Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Using Living Weapons in Magic
Many Magic players prefer artifact equipment spells over enchantment auras. Both attach to and empower creatures, but you can reattach equipment if the initial user dies, great for extended commander games.
And some "living weapon" equipments go the extra mile by immediately creating and attaching to a token upon arrival, giving you a free creature and avoiding your first equip fee. Not many of these spells exist, but which deserve your attention? These are the ten best living weapon artifacts in Magic: The Gathering!
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5 (4 to equip)
Both Strandwalker's casting and equip fees aren't cheap, but its living weapon effect creates and attaches to a 0/0 black germ token upon arrival.
Strandwalker gives its host +2/+4 and reach, letting it block flying creatures. Since the token has initial 0/0 stats, you're spending five mana for a mediocre 2/4, but reach and the ability to later reequip Strandwalker helps compensate.
9. Flayer Husk
CMC: 1 (2 to equip)
Husk simply grants its bearer +1/+1, so your germ token will arrive as a puny 1/1. But it's hard to complain when you only need one mana for Husk, and even if your token dies, you can later bestow Husk to someone else for two mana, a nice outlet for leftover resources.
8. Ancestral Blade
CMC: 2 (1 to equip)
Blade's a bit different from most weapons. Not only does it need colored mana, its token is actually a white 1/1 soldier, meaning you can redistribute Blade without killing its creation. Either way, Blade provides a modest but appreciated +1/+1, effectively giving a 2/2 token.
7. Wolfrider's Saddle
CMC: 4 (3 to equip)
Saddle's also an unorthodox weapon, creating and attaching to a 2/2 green wolf token. Saddle grants its bearer +1/+1 and prevents it from being blocked by more than one creature, meaning opponents can't gang up on it.
So, for four mana, you've got a 3/3 blocker-limiting token and an equipment to later strengthen other units. Try giving Saddle to something with menace (which requires two or more blockers) to effectively create a completely unblockable unit. Plus, green is slowly but surely gaining more wolf support and can potentially utilize your token's subtype.
CMC: 5 (3 to equip)
Scytheclaw needs five mana but only grants +1/+1, providing a pitifully-weak germ token. So why bother using it? Well, when the equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, they lose half their life (rounded up).
Landing combat damage on a player won't be easy with a 1/1 token, but doing so will score a huge blow. And since Scytheclaw's equip fee is reasonable, you could always forfeit the token to attach it someone else—preferably a beefy trampler.
5. Mask of Immolation
CMC: 2 (2 to equip)
Immolation's another oddball weapon, now creating a 1/1 red elemental token (a subtype that's recently gained many supports). Immolation doesn't boost its wearer's stats, but it lets you sacrifice your creature to deal one damage to any target.
This is often activated in response to something that would kill the unit anyway, gaining a final bit of damage before it dies. Remember that you can use the effect at instant speed and even if your creature is already tapped.
CMC: 2 (2 to equip)
Mortarpod offers a better Mask of Immolation, accepting any color and actually buffing its wearer by +0/+1 (so you'll have a puny 0/1 germ token). Like Mask, you can sacrifice Mortarpod's bearer at any time to deal one damage to any target. Again, use this in response to removals to reap one final benefit before losing a unit.
CMC: 4 (2 to equip, or 4 life)
Lashwrithe's an excellent tool for mono-black decks, giving its recipient +1/+1 for each swamp you control, including non-basic ones. This means your token will probably be at least 4/4 on entry and will only get stronger as you play more lands.
Lashwrithe also has unique phyrexian equip symbols; for each one, you can either pay two life or a black mana, a versatile effect that spends whatever you can afford. An easy pick for my own black decks, Lashwrite also won't break the bank, costing less than a single dollar!
CMC: 4 (2 to equip)
Bonehoard offers an interesting variant on Lashwrithe, now giving its wielder +1/+1 for each creature in all graveyards. This scales well in multi-player, increases as the game progresses (unless a graveyard gets exiled), and doesn't necessarily require the black faction, although its self-milling helps empower the effect.
CMC: 5 (5 to equip)
Not just the best living weapon but one of the best equipments period, Batterskull provides its host +4/+4, vigilance, and lifelink. This grants a surprisingly strong token that can attack without tapping and recovers life when it deals damage, and like usual, you can later reattach Batterskull to someone else.
You can also return Batterskull to your hand at instant speed by spending three mana, a handy defense that can recover Batterskull in response to removals (at least when you keep some mana in reserve).
Self-Attaching Equipment in Magic
In addition to today's spells, many equipment cards can automatically attach themselves to already-existing creatures, saving you the trouble of paying the equip fee. Look to cards like "Deathrender", "Cloak and Dagger", and "Forebear's Blade" for easy boosts without draining your mana.
Living weapons or not, equipments are powerful tools eligible for most commander decks since they're usually colorless. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of living weapons, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
Questions & Answers
Question: Regarding the 0/0 germ tokens, can opponents react between the arrival of any of these tokens before equipment can attach to it? Like pinging it for one-two damages and killing the token before equipment?
Answer: Sort of. Players can respond to the living weapon trigger, perhaps by bouncing the artifact back to hand, but the germs will be created and equipped with the same resolution, so you can't cast anything in-between them arriving and them getting equipped.
© 2019 Jeremy Gill