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The Web of War

The Web of War

Every Commander release has its oddball cards. The unique cards. The cards that seem underpowered until you build around them. The 5/5 for 3BRG spider cards. Okay, that last one was a bit more specific, but Thantis, the Warweaver is easily one of the more challenging Commanders in C18 to design a deck around. Thantis has an interesting skill set designed to make combat matter for everyone. No creature is safe from the Warweaver. Everything must attack if able, and if a creature attacks you, Thantis grows larger. Everything about the phrase “legendary spider Commander” screams playing a bunch of large-toughness creatures that muck up the ground, but to me that doesn’t bring out Thantis’s full potential. We want to force people to attack each other and punish them if they decide to go after us. Presenting a board state of blockers does a great job of dissuading opponents from attacking us, but I feel like it also minimizes the impact of Thantis’s ability to grow when we’re attacked.

 

The way I’ve gone about building Thantis is the classic Turbo Fog route. Showing the table that we’re wide open can be an inviting proposition to attack, which in turn makes Thantis get massive. Once an opponent is baited into swinging out, we simply play one of the various Fog effects to prevent all combat damage, thus rendering their attack useless while we reap the benefits of our Commander’s abilities. All it takes is to do it once and for as long as we present open mana, it will encourage our opponents to attack each other before falling for the trap again. 

As such, we need not only a variety of cheap Fog effects, but several effects that can either be used repeatedly or have additional bonuses. For example, Dawnstrider and Constant Mists are terrific means of repeatedly stopping combat, and the knowledge that an attack on you will just get blanked can send attacks in other directions. Cards like Blunt the Assault, Respite, and Arachnogenesis are single-use effects, but have other abilities that keep us in the game by either gaining us a ton of life or creating an army of tokens. Furthermore, Tangle can create interesting political situations by keeping a player’s creatures tapped down for a turn, thus rendering them helpless against attacks from everyone else.

To further hammer home the “come at me if you dare” nature of Thantis, we can include several prison cards to force people into attacking certain ways. Smoke is an excellent tool that also works well with Thantis’s vigilance as it can keep entire board states tapped down for multiple turns. After a while the table gets locked down and only a single creature is able to attack, and by that point Thantis will usually be so large that it can fend off any attacker. Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs, Koskun Falls, and Elephant Grass are adept at steering attackers away from you by forcing them to pay mana to attack, while Thaumatic Compass and Maze of Ith can shut down singular threats that manage to squeak past your defenses while enchantments like Marchesa’s Decree and Hissing Miasma punish people for swinging wide at you. Finally, War’s Toll is a fantastic way to dictate how your opponents get to play by making them tap out every time they tap a land, thus preventing any plays from happening during different phases.

The last thing we need to include are ways to give our opponents creatures so that they always have things to attack each other with. Goblin Spymaster, Rite of the Raging Storm, and Akroan Horse are great at doing this turn after turn, and the inclusion of Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor and Varchild’s War-Riders can force the issue even further by giving them tokens that can never attack you. Lastly, Xantcha, Sleeper Agent is an absolute blast to play since it can be used in a joint effort to whittle down a single player’s life total while drawing cards for everyone that activates her.

Jund has never really been a traditional prison colour combination, but given the unique design of Thantis, the Warweaver, we finally have the option of adapting the playstyle without the need for Blue or White. This is the perfect deck for players that like to play kingmaker and take control of how the game plays out by forcing their opponents into certain lines of play. Being able to effortlessly switch gears from “group hug giving everyone tokens” to “attack me and die” is something most prison decks lack, and at the end of the day, you still get the added bonus of playing with a gigantic aggro spider as a Commander. This deck is all about making opponents miserable with one of the lesser hyped Commanders in the set, and while it’s not as flashy as a new planeswalker, it’s important to give cards like Thantis a shot because they often turn out to be much more enjoyable than at first glance.