Last updated on October 5, 2023
Ishkanah, Grafwidow | Illustration by Christine Choi
Hello and welcome to the spiderverse! Giant spiders are one of the hallmarks of the many fantastical beasts any new adventurer (or planeswalker) encounters in their travels, and it pays to be prepared.
Welcome to my comprehensive list of spiders in Magic. Giant Spider has been one of the iconic mainstays in the game since it was printed in Alpha. While there have been lots of different takes on spider designs, it’s only in the past few years that we’ve seen them get tribal support.
Most seasoned Magic players know a spider when they see one: traditionally a green creature with a little more toughness than power featuring reach. And spiders have extended into black and even red as their home in the color pie in recent years. Today I’ll be going over every spider printed in Magic while offering a little insight into their history, design, and Constructed applications for a select few.
Let’s get started!
The Limited Spider Role-Players
Starting us off are the building blocks for newer players. These are some of the cards that first started our collections for the most part. The ones that taught us the basics of combat and that still show up in our Draft and Sealed decks on occasion.
Most sets feature a spider or two as one of 10 to 12 green commons at best where it reinforces the color’s weakness in Limited when it comes to dealing with fliers. These cards are mostly evaluated for what they offer in Limited and how well they fill that role.
#63. Root Spider
It wouldn’t be the bottom of any list pertaining to Magic if there weren’t a representative from Homelands! As far as fitting the spider aesthetic, Root Spider trades two toughness and reach for… a small bonus in blocking situations. The poor stats undoubtedly make this the black sheep of Magic’s extended spider universe.
#62. Hitchclaw Recluse
When you need four toughness but you don’t have four mana to afford a Giant Spider, you’ll have to settle for Hitchclaw Recluse. At least this one has reach. The most embarrassing part is that it isn’t even an original design.
#61. Rib Cage Spider
Four toughness and reach, but at least Rib Cage Spider is the original design.
#60. Grappler Spider
In situations where you need two power but you want to skimp on mana, you’ll have to settle for one point of toughness. One of the few spiders with more power than toughness, Grappler Spider went to the Goblin Piker school of aggression. But at least it remembered its roots as a spider.
#59. Canopy Spider
#58. Sporecap Spider
Look out Hitchclaw and Rib Cage, a fatter model has supplanted you. For some reason the updated version was considered too powerful for Magic Origins where Hitchclaw saw its first printing.
Arachnoid is only technically a spider. A robot spider. For two extra mana you get two more toughness. I don’t like it. I don’t trust the metal spider. It doesn’t even have eight legs.
#56. Needlepeak Spider
Look, it’s Giant Spider! Except Needlepeak Spider was printed in Planar Chaos where the design philosophy centered around inverting traditional expectations. Where you expected a green 2/4 and you got a red 4/2.
#54. Giant Spider
The classic spider design. The one that started it all. Until the release of Magic: Origins from which it was excluded, Giant Spider was Standard-legal during all of Magic’s existence from 1993 to 2015, a streak of time longer than any other card. I consider this a pinnacle of Magic design and a bread-and-butter card when it comes to teaching new players about the game.
#53. Ember Weaver
Exhibiting the multicolor synergies that were encouraged from theAlara Block, Ember Weaver is on the leaner side of the spider spectrum. Thankfully it got more red brethren to boost its stats in recent years.
#52. Swift Spinner
#51. Netcaster Spider
Netcaster Spider makes more appearances than Giant Spider these days. As creatures have gotten more efficient so too must the spider adapt. This is a classic example of a baseline green common that I want one copy of in most of my slower green decks.
#50. Tangle Spider
Some spiders are built for comfort and speed, but Tangle Spider ends up being a bit clunky and overcosted.
#49. Ancient Spider
Ancient Spider was the first spider printed at rare and the second multicolor spider. Besides these records, there isn’t much else to say.
#48. Goliath Spider
#47. Pincer Spider
Pincer Spider was the first spider with modality. Paying three mana for a +1/+1 counter isn’t great, but having the option is neat.
#45. Plated Spider
When Plated Spider was printed it was the beefiest of its type. While it has since lost that claim it was still a fairly well-costed monster in its time.
#44. Juvenile Gloomwidow
Having a slightly more restrictive mana cost affords this Canopy Spider wither. Unfortunately all this means is that Juvenile Gloomwidow is going to put a -1/-1 counter on whatever large bus runs over it.
#43. Frostweb Spider
Frostweb Spider starts off unimpressive but there’s a chance to get it pretty big if you get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, it’s getting the ball rolling that’s the hard part.
#42. Steam Spitter
A spider with fire breathing! The ability to cosplay as a dragon makes for a nice inversion of the traditional dynamic where the large fire-breathing monster puts your arachnid brethren to shame. Steam Spitter was notably one of the last artworks the late Christopher Rush produced for Magic.
#41. Woolly Spider
Woolly Spider won a Pro Tour. Yes, you read that correctly. Back in 1996 during Pro Tour Columbus, Olle Rade piloted a Gruul () aggro deck that was finely tuned to dodge Swords to Plowshares and Pyroclasm. Sometimes all you have to do is attack for 2, survive Pyroclasm, and block Serra Angel.
#40. Giant Trap Door Spider
Giant Trap Door Spider is a relic from a bygone era when a 3-mana 2/3 was a fair rate, back when Ice Age was the latest set. Like Wooly Spider before it, this spider holds the honor of being part of a Pro Tour-winning list. These are the only two spiders to have reached those heights. So it’s awarded bonus points for nostalgia, and I’ll overlook the lack of reach.
#39. Mammoth Spider
Doing the reverse of Canopy Spider, here you get to pay one extra mana for an extra point of power and toughness and the result is much better. Mammoth Spider can hold its ground against most common and uncommon fliers in Limited and be no worse for wear.
#38. Kessig Recluse
Kessig Recluse is somehow one of only two spiders printed that have deathtouch which is pretty baffling. A deterrent to small fliers, this one takes a bigger attackers with it.
#37. Somberwald Spider
#36. Funnel-Web Recluse
#35. Gnottvold Recluse
Years after Needlepeak Spider we get a version that’s green and one mana cheaper. Do gnott let yourself be confused; despite the greater power Gnottvold Recluse is a spider. It was a serviceable common in Kaldheim Limited, but a more defensive option would have been much better given the existence of the many aggressive archetypes in that format.
#34. Oran-Rief Recluse
Another spider with kicker, Oran-Rief Recluse was fairly unexciting in one of the most aggressive Limited formats of all time. Still, shooting down a flier and adding a body stabilizes a lot of board states.
#32. Watcher in the Web
One of my many fond memories of the Shadows over Innistrad block was having one of these in my deck. A format that isn’t necessarily too fast lets you play this somewhat overcosted 2/5. Watcher in the Web really shined in its ability to just soak a full combat step from your opponent, which afforded it the nickname “Platinum Angel.”
#31. Stingerfling Spider
#30. Acid Web Spider
#29. Deadly Recluse
Often referred to as “the green Doom Blade,” Deadly Recluse is a premium version of the green Limited spider. While most spiders were designed to hold smaller fliers at bay, this one is pretty much designed to eat a big threat and die. Which is more than enough for two mana.
It also gets bonus points for forcing a draw against my friend Greg in round 1 of a Modern GP, (Richmond 2014), to his endless exasperation. This is the second of only two spiders with deathtouch.
It’s amazing how much one keyword can improve a card. While the infect mechanic is much maligned, Blightwidow was often just a 2/4 reacher with wither on blocking duty. If this didn’t kill an attacking creature it just crippled it. It’s also one of the best spider arts out there.
The Limited Spider All-Stars
Spiders sometimes end up doing more than just blocking fliers in Limited. The next handful of cards offer something beyond just a wall for Wind Drakes; they have some level of versatility. These spiders even found their way into Constructed decks in some cases!
#27. Pale Recluse
Pale Recluse is a large spider that’s versatile in offering you a land when you need it. A copy or two could be found in Living End strategies until that deck shifted into a different shard of the color pie.
#26. Jungle Weaver
Much like its predecessor on this list, Jungle Weaver is a giant monster that you can perform graveyard shenanigans with, most commonly seen in the old Living End decklists. Those lists generally play threats with cheaper cycling costs these days but it had its time in the sun as the biggest creature in that deck for a few years.
#25. Twin-Silk Spider
#24. Sentinel Spider
Magic 2013 featured “Serra Spider” as probably the best green common in the set. Sentinel Spider’s ability to shut down fliers on defense while being able to rumble for four was formidable.
#22. Skysnare Spider
#21. Graverobber Spider
While it doesn’t have any set keywords on it, Graverobber Spider embodies the graveyard-matters theme that was present in Golgari () in the Theros block. Unassuming on the front end, the ability to one-shot an opponent in the later game made it quite strong even if it didn’t quite get the opportunity to shine in a very aggressive format.
#20. Aquastrand Spider
The spiderbear! Aquastrand Spider mostly looks like a Grizzly Bear at first glance, but it offers to diversify your gameplan against fliers given enough +1/+1 counter synergies. Very versatile, and very cheap.
#19. Brood Weaver
#18. Penumbra Spider
#17. Glowstone Recluse
Glowstone Recluse is a cost-effective defensive brick wall that use Ikoria’s marquee mechanic to build large monsters. Of all the non-rare mutate cards this was one of the better ones to serve as the base creature since it lets you grow your creature beyond the size of the largest creature mutated onto it.
#16. Obelisk Spider
I most remember Obelisk Spider as a minor engine card in its Limited format where it was a premium uncommon. A strong defensive option that chipped down larger attacking creatures while draining life meant that it was a very cost-effective deterrent to aggression. The counter clause had the potential for some intricate (albeit clunky) combos.
#15. Chainweb Aracnir
Chainweb Aracnir is a spider that does everything I want a card to do in Limited. It can arrive on turn 1, it chumps or even trades with an early threat, and then it comes back as a better version later in the game while potentially killing another creature as it enters.
The Spider Heroes
These spiders go above and beyond Limited Magic. They offer opportunities to players to design decks that can be played around them in kitchen table Magic to FNMs and Commander to even high-level Constructed applications. While the previous cards usually have a creative implementation of the set mechanic, these are often specially designed to do something unique.
#14. Arachnus Spinner
Arachnus Spinner was heralded as the first “lord” of the spider tribe. First printed in 2012 it was the first exclusive support for spider tribal that Wizards ever printed. Having the ability to repeatedly spit out Arrests in the form of Arachnus Web is a cool interaction.
#13. Vilespawn Spider
The first and so far only blue spider, Vilespawn Spider is great because of all the little features it has: an undercosted body, the ability to fuel your graveyard, and a payoff for doing so.
The biggest strike against it is that it’s much harder to accommodate alongside the rest of its family as a blue spider. Either that or the fact that it eventually explodes into a bunch of… Insects?
#12. Silklash Spider
A card that dominates all fliers on the board. Very resilient to damage-based removal and combat, Silklash Spider has the ability to repeatedly Windstorm fliers out of the sky. I even remember a few remote Constructed applications it had as a sideboard card for Birthing Pod that could block a Thundermaw Hellkite after its trigger had resolved.
#11. Nyx Weaver
Nyx Weaver will always have some special memories for me as one of the ways I fueled my graveyard in Theros-era Standard. While the body is unimpressive, having the ability to slowly search for a card you want to pick back up is very attractive in long game.
#10. Sporeweb Weaver
#9. Rotwidow Pack
One of many recent boons to spider strategies everywhere was Rotwidow Pack‘s arrival in Modern Horizons. On the front end you have a multicolored Giant Spider and on the back it slowly ends the game by clogging up the board with 1/2s while draining your opponent to death.
#8. Dragonlair Spider
Another multicolored spider that makes Insects! First released in Planechase, Dragonlair Spider was the first spider truly designed for multiplayer gameplay. A must-remove card, it threatens any spell-based deck by building an army.
#7. Hatchery Spider
Another spider with graveyard synergies, Hatchery Spider often arrives with a medium-sized friend. It’s hard to reliably get another large threat from the trigger in most games but it usually finds exactly what you need given the capacity to fill your graveyard.
#6. Sweet-Gum Recluse
Printed in Commander Legends, Sweet-Gum Recluse is another rare spider with flash that can make combat very tough for your opponents. The ability to juice up other players’ creatures at instant speed gives you other ways to use politics in multiplayer games. And who doesn’t love to spin the cascade wheel? All in all a very sweet card.
#5. Spitting Spider
Doing things for free is cool. Sacrificing a land is a significant cost, but having the ability to put lands in your graveyard can let you do some powerful things. Titania, Protector of Argoth and Splendid Reclamation are some noteworthy starting points in that regard.
Having the ability to selectively manage your opponents’ board at will lets you play politics in Commander. Spitting Spider boasts a very original design, a powerful activated ability, and a respectable body for the cost.
#4. Doom Weaver
Among all the spiders Doom Weaver is definitely the best at doing unfair things. Being able to soulbond to sacrifice fodder ensures you get a steady stream of cards if you’re able to assemble a sacrifice outlet and a means of generating creatures.
Speaking of generating a steady stream of creatures…
#3. Arasta of the Endless Web
Released in Theros: Beyond Death, I’ve mostly encountered Arasta of the Endless Web in various decks that look for a brick wall against spell-based tempo decks (here’s looking at you, Arclight Phoenix and Delver of Secrets). Arasta definitely delivers in that role. It’s generally just beyond the margins of Constructed playability but easily amasses a swarm of blockers in most multiplayer board states.
#2. Thantis, the Warweaver
Thantis, the Warweaver was released in the Commander 2018 precon, “Nature’s Vengeance,” better known for its commander, Lord Windgrace (but we've got a better land-based EDH deck with it). The first (and only!) 3-color spider, Thantis is the second of three legendary spiders that can serve as your commander.
In the end all spiders really want to do is block, and Thantis offers that opportunity by forcing opposing creatures to attack. The only mark against it is the fact that it doesn’t offer any direct spider synergies, unlike…
#1. Ishkanah, Grafwidow
Move over, Lolth, Spider Queen, the true queen of spiders has arrived. Of all spiders printed in Magic’s history, Ishkanah, Grafwidow is the one that has had the most far-reaching effects in all formats.
Printed in Eldritch Moon, Ishkanah features the overwhelmingly popular delirium mechanic. It was a mainstay in the Standard delirium strategies of its time that proved strong enough to occasionally appear in Pioneer Sultai Delirium decks as a finisher with Traverse the Ulvenwald. Beyond that Ishkanah allows you to end the game while sitting back and doing what spiders do best: blocking. This makes it nothing short of a perfect incarnation of the spider aesthetic.
The Best Spider Accessories
Now that I’ve shown you all that the spider family has to offer, let me introduce you to some friends of the family. Cards that make spiders or complement spider-based strategies nicely even if they’re not spiders themselves.
Anything that makes spiders or works hand-in-hand with our friendly arachnids is denoted here! In some cases these cards are just spells that do what a spider would do (deal with flying creatures) while the best ones slot right into decks featuring spiders as a theme.
Renowned Weaver is a flavorful representation of the Greek tale of Arachne, a woman who boastfully claimed that she was a more skillful weaver and spinner than the goddess Athena herself. Keeping in line with ancient Greek storylines involving themes of pride, Arachne ended up as a spider.
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Eaten by Spiders
Curse of Clinging Webs
Probably the best utility land for the tribe, Swarmyard is a must-have in any dedicated spider strategy.
Spider Spawning is my favorite card with the word “spider” on it. The namesake of the Innistrad Spider Spawning draft archetype, this is the de-facto strategy to try and force in Innistrad flashback drafts where you have to fight over it with the other half of the draft pod who fell in love with drafting because of this particular card.
Lolth, Spider Queen
Lolth, Spider Queen is the card I was most tempted to include in the full spider rankings. A powerful planeswalker with spider synergies that does a lot of the core things any dedicated spider mage wants to be doing. Sadly Lolth isn’t a spider. Still, it’s a must-include for any true devotee.
Dishonorable Mention: Kotose, the Silent Spider
I feel cheated. Kotose, the Silent Spider isn’t a spider. It doesn’t even have reach! Avoid any manner of cards that falsely advertise themselves in this fashion.
Blightwidow | Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren
And that’s the list! From the days when J.R.R. Tolkien first wrote about the monstrous Shelob and Ungoliant, spiders have been a staple of fantasy settings as a chaotic force of nature seeking to entrap and consume hapless adventurers.
They’ve done a pretty good job of that over Magic’s decades-long history as one of the building blocks of most Limited environments. It’s a joy to see this tribe get more support over the last few years.
Make sure to check out the Draftsim blog if you enjoyed this for more content on strategy, decklists, and card-by-card rankings and guides. But if you didn’t enjoy this piece because you disagree with my rankings, let me know in the comments down below or over on the Draftsim Discord.
Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time!
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