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Dark Spike Girls in Commander


Hello awesome Commander fans! Today is my last Commander deck in the last four where I took great Standard decks (Sliving Death), or theme decks (Sparkler, Plague - the latter is here) from the Tempest and Urza's Block. Today we are taking the Dark Spike Girls Golgari colored deck, and then next week we'll hit up the new Wilds of Eldraine.

Dark Spike Girls used Green for the tribe of Spikes three of which were key players in Standard (Spike Weaver; Spike Feeder; Spike Solider) - in fact all three made their debut in Abe's Deck of Happiness and Joy. You would kill your Spikes by removing their counters for things and then bring them back en masse with Living Death. This tribe just has 11 members, one of which will hurt the tribe, and then we can only run one Living Death so how can I convert this idea from Dark Spike Girls?

Let's start with my Commander! There are 54 Golgari ones. But here is the best choice for me: Reyhan, last of the Abzan.

Reyhan, Last of the Abzan

Three mana, arrives as a 3/3 with three +1/+1 counters. Did something die with a counter on it? Put that many counters on target dork. Oh, and he partner so I can combine him with another partner to add another color, but nothing fits, so we'll just stick with him. Any in color that would work? There are 25. Any I wanna add to my Command Zone for free? Nope! None work.

Mana, Ramp and Lands

Gyre Sage

I want to start our mana and ramp and lands section with this common Elemental, the first card I tossed into my deck and the one that made it in my mind. This three-drop arrives with two +1/+1 counters and you can pull them off with two mana to Rampant Growth a land into the battlefield, so it's ramp, and if it gets more counters, you can get more ramping. The Elf costs two, has a 1/2 body and then evolve. It can tap for mana equal to your counters of the +1/+1 persuasion on it, which with evolve and the other Spikes could be a lot! Great +1/+1 counter pair to kick off this section!

Now let's turn to another Rampant Growth effect on this common. For two, you can drop Sakura-Tribe Elder and then sacrifice it for free to ramp a land. It's not a +1/+1 counter matters card, but it is a self-sacrifice to bring back with my Living Death effects. Jiang Yanggu, Wildcrafter costs three, arrives with three loyalty and then your stuff with +1/+1 counters can tap for mana. Then you can -1 him to toss that counter onto a dork you control. I am also running Rishkar that has the same tapping ability and also tosses those counters onto things on arrival to the battlefield.

Black Market costs a pricey five, but when a dork from anyone dies you drop a charge counter here, including your foes' and token creatures too. Then in your precombat phase you'll make that much mana on each of your turns, so that's a lot of mana over time. Since many of those effects of ours costs mana like the activation of Spikes, you can sink that mana there, as well with casting of the Living Death effects, all of which are Black. Workhorse costs one more, arrives with a quartet of +1/+1 counters, then you can pull them off to make colorless mana. With sacrifice engine Ashnod's Altar to make sure you have a free sacrifice prior to a mass recursion, that's a lot of mana from this. This is a key combo here.

Karn's Bastion
Oran-Rief, the Vastwood

Check out this synergetic pair of lands. The one that taps for colorless can also tap with four mana to proliferate, so that's a lot of +1/+1 counter and loyalty counter proliferation here, and you can use your extra mana from ramping or Black Market here. Proliferate is nasty with Workhorse making you free mana. The Vastwood arrives tapped so you lose a turn, but then you can tap it for free to put a +1/+1 counter on each Green dork that ETBed this turn, you and your foes by the by. Nasty free growth since it doesn't require mana to tap.

Grim Backwoods taps for colorless, can be tapped with four mana to sacrifice a dork you control and draw a card, so that's card flow and a sacrifice engine in your land base. I am also running Vampiric Rites to sacrifice dorks for cards. I am also running High Market and Phyrexian Tower in my land base for sacrifices to set up a big Living Death effect.

Crawling Barrens arrives untapped, and you can spend four mana at any time to grow it permanently by two +1/+1 counters and then you can turn it into a dork to swing or block with and win, and it's another mana sink in land form and a win con.

Restless Cottage
Incubation Druid

The Golgari mana land arrives tapped, so you take a turn off. Then you can spend four to make it a 4/4 dork, and then when it swings you can make a Food and exile a card from a graveyard. Choose an opposing graveyard dork so they cannot be brought back. I am also running exile removal in Bojuka Bog and Scavenging Ooze. I am also running mana sink Lair of the Hydra. Then the creature costs two for a smaller 0/2. Then it taps for one mana of your lands can produces, and it if has a +1/+1 counter on it it will make three mana instead. It also has adapt three for five mana to make it a 3/5 with three counters on it for the tapping of that mana.

Spikes and Living Deaths

Spike Feeder
Spike Weaver

Now let's turn to Spikes and Living Death effects, around which this deck is created. The first two dorks that entered the battlefield with +1+1 counters and then could pull them off for effects were printed way back in Antiquities, but then the Spikes came along and played heavily in that wheelhouse. The Feeder costs three, arrives with two +1/+1 counters and then can pull one off for free to gain 2 life, which is very strong in 20-life formats, which was why is was beloved at Standard and 20-life kitchen table formats. Converting +1/+1 counters to 2 life for no mana is still good in Commander and is here, and don't forget you can swap a counter for 2 mana to something else.

The Weaver costs four, arrives with three +1/+1 counters and can hop for two mana or pull one off for one to Fog, making this a triple Fog in one dork. For three Fogs it was beloved in multiplayer since it could stop more than one attacker, unlike Fog, and then keep things back. I love Fogging and then bringing it back with Living Death. I also have Spore Frog in here to Fog and sacrifice and be recurred as well, although it lacks +1/+1 synergy.

Now let's turn to four Living Deaths. Vat Emergence costs five, and then you can reanimate a dork from any graveyard, and then you get a free proliferate. Nasty! Twilight's Call costs 6 and brings back all dead stuff from all players back under their control, which means that you should do better since you sacrificed your team and then your foe's will get what was left and you might have exiled the good stuff with our triple exiling options mentioned above. You can cast this at instant speed if you spend two more mana, easily done here with Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth; your ramp lands and the two mana dorks that make more than 1 mana easily.

Strands of Night
Virtue of Persistence

Now let's turn to this non-Aura enchantment pair! The former costs four, and then was in print in Standard when this deck was legal. You can pay two life and sacrifice a Swamp to get a reanimation from your graveyard to the battlefield. This is great here since we can fetch out Swamps with ramp, make them with Urborg, and then just two mana and two life. Most of my card flow is Green like Harmonize and cards we'll see later, not life loss, so we can use mana for this. I also have the at-the-time Standard-legal Phyrexian Reclamation to turn life into Raise Dead instead of Zombify, but you have to recast them.

The latter enchantment is an Adventure with two to -3/-3 a dork to kill it and gain two life too. Then you can cast the enchantment for seven mana. In your upkeep you get a free Zombify effect for a creature to your battlefield from any graveyard. Nice synergy here. Then I am also running the free Zombify for you each upkeep and Sheoldred, Whispering One. All of the cards mentioned here are very strong supplements to our Living Death effects.

Synergies and Winning Conditions

Defiler of Vigor
Forgotten Ancient

Now let's turn to synergies and win-cons. The Phyrexian costs five, arrives with a 6/6 trample body. When you wanna cast a Green permanent you can swap two life for one Green mana like it were Phyrexian mana. Most of our creatures are Green, as some key enchantments and we have few colorless artifacts, so this is likely. Then when you cast a Green permeant, all of your creatures get a free +1/+1 counter, which is why it's here.

The Elemental costs one fewer for just an 0/3. But when anyone casts a spell, you toss a +1/+1 counter on it. Then in your upkeep you can move counters from this to other dorks for free. You can gain life with Spike Feeder, Ramps from Fertilid, fogs with the Weaver, colorless mana with Workhorse and cards and removal with other things you'll see later. It's nasty here!

Now let's look at another synergy that will win the game, in addition to mana from Workhorse from the Elemental above. The classic Doubling Season will double your +1/+1 counters, loyalty counters, and then random token creatures here and there too. For example, with Workhorse, it now costs 6, and makes 7 mana from pulling off counters, and then you can sac it to the Altar for two colorless and make 9 mana. Your key +1/+1 counter stuff now arrives with double the fun.

I also tossed in the other Green +1/+1 counter doublers here as well. Then I added some win-cons in Hydra form since they arrive with +1/+1 counters you set although most won't be good post Living Death. Use your Commander to make one big after sacrifices of +1/+1 counters to win and then when answered, Living Death on your empty battlefield. Benevolent Hydra being one of the newer ones that's recurable and can survive on its own. Then it has X heads. When one or more +1/+1 counters are added, add another. Then you can tap it with zero mana to move a +1/+1 counter from it to another dork, so that's free moving of counters, but just once/turn. It's a synergetic win-con here!

Genesis Hydra

This creature also has X size with +1/+1 counters on it at two mana to start. This has a cast trigger, which will resolve, even if countered. When you cast this, dig X and then drop a nonland with cost X or less for free to the battlefield, so it's two cards in one! Good stuff! The artifact was played in Dark Spike Girls in Standard. It's a three-drop and the activation cost of every creature is reduced by one, your foes' too. It cannot be free, but spending one mana to move Spike counters is strong here.

Kalonian Hydra costs five and arrives with four counters not set amount, so it's recurrable and it has trample. Then when it swings, you double your +1/+1 counters on your stuff, not just attackers but everything. That's nasty synergy here with Doubling Season effects, by itself, or Hydra win cons. Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig is more difficult to cast, but arrives with four +1/+1 counters too, and gets more as Green stuff ETBs. It's a nasty synergy and beater.

Card Flow

Vraska, Betrayal's Sting
Ob Nixilis Reignited

Now let's turn to card flow! We'll start with these two planeswalkers. Vraska costs up to six, arrives with up to six loyalty as well and has a +0 to draw, lose a life, and then proliferate, so that will up her loyalty, the other three planeswalkers, and then you many +1/+1 counter effects. Nasty synergy and card flow here. Then we can -2 and turn a dork into a Treasure permanently so that's dork removal too. Nixilis costs five for five loyalty and has +1, draw and lose a life, so also positive card flow for a 'walker. Then his -3 will Murder something, so he is also a removal emergency of dorks. Great stuff!

Armorcraft Judge costs four and has a 3/3 vanilla size. On arrival to the battlefield, you draw a card for each creature you control with a +1/+1 counter on it, so that could be three or five easily from one dork. Lifecrafter's Bestiary costs three. When you cast a creature, you can spend a mana to draw a card, nice card flow over time. Then you can get a free scry 1 each upkeep, don't forget that!

Hunter's Prowess
Return of the Wildspeaker

Now let's turn to Green spells of the instant and sorcery persuasion. The sorcery gives a target dork you control trample and +3/+3 this turn so it's great on a Hydra or +1/+1 countered stick. When it smashes face this turn, you draw that many cards! I also am running Hunter's Insight that plays into similar card flow from combat damage space. The instant costs five too, and then it's here to draw card equal to the power of your highest non-Human. That's likely to be high with my Forgotten Ancient, Hydras, or other big stuff since I have few Humans here. Or, in an emergency or to kill a player, you can give most of your team +3/+3 this turn to survive a combat trick or a mass burn spell like Mizzium Mortars. Good pair of card flow!

Mindless Automaton ETBS with two +1/+1 counters on a four cost. Then you can spend a mana to discard a card and put a +1/+1 counter on it. That's great for setting up a big Living Death effect. Then you can, for free and no tapping, pull off two counters for one card, so two discards will draw two, and then recur with your Living Death. This is awesome with Doubling Season, Forgotten Ancient counters, the attacking Hydra, proliferation and more!

Liliana, Dreadhorde General costs six, arrives with six loyalty and then when a dork you control dies you draw a card. Since we have all of the sacrifices and drops of +1/+1 counters to kill, that should be loads of cards. Note that this cares about token death too. Then you can +1 her to make a 2/2 Zombie to block attacks on her and your other key planeswalkers like the low-loyalty Jiang. Then you can -4 her once with her starting loalty to Barter in Blood the table. That's sacrifice removal. Sure, you'll have to sacrifice two dorks too, but with 2/2 Zombies you'll draw two as well, and this is mass removal in planeswalker form! All three card flow planeswalkers also minus to kill stuff...


Inspiring Call
Heroic Intervention

...now let's finish the rest of answers! The first place we'll dig are these two answers to removal either mass or targeted. The three cost one will make your +1/+1 counter dorks indestructible for the turn to save them. You'll also draw that many cards, so that's a lot of card flow to reload your hand! The two-cost gives all of your permanents hexproof and indestructible. That's not just your creatures but your Cabal Coffers, your Doubling Season, your Strands of Night and more.I ran Golgari Charm to give your stuff regeneration at instant speed in my first build of this, but pulled it out at the last moment.

Now let's turn to removal. I am running a pair of three-cost answers to things that are emergency escape valves. Maelstrom Pulse is a sorcery that destroys anything that's not a land, so most stuff you care about. Then you can kill everything else with that name, so that'll clear out all tokens with the same name like Spirit or Solider Tokens, Treasures, Clues, or non-tokens like any duplicate mana artifacts or anything else. Beast Within is instant speed, will destroy anything even a land, and then will leave behind a 3/3 Beast to block or attack you back. It's worth it.

Haywire Mite

Check out this pair of Naturalize on sacrificial sticks! The two-drop has a bigger than Grizzly Bear size 3/2 and then sacrifices for one of three effects - destroy an artifact, enchantment or proliferate too if you need to add a loyalty counter or +1/+1 counter to something as a combat trick. The one-drop costs any color to drop on the first turn for a 1/1. Then you can spend a mana to sacrifice this and exile a noncreature artifact or enchantment. Note it cannot target creatures, but you are wanting to stop Mind's Eye, Lightning Greaves or Sylvan Library so that's okay. It also exiles, a nice permanent answer. These don't have +1/+1 counter synergy, but they can come back many times from Living Death effects and they are cheap to use and recast from your hand with Phyrexian Reclamation.

Steelbane Hydra

Now let's finish with synergy removal. The "Trike" is great here. It costs six, has a 1/1 body, and arrives with three +1/+1 counters. You can pull off counters for no mana for dealing one damage to any target! That'll kill players, dorks, and planeswalkers on the smaller side. With one Doubling Season effect that's 6 damage for free, and with the counters coming over from Forgotten Ancient you can kill quickly players with lower life. The Hydra can pull counters for three mana each to Naturalize something. This can kill it, so it'll come back but not as something, so it's a win con tied to Naturalizes. This with Heartstone is very repeatable.

There we are! Ready for my Commander redo of this Standard legal deck from way back?

Dark Spike Girls EDH | Commander | Abe Sargent

Card Display

There we are! I hope that you enjoyed this updated take on the old stuff! On Friday we'll be ranking all Spikes!

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