At some point or another I traded a friend for Ishkanah, Grafwidow. I have yet to build a Golgari deck, and for whatever reason this commander spoke to me more so than the ones on offer. Part of this is due to the fact that I already have a Meren in my playgroup and though I was also interested in building Slimefoot, I also have a Ghave deck in the playgroup so both of those were sort of off limits. Golgari decks tend to focus on sacrifice and recursion, but Ishkanah doesn’t really focus on either. Instead, she’s basically the go-to commander to lead Spider heavy decks due to her abilities. Let’s take a look:
This spider queen has a solid 3/5 body and Reach like most spiders, which means that she can inherently block creatures with flying and has the ability to withstand a fair amount of damage. She also has a Delirium trigger, where if you have four card types in your graveyard, she also creates three spider tokens as an ETB. Lastly, for a whopping 7 mana you can drain a single opponent for one life per spider you control. Unfortunately she doesn’t give spiders anything else, but this does mean that you can potentially finish someone off given enough spiders and a low life total. With this is mind, let’s look at the spiders and spider related cards I’ve included in the deck:
Generally speaking, most of the spiders in the game are vanilla creatures with more toughness than power and though they all have reach they don’t usually do much else. I’ve found some of the better ones and included them here, some with vigilance or deathtouch or other special abilities. Otherwise, the only other cards in the deck that have anything to do with spiders are Arachnogenesis and Spider Spawning, both of which create some extra tokens for us. Spiders are similar to walls in the fact that they have high toughness, so I’ve added Assault Formation to the mix as well, which will allow most of the spiders to hit for 5+ damage rather than 3 or less. I have included several creatures that aren’t part of the tribe but should synergize well:
Most of the rest of these creatures are insects or have something to do with insects. I’m looking for extra tokens to use as sacrifice fodder and to go wide. Some of these creatures also have some form of recursion baked in, or double as sacrifice outlets. We mainly want to be able to sacrifice and recur various creatures with ETB effects, but also make a ton of tokens in the process while allowing our bigger threats to be potential finishers. Here’s the other support cards that will help with these processes:
Here we have some card draw that also fills up your graveyard (for later recursion), a couple of win-cons in Beastmaster Ascension and Triumph of the Hordes (go wide decks will love the power boost + infect). Bow of Nylea provides deathtouch to all attacking creatures, so your lowly 1/1 tokens can take out huge blockers. Otherwise it’s a bunch of recursion (outside of the creature based recursion already included). Lastly, Dictate of Erebos will help you thin out the board as you can sacrifice little tokens to any outlet you happen to have and force your opponents to sacrifice their actual creatures. Win/win.
I’ve also included a small removal package consisting of Beast Within and similar cards. There are a couple of tutors like Green Sun’s Zenith and Diabolic Tutor, but this is a budget build ($161 at the time of this writing) so I didn’t include any single card that’s over $10. It’s not going to be as competitive as a Meren deck, but the flavor is there and that’s important too.