The Right Equipment for the Job

Posted in Serious Fun on November 25, 2014

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

Since stories have been told, we have had a fascination with gear. The idea that humanity would use something to aid them in a trial, quest, or search for some larger prize has been present. Where would David have been without his trusty sling? Just mentioning equipment often conjures up a better image of a story than describing the main character in the story. If I mentioned a bullwhip, a light saber, and a "precious" ring, most of you would be able to immediately picture not just main characters, but entire storylines for these famous pieces of equipment. Equipment is a powerful draw for most of us.

With that said, gear has been a part of Magic since the beginning. Aladdin's Ring and Jandor's Saddlebags were two of my favorites. However, it wasn't until Mirrodin that we started to see the Equipment subtype show up on some artifacts. It was a natural fit and just made good sense. If you were going to make a sword, a creature should be required to wield it. Equipment was a hit, particularly with the casual crowd. The idea of making your creatures better with gear is appealing. And not losing two cards when someone killed your creature made Equipment far more popular than Auras.

With the wide variety of Equipment now available in Magic, I thought I would stick with this week's theme, and provide you with a Top 8: Equipment. However, rather than give you my opinion of the top Equipment, I left it to you to choose:

The cascade of responses was just what I was looking for. Thanks to everyone who responded! The Magic community is inventive and vocal. I chose a Top 8 from the most popular responses. The Equipment chosen range from utilitarian to Vorthos to cards that create amazing board states.

Honorable Mentions

Bludgeon Brawl

While this isn't Equipment, enough people mentioned it that it would seem a shame not to include it. When artifacts that were never intended to be Equipment become Equipment, you can create some crazy situations. It also doesn't hurt to suddenly have ways to make all your creatures into massive beatsticks. That Boros Cluestone that gave you an extra mana in the early game, can now be tapped to help pay the equip cost. A Boros Reckoner with +3/+0 from an artifact that taps for mana sounds like a good deal.

Another alternative? You can always equip Venser's Sliver with Venser's Journal and attack an opponent's Venser, the Sojourner. If the bizarre and eclectic interest you.

Lightning Greaves

I agree with @mtgblogger. For me, Lightning Greaves is a go-to piece of Equipment. So many decks are built around a creature or group of creatures, and not many cards keep those creatures in play as well as the Greaves. Being able to use their abilities and attack right away is a huge plus. All of this in an Equipment that costs two mana to play and nothing to equip.

The only real downside to the Greaves is that it has shroud, not hexproof. Somehow, I'll figure out how to get over it.

With the Honorable Mentions out of the way, let's get right into the Top 8!

Number Eight—Darksteel Plate

While Lightning Greaves gives the creature it equips shroud, it can all come down like a house of cards if someone gets rid of the Greaves. Darksteel Plate takes things one step further, making the creature it equips indestructible and the Darksteel Plate indestructible.

Generally, when I see a Darksteel Plate, I'm expecting someone to play mass removal. Plenty of players run the Plate as a way to protect their all-star when everyone else leaves the battlefield. Darksteel Plate makes a great way to deal with removal-happy opponents. Sure, sacrifice effects and bounce are still there, but the Plate goes a long way to improving the safety of your creatures, all for only three mana and two to equip.

I tend to use Darksteel Plate when I have a creature I plan to regularly put in harm's way. Lightning Greaves are best on utility creatures who do something special, but aren't likely to attack. Darksteel Plate is a star in the combat zone, leaving players to second-guess themselves when they know their creatures alone are not going to be able to kill the creature equipped with the Plate.

And yes, Jake, Glissa most definitely likes not dying.

Number Seven—Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang

Tatsumasa is pricey. You pay six mana, then you can pay three more to equip it to a creature to give it +5/+5. That seems like a lot to pay just to get your creature bigger. There are plenty of cards that can do that. The other option is to pay six more and make it into a 5/5 Dragon Spirit. Twelve mana for a Dragon token? Sure, if it dies you get Tatsumasa back onto the battlefield, but it is just so pricey. Or you could take Jason Todd's advice:

The Equipment becomes a Dragon! The level of awesomeness on this card is 11! The style points this card offers is off the charts! Plenty of players try and maximize the ability, setting up a situation where they get a Dragon spirit every turn. To those people I say bravo, but I'll happily play this for the straight up Vorthos awesome. Can't you just picture a quick incantation, and a wizard flings the sword directly up, end over end, only to see it transform at the peak of the throw, into a dragon spirit? The dragon fights for your cause, and in death, the sword reappears, clattering at the feet of the wizard who can choose to take up the sword and fight, or fling it high into the sky and call the dragon spirit back to battle again.

I have only had the pleasure of playing against Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang a couple of times. Once, it fizzled, but the second time was a thing of beauty.

Number Six—Chariot of Victory

Chariot of Victory is the Swiss Army knife of Equipment. It is rare when you are going to want all three abilities at once. First strike and trample are two abilities that don't often get paired together, mostly because they don't need to be. Trample tends to be on larger creatures so they don't get chump blocked endlessly. First strike works best on creatures with high power but lower toughness, in the hopes of killing any blockers before they get the chance to swing back. The key to Chariot is that it works well with so many different creatures, since it offers everything. Rather than putting multiple Equipment for different creatures into the decks, or just running a particular creature, the Chariot gives you everything you need.

An equip cost of only one keeps the Chariot practical. You'll still be able to play most of your creatures and equip them the turn they enter the battlefield. It is a valuable utility card that should be in every deck builder's tool box.

Number Five—Assault Suit

I recently talked about Assault Suit and it is good to see I'm not the only one who likes what this offers. The worst-case scenario is that your opponents don't attack with your creature, or someone figures out a way to eliminate the constant threat. The best-case scenario is that your opponents will throw your creatures at each other every chance they get, doing the work for you. The key is to find creatures that are excellent in the red zone. I suggested Zurgo Helmsmasher the last time I talked about Assault Suit, and I still think it is a great choice. Phylactery Lich with the phylactery counters on the Assault Suit seems pretty cool, but a bit dangerous. Predator Ooze seems like another interesting creature, growing even faster since it is going to be attacking more often than just on your turn. Creepy Doll will kill more of your opponent's creatures, just due to the sheer volume of attacks, and that makes me smile. The image of the Creepy Doll wearing the Assault Suit makes my grin even wider.

Number Four—Fleetfeather Sandals

Marcus Hazen summed it up pretty well. Most of your creatures are there to get turned sideways. Haste lets you surprise your opponents with something they hadn't seen and weren't prepared for. Flying lets you avoid most of the blockers your opponents were keeping back to try and stop you from getting through. Haste and evasion, all for two mana and only two more to equip, is a great combination. This is a practical card that will likely make your creature-based decks better.

Number Three—Kusari-Gama

Kusari-Gama leaves your opponents with an uncomfortable choice. Normally, when you are determining which creatures to block, you choose to block a creature that can get bigger with something that can kill the creature, or a creature that can absorb the damage. Letting the creature with "Firebreathing-Lite" through is just an invitation to take extra damage. Kusari-Gama takes that logic and puts it on its head. Blocking the equipped creature means that every creature is taking the damage, and often that is more than a player is willing to take.

As Stephen described, this leads to decks that can set up all sorts of combat shenanigans. Attacking a player with multiple creatures often means that the creature holding Kusari-Gama gets a free pass, as your opponent tries to shut down the rest of your attack. This isn't all that much fun, so I like creatures with provoke. When a creature with provoke attacks, the controller can have a target creature the defending player controls block it. This means that Kusari-Gama gets to have fun every attack! I especially recommend Krosan Vorine. Not only does it have provoke, but only one creature may block it. This means that you can force an opponent's weakest creature to block the Vorine and no other creatures can be added to the block in an effort to kill it. This combination messes with combat math in all sorts of ways!

Number Two—Basilisk Collar

Basilisk Collar may give two abilities, but I've never cared about lifelink. That was always just a throw-in to go with the real prize. Deathtouch makes every tiny creature something to be feared. Normally when an opponent has a creature with deathtouch, you only attack if you aren't worried about losing the creature, or you are trying to just get that creature off the board, so you can swing big later on. Basilisk Collar says, "thanks for trading your 3/3 for my 1/1. Now that the 1/1 is gone, I'll equip another 1/1 and you'll get to do it again."

Jes notes a common strategy with Basilisk Collar, where pingers (creatures that tap to do a point of damage to another creature) are adorned with Basilisk Collar. Their single point of damage can kill creatures on the board, no matter how big they are.

Another option to keep in mind with Basilisk Collar are creatures with first strike. A 1/1 with first strike, equipped with the Collar, either demands to be killed with direct damage or is a great way to encourage your opponents to look elsewhere for their attacks.

Number One—Elbrus, the Binding Blade

Elbrus, the Binding Blade, was the most popular choice. While it costs seven to cast, the joy comes once it is on the battlefield. Equipping it to a creature with evasion, for the low equip cost of one mana, can turn the Binding Blade into a 13/13 Demon that just wins games. Unlike Tatsumasa, Withengar Unbound doesn't go back to being a piece of Equipment when it is destroyed. However, when Withengar hits even once, dreams are fulfilled. And when one of your opponents is eliminated, Withengar becomes an unstoppable killer.

This card appeals to the Vorthos in everyone, offering up flavor like no other Equipment can. It provides a win condition that screams out to the rest of the players in your game, "Come stop me!" Elbrus, the Binding Blade drops the gauntlet and announces to everyone at the table that things are getting crazy.

I'd love to hear about your favourite Equipment. Talk to me on Twitter (@manaburned) or send me an email (mtgseriousfun@gmail.com). I'm always on the lookout for interesting cards and interactions that will up the fun in my games.

Bruce Richard
@manaburned
mtgseriousfun@gmail.com

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