Ranking Every Equipment with EDHREC – Part 22: I'll Smash It With a Hammer!
(Colossus Hammer | Art by Dmitry Burmak)
My World's on Fire, How 'Bout Yours?
Ahahahahahahah! Living Lore, your time has finally come! Wildfire Eternal, you will burn brighter than ever before! Izzet Chemister, you must lend me your power! We shall go further beyond! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Oh. Hello. You caught me in the middle of my grand plan. You see, the rules committee decided Worldfire was a good little boy and was allowed to be let loose in our format, and I, supreme sorcerer, intend to harness this power! I will cast Worldfire with Mnemonic Deluge and scorch the memory of enemies with the grandest fires ever beheld! You may say that casting Worldfire multiple times does nothing, but clearly you have not experienced true pain!
Oooooooooookay. Got that out of my system. I'm chill now. Let's get back to ranking every Equipment based on the number of decks they appear in on EDHREC.
Wait, did something else happen when I was gone? Eh, nothing important I'm sure.
30: Umbral Mantle: 8,089 Decks
Hey, was Sword of the Paruns not enough, you filthy animals? Well, fine! Here’s a card that works with all the cards Sword of the Paruns went infinite with, but is also a win condition, because in addition to the infinite mana, it also infinitely pumps up your creature! It’s a combo piece and a win condition all in one! Merry Christmas.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I think this card is the only reason anyone remembers the untap symbol exits.
29: Sword of Light and Shadow: 8,153 Decks
I didn't really talk about the protection options on the Swords when they came up a couple articles ago. There's an argument to be made that we can run cards like Sword of Light and Shadow purely because it gives +2/+2 and protection from white and black, even if we don't care about the other on-hit triggers. I won't deny that the protection has upside. When it's good, it's very good. However, I think that's kinda the same thing as playing a card like Boil. Unless your meta is really skewed towards a few specific colors, sometimes the protection won't matter, or even if it does, sometimes they'll have answers that get around it, like Wrath of God. Often things like indestructible, or hexproof, or freaking Phasing will protect your creatures more. Heck, if all you want off these Swords is the protection ability, there's more flexible protection cards like Flickering Ward or Sanctuary Blade. Don't get me wrong, protection does come up - it can make your equipped creature nigh unblockable against some decks - but I need a little more than that to actually want to play this.
Unfortunately, I’m not super into the other abilities on Sword of Light and Shadow. Gaining three life is super poor, so you’re leaning really hard on that Raise Dead ability, which can indeed be pretty good. It’s particularly nice in colors that don’t have great graveyard recursion, like blue and red, but those colors also aren’t likely to want random Voltron Equipment like this.
For colors that might want these more value-based Equipment, like white or black, they don’t need Sword to cast Raise Dead. They could reach for Persist or Return to the Ranks instead that return straight to play. Especially when compared to the on-hit triggers of the other 'Sword of X and Y' cards, there's nothing particularly unique to this one.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: It’s also way more expensive than it probably deserves. Nerd cred, baby.
28: Sword of Sinew and Steel: 8,202 Decks
Now, this is a 'Sword of X and Y' trigger. In addition to the general protection abilities, we got Shatter and... a diet The Elderspell? Name-brand Noxious Grasp with no creature topping? Hmm... that analogy got away from me.
Whatever, it’s good! Granted, not everywhere; ironically, I’m not a huge fan of this in the average Voltron deck, but random black and even blue decks can make very good use of this card. The average black deck will have plenty of creatures to wield this, and then can get rid of any problematic artifact they wouldn’t be able to get rid of otherwise. It's a bit of a tougher sell in blue, but when your deck contains random evasive creatures, the ability to destroy specific permanents can be critically useful. Plus, the planeswalker ability won’t come up all the time, but when it does, you will be very grateful for it.
It’s a value-based trigger for a value-based deck. I’m totally happy to play this in non-Voltron decks because the triggers will often be decent, and sometimes even excellent, on many boards. I'm even into it for colors that can already destroy permanents pretty easily, like red or white, because the value and presence the Sword provides is more difficult to come by; who's going to cast The Immortal Sun when we're packing this Equipment? The requirement to playing this card is that your deck should probably be creature-heavy, but if you meet that bar, I'm totally into this thing.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I hate the name, though. Sinew is a gross word. Ew.
27: Commander's Plate: 8,574 Decks
I said an eternity ago that mono-color payoffs are always things I like to see. There’s always the temptation to add another color to your deck in order to gain better removal, or card draw, or finishers, or whatever. Having cards like Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx that actually reward you for sticking to your guns are a good way to push people away from five-color goodstuff.dec.
Commander’s Plate is a welcome addition to that pantheon. You really need to be commander-centric to want a card like this, and you also probably want to be fairly aggressive. Otherwise, you’ll probably be better off with something like Lightning Greaves, but if you check those boxes, Plate is an excellent payoff for staying mono-color. Protection from four of the five colors is a much better deal than the two colors the Swords would give, and the buff is also very solid. It’s not completely busted, so I don’t feel too bad about the price tag here, but I’m happy it exists. Let’s try and keep the playing field a bit more level.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Think of the silly things you can pull off with colorless commanders. Everything’s an Etched Champion!
26: Argentum Armor: 8.586 Decks
Before Colossus Hammer came onto the scene, this was the #1 Equipment where we all wanted to find ways to cheat the Equip cost. I think Hammer is better (spoilers for #24 on this list), but being the second-best Equipment to cheat onto a creature is still very good. Your Balans, and Syr Gwyns, and Ardenns are still going to love this card. Heck, unlike Hammer, there might even be decks that want to play this even with zero ways to get around the Equip cost. It’s super mana-intensive, but it’s also immediately impactful if you can attack once.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Baffling art though. Ah, yes, it's the armor from the Purple dimension!
25: Grafted Exoskeleton: 9,005 Decks
I proselytized about Infect and its general perception back in my OG land series, but something about the mechanic fascinates me. I don't hear as much salt for Infect now as I did a few years ago, but I think the reputation of Infect only gets more relevant as the Commander format gets faster, and as more and more Rule Zero discussions take place. Infect tends to bring a lot of salt to games even despite the fact that it's not always good in EDH. Most of the cards with Infect scale poorly in Commander, so a deck built specifically around Infect is never going to be that powerful.
The mechanic as a whole doesn't seem to be the issue. Rather, it's that just a few individual cards can cause game-ending scenarios because of how they interact with the traditional pace of the Commander format. For instance, you might play Grafted Exoskeleton in a random Volrath the Fallen deck that has no other Infect cards, because attaching it to one big creature can cause the instant kill. These types of synergies feel like abusing bugs in the system; creatures aren't supposed to straight-up kill you in one hit without a lot of extra help. You could throw similar complaints at Tainted Strike or Triumph of the Hordes because of the ways their specific quirks make Infect a very weird win condition in specific decks.
Here's the thing, though: that isn't Infect's fault. Cards randomly getting better in EDH due to interactions with new cards from the latest set release? That happens all the time. Nobody was playing Chain of Smog a few years ago (except me, but I'm weird), until suddenly Witherbloom Apprentice gave the card new life with a weird instant-kill combo. I'm not saying you have to like two-card combos, just that Infect isn't a particularly bad bug in the system when compared to all the other stuff we're doing in EDH anyway. Most of the time I see Triumph of the Hordes kill the table, a Craterhoof Behemoth or an Overwhelming Stampede would have done the same thing in that scenario anyway. At least a card like Grafted Exoskeleton requires that we win through combat. Plenty of decks don't go into the red zone nearly as often as I would like. If you don't wanna play with Infect, that's totally fine. To each their own. I just don't think Infect deserves particular scorn.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I don't know what to put here after all that. Uh... Ponies?
24: Colossus Hammer: 9,178 Decks
I am overjoyed that Colossus Hammer is this high on the list, and that it's so cheap! You don’t see an Equipment that gives +10/+10 every day. They could have easily made this card rare, or printed it in a single preconstructed deck, and the price would have been much higher, but they did not do those things, and I am pleased.
The big eight-mana Equip cost on Hammer might make you nervous at first, but Wizards seems to have wised up to fact that the biggest obstacle for Equipment is their Equip cost, so they've started giving out more and more ways to subvert those costs. Just in the past year we've gotten Bruenor Battlehammer, Galea, Kindler of Hope, Ardenn, intrepid Archaeologist, Halvar, God of Battle, and Armed and Armored, and they reprinted Sigarda’s Aid and Puresteel Paladin! Cards that can attach Colossus Hammer by turn three or four are now a dime a dozen, and you don’t even need one of those auto-attachers as a commander. The upside is so good here, and if you have between three and five ways to get around the Equip cost, I think it's very worth it to play the Hammer.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I have also died at the hands of someone who paid the eight mana to Equip this. I wouldn't recommend trying it, but I figured I should mention that you can also just actually pay the cost sometimes.
23: Trailblazer's Boots: 9,226 Decks
I’m kinda surprised Trailblazer's Boots is higher than Prowler’s Helm. Both are very likely to make your creature unblockable (even most mono-color decks run a number of utility lands), but Trailblazer's Boots is $3 now, and Helm is less than $1. There are a lot of decks that want both, but you could get away with just running Helm.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I sound pessimistic, but this card is still super, super, super good. It’s unblockability for just two mana, and that’s good in many, many decks. If this card only cost a quarter, I'd say go for it.
22: Embercleave: 9,746 Decks
Embercleave! The newest double strike card to enter the pantheon! I will say, the discount on Embercleave is kinda awkward; Voltron decks usually don’t want to attack with more than one creature anyway, so the cleave usually costs five mana for double strike and trample. That's still good, but it's also hewing pretty close to a Temur Battle Rage, which is an interesting comparison in terms of both mana and money spent.
Since some Voltron decks swiftly opt for Swords of X and Y, which could give your big creature protection from red, I also get a teensy bit worried about nonbos. Still, even if you're just attacking with one creature, this will cost five mana, and that's the same rate as Fireshrieker, which is sorcery speed, doesn't pump, and doesn't give the equipped creature trample. Voltron's got a place for it, but also things to watch out for. TO be perfectly honest, my favorite place for this bombastic Equipment would be a big monster deck like Gisela, Blade of Goldnight, where you can attack with three 7/7s and suddenly make one of them lethal out of nowhere. This card will eviscerate most opponents, so if you can jump through the hoops - especially the price tag - it’s absolutely worth it.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Pop quiz! Without googling, can you name all the cards in this cycle that aren’t Embercleave and The Great Henge? I betcha you can’t remember the full text for all of them.
21: Dowsing Dagger: 9,994 Decks
This is the first time I’m talking about a card that I've already discussed before in a previous series! Yes, I mentioned Dowsing Dagger back in my series on mana rocks. No, I don’t think this card is actually a mana rock, but I needed to fill some space in my list. It was a whole thing.
Anyway, since we’ve last seen Dowsing Dagger, it’s gained almost 3,000 more decks. It survived rotation hype, data purges, and general card apathy, and has steadily continued to grow. Good for you, Dagger!
I think if I try to say anything else about this card, I'm just going to devolve and start admonishing people who aren’t playing it. Seriously, if you aren't playing it yet, why not? Have you read it? It’s a two-mana Gilded Lotus for all those aggressive decks who slam creatures down early!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: Go get this card!
I Set Fire to the
Well, I have some worlds to burn! If I can see you through the flames, let me know what you think about this batch of Equipment. Do you have a particularly spicy use for Colossus Hammer? Do you have a deep hatred for Infect? Let me know somewhere on the internet. Until next week!