Maximum Spider!

maximum spider

by Jackson Haime

We couldn’t really decide on a deck name. It is filled with spiders and want to avoid a ‘cheesy’ names, so we went with a geeky one. Not sure how many of you were playing in the arcades back in the day, but there was a game that revolutionized things quite a bit after the Street Fighter sequels: Marvel Superheroes.

It featured gorgeous artwork and familiar controls and gave us insane super moves to use when we maxed out our ‘Super’ bar. Also, you got to see how the different Infinity Gems affected your character. One of the character’s Super Moves (Spider-Man, of course) was named: Maximum Spider!

Now back to Magic Land:

Sometimes in Magic there are -for lack of a better word- ‘magic moments’. These are the moments where you stare down at a card and realize a combo or figure out the way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Alternatively, it can be the moment when you decide that you are going to build a deck. A ridiculous deck, the kind of deck that makes decent players scoff, good players laugh, and dare I say it: something that sometimes actually works.

I feel like this article will only be interesting if I feature one of those last moments. Nobody wants to read about me winning a draft when I pulled three Pack Rats.

Pack Rat

God those things are annoying!

Of course, sometimes in Magic you do have an idea that is so ridiculous that you need to keep it a secret when the cards are in the mail. Then one day walk up to your play group with your shiny new cards and ask : “Anyone want to play my Spider Deck?”

No, that isn’t a typo! A spider deck, a deck entirely made of spiders.

60 cards all consisting of those creepy, crawly, eight-legged hell spawns (Not literally Hell Spawn, those are Devils and Demons). When I pitched this deck to one of my friends, he gave me a decklist in a heart beat:  it consisted entirely of Changelings. I mean, they are all technically spiders. Right?

No.

I was going to go legitimate! If it wasn’t a spider creature I was not going to put it in the deck.

This quest started a while back during my Magic debut , which actually wasn’t that long ago. I finally had my own collection. It was at this time that I found a card while looking through my friend’s collection : Arachnus Spinner.

Arachnus Spinner

Tap an untapped spider you control to put an Arachnus Web onto the field?

Arachnus Web

Very flavorful! Yum!

You get to lock down creatures at instant speed for relatively free. As long as you have Arachnus Spinner and other spiders in play. That being said, in the recent sets the spiders haven’t exactly made themselves prevalent enough to be a tribe. With only 5 spider creatures being in standard, there isn’t enough ‘meat’ here to make it a flexible deck. Not only that, but Arachnus Spinner didn’t get reprinted in Magic 2013 (which is a travesty, at least in my mind).

So we aren’t aiming for a Standard deck, that much is true.

Still, how do you pull off a strong enough spider deck? They all have reach (good luck flyers), and both of the Recluses have deathtouch. They suffer from some serious problems as a tribe. Spiders as a whole are sinfully expensive, even the final deck has a curve that starts at 2 mana . The rest are 4-5 drops on average. This is because of the classic Magic adage that abilities add to the overall mana cost. Every single spider has the ability of reach causing their mana cost to go up. How often would you look at a 2/4 for 4  and throw that into the deck?

Giant Spider

Even the great Garruk does not seem enthusiastic that Giant Spider beat out Giant Growth in M12 as the most recurring card.

The second problem with the spiders is that they are strapped when it comes to attack. Until you cast the fearsome Arachnus Spinner, you aren’t seeing much above 2 power. You aren’t going to be trading creatures, you are going to be blocking again and again until they can break the dam (Or web if you will). Doesn’t that sound like control? This is mono-green folks, control isn’t really an option.

“So what, just whip out a spider lord!” I hear you sscream loudly at your computer screen. To which I will respond: “There isn’t any!”

“Go home, Adaptive Automaton, you are not a spider!”

adaptive lord

“What? How dare you?” – Arachnus Automaton

Really expensive to cast, mosquito bite-ized power, eight creepy-crawly legs. I’ve really built up this spider tribal idea haven’t I? Well, sometimes you have to take on a challenge.

24 Creatures

4 Deadly Recluse

4 Kessig Recluse

4 Arachnus Spinner

4 Penumbra Spider

2 Silklash Spider

4 Blightwidow

2 Sentinel Spider

16 Other Spells

4 Arachnus Web

2 Spider Spawning

2 Cultivate

2 Rampant Growth

4 Descendant’s Path

Urban Burgeoning

20 Land

4 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood

Forest

4 Swarmyard

4 Vesuva

Rise my spiders, rise! It’s ALIVE!

Sorry about that, but there it is. A fully built, working, and actually powerful spider deck. The majority of the cards are perfectly on theme.(I took some leeway for the mana ramp and Descendant’s Path) and somehow, someway this deck wins. Sure, when playing modern the stars are going to have to align for it to take down any sort of web (internet, not as in spider web) deck, but it can win and here is how it does it:

Some of the components are more obvious than others. Of course, I’m speaking of how I remedied the entire “expensive” problem. That is what all of the spells in the deck are for. Working with the mana ramp in order to gain an advantage  is one of the biggest factors for this deck. Sure, you’re not going to be using mana dorks to summon Craterhoof. If you are willing to forgo some of the showmanship, the deck would be improved by a few of the little guys, but the point is that you are working with completely spiders and able to drop down your biggest creatures by turn 5. Which is good, because in an all spiders deck the Spinner being dropped before the opponent can get a lot of big creatures out is game.

The second component of this deck is the Descendants’ Path. Of course this is going to be somewhat broken in a tribal deck. There is a reason that it has a 3.9 rating on the Wizards’ website. In this deck though? Oh god is it fun. As it was said before, the Spiders are all really expensive, but there is a reason for that. Sure you aren’t using Eldrazi spawn to summon an Emrakul, but using a Deadly Recluse to fetch a free 2/7 Silklash Spider? Only to follow it by having open mana to cast another spider? Well, that’s just fantastic. Getting this card out as fast as possible is the KEY to winning with this deck, it simply isn’t happening through hard casting.

By the way, looking at the top four cards of your deck and popping out every spider that shows up? That’s fun. (It’s happened with this deck before).

The creatures in the deck are overall pretty unsurprising. The recluses come in for the sake of the deathtouch, the Penumbra Spider can die twice (first time it goes to the graveyard and you get a token), the Silklash gives you some offence for once, Sentinel is a versatile attacker or defender and the Spinner is the leader of the group. The only creature that is somewhat out of place is the Blightwidow, as it is an infect creature.

It’s there because it basically has wither, I’m not playing infect because… well, everyone hates infect.

Meanwhile the lands of this deck are pretty staple as well as long as you are playing spiders. In reality the decklist should just say “8 Swarmyards. (Though if you are really strapped for forests you can clone one with the Vesuva. What does Swarmyard do? It allows you to tap it to regenerate a spider, insect, rat, or squirrel.

Swarmyard

Just when you thought the little guys were down and out

I have played some weird casual decks, but squirrel tribal is not one of them. I have played against a standard birds deck though.

Of course, overall Swarmyard is a pretty niche card, there is a reason it’s a mere 2.99. This deck is the definition of that niche. Unless they are taking down your spiders 2-3 at a time, you can give them immortality as long as you are willing to leave some land untapped.

Alternatively we can take another usually poor card and turn it into a powerhouse. I am taking about the  Urban Burgeonings that are in the deck. If we attach this to one of our Swarmyards, we are suddenly able to regenerate a spider both on our turn and the opponent’s turn. Hello immortal-deathouch-reach blocker nice to meet you!

The most recent addition to the deck in terms of land: Oran-rief the Vastwood is pretty cool. It can make our Spider Spawning a little more impressive by making our little guys into 2/3’s instead of measly 1/2’s. It also just beefs up all our creatures and works really well in multiples. It’s not like you will be casting many spiders on turn 1 or 2, so why not just drop in some lands that come into play tapped. It costs nothing to activate either. Think of it as a small ‘kicker’ cost for all your eight-legged friends.

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood

Well worth it in any casual green-based deck.

Its affordable price tag is another reason for its inclusion.

So, I’m sitting behind a wall of spiders that can keep aggro creatures at bay for a few turns and I’m fairly resilient to burn ( Anything past the Deadly Recluse is going to take more than one Searing Spear to take down), but you can’t win a game by sitting back and waiting for your opponent to win. You are eventually going to have to move in for the kill. It’s not easy seeing as you are paying 5 mana for creatures with a measly 2 power, but if you ever have watched the Discovery Channel, you know something about spiders:

They kill their prey once they have them caught in their web.

A nice little suggestion for the deck is Wolfhunter’s Quiver.

Wolfhunter's Quiver

We’ll be killing more than just Werewolves with this little bad boy!

As you probably already guess it: it works wonders with Deathtouch and Infect. While sitting back on our spider wall, we can ping away poison counters at the opponent or allow our spiders to take down creature after creature so we can eventually let our swarm through. A great thing to do if you have the extra mana is to ping something with Recluse then equip to another Deadly Recluse or Kessig Recluse to ping again. Don’t forget to swap this thing from spider to spider. If anything it will allow you to just Shock the opponent each turn to slowly grind him out. I would maybe cut 2 Descendant’s Path for it.

The end game always looks very similar with this deck, it’s not a matter of sitting back and slowly chipping away at their life, it’s a matter of locking down their creatures suddenly upon getting out the Spinner (You tap other spiders, no summoning sickness on fetch) and sinking your fangs into a suddenly defenceless opponents.

Let Descendants’ Path keep bringing in the forces as you tap the weaker spiders and strike. Maybe drop a Spider Spawning for good measure. The lack of good spiders within any given set is what made Arachnus Spinner into a mediocre card, but in a dedicated spider deck he has granted you something that the opponent never expected: monogreen removal. At 6 mana,in a tribal deck this 5/7 with a game winning ability is comically undercosted.

Descendants' Path

If you can use Descendants’ Path to get him out for free? Well then it is just a joke.

So go forth, use the spider deck and crush your opponents. Sure, even with all of the work that went into the deck and the synergy that makes the Spinner a game ender, it’s not going to win every time. The battleground that is modern, or even casual, is fraught with dangers. That being said, when you do win (and it won’t be as rare as you think) you can say this:

I won, with a spider deck.”

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