Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Equipment Work in Magic?
In Magic, both aura enchantments and artifact equipments are designed to boost the abilities of your creature cards. However, unlike auras, most equipments are colorless, letting you play them in any deck. Additionally, to actually use their effects, you first need to spend mana to cast them, then pay a separate amount (depending on the card) to actually equip it to a desired creature.
This means it often costs more total resources to play equipments than auras—but equipment remains fielded even if its bearer perishes, letting you reattach it to another unit. Note that unlike most mana abilities, you can only attach equipment when you could play a sorcery (your main phases). We previously explored the strongest relics in the game, but with several competitive treasures left uncovered, which weapons reign supreme? Here are ten more of the best equipment spells in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Sword of Vengeance
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3 (3 to equip)
Sword of Vengeance requires a moderate cost of three for both casting and equipping, making it mid-range in overall mana demands. Still, it grants its beholder a vast wealth of impressive abilities, starting with +2/+0 (two extra power and zero extra toughness). The unit also receives first strike, trample, vigilance, and haste!
Shoot, that's pretty monstrous. First strike lets you hit first (and avoid a counterattack if you killed your foe), trample bleeds excess damage through blockers, vigilance lets you attack without tapping, and haste lets you attack or tap even on the turn your creature arrives. Five total boosts make Vengeance a versatile and powerful tool to buff any combatant.
9. Explorer's Scope
CMC: 1 (1 to equip)
Explorer's Scope is basically a weaker but less-expensive "Sword of the Animist." It only takes a single mana to both cast and equip, easily adhering to any champion. The attached monster doesn't gain any stat increases, but when they swing, you can look at the top card of your deck and place it onto the field tapped if it's a land!
This offers a rare non-green ramping tool and rewards offensive strategies. Plus, even if your unit isn't a land, you (and not your opponent) will still gain knowledge of your upcoming draw, providing a handy tactical advantage that can influence your turn's decisions.
8. Basilisk Collar
CMC: 1 (2 to equip)
Basilisk Collar needs two mana to equip but only one to cast, making it a great first-turn play. When attached, it won't grant your unit any power or toughness, but they receive both the deathtouch and lifelink traits.
Deathtouch lets you kill any rival in battle regardless of how high their toughness is while lifelink recovers a corresponding amount of health whenever you deal damage (whether against a creature or an opponent). Both are useful traits rarely seen on equipment. Now, players are often tempted to further boost their aces with equipment, but Collar's a good choice for weaker units, as deathtouch turns anything into a potent threat in battle. Stack Collar with cards like Vengeance to initiate the brutal deathtouch/first strike combo, striking preemptively and killing foes before they can counter.
7. Dowsing Dagger/Lost Vale
CMC: 2 (2 to equip)
Dowsing Dagger is really a ramp tool in disguise. It takes just two mana to cast and to equip, although when it enters the field, your opponent receives two 0/2 plant creature tokens with defender (meaning they can't attack). That's a small price for Dagger's effects: it gives its bearer +2/+1, and when your equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, you can (but don't have to) transform Dagger into the land Lost Vale.
Lost Vale acts like a continuous form of the infamous "Black Lotus," tapping for three mana of any color! That's a huge ramping ability that can add mana of any hue, and since lands are much harder to destroy than creatures or artifacts, your opponent often has little choice but to accept your superior resources.
6. Nim Deathmantle
CMC: 2 (4 to equip)
Nim only needs two mana of any color to play, but it takes a hefty price of four to equip. However, it's often best to wait for its special effect: when a nontoken creature you control dies, you can spend four mana to revive it from the graveyard, then attach Nim to it.
You still spent four mana, but now you've also gained a free creature revival (especially potent when combined with entrance effects). Once attached, Nim grants +2/+2 stats, the intimidate ability (letting you only be blocked by artifact creatures or ones that share a color), and status as a black zombie. This offers a respectable stat boost and hampers blockers, but Nim really shines for its revival prowess—if you have the mana.
5. Umbral Mantle
CMC: 3 (0 to equip)
Umbral Mantle's decent on its own, but with the right setup, it can provide infinite mana combos! This artifact takes three mana to cast, but equipping is free, letting you easily shuffle Mantle between your units as needed. Your bolstered unit gains an ability where they untap (yes, untap) by spending three mana and gain +2/+2 for the rest of the turn.
If you attach Mantle to something that can tap for more than three mana, like "Karametra's Acolyte," (who exhausts for mana equal to your devotion to green), you're golden. Have them tap, gain the mana, spend three and untap them with Mantle (acquiring a net increase), rinse and repeat. For that round, your unit will have infinity as their power/toughness, and you'll have infinite mana! One direct attack (or one with trample), and you win.
CMC: 1 (2 to equip)
Like Basilisk Collar, O-Naginata's an inexpensive unit that only takes one mana to cast and two to equip. For its low price, this blade offers a fantastic +3/+0 as well as trample, letting your soldier bulldoze through guardians.
As a limitation to the sword's abilities, you can only attach O-Naginata to a creature that currently has three or more power. Thankfully, this isn't a difficult threshold to meet, and it's made even easier by first attaching other weapons (units may adorn multiple equipment at once).
3. Grafted Exoskeleton
CMC: 4 (2 to equip)
Grafted Exoskeleton's base cost is a sizable four mana, but thankfully, it only takes two to equip. That said, think carefully before administering Exoskeleton, because when it becomes unattached from a permanent, you sacrifice that unit (watch out for artifact removals).
Fortunately, the troop brandishing Exoskeleton gains +2/+2 and the rare infect trait, letting them deal damage to creatures as -1/-1 counters (which won't fade at the end of the turn, offering ongoing debuffs) and to players as poison counters. Once a player receives ten poison counters, they automatically lose, and thanks to Exoskeleton's boost, it often only takes two or three direct hits to force game-over. Use it alongside the proliferate trait (and other infect cards) to gimmick matches with your instant-win tactics.
|Card||Color Supported||Trait Granted|
Ring of Valkas
Ring of Evos Isle
Ring of Kalonia
Ring of Thune
Ring of Xathrid
Regenerate (for two mana)
2. "Ring of" Cards
CMC: 2 (1 to equip)
Similar to the powerful "Sword of" spells from our first countdown, the Rings come in a variety of flavors, one designed for each color. Luckily, they cost two mana to cast and just one to equip. Even better, if the bearer possesses the ring's preferred color, they gain a +1/+1 counter during your upkeep, gradually strengthening as time passes.
You can still attach the Rings to creatures outside their specified colors; they just won't gain any counters. However, mismatches can still make use of each jewel's individual ability, summarized in the chart above. All are handy traits, and I'm particularly fond of Kalonia's trample, having used it to great effect in my Omnath commander deck. Fortunately, it's surprisingly cheap, costing less than a single dollar!
CMC: 5 (5 to equip)
A taxing force, Batterskull takes five mana for both casting and equipping, but we'll soon cover supports that can avoid its draining price. Plus, when Batterskull hits the field, it creates a 0/0 black germ creature token and automatically attaches to it, granting +4/+4, vigilance, and lifelink.
Thus, Batterskull really serves as a 4/4 vigilance and lifelink creature with the potential to equip to something else if its token dies. As a final bonus, you can spend three mana to return Batterskull to your hand at any time, saving it from removals and letting you create another germ token upon reentry. Powerful, versatile, and self-equipping, Batterskull's an easy pick for any equipment theme.
How to Support Equipment Cards in Magic
Unlike auras, you don't have to overly concern yourself with defending equipped units since your tools can be reattached. Still, you can supplement your strategy with supports like "Stone Haven Outfitter," who increases the power of your equipped creatures and lets you draw a card when they die. Fellow white troop "Stoneforge Mystic" searches an equipment upon entrance to the field and can tap while spending two mana to play one from your hand, greatly diminishing the price of bulky spells like Batterskull.
Use these potent supports, and you're well on your way to victory with a well-supplied army. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of creature-empowering weapons, vote for your favorite equipment, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
Andrew on March 25, 2019:
They are on his other list found here: https://hobbylark.com/card-games/Top-Artifact-Equi...
NBPAquino from Quezon City, Philippines on October 25, 2018:
Sword of Feast and Famine and Lightning Greaves are great for EDH format.