Magic 2012: Entangling Webs Review (Part 2 of 2)
It’s time to put Team Spider to the test, and today’s opponent will be Blood and Fire, the Black/Red bloodthirst deck. That deck will be piloted by Jimi, who has increasingly been finding aggressive decks more to her liking and is eager to get behind the controls of this one. We have the customary trio of matches, and as always here are our match notes.
On the play, Jimi leads us off with a Swamp, but thankfully no one-drop. I have a strong start with a Forest into a Llanowar Elves. Next turn Jimi plays a land and passes, while I send the Elves in to attack then add a Crimson Mage.
Jimi starts turning things up on turn 3, opening with a Taste of Blood to trigger bloodthirst, then summoning a Duskhunter Bat. Back to me, I bring out a Lightning Elemental and turn it sideways, sending it into the red zone and cutting Jimi down to 16. Jimi’s in fine shape, however, attacking back with the Bat then summoning a 4/2 Bloodrage Vampire. The Vampire doesn’t last long as Jimi accepts the trade next turn for the attacking Elemental, but can only groan as a Stampeding Rhino takes its place.
The arms race continues as she attacks for 2 more with the Bats to enable a 4/4 Vampire Outcasts on turn 5. Undaunted, I send in the Rhinos to attack, and Jimi offers up the Outcasts as an even swap. Unfortunately for Jimi, I then add a Titanic Growth to the Rhinos giving them +4/+4 (they already trample), then capitalise on the attack by drawing four cards from a Hunter’s Insight. The attack is more impressive than the haul- three lands and a Slaughter Cry– but that’s four cards closer to something solid. In come the Bats next turn, taking me to 13 life, followed by a Goblin Tunneler. But all the tunnels in the world can’t save Jimi on this one- I show the Overrun and swing with all three creatures for 16. Down to 1 life after offering up the Goblin, she draws nothing and concedes.
This time Jimi has the one-drop enabler in the form of a Tormented Soul as her opener. Next turn we play land, then on turn 3 she adds a Swiftfoot Boots, but I’m off to a slow start. I throw an Arachnus Web around the Soul as my first play of the game, shutting off that reliable source of damage.
Now turn 4, Jimi is forced to Shock me to get full value from her Stormblood Berserker, while I land a Giant Spider to shore up my defenses. Next turn Jimi suits up the Berserker in the Boots and swings in for 3, taking me down to 13. Back to me, I grab another Mountain with a Rampant Growth, then attack back for 2 of my own with the Spider- my first points of damage thus far.
Jimi attacks again on turn 6, as expected, then drops a Goblin Arsonist. Over to me, I look to exploit her vulnerable manabase by killing off her only Swamp, courtesy of an Acidic Slime. This buys me a little time as Jimi’s next turn is a frustrating blank, while I happily trot out a Stampeding Rhino.
Jimi’s visibly stymied thanks to the landkill keeping her off colour, and she passes after drawing on turn 8 as well. I attack in with the Rhino unchallenged, then use a Hunter’s Insight to net four cards. This snares me another land (a Mountain) and I summon a Crimson Mage. Still nothing for Jimi on turn 9, which shows just how versatile the Slime can be. I add a Vastwood Gorger to the battlefield, and after giving it haste with the Crimson Mage send it storming in alongside the Rhino. Jimi chumps the Gorger with her Goblin, using its triggered damage to take the Crimson Mage with it. Down to 10 life, Jimi can’t recover. I have a brutal hand still unplayed- an Arachnus Web for any defender, a Fireball and Fling combo, or an Overrun. Jimi draws nothing and scoops.
This time the Goblin Arsonist comes out early as Jimi’s two-drop, and is the first play of the game. She wastes little time in ramping up her assault with a turn-3 Duskhunter Bat and turn-4 Stormblood Berserker, all cast at full value. By the time my go rolls about on turn 4, I’m down to 16 life with the unpleasant prospect of being on a three-turn clock, so my hand is forced. I drop a pair of Crimson Mages and pass.
Now turn 5, Jimi gives no quarter and swings with the team. I trade both Mages to kill the Berserker, taking 3 from the Goblin and Bat. Jimi then adds a pair of Swiftrunner Boots to her side, and equips them onto the Bat. Over to me, it looks like I’ve weathered the worst as I trot out the trusty Stampeding Rhino. Next turn, though, misfortune strikes. Jimi attacks with both her critters, and I use the Rhino to block the Goblin figuring he’d be out of Shock range. While true, it’s an Incinerate Jimi’s holding and she uses it to finish off my noble beast. The Goblin’s ping sent my way, I’m now down to 10 life. Jimi as yet is untouched. I play a Giant Spider and pass.
A turn-7 Onyx Mage gives the Bat some backup as Jimi attacks with it, but she’s surprised when I declare a block with my Spider, trading them out. She equips the Boots onto the Mage and passes. I land my beefiest body yet with a Vastwood Gorger. With Jimi’s turn 8 a blank, I look to draw out the Onyx Mage for the Gorger, and Jimi accepts. It’s a terrible tempo loss, but I’ve got a larger design in mind- the Garruk’s Horde hiding in my hand. I play a Llanowar Elves and end my turn.
Jimi’s turn 9 is similarly uninspiring, but mine is: the Horde touches down after a 1-point attack with the Elves and with a Forest on top of my library, I pass. Jimi plays a Duskhunter Bat as a 1/1, but has nothing else. Next turn I attack with the Elves and Horde. Jimi trades the Bat for the Elves, taking the full 7 from the Horde. Fine with me- I drop a Hunter’s Insight for a full seven cards, refilling my hand. The Greatsword I had on top of my library after my draw is replaced by an Acidic Slime, but instead I just play out a Stampeding Rhino and Garruk’s Companion from my hand. With lethal damage on the table, Jimi’s next draw gives her nothing to work with, and she concedes for the sweep.
Thoughts & Analysis
Overall, despite its rather fun Spidery premise, Entangling Webs seems doomed to be cut from the same cloth as Mystical Might– slight variations on a theme we’ve seen quite often before. In this case, a Green stompy deck with a splash of Red support. When one of your win conditions is Overrun, it really doesn’t matter what creatures you have in front of you, it just matters that you have them.
To be certain, there are a number of players who really enjoy the archetype, and for them this deck is a solid- if unglamourous- pickup. But like Blood and Fire and Mystical Might, there’s something else at play here, and that’s the kernel of a very solid themed construction. Indeed, like the latter, it’s a tribal skeleton for a group of creatures not generally thought of when building these sorts of decks, and the flagship card- Arachnus Spinner– gives the archetype a whole new vitality. There have long been plenty of Spiders amongst the creature types in Magic, but having a quasi-‘lord’ card really ties them together with a synergy they hadn’t yet possessed. More than a few Spider decks will be built as a result of this intro pack (just like Illusion decks and Mystical Might), and as always any deck that inspires brewing is up a few points.
So perhaps a little pedestrian gameplay can be overlooked for the very intriguing core cointained here. After all, the deck certainly gets the job done, as long as you’re able to withstand the early turns to be able to start dropping your bombs (go go mana dorks and Rampant Growths!).
Hits: Spider subtheme is superb; points for offering some unique character to a generic Green/Red stompy deck; deck provides strong impetus to brew, meddle, and tinker around with its theme
Misses: Expensive mana curve increases risk of unplayable opening hands; without Arachnus Spinner, deck retains a generic feel
OVERALL SCORE: 4.20/5.00