Last updated on August 16, 2023

Shelob, Child of Ungoliant - illustration by lorenzo Mastroianni

Shelob, Child of Ungoliant | Illustration by Lorenzo Mastroianni

So you’ve just opened your Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth sealed product and, gasp! You’ve pulled the demon spider herself, Shelob, Child of Ungoliant. You know exactly what you need to do: pull all the best spiders from across the multiverse to assemble a deadly Commander deck.

Competitive EDH this is not. I’m building this one for the newbies and for the players who want some low-powered decks to teach new players. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you how you can make this deck a lot better along the way.

This spider isn’t so itsy-bitsy, so let’s see how you can use it as your commander!

The Deck

Arasta of the Endless Web - Illustration by Sam Rowan

Arasta of the Endless Web | Illustration by Sam Rowan

Universes Beyond products were designed partially to attract non-Magic players to the game, and that’s the spirit of this build. It’s for the beginner who lucked into a Shelob, Child of Ungoliant and wants a starting point to play and grow. It’s for the player who wants to try to get friends and family into the game they love by starting off easy.

I’d say this is roughly precon-level in terms of power. There’s a lot more focus than precons tend to have, but there’s lots of room for improvement. The mana base is built out of the better dual lands, but the rest of the deck aims for cards you should be able to pick up for under a dollar. There are a few choice pieces that are more expensive (but shouldn’t be over $10 each) and that help to make the deck a little quicker and more consistent.

Practiced brewers are going to instantly see how they can improve the deck. There are a few more creatures and probably one too many lands, and I’ve opted for Second Harvest and Academy Manufactor over token doublers like Parallel Lives.

The Commander

Shelob, Child of Ungoliant

Shelob, Child of Ungoliant is the biggest spider commander that Magic has released up ‘til now. It spreads its deathtouch and ward 2 across your board of spiders, making them tougher to handle with combat and removal. Your spiders also turn their prey into Food tokens, which lose their creature types but not their abilities. Even if you build a deck full of spiders, those Food tokens can give you all kinds of value and variety.

Mm… Food

Shelob, Child of Ungoliant is huge, but deathtouch means that any damage that your creatures deal to your opponents’ creatures will destroy them. Fight spells are going to be important for your removal, letting you use your spiders to get rid of creatures your opponents don’t use to attack or block you.

Golgari () colors are also prime graveyard colors. There are some spiders and spider-friends that lean into filling and pulling from the graveyard, so there’s a secondary graveyard theme at play.

Big Spiders

Arasta of the Endless Web

Arasta of the Endless Web is important to your strategy as a mid-sized spider and a token generator. Drider’s combat damage trigger pumps out little menacing Spiders. Make sure to keep your Spider tokens straight!

Doom Weaver

Doom Weaver’s 1 power gets a lot better when you give it deathtouch. It and its soulbonded creatures give you cards when they die, which is a bonus on top of the big body.

Graverobber Spider

Graverobber Spider cares about the number of creatures in your graveyard, growing as you fill it.

Hatchery Spider

Hatchery Spider also takes advantage of your dead creatures by letting you pull a permanent out of your library when it ETBs.

Ishkanah, Grafwidow

Ishkanah, Grafwidow’s delirium cares about total card types in your graveyard, so you’ll want it out later to get its tokens. Its activated ability can take out a player in the later stages of the game too.

Llanowar Greenwidow

Llanowar Greenwidow is a mid-sized spider you can recur from your graveyard. You’ve only got two colors in your commander’s identity to help cheapen its ability, but any help getting a spider back helps.

Silklash Spider is a tankier body that can also clip the wings off your opponents’ fliers, while Watcher in the Web can block one creature for each leg.

Sweet-Gum Recluse

I’m counting Sweet-Gum Recluse as a Big Spider because of its mana cost. Letting you cascade into another of your spells can give you two-for-one bodies on the board.

Lolth, Spider Queen

While not a creature, Lolth, Spider Queen has a loyalty ability that’ll pump out Spider tokens for you. Don’t be afraid to let your creatures die with Lolth aboard; it’s the only way to pump up its loyalty. The emblem from the ultimate can also be useful in draining opponents’ life on your path to victory.

Skysnare Spider

Skysnare Spider’s vigilance and big power/toughness make it one of the larger spiders in this deck. At its higher mana value, it’s one of the first spiders you can cut to make this deck leaner and meaner.

Smol Spiders

Chainweb Aracnir

Chainweb Aracnir starts off small but can grow when it escapes from your graveyard. That helps it come back in case you mill it with Nyx Weaver.

Deadly Recluse

Deadly Recluse already has deathtouch, but that makes it that much better as an early pre-Shelob play.

Juvenile Gloomwidow

Juvenile Gloomwidow’s wither helps you to (slowly) get around indestructible creatures, but it’s mostly here as a cheap early creature.

Obelisk Spider

Obelisk Spider adds -1/-1 counters to your opponents’ creatures, and it’ll play with your life totals at the same time.

Ruins Recluse

Ruins Recluse is a small spider with its own deathtouch, and you can pay mana to pump it up with +1/+1 counters.

Penumbra Spider and Brood Weaver are mid-sized twins that give you a token when they die.

Rotwidow Pack

Rotwidow Pack is another mid-sized spider, but it can exile creatures from your graveyard to give you a spider… and suck your opponents’ lifeblood.

Skyfisher Spider

Skyfisher Spider from The Brothers’ War is appealing here. You have the option to make a 1-for-1 trade when this spider ETBs. Its death can be a lifegain play, but you may not need to exile it if you’ve already got a board full of Food tokens. More creatures in your graveyard for your graveyard counting effects!

Sporeweb Weaver

Sporeweb Weaver gives you life and Saproling tokens when it’s dealt damage. It’s slightly protected for a pre-Shelob board state and becomes a lot better once you give it deathtouch.

Twin-Silk Spider

Twin-Silk Spider is a two-for-one, giving you a token with identical power/toughness when it enters.

Oran-Rief Recluse

Oran-Rief Recluse can enter as a 3-drop spider, or it can come in as a spider and a removal spell.


Blex, Vexing Pest

Blex, Vexing Pest buffs your spiders, which should help your tokens survive more fights.


Realmwalker can help you get more spiders onto the board more quickly by letting you cast them from the top of your library. I like that because it also lets you bluff about whether you have a spider ready to go.

Gyome, Master Chef

Gyome, Master Chef gives you more Food and more ways to use them. Their natural state is a lifegain play, but you can use them with Gyome to turn your creatures indestructible one by one.

Herald's Horn and Vanquisher's Banner let you choose spiders as your chosen type to generate all kinds of advantages. Cheaper spiders. Buffer spiders. More cards in your hand. I may have cheaped out elsewhere, but these artifacts should help to make your deck a little quicker.

Token Synergies

Between Shelob, Child of Ungoliant, Arasta of the Endless Web, Drider, and others, you’re going to pump out lots of tokens. Best take advantage of it!

Curse of Clinging Webs

Enchanting an opponent with Curse of Clinging Webs is going to help widen your board every time one of their nontoken creatures bites the dust.

Peregrin Took

Peregrin Took is a flavorful LTR inclusion that’ll give you more Food tokens.

Second Harvest

Token doubling enchantments in green are the best in the business, but they’re also expensive to buy as singles. I’ve slotted in Second Harvest, a cheaper instant that’ll provide one-time board doubling.

Academy Manufactor

Academy Manufactor triggers every time you produce Food, giving you more tokens every time you pump those out.

Graveyard Gifts

Search for Blex

Search for Blex can help to fill your hand and graveyard, although adding cards to your hand costs life. The front side gives your spiders a power/toughness buff, so there’s two kinds of utility here.

Nyx Weaver

Nyx Weaver is probably your most steady graveyard filler. You can exile it on death’s doorstep to pull something back to your hand.

Spider Spawning

Spider Spawning pumps out more and more spiders the more creatures you have in your graveyard, and it has flashback!

Phrexian Reclamation

Another token doubling compromise is that I’ve added Phyrexian Reclamation. It’ll help pull important spiders back to your hand if they die.

Heavyweight Matchup

Fight spells are important ways for you to kill creatures that your opponents aren’t exposing to combat. If they won’t meet you on the battlefield, then make them meet you in the ring.


Prizefight from Streets of New Capenna lets you kill an opponent’s creature with one of your deathtouch spiders, plus it gives you Treasure.

Stew the Coneys

Stew the Coneys is especially good in this deck because it gives you a Food token on top of its fight effect.


Bushwhack pulls double-duty, giving you a 1-drop that’s a fight spell or a ramp spell.

Bite Down won’t give you any tokens and isn’t technically a fight spell (your creature isn’t dealt any damage), but it’ll let you take a swing at a planeswalker. Cosmic Hunger is its MOM cousin that gets creatures, planeswalkers, and battles.

Animist's Might

March of the Machine: The Aftermath gave us Animist's Might. You don’t have many legends to target with this spells, but that’s fine. The damage output is doubled and can be leveled at a planeswalker, so even one of your smaller spiders has the potential to take out a threat. Anyone can wear the mask.

Viridian Longbow

While not a fight spell, Viridian Longbow is an equipment artifact that’ll let whichever deadly spider you want ping any targetable creature for an insta-kill.

Ulvenwald Tracker

In the same vein, Ulvenwald Tracker is a 1-drop creature with an activated ability that starts a fight. The only tough choice is whether to drop a P!nk meme or a Who’s Line? one.

GIF (You Guys Wanna Start a Fight)

Other Removal

Sometimes a board of deathtouch creatures and some fight spells aren’t enough removal. Especially in the early game before Shelob, Child of Ungoliant is on board, you’re going to need some removal that doesn’t need your commander to be effective.


Putrefy is a solid start, and it’s in your commander’s colors.

Golgari Charm

Golgari Charm’s flexibility is appreciated, since it can either wipe a board of X/1s, remove a problematic enchantment, or regenerate all your dying spiders.

Beast Within

Beast Within can remove any permanent type for you. The Beast token matters even less with all the deathtouch you’ve got going.

Infernal Grasp

Infernal Grasp costs life, but that shouldn’t matter as much with your Food tokens.

Roar of Challenge

I’m filing Roar of Challenge with the other removal given how you can expect to be deadly fairly quickly. You don’t have a lot of creatures that’ll hit that ferocious trigger, but your commander should be all you need.


Tribute to the World Tree

Tribute to the World Tree buffs your smaller creatures and draws you cards for casting bigger ones.

Binding the Old Gods

Binding the Old Gods is a saga that has removal and ramp chapters to start, then it can give your board deathtouch. Insurance for when Shelob, Child of Ungoliant isn’t on board.

Deathreap Ritual

Deathreap Ritual should help you draw more cards every turn a creature dies. One card per turn doesn’t seem like a lot (Moldervine Reclamation gives you life and cards whenever your creatures die), but it’ll help. I haven’t stuck infinite hand size cards in here, so you don’t want to overdraw and be forced to discard.

Swiftfoot Boots

Swiftfoot Boots can give one of your creatures some extra protection, especially if your commander isn’t on board or if it’s a non-spider that isn’t protected by Shelob, Child of Ungoliant.

The Mana Base


This deck leans more green than black given the number of green creatures and fight spells you’re running, so the basic lands are balanced to reflect that.

Overgrown Tomb

You’ve also got your pick of dual lands to give your base some flexibility. Overgrown Tomb has basic land types, so it’s fetchable by all your ramp spells.

Command Tower and Path of Ancestry each give you color fixing that’s linked to your commander.

Bojuka Bog is extremely useful for its graveyard hate, while Swarmyard taps to regenerate one of your spiders. The Shire plays into your Food token strategies, as it should.

Ramp and Mana Rocks

Bushwhack, Cultivate, Farseek, Kodama's Reach, Nature's Lore, Rampant Growth are all here to help you get lands out more quickly.

Arcane Signet and Golgari Signet are the mandatory mana rocks, along with Sol Ring.

Fellwar Stone

I’ve also included Fellwar Stone for some light color fixing. You’ll be able to make use of many activated abilities you’ve stolen from your opponents’ creatures if this is out.

The Strategy

There’s more than one way to spin a web.

At a whopping six mana, Shelob, Child of Ungoliant is going to take a while to hit the field. You’ll want a starting hand with some ramp in it and some spiders you trust to hold down the fort until Mother arrives. Assault Formation is a good early enchantment because it’ll help your spiders take out more threats while they wait for your commander.

Once your commander is out, your opponents are going to be more selective with the creatures they use to attack and block you. Your fight spells and your other removal spells are going to be key to getting rid of creatures that they don’t expose to combat with you.

This deck looks to go wide so that you’ve always go reaching blockers ready to snare anyone attacking your way (I’d have said “swinging,” but that’s Spider-Man’s job). Shelob, Child of Ungoliant’s 8 power also means that it can take out an opponent with commander damage in three swings. You don’t have any combat tricks or other effects that’ll grant it trample, so it needs to be unblocked to swing for commander damage.

Your endgame is flexible depending on how your draws go and the game progresses. Going wide with your other creatures can whittle down your opponents’ life total, while Shelob, Child of Ungoliant can go for commander damage. Fynn, the Fangbearer gives you another possible win condition with its combat damage trigger. Five triggers are all you need to take someone out.

Combos and Interactions

I haven’t built them into this deck, but there are some cards that enable infinite combos.

Penumbra Spider can enable an infinite ETB/LTB loop that includes sacrifice and creature death triggers. Nim Deathmantle and Ashnod's Altar are the other pieces. With all three on the field, sac the Spider to activate the Altar’s mana ability.

The Spider dies, which triggers Nim Deathmantle. Resolve the Spider’s death trigger to get a Spider token. Activate the Altar and sac your new spider. Resolve that Nim Deathmantle trigger, using the 4 colorless mana to pay to bring Penumbra Spider back to the field.

Then start all over again.

Viridian Longbow is already great to turn one of your spiders into a pinger, but you could build in a combo that includes Thornbite Staff to wipe your opponents’ boards and prevent them from building any. I’m focusing on keeping this deck cheap and low-powered, which is why the Staff isn’t in the decklist, but you can swap it in if you that’s your style.

Rule 0 Violations Check

I’ve half-joked before that you should have a Rule 0 conversation around the fact that you’re filling the board with spiders. If you know your pod well enough, it may not be an issue. But I’ve got a mother who has what she calls her “snake pills,” I don’t want you making anyone (or their mother) reach for their “spider pills.”

Some players won’t be too keen on poison counters and Fynn, the Fangbearer. I’d argue that it’s just one of the ways that you can take someone out, and you don’t have any proliferation effects to speed it up. It’ll only be a sudden play if you drop Fynn with a wide board already in place and an opponent that can’t block any or enough of them.

Budget Options


I’ve tried to build this deck as cheaply as possible.

But if you’re looking to really cut this down, Tribute to the World Tree, Second Harvest, Vanquisher's Banner, Phyrexian Reclamation, Realmwalker, Academy Manufactor, Lolth, Spider Queen, and Ulvenwald Tracker are among the more expensive cards that aren’t your commander. Herald's Horn can also be expensive depending on the source. They each bring something to the table, so if you replace them make sure it either fills a similar role or does something else that you need.

I haven’t skimped on the mana base though. If you’re building a Shelob, Child of Ungoliant deck for real, you can skip any of the more expensive dual lands in favor of whatever you have on hand.

Swarmyard is also more than $5, so you can either swap it for a basic or for another spell that regenerates creatures. Most of those spells will be one-time effects rather than this land’s steadiness, but that’s the price to pay.

More Expensive

You can definitely make this deck more powerful, but that also means more expensive. To start you can crack open a Hosts of Mordor Commander precon or buy a single Shelob, Dread Weaver. The death triggers activate simultaneously, so your commander makes a Food token that keeps the abilities while the Dread Weaver gets to exile the original.

I’ve mentioned Ashnod's Altar, Nim Deathmantle, and Thornbite Staff as potential combo pieces to give your deck some infinite loops.

Demonic Tutor can help you get the right spider or other spell you need. Arachnogenesis helps to widen your board when you’re being attacked. It’s expensive at the moment, but it’s the kind of card whose value will tank when it’s reprinted. If you don’t already have one, I’d hold out for that.

Black Market Connections can speed up your game in all kinds of ways, especially given how its tokens are shapeshifters with changeling. If you’re running this, replace Fellwar Stone since this can give you color-fixing Treasure tokens.

I’m not assuming you’ve been able to pull Last March of the Ents or that you’ve been able to source one from your LGS, favorite online card trader/retailer, or elsewhere. But an uncounterable spell that draws you a bunch of cards and lets you slap any creatures you pull onto the battlefield is massive value in a deck that looks to go-wide like this.

And that’s all just to start!

Other Builds

A spider deck is pretty much the way to build it given Shelob, Child of Ungoliant’s abilities. Still, there are different shades of green and different shades of black, so you can lean into some themes more than I have here.

I included Fynn, the Fangbearer without any proliferation effects. You could toss in a few, including Copper Longlegs from All Will Be One if you want to speed up the poison play. Blightwidow is a spider with infect to spread the poison even more.

You can lean more into the go-wide theme by swapping out some spiders for Doubling Season, Parallel Lives, and other token doubling effects. You’ll double your Spider production and your Food production all at once.

There aren’t a whole lot of unblockable effects that you could give a Golgari deck, but Thieves' Tools can grant it to your smaller creatures. Whispersilk Cloak and Rogue's Passage are LTR cards that also grant that ability.

I suppose you could also build in more self-milling and graveyard recursion in the hopes of pulling bigger, more expensive spiders out of there. You’d have to sacrifice a fair bit of your creature base to do that though, and I don’t think I’d recommend it.

Commanding Conclusion

Obelisk Spider - Illustration by YW Tang

Obelisk Spider | Illustration by YW Tang

I knew I wanted to make a Shelob, Child of Ungoliant deck the moment it came across my social media. It’s a superb spider to build around, and I love how there are a few other cards from Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth that work well with it mechanically, even if they don’t always work from a story perspective. But hey, strange bedfellows is one of the most fun part of deckbuilding!

What do you think of the deck? Which spiders would you swap in or out, and what other changes would you make to it? Let me know in the comments below, or over in the Draftsim Discord.

Now that that’s done, I’ve got some cobwebs to dust out!

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