Ranking Every Equipment with EDHREC – Part 8: No Need to Trample Anything.
(Veteran's Armaments | Art by Alan Pollack)
Running Up the Mountain a Bit Slower
Welcome back to this series where we rank every Equipment based on their number of decks on EDHREC. The eagle-eyed among you might notice that we've been tackling more Equipment per article than we did in series past. I normally shoot for 10 cards an article, but for this series I've been doing about 15 an article. That was just so I could talk about more cool cards when we had a lot of chaff to go through, but as we move towards cards that see more play, there's just a higher density of interesting stuff, so starting with this article I'm gonna be pulling back on it a bit. I'll probably do about 11-13 cards an article, but in general, we'll get back to our regular workload pretty soon.
Why am I doing this now? Partly because we've ranked about 100 Equipment at this point, but partly because I wanted some more time to work on a super secret surprise that's really really cool, and you now have to read the whole thing to find out what it is!
Is it clickbait when you already clicked on the article? I guess it's "readbait." I've resorted to readbait. There you go.
175: Brawler's Plate: 363 Decks
So I’ve mentioned that Trample is a fairly overrated way of evasion; I should probably back that up a bit. I tend to see a lot of Primal Rage-type cards in Commander to help dorks get through and that’s not, uh, good.
Trample is not a bad mechanic, per se. When you've got big dumb dorks, it feels bad to have them stopped by pretty bugs. It's better to have trample than to have nothing, but in my opinion, it is the worst evasive option by a lot. Evasion exists not only to get through damage but also to help attack safely. Trample does none of that. Sometimes the green deck has 10/10s, and putting a Brawler’s Plate on your 4/4 does basically nothing against that. At its worst, trample will do nothing as your creatures run valiantly into Borborygmos and die.
See, the thing is, you have a choice of which evasion to play. You can play an Equipment like Brawler’s Plate which gives trample, or you can play a card that gives flying, Shadow, intimidate, Skulk, Protection, freaking Horsemanship even. If the choice is "trample or no trample", then you pick trample every time, but that's just not true. You shouldn’t seek to play cards primarily to give trample. Even the mass trample with upside, like Nylea, God of the Hunt, often just pails in comparison to cards that actually grant evasion, like Siege Behemoth or even the riskier Bedlam. You don't need this, so don't restrict yourself to it.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I didn’t even mention the Equip 4 on this card. That alone makes the card pretty icky.
174: Veteran's Armaments: 365 Decks
To answer your first question: here’s all your legendary Soldiers, and there are a lot of appealing options for Veteran’s Armaments to Equip to. Whether they encourage making a lot of tokens to attack with, like Darien, King of Kjeldor & Jirina Kudro, or because they want to rumble, like Tajic, Blade of the Legion & Anafenza, the Foremost, or they have both those things, like Odric, Lunarch Marshal, & Saskia, the Unyielding. That's only a small survey of the available options. The auto-Equip on Armaments means that it's a decent option for basically any of these creatures because it will often be at least three or four power and could get downright ludicrous.
But let’s just ignore the auto-Equip on this thing for the moment, because even if it never auto-Equips, the card is still pretty good. I bring up Valduk, Keeper of the Flame for almost every Equipment, but this one seems legitimately amazing with him. He makes his own tokens for this! Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin and Xyris, the Writhing Storm also seems nutty with this thing. Make your own self-perpetuating machine that just spins and spins forever. You get the idea. Even if you have no Soldiers in your deck, Veteran's Armaments is still a huge power boost in the right deck for very little cost.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: This is an excellent Equipment in a lot of decks, and I think this is criminally underplayed.
173: Kitesail: 369 Decks
This is mainly just a case of there being much better stronger Equipment that give flying. Kitesail isn’t a terrible rate, but being two to Equip doesn’t justify the one power boost here. I suppose if you’re playing it, it wouldn’t be the worst thing, but even Raven Wings is more accessible, so I’d expect to see that card first.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: It’s not an abomination. There’s just no reason for you to seek this out
172: Trusty Machete: 372 Decks
You stand on the battlefield ready to face the enemy planeswalker. You summon your connection to nature and consider the best method to dismantle your opponent standing before you: cold, methodical, deadly serious. You smirk, predicting a fast fight as you dismantle this do-nothing upstart before you hear a small buzzing in the distance. You squint to see a moving blur on the horizon. It's too far away to define the shape, but you can tell it's moving closer at a fast rate. Your opponent looks you in the eye and gives a knowing smirk, mocking your ignorance. You prepare yourself from whatever offensive is coming before you, but nothing can prepare you for the monster that slowly resolves into focus. You shudder before the sight as you make out what has been sent before you:
A Thopter with a Trusty Machete!
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: Such force is clearly too much for you to handle, and you flee the battlefield barely with your life. The cursed buzzing will haunt your nightmares forever.
171: Shield of the Avatar: 373 Decks
Hmm. I kinda dig Shield of the Avatar, but I don’t know why. There’re so many token decks, like Ghired, Conclave Exile, and it seems like putting this on a dork like him means he should basically never take any meaningful amount of damage again. That's neat, I guess?
I mean, the question is do token decks want an Equipment version of Dawn Elemental? It gets around some of the most played wraths, like Blasphemous Act, so it does have application, but that’s clearly not gonna be as good protection as even a derpy card like Indestructibility. On the other hand, you can move Shield of the Avatar around, so it can be protection for multiple creatures. Hmmmmmmm.
Like I said, I’m kinda into this one, but I can’t point to any particular use for it. It just seems so cheap to cast, and so unique that I can't dismiss it completely, even if it doesn't seem useful. Maybe you can go completely off the deep end and run your own damage cards, like Powerstone Minefield, to make this good.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: It’s also interesting with stuff like Kemba since it’s not only synergy but helps them swing in as well.
170: Harvest Hand: 382 Decks
You might be wondering why what looks like a subpar Equipment is seeing so much play, and the answer is it isn’t. Harvest Hand is only seeing play because it’s a Scarecrow, and Reaper King is a stupid Magic card. I don’t actually think you need this card in King anymore with the high number of changelings printed recently, but killing people with Scarecrows is just funny, so, y’know, I’m into it.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: In conclusion, this card I’m calling an Equipment is seeing play because it is in no way an Equipment, and I am a fraud.
169: Leonin Scimitar: 389 Decks
167: Honed Khopesh: 412 Decks
Hey! We finally reached some actual Short Swords! Granted, Leonin Scimitar and Honed Khopesh came out first, so, technically, should we be calling Short Swords Leonin Scimitars? More people own Short Sword, though, so I don’t think people would know what I’m talking about if I did this. Wait, do people know what I’m taking about in the first place? Hmm.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I’ll save the full discussion for the namesake card since it sees a fair bit more play, but we’ve basically mentioned the uses of these cards. You got Equipment synergies? Playing these dorks is an easy way to get that, but you can do much better.
168: Stormrider Rig: 395 Decks
Oooh. I haven’t exactly been a huge fan of the Short Sword-esque stuff that we’ve been seeing over the course of this list, but Stormrider Rig is the best parts of those cards ramped up to eleven! In fact, you can basically treat this as a write-up for Sai of the Shinobi as well (way higher on this list, so I didn't want to pull the double write up), because these two cards are both a strong argument for not playing Short Sword ever again.
Basically, you pay the upfront cost on Stormrider Rig, and in theory, you’ll never have to Equip it again. That's insane! Get Valduk or Koll going as soon as they enter play. Make Halvar apply to whatever creature you want. Make Reyav start hitting hard when he hits the field. It's like playing a card that says "your commander is always on."
Plus, there's just general degeneracy here. I did just mention Koll, and if there's an infinite combo, it probably works with this card. I've also been looking to abuse Stone Haven Outfitter since it came out, and this looks like a step towards doing that. I honestly think after the millions of bad cheap Equipment we’ve seen, you can throw them all in the garbage and play either Stormrider Rig or Sai of the Shinobi instead.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Underplayed: I’m slamming this in my Wyleth, Soul of Steel so fast.
166: Banshee's Blade: 413 Decks
Okay, here’s what you do with Banshee’s Blade: put it on Tahngarth, First Mate, Karona, False God, or any other creature that gets tossed around to your opponents. Then your Banshee's Blade gets four charge counters a turn! I'm honestly surprised I haven't seen this level of dumb enacted before.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: I don’t know what else you do with this. It costs two and doesn’t give anything until you hit opponents. Proliifrate is what you want to use this for, but that’s pretty underwhelming.
165: Mask of Immolation: 427 Decks
Colored Mortarpod with 100% less creep factor, but no more interesting. You can do much better in terms of sac outlets.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Overplayed: That being said, I also see Torbran is playing this? I feel like he's far too scary to need this.
164: Chitinous Cloak: 438 Decks
There’s actually not many good Equipment that grant menace. I mean, there’s Lucille, but that’s a can of worms you probably don’t wanna open, and beyond that, there's basically nothing. Now, there are a few more Auras that give menace, but a lot of those have colored mana costs, and Auras are naturally worse than Equipment, so Chitinous Cloak might be the best card to fulfill its role.
It’s an entirely different question if any decks actually want menace. It’s not actually that great evasion, so you’ll need an actual reason to seek it out over even stuff like intimidate. Odric, Lunarch Marshal is a good one since this is three mana to give everything vigilance. Tahngarth, First Mate is another good choice since it basically makes him unblockable so he can smack whoever his current controller wants to smack. Anything else? Maybe Balan, Wandering Knight since they can suit themselves up with this. Uh, that’s about it. It’s not the worst; I think that’s enough random application, but it’s not a flexible all-star we got here.
Over, Under, or Just Right? Just Right: I think I've linked every article Trent has ever written in this series. Wait, I missed one: Banding!
Have Fun with All the Email Notifications, Trent!
So here's the special announcement I teased you all with up at the top: I'm actually gonna be putting this series on pause for about a month, because I hate you all, and I'm running to live in the desert forever.
Whoops, misread that one. Actually, we're taking a break from this series because I owe you all some 2020 retrospective lists! Yeah, I put them on hold originally because Commander Legends had just released and I wanted to give those cards some time to be put into more decks, but now that they've kinda settled down a bit, I think it's about time to review the Lands, Mana Rocks, and planeswalkers of 2020!
I'm hopeful that I won't have to take a week off to do that, but I also have to update data for about 1,000 Magic cards, so we shall see.
In the meantime, what do you think about this batch of Equipment. Was I too hard on trample and menace? Are you a fan of Stormrider Rig? Let me know in the comments! Until next month, I suppose.