Building an Equipment-based EDH deck can be an expensive task. Some of the best Equipment in the game, like Sword of Feast and Famine, can cost two-thirds of a booster box — and that’s before you’ve even calculated if you can afford a Stoneforge Mystic, too!
Thankfully, there is an abundance of great Equipment available for those on a budget. Today, I’ll go over the best budget EDH Equipment that costs $5 or less.
It feels strange kicking things off and not writing about Sword of the Animist, so I’m gonna go a little over budget to mention it, anyway. For the longest time, Sword of the Animist was well under $5, and was my go-to when recommending budget Equipment — it’s just that good. As of publication, you can still find copies in the wild for just over $5, so if you are going to push the boat out? I’d suggest picking a copy up. The recent reprinting in Aura of Courage has helped to soften the price… for now.
If this is your first foray into building Voltron or Equipment decks, picking up a copy of the Aura of Courage precon is not a bad shout. We have an upgrade guide, too, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to boost its power a little.
Next up is Dowsing Dagger. I’ve said in the past that if you’re playing Equipment, you should be playing evasive creatures, so I’ll say it again: the Plants with defender shouldn’t be a problem at all. Getting a nice boost of three mana is well worth the investment here, and you don’t have to flip it right away if you’d rather keep the damage boost.
The next best options are easily the Treasure-producing Equipment. Goldvein Pick is my first choice of the two, given it has the lower equip cost, but either (or even both) might be right for your deck. A budget Akiri, Fearless Voyager build just wants to go wide with equipped creatures, and will take all of the best cheap-to-play and cheap-to-equip Equipment available.
I can’t end the Mana section without talking about Explorer’s Scope. Some people are really high on this card, but I’m honestly not first-picking it. If you don’t have Sword of the Animist, it’s certainly an option, but I wouldn’t take it unless I had a way to manipulate the top of the library easily.
It seems fitting to cover card draw next, and what better way to get rolling than with Sword of the Animist’s partner in crime: Mask of Memory. Mask of Memory is by far the best card draw option available right now at a low cost, and you’ll feel lost without it. Seeing two cards and getting to discard the worst thing from your hand is great. You can push the synergy even higher by running recursion or reanimation, which help you get set up with this card.
The next most universal option is Rogue’s Gloves, with its analogue in Dimir, Mask of Riddles, which grants fear as a bonus. If you just want to straight up draw cards for damaging a player, then this is what you need. Again, it works better with evasive creatures — get yourself a Reidane, God of the Worthy.
Zephyr Boots is more budget still, and trades off value for some evasion. If you’re happy to loot instead of draw, then it’s a fine option for seeing more cards, particularly in Akiri or Syr Gwyn, who fill your hand when you attack.
While the other cards so far suit going wide, Infiltration Lens really rewards go-tall Voltron builds, giving the opponent less incentive to block you. Commander damage racks up, though, and they’ll have to block eventually. Keep in mind that every creature blocking nets you two cards.
Rounding things out is Mask of Griselbrand. Mask is a neat way to ensure your biggest, baddest creature dying doesn’t inconvenience you too much. It’s also a way to help you draw cards if you can sacrifice it yourself. Don’t scoff at getting both flying and lifelink, either — two of the better keywords. It’s not Skullclamp, but nothing ever will be. Speaking of which… There was a time Skullclamp might have made this list…
Next up, let’s look at cold, hard damage. Sometimes you just gotta slap someone extra hard, and so here’s some budget ways to get a meaty power boost.
First up is Blackblade Reforged. While Lashwrithe and Strata Scythe are both good budget options, Blackblade is by far the most consistent and easiest to pull off. One of the most powerful and widely-played cards on this list, Blackblade is a win condition in most Equipment decks. It’s even an alternate win condition in decks that don’t care much about Equipment, like Cosima, God of the Voyage.
Sometimes, you gotta do even more damage, and that’s where the likes of Mage Slayer and Quietus Spike come in. For a six-mana investment, they can turn a creature into a killing machine. You’ll know you want these cards if you can envision killing a player with your commander or favorite creature. Mage Slayer in particular is a lot of fun in Gruul Stompy.
Along similar lines, Grafted Exoskeleton is a way to get the infect kill. On a three-power commander, that’s a two-turn clock; on Aurelia, the Warleader, that just deletes a player. Much like Basilisk Collar, the creature deals damage in general, not just combat damage, so the infect would apply to any outward damage, too — like with, say, Chandra’s Ignition. Collar, meanwhile, is best friends with Judith, the Scourge Diva and Walking Ballista.
If you want damage that scales with the game, then both Nettlecyst and Cranial Plating reward being in an artifact-heavy deck, with the former scaling off of enchantments, too. Don’t underestimate how much power these things can offer, or the fact Cranial Plating attaches at instant speed using the double black ability — a handy way to make a fearsome blocker.
If you have other ways to get through, like trample, and you have ways to cheat the equip cost, like Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist? Colossus Hammer is well worth a look. It’s super cheap for the investment, and I sure as hell don’t want one of those barreling down at me.
Rounding things out for this category is Kusari-Gama. Much like Infiltration Lens, it aims to disincentivize blocking. If your opponent does block, the damage the blocking creature receives is amplified to the rest of the team, which is often going to make it more or less a board wipe.
Thank the Gods that Swiftfoot Boots is constantly reprinted; if it wasn’t, it’d be hella expensive. The premier protection option for most decks, Swiftfoot Boots is by far the first pick when it comes to keeping your key creature alive. Protection is important in Equipment decks, and you’ll generally want to eschew the shroud on Lightning Greaves, anyway, as it stops you equipping more Equipment unless you can move it off.
There are some other spicy picks, though. The new Robe of Stars can phase out your creature and all Auras and Equipment attached to it until your next turn. This is a deft trick, allowing your investment to escape removal and board wipes. Magebane Armor can also protect against damage-based wraths, and is a sweet option for any red decks looking to wipe the board. Stick it on Tajic, Blade of the Legion and you’re laughing.
Blue also gets in on the action here, with one new option and one classic. Winged Boots is honestly pretty exciting to me; Ward 4 is as close to hexproof as you’re going to get, considering you also get flying. Neurok Stealthsuit, meanwhile, does the Cranial Plating thing and equips at instant speed, perfect for tricksy maneuvers.
Rounding out our options are Mirror Shield and Ring of Evos Isle. Mirror Shield is surprisingly relevant, and there are always more deathtouch creatures than you’d realize. I’ve seen it destroy creatures — or at least threaten to — in most games. Ring of Evos Isle is a cool option for +1/+1 counters builds as a free source of counters each turn.
If you’re trying to win with damage, then you’ll need some evasion. It’s good to know that two of the premier sources of unblockable are nice and cheap. Whispersilk Cloak might be the best option for the likes of Nezahal, Primal Tide — or in a deck without much other Equipment. Otherwise, you’ll want Trailblazer’s Boots, which basically reads as unblockable in 95% of games of Commander.
Flying is one of the better options for evasion. Whether you want to combine it with haste on Fleetfeather Sandals or with first strike on Maul of the Skyclaves, you have options. Maul is pretty nice, given it also equips for free the first time.
Alongside flying and haste, vigilance and trample are the next best options for getting damage through. Vigilance is nice because it gives you a good blocker, too. Sword of Vengeance is my first pick here, and I think it’s sorely underrated. Equip 3 is at the top end of what’s viable without free equips, but if you’re playing Argentum Armor because you get free equips, then you can certainly afford to play Sword of Vengeance. Haunted Cloak is playable, too, depending on how well your creatures scale.
Loxodon Warhammer isn’t quite Shadowspear — but, to evoke the same refrain, nothing quite is. It’s still a solid option, though; lifelink is important in Equipment decks, as people will run at you. Behemoth Sledge is an option in Selesyna, too.
Before we move on, we have two more niche options. If your commander has menace, Vorrac Battlehorns is a cheap way to grant it unblockable. Because it must be blocked by two creatures, and also can’t be blocked by more than one creature, neither condition can be met. I like this on everything from Greven, Predator Captain to Lathril, Blade of Elves.
Nemesis Mask, on the other hand, is a monstrous way to ensure your attacks get through. Putting it on something with indestructible ensures all blocking creatures are tied up for a turn. But to turn it up to eleven, slap it on something with deathtouch. That’s a board wipe in green with something like Rhonas, the Indomitable.
Synergy & Combo
Beyond the Equipment that can fit in decks more generally, there are a bunch that offer specific synergies and even combos. Many of them are under our $5 budget, so let’s take a look.
Tribal decks love Heirloom Blade, particularly because of the low equip cost. Replacing a creature with another is great when you’re trying to establish board presence. While Pennon Blade works great if you’re going wide in general, Stoneforge Masterwork is much more efficient if you stick to one type of creature. Bearded Axe, on the other hand, is made for Dwarf decks.
Zombies and Vampires can get in on the action with Wand of Orcus and Blade of the Bloodchief. The Wand is an excellent way to generate a board, even in non-Zombie decks. Blade of the Bloodchief still works in +1/+1 counter decks, too.
Rogues and Warriors also benefit from tribal Equipment — quite literally — in Cloak and Dagger and Obsidian Battle-Axe. They’re useful abilities for the tribes, and even for commanders with the right creature types; Neheb, the Eternal loves the Axe, for example.
While not all of the best spells for Sunforger are cheap, Sunforger itself is. If you’re in a Boros Equipment deck, Sunforger is worth trying out. Getting to react with removal, protection or interaction every turn cycle is very powerful, and it’s how I like to play my Aurelia deck.
A relatively new equipment, Trickster’s Talisman is a way to get extra value for a super cheap cost. When combined with recursion, you can begin to clone your creatures at an alarming rate.
If you do have a way to reduce equip costs — or even get one for free every turn — Heartseeker is a budget option worth checking out. In the right build, you can constantly wipe out the opposition. I like it a lot in Syr Gwyn, Hero of Ashvale, as equipping it to my Knights will always be free with my commander in play.
Both Deathrender and Shuko are great ways to combo off with Koll, the Forgemaster. Koll enables us to go infinite with enter the battlefield triggers, or even just Goblin Bombardment. Check out our primer on comboing with Koll for more on an exciting Boros Equipment card that can even threaten to perform at higher power tables.
Sai of the Shinobi is another option for this kind of combo. Meanwhile, Shuko can combine with Crackdown Construct and another creature to yield an infinitely large Construct, which you can use for plenty of nefarious purposes.
Blazing Sunsteel and Brash Taunter is a super fun infinite damage combo; you can have access to Fiendlash and Stuffy Doll in the same build, and potentially more damage reflectors if you’re in white, too. Bonehoard is a classic graveyard payoff card; combined with Jarad, Golgari Lich or a Rite of Consumption, it can one shot a player with ease. Sword of the Meek is consistently one of the cheapest budget combos available; just pick up a similarly cheap Thopter Foundry, and you can make as many Thopters as you have mana — or just go infinite with Krark-Clan Ironworks.
And that about rounds things out for the best budget Equipment for EDH. I’ve covered a great many cards today, and there’s sure to be something useful you can find on the list. While not having access to cards like Shadowspear or Sword of Feast and Famine on a budget can feel rough, there’s no reason you can’t build a super powerful Equipment deck with what you can get a hold of for $5 or less.
If I were to recommend my top five options that give the most bang for your buck, I’d probably advise you to pick up the following:
Sunforger is impressive even with budget spells. You don’t need a $15 Comeuppance when a $5 Settle the Wreckage or even a 50-cent Dawn Charm can achieve the same hilarious blow out! Likewise, there are plenty of other options, from Dispatch to Crush Contraband, Blacksmith’s Skill to Make a Stand, that you’ll always have something to cast.
Let me know on Twitter at @TheKristenEmily what your favorite budget Equipment is.
Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, Kristen lives and breathes Commander. When she’s not playing Magic, she works as a freelance writer and editor in the UK.