Last updated on December 31, 2022
Akiri, Fearless Voyager | Illustration by Ekaterina Burmak
Magic is a game of imagination, adventure, and high fantasy. It’s also a game where you can equip Charging Badger with Colossus Hammer and Greataxe to flatten your opponents.
I kind of take it for granted how ubiquitous equipment is in modern Magic, especially considering the first equipment wasn’t introduced until 2003’s Mirrodin. Equipment is evergreen now and we expect to see it every set.
With any evergreen mechanic you’re bound to see legendary creatures designed specifically to carry that mechanic into Commander’s ever-growing expanse of deckbuilding choices. This list highlights the best commanders ever to pick up a sword and shield, and the ones that reward you for stocking your armory full of equipment. Let’s get into it!
What Are Equipment Commanders in MTG?
Bruenor Battlehammer | Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
For the purposes of this list, “equipment commander” refers to a legendary creature that specifically mentions equipment in its card text. I’m being more specific than just artifact-centric commanders or ones that care about increasing their power. If you don’t see the word “equipment” in its textbox then you won’t see it on this list.
I want to zone in on the cards that were specifically designed to interact with equipment. There’s no shame in running Zirda, the Dawnwaker at the helm, no pun intended, but the creatures on today’s list are more thematically focused.
Enough talk, let’s get into the list.
Best White Equipment Commanders
#10. Raksha Golden Cub
Raksha Golden Cub is no longer a playable EDH card. The baseline stats are far too low for seven mana, and this is only on the list for completion’s sake.
#9. Danitha Capashen, Paragon
There are several equipment-based legends that are better in the 99 of your deck than in the command zone. Danitha Capashen, Paragon is one such card. It provides a nice set of keyword abilities and a much-welcome cost-reduction to your equipment, but it’s better used as a support card than the headliner.
#8. Kemba, Kha Regent
Kemba, Kha Regent does a better job than Raksha Golden Cub if you’re looking to combine cats and equipment. It’s still a painfully slow way to benefit from your equipment, and it falls for the “eggs-in-one-basket” mistake that equipment decks often do.
#7. Zamriel, Seraph of Steel
I didn’t even know Zamriel, Seraph of Steel existed until I did my research. It’s another fine support piece, but card advantage and cost-reduction abilities are necessary for an ideal equipment commander. Zamriel does neither.
#6. Nahiri, the Lithomancer
Nahiri, the Lithomancer provides free equips with its +2 ability, which makes it a stellar equipment commander. The -2 also circumvents expensive mana requirements by cheating an artifact into play for free and offers a bit of recursion if one of your equipment gets destroyed.
Nahiri’s -10 is a fun achievement to pull off, but it’s not a necessary part of the card.
#5. Danitha, Benalia’s Hope
The second coming of Danitha is exactly what you’re looking for in an equipment support card. Danitha, Benalia's Hope combines the best keywords on Danitha Capashen, Paragon with the equipment free-rolling of Nahiri, the Lithomancer.
#4. Halvar, God of Battle / Sword of the Realms
Halvar, God of Battle turns all your equipment into functional Fireshriekers. That plus the ability to move equipment around freely makes it a formidable commander. Sword of the Realms isn’t a slouch of a card either.
#3. Sram, Senior Edificer
Sram, Senior Edificer is a key piece of the puzzle for making equipment decks tick. Whether Sram’s the commander or part of the 99, cantripping off every equipment you cast keeps the action flowing.
The card draw also helps hitting land drops, which you need to do to pay your equip costs.
#2. Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist
You’re probably noticing that a lot of these equipment commanders double up as aura/enchantment cards. Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist is no exception. It has the ability to auto-attach all of your equipment and auras at once.
The partner keyword also gives them a buddy, and Ardenn is often paired with Rograkh, Son of Rohgahh for some quick kills.
#1. Balan, Wandering Knight
Equipment decks are usually designed with the intention to kill players in just one or two attacks. Balan, Wandering Knight threatens lethal commander damage with just two mana and a few pieces of equipment on board.
Best Blue Equipment Commander
#1. The Reality Chip
Blue has plenty of artifact commanders, but nothing I’d really consider to be a traditional equipment commander. The Reality Chip has reconfigure, which means it’s literally a piece of equipment you can put in the command zone.
It isn’t too outlandish to think this could be the head of a mono-blue equipment deck.
Best Red Equipment Commanders
#3. Valduk, Keeper of the Flame
Valduk, Keeper of the Flame does a great red impression of Kemba, Kha Regent. You can’t make a permanent army of Elemental tokens but you can deal a bunch of damage if Valduk is holding enough equipment.
#2. Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith
Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith creates Rock tokens with its glorified landfall ability. Where you throw those Rocks is up to you, just make sure you bring a decent partner along.
#1. Godo, Bandit Warlord
There are a few different directions you can take Godo, Bandit Warlord. You can go all in on samurai, push for a heavy equipment theme, or build a straightforward combo deck featuring Helm of the Host.
Best Green Equipment Commanders
#2. Kodama of the West Tree
Legendary creatures with “modified” text have built-in synergy with equipment. While Kodama of the West Tree fits more naturally with +1/+1 counter decks, I’m intrigued to see someone’s take on a Kodama equipment deck.
#1. Kosei, Penitent Warlord
Kosei, Penitent Warlord seems more like a natural fit for a green equipment deck. You have to split your attention across equipment, auras, and counters all at once, but you can prioritize equipment that grants counters, like Bone Sabres and Ring of Kalonia.
Best Multicolored Equipment Commanders
#16. Tiana, Ship’s Caretaker
Magic had a 3- or 4-year-long trend of releasing back-to-back sets where Boros () had a Limited equipment theme. The result is a saturated market for Boros equipment commanders, the least powerful of which is Tiana, Ship's Caretaker.
Put this in your 99 if you want, but there are better options out there.
#15. Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale
Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale sits at the crossroads of equipment decks and knight tribal. There’s nothing saying you have to do both, but Syr Gwyn exists for players who want to combine these two strategies.
#14. Reyav, Master Smith
Reyav, Master Smith isn’t that different from Halvar, God of Battle, and it exists in that middle ground of unexciting and forgettable Boros commanders. I might sound like a broken record at this point but Reyav is better suited for the 99, not the lead commander.
#13. Koll, the Forgemaster
Koll, the Forgemaster is more interesting than Reyav, Master Smith. It’s a bit confusing since one ability affects tokens and one doesn’t.
The best uses are pumping Germ tokens on living weapon equipment like Batterskull, or looping a creature by feeding it to Mortarpod or Mask of Immolation.
#12. Dalakos, Crafter of Wonders
Dalakos, Crafter of Wonders can hook you up if you’re looking to staple a pair of Fleetfeather Sandals‘ onto all your equipment. Even though Dalakos generates mana for your equipment, I’d rather run a card like Cloak of the Bat in my main deck and choose a more impactful commander.
#11. Tetsuo, Imperial Champion
Grixis () isn’t the color shard that comes to mind when I think of equipment decks. Tetsuo, Imperial Champion offers an interesting take on these types of decks, rewarding you for expensive equipment rather than the cheap efficient ones that most commanders prefer.
#10. Michonne, Ruthless Survivor
Michonne, Ruthless Survivor reminds me of Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale. They both blend a tribal strategy with an equipment subtheme. The equipment and zombie text on Michonne makes for a flavorful and reasonably strong aggressive package.
#9. Catti-brie of Mithral Hall
Catti-brie of Mithral Hall is best friends with deathtouch-granting equipment like Basilisk Collar and Gorgon's Head. Catti-brie gets +1/+1 counters when they attack and make it near impossible for opponents to interact in combat.
#8. Stangg, Echo Warrior
Much like Kosei, Penitent Warlord, Stangg, Echo Warrior decks want a healthy mix of auras and equipment. Stock up on those and Stangg leaves your opponents seeing double.
#7. Bruenor Battlehammer
Don’t be misled by Bruenor Battlehammer’s uncommon rarity. Having free equip costs is one of the best abilities for these decks. It’s what makes cards like Sigarda's Aid and Puresteel Paladin staples for equipment decks.
Bruenor even stacks some extra power on your creatures.
#6. Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith
Hammer of Nazahn is so good that Nazahn, Revered Bladesmith gets a bump in power purely by association. The Bladesmith can certainly hold its own, but the real reason to make Nazahn your commander is to guarantee access to one of the best equipment spells in Commander.
#5. Astor, Bearer of Blades
Whether you’re building a deck focused on equipment, vehicles, or both, Astor, Bearer of Blades is a great pick for the job. Astor provides card advantage and cost-reduction, and those are the two things equipment decks are most interested in.
#4. Chishiro, the Shattered Blade
Chishiro, the Shattered Blade puts a Gruul () twist on equipment decks. It creates an army of tokens to wield your equipment and then pumps your modified creatures on your end step.
#3. Wyleth, Soul of Steel
Wyleth, Soul of Steel draws plenty of cards whenever it gets a good attack in. Inherently having trample makes Wyleth a Voltron commander that your opponents should definitely be scared of.
#2. Galea, Kindler of Hope
Once again, cost reduction and card advantage are the secrets to making powerful equipment decks. Galea, Kindler of Hope covers both areas. Playing equipment off the top of your library is a form of card advantage, and auto-attaching that equipment counts as cost-reduction.
#1. Akiri, Fearless Voyager
Akiri, Fearless Voyager lacks the cost-reduction aspect of the most powerful equipment commander but makes up for it with an effective protection ability. You even draw multiple cards per turn if you attack different players, and holding up mana allows you to detach equipment to save your creatures.
Tidy Conclusion | Illustration by Bastien L. Deharme
We often think of Boros () as the primary equipment colors, but Magic is still exploring ways to push equipment decks in different directions as you can see from the ranking. Swords, shields, and other weaponry are such integral parts of high fantasy that we can safely expect new equipment with each release.
How you use that equipment and which commander you decide to suit up is entirely your choice, but there’s a wide enough swathe of commanders to choose from to make your deck stand out from the rest. I personally run Geist of Saint Traft as my equipment commander of choice.
Who’s your favorite equipment commander? What are your favorite pieces of equipment to suit them up with? Let me know in the comments below or over in the Draftsim Discord.
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