There are a few archetypes that MTG players have seen a return in every set. Dimir, or Blue-Black, usually ends up being some sort of control deck that cares about milling. Rakdos generally has sacrifice synergies attached to in some way, shape, or form, and Boros tend to have some absolutely terrible equipment support. Outside of Commander, these Boros cards are rarely strong enough to get strung together in a competitive setting.
The only time we’ve generally seen equipment get off the ground is through payoffs like Living Weapon that allow them to stand on their own. Well, the new For Mirrodin! mechanic has actually created a deck that has reclaimed the #1 Mythic title on Magic Arena multiple times in the hands of various players.
It’s awesome to see that an archetype that has traditionally been discarded as draft chaff is actually a playable thing in a competitive format. The catch? This is an Alchemy deck, and there’s a good reason for it.
As mentioned before, the most playable equipment cards competitively have been cards like Batterskull and Kaldra Compleat that have the Living Weapon payoff. This perk, as discussed previously, ignores the thing that holds back equipment decks the most: how costly equipment truly is to play. Not only do you need an outlet to even use the equipment (a creature to equip it to), but you also need to pay mana to play and use it. This resource is incredibly cost-inefficient and cannot do anything on its own without the Living Weapon or For Mirrodin! keyword.
The For Mirrodin! mechanic allows many of the equipment cards in this list to essentially function as creatures that also provide staying power after the tokens die. Even if that is the case, there are still a lot of equipment creatures out there that essentially function as draft chaff like Barbed Batterfist. These won’t cut it in a competitive format.
The Alchemy Cards
If you’re playing Alchemy constructed or Draft, this card has likely won and lost you a lot of games. Hexgold Sledge gives you, essentially, two relevant threats for the cost of one. The For Mirrodin! mechanic creates a 3/2 with all things considered, but you also get to make a Gonlin Gaveleer, which is a fantastic payoff card even after your token dies.
You can reequip your Sledge to the Gaveleer, getting a second 4/1 trampling threat, hence making the sledge a two-for-one. This alone isn’t enough to make a deck tick, however. Fortunately, Alchemy’s powerful equipment makes the usually terrible Boros equipment payoffs actually do something.
All Will Be One Cards
This deck does seem to need the Alchemy cards to stay afloat, but what Phyrexia: All Will Be One cards can players use in paper to try and emulate this strategy? Unfortunately, the deck’s explosive power comes from the Sledge, and its staying power comes from the constant card advantage produced by Bladehold Cleaver, which is awesome for Arena players but may not be as useful for paper.
Skrelv has been making competitive appearances left and right lately. This card was all over the Regional Championship weekend for Standard, propelled a new archetype to second place finish in the ONE Pro Tour, and is seeing play across multiple formats. We’ve already discussed this card repetitively recently.
Khemba, Kha Enduring is seeing some play in the only other equipment-based deck to see significant competitive play right now: Colossus Hammer. This is more of a combo deck that is trying to find ways to discount the high equipment cost attached to the Hammer to subvert the cost vs reward that typically keeps equipment away from competitive magic. While Kemba is a stronger card in that deck, it’s still quite good here. Kemba can immediately equip something left over from your For Mirrodin! tokens and grant an anthem to all equipped creatures. As a nice little bonus, Khemba can also become a mana sink when you flood.
Rebel Salvo and Bladehold War-Whip are two of the best Uncommons to pick in Phyrexia: All Will Be One draft. These get even better in the Alchemy equipment deck since the card’s downsides are mitigated somewhat. Khemba can ignore the War-Whip’s high equipment cost, while other Alchemy cards like Kemba’s Outfitter can lower the high equipment cost to one.
Rebel Salvo will end up being a one-mana removal spell a lot of the time, thanks to its Affinity for equipment. This, notably, can reliably trade up into Sheoldred, the Apocalypse – a very common threat in MTG Arena formats. Having the ability to use one mana to trade up into four mana investments is an absolutely incredible ability.
While only MTG Arena players are able to experience this Boros Equipment deck at its full power, it’s nice to see that the janky Boros equipment support that doesn’t accidentally synergize with Colossus Hammer (like Jor Kadeen) has finally found a home. If you want to play an equipment deck in a competitive environment, especially paper, Stoneforge Mystic and Hammertime decks will generally be your best answer. Like this deck, those tend to subvert the value issue these decks traditionally have by using Living Weapon cards and ignoring equipment costs. Either way, this is a great pick to climb the Arena ladder right now.