Some cards deserve more love that you’re currently giving. Maybe they came out before you started playing, and haven’t made it to the top of EDHREC. Maybe you drafted it, slotted it in your binder without a second a thought, and now it’s collecting dust. Maybe it’s always the first draft of your deck, but always ends up being your 101st card. No matter what, you should be playing: Plague Spitter.

Some of you, dear readers, never got to experience the Good Old Days (TM) of competitive Magic. I’m talking pre-modern times when we don’t know what a linear deck was, our cards were narrow, and damage still stacked.

It was a simpler time. A better time.

Ok, so it wasn’t all roses. You did have an occasional format dominating/warping mechanic like Affinity. People thought that Necropotence and Dark Ritual were acceptable cards. And there was that one winter that none of us talk about anymore that led to a Memory Jar ban before the card was ever legal.

Maybe it was just a simpler time.

Either way, back in the day, creatures weren’t quite as powerful as they are today. You could reinvent Magic theory with a 2/2 for 1R (with a drawback). During the time around Invasion, the most powerful creature was Flametongue Kavu, a 4/2 with an EtB that invalidated about 60% of the creatures in the format.

Today we’re going into the way back machine to check out a card from this era. Mostly known as a standard staple in Tom van de Logt’s World Championship winning Machinehead deck, the card we’re looking at today should be seeing a lot more current play. Nope, it’s not Flametongue Kavu. Today we’re going to explore his little brother, Plague Spitter.

Why You Want to Play Plague Spitter

You like a clean house. You like getting rid of annoying pests like saprolings, elves, soldiers, and insects. But your true passion is cleaning up everyone’s messes. You like using every part of the buffalo – especially when you shot the buffalo first. You’re a fan of the first half of the Golden Rule – “Do Unto Others.”

Tech, Tactics, and Strategies

Plague Spitter is a really interesting little fella. Traditionally, he’s been used to sweep the board of annoying weenies like Llanowar Elves and Birds of Paradise. As Commander keeps optimizing, and getting faster and faster, I think it makes sense to look at Plague Spitter for that role today too. More decks are moving away from high-cost ramp spells, and leveraging more efficient land fetchers and mana dorks. An early Plague Spitter can punish these greedy players and undo multiple turns of work across the table. 

Even without a preponderance of mana dorks, Plague Spitter can do work in most Commander pods. You’re always sitting across from a go-wide deck or a tokens deck. Plague Spitter might not be the death knell to those opponents, but he sure will slow them down. 

Possibly more importantly, there are a metric ton of utility weenies running around Commander tables. Plague Spitter might not straight murder a Mother of Runes, but he sure keeps her busy.

I think in his natural state, Plague Spitter deserves a lot more love than he sees today. But if you’re willing to put a little more work in, you’ll find a lynchpin for multiple really interesting strategies.

Ye Old Tim Deck

Black isn’t one of the traditional colors when you think of a Tim deck, but maybe it should be. 

–Quick aside — 

For those new to the format, a “Tim” deck is a deck full of pingers. Guys like Prodigal Sorcerer pair with ways to increase their efficiency and dominate the board. And yes, it’s named after this guy 

— end aside —

In most Tim decks, you want red and blue because they have the most pingers. Plague Spitter fits naturally into this strategy. He makes all your pingers ever more efficient by doing an initial “ping” to your targets. Sometimes you have to partner up pingers to take down something large. Plague Spitter starts this party for no additional cost. On top of that, he’s an Area of Effect master so you get that benefit across all your opponents creatures. 

More important than making your pingers more efficient is the fact that Plague Spitter opens you up to the black color pie – and all the deathtouchy goodness included therein. If you want an old-school combo just pair up Cunning Sparkmage and Basilisk Collar. You’ll be mowing down creatures left and right. But with black, you don’t have to worry about silly things like equip costs. Cards like Archetype of Finality, Zagras Thief of Heartbeats, and Death Pits of Rath turn each of your pingers into murder machines. 

Plague Spitter also combos great with deathtouch by upgrading his pings into full-fledged wraths. One upkeep trigger means nobody has any creatures left. 

Unless you had a way to make sure your creatures didn’t get any damage.

One for you, None for me

If your plague spitter has deathtouch, you might want to bring some protection. Luckily there is no shortage of cards that help prevent his damage for your team. In fact, white has carved out a niche for itself in preventing non-combat damage against your team. Cards like Tajic, Legion’s Edge, The Wanderer, and Mark of Asylum prevent non-combat damage to your creatures. That means a deathtouched Plague Spitter mutates from a Wrath of God into a repeating In Garruk’s Wake

If you go back in Magic’s history, there are a couple really interesting cards that supplement this effect. Light of Sanction has sweet art for such an incredibly narrow card – but it fits perfectly here. The most powerful of these effects might be Rune-Tail Kitsune Ascendant. Existing above 30 life is trivial in Commander, so Rune-Tail will almost always flip as soon as you can him. As soon as you do, you can ignore damage the rest of the game. 

Damage prevention isn’t the only way to get this effect. If a creature has protection from black, they won’t take any Plague Spitter damage. You probably want to pack an Absolute Grace if you’re going down this path. Akroma’s Memorial gives you a similar effect with the downside of costing a bunch more. 

You can also make all your dudes indestructible. It’s a little harder to give your entire team indestructible, but you can always slap a Darksteel Plate on Plague Spitter to make sure no one ever has creatures again. Personally, I’d get a bit fancier. Combine Eldrazi Monument with Hidden Stockpile and you’ll have a never-ending stream of sacrificial servos to keep your team powered up. 

Get Stuffed

Negating the damage from Plague Spitter makes a ton of sense. But what if we decided to lean into it instead? 

Stuffy Doll is one in a long line of damage redirectors. His buddies like Spitemare, Boros Reckoner, Truefire Captain, and Brash Taunter don’t care if they get slapped around a bit. They’ll just make something positive out of the experience. 

If you really want to go crazy, add in some damage boosters like Furnace of Wrath, Dictate of the Twin Gods, or Fiery Emancipation. These cards play nicely with Plague Spitter anyway by bumping his pings into true punches. They also let the redirects grow exponentially. One ping from a Plague Spitter with a Fiery Emancipation in play does three to your Brash Taunter – who then does nine to an opponent of your choosing. 

I bet you’ll need a calculator when you add Obosh the Preypiercer to the mix.

Turn the Frown Upside Down

To this point, we’ve been discussing ways to prevent and redirect damage. Now it’s time to just suck it up and roll with the punches. Magic is filled with cards that get just a little bit better whn you can do some damage. 

High Priest of Penance is a two-mana Vindicate when he get’s pinged. Make him indestructible and you can remove something every turn. 

Plague Spitter turns on all your bloodthirst cards. Most of these guys just get bigger when bloodthirsty, but it’s nice to not have to actually deal combat damage to power up your Skarrgan Skybreaker or to rebuy your Skarrgan Firebird. While most bloodthirst guys are a bit below rate, they might have some good +1/+1 synergies if you don’t have to worry about attacking with them. 

Enrage is a similar mechanic. Sometimes you have to jump through hoops to trigger your dinos. This is especially true for the smaller ones who you don’t want to kill in combat. Plague Spitter easily procs value dinosaurs like Ranging Raptors, Trapjaw Tyrant, and Ripjaw Raptor

The final mechanic that benefits from Plague Spitter procs is spectacle. You want to go full on burn, Skewer the Critics does a pretty good Lightning Bolt impression. Rix Maadi Reveler is a mini-wheel. Light Up the Stage is straight card draw. And Spawn of Mayhem is an undercosted beater that doubles down on your drip damage. 

So What Does a Plague Spitter Deck Look Like?

For such an innocuous little horror, Plague Spitter opens up a ton of strategic avenues. I think there are three obvious decks that want a guy like this. 

The first is straight Orzhov (BW) that heavies up on protection and damage prevention effects. A commander like Elenda the Dusk Rose could get huge while you lock out your opponents from playing creatures. 

You could easily evolve this into a Mardu (WBR) deck and take advantage of all the damage doublers and redirection abilities. I really like Kelsien the Plague if you want to go the deathtouch and prevention route. If you choose to heavy up on redirection and area of effect damage, play Oros the Avenger with powerful sweepers like Chain Reaction, Earthquake, and Blasphemous Act

I also like Plague Spitter in Jund (RBG) and Golgari (BG) decks. A commander like Vhati il-Dal can be a murder machine while driving value from Ranging Raptors and Ripjaw Raptor. Ultimately, my favorite way to use Plague Spitter is with one of my favorite new commanders – Belbe Corrupted Observer.

Belbe, Corrupted Observer | Commander

Commander (1)
Belbe, Corrupter Observer

Creatures (31)
Deathrite Shaman
Wirewood Symbiote
Fauna Shaman
Priest of Titania
Viridian Zealot
Shepherd of Rot
Nezumi Graverobber
Withered Wretch
Glissa, the Traitor
Gilrana, Caller of Wildwood
Llanowar Visionary
Fierce Empath
Evlish Archdruid
Eternal Witness
Tireless Tracker
Plague Spitter
Sylvok Replica
Golgari Findbroker
Skyshroud Poacher
Solemn Simulacrum
Underrealm Lich
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
Soul of the Harvest
Realm Seekers
Geth, Lord of the Vault
Soul of Innistrad
Wurmcoil Engine
Steel Hellkite
Herald of Leshrac
Terastodon
It That Betrays

Spells (22)
Vampiric Tutor
Executioner’s Capsule
Abrupt Decay
Assassin’s Trophy
Sylvan Library
Farseek
Reap
Lim-Dul’s Hex
Putrefy
Necropotence
Retreat to Hagra
Defense of the Heart
Tempt with Discovery
Triskaidehobia
Pestilence
Palace Seige
Deadbridge Chant
Rishkar’s Expertise
Enslave
Necromantic Selection
In Garruk’s Wake
Genesis Wave

Planeswalkers (2)
Nissa, Vital Force
Karn Liberated

Artifacts (8)
Expedition Map
Viridian Longbow
Nihil Spellbomb
Prophetic Prism
Bonder’s Ornament
Oblivion Stone
Memory Jar
Planar Portal

Lands (36)
Command Tower
Verdant Catacombs
Hissing Quagmire
Jungle Hollow
Blooming Marsh
Golgari Rot Farm
Tainted Wood
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Cabal Coffers
Bojuka Bog
Leechridden Swamp
Shizo, Death’s Storehouse
Polluted Mire
Slippery Karst
Temple of the False God
Dust Bowl
Volrath’s Stronghold
Wirewood Lodge
Forest
Swamp