Equipment(s) are a super flavorful card type in Magic: The Gathering. They are cards that represent a piece of equipment that is bestowed upon one of your creatures, granting it bonuses. While some are stronger than others, there are also creatures that gain additional perks if they’re equipped with something which can up their power level. Overall, there is quite a bit to unpack here. So, let’s get right into it.
An “equipment” is an artifact with the “equip” keyword ability. By paying the equip cost, it attaches to a creature you control. The creature then gets the benefit stated on the card until it is removed. If that creature leaves play, the equipment becomes unattached and remains in play.
At their simplest, they’re pretty straightforward and easy to use. However, like all things in Magic: The Gathering, there are factors that can complicate things. For example, timing issues like when you can or can’t equip things and how they work with abilities like “Shroud” can become quite confusing at times. Worry not though, if you’ve been asking these questions, we’ve got you covered.
What Is Equipment?
They are artifacts with the subtype “equipment.” They have the “equip” keyword ability. By paying the equip cost (which can only be done at sorcery speed), it attaches to a creature you control and grants it whatever bonus is stated on the card.
How Does It Work?
You cast them like any other spell in MTG. You pay the mana cost, it goes on the stack, and assuming it resolves, it goes onto the battlefield. If no effects allow you to attach it directly to a creature you control, it simply enters the battlefield.
Any time you could cast a sorcery, you may pay the “equip” cost and attach it to a creature you control. Once you do, that creature gets the effect of bonuses stated on the equipped. The creature stays equipped until it’s destroyed or you pay the equip cost again and move it to another creature.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Can You Use Equipment?
Equip cost can usually only be activated at sorcery speed. This means you can attach equipment you control to your creatures during either of the main phases of your turn. However, there are effects such as that of Leonin Shikari that allow you to equip at instant speed.
How Many Equipment Can A Creature Have?
There is no limit to the amount of equipment a creature can have on them. So long as the creature is a valid target and you can pay the equip cost you may attach any number to your creatures.
What Happens To The Equipment When The Creature Dies?
When an equipped creature dies, the equipment(s) attached to it stay behind on the battlefield, unless an effect states otherwise. Furthermore, this is actually the reason that the card type was designed.
There was far too much inherent card disadvantage when attaching auras to creatures and then having the creatures removed. As a result, the MTG team designed a similar effect that would stay behind after the creature left. This makes equipment a much safer investment than auras in most circumstances.
Can You Unequip Equipment?
The answer here is no. At least not without another valid target. Let me elaborate. You can always move an the card from one creature to another by paying the cost and targeting the new creature.
Related: Set Boosters vs Draft Boosters FAQ
However, if there are no other legal targets, you cannot simply remove it from the creature it’s currently on. In other words, you can switch it between creatures but you can’t remove it from one creature without putting it onto another.
Can You Equip A Creature With Shroud?
This is a fairly common question and the answer is, no. Equip abilities target the creature that they are to equip. Shroud says that a creature cannot be the target of spells or abilities. As a result, creatures with shroud are not a legal target for equipment.
Can You Equip A Planeswalker?
Under most circumstances, you cannot equip a planeswalker. Most equipment specifies that “you may attach this permanent to target ‘creature’ you control.” However, there are circumstances where there are exceptions to this. Let’s take a look.
Luxior, Giada’s Gift is the only true way to equip a planeswalker. It has an “equip planeswalker” cost and once it has been paid, it attaches and the planeswalker turns into a creature but keeps its loyalty abilities.
Additionally, if a planeswalker like Gideon Jura for example, were to become a creature via his ability he would then be a legal target for equipping. If you were to equip Gideon while he was a creature, he would remain equipped until he was no longer a creature. After that, whatever you’d attached to him would simply fall off.
Is “Attach” The Same As Equip?
A card like Cranial Plating has an alternative means of moving itself onto creatures besides its equip cost. The alternate method simply states to “attach” the equipment to a target creature you control. So, what are the differences between attach and equip?
Attach and equip functions identically to one another in all ways but one. Where they differ is that attach is an ability that can be activated at instant speed. Whereas equip costs may only be activated at sorcery speed.
Why is this ability useful? Well, let’s say you attack with two 1/1 creatures, one of which is equipped with Cranial Plating. When your opponent declares blocks, if you have the mana available, then you could switch Cranial Plating to the unblocked creature.
So, we’ve covered what they are, how they work, and how they interact with other things inside the game. With that, what better way to close out the article than to look at the top equipment in the game? As well as their pros and cons and the formats where they shine. Without further ado, let’s jump into the list.
Nettlecyst is the card you’d get if asked your mom for Cranial Plating and she told you “No, we have Cranial Plating at home”. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad card. It’s actually a very good card. First off, it creates a Germ token that it then attaches to. This means you’ll never have the card without anything to put it on.
Next, it offers the same huge buffs as Cranial Plating if you have a
|Creates a token to attach to||Bonus to creatures can scale down|
|Bonus to creatures can scale up||More expensive than other cards that do the same thing|
|Works with artifacts and enchantments|
Recommended Formats: Modern, Commander
Related: The Best Magic The Gathering Art
9. Colossus Hammer
Colossus Hammer is not something you want to be paying the full-price equip cost for. However, effects like that of Stoneforge Mystic circumvent the pricey cost to attach the hammer and make even the smallest creatures into lethal threats.
The massive +10/+10 bonus and the ability to come down early thanks to Urza’s Saga and be cheated onto a creature make it an easy way to quickly close out games in the modern format where it is the namesake card for a deck known as “Hammer Time.”
|Massive Bonus||Expensive to equip|
|Cheap to cast||Removes flying|
Recommended Formats: Modern, Pioneer
8. Kaldra Compleat
Kaldra Compleat is very hard to deal with. It is indestructible and it grants the same to the Germ it creates. As well as granting haste, first strike, trample and a solid 5/5 body. As if that wasn’t enough, anytime it deals damage to a creature, that creature is exiled. All these things make the card almost impossible to deal with once it resovles.
It is naturally very expensive to cast and to attach to another creature. However, the card takes full advantage of cards like Stoneforge Mystic, Sigarda’s Aid and Puresteel Paladin that help to circumvent the high cost.
The flavor of the card is also pretty epic. There are three other “Kaldra” cards – Helm of Kaldra, Shield of Kaldra, and Sword of Kaldra. Each of which grants some portion of the things seen on Kaldra Compleat. And if you take a look at the art, you’ll notice the helm, sword, and shield present and accounted for.
|Indestructible||Expensive to equip/cast|
|Grants several keyword abilities||Legendary|
|Creates a token to attach to|
Recommended Formats: Modern, Commander
7. Cranial Plating
Cranial Plating has two major things going for it. First, the boost scales with the number of artifacts you control. This can lead to some massive pumps to your creatures. Furthermore, considering Cranial Plating itself is an artifact it’ll always count towards itself.
Second, it can be switched between creatures at instant speed. This makes it much more effective at getting your creatures around blockers and getting in for lethal damage. It’s an all-star in aggressive artifact-based strategies in modern and commander.
|Bonus to creatures can scale up||Requires colored mana to “attach”|
|Can be switched to creatures at instant speed||Bonus to creatures can scale down|
Recommended Formats: Modern, Commander
6. Umezawa’s Jitte
Umezawa’s Jitte is a multi-format all-star thanks to its versatility. Whenever a creature equipped with the Jitte deals combat damage to a player or even a creature, you get two charge counters. Then, for the cost of one charge counter, you can choose one of three options.
Each of the three options is quite strong at the right time. Furthermore, since you get two charge counters per attack, you can remove them both and choose two effects. This versatility makes the JItte a valuable asset at any point in most games.
|Three strong abilities||Must deal combat damage to trigger|
Recommended Formats: Commander, Legacy, Vintage
5. Sword Of The Animist
Sword Of The Animist has the very unique effect of ramping lands out onto the battlefield whenever the equipped creature attacks. Furthermore, it still offers a nice +1/+1 boost to the creature as well.
The fact that the Sword can grab any basic land makes it able to easily slide into any deck and be of use. Where Sword of the Animist really excels is when it’s equipped on something like Brushfire Elemental where the extra land represents even more value. If left unchecked, this two CMC equipment can quickly take over a game.
|Boosts creatures’ power/toughness|
|Triggers on attack|
Recommended Formats: Commander
Shadowspear has quite a lot to like about it. For just one colorless mana, you get a +1/+1 as well as trample and lifelink. Plus, it has the added ability to strip opposing permanents of hexproof and indestructible for a turn.
Shadowspear is well costed and the boost alongside trample allows you to be very aggressive. While the lifelink and the ability to disrupt opposing creatures give you a solid defense and an ability to disrupt opposing gameplans. Couple all this with the fact that it can be tutored for with Urza’s Saga and you have a recipe for success.
|Good on offense and defense||Legendary|
|Can remove hexproof and indestructible|
Recommended Formats: Modern
Skullclamp is extremely powerful and it’s almost by accident. Whenever the creature equipped with skullclamp dies you get to draw two cards. However, it gives the creature a +1/-1. The -1 was added to the card as a “downside” to compensate for its ability to generate card advantage.
While the thought was there, this ended up being the card’s greatest upside. Why? Because any deck playing lots of creatures with one toughness can simply equip skullclamp for a single mana, killing their own creature immediately and drawing two cards.
So, you don’t have to use extra resources to find ways to sacrifice your creature or wait for it to die. If you’ve got a creature with one toughness and one mana of any color you can draw cards. Paired with things like Blood Artist triggers, skullclamp can generate even more enormous value.
|Card advantage||Lowers toughness|
|Cheap to equip||Requires creatue to die|
Recommended Format: Commander
2. Lightning Greaves
Lightning Greaves is a commander staple and for good reason. For two mana you get two very powerful abilities – Haste and shroud. Furthermore, it costs absolutely nothing to equip. Not only does this mean it can be used the same turn it’s played but it can also be switched between creatures as needed, with no extra resources.
The Greaves are invaluable to decks that prioritize early attacks or protecting their commanders at all costs. The speed and consistency that lightning greaves offer a deck are largely unrivaled and it’s truly one of the best in the game.
|Two powerful abilities||Equipped creature can’t be targeted by you|
|Free to equip|
Recommended Formats: Commander
1. The “Sword Of” Cards
Considering there have been none on the list so far, you probably saw this number-one spot coming. I added them as the number one spot as a whole lest they dominate the list. First, let’s take a look at each of the Swords, and then we can touch on what makes them so powerful.
- Sword of Feast and Famine
- Sword of Fire and Ice
- Sword of Body and Mind
- Sword of Hearth and Home
- Sword of Light and Shadow
- Sword of Sinew and Steel
Each card in the “Sword of” cycle offers the equipped creature a +2/+2 bonus, protection from two colors, and two massive effects that trigger on combat damage. For a three-mana investment and two to equip, they simply offer an absurd amount of value.
Furthermore, protection from not one but two colors makes the swords extremely effective at getting around would-be blockers and triggering themselves. While the +2/+2 boost turns even the smallest creatures into formidable threats.
What you get when you inevitably deal combat damage varies from sword to sword. However, all of them are powerful in their own right and in the right situation, protection from two colors can damn near win you the game on the spot.
|+2/+2 bonus||More expensive|
|Protection from colors|
|Combat damage triggers|
Recommended Formats: Commander, Modern
Equipment is super fun, super flavorful, and oftentimes a very powerful part of the game. With that said, there is quite a bit of situation that raise questions about how they work or interact with certain things within the game. Whatever it was, I hope you found what you were looking for in the information above. Until next time, get out there and suit up those creatures.