Archetune-Up – A Tangled Web We Weave

(Doran, the Siege Tower l Art by Rob Alexander)

Strand by Silken Strand

Hello, and welcome back to Archetune-Up, an article series devoted to tweaking a deck with the help of the EDHREC Theme pages!

Hello, friends! I’m back after a short break, and I’m ready to dig into more decks here on EDHREC! I planned on going to a biweekly schedule when I came back from my time off… but Halloween is my favorite time of the year, so there was no way I can pass up on the opportunity to write about some spoopy decks! I plan on creeping my way through a frightening theme each article each week through the month of October, and this fright-fest starts with Doran, the Siege Tower Spider Tribal!

Average Doran Spiders

Commander (1)
Creatures (30)
Enchantments (8)
Artifacts (5)
Sorceries (10)
Instants (10)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (35)

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Originally, I had planned to do a deck each week dedicated to the four monster tribes from Innistrad, but I thought that it would be best to save that for next year with the release of two new Innistrad sets. As such, I began to scour the Theme and Tribal pages for other scary decks to add to my ghoulish repertoire.

This is how I stumbled upon the Spider Tribal lists lead by Doran, the Siege Tower. More often than not, Spiders have higher toughness than power, which makes Doran an interesting legend to lead the tribe. On top of that, the idea of a cluster of Spiders nesting in the boughs of a gnarled, ancient Treefolk really resonated with me, and I eagerly dug into the average list EDHREC generated.


Fewer Eyes… and Legs Than Expected

First, let’s go over the creatures that I added into the deck. There were already 30 creatures in the list, and only 35 lands, so I tinkered around with the numbers a bit, and brought the lands up to 37, cut a few of the less impactful eight-legged friends, and made room for some more synergy. There was one problem though…

All of the conventionally “good” Spiders were already added into the deck, and, as such, I broke with my normal, “traditional” tribal approach. Despite my often staunch approach to only include creatures of a single type in a tribal deck, I added a couple creatures that really up the synergy of the deck, even if they aren’t Spiders, themselves.

Ikra Shidiqi, the Usurper and Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa are two cards that are astoundingly perfect for this deck. Ikra allows us to forgo this deck’s defensive playstyle, allowing our Spiders to start attacking since we will gain oodles of life when our Spiders connect with an opponent, and thus making our swarm difficult to try and race. Sidar Kondo will allow nearly all of the creatures in the deck swing in unopposed, as he makes them nigh unblockable, increasing the pressure that we can apply to our opponents. Both Ikra Shidiqi and Sidar Kondo are perfect for this deck, and were in consideration to lead this deck as Partners too! Both are awesome alternate commanders for this list, but I was a sucker for the theming and aesthetic of this deck when commanded by Doran.


What Will Our Fangs Find?

This deck has ways of pumping up our Spider’s stats, but in a deck like this where a nonzero amount of our creatures will be 1/2s and 1/3s, I wanted to make sure that there were a couple more stat-boosting cards to go around.

Sight of the Scalelords gives our toughest Spiderlings a stat boost of +2/+2 as well as vigilance, allowing them to press the offensive while letting them stay back and block if need be. Sight alos provides immediate value, triggering on each of our combats, which will let us apply pressure to the board seemingly from out of nowhere. I’m sure that there are people who see Sight as an inferior version of Dictate of Heliod, since its stat boosts are conditional, but I think that the added bonus of vigilance is definitely worth it. I wouldn’t blame anyone for choose Dictate over Sight, though, since it, too, is a great way to pump up your team and has the added ability to be utilized as a combat trick.

I consider Return of the Wildspeaker green’s best spell printed for EDH since Rishkar’s Expertise. The versatility of being either a draw spell or a pump spell is unparalleled, especially when you take into consideration that it’s an instant as well! While the draw half of this spell can be somewhat mild in this deck compared to other green decks, being able to feign massive amounts of damage when opponents don’t block a handful of 1/2 Spiders is not to be underestimated. I think that this deck goes wide enough and has enough sizable Spiders to warrant playing either mode, so I’m confident in its inclusion into the deck. Cathars’ Crusade could be another potential option for this slot if you prefer to make your team permanently stronger with counters.


Nothing if Not Resilient

Nothing worse than an unkillable arachnid, and that’s what these last cards help achieve. We want to make sure that our chitinous pals can survive whatever our opponents try and squash them with… or, at the very least, come back from the dead to torment our enemies later.

Heroic Intervention and Golgari Charm are here to protect our board from board wipes and other kill spells. Intervention does a great job at protecting our creatures since it stops everything but Cyclonic Rift and Merciless Eviction in its tracks. Conversely, Golgari Charm trades this power for versatility and provides the option of mopping up X/1s and popping problematic enchantments, while also being able to regenerate our entire suite of Spiders when necessary.

Speaking of versatility, Find//Finality is a personal favorite split card of mine. For two mana, Find can buy back two creatures from the ‘yard and pop them back to our hand, which is an effect I’ll never turn down. If that was all this card did, though, I would never include it in any deck of mine. What makes this card great is the access to the second half, Finality. Finality gives the deck a bit more teeth, buffing a creature by giving it two +1/+1 counters, and then Languishing the board for a hefty -4/-4. Being able to swap between the option of a Raise Dead and a board wipe are two powerful and different enough effects, which exactly what I want out of a split card.

The last two cards are a value engine that I try and incorporate into any Golgari-inclusive deck I play. The Spider Tribal Page included both Seasons Past and Demonic Tutor, and I couldn’t help but add them both to this list. For the uninitiated, Seasons Past, when combined with a tutor, will allow you to search it out of your deck and recast it each turn to recur a fistful of cards from your graveyard. This lets the deck keep up with stronger ones seeing as the creatures, themselves, aren’t the most efficient or threatening. Seasons Past and Demonic Tutor allows us to effectively waste all of our opponents’ removal and interaction and give us an incredibly resilient late game. Tutor is pricy, but this engine can work with any similar card. Diabolic Tutor, Beseech the Queen, Final Parting, and Razaketh’s Rite are perfectly fine substitutions, though it will up the mana needed to perform this loop by a considerable margin.


Retreat into the Darkness

As much I enjoyed this build, I do think that it’s important to point out that there is merit to utilizing the other options for Spider commanders aside from Doran, namely Ishkanah, Grafwidow and Thantis, the Warweaver.

Doran is a fantastic commander to help turn Spider’s innate defensive qualities into a offensive ones, but what can Ishkanah offer when she has one color fewer? It’s quite apprent when you look at her page: abundant token production, and another axis on which to pressure opponents’ life totals. Once Delirium is achieved, Ishkanah will enter the battlefield and immediately make a brood of three 1/2 Spiders with reach. This can be combined with Parallel Lives and Conjurer’s Closet effects to quickly grow your swarm. Her secondary ability synergizes delicious well with Wound Reflection and Archfiend of Despair, letting Ishakanah “bite” opponents for huge amounts and take chunks out of life totals without ever needing to attack.

Thantis, the Warweaver seems like an odd commander to lead a Spider deck since its main goal is to force aggression… and I won’t lie, I think that the only reason why there are Thantis Spiders lists is because Thantis is a Spider, itself. There are much better synergies with the Forced Combat Theme for Thantis than with its own tribe, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a workable Spider list for them. Sight of the Scalelords, Akroma’s Memorial, and Quest for Renewal are integral for this deck, since they’ll allow our arachnids to sit back and block after Thantis forced them to attack. Lastly, Shared Animosity and Bow of Nylea make combat miserable for opponents, forcing them to either make bad blocks or take huge chunks of damage and furthering the much more aggressive style of the deck.

Spiders are often relegated to the draft chaff piles of the world, but, with the right support, they can succeed like any other tribe… they just have more hoops that they have to jump through.

What are your thoughts on this deck? How about on Spiders or the idea of spoopy-themed lists in general? Make sure you let me know down below. Halloween season has me giddy, so I’d love to hear what you all have to say!

As always, if you’d like to reach me, I’m active on Twitter (@thejesguy), where you can always hit me up for Magic- or Jeskai-related shenanigans 24/7. Do you have any comments, questions, or concerns? Please don’t hesitate to leave them below or get in touch! Stay safe, wear your mask, go vote, and keep fighting the good fight. I support you. No justice, no peace.

Archetune-Up Doran Spiders

Commander (1)
Creatures (28)
Artifacts (5)
Sorceries (13)
Instants (9)
Planeswalkers (1)
Enchantments (6)
Lands (37)

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Angelo is a Connecticut native who started playing Magic during Return to Ravnica, and has made it his mission to play Jeskai in every format possible. With at least 20 EDH decks constructed at all times, it's an understatement to say that he loves Commander. Angelo trusts counterspells over creatures, and is still hurt by Sphinx's Revelation rotation out of Standard.