MTG Keywords: Equip

Magic the Gathering is a complex game (and that’s why we love it). These MTG Keywords articles will help you make sense of the 150+ keywords you’ll find on Magic cards. These articles are designed for players just starting out with Magic, and are hopefully useful primers for more experienced players too.

Cranial Plating art by Adam Rex

Welcome to another ScryFox article on Magic: the Gathering’s keywords. In this article we’ll be talking about Equip.

Equip is a keyword ability — more specifically, it’s an activated ability of Equipment cards, which are a subtype of Artifacts.

This seems to have gotten quite complicated quite quickly.

More simply, there are equipment cards, and you can ‘equip’ these cards (usually by paying a cost) onto creature, like literally putting a piece of equipment onto them.

Like putting these fetching boots

Onto this crab

Or handing this awesome looking sword

To these squirrels

And so on. Actually, let’s do one more:

This powerful helmet

On this badger

I could do this all day, but back to the matter at hand. The thing to remember about equipment cards is that they’re Artifacts, which are permanent cards that stay on the battlefield when you play them. If you caught our last article about Enchantment Auras, they’re a little bit similar in that they can be attached to creatures. The big different between enchantment auras and equipments though, is that equipment stays on the battlefield even if the creature it was attached to is destroyed, killed in combat or exiled. Kind of like dropping your weapon, which someone else can pick up. Yep, You can re-equip it to another creature simply by paying the equip cost. In fact, you don’t even need to wait for the equipment to fall off a creature, you can move it between creatures — at sorcery speed.

‘Sorcery speed’ means only during your turn, during a Main Phase, while the ‘stack’ is empty. So, you can’t equip in response to an instant, or on your opponent’s turn. The equip keyword usually requires you to pay an amount of mana — but not always.

Let’s take a look at some more equipment:

You’d better appreciate this, it’s the only piece of equipment in the whole of Amonkhet.

Honed Kopesh is a pretty standard equipment card you’ll see printed at common rarity, this one from the recent Amonkhet set.

The equipment gives the equipped creature +1/+1. It costs 1 mana of any colour to cast the artifact, and another to actually equip it onto a creature.

You have to shout SKULKLOOT when casting this.

Skeleton Key is quite a bit different. Instead of boosting a creature’s power and toughness this equipment instead grants the equipped creature an extra keyword — in this case, skulk.

Beyond this, the creature gains a further ability to complement the skulk keyword, which lets you (as the owner of the equipped creature) draw and discard (often known as looting, after Faithless Looting). This set of abilities is far more complex, and arguably, more powerful albeit in a narrower scope. Equipments can be pretty diverse in their effects, which brings neatly to an equipment which has arguably helped define a Tier 1 or 2 deck in the Modern format.

So is it a helmet, or what?

Cranial Plating is a key part of Modern Affinity decks, not only because it works well with the multitude of cheap artifacts but because of the ability to move it around at instant speed. Notice that Cranial Plating has two ways of being equipped to a creature, the standard Equip keyword with a cost of 2 mana, plus the following:

{B}{B} Attach Cranial Plating to target creature you control.

This allows Cranial Plating to be moved between creatures at instant speed. Modern Affinity decks can exploit this ability by shifting the equipment onto an unblocked / evasive creature at instant speed, or in response to target removal.

Magic has a variety of other interesting ways to attach equipment to creatures — take Kazuul’s Toll Collector, for example:

My equipment brings all the trolls to the yard

On the face of it, this ability looks really powerful — you could effectively hoover up any equipment you control and attach them all, Voltron-style to this handsome fella. Unfortunately the sorcery-speed restriction of this ability means your opponent will get the ability to respond to each activation, opening the door to targeted removal if your Voltron-Troll gets too big for it’s equipped boots.

There are tons of interesting equipment cards in MTG — it’s an interesting design space that WIzards of the Coast has enjoyed playing with over the years.

If you’re up for checking out some interesting equipment types, you’re in for a treat:

Look, Medium’s formatting is great, but utterly unforgiving. This card back is performing a vital role here. Shut up.

Spicy, no? The iconic “Sword of…” cycle had a pretty fabulous reprinting via the Kaladesh block’s Inventions series. Whilst following a textbook equipment mana/equip costing ratio of 3/2, each sword offers an extra flavourful ability reflecting the colours the sword represents.

Some MTG keywords are only available on equipments, such as the intriguing Living Weapon ability.

Living Weapon creates a 0/0 token on entering the battlefield, and attaches itself to the token. Usually, this gets complemented with an ability granting said token +X/+X, to avoid the token dying immediately. This keyword was introduced in the artifact-heavy Mirrodin Besieged set, being a very flavourful method of depicting the wonderfully grotesque Phyrexian invasion — cool, huh?

That just about wraps it up here for this keywords article here on ScryFox! If you enjoy these articles or have any feedback, please do get in touch and let us know on Twitter.

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