompy decks for me.
42: Masterwork of Ingenuity: 5,527 Decks
I actually thought I had missed out on talking about Masterwork of Ingenuity. I figured it wasn't technically an Equipment since whatever it clones overwrites the stat line anyway, but I guess I missed them stapling the Equipment subtype onto the type line. Thanks, WOTC!
Now I have to evaluate this card, though, because it is weiiiiiiiird. Like, the upside on this card is pretty ludicrous. You can get two copies of Commander's Plate, or two Swords of Feast and Famine, or two Colossus Hammers. Doesn't that sound fun? It sounds fun to me!
However, I also imagine being forced to make two Short Swords, and I start to shy away a little bit. There are a lot of Equipment that don’t do much when double-copied, like Lightning Greaves. Sure, you can have multiple creatures wielding them, but that’s not worth the card slot in all cases, especially when the vast majority of Equipment decks are devoted to suiting up one big creature. I'm wary of drawing this card when I have no good Equipment to copy, or when I have no Equipment at all.
But then I think about making two copies of Argentum Armor, and I’m back on board!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: You need a high density of good Equipment to copy, but I’ll absolutely take the few games where Masterwork is mediocre as payment for the games where it’s amazing!
41: Quietus Spike: 5,677 Decks
We have seen, and will continue to see, many scary Equipment on the list, but I don’t know if any of them strike fear into players' hearts quite like Quietus Spike. People like hiding behind their nice cushy big life totals, and this just smashes those. If there’s a creature holding this, you can basically never let that creature get through, which is a bummer for you, because according to the data, most of the commanders playing this card come with built-in evasion. I guess you’ll just die!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: My favorite part of this card (or least favorite, depending on the circumstances) is that the moment you’re hit with this, opponents will smell blood in the water, and kick you while you’re down.
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