Last updated on May 29, 2023
Sword of Dungeons & Dragons | Illustration by Chris Rahn
I have a weird relationship with swords in pop culture. Neverwinter Nights has scarred me. I’ll talk about it later.
But today I’m here to discuss swords in Magic. This is an interesting one. They’re not as straightforward as vampires or werewolves, but they’re still pretty iconic. I don’t have a whole to wax poetic about so let’s just right into it.
It’s time to talk about Magic’s pointy death sticks!
What are Swords in MTG?
Sword of Feast and Famine | Illustration by Chris Rahn
Swords are a little weird to categorize. It’s not an artifact subtype, like vehicles or equipment. They tend to do very similar things, though, and they’re usually equipment.
If you’ve been around the block a couple times then you’re probably familiar with the Mirran swords. These are a supercycle of mythic rare cards that cost to cast and to equip, bestow +2/+2, and provide protection from two colors, and have an ability that triggers when the equipped creature deals combat damage to your opponent. And you’re right to think of these, because they’re definitely swords! But they’re not the only ones.
There are 50 cards across all of Magic that have “sword” in the name, but not all of them can be considered swords. We need to narrow it down a little bit more first. What I’m looking at today are specifically artifact cards that have “sword” in the name. That’s all there is to it!
This definition of swords in MTG tends to give +X/+X counters, but not all of them do. But I’ll get to that. Now that we know what we’re looking at let’s get down to the best swords in the game!
Best Non-Artifact Swords
Okay, so… I might have misled you a little bit. Almost all swords are artifacts, and you’re totally within your rights if you want to say that these don’t really count as swords because they’re not artifacts. Most players would probably agree with you.
But these cards do things that are very similar to “regular” artifact swords and I wanted to highlight them. So bear with me as I take a look at a couple enchantment swords and one creature that isn’t a sword but sort of makes one, in a way. You’ll see what I mean.
#3. Pardic Swordsmith
Bear with me for a second here. Pardic Swordsmith might be a creature, but its ability basically equips a Bronze Sword to itself in exchange for discarding a card. And the flavor works, since it’s literally a dwarf smithing swords.
Swordsmith deserves a shoutout for making swords on the fly to help boost itself in battle.
#2. Forging the Tyrite Sword
This enchantment saga sword is really special. First off, Forging the Tyrite Sword’s art is absolutely gorgeous and the flavor mixes great with the mechanics. You get a couple Treasures for your troubles, which is always a welcome boost to your mana pool, and getting to search for Sword of the Realms and plop it straight on the battlefield is great.
Forging might start off as an enchantment, but it can end with a full-on artifact sword if you play your cards right.
#1. Flaming Sword
Flaming Sword should be an artifact. It does what typical artifact swords do: give its creature some counters along with a bit of first strike. It also has the added bonus of flash, which can come in handy in a pinch.
It’s a shame this sword was printed before equipment was a thing. It would definitely be one if it was printed today, so it more than deserves the #1 spot here.
Best Colored Artifact Swords
Now we’re getting into the traditional swords, yet we’re still a little outside the box here. These are all of the colored artifact swords. I would split this up by color, except that there are only five colored artifact swords in the whole game. And all except one of them are white.
Three out of five of those sections would be very barren, so instead I’ve just grouped four of them together because the fifth doesn’t deserve a mention in my books. It’s double-sided and I don’t like the idea of my sword potentially coming in as something completely unrelated to sharp pointy murder sticks.
So here we are.
#4. Seraphic Greatsword
Seraphic Greatsword is great when one of your opponents has more life than you. You can create an army of 4/4 fliers one turn at a time while the equipped creature gets a decent +2/+2 boost. The problem comes if you pull ahead of your opponents, which is sort of the whole point. Not to mention that white is the lifegain color.
This Greatsword is good if you build a deck that’s looking to use your life as a source to fuel some shenanigans. An Orzhov () life play build would be a good home for this sword, but it’s way too overcosted if you can’t take advantage of its ability or it doesn’t synergize with your strategy.
#3. Valkyrie’s Sword
Valkyrie's Sword is fine. It can be a great mana sink in the late game if you plop it down when you can afford its ability. And it’s a great enter-the-battlefield ability if you can, giving you a beast of a creature with flying and vigilance. But otherwise…
Well, Valkyrie's Sword offers the same +2/+1 that a lot of other equipment do, but it’s a bit overcosted. to play is okay, but then you have to toss another on top of that to equip it if you’re not quite rich enough to pay for its ETB ability. It’s great if you can use its ability, but it’s not worth it for me if you can’t.
#2. Dancing Sword
I’ve mentioned my Neverwinter Nights tattoo before, but it’s time to bring it up again. There’s a side quest in the main campaign that ends with you uncovering an ancient tomb that’s protected by a bunch of animated flying swords. Those swords kicked my ass every time I went in there. Dancing Sword’s art reminds me of them. It’s a love/hate relationship.
But mechanically this sword is pretty good. It’s not too expensive to get on the battlefield or equip once it’s down, and it pumps your equipped creature well enough with a +2/+1. And then you can turn it into a 2/1 creature with flying and ward if you don’t need to use it as an equipment anymore, or just really need a body on the field. I like the versatility that could save your butt if you end up in a bind.
#1. Vorpal Sword
I really, really like Vorpal Sword. Coming to us from Forgotten Realms where I already waxed poetic about what a huge D&D nerd I am, I was super excited to see this sword in the set. The card’s namesake weapon in D&D is wicked, and there’s also an epic weapon effect called “vorpal” in Neverwinter Nights 2 that I loved.
Flavor and lore aside, this sword is sort of a powerhouse. It only costs to get on the field and to equip, giving the equipped creature +2/+0 and deathtouch. Which is also a win for flavor if you ask me. And then there’s it’s activated ability.
A heavy-hitter at , this ability is a real game ender if you can get it to stick. It also turns this sword into a ticking time bomb that your opponent wants gone before they have to actually worry about it. Pair this with a dash of protection and some sprinkled evasion and the game is yours. Something like Yuan-Ti Malison paired with You See a Guard Approach’s Hide mode would do the trick.
Best Colorless Artifact Swords
It’s finally time for the main event! Are you ready? I hope you are, because these swords aren’t going to wait for you to catch up. Mind your footing, you wouldn’t want to fall and impale yourself on one of them. They can’t help you up. They’re swords, they’ll just make it worse.
Here are the top 10 best colorless artifact swords, according to a jank player who totally has the overall functionality of these cards in mind. You can trust me.
#10. Sword of the Ages
Ah, Sword of the Age. Here we have a sword that isn’t actually an equipment, because it was printed before that was a thing. Instead you pay to play this artifact and put it on the battlefield. It enters tapped so you need to wait until your next turn to use it, but then you can tap to sacrifice it and however many creatures you’re willing to lose to deal a bulk of damage to any target.
How much damage, you ask? Add up the total power of your sacrificed creatures and you’ve got your answer. Played right this could spell trouble for your opponent and even be quite the win condition in a bulky creatures build where you’re struggling to actually connect past their defenses.
#9. Sword of the Chosen
Sword of the Chosen is another older sword that works a little differently because it was printed before equipment was added to Magic. Instead of equipping this artifact to a creature, it sits on the field after you play it and you can tap it to add counters to a legendary creature until the end of the turn.
It’s pretty cheap, costing a measly to play while it gives a temporary +2/+2 boost. And the versatility to pump a different legendary creature each turn is great. Obviously this should go in a deck that’s filled to the brim with legends to target, otherwise it just sits on the field with nothing to pump. How sad would that be?
#8. Sword of the Meek
Are you running a tokens deck that makes a lot of tiny little creatures? Goblins, Zombies, Birds, you name it. Sword of the Meek is great in a deck that’s brimming with tiny creatures and tiny tokens. Your opponent is going to have to think twice about striking down this sword.
#7. Sigiled Sword of Valeron
Sigiled Sword of Valeron is the perfect sword for a knight tribal deck. It gives the equipped creature a little power boost plus vigilance, allowing it to look after your growing army. It’s expensive if you don’t have any other synergies that work to boost the vigilant knights you’re making, but isn’t the worst sword you could play outside of its tribe.
#6. Sword of Hours
Sword of Hours is a great weapon that grows the equipped creature every time it’s used. And if it connects and you’re lucky you can grow it even faster. There’s not really a whole lot else to say here. You might want some protection like ward or hexproof to keep this on the field, because it’ll get out of hand real fast if it sticks for too long. Throw some trample on the equipped creature and you’re set.
The art is also gorgeous and I love the flavor. Excuse me while I go make a homebrew version of this in D&D for my players to find in an empty field with no context.
#5. Sword of the Paruns
This is a super interesting sword. Looking to boost your attaching creatures? Throw Sword of the Paruns in the mix. What about if you need some better blockers? That’s right, Sword of the Paruns is for you.
Being able to use this sword to give +2 to all your attacking creatures’ power (assuming they’re not vigilant) or any defending creature’s toughness is really versatile. It’s a bit expensive if you’re not sure how to use it to the best of its effects, but the ability to cause some shenanigans makes this a great card in my book.
#4. Sword of Kaldra
Do you need to give your creature a really big boost and get rid of your opponent’s indestructible or otherwise hard to deal with creatures, like Ironscale Hydra? Sword of Kaldra can do that for you. It’s pretty expensive with a cost of to both play and equip it, but it gives its creature a sweet +5/+5 boost and exiles creatures that it deals damage to.
#3. Sword of the Animist
Sometimes simpler is better. Sword of the Animist gives a measly +1/+1 while it costs both to cast and equip. But it’s second ability is what you’re really looking at here. This sword works great in a green deck that’s looking to ramp, or really any deck where you need some fixing as it plops a basic land on the battlefield every time the equipped creature attacks.
I also need to point out that the art is gorgeous and I love the flavor text.
#2. Sword of Vengeance
I love keyword soup. The more words you have on there the better. Throw in some counters and I’m even happier.
Sword of Vengeance ticks off all of these boxes and I am here for it. First strike, vigilance, trample, and haste is a powerful mix of keywords that will definitely spell trouble for your opponent on a beefy creature. Trample can connect some damage through defenses, but throw some evasion on there and you’re really cooking.
Do you need to stick it to your opponent and make them pay for their crimes? Want some Vengeance, perhaps? Sounds like it’s time to pick up Sword of Vengeance.
#1. Bronze Sword & Short Sword
You don’t need a bunch of extra abilities and keywords to make a good sword. Sometimes you just really need a quick and dirty boost for your creatures. Bronze Sword and Short Sword are the basics of colorless artifact swords. They don’t do anything fancy, but they’ll get the job done if you’re just looking for a nice little boost.
Bronze is better for when you really wanna wallop on your opponent. Pair this with evasion, first strike, or double strike and you’re golden. Or, well, bronze I guess. The Short one is perfect for when you just want some nice symmetrical counters to make your creatures that little bit more threatening and tougher.
The Mirran Swords Ranked
I already mentioned the Mirran swords, and here we are! There are only eight of them so far as we’re still missing the Gruul () and Dimir () versions, so I’m going to just straight up rank them from best to worst.
Mind you they all have identical costs, the same counter and protection effects, and similar triggered abilities, so I’m going to put a lot of weight on art and flavor. More than I usually put, anyway.
Ready? Let’s go!
Honorable Mention: Sword of Dungeons & Dragons
Sword of Dungeons & Dragons would 1000% get first place if it wasn’t part of an Un-set. It’s colorless and is sort of outside the supercycle of Mirran swords.
First off, wow what a sword. Is that a mace on the flat side of the blade? A D20 on the hilt? This is totally practical and not horribly balanced at all. I want a sword like this. And then there’s the protection from rogues and clerics, because you always need to watch out for those backstabbing healers.
Oh, and did I mention that you get a gold dragon? Sign me up. There’s literally nothing about this sword that isn’t awesome.
#9. Sword of Truth and Justice
I don’t like Sword of Truth and Justice. The themes work with their colors but it sort of all just falls apart from there. The art is just kind of meh. It’s pretty, I guess, but nothing to write home about.
And the mechanics are just… there. They’re in line with white and blue’s mechanics, I guess. But where does Truth and Justice come in? I’m not sure how to incorporate these themes with Magic’s mechanics, but that’s not my job. Get to it R&D, I believe you can do better.
#8. Sword of Hearth and Home
I want to like Sword of Hearth and Home. I really, really do. It’s a great theme and the sword itself looks beautiful. It’s just a really weird theme to represent mechanically, and I’m not sure that they landed it.
You basically flicker one of your creatures and tutor up a basic land from your library. While these are white and green mechanics respectively, I’m struggling to tie them to Hearth and Home. I’ll pass on this sword.
#7. Sword of Feast and Famine
I should like Sword of Feast and Famine. I’m not the biggest fan of green, but Golgari () is a really fun combo. And yet I’m just not here for this sword or what it’s doing.
When it comes to the Feast and Famine abilities, it’s a 50/50. “Feast” untapping all your lands as a green ability and “Famine” depriving your opponents of resources through discard is… fine. Maybe I’m missing something, but the flavor just isn’t working for me on this sword.
Thank u, next.
#6. Sword of Sinew and Steel
I’m torn on Sword of Sinew and Steel. The sword itself is really gorgeous. I love the art. But I’m also not entirely sure which side is supposed to be sinew and which is steel. Neither really seem to fit either theme all that well. I feel like Sinew should have been a weird, gross mass of flesh and Steel should be a gleaming silver blade. Maybe I’m just missing something, but probably not. I’m right. Moving on.
And then you get to the ability and it sort of works. Sinew does what black does best and destroys a target planeswalker while Steel destroys an artifact. That’s not exactly a red specialty but I guess it’s sort of in the right ballpark.
This sword is… fine. It’s not the best. It’s not the worst. Just sort of lukewarm.
#5. Sword of War and Peace
Sword of War and Peace is okay. The art is decent, but it doesn’t particularly scream “War” or “Peace” to me. Looks more like Fire and Light. I feel like War should have more blood and Peace should have a halo or something.
We have another instance of one theme hitting the nail on the head while the other is just sort of there. Red’s War deals damage to your opponent for how many cards they’re holding. Very good. Very red, very War. And then white’s Peace gives you life for how many cards you’re holding. That’s definitely very white, but I’m not sure how that has anything to do with Peace. Shouldn’t this be something more along the lines of preventing combat damage? That seems peaceful to me.
This gets a half-assed shoulder shrug and a noncommittal “eh” from me. Not bad, but not great.
#4. Sword of Body and Mind
Sword of Body and Mind offers protection from green and blue, and the sword itself glows with flames of these colors. Good art, decent flavor.
Its ability marries these two colors pretty well, creating a 2/2 Wolf token and milling a player dealt damage by the equipped creature for 10 cards. Very green, very blue. The green side meshes well as the Body of the sword, putting a body on the field. Not really sure how milling someone aligns with Mind, but I’ll admit that’s a tough one to link with Magic’s mechanics. Overall R&D did the best they could. Good job.
#3. Sword of Once and Future
The most recent of swords is also one of the most powerful. Sword of Once and Future is the long-awaited blue and black sword that provides card advantage through surveil and even some tempo by casting instants or sorceries for free from your graveyard.
It’s a great combination of both blue and black’s themes and core identities, and it brings them together in a powerful and efficient manner that offers great value as a 3-cost artifact.
#2. Sword of Fire and Ice
Okay, now we’re talking. I would have been so disappointed if Sword of Fire and Ice crashed and burned because it’s such an easy theme to stick to. But they did it! Mostly.
Fire is red, represented by a flaming half of the sword and a Shock effect. Great job. Blue comes in as Ice and draws you a card. Not really thematically related to “Ice,” to be honest, but it’s very blue so I’ll give this sword a pass. Overall, I like it.
#1. Sword of Light and Shadow
Sword of Light and Shadow is thematically perfect for white and black. I feel like the Light side of the sword itself could be a bit more brilliant, but that’s just me nitpicking. The art is great and I’d be more than happy to wield this sword.
Mechanics-wise, this is a home run. Light and Shadow are two more themes that are very easy to translate into Magic’s mechanics, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give credit where credit is due. Light gives you a nice slice of life while shadow resurrects a creature from your graveyard. Thematically relevant both to their colors and the sword’s two sides.
Two thumbs up. I like this sword.
Sword of Fire and Ice | Illustration by Chris Rahn
And that’s all there is to know about these pointy death sticks. Well, okay, maybe not. But that’s all there is to know about the swords that I care about. At least from a jank and flavor perspective. Because my opinion is the one that matters the most. Clearly.
Do you disagree? Are there any swords that I didn’t include that you really love? What about my top swords? Do you think they suck? Let me know in the comments down below or over on the official Draftsim Twitter. I definitely have nothing better to do than debate my completely and totally objective opinions about swords in a trading card game over the internet.
Anyways, I’m gonna go boot up Neverwinter Nights again and try not to get pwned by a bunch of pointy metal sticks. Wish me luck!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates:
I enjoyed the article theme, creative! Swords to Plowshares is probably the best sword card, IMO. I disagree with your Mirran ranks, though. Feast and Famine is by far the best sword!