Tuesday 23 January 2024

An Ode to Giant Spider

As we all know power creep has hit magic pretty hard, with creatures being the most notably and consistently affected. Most pre-modern dorks are a joke compared to post modern ones, and most modern dorks are pretty pathetic by the standards of those in the last five years. The list of dorks that have been best, or like top 3 in cube, and then gone on to be cut because they are not good enough is real long. No spell on the other hand has been top 3 in any category then gone on to get cut for lack of power with the possible exception of Fact or Fiction.  

Now, Giant Spider has never been in the cube, but it has had many things supporting its iconic 2/4 reach body. I have had opportunity to see how this sized body performs over the years and it is frankly kind of baffling. It is somehow a card that has never been good as such, or at least never broken or over powered, while never being bad either. No one is complaining about the egregious Giant Spider! The weird part is that is doesn't seem to get much worse over time. That 2/4 reach body just puts in a good shift of work. I have splashed in limited seal deck just for Giant Spider (M10 or M11 I believe and it was just the ticket!)

The more I try and understand why the Spider is so static in regards the effects of power creep the more I feel as if it must be because the Spider is like the fulcrum, the bar, the tipping point, of sorts. If you think of the dorks in Alpha that are good it is Serra Angel and Shivan Dragon that jump out. If you think of the creatures that are bad, then it is almost everything else (as threats at least). What to the Angel and Dragon have in common? They trump a Spider. What does everything else do? Match up pretty poorly against Spider. Certainly everything at or below the mana value of Spider in Alpha is at least held by Spider. Move on to Arabian Nights and the best dorks there are Juzzam and Ernham Djinns, both of which can match the Spider. A trend!

It is that really defensive lean that makes Spider such a fair tipping point. It is hard to get past the card and thus provides a bar to get over for offensive threats, but being so defensively weighted itself it does not represent much threat and thus cannot really ever stretch into the realm of broken. It is decent on defence yes, but you can't overly leverage that because the card neither provides tempo nor value. A card like Wall of Omens is a far more useful control tool as it still does some defensive work, and while it is no where near the defensive strength of the Spider, it did cost half the mana and no cards! Giant Spider is a seemingly simple and unassuming card that is yet somehow one of the most enigmatic and well balanced creatures in the whole game. Like the eye of a storm, funny things can happen dead centre. Spider is a card that sees little to no play outside of limited and yet still feels as if it has had relevant effect on the meta. 

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