On the surface Sting, the Glinting Dagger looks good but not great. The Edrec top 100 list has both Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots, two tried and true Equipment that give both Haste and protection for only two or three mana total. These two cards have been on the list practically forever and are true staple cards. Can Sting join them? The answer looks to be yes, absolutely, if you’re looking for degenerate levels of power for four mana. That is the issue. Magic has plenty of cards that are good but cost one or two mana more than a great card that does the same thing. Of course, in Commander, having redundant copies is a strong tactic.
Sting grants several abilities. +1/+1 and stronger combat interaction versus Orcs and Goblins is nice, but seems weak. However, there are a few Goblin commanders that do see a lot of play. Krenko, Mob Boss is clearly the most played (and happens to love equipping Sting) but Vial Smasher the Fierce, Orvar the All-Form, Morophon, the Boundless and Krark, the Thumbless are uncommon but not unheard of Commanders.
It is one thing to have a mostly useless ability and another to have something that has situational value. A lot of decks run cards with Changeling. Orcish Bowmasters is seeing tons of play alongside the token it generates. “Free” First Strike is never bad.
So far, though, we have a Haste Equipment with total cost of four and gives a minor upside, how can that possibly compete with the best footwear Magic has to offer? Well, we have to talk about another Equipment or two first in regards to Sting’s best ability, untapping every Combat step.
While some cEDH decks have learned how good Paradise Mantle and Springleaf Drum are, it’s clearly not enough. Mantle is still underplayed all things considered. In any deck, a Creature with Sting and Mantle generates one mana on your Main Phase, then untaps during Combat and can generate another mana. Do that for three more Combat steps and you have generated five mana per round. Suddenly the two to cast, two to Equip is “paid” and Sting goes from being mana neutral to mana positive, at least on a round level. Anything that goes mana positive can be cEDH territory.
This makes Sting generically good in many different decks. Got a Creature that taps for one mana? Sting is good. Can it tap for more than one mana? Sting becomes incredible. Citanul Herophants turns any Creature into a mana rock. What about something like Jaheira, Friend of the Forest which can turn any Token into a mana source? If it’s a Token Creature, you’ve got free mana from Sting. Glittermonger can create five Treasures per round.
This all sounds good for green, but what about the other colors? Mother of Runes with Sting? Busted. Krenko, Mob Boss doubling your Goblin count five times a round? Busted. Blue has a massive number of excellent tap effects.
Black seems like the odd color out, but they do have a variety of Creatures that tap to destroy Creatures or even Lands. Royal Assassin, a classic card from Magic’s history, is only three mana and would be a highly effective, if not exactly cEDH level, Sting wielder. There is a payoff for virtually any deck and the cost is miniscule; playing a backup copy of a card effect you already want to draw.
Generic Power Doesn’t Mean cEDH Though, Right? Wrong
Magda, Brazen Outlaw is an obvious choice for Sting. Without drawing Paradise Mantle, though, you will likely need to run some Dwarves that have a natural tap ability like Dwarven Warriors or Dwarven Thaumaturgist to get a tap trigger during each other turn. These two Dwarves are a bit special, though, because while you are getting tap triggers and free untaps, you can also negotiate their abilities diplomatically. Dwarven Warriors can easily make an opponent’s Creature unblockable if they play ball and Thaumaturgist can boost up Power or Toughness.
Don’t forget that Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh, Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch are all commonly played cards that Thaumaturgist instantly kills. You’ve already got good interaction and value built in. Giving you the ability to quite easily generate five Treasure in one round lets you use Magda’s other ability to tutor up an Artifact or Dragon onto the battlefield. With Sting you could reliably do this every single round of a game. Is it easy to do this? Well, it’s not exceptionally difficult and the deck is already trying to do this anyways, Sting merely hyper-accelerates it and makes it far more likely you pull it off every round, any round.
Simic Loves Sting
Sting is a home run for not just Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy but also other commonly played Simic commanders like Aesi, Tyrant of Gyre Strait, or Tatyova, Benthic Druid. Elvish Reclaimer, Llanowar Scout, and Skyshroud Ranger show up in Landfall decks, and every Simic deck runs multiple mana dorks. An over-the-top but not likely cEDH combo is Kinnan on a Sting carrier enchanted with Leyline Immersion. That combination produces 30 mana per round of any combination you like. Activating Kinnan is a strong win condition and is completely enabled by Sting. Landfalling to generate massive value is another common win con that Sting turbo charges. All of these decks run both Greaves and Boots.
Consider that when an opponent has an answer in hand, they will use it in response to Equipping your protection effect, so there’s not much of a difference in that case. However, let’s say they have nothing, and your Equip effect goes off. In that case, Sting is going to give you acceleration or cover your next play with additional mana for a protection spell or counter spell versus only protecting your Creature for the next round. This is not a “win” versus “win more” situation. Adding a third Equipment for Haste will help consistency and, in this case, adds an explosive power up to any of these decks.
It can Transform a Deck too!
Obeka, Brute Chronologist is a deck full of Final Fortune effects that seeks to take a large number of extra turns to close out games. This card needs a Haste effect and Sting counts. However, with the ability to end each player’s turn if they agree, you can pivot the deck to have a considerable diplomacy angle. A lot of Magic takes place at the end of another player’s turn. With Obeka and Sting, you can stop anyone from gaining end of turn value, provided the active player cooperates. But why wouldn’t they? Player three Brainstorming at end of player two’s turn? Obeka ends the turn, if that’s alright with you, player two? You cannot escape the fact that Commander is a multi-player format, and negotiating the social dynamic of friends and enemies dictates the outcome of many games. The fact that this one Equipment can change the very identity of a deck makes it that much more unique and shows that the build potentially is exceptionally high.
Is it Time to Wear Three Shoes?
LotR has produced cards powerful enough for cEDH, just ask Orcish Bowmasters. Initially it did not seem like Sting, the Glinting Dagger would penetrate the format. But now that it’s here and seeing play, the results are too good to deny. Is this card a replacement for Greaves or Boots? Unlikely. Is it a supplemental copy of a Haste enabling Equipment that also has a huge upside for going off? In the right deck, absolutely. More and more, though, it seems like in virtually any deck you can get quite a lot of value. On a non-competitive side, many commanders like Kibo, Uktabi Prince absolutely need this card so it’s certainly going to see a lot of Commander play. The risk reward for the card, though, seems to be on the side of taking the risk. Including a slightly medium Haste enabler that sometimes gives you incredible, game winning value is not much of a risk. Still, though, it really should give protection from Spiders!