Single-card Strategies: Plague Spitter
Submitted by Mr. Pestilence
As readers of this site may know, or should be able to figure out from my nickname, my all-time favorite card is Pestilence – it doesn’t play favorites, doesn’t care about whether or not something can be “targeted”, can be activated at instant speed, etc., etc. Still, there are drawbacks to this card. The first is casting cost – by the time you can play it and use it, you may have taken so much damage that you can’t really use Pestilence effectively. Another is that if you do use the card to its maximum efficiency, clearing the board of creatures, you lose Pestilence, letting your opponents then cast the creatures they’ve been holding back.
Now comes Plague Spitter. It has many of the qualities of Pestilence, along with some less obvious advantages. It can be cast 1st turn via Dark Ritual, so it answers early threats. It can even hamper some strategies severely. For instance, against Fires, a first turn Plague Spitter will keep the Fires player from dropping all those Birds and Elves that make the deck so fast. In a recent tournament, I got four free shots with Plague Spitter before my opponent could cast Blastoderm with mana from lands. Also, the
Spitter doesn’t care how many tokens Rith can make. One upkeep, and they’re toast!
Against Rebels, it will kill Falcons and Sergeants, making the Rebels player have a Lieutenant or Lin-Sivvi before he can start cranking out the Rebels. And forget about blocking – the Rebels player will let Plague Spitter through, turn after turn. Blocking and killing the Spitter will kill nearly all of the commonly used Rebels.
But these are only the most obvious strategies. This guy has all kinds of tricks.
For instance, a single Plague Spitter can take out a 4/4 with little trouble. How? During your upkeep, the Spitter does one point to the 4/4, along with all other creatures. Later, you attack. Since the card is unfamiliar to some players, they will often block with their 4/4 beast, thinking they are glad to be rid of the troublesome critter, and of course the Spitter deals its 2 points of combat damage. When it hits the graveyard, it deals an additional parting shot of 1 damage to all creatures, including the 4/4, which has already taken 3 points of damage. I have had more than one player look at me funny when I tell them their 4/4 is dead. Reactions such as “What?!? How? Let me read that @#$@%^ card!” The look of dawning realization that they just got played is priceless.
But there’s more. Multiple Plague Spitters can take down every creature on the board with toughness less than 5! During your upkeep, the Spitters each do a point to all creatures, including each other, which kills them both. When they go to the graveyard, they do an additional 2 to all other creatures, or a total of 4. If you mix these guys with some protection from Black creatures, you’ll probably get at least one free shot to attack an undefended player.
These guys really annoy control players. You know how you can almost take out a control player, but they stubbornly stay alive with a low life total, take control of the game, and you can’t put them away? Plague Spitter can help! Do all the early damage you can, and later in the game, when the control player is all but untouchable, Plague Spitter can do those crucial last points of damage, even if he can’t get past a huge defending creature, Kor Haven, Icy Manipulator, or anything else that thwarts an attack.
All in all, Plague Spitter is an extraordinary creature for the cost, that’s just waiting to be exploited by strategic players. Everybody knows about the new “dual lands” and Fact or Fiction, but after those cards, I believe Plague Spitter is the best uncommon in the Invasion set, and by far the best bargain. So don’t delay! Get yourself 4 of these guys now, while they’re cheap, and begin amazing the other members of your playgroup.