Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Artifact Equipments in Magic
In Magic, players enjoy access to many potent artifact cards, permanents that remain on your field and offer a variety of useful benefits. Since most artifacts are colorless, you can incorporate them into any deck, making them a popular and accessible spell type. Today we're focusing on a subtype in the form of equipment spells, cards that first cost mana to field and more to "equip" to and boost a creature you control.
Equipment spells often improve a creature's power and toughness, but many also provide special bonuses crucial to obtaining victory. But with hundreds of artifacts to choose from, which gear reigns supreme? These are the 10 best artifact equipment spells in Magic: The Gathering!
CMC: 3 (3 to equip)
Unlike most artifacts, Godsend actually requires some white mana in its initial casting; luckily, white is arguably the best color to use with equipment thanks to equipment-boosting members like Nahiri, the Lithomancer. Godsend demands an initial three mana plus three more when attaching to a creature. That's a hefty six total, but it compensates with several awesome effects:
- Equipped creature gets +3/+3 (three extra power and toughness)
- When equipped unit blocks or becomes blocked by one or more creatures, you can exile one of those creatures
- Your opponent cannot cast spells with the same name as cards exiled by Godsend
In short, Godsend dramatically ups a monster's power and toughness, punishes blockers and attackers by exiling them (preventing a graveyard recovery), and prevents opponents from casting duplicate creatures. As a final bonus, note that Godsend's second effect doesn't need to target to exile, so you can even banish foes with shroud or hexproof.
9. Umezawa's Jitte
CMC: 2 (2 to equip)
Like Godsend, Umezawa's Jitte is a legendary equipment, meaning it adheres to the legend rule and you may only control one at once. Unlike Godsend, Jitte accepts mana of any color and only needs two to cast and two to equip. When a creature equipped with Jitte deals combat damage (regardless of whether to a creature or your opponent), Jitte accumulates two charge counters. You can spend a charge counter to activate one of the following effects:
- Equipped creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn
- Target creatures gets -1/-1 until end of turn
- You gain two life
All three abilities are useful in just about any game, and since you get two charge counters with each strike, you can activate multiple effects (or the same twice) in rapid succession. Finally, note that you may remove the counters at instant speed on any phase, ensuring you trigger the effects at the ideal moments.
8. Swiftfoot Boots
CMC: 2 (1 to equip)
A surprising number of nonlegendary equipment artifacts impress, especially since you're able to field multiple at once. Costing a mere two mana to cast and one to equip, Swiftboot Boots grants its bearer two boons. First, they gain haste, letting them avoid summoning sickness to tap or attack the turn they arrive. They also gain hexproof, preventing your opponent from targeting them with spells or abilities.
Both are great abilities that aid just about any deck. Since you usually only want haste on your most-recently summoned unit, cards like Swiftfoot Boots that can inexpensively provide it to single creature often function better than more-expensive field-wide enchantments like Fervor, and hexproof protects from everything except rare field-wiping removals. As awesome as these boots are, we'll soon encounter a similar leg armament counterpart that often function even better.
7. Darksteel Plate
CMC: 3 (2 to equip)
For the reasonable price of three mana, Darksteel Plate (part of the iconic Darksteel series) joins the fray. Once attached for two more mana, Darksteel simply gives its recipient the valued indestructible trait, making them immune to both combat damage, indirect damage, and destroying effects, the most common removals in the game.
Alongside double strike, indestructible is simply one of the ultimate traits Magic offers and especially helps glass cannon creatures with lower toughness. Luckily, Darksteel Plate also has indestructible; if your opponent wants to disassemble it, they'll have to scramble for a rare nondestroying artifact removal. A great defense for both its wearer and itself cements this equipment as one of the best.
6. Sword of the Animist
CMC: 2 (2 to equip)
Spoiler: any card beginning with "Sword of" usually astounds players. In this case, you can forge Sword of the Animist for only two mana and equip it for the same amount, an inexpensive price that can be split into two turns if needed. Once attached to a creature, that unit gains +1/+1 power and toughness.
While increased stats are always welcome, Animist really shines with its next effect similar to a raid trait: whenever the equipped monster attacks, you can search your library for a basic land and place it onto the field tapped, shuffling afterwards. This means as long as you're consistently swinging, you'll be mana ramping like crazy to play powerful spells much earlier than usual, and since the land comes from your deck, your hand remains stocked for your normal land-per-turn plays.
Finally, Sword of the Animist is perhaps the cheapest of today's competitive lot, costing only around five dollars, and fits especially well into my EDH decks. I particularly enjoy combining green commander Omnath, Locus of Mana's mana-ramp with Animist's.
5. Hammer of Nazahn
CMC: 4 (4 to equip)
Costing four to cast and four to equip, legendary Hammer of Nazhan may look more expensive than it's worth, but don't worry—you probably won't need to pay the equip cost. You see, when Hammer first enters the field, you get to attach it to a creature you control for free! Not only does this save you four mana, Hammer also lets you immediately attach any other equipments you later play, saving you loads of mana in equipment-heavy decks.
Plus, the creature who brandishes Hammer gets +2/+0 and indestructible. That's an awesome boost that both raises their strength while making them invulnerable; just remember that (unlike Darksteel Plate) Hammer itself isn't indestructible, and if it leaves the field, its former wearer will regain their mortality.
CMC: 1 (1 to equip)
A card banned in some (but not all) formats for its awesome power, Skullclamp only costs one mana to cast and one to equip. Its bearer (based on the artwork, maybe I should say victim) receives +1/-1. While lower toughness isn't usually great, many players would take gladly sacrifice a little sturdiness for some extra oomph, especially with Skullclamp's next effect: whenever the equipped monster dies, you draw two cards.
You'll very rarely find another (legal) effect that lets you draw twice for so little mana. Plus, this means you can purposefully kill a weak one-toughness creature by attaching Skullclamp to it in order to refill your hand. Even if you're not swarming the field with puny minions, having Skullclamp out often makes your opponents hesitate to attack or block you knowing that defeating your monster will literally be playing into your hand.
3. Lightning Greaves
CMC: 2 (0 to equip)
Similar to Swiftboot Boots, Lightning Greaves costs two mana to cast and gives its bearer haste. However, it's free to equip, the tradeoff being you get the slightly less-desirable trait shroud instead of hexproof. While hexproof only prevents your opponent from targeting your card, shroud prevents all players, including you, from doing so.
Theoretically this makes it tougher for you to attach auras or other targeted benefits to your warrior, but remember that since the equip cost is zero, you can easily move Greaves to another creature, play your desired targeting effect, then move Greaves back. In other words, any minuscule disadvantage of shroud over hexproof is far outshone by its zero-cost equip, and this spectacular gear further improves on an already-stellar equipment.
2. Masterwork of Ingenuity
CMC: 1 (Variable amount to equip)
At one mana, casting Masterwork of Ingenuity hardly drains your reservoir, letting you play it early on or in conjunction with other cards later in the game. When unleashed, this uncomplicated blade simply enters the field as a copy of any other equipment. Because almost all equipments cost more than one mana, you're dramatically reducing the price of admission! Just remember any equip costs will remain the same.
Crafty players will note that Ingenuity's text lets you copy any equipment on the field—including your opponent's! You're welcome to duplicate their legendary metalwork, but remember not to mimic your own legendary cards or you'll have to sacrifice one; pick an opposing unit or one of your nonlegendary weapons instead. As a final bonus, Ingenuity doesn't need to target, bypassing hexproof and shroud (in the rare cases where artifacts are bearing them).
1. The "Sword of" Set
CMC: 3 (2 to equip)
Lest they utterly dominate this lest, I combined the five "Sword of" cards into one entry. These bad boys all cost three mana to play, two to equip, and aren't legendary, letting you use multiple at once. Each Sword offers +2/+2, protection from two colors, and twin effects that trigger when dealing direct combat damage to your opponent.
Protection from two colors (which two depend on the Sword in question) decimates foes wielding either or both as it makes you immune to being targeted or blocked by those hues; this also easily lands hits to trigger the direct damage abilities. While I'm enthralled with all five swords, here's a mini countdown from my least to most preferred:
- Sword of Body and Mind
- Sword of War and Peace
- Sword of Light and Shadow
- Sword of Fire and Ice
- Sword of Feast and Famine
Feast and Famine's two direct damage effects involve untapping your lands and making your opponent discard a card, both great boons on top of the +2/+2 and protections. As an interesting bit of lore, note how each color has a Sword with the two colors its aligned with but not with allied hues. If enemies cooperate this well, I'd love to see a future expansion of ally-forged Swords.
Future of Artifact-Equipments
Remember, since most equipments are colorless, they're a common and viable tactic in Magic. You never know when your opponent might throw a Sword or Greaves your way, so be sure to incorporate some removals in your build. And of course, make use of them yourself, especially when used in tangent with equipment-support cards like Stoneforge Mystic.
But for now, as we eagerly await Magic's next armor-containing booster set, vote for your favorite equipment and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill