Everything You Know Is Wrong

Posted in Serious Fun on January 8, 2008

By The Ferrett

Today, we have something you don't see that often: a card that completely transforms the way you can play an entire card type. That's right—after you see what we have to offer today, you'll never look at Equipment the same way again.

And you know, it's not like equipment was bad in multiplayer before Stonehewer Giant was printed. I've long been a proponent of the lifegain and trample—two of the finest multiplayer creature mechanics ever—that Loxodon Warhammer grants, and Mark Rosewater seems to agree with me. But why are Equipment cards good? Bear with me for a moment as I analyze why Equipment works in multiplayer, because Stonehewer Giant takes the biggest weakness of Equipment and does a perfect end-run right around it.

Equipment is awesome in multiplayer because frequently, multiplayer's a battle of attrition and card advantage. Mythic Proportions is all fine and well, but if someone pops your creature in response, well, you just lost two cards. The advantage of Equipment is that unless someone's packing some serious artifact removal—and most aren't—then the creature who's toting your big impressive sword may die, but the next dude you play can take up the sword in triumph.


Loxodon Warhammer
This means that you can turn any critter into a viable threat... at the cost of tempo. The downside of equipment is that they cost you mana—and the more impressive the effect, the more it costs both to get the Equipment out and to attach it to someone. As it stands, the six-mana cost of Loxy-Doxy can slow you down considerably—you want to be playing a dude on turns three and four, not spending turn three playing the Warhammer and then turn four equipping it.

That turn four can also be embarrassing sometimes thanks to the other downside to equipment—the lack of surprise. Everyone knows that Loxodon Warhammer is a really good card, and the "turn three play, turn four equip" will often be met by the scariest words in Magic: "In response...."

That's right; terrified of what the Loxodon Warhammer can do, your opponents will often stockpile responses so as not to get jacked by a 5/2 trampling lifegaining thing. To avoid this, I've often kept a Loxodon in-hand for several turns, waiting until I had the mana to both play and equip it in the same turn in a vain attempt to give my opponents a little surprise.

Even so, it's not much of a surprise. They can still pop my guy in response, and (barring the insta-equip cards from Fifth Dawn, like Cranial Plating) I can't just toss my best card on in mid-combat.

But if this Stonehewer Giant survives long enough to get haste, all sorts of havoc can be wreaked. Let me introduce a very large, very nice man to you....

For a surprisingly affordable body— for a 4/4 with vigilance is about right—you get an enormously breakable effect: You can shortcut both the mana cost and the equip cost in one go.

Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang? Oh, it was twelve mana before. The new hotness? One white and a colorless, straight from your deck to your opponent's face. All due to one pretty badass giant.

But Stonehewer Giant does something else. Because now, equipment can be plopped down in mid-combat. When you attack and have a Stonehewer Giant in play, you now have a toolbox of nasty effects to rain down onto your opponent's head.


Your opponent just played Condemn to get rid of your attacking guy? Well, why not Tutor up a Lightning Greaves at instant speed to make it untargetable in response? Your opponent's allowed no blockers, thinking he can take a hit from a Dragon? Well, perhaps a Fireshrieker will drop him down 12 life. Your opponent does something crazy, like playing a Rout or cycling a Decree of Pain to wipe out your attacking army in mid-step? Deathrender will restock your battlefields toot suite with the meanest man in your hand.

You have all sorts of options. Let's say they just blocked with their biggest guy, then surprised you with some sort of crazy effect that would normally kill your attacker. A warped-in Blinding Powder will keep your attacker alive for another turn... but that's the least effective option. Maybe you want to bring in a No-Dachi to give it first strike, allowing it to kill off the blocker before they get in a hit. Or just go for the throat with a charming instant-speed Heartseeker-and-unattach ploy, destroying anything at will.

What? You can kill their biggest guy with a bit of help? Then perhaps Scythe of the Wretched can steal their star player and have 'em work for you.

Or you can do very ugly tricks upon some unsuspecting man with Kusari-Gama, which—like the Spanish Inquisition—nobody ever sees coming. (And if your Kusari-Gama-equipped guy has first strike and his defenders don't, then all of his blockers may be dead before the fight even begins...)

All of that makes blocking with a Stonehewer Giant in play seem pretty silly. So what happens if they don't block? Well, Konda's Banner can only be played on legends, but it can pump the rest of your creatures before damage goes on the stack. And you can do a heck of a lot of damage with a nasty instant spell once you insta-imprint a Spellbinder.

Note that we haven't even gotten to Skullclamp and Umezawa's Jitte. That's what the Stonehewer Giant does. Every equipment suddenly becomes supercharged. (Alas, nothing makes Worldslayer particularly sexy.)

Or hey, the effect's pretty cool even on someone else's turn! You can warp in the other powerful tutoring artifact—that would be Sunforger—and just start burning the heck out of people with a barrage of Lightning Helixes. Or if someone's attacking you, wouldn't it just be too bad if you dropped a Pariah's Shield onto a Stuffy Doll in response?

And oh, it gets uglier. Note that the effect does not target. You simply choose a creature in play and an equipment simultaneously, when the effect resolves. By the time your opponents know exactly what equipment you'll fetch and what creature you're attaching it to, it's already finished—too late for them to do anything about it, since it all happens upon resolution!

Oh, your opponents can respond to you paying the and signaling your intent. If you have three creatures, they can destroy one once Stonehewer Giant's effect goes on the stack—but which creature? After all, it all depends on what Equipment you were planning on getting, and they don't know what you have planned. Oh, it's the shell game all over again.

(Plus, since the Giant has vigilance, you'll never have to worry about having someone around to attack, since in a pinch you can send him into the fray. But that's almost too obvious to mention, don'tcha think?)


Giant Solifuge
And let's take the same phrase from another tack: The effect does not target. You can attach the Equipment to a creature that has shroud, for example, and it's perfectly fine. (But it has to be able to be legally equipped by the Equipment; you can't attach the Equipment to a creature that has protection from artifacts, since it would just fall right off again.) So you can start assembling pretty darned impressive Giant Solifuges, if you like....

There's also one other clause of interest taken from the FAQ:


* If there is no legal creature for you to attach the Equipment to, it remains in play unattached.

Even if they do manage to cack all of your men, you'll get an Equipment card for , which in most cases is still a pretty good bargain. Not bad at all.

The downside, of course, is that you have to have Stonehewer Giant stick around long enough to untap—but that's what cards like Lightning Greaves and the new amazingness of Obsidian Battle-Axe are for, amiright? And sure, there's the possibility that your best Equipments might get stuck in your hand, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.

What we have here is an attempt to make Equipment cards even better, and by Jiminy the folks at R&D have succeeded. You might wanna get your hands on some loot and soon, since the crafty will be rewarded well by Giants. Awesome.

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