Sunday 28 October 2012

Top 10 Colourless Cards

The colourless cards rival blue in their power and have more banned cards than any other grouping. I say colourless but that is really only to give a home to Karn Liberated. All is Dust is a solid B cuber and probably the second best non-artifact colourless card but neither come all that close to the vast quantity of good artifacts available so it is really a top ten artifacts list.

Sol Ring
13. Wurmcoil Engine
12. Grim Monolith
11. Zuran Orb
10. Sensei's Divining Top
9.   Mana Vault
8.   Skullclamp
7.   Chrome Mox
6.   Mox Diamond
5.   Umezawa's Jitte
4.   Mana Crypt
3.   (The Moxes)
2.   (Black Lotus)
1.   (Sol Ring)

An honorary mention is needed for Tangle Wire which was so so close to the last spot and should be rated higher than I have in my first review of the card. Metal Worker, Memory Jar, Voltaic Key, Crucible of Worlds, Myr Battleshpere, Sword of Fire and Ice, Guilded Lotus and many more are all strong cards that at one time may well have been in a top ten list. Mana is power and so this list is dominated by artifacts that either give you a huge burst in mana or cheaply ramp you. Most games don't end in one turn and so Sol Ring is the best return of mana over the course of most games and is therefore the consistant best card in the cube. Black Lotus gives some more brutal starts and has some good combos however these things come together infrequently and so the Lotus is not as good as Sol Ring in most decks. The Moxes are like Sol Ring  but less bursty. They are still very close in power as they come down for free allowing you to go off more easily with them and provide more useful coloured mana.
Mana Crypt
Mana Crypt is obviously better than Sol ring in terms of pure mana however the life loss is very significant and makes it playable only in decks winning quickly. It remains the case that the decks that can abuse Crypt are less powerful on average than those that can't and so I am happy with it staying unbanned for now. Although more powerful than the top 3 (or 7 depending on how you count the moxes) cards the Crypt only gets in at number 4 (8) due to its comparitivly narrow playability. Jitte is the first of the non mana producing cards, it wins most games when in combination with a creature. It is bomb-like unto itself rather than allowing to make other bombs quicker. Mox Diamond and Chrome Mox are a little more versatile in the colour they can offer but the cost of a card to make your Mox makes them quite a bit fairer than the original five. Diamond is slightly more abusable than Chrome as there are lots of ways to get extra lands or recur them later, it also offers better colours.
Umezawa's Jitte
Skullclamp doesn't end games like Jitte does but almost always allows you to keep pace with any other deck  and is probably the best card advantage artifact out there. Being so cheap and easy to use makes it painless to throw into lots of archetypes. Mana Vault is a kind of fairer Black Lotus offering less burst in only colourless and then causing you pain or mana to afterwards. Divining Top is the card for miracles and is the card quality spell for non blue decks and even they employ Top sometimes too. Like most good artifacts it is very cheap and easy to throw into any control or combo deck with sufficient shuffle effects. Zuran Orb is an odd little card that is only for the purpose of life gain which no other card in the cube does which is unsurprising as life is the least useful resource in magic. Zuran Orb will decide any game that is close and buy you several extra turns in any given game, it also has some combo applications

Grim Monolith is the poor mans Mana Vault, it is less bursty and doesn't have a life penalty to compensate for this. When you want burst though life is not something you care about and so this is almost always seen as redudancy for Mana Vault rather than an alternative. Last in on my list is the only dork to make the list -Wurmcoil Engine. It is durable, a great tempo boost and lots of value while being playable in any colours of deck. He also fills two roles as a threat and way to gain life if you don't want to dedicate a whole slot to the effect.

Friday 26 October 2012

Top 10 Blue Cards

Blue, the undisputed colour of power in magic with the most depth, high power cards and banned cards. Blue has about 30 cards that are all better than most of the cards in each other colours top 10 list and the quality doesn't really dry up beyond this. Blue has most of the direct card draw, all the good counter magic, most of the good card quality spells and is usually first in line to get interesting and different new spells. Blue is even starting to get some impressive looking creatures which all ends up making blue a very strong colour in cube for all types of deck. In many ways this is the most harsh list as so many worthy spells that would be high on other lists don't make the cut and all of them are of comparable power and playability to the last few cards on my list. These worthy cards include Actual Counterspell, Upheaval, Vendilion Clique, Remand, Consecrated Sphinx, Arcane Denial, Fact or Fiction, Trinket Mage, Frantic Search, Force Spike, Tezzeret, the Seeker, Spell Pierce, Grand Architect and so on and so on. Here at least are the cards that do make my top 10:
Snapcaster Mage

13. Brainstorm
12. Treachery
11. Timetwister
10. Tinker
9.   Opposition
8.   Cryptic Command
7.   Jace, the Mind Sculptor
6.   Time Spiral
5.   (Mana Drain)
4.   Force of Will
3.   Snapcaster Mage
2.   (Ancestral Recall)
1.   (Time Walk)

Time WalkMany think Ancestral Recall is the best blue card but I'm all about Time Walk which is better tempo, more abusable and scales better as the game goes on. Recall however is also really rather good and comes a comfortable close second. Snapcaster is the ever impressing new kid on the list, it is too good in other formats but in cube it is even better suited to abuse. I rate Force of Will very highly as it is the ultimate counterspell, when you need to stop a spell Force is the most reliable. Mana Drain is more powerful but this is in areas that are not countering spells at which it is only as good as Actual Counterspell. Mana Drain is banned because it is really swingy and random while being stupidly powerful. Force is fairer despite being the better counterspell in a purist sense hence not getting the ban. Time Spiral is one of the best combo cards and many other things as well. It is the best of the symmetrical draw seven effects as it effectively gives you first use on the cards with all your mana free.

Force of Will
Original Jace is still one of the highest power all round planeswalkers and does a lot of good work in all manner of blue decks. The fact that it sees so much play as a four mana sorcery speed card in blue is testament to its power. Cryptic Command is the other all rounder blue four drop that does almost everything you need it to in any situation. Jace is more awkward to use but will win games while Cryptic tends to swing games in your favour enabling you to win with something else. Opposition and Tinker are both cards that you build your deck around due to their incredible power. Opposition is far easier to throw into a deck as it is more common to have creatures than it is artifacts. Timetwister is the safe draw seven spell and the only one of the original power nine I have not banned. As symmetrical cards go it is hard to really abuse Timetwister and so it tends to help your opponent out rather a lot too. It does have some advantages over Spiral in that you can reuse it or cast it before you have 6 mana but the fact that in even situations it helps your opponent more than you makes it far fairer.

A theme in this list is cards that offer tempo which is unsurprising as lack of tempo is one of blues weaknesses. Creature kill is another area blue struggles with and so Treachery is a supremely good card for the blue mage. Brainstorm is my final card to make the list, it is subtle and often hard to appreciate the effect it has on a game but is has lots of synergy with many different cards and mechanics and is one of only a few cards that offers the ability to put cards into your library. It sees loads of play in all kinds of deck and is just a lovely little spell. As you can see, blue not only has a great wealth of the most powerful cards in magic but it also has great diversity among its best cards. There are cards to build around, a variety of answers cards, card advantage spell, enablers, finishers and even removal. Given the vast scope of the cards combined with their consistently high power level I have rather failed to justify why each falls where it does on the list...

Thursday 25 October 2012

Top 10 White Cards

White is a colour rather like red in the cube, it has some extremely powerful cards then a sharp fall off into lots of fair redundancy, either in mass removal, big threats or efficient little critters. I find white the dullest colour and although it probably has more scope than red I find its style of cards to be less interesting and fun.  Along with red and gold white is in the minority of groups that have no cards too powerful for cube play however my list does go to 11 as Lingering Souls is more of a gold card than a white card and so I leave up to the readers discretion where they chose to place it.


11. Gideon Jura
10. Cataclysm
9.   Baneslayer Angel
8.   Armageddon/Ravages of War
7.   (Lingering Souls - as its kind of a gold card)
6.   Path to Exile
5.   Stoneforge Mystic
4.   Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3.   Land Tax
2.   Swords to Plowshares
1.   Balance

Land TaxBalance is one of the most powerful cards in magic, its total effect on the game is comparable only to spells like Upheaval, Jokulhaups and Death Cloud, all of which cost significantly more mana. It is a card than may be abused and set up so as to be horrendously unfair. It is not played as often as the other top 6 or so in this list because it tends to require more building your deck around. Also without Black Lotus starts you no longer need a two mana Wrath of God against a lot of decks and if you really do you are probably safer with Terminus than Balance. While the amount of play Balance is seeing is on the decline it is still getting the love and winning unwinnable games frequently which few other cards can claim to do. Swords to Plowshares is the best removal spell and removal as we all know, is very good. With creatures getting better and more durable all the time Swords continues to grow in strength and sees play in any white deck than can get its mits on one.

Swords to PlowsharesLand Tax is the most powerful card advantage spell in magic, usually outdoing both Library of Alexandria and Ancestral Recall in both total cards gained and least mana spent per card. There are a number of reasons it avoided the ban including your opponents having some choices to affect the Tax and a requirement to build your deck around it to some extent, not to mention it only gets lands not action spells. This latter thing is barely a drawback however, I can think of many occasions I have lost because my Ancestral Recall failed to hit me a land. Not always playable but always included when it is! Elspeth of the four mana is still in my opinion the best walker in the cube despite it being very close, great in both agro and control with a lot of wins under her belt for both.

Stoneforge Mystic is made strong by the stupidly powerful equipment available to it in the cube. This gives it versatility to be played in combo, control and beatdown although the latter is the most common. It is card advantage and tutoring in a colour that lacks the former and has great synergy for the latter. Decks do need building with Stoneforge in mind but not to the extent of cards like Goblin Welder or even Land Tax. Path is the poor mans Swords to Plowshares, it can be better rather like Hierarch to Birds, when they have no basics or you want to trigger you Tax, but in general it is far worse. It is still the second best removal spell in the game despite this and is probably the second most played white card, although I would argue this is due to a shortfall of similar cards in white and not due to it being more powerful than Balance etc.
Ravages of War
Lingering Souls has been performing incredibly well and has frequently cause decks to splash the appropriate 2nd colour for it alone. As a card this is where I rate it relative to the other white spells but I do see it as a gold card. Armageddon is functionally indentical to Ravages of War and so I am going to give them only one slot total unlike Path and Plow or Birds and Hierarch. Armageddon ends games, lots of decks can't cope without lands and white is great at getting a powerful board presence down early. A very scary spell that will force you to play around as soon as you know it is a possibility. Baneslayer Angel was the first in a new age of really powerful monsters, when it arrived the cube and the meta was not at all ready and it dominated most games. Other creatures, cube inclusions and the meta has now calmed this somewhat but Baneslayer still remains one of the best pure threats you can make for the mana and will tend to win any game where it is not dealt with right away. Trying to beat a Baneslyer always feels like trying to beat a dork equipped with a Jitte, your just better off killing it.

Cataclysm is an awkward mix of Balance and Armageddon. It is harder to set up and generally a bit less game ending but does still have a very powerful effect on the board for a very cheap price and has the added bonus, unlike most other white mass removal, of dealing with planeswalkers. Good old Gideon gets my final spot. He is a bit of a fall off in power from the other cards in the list but is none the less very good. An all round walker that is very robust, a bane to agro decks and a solid threat against control.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Top 10 Green Cards

Green is lacking much in the way of serious bomb cards and has nothing that competes with the power of the top cards in most other lists however to make things difficult green is highly diverse (unlike red or white) and has a huge depth with lots of redundancy and continued quality throughout the colour. It is one of the most represented colours (along with blue) and has spent the longest time as the colour with most cards in the cube. As such this list has a wide array of cards serving different purposes all of which are very very close in power. Not only is the exact placing very subjective but there are a vast number of cards that seem rather hard done by to not be on this list including Sylvan Library, Joraga Treespeaker, Birthing Pod, Rofellos, Natural Order, Wall of Roots, Lotus Cobra and many more. One omission that might surprise people is the lack of Tarmogoyf which is of course a solid monster that has dominated constructed formats, yet in cube is not broken enough nor serving of any specific role to be up there in the cream of green.


11. Scavenging Ooze
10. Strangleroot Geist
9.   Wolfir Silverheart
8.   Noble Hierarch
7.   Beast Within
6.   Overrun
5.   Survival of the Fittest
4.   Eternal Witness
3.   Bird of Paradise
2.   Garruk Wildspeaker
1.   (Fastbond - banned)

Noble Hierarch
Fastbond is totally stupid and the only green card to be comparable to the top power in other colours. As it combos too well with many other cards leading to rather one sided games it was banned which leaves Garruk Wildspeaker as the best playable green card. This conclusion surprised me as he is not even the best planeswalker coming in at about number 3 on that count. He is very good, and very rounded offering a wider variety of abilities that work well in any deck and as a result I find I play him in almost every green deck I build and 100% of the heavy/mono green decks. No other green card has this wide scope of uses while retaining such a high power level and so he takes the pole position. The classic Bird of Paradise comes in at number two with it being one of the very best things you can do on turn one offering fixing, ramp, tempo and a meagre amount of board presence. It is not that Bird is so high on this list that is surprising, more so that there are four other cards between it an Noble Hierarch which is a very similar card and situationally better than the Birds. This should just highlight how close the green cards all are in this list. Witness would have been top of the green list back even when Garruk was first released. It is the increase of creature power and tempo in the cube combined with a decline in combo that has made Witness fall a little out of favour

Garruk Wildspeaker
Survival of the Fittest is not as widely playable as most of the other cards in this list but will still fit in a lot of decks as cube decks are full of one offs and green decks are pretty high on creatures. Being able to base powerful engines around a card or simply use it as recursive tutoring and card quality make it one of the big names in green. Overrun is one of the defining green cards, a little like Death Cloud for black in that you set it up and effectively end the game with it, it is what you get as reach in green creature decks and does very well at ending games promptly. Overrun is not quite as flexible as the Cloud and requires you to have a decent dork count and so I rate it less highly but it is a similar style of card that in the power levels of cube you need to employ to be able to get you there against a lot of decks. Beast Within is a fantastically versatile card with great balancing that sees play all over the place, any deck with a weakness to certain permanent types or any deck that really doesn't care about 3/3 tokens generally ends up playing it. I won a game last night that was a  bit of a stale mate using Beast Within to blow up my own land at end of turn, then I played Sundering Growth on my Mox to populate my 3/3 so I could swing in out of nowhere to take the game.

Scavenging Ooze
Noble Hierarch is just the other Bird of Paradise that is worse for decks with black and red hence being so much further down the list. It is generally better if you only want G, W or U mana and even sometimes when you want other colours due to the aggressive nature of exalted. Wolfir Silverheart is the green Baneslayer Angel as it costs five and represents a monumental threat on the board despite bringing no other value or utility to the table. It turns out 12 power and toughness is just too much to deal with for most decks at that kind of point in the game where 5 mana is obtainable. So far, either Wolfir eats a removal spell of the game is won by him in very short order. Strangleroot Geist is another very new card that has secured a slot in the top ten. It is cheap, great tempo and great value and crops up in almost every agro deck using green. If it were 1G I am sure this would become 100% of green agro decks. It is also popular in Recurring Nightmare and Birthing Pod decks for the synergy with undying. The final card to make the cut is Scavenging Ooze which I deeply dislike as it seems to do too much and ruins quite a lot of different decks single handedly. It is a perfectly sound agro two drop which acts a bit like a level up creature. On top of this the life gain is very powerful against other agro decks and the graveyard disruption is ruinous for a several different archetypes. It is a bit too easy to hose with the card unlike Dryad Militant which is a far better hoser in the sense that it wont ruin games. Disliking a card is no reasons however to deny it a well deserved slot in the top 10.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Top 10 Red Cards

Lightning BoltRed is an odd colour in that it has the weakest top end cards and the narrowest range of things that it does yet it still seems to be the highest win percentage colour in the cube. I mentioned in the black list that red had a sharp fall off in power after not many cards, seven to be precise. Another issue with the red cards that made the list very tricky is that they are often quite niche cards that fit into few archetypes. This meant that this list is based a little more on power level than the other factors.

10. Fireblast
9.   Sulphuric Vortex
8.   Arc Trail
7.   Wheel of Fortune
6.   Goblin Welder
5.   Faithless Looting
4.   Inferno Titan
3.   Bonfire of the Damned
2.   Goblin Guide
1.   Lightning Bolt

Bonfire of the DamnedGood old Bolt has to get first place on this list as it is one of the few cards in red that is great in every deck. It is the first burn spell you reach for regardless of your archetype. Faithless Looting is the only other red card in this list that manages to find a multitude of homes due to its cheapness, quality and versatility. Guide, Vortex and Fireblast are always agro cards unless things have gone very wrong in your drafting. Although narrow in application they are three of the most notable agro cards, the best one drop beater, the best threat and the best burn finisher. Fireblast is rarely seen outside of mono red and so comes low on the list and the Vortex is also restricted in where it may be played due to the self harm element thus requiring a deck that should have the tempo advantage. Goblin Guide is flexible where he may be played and can easily fit into any aggressive creature deck, in addition to this he is quite a jump above the other stand alone one drop dorks.

Bonfire and Inferno Titan are two of the best control cards out there, Bonfire is certainly the best mass removal spell and Titan is the best of the cycle and well up there in contention for top end threats. Bonfire is unique where as Titan has reasonable alternatives and so the Bonfire I rate higher. Goblin Welder is powerful enough to design whole decks around however does very little unless you do go to this length. Wheel of Fortune is another unique card which offers card advantage to a colour usually not able to get it, not only that but it offers about as much card advantage going for one of the cheapest rates of mana per card. Arc Trail is a bit of an odd card to find in this list however it is both card advantage and extreme tempo while never being dead. It sees a lot of play in many different archetypes and frequently ends games on turn two by being a one sided board sweeper. In cube with so many utility dorks and very low curves Arc Trail is a fearsome card deserving of its slot despite being an obvious drop off in power from the likes of Welder of Wheel.

Monday 22 October 2012

Top 10 Black Cards

Dark ConfidantIt is time to bust out some of the big lists, a top 10 for each of the 8 groups of cards (each colour, colourless, lands and gold cards). These lists are a little harder than many as the cards have little in common in terms of use. As such I have reverted as much as possible to the way in which I rate cards in review with the final result being a composite of how much each card is played, how often it does well when played and also in terms of general power level when viewed in a vacuum. I have included cards that I no longer play in the cube so as to give some perspective but unsurprisingly the banned cards mostly came in at the top of the lists. For each banned card in the list I increased the size of the list to ensure there were 10 "legal" cards on each.

11. Inquisition of Kozilek
10. Vampire Nighthawk
9.   Dark Ritual
8.   Demonic Tutor
7.   Liliana of the Veil
6.   Yawgmoth's Will
5.   Necropotence
4.   Recurring Nightmare
3.   Death Cloud
2.   Dark Confidant
1.   (Contract from Below)

NecropotenceBoth Sinkhole and Hymn to Tourach were very unlucky not to make the list but they simply see less play than the targetted discard due to double black costs. Grave Titan and Tragic Slip were also very close on the heels of this lot with black having a great number of really top quality cards unlike white or red where the brokenness quickly falls off. Necropotence and Dark Ritual are among the more powerful cards in this list but like Sinkhole and Hymn they are rarely found outside mono black decks and so on my rating criteria they fall lower on the list. Yawgmoth's Will is also stupidly powerful but has seen far less play with Lotus, Time Walk and the other power cards no longer being available. By comparison Nighthawk, Liliana and Inquisition might all seem a little underwhelming compared to the likes of Confidant and the other top powerful spells however they are so reliable, rounded and what black tends to be looking for that they get played in almost every mono black deck and many of the multi-coloured decks too. Death Cloud may also seem like an imposter but anyone who has encountered me talking about it before will know quite how much I rate the card. It never made that many waves at its time of release due to affinity dominating everything but if you think it shouldn't be on this list you should play with it a bit more before passing judgement.

Saturday 13 October 2012

BRW Control

DreadboreI built this deck as a vessel to test some of the Rakdos cards from Return to Ravnica as the more obvious URB versions that can include them are not very different to existing archetpyes. I had promised in my reviews that Dreadbore is somewhat of a game changer and would be one of the few cards that really impact the cube. To impact the cube a card not only needs to see a healthy amount of play but it also has to do something a bit new, or at least significantly better than alternative methods to the point of making new decks viable. As BR is the least common colour pairing Dreadbore has its work cut out for it.

Lingering Souls

23 Spells

Mox Diamond

Inquisition of Kozilek
Swords to Plowshares
Faithless Looting

Sensei's Divining Top
Wall of Omens
Demonic Tutor

Rakdos Charm
Lightening Helix
Talisman of Indulgence

Lingering Souls

Chandra, the Firebrand
Murderous Redcap

Austere CommandThundermaw Hellkite
Gideon Jura

Austere Command
Grave Titan

Bonfire of the Damned

17 Lands

Sacred Foundry
Godless Shrone
Blood Crypt
Arid Mesa
Lavaclaw ReachesBloodstained Mire
Marsh Flats
Lava Claw Reaches
Graven Cairns
Caves of Koilos
Boros Garrison

One of the main problems for non-blue control decks is an inability to cope with certain kinds of spell, the best examples being things like Armageddon which can single handedly beat you. To ensure this deck could deal with powerful sorceries I played a reasonably high count of discard effects and an Abeyance. With the exception of Blightning all of those effects go one for one and all of them can become near dead draws later in the game. Card quality and card advantage can still be obtained outside of blue but it is generally less convenient and certainly less abundant. Most of the card advantage this particular deck obtains is through effects rather than dedicated card draw and therefore must be acquired gradually. With a lack of card advantage the inclusion of the discard is a little dangerous and so I crammed in as much card quality (Top and Faithless Looting) as possible to remedy this a little.
Faithless Looting
So far I have only talked about ways in which this deck is inherently worse than a blue control deck and how those shortcomings have been tackled. For a deck to be a viable tier one deck it really needs to be the best way to build that archetype, certainly you may be drafting and become cut out of blue and consequently draft the closest next-best-thing to your initial aim which could easily be a deck like this however you would never set out to draft a sub par deck. What advantages does this UBR deck have any other three colour control deck and are they enough to make it tier one?

Firstly it has some very high value and efficient spells such as Vindicate which it can reliably cast off the mana base. This makes it a little more stable early in the game, particularly as you are not trying to keep up mana as blue mages are. It also means you can have a slightly higher curve with a higher threat count as your early game is more robust and your disruption cards are versatile.

VindicateThe second benefit is really a different way of looking at the first. Black, red and green are the three most capable colours of removing certain permanent types. By combining all of them you ensure you have access to all the best removal spells in the cube and will not have any particular weakness. A UBR control deck can so easily die to naught enchantments like Sulphuric Vortex and can only remove them in convoluted ways such as bouncing and then countering or by turning it into something random with a Chaos Warp. A UWG control deck will be far weaker at dealing with lots of early pressure from weenie creaures with only really Path and Plow as ways to deal with creatures cheaply. The URW and UBW versions are more rounded in their ability to cope with things but always feel a bit thinly stretched. Either you have to rely on your Vindicate to deal with any non-creature permanent or you start to fill up on narrower cards like Disenchant or Vampire Hexmage. Due to lack of sufficient high power options and versatile removal most blue based control decks will end up diluting their decks a little to compensate where as the BRW version does not need to. This means it has a very high average card power level.

One of the present main benefits of going for a deck in these colours is the fact that you will get more powerful late picks and better dual lands due to it being an uncommon selection of colour combinations. Although BR, BW and BR do get played they tend to be aggressive decks and so when you are sharing dual lands and gold cards with others won't take as many of your cards as they otherwise might. This benefit always balances itself out over time as people become aware of the archetypes potential and so cannot always be relied upon as a good reason to play the deck.

Is this enough to make it tier one? Having only built a deck like this the once recently it is impossible to say, it looks like it is capable of holdings its own against anything a cube can throw at you and performed well on its only outing so far. I suspect it will perform very similarly to the rock over time being able to beat anything based on build but very difficult to tune appropriately. A solid all round deck with a very close to 50/50 matchups across the board.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Top 10 Lists: Equipment

Edit 1/10/2015
This list is getting rather wildly outdated and so I have redone it better here:

This is quite an easy list as there is not much equipment, it is all quite similar in function and there is a large spread of power levels. Equipment is very hard to balance as it is brutal in non cube limited formats and far less powerful in any given constructed format. In any form of cube artifact removal is much more abundant and found in maindecks frequently. Also creatures are so powerful that tempo is of real importance in cube, both of which facts make equipment less powerful in cube. This is not to say that all equipment is weak as the early attempts at design were often over powered and not just for limited. What it does mean is that there is very sparse choice of top grade equipment that is almost always going to be a great bonus for your deck. If you do not get the choice equipment then you have to have your equipment fulfilling a specific role for the dregs to be viable.

10. Mortarpod
9.   Lightening Greaves
8.   Loxodon Warhammer
7.   Batterskull
6.   Sword of War and Peace
5.   Cranial Plating
4.   Bonesplitter
3.   Sword of Fire and Ice
2.   Skullclamp
1.   Umezawa's Jitte

Umezawa's Jitte
Starting with the cream there should be little argument as to my top two bits of equipment. The ordering of them however could be called into question and so I shall attempt to justify. Jitte is my number one choice as it and a guy win games and solve countless problems while Skullclamp needs a little more going on to become absurd. Jitte is actually slightly weaker tempo initially than the Sword of This and That cycle despite being cheaper to play. This is because it requires an attack to charge and offers no stats or protection without any charge. Once you get it on the go charging however it is very hard to be losing especially against a creature based deck. Any tempo you may have lost early in the game trying to get Jitte into play, equipped and charged will quickly return with interest. The reason Jitte is unpopular is also the reason it is so powerful and that is because it is near impossible to beat it when active if you are using guys. Against a Sword you can race and it is only difficult to block the dork with the sword, you can even get dorks which will hold off a Sworded up dork indefinitely. None of these things are possible against Jitte which can keep life stable, save counters to always have the biggest dork when required and use its removal to ensure blocking anywhere is really unfavourable. You either have to be stupidly far ahead, kill every single dork they have now and for the rest of time or kill the Jitte to beat it if you plan to win with dorks. In contrast the Jitte is not as good against most control decks than your average Sword and often too slow and useless against combo decks. Despite this is it still one of the best equips against those kinds of decks, it is equipment in general that is less exciting. With creature decks also being the bulk of archetypes Jitte will just auto win you an awful lot of games. It has the Strip Mine or Hymn to Tourach effect of a quick and unfair victory.

I much prefer the way that Skullclamp works and affects games to Jitte. It is more interesting to build around and has far more interesting choices when it comes to using it. It also rarely ends a game that was even in short order, it takes a while to build up an advantage using the Clamp. Clamp is also not as polarised as Jitte as to what it excels against. Beating control is its strongest matchup but it is good against agro and combo as well by virtue of being so cheap and easy to use. The few extra damage you can get in with it with mana you have spare against combo is often enough to win the game and is far more likely to be used and impact a game than more expensive equips. Skullclamp is a card not unlike Maze of Ith in that it can be very powerful if used correctly, or it can be misused to the point of throwing the match. It is oh so tempting to turn every one toughness dork you have into cards and then set to work chump blocking and so forth to turn your bigger dorks into yet more cards. Lots of cards is great but one must always be mindful of tempo. Trading your board position for card advantage is always a situational call to make and there are no hard rules about how to use Clamp most effectively. The best general advice I can offer is that when you are the aggressive player you should use it to add damage to attacks and provide a disincentive to removal on your best threats, when you are the control player you are more able to Clamp off a few weenies to fill up your hand and use the Clamp to stall efficiently with Clamperd chump blockers. The trickier bit of this is working out which player you actually are, especially as the mere presence of Skullclamp on the board might change you from the aggressor to the control player. Skullclamp is never a bad card to play if you have a high enough creature count, the cheaper the better. It is very difficult to beat in a war of attrition and has lots of great synergy in archetypes all over the cube. Equipment is generally there to give you reach, it also kind of increases your card quality by making each potential dork drawn to be far better. The drawback of the equipment is in loss of tempo and less smooth draws and curving out. The more reach and card quality you get from your equipment the more awkward it makes your draws and the bigger risk to savage tempo loss you get on the whole. Skullclamp is the exception to this rule as it offers the card quality and reach in a completely different way to all other playable equipment and is therefore able to be costed the same as the safest of equipment. A highly powerful and greatly undercosted equipment that is up there with Jitte on all accounts except that it doesn't just auto win games.
Sword of Fire and Ice
Now we move onto the next level of power for equipment which is a big step down from Jitte and Clamp but still very powerful in cube play. Sword of Fire and Ice is the best sword by quite a long way. Both effects are always good and generally able to work towards a common goal. No other sword really manages  this. The protection colours are always good but obviously depend on matchup as to how good they are relative to the other options from Swords. A little bit clunky to get on line this poor mans Jitte does still get the job done and is a great thing to curve into as one of your last plays. An active Sword of Fire and Ice and some guys is usually enough to win most games.
Bonesplitter is one of the more underrated equipments as its impact is small compared to the other big names. As with assessing any magic card the first thing to do is look at the cost an equipments have two costs to consider. On both accounts Bonesplitter has a delightful cost, if you consider that it does about as much as a Sword if blocked yet it is 40% of the total mana. Splitter allows you to be very mana efficient and very aggressive, it is the best tempo equipment by quite a long way simply because you are never really losing additional tempo to any disruption or removal. In many ways it is a poor mans Rancor however it does have some synergy, safety and playability advantages over Rancor and does very much the same thing. I love it in white weenie, I think it is generally the best equipment you can play in red deck wins and I am a huge fan of it in blue critter decks which typically have lots of very lower power, and sometimes evasive, dorks kicking around. This does what you want equipment to do and it does it both safely and quickly which is more often what you want than sheer power of effect.
Cranial Plating
Cranial Plating is the first anomaly on the list as it is a very situational card. When in the right deck it is the best equipment however it is unplayable in most decks. There are only about four archetypes which can effectively use Plating and at present in my cube none of them can be drafted as so many of the required cards are in the B and C cubes. It is hard to rank a card that is incomparable in use to others, especially when it oscillates between the most powerful and unplayable. I have put it in at 5th because it has seen more play than those below it and for no other reason, it may soon however be overtaken in current playtime by Sword of War and Peace and Batterskull who are a bit too new to have meaningful statistics for.

Sword of War and PeaceSword of War and Peace is the second best Sword in the cube but it is much closer to the third best than it is Fire and Ice in power. The proc is unpredictable and very narrow and while both damage and life are quite all round good things to have they are at complete cross purpose to one another making one half of the proc of very minor benefit every time. Often enough in cube this will be a must block as it easily kills in two hits against a fairly full hand and it is for this reason, all be it an unreliable one, that this is the number two choice of Sword. It has a touch of the Cranial Plating to it!
Batterskull is powerful and far less dangerous for tempo loss than a lot of equips and certainly all of the more expensive ones. Despite its relative safety it is still a very clunky card that is hard to play without access to a lot of mana (or a Stoneforge Mystic but more on that later...). This makes it very weak in many of the more aggressive decks which would be better of investing the initial mana in a dork or a planeswalker which then won't need further mana investments and will likely have more of an immediate impact on the board. What would you rather cast in in a beatdown deck: Baneslayer Angel/Wolfir Silverheart or Batterskull? For the mana you are going to be in a better position from making and equipping a Sword than you are from just flopping down the Batterskull. Where this does have application over other equipment is in control decks, particularly those with low creature counts. In such decks it is a recursive threat that can easily stabilize a board. Generally however control decks tend to play a higher count of threats thus not needing to opt for the recursion of Batterskull at a cost of lower power for the mana. Why play Batterskull and some generic control filler when you can load up on Wurmcoils, Titans and planeswalkers? Being a colourless threat is nice as he can be widely played and it does make him excel in artifact mana ramp decks where finding coloured mana or card advantage is tough but just having stupid amounts of colourless mana is no problem. As previously mentioned Stoneforge Mystic is highly abusive with Batterskull as it is one of the most playable high cost equips thus making the most mana saving on Stoneforge's second ability. Despite it being weak in aggressive decks as I previously mentioned the synergy with Stoneforge makes it a frequent player for white weenie decks.
Loxodon Warhammer
Loxodon Warhammer is the honorary third Sword, it is clunkier and riskier but is more direct in purpose than the various non-red swords not in this list. The lifelink helps to stabilize for any tempo you might lose through getting the hammer equipped and the trample ensures you will be able to take full effect of the stats boost. When all you want is a way to make any given dork a serious threat then the Warhammer is about as good as you can get at the top end in terms of value. Certainly the other Swords do more and are a bit cheaper but what they do is random and situational, often enough a Vulshock Morningstar is doing the same. That is never the case with Warhammer which is very much in the 3rd rung of power in terms of cube equipment but gets the job done. It is the other end of the scale to Bonesplitter in that they are direct, no thrills equipment with good creature boosts for the mana. Splitter is the cheapest you can go and Warhammer is about as expensive as it is ever worth going in this kind of role. It is worth noting that all the Swords not featured in this list are powerful enough for the cube and would likely be played more than things like Lightening Greaves and Mortapod which are purely utility equipment, if it were not for the existence of Jitte, Warhammer and so forth. This is another way of saying that the cube only supports a bit of equipment in any given role. The ones dedicated to just beefing up your guys are more spoiled for choice and so make the top ten list not entirely reflective of absolute power level as some weaker equipment sees more play than the powerful but undesirable Swords.
Lightning Greaves
Lightening Greaves are falling a little out of favour as there are better ways of doing one of Greaves jobs. Spellskite, Mother of Runes, Kira and so forth are much better ways of protecting your dorks which was often a reason to call on Greaves previously. It remains one of the best ways to give your dorks haste but at a cost of two  for no immediate impact the loss of a proactive two drop is too much to make it viable in any weenie deck. A card and two mana is just a little on the steep side for most midrange decks to get excited about hasting up its dorks. The most common home for Greaves is in big artifact ramp decks where it vastly speeds up the effect of Metalworker into a threat while being of benefit as a protection for your few high vale threats. A fairly weak equipment that is quite unlike most of the others played in cube, both for its equip cost and its one off effect on dorks. You want it in play first not last as you do with something like a Sword so it is an awful late game top deck. When you really want haste and have no way to get Anger in the bin with mountains in play Greaves tends to be the best option (sometimes Concordant Crossroads is better in something like an elf deck). Certainly less powerful than all the Swords and probably a whole bunch of other equipment like Basalisk Collar, Grafted Wargear, Bonehoard, Manriki Gurasi and so forth yet still sees more play. Manriki might be the best equipment against other equipment but it is still worse than most artifact removal while Greaves is still a top rate haste giver.
Mortarpod is the final card to make the cut and is very similar to Greaves in being low power with niche applications. It is great for blue, white and green weenie decks that typically lack ways to deal with critters, especially those cheap annoying ones like Grim Lavamancer. It is also a great sacrifice outlet should you desire such a thing, which I find crops up surprisingly often in one way or another. Both Mortarpods costs are high given the power of the effects however the bonus germ does a vast amount to stem any tempo loss. I frequently find myself wanting another piece of equipment in a deck to make my Stoneforge stronger or because I am bad and am trying to get value out of a Puresteel Paladin... As filler equipment this is also very appealing as it is quite cheap, does not eat into your creature count and is kind of removal rather than typical equipment. The stats buff is rarely worth the mana and so like Clamp you are often condemning anything you equip to an early demise. While Greaves fills one niche well, Mortarpod occupies three niches a little tenuously; it is harmless filler equipment, it is a sacrifice outlet and it is a pinger.