I did state that I think SoBaM is the worst of the five. My point is that the worst of a very powerful cycle isn't nearly as bad as people think.
Worst-case scenario mentality is just as dangerous as best-case scenario. The worst-case for SoFaF is they discard something like Jin-Gitaxis and are holding instant speed reanimation for it. Best-case scenario is always attacking because you assume you're opponent never has removal; this is bad. Worst-case is never attacking because you assume you're opponent always has removal; this is also bad. They should definitely be considered, but cards should largely be judged based on average-case scenario. If a card can win me 1% of games out of nowhere, that's a definite plus, but what I care about most is how it performs in a majority of games.
First though, let's look at the actual best and worst cases for SoBaM.
- The worst-case scenario would be a combo deck whose last missing piece is the 10th card in their deck, they're holding the correct type of recursion to get it, they had no way to tutor for it, no one had any answers, and someone would have had an answer when the combo deck drew it normally and the combo deck would have had no protection. In that scenario, you lose the game because of the sword.
- The best-case scenario would be a combo deck whose last missing piece is the 1st card in their deck, and they're not holding the correct type of recursion to get it, and they don't have a way to tutor for that recursion or enough mana to do it all, and no one had any answers. In that scenario, the sword stopped you from losing.
Both of these can happen, but it's not going to be often. The real measure of a card is the average-case, so what is it for SoBaM?
- You hit them and mill 10 cards. Over the course of the game they recur 2-5 of those cards while 5-8 of them remain in the graveyard effectively gone. That's a fair average case.
Now I want to address the downsides of SoBaM. First, it does not give the opponent card advantage, it might give them card selection. It doesn't cause Reanimate to pick up two creatures, it just gives them more choices as to which creature to pick up. It's the difference between "Scry 1" and "Draw 1". Scry is still good, but it's not as powerful as drawing.
The counter argument to this is "What if they have a way to pick up multiple cards from the grave, then they can get CA". This is true, but the result would be the same if you don't hit them with the sword and they have a spell to draw multiple cards. More decks have the ability to draw multiple cards at once than recur multiple cards at once.
As for the general idea that putting cards into an opponent's grave is always bad, due to cards such as Sun Titan, Reveillark, Volrath's Stronghold, Genesis, etc, every single card with the word "Destroy" on it has that weakness. You could make the argument that Damnation is a bad card because the opponent could just pick up those creatures.
No one would make that argument though, despite the fact that I'm sure many a Damantion has been followed by a recursion spell. This is because even if they do recur some or all of those creatures, you made them spend time, mana, and cards to do so; you gained an advantage. This is the same for SoBaM.
Yes, they may recur cards, but you're forcing them to spend time, mana, and resources to do it, you are getting an advantage.
Just to reiterate, I think SoBaM is the worst of the sword cycle. Personally I'd rank them:
SoFaI > SoFaF > SoLaS > SoWaP > SoBaM
The whole point of my argument is that "worst" needs to be taken in context. Mox Emerald is often considered the worst of the P9, but it's still insanely broken. SoBaM is the worst of the swords cycle, by a good bit, but it's still an incredibly strong cycle of equipment. I wouldn't add it to a deck that didn't already have the other four swords, but if your deck wants it you will not be disappointed.
Sometimes cards get far more praise than they deserve, and sometimes they get far more hate than they deserve. SoBaM is nowhere near the best cards out there, but it is a lot better than it ever gets credit for.
My big issue with Body and Mind is that typically the mill is unpredictable at best. Maybe you hit someone's game ending bomb when they have no way to get it back, but there's an equal chance that you just mill out 10 cards of chaff and get them closer to the same card. That makes it a useless effect to me. At worst, you let them pull out a 1-mana It That Betrays or something. I've never made such heavy use of my opponents' GY that it was a worthwhile risk. I'm not completely opposed to running the card, but there are a lot of other equipment cards I would include first.
I think War and Peace is underrated by a lot of people. I'll play it as my only Sword from time to time, and frequently as one of two alongside Fire and Ice. The damage can add up really quickly and the lifegain is not insignificant. It's better than Feast and Famine in a deck that just wants to bring opponents to 0 as fast as possible.
EDH decks don't generally have chaff; every card in there is one the deckbuilder wanted. I know I'd personally consider my deck to have a problem if I could name 10 cards I didn't care if I lost.
As for getting a bomb out of it, they'd have gotten that anyway. If you mill them, they might reanimate a bomb. If you don't, they'll draw it, cast it, still have that reanimation spell for later, plus get to use the other 9 cards.
The argument of "then they can just play all the stuff from their grave" assumes that decks have absurd amount of recursion in them, but recursion spells are finite. How many do you play in your average deck? 3? 5? 7? Probably not 10 or more unless you're a dedicated reanimator, which means some number of cards you wanted to play are effectively removed from the game. Even in colors with strong reanimation, like black, it's limited. They're probably not picking up their Phyrexian Arena, or their Demonic Tutor, or their Caged Sun, etc.
The other argument is they get access to cards they wouldn't have seen otherwise. Personally, I rarely see a deck patiently waiting to draw the cards it wants. EDH is "Tutor: the Gathering". If instead of being able to go Demonic Tutor -> Creature, they now have to go Demonic Tutor -> Reanimation Spell -> Creature, I just effectively 2 for 1'd them. Sure if they have a reanimation spell in hand they get the creature back, but that still reduces the effectiveness of the spell, giving one use of the creature instead of two. And if they don't have the spell, it delays them getting that creature until they find one, instead of being able to just cast it.
Normally people fall in to the trap of only seeing best-case scenarios, but for some reason this card does the opposite; people only see the absolute worst possible situations, where every time you mill Mike+Trike and they have two reanimation spells in hand.
I've played with this sword a lot, versus decks that do run plenty of ways to return stuff from the grave. It hurts them a lot more than it helps. Give it a try, I think you'll be surprised.
Just want to comment on Body and Mind. I agree it's the worst of the swords, but it's nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be.
The usual argument is that it helps the people you hit with it more than it hurts them, but that's rarely the case. Sure, most EDH decks have some way to access the graveyard, but unless it's a dedicated graveyard deck, almost none have the ability to use every card in their grave, or even most.
They might reanimate a creature, or pick up a spell, but the other 9 cards you milled are often just out of the picture. As for the ones they do return, they've now gotten less uses out of them. Instead of casting that great creature, it eventually dying, then bringing it right back, they have to use reanimation to just get it once. Instead of getting two uses out of some powerful spell, they have to spend a card and extra mana just to get a single use.
For a long time I'd also been in line with the thought that SoBaM does more harm than good, but then I tried it out. It removes resources far more often than it grants them.