Select for Inspection: Equipment in Cube

 Equipment cards in Magic have come a long way since their inception during their original Mirrodin block. From the very beginning the designs were strong and WotC has actually been working towards balancing. Cards that are either staples (Swords of X and Y, Lightning Greaves) or banned (Skullclamp) were cards from that original batch. Many of these will later become cube staples that are a menace to play against. If you do a bit of research on the cards I mentioned, you'll noticed that they all come from the same era.  They assist decks with various situations from generating card advantage to just beating down your opponents faster.

Equipment cards are designed with two costs in mind: a casting cost and an equip cost. With some exceptions, equipment cards should be judged based on their total cost to cast and equip since that will be the cost you pay in order to get this equipment online.

When looking at equipment in any build, you can categorize them into 2 groups: Utility and Pumps. Equipment can fall into both categories, but it is very rare.

Equipment Support

Before we take a look at different equipment, there are cards that smooth out the experience of running equipment. Generally, you want to be running cards that either lower the cost of getting the equipment online (cast and equipped) or actually tutoring for them. Remember the power provided by the equipment is the payoff, while these support cards better enable them.

Stoneforge Mystic
is probably the peak of equipment support in Magic.  For the uninitiated, this card is infamous for its synergy with Batterskull and more recently Kaldra Compleat. The two abilities on this card push it so far ahead of similar cards that there is not real competition for the top spot. The card can tutor an equipment upon entering the battlefield, which makes it a solid target for flicker effects if you want to fetch more equipment. The second ability allows you to put into the battlefield any equipment in your hand. This ability is where Stoneforge Mystic stands out the most. First off, the ability cost 2 mana to activate and is not restricted by timing, which in application means you are able to play any equipment with flash for 2 mana and not be at risk for it getting countered. As a whole package this card is insanely powerful, however what makes it an excellent candidate for any cube is that it scales with the power level of your equipment. 

Steelshaper's Gift and Open the Armory are both tutors for equipment. They are excellent for fetching any equipment in your deck since they cost so little mana to use however, they are useless if you run no equipments.

Ardenn, Intrepid Achaeologist is a great because it mitigates the equip cost of any number of cards and attaches them to one creature. This effect starts during the beginning of your combat, so he has an impact the moment he enters the battlefield. This ability will let you equip any future equipment for free as well getting them online as soon as it enters. Solid option for lower power cubes since he is easy to remove and needs to have the equipment on the battlefield to matter right away. Main problem is that only those decks want him and he's not as if you do not have the density for equipment.

Armored Skyhunter
is a solid option for supporting equipment.  When the skyhunter swings, you are able to dig 6 to look for an equipment/aura that immediately can be equipped onto a creature. The big issue with this is that it does not do anything for equipment cards that are already in your hand and it needs to be able to swing, which isn't always guaranteed because of the 3/3 body which makes its more vulnerable.  It is one of the closest replication of Stoneforge Mystic and much like the mystic this card scales with the type of equipment you have available in your cube. If you are able to trigger this once, you'll be in a strong spot if you get a solid equipment card.

Danitha Capashen is a card I like a lot. She is a solid attacker and defender thanks to her 3 keywords, which is just nuts. This alone merits her consideration into my cubes. The addition of her ability to reduce the cost to equip or play auras is just more spice on a solid creature. As mentioned, she is a strong creature and is a worthy candidate to be carrying your equipment in addition to suiting her up with auras and counters.

Sigarda's Aid is a powerful support option if you run a large enough density of auras and equipment. For the cost of one white mana, all of your equipment has flash and can be attached right away. This is sweet for multiple reasons. The main one is that it mitigates the equip cost on equipment from the hand, which translates to clunky cards like Loxodon Warhammer being way better. Secondly, this turns all of your equipment into combat tricks that stick around now. The main problem is that it really wants a density of equipment or a way to get them in your hand.  

Pump Equipments

Pump equipments are defined as equipment whose main function is to just serve as a stat booster/ keyword giver. If they do have other functions they are secondary. These cards are best attached to creature that already have strong keywords like Flying or First Strike since they encourage you to attack. We'll cover some of the cards in this category. Remember these are guidelines to reference.

power cannot and should not be underestimated regardless of how simple the design looks.  The card costs 1 generic mana to cast and 1 generic mana to equip. The card gives the equipped creature +2/0. The power boost this gives any creature is absurd. At minimum, the equipped creature can trade with much larger creatures, while representing a significant clock on your opponents. Combined with various keywords and this card becomes significantly more oppressive. With the low cost to equip, you can easily attach it between your creatures as you need it. 
This card is a staple cube card at all levels and should be the baseline with which you grade your other pump equipment. This is a good role filler in any creature based deck.

Grafted Wargear 
has a very similar to gameplay function to Bonesplitter. A key difference is that you cannot play it in pauper, but you can in every other cube. The card cost 3 mana to cast and the equip cost is 0, making this essentially a 3 mana card total. This grants your creature +3/+2 towards its stats letting you equip it right away, thus this card is a terror from the turn you play it. As mentioned with Bonesplitter, this will let your creature trade with even more creatures. It makes these situations more difficult for your opponent as Wargear gives toughness as well.  The main caveat is that Grafted Wargear will sacrifice the equipped creature as soon as it gets detached from it. This creates a card disadvantage if you are sacrificing your creature cards to move this equipment around. Beyond that, this card has been a back breaking staple in my cube for years because of the clock it creates and I'm doubting anything will come close to it for a while. Because of the sacrifice portion of this card, this is best suited in aggressive decks looking to end the game fast.

Loxodon Warhammer
 has been a budget staple card in cube forever. It cost 3 to cast and equip making its total cost 6. This is clunky and a problem with this card. Once you are able to equip it, the suited up creature turns into a monster to deal it. It grants +3/0, lifelink, and trample to the equipped creature. This turns every swing into a chunky life swing in your favor. With the trample,chump blocking becomes invalid and lets the creature push through damage. The clunkiness of the card makes it ill-suited for low curve aggro decks, however the strength of this card shines through in midrange decks that can handle the costs. In those decks, it is excellent at breaking board stalls making it a great top deck. The problem is that it shares the same cost as our next set of equipments, which are significantly better and way more expensive. 

Swords of X and Y are a staple when it comes to equipments. When it was just the enemy colored ones, cube designers would just throw all 5 in and call it a day for equipment, but times have changed and now we have access the the allied colors one as well. The swords all share a template of costing 3 to cast and 2 to equip (5 mana total), give equipped creaturess +2/+2, have protection from 2 colors, and have on hit abilities that are tied to those 2 colors. These cards are categorized here because the ability on these cards only lead to your opponents dying faster. In fact, the game will probably end in the next couple of turns. The protection granted by these cards vary in utility, but against the right decks your opponents are more than likely not surviving much longer once it is equipped. These cards are absurdly powerful and will swing the game in your favor, once you are able to connect once. The main thing keeping these cards behind is that they are clunky like Loxodon Warhammer, but if you can and want to run them, I'd run a couple since anymore is overkill. 

Maul of the Skyclave
has been one of the favorite equipments since its initial release in 2020. It costs 2W, has an equip cost of 2WW, and will give a creature +2/+2, Flying and First Strike. The best part is that it essentially functions like an aura by immediately attaching itself to a creature upon ETB. This will turn any of your creatures into an aggressive, evasive threat and forcing your opponent to deal with it. Even if the creature is killed the reequip cost isn't too bad to manage since it can be seen as casting the "flashback" on the card. This card is solid in any deck at all power levels, though it does not compete well in a vacuum against the sword cycle. Unlike the other equipment mentioned in this section, this card is a white card instead of colorless, so the evaluation will be different.

Heirloom Blade has been a card I've been hearing about a lot, though I have limited experience with it. For 3 to cast and 1 to equip (4 mana total), you can give an equipped creature +3/+1. Since the cost to reequip is so low, swapping this around creatures  What sets this apart from Grafted Wargear is that when the equipped creature dies, you will get a creature that shares a creature type with it, which should be close to 70% of the time. Having a creature to replace the one you just lost adds a lot of resiliency to your deck. Great for tribal cubes, but it should be playable in any cube unless somehow none of your creatures share any creature types together.

Embercleave is a powerhouse finisher among the cube community and a favorite card of mine. With the inclusion of flash on the card and auto equipping, you can treat this card as a combat trick, making this potent for blowing out any blockers or immediately doubling the damage of the equipped creature. Unlike instant or sorcery combat tricks, this will stick around.The combination of double strike and trample means that your creature is going to be  connecting with your opponent since trample will prevent the second strike from blanking. Though the card cost 6 mana, it has inbuilt cost reduction letting you play it for as low as RR. Lastly, the equip cost isn't too egregious when you need to use it. This is a card I can't see being replaced in cube anytime soon and would recommend it if you can fit it in your cube.


Utility Equipment differ from pump equipment by having their main functions defined by the ability on the card rather than the stat buff provided to the creature, though it may matter to the function.

Swiftfoot Boots and Lightning Greaves
are solid cards in any cube that chooses to run them. First off, they are cheap to get online with both cost 2 generic to cast and 1(3 total)/0 (2 total) respectively to equip They provide your creatures with protection from your opponents targeted abilities with Hexproof and Shroud respectively. The protection is great since you can cover any key creature you need whether it be a combo piece or just a large threat. The cards also grant haste, which is excellent for colors that want haste, but don't have in color access to it. This also means that it is another haste enabler for any Fires- style deck (imagine a hasted Hero of Bladehold). 

is one of the most egregious choices you can add. This is one of the most broken cards known to Magic's history. The card has a casting cost of 1 generic and equip cost of 1 generic for a total of 2 mana. Its abilities read, equipped creature gets +1/-1 and when this creature dies, draw 2 cards. The card draw is the main function of this card. Under the right setup, you are essentially drawing 2 cards for 1 mana. One way to look at it is that you have a repeatable, gimped Ancestral Recall every turn, which is still way better than almost everything else out there since Skullcamp doesn't even have a colored requirement. This makes the card a perfect fit aristocrats and token decks since they can afford to throw away creatures. On larger creatures, they have more power and have a life insurance policy of two cards. Effectively, you are always ahead with advantage during these moments. The card is highly sought over for creature decks and will almost always be impactful. There are very few reasons to not run this card other than balance issues.

Umezawa's Jitte 
is another of the God Tier equipments to play with in cube. The card cost 2 to cast and 2 to equip. The card has 3 abilities that you can activate by removing  a charge counters from Jitte. You have the option of giving a creature -1/-1, the equipped creature +2/+2, or gaining 2 life. From these three abilities, you may classify this card as a pump equipment, however 70% of the time I see this in play, it's colorless removal, another 20% is life gain, and only when the game needs to close out does  it become a pump spell. Charge counter generation is when this card becomes a problem: you only need to deal combat damage with the equipped creature to gain 2 charge counters. Hitting anything will generate the charge counters and you can use the abilities even if Jitte isn't equipped. If you have not yet played with this card, you're in for a real treat and possibly the most unfun experience you can deliver.

Sword of the Animist has been an equipment I have had positive experience with when I ran it. It has grown in popularity in EDH as a source of ramp, but it has a spot in cube. It provides a minor pump, but the utility of ramping a land every turn was a big deal. It thinned your deck of lands with each swing and ensures that you never are low on mana. It won't swing games but it is problematic and needs to be dealt with asap. It does get outpaced by much more powerful equipment, but it has more versatility and fits in a variety of decks.

Mask of Memories
is not a card I hear a lot about but it seems like a solid option as a utility equipment at lower rarities. It functions as both a card advantage generator and a discard outlet. The ability is triggered when the equipped creature does combat damage. This makes creatures with double strike and evasion are the preferred choice to hold it. Double strike will trigger this card twice which is great. The card has a cheap cast and equip cost, which makes this card resemble the "Thirst for" cards. In an environment without the best equipment, I would consider this as an option.

Living Weapon and Reconfigure
Originally, this was going to be categorized as part of utility, but they do stand out from the other two categories. These cards can fit into the other two categories, however they are also able to function independently as their own "creature" and should be treated as such first.

is the infamous other half of the Stoneforge Mystic game plan. The card is essentially a 4/4 beater with lifelink and vigilance. Oftentimes, this will stabilize your board as it mitigates and often undoes the damage dealt to you. The card can protect itself as well by bouncing itself at instant speed for 3 mana. On its own the card is a fair and strong finisher. Paired with the Mystic and we have a different card all together. With mystic's ability, you can flash it in for 2 mana, turning this into a major threat since with the protect ability, this is significantly more difficult to deal with since the card can always be live since it can attack on your turn. The equip ability is often the least relevant function of this card as it is often treated as a creature, but this still remains relevant. The equip cost is really expensive at 5 mana, but it will turn the equipped creature into a major threat. This card is a solid choice for any cube since it's not broken on its own. It does have that interaction with Stoneforge Mystic that sets it into overdrive.

Lion Sash
is a powerful new addition to cube from NEO. It shares a lot of similarities with Scavenging Ooze and functions much the same but it has the added bonus of being fetchable with any equipment tutor like Stoneforge Mystic.  The card's main function is grave hate. The card can grow itself into a large threat by giving itself +1/+1 counters by exiling creatures from the graveyard. You can "transfer" the counters by equipping itself onto another creature making it play well with +1/+1 counters. Not much else can be said about this card. With a cheap cast and equip cost combined with the fact that it enters already as a creature and can scale up, this card is a solid choice for all cubes. 

is a card I enjoy as it scales really well as creatures are stockpiling into the graveyard. This card does not play well on curve since your graveyard will be more than likely empty, however when played on a later turn, this will more than like be a 4/4+, which is a great body for a 4MV card. The card also has an equip cost of 2 making it a very solid stat boost on any of your other existing creatures. In a multiplayer environment, this will scale up quickly and become a large threat that needs to be dealt with. For this, I would include it in multiplayer cubes and not traditional cubes.

Equipment are an important part of your artifact sections. Though not every deck needs them, creature based decks benefit significantly from their inclusion. Their inclusion adds longevity to creatures by turning them back into threat. Lower level cubes will enjoy simpler equipments that will give either a buff to stats or keywords to your creatures. As you move up in rarity, almost every deck has some level of desire for equipments as the effects available at that level are universally powerful. When thinking about how many to include, the number should be 3/4s of the number of drafters because some players will take more than one ,while some players will take none. This is just guidelines adjust to how you feel.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Please leave a comment or complaint below, I like the interaction. If you want to support me and want to purchase the cards mentioned, please consider using my link for TCGplayer. If you want to stay connected, I left all of my socials on the sidebar.