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Magic Memories: Spike Weaver

Oversoul

The Tentacled One
It's been a while since I did one of these. And after revisiting a crappy old creature I used to use when I was new to the game, I thought Spike Weaver deserved a thread, being the creature that last year saw, by far, the most play in my decks. I mean, did you catch this thread? I compiled some statistics on my 2019 Commander decks...

Counting by card type, I’m amused and perhaps a bit proud that my most used creature in these decks turned out to be Spike Weaver. Here are the top 11 appearances.

Creatures
Spike Weaver: 13
Eternal Witness: 9
Genesis: 8
Gilded Drake: 8
Snapcaster Mage: 8
Manakin: 6
Spore Frog: 6
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy: 5
Spark Double: 5
Stoneforge Mystic: 5
Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger: 5
Of course, I've kept track of 2020 as well, but the West Coast Commander League has been on hiatus for most of this year (thanks to a certain coronavirus). Still, we did manage to get 9 of our weekly events in before we shut down, and I participated in 8 of them (skipping one of them to participate in the South Sound Magic "Ultimate Melee Brawl" event at the same venue). In 6 out of my 8 decks, I ran Spike Weaver. So it's on track to repeat its performance. I thought it might be a nice change to talk about a card that I have a lot of relatively fresh memories of, not something that I can say, "Oh, I used to play this a lot 20 years ago" but can't talk about in any kind of recent context. Basically, with the sheer popularity of Commander and my own involvement in the West Coast Commander League, it's become my primary format. And if my Commander deck has green in it, then it probably has Spike Weaver in it too.

So far, I've only mentioned Commander. And that is my main inspiration here. I wanted to talk about Spike Weaver because it's been my most frequently used creature in my decks lately, and that's all been in Commander decks. But Spike Weaver was a good card long before the Commander format existed. So I do want to delve into some of that history as well. I think I'll mix it up and talk about a bit of both. There's enough Spike Feeder to go around. And if not, we just need to find a way to get more +1/+1 counters on it!
 

Oversoul

The Tentacled One
The "spikes" were a creature type from Rath Block, aka Tempest Block. They were spread out across all three sets in the block. I just want to take a moment to note how awesome of a block this was. These days, it's somewhat overlooked as either part of the "old" sets, or as something toward early middle of a second wave of Magic design. But in a lot of ways, the stuff before it, like Mirage, really shows its age and lack of refinement. Tempest can create an incredibly fast environment when compared to Ice Age or Mirage. It represented a gigantic leap in the design of the game. And I find that when I'm looking for good cards to put in my decks, I spend an inordinate amount of time pulling from these three sets. They had some really fantastic stuff, especially considering how old they were. Even with power creep, much of the Rath Block still holds up to this day. These sets had some of the best enchantments of all time, as well as the buyback spells, great utility lands, the shadow creatures, and the slivers. But not the spikes. The spikes were a bit of a dud, sadly.

Overall, the spikes were kind of a failure, but they were the inspiration for much more successful mechanics that would come along in later sets. Spikes were the first concept in Magic to employ multiple creatures that were based on moving +1/+1 counters around. WotC would revisit this a lot with things like Forgotten Ancient and the Modular mechanic. The problem with the original attempt was that is was underpowered and poorly balanced.

One of the Stronghold theme decks was called "The Spikes", and seeing that was probably the first time I became aware of these guys as a creature type. I think I still have a copy of this theme deck lying around somewhere. So there was enough synergy that WotC thought it worthwhile to use this creature type in a theme deck. But really, the theme deck is pretty bad! Here's the decklist...

12 Forest
9 Mountain
4 Spike Drone
1 Bayou Dragonfly
1 Canopy Spider
1 Hermit Druid
4 Skyshroud Elf
1 Lowland Basilisk
2 Pincher Beetles
3 Spike Worker
1 Tempting Licid
2 Spike Feeder
1 Spike Breeder
2 Spike Soldier
2 Spike Colony
2 Heartstone
2 Shock
4 Kindle
1 Fanning The Flames
1 Elven Rite
2 Rampant Growth
1 Verdant Touch
1 Tranquility

14 slots in this 60-card deck are dedicated to spike-type creatures, so it really is somewhat dedicated to that theme. The inclusion of Heartstone is clearly meant to enable more activations of spike counter-moving abilities. The general premise seems to be that you can gain an advantage in combat situations by juggling +1/+1 counters and throwing in some burn spells, hopefully taking over the board. It's underpowered, though.

While Spike Weaver didn't yet exist at the time that this deck came out, it and the other spikes in Exodus were a general extension of this same theme. I don't think they'd have helped a deck like this very much. The problem with spikes is that most of them don't have useful abilities anyway and are just part of the general +1/+1 counter circus. And the abilities that are useful don't really have anything in common with each other. We got 10 spikes in the original Rath Block, and Time Spiral added one more as a throwback, but that's it. Of the 11, I've only ever gotten much mileage out of 3. You can look up all 11 on Gatherer or whatever, but without clogging this up with a wall of card images, I'll present the spikes in an abbreviated form...

Spike Drone: only has the general 2-mana ability to move a +1/+1 counter from itself onto another creature.
Spike Worker: slightly bigger version of Spike Drone with the same deficiency.
Spike Colony: even bigger version of Spike Drone for even more mana.
Spike Soldier: can eat a +1/+1 counter in order to get +2/+2 until end of turn, which is a pretty bad deal most of the time.
Spike Breeder: gets a 2-mana activated ability to eat a +1/+1 counter in order to make a cute 1/1 spike token. The 2-mana activation on both abilities hurts this thing's utility.
Spike Feeder: can eat a +1/+1 counter to have you gain 2 life. This is one of the good ones.
Spike Rogue: gets a 2-mana activated ability to grab a +1/+1 counter from one of your other creatures. It's just too inefficient.
Spike Weaver: gets a 1-mana activated ability to eat a counter for a "Fog" effect. The star of the show! One of the good ones, obviously.
Spike Hatcher: gets a 1-mana activated ability eat a counter in order to regenerate itself. If it could regenerate other creatures, then it might be good.
Spike Cannibal: black instead of green like the other spikes. It has no activated abilities, but it gets a triggered ability on entering the battlefield to steal all +1/+1 counters from all creatures. This is one of the good ones.
Spike Tiller: gets a 2-mana activated ability to eat a +1/+1 counter and turn a land into a 2/2 creature with a +1/+1 counter on it. It's better than most of this lot, but I've never seen it played myself.

Pretty much all of the ones that don't have utility abilities beyond paying mana to move counters around are mediore cards. I used them way back in the day, but only a little bit and I was not impressed. Now, unlike a lot of old creatures, the spikes aren't really too oppressed by power creep. As I'm sure I'll touch on a few times in this thread, there are now way better options to put tons of +1/+1 counters on creatures than there were in 1998. Noticing this, I've long held onto the dream of using all of the spikes in some kind of casual deck. But I never got around to it. At least, not so far. Maybe this thread will inspire me to actually build such a deck.

Spike Tiller came out 8 years after the other spikes. It's the only one I don't have experience with. As with a lot of cards from that set, it adheres to the mold of what the old cards in its theme did. So unfortunately, it's not an upgrade or anything. Still, it's probably one of the better ones. Animating lands can be useful in some decks. Spike Hatcher and Spike Soldier have underpowered abilities with combat applications. Spike Rogue can pull +1/+1 counters from other creatures, but the mana cost makes this unwieldy. Spike Breeder is a halfway-decent token generator. None of these abilities have anything to do with each other and there's no apparent reason that they'd work well together in the same deck. That's what makes the idea of a spike-based deck rather challenging. You've got +1/+1 counters on your creatures: now what?

I call Spike Feeder, Spike Cannibal, and Spike Weaver "the good ones" because they have useful abilities entirely independent from the general mechanic of paying mana to move your counters from one creature to another. Spike Cannibal can consolidate your own +1/+1 counters, but is most interesting as a niche weapon against opponents that rely on +1/+1 counters. It doesn't see a lot of tournament play, but it was once a viable sideboard tool. Interestingly, Spike Cannibal seems to see almost no play in Commander (at least not according to EDHrec), although I've employed the card myself in a couple of decks. I should probably look into advocating for this little guy. Clearly, there's room on the Spike Cannibal Bandwagon.

Spike Feeder is probably the most prolific of the spikes across all formats. Before I started throwing Spike Weaver into Commander decks, Spike Feeder would have been the spike that I used the most. There are some very interesting things about this card. Being a cheap, flexible source of repeatable lifegain, Spike Feeder was the default choice for inclusion in engines and loops for lifegain. Eventually, Kitchen Finks would overtake it in this role in most of those combos. But Spike Feeder does enjoy some advantages over Kitchen Finks and the two have their own strengths and weaknesses when compared.

As an interesting historical note, the pair of Spike Feeder and Spike Weaver featured prominently in the very famous Turbo Oath deck piloted by Zvi Mowshowitz in Extended. The creature package was just a single copy each of Spike Feeder, Spike Weaver, and Morphling. My own personal favorite Oath payload was the single copy of Battlefield Scrounger that Mowshowitz used a few years later in another version of the same general concept. But the version with the two spikes and Morphling was probably more iconic. Here's a decklist...

1 Treetop Village
4 Tropical Island
14 Island
5 Forest
1 Morphling
1 Spike Feeder
1 Spike Weaver
1 Scroll Rack
4 Oath of Druids
4 Exploration
4 Horn of Greed
4 Force of Will
4 Counterspell
4 Impulse
4 Gush
2 Time Warp
2 Gaea's Blessing

This is rather wonky compared to most decks these days, but it was super-fun. The deck was generally control-combo. You had some blue control elements for protection and if opponents didn't drop creatures, you could use Exploration + Horn of Green along with Gush to gain massive card advantage and plenty of lands (eventually just killing them with Treetop Village, if nothing else). If your opponent did play creatures, you could Oath up the flexible "Superman" (Morphling). Spike Feeder and Spike Weaver were both easy to kill, ensuring that you could keep Oath of Druids active and get to Morphling. And Spike Feeder could be looped to gain life and to put counters on Spike Weaver. Spike Weaver could permanently "Fog" your opponent. This could all happen before most opponents could develop a threatening board state of creatures, and even if they could, Spike Weaver could deal with most of those options. Eventually, you also had the threat of Gaea's Blessing and Time Warp for what was essentially infinite turns.

This three-creature package was not the very first tournament success for Oath of Druids. But it was by far the biggest and most famous during the early, formative years for Oath decks.
 

Oversoul

The Tentacled One
The deck that first got me set on this path of overusing Spike Weaver in EDH was the one I built for the April 14, 2019 meetup of the West Coast Commander League. I named it "If You Wanna Fight That's Fine With Me." The name is taken from a single line in an obscure, defunct webcomic. I liked the comic and it just kind of sprang to mind when I was trying to come up with a title for a deck that used the "Fight" mechanic. This was still pretty early in the history of the League, and my decks from back then were ugly. I mean, there's a lot I didn't and don't like about them, and I my style evolved over the next couple of months.

Probably all of my early West Coast Commander League decks were awkward. But this one was truly fascinating and came with a lot of lessons for me. I had a lot of fun with it, although I'd never want to play it again. Savra has been one of my favorite commanders and I continue to be tempted to build a deck around her again. Someday I will. This deck didn't do her justice. But it definitely influenced my subsequent Loam-based decks and was the first deck in the League where I showed off cards I'd become somewhat known for, namely Abundance, Crop Rotation, Genesis, Glacial Chasm, Lake of the Dead, Life from the Loam, Mana Web, Manabond, Nether Void, Seasons Past, Spore Frog, Squandered Resources, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Winter Orb, Worm Harvest, and Zuran Orb. Oh, and Spike Weaver. That is why we're here, after all.

One of the permanent point categories in the West Coast Commander League is "Ride of the Rohirrim." You get it by doing something that unequivocally saves at least one opponent from being eliminated during a game. Also, at the time of this event, the most recent Magic set was Ravnica Allegiance. Savra as commander was there to try to help me get Ravnica-themed points, but other categories at the time included making five creatures have higher power and toughness than their base stats and a weird one where you had to have a blocker available, get attacked, but choose not to block. Spike Weaver seemed like a great fit for those categories. I also ran Spike Cannibal in this deck, guessing (correctly) that other people would also be running a lot of +1/+1 counters.

There were some deficiencies with my deck and some issues at the tables. But Spike Weaver really pulled its weight. My opponents just didn't expect me to use Spike Weaver to save them from each other. So it helped me earn points in multiple categories. I even won a game with this deck. And thanks to Spike Weaver, I never had to block an attack and I never lost to combat damage.
 

Oversoul

The Tentacled One
So...

One of the Stronghold theme decks was called "The Spikes", and seeing that was probably the first time I became aware of these guys as a creature type. I think I still have a copy of this theme deck lying around somewhere.
Yesterday, I was pulling cards out of storage boxes to hunt for cards a some miscellaneous Standard uncommons a friend needed, and I happened to spot the deckbox with my "The Spikes" precon. So yes, it sure was in there. And it's been so long that I can't really be sure if that was the first time I became aware of the spike creature type, but it seems likely. Actually, looking at those old "Theme Deck" boxes, it occurs to me that much of the packaging from those 90's sets was more plain, muted, and even old-fashioned in appearance, which really lends something to the mythos most players I interact with have of these as being "old" sets. Of course, the technology totally existed to make them look just as fancy and "modern" as the packaging on "new" sets. The technology of printing images on cardboard didn't advance so much between 1998 and, say, 2003 for the actual difference in age to make such a difference. It seems to be purely an artistic difference (perhaps driven in part by the acquisition of the company by Hasbro).

Anyway, that Stronghold Theme Deck might have been my introduction to spikes, but Spike Weaver came out in Exodus. I totally can't remember when I first encountered it. That memory was lost. But I think I might have encountered it in RecSur decks, perhaps inspired by successful tournament decks in that archetype. RecSur is now something of a relic of history, but it's been pretty popular and a beloved deck in my experience. Here at the CPA, I know that it's been Shabbaman's favorite archetype, at least. And the same went for at least two of the people I can remember in my own regular playgroup years ago. The creatures in the RecSur toolbox varied over the years and across formats. But as far as I know, the earliest RecSur decks occurred in Type 2 when Exodus was still a fresh, new set. And Spike Weaver was in there as a stopgap against beatdown. Recurring Nightmare could use Spike Weaver to keep aggro decks held back until they could find instant-speed removal for the Spike Weaver. If an aggro deck couldn't do that in a hurry, the RecSur player would likely build a defensive board state capable of withstanding attacks (or just getting rid of attackers entirely).

For the RecSur engine, the icing on the cake for using Spike Weaver and Spike Feeder was that their abilities could be activated until they had just on +1/+1 counter left, and then they could be sacrificed to Recurring Nightmare, having already generated some value. Sometimes this meant moving a counter from Spike Feeder onto Spike Weaver and then sacrificing it to replay Wall of Blossoms. Sometimes it meant that once Spike Weaver had only one counter left, it would be sacrificed to bring back Verdant Force.

As I've mentioned in previous Magic Memories threads, investigating tournament history is easier for more recent cards because the online records are better-preserved. Some of the 90's stuff is hard to find or even permanently lost. I don't know if RecSur was the earliest notable tournament appearance for Spike Weaver, but it's the first one in my own imperfect memory. And even it it wasn't first, it started showing up almost as soon as Exodus was legal, so it must have been pretty close. It certainly overshadowed anything else from the same time period. In fact, RecSur won the World Championships just a couple of months later, immortalizing Spike Weaver with a gold-bordered printing signed by champion Brian Selden. Here's his decklist...

2 Scroll Rack
2 Lobotomy
2 Nekrataal
4 Recurring Nightmare
1 Spirit of the Night
1 Thrull Surgeon
1 Man-o-War
1 Tradewind Rider
4 Birds of Paradise
2 Spike Feeder
1 Spike Weaver
4 Survival of the Fittest
2 Uktabi Orangutan
1 Verdant Force
4 Wall of Blossoms
2 Wall of Roots
2 Firestorm
1 Orcish Settlers
1 Cloudchaser Eagle
3 City of Brass
8 Forest
1 Gemstone Mine
2 Karplusan Forest
2 Reflecting Pool
1 Swamp
2 Underground River
2 Undiscovered Paradise
1 Volrath's Stronghold

Sideboard:
1 Staunch Defenders
3 Emerald Charm
1 Hall of Gemstones
2 Pyroblast
4 Boil
2 Dread of Night
2 Phyrexian Furnace

This list perfectly illustrates the toolbox approach that made RecSur such an iconic tournament archetype. I already covered this in the Memories thread for Survival of the Fittest...

Although it often used some of the most potent big creatures available, such as Spirit of the Night, it wasn't meant to function as a straight combo deck, but as a creature-based toolbox engine that could tailor its performance to find the best way to deal with its opponent. Opponent swinging for the fences with an aggro deck? Get Spike Weaver and stall. Opponent holding onto cards to stop you from winning? Get Thrull Surgeon and take those answers away. Opponent has a creature that's a big threat? Take it out with Nekrataal. RecSur seems tame compared to what Legacy Survival decks could do, but for its day, it was versatile and very dangerous. Survival of the Fittest could pull creatures from the library into the graveyard, and Recurring Nightmare could get them from the graveyard onto the battlefield. Combining the two also made it easy to abuse EtB triggers.
That was the beginning. But the potency of Spike Weaver as a defensive card in Survival of the Fittest decks generally outlived the viability of RecSur as a competitive archetype. As good of a card as Recurring Nightmare is, it became more practical for Survival decks not to rely on it, but to use creatures with built-in graveyard utility, such as Genesis. Spike Weaver continued to see play in Survival decks even after the RecSur engine fell by the wayside in Legacy. The advent of the notorious Vengevival deck did away with that, and Spike Weaver in Survival decks seems to have fallen off the map in 2010. But Spike Weaver made a slight comeback in Birthing Pod decks, in a similar toolbox role.
 

Oversoul

The Tentacled One
The Savra deck was the first time I brought Spike Weaver to the West Coast Commander League. Here were the other instances, in order...

7/14/19: Reyhan, Last of the Abzan & Kydele, Chosen of Kruphix “Bearadise Lost”

Mostly, Spike Weaver was a defensive stopgap here, as I was trying to buy time to execute Aluren-based loops. But Spike Weaver does work nicely with Rehyan, which was one of my commanders. I felt like this deck was rushed, although it performed well enough. But Spike Weaver definitely did its job.

7/21/19: Livonya Silone “Please Sir, Play a Legendary Land”
Although it was mostly tuned toward earning points in the League (and it was successful in this regard), I had a lot of fun with this odd deck. Unlike most of my decks, this one aimed for combat superiority, so Spike Weaver was mainly just there to save opponents from each other.

8/18/19: Gabriel Angelfire “Gabriel Voltron”
I complained about this deck being rushed, but it had a lot of cool stuff going on. Mostly, it was a "Voltron" style deck, with equipment-stacking on Gabriel Angelfire being the primary kill condition. But that takes time, so Spike Weaver was helpful for surviving. I also had a lot of +1/+1 counters on creatures, so Spike Weaver worked alongside those guys. It's especially good with Forgotten Ancient.

9/8/19: Atla Palani, Nest Tender “Breaking a Few Eggs”

This was another generally combat-focused deck, but Spike Weaver was a toolbox option and paired nicely with things like Jugan, the Rising Star. The way games actually worked out, Spike Weaver's one-drop knockoff, Spore Frog, ended up being much more important.

9/15/19: Volrath, the Shapestealer “Volrath’s Too Many Themes”
As the name states, I was running too many different themes here. This one went poorly, I had significant recursion for Spike Weaver, but my opponents tended to gang up on me. I remember Spike Weaver holding them off impressively, but one card can only do so much against three opponents.

10/13/19: Kenrith, the Returned King “King’s Feast”
Aside from the direct synergy with Kenrith, this deck also had various recursion options. Spike Weaver itself was a good fit and I do enjoy grindy five-color control decks. But this went very poorly for unrelated reasons.

10/20/19: Sir Shandlar of Eberyn “Eberyn’s Finest Omelettes”

This was a combo deck and Spike Weaver may have been intended to fill the crucial niche of "keep me alive once opponents realize I'm trying to combo off." I ended up needing that, not because opponents were trying to stop my combos, but because I faced some really powerful attacking armies. Potential Spike Weaver synergies included Shepherd of the Flock and Saffi Eriksdotter. But if I remember correctly I really just used Spike Weaver by itself to survive, rather than getting to exploit any synergies with it.

11/10/19: Palladia-Mors “Needs Mor Beatdown”
Despite this being a beatdown deck, it used Spike Weaver to blank incoming attacks. It's always good with Genesis, Karmic Guide, and Jugan, the Rising Star.

11/17/19: Sunastian Falconer “Sunastian’s Magic Ramp”
This was primarily a big-mana deck with big creatures. But I used some recursion, and Spike Weaver is good with that. The deck was highly successful, although Spike Weaver mostly just let me save opponents from each other.

11/24/19: Arcades Sabboth “Bant From the Loam”
This one was weird because Spike Weaver was one of my only creatures. The deck was mostly about lands, despite being ostensibly an Arcades Sabboth deck. That wasn't on purpose: I was in a hurry when I built this stupid thing. Still, land-based decks in these colors are fun. With only five maindeck creatures and no real combat functionality, Spike Weaver was just there to blank attacks while I built toward various boardwipes and protective measures. Basically, this was a control deck, and one that didn't aim to win with combat damage at all. Spike Weaver + Genesis was part of the package keeping me alive until I could completely take over games.

12/1/19: Stangg “Stangg’s Brothers and Sisters”
This garbage deck was a hodgepodge of stupid themes with little chance of ever winning a game, but Spike Weaver could keep me alive so that I could keep playing for longer before I eventually lost.

12/22/19: Chulane, Teller of Tales “Caribou Tribal”
Because I was all-in on the gimmick of filling my board with elk (bad) and caribou (worse), Spike Weaver functioned less this time around as actual protection and more as a deterrent. My opponents saw me doing stuff with bad cards, but they didn't even bother to try finishing me off because it would require getting around Spike Weaver. I had several other strong defensive cards here, so I ended up letting people kill me on purpose because it turned out that I was incentivized to keep games from ending in draws by running out of time.

1/5/20: Sliver Queen "She's a Killer Queen"
Sliver Queen is a pretty combo-oriented commander and I knew I'd need some protection along the way. Spike Weaver was a practical choice here.

1/12/20: The Gitrog Monster "Gitrog County Mana-Laundering Scheme"
This turned out to kinda be the better version of the Savra deck, although Savra herself was a misplaced inclusion after some last-minute cuts rendered her nearly useless. Incidentally, I learned that Spike Weaver can be very good alongside Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest, especially when you're sacrificing lands all the time.

1/26/20: Sidisi, Brood Tyrant "Mesmerizing Zombies"
While this was mostly a control-combo deck, it was important to be running creatures in as many slots as possible, for the sake of my commander's ability. Ultimately, the plan was to flood the board with tokens. This deck stalled out inordinately, but Spike Weaver at least let me save opponents from each other.

2/9/20: Estrid, the Masked "Estrid's Saga"
This one was really fun. Again, I think that I saved a couple of people from each other using Spike Weaver. I don't think I actually needed it to save msyelf, but I had a lot of strong control cards here.

2/23/20: Lord Magnus "Erhnamagnus, Lord of the Loam"
It was funny to see the looks on my opponents' faces when they finally got rid of my Glacial Chasm, only to be thwarted by Spike Weaver. This was another deck that saw my opponents working together to kill Spike Weaver, which is always fun.

3/8/20: Lady Caleria "The Worst Tooth and Nail Deck"
Since I was on the special mission of keeping all three opponents alive until I could reset their life totals to 40 with Arbiter of Knollridge, Spike Weaver was invaluable. I took extra measures to be sure that I could reuse it if necessary. With Spore Frog, Eternal Witness, Sun Titan, Greenwarden of Murasa, Karmic Guide, Genesis, Dragon Blood, Constant Mists, and Regrowth all crammed into the same deck, I was able to live the dream of keeping everyone alive long enough for me to use Tooth and Nail on creatures that didn't win the game at all.
 

Oversoul

The Tentacled One
On the one hand, my use of Spike Weaver on 19 Sundays spread out over the course of 11 months this year and last year pales in comparison to the nearly daily play that I must have once racked up with some classic cards when I was a teenager. On the other hand, building 19 totally different decks with Spike Weaver in them and playing each one 3 times is probably more meaningful than playing the same Pestilence deck 100 times or whatever. On the third hand, it's EDH, so it's just one slot out of 100 cards and doesn't even come up in every single game. On the fourth hand, EDH is what I have been playing and, as my stats have shown, most of the cards that I've been using even more than Spike Weaver are extremely flexible staple cards like Brainstorm and Demonic Tutor, so the extraordinarily high usage of Spike Weaver is definitely notable. On the fifth hand, why do I suddenly have so many hands? Anyway...

There's a striking qualitative difference between my history with Spike Weaver and my history with most of these other Magic Memories cards. Take Dark Ritual, for instance. Appearing 11 times in West Coast Commander League decks, it isn't far behind Spike Weaver. Figuring that it's also been a part of Gitrog County Municipal Lake Dredge Appraisal, a deck that I've occasionally played in more competitive games outside of the League (and in another EDH deck I've kept around), and it technically surpasses Spike Weaver in my overall EDH gameplay over the same time period. However, I wouldn't bother to recall specific EDH decks when talking about my history with Dark Ritual, and a big part of why not is that full playsets of the card were in three or four of my 60-card casual decks back when I was playing 60-card casual decks all the time. I actually had Spike Weaver show up in Commander League games somewhat fewer than 57 times between April of last year and March of this year. But in my younger days, there might easily have been windows in which I cast Dark Ritual more than 57 times in a single week. Repetition matters. But variety matters too!

Make of that what you will. I don't really know what to think about it myself, which is part of why I decided to start a Memories thread for this card. Even though I was acquainted with Spike Weaver long before EDH existed, almost all of my memories with it have been in relatively recent EDH games. So yeah, that's a change of pace? It does raise the question: what about before the West Coast Commander League? And weirdly, I'm not really sure. I don't think that I used the card in my earliest years playing Magic. I was going to say that I probably didn't own a copy, as I know that historically I owned very little Exodus stuff unless I deliberately traded for it. But then I remembered that Spike Weaver was reprinted in the 1999 Battle Royale box set, and I suddenly had some strong recollection of using the white-bordered version. It wasn't in any of my favorite decks or anything, but I did actually play with the card. I think even the Dragon Blood interaction might have been something I used in the early 2000's, only to forget about it and bring it back when I was trying to do +1/+1 counters stuff in the West Coast Commander League. Well, whatever bad decklist that was in is lost to the ages. But it is a kinda partial memory.
 

Mooseman

Isengar Tussle
Wow, I can't believe I never really used Spike Weaver in any deck. It seems versatile and a great utility. Learn something new everyday.
 

Oversoul

The Tentacled One
While Spike Weaver wasn't a staple for me for most of the card's history, I did get tons of use out of its slightly younger froggy knockoff.
1596472949948.png

Probably like a lot of people, I latched onto the combo between Spore Frog and Lifeline, only to eventually ditch Lifeline for the more reliable Genesis. In casual duels, Spore Frog + Genesis is easy to establish and somewhat difficult to punch through. It completely hoses some opponents. And both cards are useful on their own. Spike Weaver costs four mana to cast and 1 mana to activate, which makes Spore Frog vastly superior for this purpose. It's likely the case that once I started using Spore Frog, I dismissed Spike Weaver for almost all purposes except dedicated multiplayer decks. And from sometime around the release of Spore Frog, roughly, all the way up until five or six years ago, my philosophy was that my decks should not compromise their 1-on-1 potential for better multiplayer gameplay.

As I alluded to earlier, Spike Weaver did indeed see tournament play despite competition from Spore Frog. So although the one-drop might have dominated my own interests, it wasn't totally superior. In particular, decks that could do a lot to manipulate +1/+1 counters could make good use of Spike Weaver. But for me, it took a focus on multiplayer, and EDH in particular.

I've used Spike Weaver in 19 decks in the West Coast Commander League. In the same time period, Spore Frog made it into 8 decks. Some of the time, I was particularly interested in +1/+1 counters. But mostly, I was interested in being able to "Fog" multiple opponents. And Spike Weaver makes that easy. Still, Spore Frog has been a nice backup option for the same theme. In most of the Spore Frog decks, I was also running Spike Weaver and Genesis. However, there were three of these decks that included Spore Frog and no Spike Weaver or Genesis...

3/31/19: Phelddagrif "Epic"
Preventing combat damage isn't really a priority for this group hug deck. I threw in Spore Frog because it's a very cheap creature that can be held up to help protect a floundering opponent or, in a pinch, for self-defense. I think that I didn't choose Spike Weaver here because that card requires more commitment. Spore Frog isn't at all core to the identity of my "Epic" deck. The deck is much more invested in enchantments, with creature just being something to offer some early utility and disruption.

6/23/19: Rubinia Soulsinger "Notice of Proposed Land Use Action"

I strongly suspect that this deck didn't have Spike Weaver because I just didn't think of it. I had the presence of mind to run it in the Savra deck a couple months earlier because there were points for putting +1/+1 counters on creatures. It was a thematic choice. Without that incentive, the potency of Spike Weaver wasn't something I really appreciated at this point. Games with this deck ran long and I was doing a lot to lock my opponents down and keep them from attacking me. It's quite possible that piloting this deck was an experience that helped inspire my subsequent usage of Spike Weaver in many more decks. In fact, the big run of Spike Weaver inclusion started with my very next green deck.

11/3/19: Yarok, the Desecrated "Ever Eat a Pine Tree"

Sometimes, mana cost is everything. This is a dedicated Aluren deck and the only creature I run that can't be cast with Aluren is the commander. Spore Frog is a one-drop. Spike Weaver is a four-drop. Aluren can't cast four-drops. And that's it.
 
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