The unbanning of Stoneforge Mystic in Modern breathes new life into a seldom-used card type, Equipment. Often times, due to the large investment needed to cast and attach to a creature, doing so results in scenarios where your opponent spends just a single mana (for a spell like Fatal Push or Path to Exile) to render your entire turn fruitless. With Stoneforge, we have the option of main-decking four virtual copies of any piece in our equipment toolbox and ‘flashing’ them into play for just two mana regardless of their cost.
Initially, players look to Legacy for starting points on their equipment packages, however, Modern is a very different format. While the Sword of X and Y cycle tend to provide value, power, protection, and utility, and Batterskull brings with it a pair of legs, I’m inclined to believe there might be something else out there that is worth our consideration. Based on value and impact, there really isn’t much that can outshine Sword of Fire and Ice or Sword of Feast and Famine, but in many of these cases I’ve found equipment that packs some kind of unique combo potential or provides a unique edge that is worth exploring. Because a lot of these cards are inherently “bad” on their own, running four copies is often out of the question, but a one-of to be fetched with Stoneforge could be a good balance, especially when something else can be found when that piece is not relevant.
Sword of the Meek and Cranial Plating
Let’s start with the easy ones. Both Sword of the Meek and Cranial Plating have already proven themselves as viable equipments in Modern. The question is whether or not including Stoneforge in their respective decks will serve as a boon or diversion from the plan. For Affinity, Plating is often the most important spell cast in the entire match so adding “additional copies” is no doubt a plus and allows for other singleton equipment to be included as a pivot from that plan when life gain (Batterskull) or, perhaps, removal/card advantage (Sword of Fire and Ice) are needed.
As for Sword of the Meek, the same is true. Having a “plan B” of finding something like Batterskull is a good way to attack on a different axis when the graveyard has been exiled, for example. The Thopter/Sword deck may need to look quite a bit different to include such a package as white is not currently a piece of the Grixis Urza plan but, given that Thopter Foundry has a hybrid U/W mana in its cost and the remainder of the combo is colorless, deck color identify remains pretty flexible.
Manriki-Gusari and Sword of Sinew and Steel
In a meta full of Stoneforge Mystic strategies, having answers to equipments will certainly be something on our minds. In a Stoneforge mirror, having access to an equipment spell that can destroy other equipment just might be worth considering.
Sword of Sinew and Steel is particularly interesting because it has two very versatile functions that seem to be rather relevant in fair deck match-ups. In many Stoneforge builds, especially UWx variants, planeswalkers are likely to be a thorn in your side. Being able to destroy an opposing Teferi (either one) or Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Batterskull in one shot seems very impactful. Against Jund, this may be worth boarding in purely to account for Liliana of the Veil and Wrenn and Six but the added bonus of protection from all of their removal spells is nothing to scoff at either.
Keep in mind that Batterskull‘s germ token is black! This adds a little value to Sinew and Steel, Feast and Famine, and Light and Shadow.
Colossus Hammer certainly belongs on this list and has already seen some success in Modern when it is paired with Puresteel Paladin and Sigarda’s Aid to equip a double striking creature or creature with infect. The blistering fast speed of the combo allows for one-shot kills before the opponent is able to put a suitable blocker on the board. Locating it’s pieces with Stoneforge slows that down by a few turns and could prove to be too slow in the package but, at first glance, having more copies of this vital piece in the puzzle seems good enough to test.
I think Lightning Greaves is super under-rated in Modern as it provides so much for such a small cost. That said, I don’t know that cheating it into play with Stoneforge is completely necessary but in a deck where Lightning Greaves and Stoneforge Mystic are independently applicable, the opportunity to find these with Stoneforge’s ETB trigger seems like an added bonus.
Greaves does a great job of protecting combo creatures like Devoted Druid, pairs very nicely with Shalai to protect the whole team, and provides Haste to allow creatures to pressure Planeswalkers like Liliana of the Veil who might typically be hard to overcome when you are in top deck mode.
Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Gigadrowse is almost a playable Modern card on its own and Livewire Lash is…well…pretty miserable but Stoneforge Mystic allows for these types of shenanigans without feeling the need to run a full set of four terrible cards in your deck. Now I have to credit Max Hero, creator of the Fifteen-Card Singularity Cube, with this idea as he’s been brewing decks with this plan and Nivmagus Elemental for years. There are plenty of other Replicate spells to explore but Gigadrowse happens to be the most playable and cheapest to replicate.
Spellbinder is interesting in that in provides something totally unique to other equipment spells; letting you cast free spells from your hand. While it might be fun to cast Kolaghan’s Command on repeat, as soon as you realize you’ve built your own “bad sword”, you’ll understand why this is a bad idea. The first thought that came to my mind was, “wouldn’t it be cool to put an additional combat step card on this?” but upon searching Gatherer for such a thing, I realized that most instant-speed versions stated “after this mainphase…” rendering a cast of this spell during the damage step useless. There is one option, however, in Savage Beating.
I’ve included this one to demonstrate that its pretty terrible in Modern. Please prove me wrong…but at this point, I have a hard time seeing a home for a very awkward “Equip 4” weapon in the format.
Sunforger, on the other hand, is nearly as awkward but maybe sliiiiightly more functional. I’m imagining some sort of set up that allows for a free equip at the hands of Puresteel Paladin and a bunch of Manamorphose in the deck to net some card advantage prior to some strange and convoluted payoff spell. To be honest, I’m not really willing to do the work on this one but consider giving me a mention when your “Stoneforger” deck takes over Modern.
Illusionists’s Bracers and Paradise Mantle
I’m not entirely sure what to do with either of these but I figured it would be worth dropping them in the list as each of them seems to provide some sort of combo potential. Paradise Mantle could provide a Morphling-like creature to do the tap and untap dance that Devoted Druid popularized. Why do we care? Who knows!? Maybe there’s something there.
Illusionist’s Bracers on the other hand is totally weird but potentially abusable. If you’ve got ideas for either, leave them in the comments and I’ll put them in this paragraph and steal the credit… Just kidding. Or am I?
Sorcerer’s Wand and Viridian Longbow
If your creature is somehow already capable of the aforementioned “Druid Dance” like say…if its Devoted Druid and he is hanging out with Vizier of Remedies, Sorcerer’s Wand or Viridian Longbow can translate this to infinite damage. A very important thing to consider in this scenario is, couldn’t this be any other infinite mana sink? The answer is yes. Move along…
Speaking of mana sinks, Diviner’s Wand can provide that! It has a little upside as a fair card, too so long as you have plenty of excess mana. The free equip to a Wizard is somewhat relevant if you are interested in playing cards like Snapcaster Mage.
Grafted Wargear and Demonmail Hauberk
While either card can provide a significant stat boost for a manaless equip, I am actually more interested in the fact that both allow repeated sacrifices. In a deck that packs a Kitchen Finks and Vizier of Remedies, these spells can provide some combo participation to Stoneforge Mystic. Another idea would be to include these in a BW deck that includes Solemnity and Geralf’s Messenger for infinite damage.
Fun and flavorful? Yes! Effective? Uhhhh…
This package makes use of Stoneforge’s activated ability for sure but the payoff is a giant creature that is susceptible to most non-red removal in the format. This one would be a good one to take to a local FNM but not likely to do much in a competitive environment.
Infect is a pretty busted mechanic and generally, pretty abusable alongside difficult to block creatures. If your plan A is to deal infect damage to your opponent, this is definitely too slow, but as a surprise pivot to some other strategy in games two and three, this might catch your opponent completely off guard, especially if you were to put Stoneforge into play at the end of their turn with Aether Vial, find Exoskeleton, and then equip and attack on your next turn with something large like Death’s Shadow. Let’s be real, such a deck doesn’t quiiiiite exist and, if it did, playing a four-mana equipment spell is not very reasonable. That said, I don’t think Exoskeleten is very useful in Modern at the moment.
Leering Emblem’s plan is pretty contrary to that of most Stoneforge Mystic decks but its worth acknowledging its existence as an Aria of Flame-like plan B to some crazy deck that can support it.
Most of these cards are pretty wild. It is pretty unlikely that many of them will see play but worth noting that this diversity of options exists through a Stoneforge plan. I hope that at least some of them have inspired some brewing!