Suit Up! The Mirrodin Equipment Ladder

Thinking about Equipment tends to make me all nostalgic with regard to the medieval era. The time where donning a sword and six hundred pounds of plate mail was the cool thing to do. The artwork on the Equipment cards themselves only pushes this statement to the next level, as they actually look like medieval weaponry.

This new card type has had a huge impact on the Limited format and since no one else has stepped up to the plate to address the issue, I’m more than happy to offer my thoughts.

Many things in life are unobtainable without the proper prerequisites.

You don’t just go hop in your Mom’s car when you’re twelve years old and fly down to the corner supermarket. You need to pass the driver’s test first in order to prove you’re capable of operating the vehicle safely.

Most upper level college courses require you to have taken a number of lower prerequisite courses before you’re even allowed to register for them.

The same is true for any combat situation in Magic.

You better not get involved unless you’ve come prepared.

Thinking about Equipment tends to make me all nostalgic with regard to the medieval era. The time where donning a sword and six hundred pounds of plate mail was the cool thing to do. The artwork on the Equipment cards themselves only pushes this statement to the next level, as they actually look like medieval weaponry.

This new card type has had a huge impact on the Limited format and since no one else has stepped up to the plate to address the issue, I’m more than happy to offer my thoughts.

If you don’t know how to rank these pseudo creature enchantments among themselves, as well as in different color combinations, you’re going to have some problems winning. It’s basically like taking a pocket knife to a gunfight, you’re gonna get blown out.

Since the Equipment range from Rare to Common, the best approach for ranking them among themselves is to use the system Tim Aten always showcases in his articles. The only difference is that I’m also going to give them a ranking by groups.

Top Notch – This Equipment will be making the cut in every deck no matter what.

Mid Range – This will make the maindeck most of the time.

Situational – These will make the maindeck in dire situations, but most often reside in the sideboard.

The Equipment Ladder

Top Notch

Loxodon Warhammer

I’m not gonna waste your time here. I’ve already spent an entire article ranting about how I consider this to be the best card in the set. Molder Slug and Crystal Shard are definitely close, but I always win when I get to use the Hammer. The only real distinction that needs to be made here is why this is better than Empyrial Plate.

The biggest reason is that you want to save your bomb Equipment until your opponent has burned an artifact kill spell or two, and the Hammer is perfect for a total of six mana in one turn. Empyrial Plate is only a bomb early in the game, or if the game stalls out and you’re able to stockpile lands in your hand. When you consider that Hammer gives Trample, and Spirit Link, you shouldn’t have trouble determining why it’s the one spot on this list.

Empyrial Plate

Remember Empyrial Armor?

The card that single handedly ruined Mirage/Visions/Weatherlight draft?

Well this card is straight up better than the Armor. Not only does it come free of color requirements, it also can’t be hosed by bounce like its Armor cousin since it’s an Equipment. If you play this on turn 2 or 3 and it’s not removed followed by creatures, your opponent might as well pack it in.

Lightning Greaves

I can hear thousands of fingers pounding keyboards in the forums now. This one is gonna cause some debate.

This is a personal preference simply because it changes the entire way the game is played. Not only do you get a Fires of Yavimaya for two mana, you also get untargetability for your important guys. A nice, tidy package and zero to equip. I love it.

While I realize that Mask of Memory is also quite insane if you start hitting with it, the Greaves always seems better to me because it gives your opponent more chances to misplay. If they don’t leave back an appropriate blocker, you can turn the tide of the game with a hasted fatty. I especially like firing Neurok Spy or Somber Hoverguard into this and putting myself way ahead in the damage race.

While the boots is certainly making the cut in any deck, it really shines in Green where you can pump Fangren Hunters right to the dome.

The fact that both of the abilities are excellent combined with the zero mana equip cost causes me to rate this higher than the Mask.

Mask of Memory

What a surprise. Hitting someone with Shadowmage Infiltrator or Ophidian more than once in Limited usually meant you were going to win. This card does double the work that either of those powerhouses did, and is also very cost effective. The initial two mana investment is nice, but the real kicker is the low equip cost of one.

When this gets going, it’s almost impossible to stop. It goes without saying then that this rates much higher in decks with a high number of evasion creatures. I’ve usually found mine riding the wave on an off-color Wizard Replica.


The next level of close picks exists between this common axe and the rare Sword of Kaldra. While I’ve personally taken the Sword over the Splitter three or four times and been happy with the results, the Bonesplitter is definitely the more reliable card and will win more games just based on speed factor. It turns anything into a formidable attacker and is only two mana to play and equip, and one to move it later on. There’s nothing quite like turn 1 Auriok Transfixer, turn 2 Bonesplitter, equip, turn 3 Skyhunter Cub.

Although I haven’t mentioned it yet, I’m taking it for granted that you already know how good all of the cards listed so far are with Spikeshot Goblin. Bonesplitter is also quite good with Viridian Joiner, giving you a nice mana boost to bring your fatties out a turn or two earlier than normal.

The axe is at its best in Blue and White decks, but again, makes the cut no matter what.

Unless of course you’ve somehow managed to compile a deck with twenty-four Tel-Jilad Chosen.

Sword of Kaldra

Like I said above, I’ve had this card a number of times and been happy with the results. With that said, I’ve only actually lost to it once when my opponents have played it against me. That one time was when the creature carrying the sword also had a Viridian Longbow equipped on it. Visara on steroids.

Even though it’s slow, if you get it on someone and your opponent can’t answer it, it will end the game in very short order. The nice thing is that since it also gives a huge toughness boost, they can’t just trade off smaller guys for your guy like they can with Bonesplitter. Another nice combination that I’ve personally had once, was equipping Triskelion with Sword and then using the three counters to take out Fangren Hunter, Trolls of Tel-Jilad, and Tel-Jilad Exile. Slow, but ridiculous.

Scythe of the Wretched

Even though this guy costs a lot to get active in the first place, the extra ability is what makes it worthwhile. When you have this on an attacker, it’s nearly impossible for your opponent to block, let alone chump block, since you’ll gain control of their guy. Since it triggers on any damage, it’s just obscene when on a Spikeshot as well. I haven’t had too many great experiences in the card, but I know that it has the potential to be rated here and just requires more experience on my part for those good situations to happen.

Vulshok Battlegear

The close rankings in this list seem to come in pairs. Whenever I found myself making a decision as to where a piece of Equipment would fall on the list I was always considering it against one other card. It’s kinda like a step ladder where two Equipment land on each step. Anyway, while this card is cheaper than the aforementioned Scythe, it’s still in the expensive range as far as weapons in Mirrodin go, and for an additional mana to cast and equip the Scythe offers +2/+2. My money’s on the Scythe.

The closer call in this situation is when you compare this to Fireshrieker. The most likely situation is when you’re equipping this on a Skyhunter Cub, Neurok Spy, Spikeshot Goblin, Somber Hoverguard, or Skyhunter Patrol. In all of those situations, the Battlegear is equal or better than the Fireshrieker and only costs one more mana to equip.

When you’re already paying a good amount for your gear, you better be sure you’re picking the right one.

The only times the Fireshrieker could really considered to be the right call is in a deck packed with either Fangren Hunters or Nim Shriekers.


Since I already discussed the reasons why I feel the Battlegear is better than this card, I think we can talk about some other things here.

A few weeks ago at CMU, Jason equipped the Shrieker on a Wurmskin Forger and said he was going to”Belt me in the face.” What really happened was that I cast Grab the Reins and belted him in the face instead.

Anyway, since that anecdote had nothing at all to do with Fireshrieker, I guess we should give some more times Fireshrieker will be better than the Battlegear.

These are courtesy of Jeremy Darling:

Simply put, Fireshrieker is better with larger creatures and combat damage triggered abilities.

This piece also marks the end of the Top Notch Equipment. The ones in this category are those that you’ll always pick high, and always play. There are twenty pieces of Equipment total, and I think it says something about the power of the card type in general when nine of them are cards that are always going to make your maindeck.

Mid Range

Banshee’s Blade

This card doesn’t get nearly the respect it deserves. I really wanted to put it up in the Top Notch category since I like it so much, but I can remember a couple of times I didn’t play it simply because I had better spells or Equipment.

Really though, the Blade is quite insane when it gets going. I’ve had it win entire drafts for me because my creatures were not so great themselves, but after a few turns of hitting with a Lumengrid Sentinel carrying the Blade, things got out of hand. The nice thing too is that you can get this on a Tel-Jilad Exile and build up counters even when the board is stalled and then move it onto a Spikeshot or something.

Vulshok Gauntlets

Most people would rate this card much higher than I do, and it obviously goes way up if you have any number of Leonin Den-Guards, Yotian Soldiers, or Goblin War Wagons. Besides those, though, the card is really mana-intensive and I’m never really that happy with it.

Mike Patnik beat me pretty bad with it on Tuesday by using the simple attack, move onto my flying blocker plan. The card is definitely solid, but I pass it a lot in drafts unless I have guys that are good in combination with it. The situations where the game stalls out long enough for it to move twice without you having better things to do with that mana are not as common as most people think.

Leonin Scimitar

This card is always solid, and rarely spectacular. At its best in White, it also serves to protect your Spies and Hoverguards from Pyrite Spellbombs and Electrostatic Bolts, while also adding another point of evasion.

Andrew Cuneo told me on Tuesday that he values the Longbow higher, so it at least made me think about putting it above this card since I lose to the Longbow a lot on Magic Online. I think this is just more solid all around, though it really is close and up for debate.

Viridian Longbow


This card is so annoying to play against. Mainly because once it’s equipped, you seem to draw every one-toughness creature in your deck. That’s what always happens to me.

This is a great supplement for those mana Myr of yours, since they’ll likely be sitting around in the later turns of the game and they really could use something to do. The only thing that keeps me from rating this higher is that the equip cost is so damned high and there are a number of ways the card can be hosed in response to equipping.

This is also a nice answer to those annoying Tel-Jilad Chosens, since you can equip a colored creature and gun them down.


Nightmare Lash

Some people call this card a bomb in mono-Black. I sincerely hope that they are kidding.

The loss of three life to equip is not negligible, especially when the creature or the Lash itself will die in response most of the time. Thanks for bolting yourself, let me kill that for you!

The card is fine if you have ten or more Swamps, but don’t go picking it too highly as it’ll come late most of the time, since nobody else will want it. I’d go as far to say that I’d rather have Consume Spirit in any deck with that many Swamps than I would the Lash.

Neurok Hoversail

Let me start by saying that people play this card way more often than they should. This is only good if you have very little flying capability in your deck or if you want to put it on a large man (a.k.a. Green). I see people playing this in White decks that already have plenty of fliers and other Equipment to pump their Cubs and Den-Guards. Don’t do it, you’re wasting a slot.

This is certainly at its best in Green, with a few other times you’ll want to run it maindeck or sideboard it in against a swarm of fliers.

Golem-Skin Gauntlets

I’m never overly excited to play this card, and hopefully you can understand why. With that said, it is fine in a pinch to pump a Spikeshot, equip a Cub, or go on a creature with additional Equipment already loaded on.

This is more of a 22nd or 23rd card in most cases and will usually fill the role of an extra piece of metal for a White deck.

Slagwurm Armor

Nim creatures anyone? I haven’t had the chance to run this card very many times yet, since I hate Black in Mirrodin Limited. Tacking it onto a Shrieker, Lasher, or Nim Replica creates a rather formidable attacker though, and for that reason it should make the cut in most Black decks.

Vorrac Battlehorns

The only time I’ve ever seen this played is in decks with lots of Skyhunter Cubs and only a couple of Equipment. Hopefully you won’t find yourself in that situation, but at least it’s not the worst thing that could possibly happen.

Dead-Iron Sledge

Regenerators? Never seen this one in play, but I imagine it doesn’t happen very often.


“There Can Only Be One.”

In Magic, I’d try to stray from being the idiot who attempts to gain some advantage from this card. It won’t work.

Color Relationships

The colors themselves have independent relationships with Equipment, and I’ll list some things about that now.


Clearly the color most dependent on Equipment, most White decks can’t live without it. Besides the obvious Leonin Den-Guard and Skyhunter Cub, most of the White creatures get much better with Equipment. Auriok Bladewarden especially likes to be carrying a Bonesplitter and straying from combat.

The Taj-Nar Swordsmith is great for searching out any Equipment for your team, while the Leonin Abunas protects it and Auriok Steelshaper pumps your whole team. You’ve even got the Loxodon Punisher on your hands, and will certainly get him late. Raise the Alarm also gets much better with any piece of gear you can attach to the dorks it provides.

You just can’t live without Equipment in White.


The evasion creatures in Blue greatly benefit from additional weapons, as I’ve mentioned throughout the article. Equipment also serves another important function for the color: accelerating the Affinity mechanic.

Somber Hoverguard and Neurok Familiar also tend to become much more threatening when they’ve been equipped.


Red is next on the list, mainly because of the common Spikeshot Goblin that requires the additional attention of Equipment to become a bomb. The Krark-Clan Grunt and Atog can also sacrifice lesser Equipment for a bonus, but after that there’s not too much to talk about.


Nim Shrieker, especially, enjoys the +3/+0 he gets from a Bonesplitter. Not to mention how absurd he becomes when carrying a Fireshrieker.

The Nim race in general likes to be equipped, and they especially like the Slagwurm Armor.


Green couldn’t care less about Equipment in most cases. Two of the Tel-Jilad creatures have Protection from Artifacts, and the only non-bomb Equipment that the color wants to see is Fireshrieker. When drafting Green, you almost always want to pick Shatter over Bonesplitter, since they share a common run.

Hopefully after reading this you’ll be more prepared the next time you venture into battle.

This time you’ll be carrying the gun while your opponent will be stuck with the pocket knife.

Nick Eisel

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