Ranking Every Equipment with EDHREC – Part 21: And My Axe!
(Bloodforged Battle-Axe | Art by Alayna Danner)
How Has No One Noticed This Yet?
Uh, hi. Welcome back to this series where we rank every Equipment based on the number of decks they have on EDHREC.
Looks around nervously.
Um, I'm sorry if I'm seem distracted, it's just... we've passed the two-year anniversary of me writing for EDHREC. I've been ranking things and rambling on this website for two years now, and no one has stopped me!
Yeah, every Monday I show up and write some nonsense, rambles and gibberish, and EDHREC keeps publishing it for some reason. How does this keep happening? They can't keep doing this. They have to put a stop to my shenanigans at some point, right?
40: Bloodforged Battle-Axe: 5,697 Decks
I’m actually not a huge fan of Bloodforged Battle-Axe in the average Equipment deck. It starts out as a more-expensive-to-equip Bonesplitter. That isn’t a bad rate, but then you have to pay two mana every time for each subsequent Axe, which gets pretty mana-intensive after a while. Plus, if your dork dies, you’re almost never gonna have the mana to attach the six or so Axes you've acquired. I don't hate it, but on its own, it is a bit slow.
You may have thought from the previous paragraph that I don’t like this card, but that, my dear friend, is false. It’s just that I am not a coward. If we’re doing this, we’re going all out! I’m talking Vulshok Battlemaster, Kazuul’s Toll Collector, and Armory Automaton. I’m talking Sigarda’s Aid, Puresteel Paladin, and Hammer of Nazahn. What about when we get them Equipped? Let’s play dorks like Fencing Ace, and Prophetic Flamespeaker to get double Axes, or even Parallel Lives to go super nutty! Look if we’re gonna do this thing, we’re gonna commit to it.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: This is no place for half efforts!
39: Prowler's Helm: 5,799 Decks
If you want your giant beatsticks to get through so badly you’re willing to run Ring of Kalonia, just invest one more in the Equip cost and run a Prowler’s Helm instead. Unless you happen to run into an Arcades, the Strategist deck, Helm is going to make your dork unblockable regardless of the board state. No getting stopped by big creatures, or multiple creatures, or flying creatures. You wanna hit for 47, you can hit for 47. The end!
I don't see a strong argument against running this card over most of the random trample Equipment we've seen. It’s not like the cost of this effect is massive. I'll grant you that the difference between paying one mana for something like Vorrac Battlehorns instead of two mana for this is fairly big, but Helm is also a substantially better card. Helm has a pretty reasonable Equip cost for what it does, so why bother with the diet options?
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I don’t even think this card is that amazing, but if you’re running a card that primarily gives trample, and you wouldn’t run Prowler’s Helm, maybe you don’t need the trample either.
38: Haunted Cloak: 6,158 Decks
If you came to me and said “guess which Equipment are in the top 50,” I don’t think I ever would have said Haunted Cloak. The cheapest Equipment tend to be some of the most played, so I can partly see why this card is so high, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this card in play.
If you’ve been following this series for a while, you can probably guess how I’m gonna feel about this card. Yes, this is another Equipment where one of the primary functions is to give trample. You can basically copy paste the bit I said above, but even if you want trample this badly, there're cards that give trample and do more than this that you could play instead. Even O-Naginata will often be better than this.
The other two abilities here aren’t enough upside. Haste and vigilance are both good, but they both are very high variance. Sometimes they just do nothing, and that's a high risk on a three-mana card. There're better ways to get all of these abilities, and most of those other options also come with power and toughness boosts.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I’ll give it a pass in Odric, Lunarch Marshal. Three mana for haste, vigilance, and trample to the whole team is a bit better.
37: Bloodthirsty Blade: 6,174 Decks
I think this is one of only two Equipment that don’t actually have an Equip ability. If nothing else, I’m good for Magic trivia.
I am all for Goad, and Bloodthirsty Blade is probably one of the best Goad cards you could ask for. If you ever have the pleasure of casting a Grand Melee, what you'll discover is that the game quickly devolves into a mess of blindly flailing creatures, but it also results in everyone’s ire being mainly pointed at you if you don’t protect yourself.
Enter Goad, which makes everyone play by the rules of combat you set while also making sure they can’t end the party too soon. There’s some other weird stuff we can also do with the Blade, like turning it into a kill spell with Horobi, Death’s Wail, but that’s not the primary use of this card. We just wanna make opponents play faster!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: One place this card does not belong is in Karona, False God because it doesn’t work. You can only attach it to opponents' creatures, and only at sorcery speed, so Karona can never wield it.
36: Mask of Avacyn: 6,186 Decks
Mirror Shield and Cloak and Dagger this is not. Sure, Mask of Avacyn is only one more to Equip than Mirror Shield, but it’s not like Mirror Shield is a great Magic card. Mirror Shield is a fine budget replacement for a better, more expensive Equipment, and Mask of Avacyn is even worse than that. It's like a generic brand replacement of a generic brand replacement! You can do so much better.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I think I’m the only person upset that they printed Mask of Avacyn in the Wyleth, Soul of Steel precon instead of Mirror Shield.
35: Explorer's Scope: 6,524 Decks
There's no way I can talk about Explorer's Scope with any semblance of objectivity. The variance on Explorer’s Scope is absurd! I swear, it either gets me like five lands in play or does stone nothing. There is no in-between!
I really have no idea how I’m supposed to evaluate this. I could pull out some math and determine how likely you are to hit, but I feel as though this card is a temporal anomaly where math does not apply. Is it good? Is it bad? I’m tempted to give it 'Overplayed' so no one has to experience my befuddlement.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Shrug.
34: Thornbite Staff: 6,713 Decks
In my quest to find a better pinger Equipment than Viridian Longbow, you might think that I would be drawn to Thornbite Staff, but this is not the type of jank I'm looking for. Thornbite Staff is not put into decks to help you create pingers, because it costs two mana to actually deal the damage, which isn't a rate that pinger decks are comfortable with. No, Thronbite Staff is put into decks for the shenanigans that come out of that second ability, giving your creature additional untaps.
If you already have a Prodigal Sorcerer with deathtouch, then yes, Thornbite Staff will let you kill anything. If you have a commander like Whisper, Blood Liturgist who sacrifices things, prompting the Staff's untap ability so that you can use the ability multiple times, then that's also cool too. If you want to auto-attach it to the Shaman Atla Palani, Nest Tender so she can create more Eggs and blow them up at will, awesome. I haven't even mentioned the straight-up infinite combos that win the game right away. All of these are fine, and make Staff a very sought-after Equipment.
However, it’s not a pinger card.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: In conclusion, I’m still upset!
33: Umezawa's Jitte: 6,805 Decks
Umezawa’s Jitte is definitely the Jace, the Mind Sculptor of Equipment; it’s incredibly busted in other formats, but fairly medium in EDH. It’s not entirely clear just by looking at this card why it's so broken, but the answer lies in all the little things. Like how it gets counters whenever the equipped creature deals combat damage to anything, not just when it hits players. Or the fact that it gets two counters each time, and the counters stay on the Jitte itself, not on the equipped creature. Or the fact that you don’t have to use the counters every turn, so you can stack up a ton of them to use whenever and however you want. When you can give any enemy creature -2/-2, or give your own creature +4/+4 at instant speed, it's hard to imagine any creature being able to defeat the Jitte-wielder in combat. All of these little details make Jitte one of the most busted Equipment of all time, transforming every combat scenario into a nightmare in 1-on-1 formats.
Of course, the creatures in Commander tend to be slightly bigger, the life totals slightly more bloated, and the general atmosphere of Commander is slightly more durdley, so what does Jitte provide for us in the EDH sphere? Well, not nothing, but also, not a lot. The lifegain and -1/-1 abilities don’t scale super well. They’re not awful, and there are probably plenty of scenarios where gaining life and shooting creatures down would be relevant, but there are also better ways to get both of those effects in EDH.
Really it comes down to the +2/+2 ability, which is good but slow. At a baseline level, two counters per turn basically gives your creature +4/+4. At two mana to cast and two to Equip, that’s a pretty good deal. If you don't need the pump right away, the extra flexibility is just gravy, especially if the -1/-1 effect helps pick off random chump blockers. I can’t even really complain about the price. I thought it was gonna be $100 or something, but $20? That's what Shadowspear goes for these days, so I think people who want it can afford it.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I mentioned Jace the Mind Sculptor, another card more famous for its 1-on-1 play than its multiplayer power, and when ranking planeswalkers, I decided to give Jace a pass in EDH. Even if the applications are different in Commander, it's still pretty dang cool. The ethos is similar here, so I'll give kudos to Jitte too.
32: Hero's Blade: 6,917 Decks
Who’s up for free Equips? I am! I am!
Who’s up for like a pretty solid pump for two mana? I am also! I am also!
Who’s up for Samurai swords? I am indeed! I am indeed!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: This card is downright nutty, and for 25 cents, it’s hard to find better Voltron Equipment.
31: Nim Deathmantle: 7,070 Decks
Colorless repeatable Zombify? I'm kinda into that. The coolest thing about Nim Deathmantle is that it doesn’t matter where it’s Equipped. We only need four mana to bring back any of our dying creatures. That's pretty neat! It’s mana-intensive, and it’s awkward to leave up four mana when you don't know if a creature is going to die, but just introduce a sac outlet and it becomes a weird Conjurer’s Closet for death triggers. Keiga, the Tide Star is probably worth killing and recurring for four mana. Gerrard, Weatherlight Captain can return everything to the battlefield for four mana. I don’t know if black decks want this since there’re cheaper ways to do this even if they aren’t repeatable, but nonblack commanders could probably afford to have access to reanimation on command. Seems okay -
Oh, look. Someone’s at the door. Who could that be?
Why, it’s Composite Golem, and they’ve brought a bunch of friends! Breya, Etherium Shaper brought her Ashnod’s Altar and Krark Clan Ironworks. Rasputin Dreamweaver may smell funny, but he always brings the colorless mana. Elenda, the Dusk Rose thought a Carnival of Souls might bring some jazz to the party, though she does also have a Soul Warden if things get too crazy. Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed is always a barrel of laughs, especially when he shares his Spoils of Evil and Mycosynth Lattice with everyone. Gee, aren’t we just so pleased to see so many ways to go infinite.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Nobody invite Dauthi Voidwalker, though.
There's Always Room For More at This Party!
Well, I don't know how I'm still allowed to do this whole writing thing, but I remain ever grateful, and I thank everyone that continues to read these articles. I hope to keep doing it for a long while. Let me know in the comments what you think about these Equipment! Are you into Umezawa's Jitte? Do you find Explorer's Scope as maddening as I do? Post your thoughts somewhere on the internet. Until next week, and beyond!