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In Munchkin, can you equip an Item even if its bonus doesn't immediately apply. For example, if I'm an elf, can I equip the Bad-Ass Bandana as headgear? The strategy would be to remain an elf as long as possible for the race benefits, but if I come to a point where the bandana's +3 bonus makes the difference between defeating a monster or not, I would discard the race so that I become human, causing the bandana's bonus to apply to me.

The rules say, "Items that are actually giving you a bonus are 'equipped.'" That would seem to indicate that I cannot equip the bandana while an elf. But it also implies that if an Item stops giving a bonus, it immediately becomes unequipped.

However, if changing whether a bonus applies also changes the equipped status, it creates an appearant contradiction in the rules. "You may not alter the status of your Items during a combat". Yet discarding a class during combat that stops an Item from giving a bonus causes me to (indirectly) alter the Item's status to unequipped.

An example in the rules that may help sort this out is, "the Mace of Sharpness can only be wielded by a Cleric." The word "wielded" seems to be a specific way of saying "equipped". It seems that the intent is that you can only equip Items that you can use, and that Items that become unusable immediately become unequipped, even during combat, even if caused by your own indirect action. The rule about not altering the status of your Items during combat seems to refer only to directly unequipping an Item.

This interpretation makes bookkeeping easier. A Item whose card is turned sideways is always unequipped and always doesn't give a bonus. Bonuses area always calculated by adding upright cards. By contrast, if there were a distinction between equipped status and providing a bonus, you'd have to double check each upright card each time to ensure the bonus actually applies.

So it seems to me that the answer to my question about equipping the Bad-Ass Bandana as an elf is no, I cannot. Is that correct? Any rules, FAQs, or other sources that provide a definitive answer?

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    For most games I would say "that's clearly the intent" and move on, but pushing the rules to their illogical extremes is the Munchkinly way. +1! Jan 4 at 7:14

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No, you cannot equip an item that you cannot use (unless you use the Cheat! card). From the FAQ:

The Cheat! card allows you to equip an Item you normally couldn't due to Class/Race/slot/etc. restrictions.

Note: By definition, an item is only considered equipped if it is giving you a bonus. From the Glossary:

Equipped – An Item that is in play and actively providing a bonus.

And from the rules:

Items that are actually giving you a bonus are “equipped.”

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