Equipment is great. They fit in decks that play creatures, and guess what? A lot of cube decks play a lot of creatures. In cube, a lot of these weapons are first-pickable, as their abilities can trump a lot of boards once you make contact with a creature or player, burying them in damage or card advantage. Today I’d like to look at some of the best equipment in cube and rank them as such.
10. Bonesplitter: I think the Splitter is great, but I have it last on the list since it’s best in aggressive strategies, whereas all the other equipment can fit into a wider variety of decks. In that deck, it really is a beating though. 1 drop into t2 splitter and equip it results in a lot of damage early on. I’m less inclined to place it in midrange/slower decks, since that’s a slot I’d rather have dedicated to ramp, removal, or midrange/bomb threats, but in the aggro deck Bonesplitter turns all your early drops into way bigger threats and your actual “finishers” into seal-the-deal clinchers.
9. Grafted Wargear: I think this card is one of the most underrated in cube. A lot of players focus on the “Wargear is removed, creature dies” clause, and while that can blow you out, there are only so many ways to bounce equipment. Wargear shines as you can cast it, equip it to an already-played creature, and swing in for 3 extra damage the turn it is played. In aggressive decks it’s awesome to equip wargear to one of your 1 or 2 drops, turning an Elite Vanguard into a 5/3 threat. Wargear helps you trade with bigger threats or force your opponent into awful blocks pretty easily. Most of the time an equipped creature stays that way until death, but in a token strategy it’s not the worst to bounce it from tapped token to untapped so you can block with what is only a fraction of a card. I value Wargear higher than most, as I’ve had mostly positive experiences with the rarer blowout.
8. Sword of War and Peace: RW is awesome for protection. That means that all of the red burn and white removal is nullified. The problem with Sword of War and Peace is that when it’s awful, it pretty much does nothing. If both of you have only 1 or 2 or no cards in hand, then adding that 1 or 2 life might be doing nothing. There have been many games where any other sword would’ve gotten me much more bang for my buck. That being said, War and Peace is still a sword, and when you did hit for heavy damage you end up closing out the game way quicker than a lot of the other swords could. War and Peace has high potential to end a game quickly, but more often than not you’re not hitting for too much extra damage.
7. Sword of Light and Shadow: The protection colors on all the swords are huge; it’s a big reason why they’re valued so highly, since having protection from 2 colors allows you to get ahead of so many decks. Black and White is the second best combination, as a lot of the top-tier removal is within those colors. The abilities on Light and Shadow can be huge, but at times can be a dud as well. There will be points where there isn’t a creature in your graveyard, or 3 life isn’t anything special. But there will also be points where you’re retrieving an important bomb or 187 creature, or 3 life wins you the race.
6. Sword of Feast and Famine: This is the bluest of the swords. In tempo decks packing lots of counters and removal, Feast and Famine shines. Attacking into your opponent, forcing them to discard, and then untapping all your lands protects your weapon and your creature, enabling you to keep them both together and kill your opponent. While you need to have cards in your hand to make the most out of it, in decks where you can gain lots of card advantage is where the Sword shines, since you can continue to build your board as you generate more and more mana, or protect what entities you have with the counter or removal in your hand. Feast and Famine is less good in the super-super aggressive decks where your hand empties quickly, but forcing them to discard is still important.
5. Sword of Body and Mind: Mill ten in cube is nuts. 40 card decks thin quickly, and by the time you’re ready to hit, you’ll only need 2 or 3 connections. If they draw into a way to removal your single threat wearing the sword, there is a wolf, ready and waiting to pounce on their throat. Green and Blue aren’t the most relevant protection colors, but green isn’t the worst as it allows you to get past some of the bigger creatures in green’s repertoire to twist the knife. If an opponent deals with Body and Mind, you might be in trouble, but the ceiling is so high that it’s hard for me to not rank Body and Mind as the #2 sword and 4th overall best.
4. Sword of Fire and Ice: The Game of Thrones is crazy. Every deck wants a way to draw cards, every deck wants removal, and printing these both at a colorless option on an equipment doesn’t seem too fair. Blue is not super relevant as a protection color, but red is important, as all red burn hits creatures. Even then, there are blue tempo cards that could bounce your guy and slow down your attack. Getting your sword bounced is typically a blow out, but that’s a fact of life you have to recognize and either play around or convince yourself that they don’t have it. Fire and Ice is great because it helps you close out games in two ways: direct damage and drawing your important cards. The other swords are all strong, but Fire and Ice is clearly the strongest.
3. Batterskull: How could I forget Batterskull? Pretty easily, apparently, as the first draft didn’t feature him. Batterskull is so unlike the conventional weapons that it slipped my mind. A 4/4 life link vigilence creature for 5 is pretty awesome in its own right, trading or outright beating a lot of other cards while putting you ahead in total life. Being able to equip the stats of that creature onto any of your others can help even further when you have shadow, flying, or other evasion creatures on the board. The craziest part about Batterskull, and what really makes it so good, is that it can protect itself for 3 mana to bring it back to your hand. This allows control and slower decks to rely on it as a finisher, keeping the mana open until you have to use it. Combining that with a Stoneforge Mystic lets Batterskull return and swing in immediately, closing games out quick. Hopefully I’ll never forget that Batterskull is a card again, because it is insane.
2. Skullclamp: In certain decks, Skullclamp is better than #1 on number one on this list, and between the two as a p1p1, it’s tough to choose. Skullclamp is so thoroughly broken. At uncommon, Clamp was certainly a mistake. In regular limited there are so many x/1s that can be eaten up for one mana, letting you cast colorless Divination. What. The. Fuck?! In aggressive decks in cube, you can pitch creatures that can’t make it through anymore to dig for your bombs, removal, or burn. In midrange decks, once Elves become useless you can go chomp chomp chomp and find your powerful cards. In token decks, you should have no problem digging through your entire deck, eating token after token. Elspeth. Meloku. Increasing Devotion. Bitterblossom. All of these cards turn into card advantage machines when Skullclamp joins the party. These rewards and benefits come at the price of 1 to cast and 1 to equip. So crazy, so insane. I value Skullclamp super highly, and in the right spot of the draft I’ll take it over certain pieces of power.
1. Umezawa’s Jitte: The grand daddy, it’s extremely tough to pass a Jitte. Unlike skullclamp, which is better with a little focus in building around it, Jitte is awesome in any deck that runs any creature. I’ve run Jitte in decks with 6-8 creatures, which could be a mistake with a lot of the weapons, but an activated Jitte takes over so many boards and allows you to hold your removal and save it for beefier threats. The Jitte allows you to trade with easy, whether by buffing your guys or weakening theirs, keeping your guys alive while the weapon builds counters. The life counter ability is the weakest part, but weak is a pretty weak word here. There are plenty of board states where you can out race an opponent by guaranteeing 4 extra life per combat, pushing you ahead in the aggro mirrors or allowing you to attack in a grindy board where your opponent is forced to make a terrible block or allow potentially more damage in if there are already counters in. In a powered cube I rank Jitte above moxen and in certain drafts some other pieces of power, since once you get the Jitte ball rolling it’s hard to stop. If you could only play one piece of equipment, Jitte would be it just about every time.