New Card Analysis: Swarming Spider

The card

Swarming Spider brings Corruption it's first card with the vanilla Spellweaver statline: 2 speed, 2 mana, 2/2 - but the card is anything but vanilla. It introduces two new mechanics:

  • Play Boost: Allows you to get extra effects when you play the card
  • Primary Non-Shrine Cards: You can play an unlimited number of primary cards in your deck. Prior to Swarming Spider, the only primary cards were basic shrines.

What it does

You can build a deck with a whole bunch of Swarming Spiders - as many as you want - and use the Play Boost effects to make them better. Specifically:

  • When you play a Swarming Spider, you can give it Deadly if you pay two life. So, if you're willing to pay two life, you get a 2/2 Deadly two-drop - not bad.
  • If you pay an extra two mana, you can summon another Swarming Spider. For four mana, you get two 2/2 bodies, one of which you can give Deadly.
  • For three extra mana, you can add one might emblem to the Swarming Spider for each other Spider you control.

the art

Spellweaver developer ArtofInca outdid himself. This spider is on point, and even better, the artwork evolves based on your Play Boost selections. If you give your Spider deadly, or a bunch of might emblems, you get different art than the basic Spider. Two thumbs up.

is it good?

Yes - maybe too good. Lets hear from two Masters Champions on the balance team:

Jotto: The spiders are a bit too good. The problem I'm seeing is being able to go Spider, into Spider, into double Spider, turns 2 through 4, all with deadly.  You never run out of cards, since you can stay at 1 level and keep playing spiders, until you get to 4 mana/2 levels and then you just play valor cards and the board never stops.

I love the design. It is unique, can open a lot of new decks, and having several effects means that can be rebalanced better if needed.
— Rinriet

Rinriet: Statwise it is perfect: a two-speed 2/2 for 2, something that corruption lacked.

Effects: the Deadly part, as Jotto said, might be a little OP. Mostly because if you have the lead, losing HP isn't that important, and if you don't have the lead, it helps a lot to avoid enemy snowballing. But at the moment I don't have suggestions on that. The summon Spider for 2 mana part: it's fine, like Gibo & Roni. Helps with card permanence, because having a lot of 2/2 creatures in the deck can drain your hand too fast. The summoned Spider can't get deadly or any buff and it opens windows for dealing with them. The might emblem part is fine or a little bad. It depends on board state and is pretty expensive. For example if you have 2 Spiders, for 5 mana you get a 4/4... not very good. But it's fine as an option to snowball.

Conclusion: keep testing matchups and refining decks before changing anything.

Everything has bad matchups, but in creature mirrors the Spiders never stop. I love the idea though. Maybe make it two levels?
— Jotto

The new mechanics

play boost

We already have automatic enter the field effects (Lord Karthas, Infernal Vulture, Sentry of Light, etc); the Play Boost mechanic formalizes the idea of conditional enter the field effects. The development team headed in this direction with the change to Library Guards, and it seems it will be a core component of the Ancients Rising season.

non-shrine primary cards

I want to see where this goes. Non-shrine primaries are difficult to balance, and there are more coming in Ancients Rising. Even solid Primaries will be overpowered; imagine if you could make a deck with 20 Zombie Legionnaires or 20 Lizard Barbarians. Primaries need to be slightly weaker than other cards. If they're too weak, though, they won't see any play. It's tough to balance Spellweaver, and these will be the toughest cards to balance if we want them to see play without dominating the meta.

I imagine there won't be any limits on Primaries in Conquest - which means one Primary-based deck, if it were powerful enough, could be played three times with slightly different heroes and tech choices. Imagine, for instance, someone bringing two Spiders decks - one with the Valor cards and Trigon, and one with the Zombies support cards. Getting primaries right will be difficult, but if done right, it opens up interesting design space.

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