Ishkanah, Broodmother | Alchemy: Innistrad
6, Jun, 23

MTG’s Most Terrifying Tribal Deck Just Got a New Commander!

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When sitting down for a game of Commander, there are a lot of scary tribal MTG decks that you can face. Seeing someone with The Ur-Dragon as their commander, for instance, is usually a sign you’re going to have a bad time. Alternatively, some commanders can be literally terrifying just to look at. This is certainly the case for tooltips]Ishkanah, Grafwidow[/tooltips], provided that you suffer from arachnophobia.

Thankfully for spider-hating MTG players, this niche tribal deck historically hasn’t been very good. Unfortunately, however, that appears to be about to change. Arriving in The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, Spider Tribal is getting a brand new commander. For better or worse, this new arachnid is seriously strong. So much so, in fact, that Spider Tribal could become a rather potent pet deck for players to enjoy. 

Shelob, Child of Ungoliant

Shelob, Child of Ungoliant | The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth
Ishkanah, Broodmother | Alchemy: Innistrad

As one of the many perils faced by Sam and Frodo during their jaunt to Mordor, there are no prizes for guessing that Shelob is the newly-spoiled spider in question. In fact, considering they were teased by Mark Rosewater weeks ago this spoiler has been a long time coming. For the set, Shelob has been envisioned as Shelob, Child of Ungoliant and they are truly terrifying. 

Not only is Shelob a massive beast that’s sure to trigger arachnophobes, but they’re also rather powerful. More than doing enough to claim the spot as the best arachnid commander, Shelob has a trio of powerful abilities. As you can see above, she protec, she attack, and she turn the opponent’s creatures into snacc. 

Five-year-old memes aside, Shelob, Child of Ungoliant is a tribal card well worth getting excited about. After all, they do absolutely blow the competition out of the water. Currently, the most compelling choice for a spider Commander deck is Ishkanah, Grafwidow. While this spider can effectively drain an opponent’s life, they’ve got nothing on Shelob. 

Within Ishkanah decks, the other spiders you play are mostly just there to facilitate the life drain. There are still some powerful cards, of course, however, going wide is the best strategy. Within Shelob decks, however, each measly spider is turned into a serious threat thanks to getting Deathtouch. 

As if that wasn’t enough already, if one of your spiders kills an opponent’s creature, you’ll steal it! Well… You get to steal a Food Token version of it, but that token will at least still have abilities. Should you kill something like Devoted Druid, this will allow you to generate infinite mana! If that’s not satisfying enough, however, you can just eat your opponent’s creatures! 

Spider Tribal Is Good Now? 

Like many existing tribal MTG decks, Spider Tribal has a lot of compelling synergies to entice players into their web. The best example of this, at the moment, is Curse of Clinging Webs. On its own, this card heavily synergizes with Shelob and their Deathtouch granting abilities. Essentially providing unlimited lethal chump blockers, it’s hard not to be enticed by this combo. If that’s not enough, however, Arachnogenesis offers a similarly synergistic suite of blockers!

Alongside more niche interactions, Spider Tribal is rather potent at token generation. Through cards such as Astara of the Endless Web and Rotwidow Pack, it’s fairly easy to flood the board with spiders. Combine this token generation with Doubling Season and honorary arachnid Craterhoof Behemoth and you can easily swing in for the win. Alternatively, three attacks from Shelob will also do the job!

Unfortunately, however, as interesting as this wide strategy can be, Spider Tribal still isn’t exactly the best MTG deck out there. Currently, by popularity, it’s only the 46th-best tribe in Magic. Susceptible to board wipes and lacking any lords, Spider decks really need a deterrent like Deathtouch. Thankfully, Shelob is now able to provide this, however, they’re still susceptible to the countless board wipes in Commander. 

Ultimately, while Spider Tribal does have some interesting synergy, it can hardly compare to the might of Dragon or Elf Tribal decks. To do that, the deck would need a lot more lords and spells that care about casting spiders. Thankfully, there’s a chance that some of these will appear in The Lost Caverns of Ixalan given its dank aesthetic. That, however, is just hope talking, as the set will be predominantly focused on merfolk and treasure hunting. 

Bad? Maybe. Fun? Absolutely!

Arasta of the Endless Web | Theros Beyond Death
Arasta of the Endless Web | Theros Beyond Death

At the end of the day, like many tribes, Spider Tribal may never be the best of the best. That being said, however, it can still be a thoroughly enjoyable deck to play. Shelob, Child of Ungoliant, certainly makes sure of that. Being a new option with practically no downside outside of its casting cost, Shelob deservedly has players excited. On Reddit, players were keen to share exactly that when reacting to the recent spoiler.

“Coolest card in the set. Anyone who disagrees is a Food token and loses all other card types.”


“I kept reading for a downside, didn’t find one lol. It’s in the exclusive ‘3-hit Commander Damage Kill’ club” 




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