Ranking Every Equipment with EDHREC – Part 23: Forging New Suns
(Sunforger | Art by Darrell Riche)
The Long Game
Hello, my friends! We have finally arrived at the end. This is the final article in our series where we rank every Equipment based on the number of decks they appear in on EDHREC!
Okay, you caught me, I'm only kidding. We didn't reach the Top 10 yet. I just figured it would be super funny to start a 24-part series, hyping up the final article every week, but then at the penultimate article, when everyone is fit to bursting in anticipation for the Top 10, to completely drop the series and come back the following week with an article on Antelopes or something. Isn't that absolutely insidious? I thought it was insidious!
Surely I'd never do something so cruel to you all. Next week, I'll definitely do the final part. Pinky swear.
Although... it would be funny.
20: Sword of Vengeance: 10,390 Decks
Ah, Sword of Vengeance, the embodiment of budget Voltron decks. If a deck couldn't afford the flashiest Equipment, like the Swords or Batterskulls of the world, you'd usually see this as a way to try and emulate that same experience for a fraction of the cost. Sword of Vengeance might not quite match the absurdity of a Kaldra Compleat, but it creates a similar experience of taking a creature, making it massive, and then giving it all the abilities, thus making a ludicrously powerful creature on almost any board state. If that's not the true meaning of Voltron, I don't know what is.
However, I wouldn't go as far as to say that the card is good. Sword has a lot of words on it, but a lot of those words are situational, like first strike, or are good in theory but are not good for a three-mana Equip cost, like haste. All these things stacked together certainly make the card better than if they were on separate cards, but for six mana to cast and Equip, it can be fairly underwhelming. I can't knock this card too much because, like I said above, it's a budget player's dream! I can, however, say that non-budget decks can probably do better.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Sword of Vengeance is like eating an entire bag of pizza rolls for dinner. If you don't have much else, it will hit the spot admirably, but it's definitely not real food.
19: Sword of Truth and Justice: 10,648 Decks
I like Sword of Truth and Justice. If we ignore the utility of Proliferate for a sec, Sword of Truth and Justice is basically +2/+2 right away, and then +2/+2 every time we deal damage. That can be very good in Voltron decks. It’s a little bit less power in the short term (compared to something like Plate Armor), but it scales much better late game. A solid choice for Voltron and Equipment decks.
Unfortunately, I'm contractually obligated to meet certain quotas of contrarianism, and so I should probably call out the +1/+1 counter and Proliferate decks on Sword's page. There’re better ways to get Proliferate that don’t require combat, or can be done more than once a turn. Heck, if you primarily want +1/+1 counters, there're better ways to do that without bothering with Proliferate at all! It gives protection from powerful removal colors, but that's also true of other Swords. The strengths of Sword of Truth and Justice lie way more in the fair combat scenarios and less in the counter combos.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Let's cool it with the shenanigans here.
18: Sword of Fire and Ice: 11,899 Decks
Ever wanted to play Rogue’s Gloves, but just really, really souped-up? Sword of Fire and Ice is for you!
I feel like I've been harsher to the Sword cycle than my feelings toward them would actually reflect. I liked Sword of Sinew and Steel, but for the most part, I have been giving a lot of Overplayeds for these Swords in Commander. Like, SOFI is probably the most powerful Sword in other formats, and it’s just okay in EDH. Card draw is good, but you don't see people running out to buy Rogue’s Gloves, and the two damage won't do anything a good majority of the time. If I were evaluating it purely on playability, I might play it in Voltron decks if I owned one, but I wouldn't seek out this card with its $70 price tag, and I certainly wouldn’t play it in random creature decks.
However, if I owned this card, I would 100% play it in something for the flavor. The Swords are probably the most recognizable Equipment of all time. The flavor of these cards with the protection abilities and the triggers that emulate specific colors, combined with the fact the Swords are a 10-card cycle they’ve been doing for over 19 years and they still haven’t finished it yet, is utterly unique! These should see play regardless of their power level. I would play SOFI purely for the nerd cred, and if you wanna pick a Sword to play for the nerd cred, this is one of the best. At the same time though, I also have to evaluate these on power level at some level of objectivity, and there're just better cards than this one. When I say SOFI is overplayed, understand what metric I'm using for that.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: That segment got a little introspective. I need a joke out of here. Uh.. a sword of fire and ice, huh?
17: Illusionist's Bracers: 12,034 Decks
Oh, my dear Illusionist's Bracers, I miss you so. For a while, Bracers was an excellent budget replacement for cards like Strionic Resonator and Thousand Year Elixir. Bracers wasn't quite as good as those cards, since it cost more to Equip, and you open yourself up to getting blown out by creature removal, but it filled the same basic role of doubling triggers on commanders with tap abilities, like Arcanis the Omnipotent, and it was less than a dollar. It was a snap budget pick for any deck that had a commander with a tap ability!
Sigh. Yeah, that’s not exactly the case anymore. Gatecrash is almost 10 years old now, and the uniqueness of the card means Bracers is now firmly out of reach for most budget players. Heck, it’s more expensive than Strionic Resonator and Thousand Year Elixir now. It's a sad state of affairs, but I don't think I can recommend this over the other options at its current price.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: At least we got Battlemage's Bracers for red decks.
16: Fireshrieker: 12,731 Decks
Here we have the best Equipment that gives double strike. No games. No tricks. No color restrictions, cost restrictions, or monetary restrictions. Just a really good rate to give double strike to any creature.
Can you find a better way to give double strike? Perhaps. Maybe you're red and can afford an Embercleave. Maybe Inquisitor’s Flail is more your speed. Maybe you don’t want an Equipment and would rather have Duelist's Heritage. You could make an argument for any of those, but sometimes, you don’t need frills. You need murder, and it's hard to get better murder than Fireshrieker.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I’m a little surprised it’s this low. I think I would have predicted this in the Top 10.
15: Mask of Memory: 13,107 Decks
How has it been 18 years since Mask of Memory was printed and they haven’t released a better card advantage Equipment since? Equipment decks need Equipment and want to attack. Mask costs two to cast and one to Equip, and it draws two cards. Sounds great, I’ll take 40.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Seriously, we’ve got 7 million creatures that draw cards off Equipment. Why can’t we get anything better than Rogue’s Gloves?
14: Basilisk Collar: 13,579 Decks
Ooooh! Basilisk Collar is way cheaper than I remembered. Get in all the decks! Sure, most decks aren't gonna care about both lifelink and deathtouch. Usually you’ll prefer one and the second is just a nice bonus, but it's a very nice bonus. The Voltron decks (or decks that like to lose life, like Greven, Predator Captain) are not gonna say no to the extra deathtouch, and the pinger decks and damage-dealing commanders aren’t gonna say no to the lifelink here. It's a win-win all around!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: If the rate on this was worse, I might be more suspicious, but it's a one-mana card!
13: Hammer of Nazahn: 14,143 Decks
Here we've got two combined effects that Equipment decks love. First, it's a good rate to give commanders indestructible, which is a great form of protection. That'd be pretty playable on its own. Most indestructible effects are three mana, and this only costs one more than usual.
But wait, there's more! Hammer also auto-attaches your other Equipment! Now, it will be a pretty large bummer if the creature you Equip gets removed, since you'll have to reattach all those cards again, but did you not just hear me say it grants indestructible, you goose? If they want to play that Terminate, they'll have to do it in response to the Hammer's first trigger, or else it's gonna be pretty hard to kill your commander with single-target removal. You have a lot of freedom to go ham!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: A pretty busted indestructible ability, and free equipping for all your Equipment? That's pretty good. If only it also gave the equipped creature +2/+0, then it'd really be an amazing Equipment.....
12: Sunforger: 14,664 Decks
Can anyone pinpoint the moment Sunforger became the indie darling of Magic cards? I don't think I would have known this card existed in 2016, and now you can buy a Precon with a Sunforger subtheme, and I can't say when that started. Maybe when Feather, the Redeemed was printed, but that feels too late. Feels like Sunforger has been sneaking up on us for years.
This floats to my mind because I'd argue there's a reason that Sunforger took so long to peak. Don't get me wrong, the card is very good. I’ve lost enough games to this card’s inherent flexibility when combined with Leonin Shikari to know that Sunforger wins games. The sheer number of red and/or white instants you can get with this (and not purely Boros; you can get Izzet or Orzhov and other such cards with this too) is pretty staggering: ramp, card draw, removal, protection, pump, copy effects, wraths, Flings, recursion, blink, Akkido cards, freaking counterspells, and even extra turns! There’s a Sunforger target for every situation.
However, it’s slow. Compared to other toolbox cards like Birthing Pod, Sunforger is a lot harder to truly abuse. You can do it, usually involving some sort of Final Fortune + Angel’s Grace + Wheel of Sun and Moon nonsense, but it’s five mana every time you wanna cast one spell. Nowadays we have a million ways to get around that Equip cost, but now we’re talking about playing other cards to make our one card good, which can be tough to balance.
No, I think what really made Sunforger a critical success in Commander is that, unlike other toolbox cards, you don't have to do much to build around Sunforger. A lot of other jank build-arounds like Haakon, Stromgald Scourge require you to commit your entire deck to finding and casting them. It's either all or nothing. Sunforger doesn't work like this. It only needs a deck that has about 10-15 instants. That may sound like a lot, but you’re probably already running things like Swords to Plowshares, Chaos Warp, Teferi's Protectione, and maybe even a Thrill of Possibility. When you add these little spells up, it doesn't take much for Sunforger to be an all-star in the average Boros deck. Maybe you throw in a Settle the Wreckage, a Fury Storm, and a Fateful Showdown, and congratulations, you’ve basically made a Sunforger deck!
What about the times when you want to fully commit to the bit? Well, Sunforger will let you do that too, getting weird stuff like Dawn Charm, Call the Coppercoats, and any other weird spells you never get to play elsewhere. Sunforger is the unique type of card that rewards you for playing a good deck and for occasionally wanting to do something silly. The Johnny/Jenny jank-fests and the hardcore Spikes are both glad that Sunforger exists!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: Not many cards tow this line as well as Sunforger does.
11: Darksteel Plate: 17,521 Decks
Similar to Fireshrieker. Darksteel Plate is a very simple card. If you want to protect your commander (and a lot of decks do), Plate is gonna help you do that. It’s no longer the sole heir to that throne, since Hammer of Nazahn exists, and there are probably a lot of decks that would prefer to have the Hammer, but the fact that Plate itself is also indestructible still gives Plate the edge in non-Equipment decks.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: This card was a stalwart in the Top 10 for a while, and it only just recently fell out. What usurped it? I guess you'll have to wait and see!
Last Trip to the Armory
Well, I guess I'll be nice and give you the Top 10 next week. In the meantime, you can let me know what you think about this article. Do you have a cool Sunforger combo? Are you a sucker for the mythos of the Swords? Let me know in the comments. Until our final journey!