Ranking the Swords of X and Y
Posted on Feb. 25, 2022, 7:03 a.m. by DemonDragonJ
The "swords of X and Y" are some of the most popular equipment in the game, and it is easy to see why that is, since they provide numerous useful abilities for a relatively low equip cost, so I have decided to rank them from worst to best, according to how powerful and useful I find them to be. I would like to emphasize that this ranking is purely my personal preference, and that I am not attempting to portray it as objective fact in any way. I also am aware that Joseph Megill at EDHREC ranked every equipment in the game (at that time), including these swords, but I have ranked the swords differently than how he has ranked them, and my rankings are not for any specific format, while his were specifically for EDH. I know that the cycle is still missing two swords, but there is no way to know when WotC shall print such cards, so I shall rank the current eight swords.
Sword of War and Peace is my least favorite of the swords, because its two abilities are highly situational, and each had already been used on a previous sword; the life-gaining ability had already been used on Sword of Light and Shadow and the damage-dealing ability had already been on Sword of Fire and Ice, both of which are vastly superior to this sword, in my mind.
I have this card in my Atraxa, Praetors' Voice EDH deck, which is my favorite EDH deck, so I am very fond of that sword, but it is useful only in very specific decks, which is why it is so low on this list.
This sword is very straightforward and lacking in subtlety; all it does is destroy permanents, which is useful in nearly every deck, but it does lack creativity. I would have ranked this sword higher if it destroyed creatures, rather than planeswalkers, because, as awesome as planeswalkers are, creatures are still used far more often by a significant margin, so being able to destroy creatures is usually more useful than is being able to destroy planeswalkers.
One of this sword’s abilities is very useful, as all decks can appreciate being able to put additional lands onto the battlefield, but its other ability is very situational, useful only in decks that rely heavily upon creatures with abilities that trigger when the enter the battlefield or if one’s opponents are stealing one’s creatures, and they player needs to take them back.
Both abilities of this sword are nice, but they are so different from each other that it is difficult to find a deck that can fully take advantage of both of them. I actually was tempted to switch this sword with Sword of Hearth and Home, but I ultimately put this sword ahead of that one, because the previous sword has an ability that is very situational, whereas both abilities of this sword are useful in a wide variety of decks.
Black and white are my two favorite colors in this game, so this sword is naturally my favorite sword of this cycle, which means that I am sad to rank it as only third on this list, but it simply is not sufficiently powerful for me to rank it any higher than that. The majority of decks rely upon creatures to some extent, so the reanimation ability is always useful, and gaining life is never a bad thing, but that ability simply does not have sufficient impact on a game, outside of decks that are dedicated to taking advantage of gaining life, so this sword is only third, but third place out of eight places is rather impressive. Also, as a side note, this sword is the only sword that is pointing downward in its normal artwork, so I hope that that remains the case when the final two swords are eventually printed.
This sword is a major powerhouse and is guaranteed to have an effect on the course of a game. Reducing an opponent's options while also untapping one's lands are both abilities that virtually every deck can appreciate, so this sword is one of the best, second only to my first choice.
It was a very close decision between this sword and Sword of Feast and Famine for the top choice in this list, but I ultimately ranked this sword as my favorite because of the sheer overall value that it provides. Drawing cards and dealing damage are useful in virtually every deck, so there is no better choice than this sword for all-around awesomeness, in my mind.
What does everyone else say about this list? How well did I do in my rankings? Again, this list is based purely upon my own opinion, so I am not saying that anyone who feels differently about the swords is wrong, and I will welcome any constructive discussions of this matter.
- Feast and famine
- Fire and ice
- Light and shadow
- Hearth and home
- Truth and justice
- Sinew and steel
- War and peace
- Body and mind
T&j and s&s could maybe be flipped
February 25, 2022 9:01 a.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #4
Niko9, I am glad that you appreciate my list, although I actually think that an equip of only is too low for such power equipment; an equip cost of would have been better, but the original two swords were some of the earliest equipment in the game, so WotC likely still had not yet determined the best way to calculate equip costs, and all others needed to follow the same formula.
shadow63, I like your list, as well, especially since you put Sword of Truth and Justice higher on your list than I did on mine. I see that you have Sword of Hearth and Home as fourth on your list, so do you feel that it has a more universal appeal, outside of decks that focus on "flickering" creatures?
February 25, 2022 12:27 p.m.
DemonDragonJ I like it mostly for the ramp aspect. But flickering your stuff can remove counters and enchantments from them
February 25, 2022 1:20 p.m.
wallisface says... #6
From a Modern perspective, I'd rank them as so:
- Sword of Fire and Ice
- Sword of Feast and Famine
- Sword of Light and Shadow
- Sword of Truth and Justice
- Sword of Body and Mind
- Sword of Hearth and Home
- Sword of Sinew and Steel
- Sword of War and Peace
but to be honest, in modern all the swords other than Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of Feast and Famine are pretty situational/trash... so the order of everything after them doesn't really matter - it's too subjective to whatever jank they're built around.
February 25, 2022 2:22 p.m.
plakjekaas says... #8
Nobody is even mentioning the protection aspect of the swords. Protection from White means the creature can no longer be target of the ability of Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist or Sigarda's Aid and that's why those 4 are not high on my list, Sword of Hearth and Home the highest, because flickering a Stoneforge Mystic is amazing. Black and Green are deathtouch colors, Sword of Feast and Famine is great for keeping your creature alive through most combats. Protection from Red is great for surviving damage based boardwipes and such. Milling your opponent is more and more of a downside with all the graveyard options that exist nowadays, I'm not high on Sword of Body and Mind either. I'd say protection from blue is probably the least useful.
But the best thing you can do is collect and combine them, Voltron up, get blanket protection from all colors, and go to town. They're not made to look down upon each other, they get together and have a great time.
February 26, 2022 8:18 a.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #9
plakjekaas, I did forget about that, so I shall add that black and white are the two colors that are most adept at destroying creatures, so the fact that Sword of Light and Shadow grants protection from those colors will make a creature very difficult to destroy.
February 26, 2022 9:10 a.m.
TypicalTimmy says... #11
I'd just go off of the price tag. There's a reason each is more expensive than the last.
In general though, card advantage reigns supreme. But a hand of a dozen cards is worthless if you can't cast anything, which is why F&F is generally top dog #1
February 27, 2022 9:25 p.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #12
It seems that someone at Card Kingdom has done the same thing as me, although their own rankings are different from mine (and they even included Sword of Dungeons & Dragons, which I did not include, as it is from an un set).
March 14, 2022 8:26 p.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #13
Mark Rosewater has revealed that Phyrexia: All Will Be One shall have a new sword of X and Y, which means that I shall eventually need to add it to this list, but, for the present, I have a revision to make (again, this list is purely my own preference, not based of any statistics or data), so my new listing is as follows:
I moved Sword of Body and Mind to seventh place because its abilities are so different from each other that it is very difficult to build a deck that can truly take advantage of both of them, and I shall admit that I am actually contemplating switching Sword of Hearth and Home with Sword of Light and Shadow, because I am starting to think that the former is actually quite useful, but I shall leave those two as they are, for the moment, since the latter is still my personal favorite of the swords.
I also have put a link to this thread on my user profile, since I shall eventually revisit it when the final two swords in this cycle are printed.
What does everyone else here think of my new ranking?
January 17, 2023 9:10 p.m.
Crow-Umbra says... #14
In case you haven't seen it yet, the new sword's name has been revealed to be Sword of Forge & Frontier. It will be the Red & Green entry into the Sword of__&__ Cycle.
No text yet, but plenty of speculation in the linked reddit thread.
January 17, 2023 9:15 p.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #15
Crow-Umbra, thank you for the information!
January 17, 2023 9:17 p.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #16
I just realized that I put the wrong numbers on my list, above, so the proper numbering is now as follows:
I am very sorry for that mistake, but I have now corrected it.
January 17, 2023 9:21 p.m.
Crow-Umbra says... #17
DemonDragonJ, in case you haven't seen it here is the full Sword of Forge & Frontier
Equipped creature gets +2/+2 and has protection from red and from green.
Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player, exile the top two cards of your library. You may play those cards this turn. You may play an additional land this turn.
January 18, 2023 6:50 p.m.
TypicalTimmy says... #18
Imagine that with Sword of Feast and Famine
January 18, 2023 7:10 p.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #19
Crow-Umbra, that is not too bad, but not exactly game-breaking, either, which I imagine was a deliberate decision by WotC.
It is far too early to add sword of forge and frontier to this list, so I shall wait until I have had time to see it in action, firsthand. I also am very glad that the sword is pointing upward in the artwork, maintaining Sword of Light and Shadow's status as the only sword that is pointing downward in its art.
However, I need to make another revision to this list, since I have, indeed, decided to make the change that I considered, above, so my list is now as follows:
I switched the places of Sword of Light and Shadow and Sword of Hearth and Home, because, as much as I like the former sword, it simply does not have sufficient impact on a game for me to rank it any higher, whereas I have realized hos good the latter sword is; putting an additional land on the battlefield is always good, and, even if the creature that is "flickered" does not have a triggered ability, the flickering can still remove unwanted auras and counters from it. I am sad that my favorite sword is now at only fourth place, but fourth out of eight (soon to be nine) swords is still fairly impressive.
January 18, 2023 9:10 p.m.
TypicalTimmy says... #20
If you don't have mana available post-combat, the sword essentially does nothing outside of +2/+2 and protection. Cards like this are very risky because you could end up wheeling into something very important, that you have now lost forever.
I don't think it'll make too big of a splash. Likely on par with Sword of Hearth and Home.
Unless you have a VERY specific build in mind, cough Klauth, Unrivaled Ancient cough cough, I can't see it being all that useful.
January 18, 2023 9:22 p.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #21
TypicalTimmy, I likely shall put sword of forge and frontier low on my ranking, but I shall wait until the set is officially released to do that.
January 18, 2023 10:19 p.m.
New one is awesome, gotta fit it in wyleth.
Great name and one of my favorite swords
January 20, 2023 8:19 a.m.
One consideration is also how nicely the swords play in a voltron setting (where several are likely to see play in the same deck). In the same vein of thought would be; how nicely do they play with double strike? - a common goal with voltron & swords. Sword of Fire and Ice remains a chart-topper with a suited-up double striker.
I put Sword of Sinew and Steel higher on the list personally. I love repeat removal on artifacts (one sword that is more bonkers with double strike), typically pretty relevant. The planeswalker removal is neat when it comes up, but yeah, it can be a dead ability. I also like pro-red as I've been known to use quite a few dmg-based boardwipes.
Sword of Light and Shadow kindof has a curse for me where I almost never care about the graveyard-to-hand in the decks where I want a sword & usually I just want to make a lifelink-beefcake for lifegain. Though pro is a really nice protection combo. & I do love Orzhov, kindof my current labor of love.
New sword is: Sword of impulse & ramp. It is decent.
January 20, 2023 10:51 a.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #24
The new sword was not illustrated by Chris Rahn, as were all the others, so that explains why it looks so different from them; does anyone have any idea why Chris Rahn did not illustrate it?
January 21, 2023 9:48 a.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #25
With the upcoming release of Phyrexia: All Will Be One, I have added Sword of Forge and Frontier to my list, as seen, below:
9: Sword of Forge and Frontier
I put the new Sword of Forge and Frontier at the bottom of the list, not because it is weak, but because I feel that it is too risky and unpredictable to be reliable, and Sword of Hearth and Home is far better at giving the player additional lands than is the new sword. I also switched Sword of Sinew and Steel with Sword of Light and Shadow, which greatly pained me, as Sword of Light and Shadow is my favorite sword in this cycle, but it simply does not have sufficient impact on a game for me to keep it higher in the ranking; if only it had an ability other than gaining life, I could have ranked it higher.
Gleeock, if Sword of Sinew and Steel destroyed creatures, rather than planeswalkers, I likely would have ranked it as third, but, as prevalent as planeswalkers have become, creatures still outnumber them quite severely, so I cannot rank that sword any higher than I have currently ranked it.
February 4, 2023 6:41 p.m.
TypicalTimmy says... #26
Risky and unpredictable.
I love how you just found the perfect way to beautifully describe Gruul. +1
February 4, 2023 6:44 p.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #27
Now that the final sword of the cycle, Sword of Once and Future, has been printed, I shall add it to this list, very soon.
April 7, 2023 10:45 a.m.
DemonDragonJ says... #28
It has been almost a month since my previous post in this thread, but I now am ready to post my new list, to include the final sword, as follows:
10: Sword of Forge and Frontier
First, I ranked the final sword, Sword of Once and Future, as ninth place out of ten, because its abilities are so narrow that it requires that a deck be built specifically to take advantage of them, a trait that it shares with Sword of Forge and Frontier; if it surveilled more than two cards or could cast a spell with a mana value higher than 2, I believe that it would have been far more versatile. Second, I switched the places of Sword of Body and Mind and Sword of War and Peace, because I now realize that SoBaM is nearly as conditional as are the two lowest swords, as very few decks focus on both milling and creating tokens, where as SoWaP is actually more versatile and not nearly as conditional as I originally judged it to be.
What does everyone here think of my new rankings?
Niko9 says... #2
Looks legit : ) I do have such a soft spot for fire and ice. I've been playing it in way too many decks ever since I got a few in packs back in the day. They always seemed like the most well costed equipments. I mean, they do a lot, but they cost just right to make them good but not OP. For a card type that has historically been a little over/undercosted they absolutely nailed the swords.
And yep, couldn't agree more on your list. Truth and Justice is one of my favs but I'll fully admit that it needs the right deck.
February 25, 2022 8:44 a.m.