The Toolbox - Mindclaw Shaman

(Mindclaw Shaman | Art by Slawomir Maniak)

Tear Your Hand Into Pieces

Welcome back to The Toolbox! Here we take a look at underplayed cards and evaluate where they ought to see more play. Today we’re taking a look at a really cool theft card: Mindclaw Shaman!

Mindclaw Shaman is not the strongest creature, just a 2/2 for five mana. Luckily, there's a bit more to him than that. The important part is that his enter-the-battlefield trigger forces an opponent to reveal their hand, and you can cast an instant or sorcery from it for free.

As a single-target trigger, where can an effect like this really be utilized in Commander? Let's start by looking at Mindclaw Shaman's most common commanders thus far:

This EDHREC page surprises me a bit, to be honest, as it only features mono-red commanders. The commanders that are there, however, do make a lot of sense. Kiki-Jiki lets you make copies of Mindclaw to shred your opponents' hands and get a ton of free spells. Ilharg's presence is also pretty easy to explain, as you can cheat Mindclaw into play each turn and get the same payoff as Kiki-Jiki. Feldon also appears here, letting you make token copies of Mindclaw for multiple copies of the same effect.

The thing is, effects like the one on Mindclaw Shaman are limited due to only targeting a single opponent, so decks need to be able to capitalize on this effect multiple times to really profit.

In other words, where else should this card see play?

Copy Time

Starting off the Gruul Year right, we have Wort, the Raidmother! As a red-green Spellslinging commander, there's a lot of interesting room for interaction.

In red and green, the options for interacting with opposing instants and sorceries are minimal. Luckily, Mindclaw Shaman offers some extra reach that Gruul decks don't usually see. Wort can routinely copy huge ritual spells like Mana Geyser and Early Harvest, making the hefty cost of Mindclaw pretty much irrelevant. The main payoff, though, is that Wort lets you copy the spell that MIndclaw Shaman steals from your opponent's hand! This means you get at least two spells for the price of one, and you get to make the opponent discard their spell.

Mindclaw Shaman has to be timed carefully; if you pick the wrong opponent, they might not have any spells to copy at all. Still, I think this risk is worth it on a commander that can double any spell you end up stealing. Not only that, but don't discount how powerful it can be to fore an opponent to reveal the secrets in their hand.

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Blink Wall

When it's time to blink creatures, you have a lot of options. With commanders like Brago, King Eternal, it's hard to imagine picking anything other than the classic blink-manders. However, Pramikon, Sky Rampart is a new option that has caused some waves in the world of blink decks, as it can be flickered to cause a crazy shift right before combat.

Pramikon offers a lot in disruption of combat, but it doesn't do much against other avenues of victory. It does nothing against a Torment of Hailfire, for example. Luckily blue does have Counterspells, but Mindclaw Shaman offers a proactive option for disrupting your opponents even further.

In this deck, you're already running Ephemerate, Soulherder, and Brago, King Eternal to blink Pramikon and things like Archaeomancer. Having access to a value engine such as Mindclaw Shaman can rip apart the spells they've been storing up to try and attack you over your combat defenses. Though Mindclaw may cast a Torment of Hailfire where X=0, simply taking the spell out of their hand can be the difference between victory and defeat. Additionally, Pramikon loves knowing where the tide of battle is headed; seeing an opponent's hand and discovering their Craterhoof Behemoth gives you time to reverse the combat direction. Mindclaw not only offers key disruption that Jeskia doesn't usually have access to, but also information that can be key to your protection!

This may seem to be a somewhat atypical pick, but take a look at the decklist to see if you agree!

Walls on Walls

Commander (1)
Creatures (31)
Instants (12)
Sorceries (3)
Artifacts (10)
Enchantments (6)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (36)

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The Smile of Death

Alesha is one beast of a commander. One who loves tiny creatures. One who laughs not only in the face of death, but also at things like mana costs.

My first thought when I saw Mindclaw Shaman in an Alesha deck was, "honestly, this is too perfect." All you have to do is discard Mindclaw to Faithless Looting or Thrill of Possibility, then reanimate it with Alesha. Then you get to get some info on an opponent's hand and a free spell! From there you just sacrifice Mindclaw to Yahenni, Undying Partisan, Goblin Bombardment, or Altar of Dementia to do it all again. It's just shocking to me that a card as powerful as this doesn't make it into a deck that it fits so perfectly. Once you get this set up, you can really wear opponents down to take over the game.

Maybe I'm missing something, but take a look at the decklist and let me know if this is exactly the type of card Alesha's been missing!

Cats Did Everything Wrong

Commander (1)
Creatures (33)
Instants (6)
Sorceries (8)
Artifacts (11)
Enchantments (4)
Planeswalkers (1)
Lands (36)

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Time for 2020

Thank you all for your continued support of the series! I hope that you all enjoyed reading this installment, and I hope that you’ve found a new home for Mindclaw Shaman. Do you think that these commanders pair well with Mindclaw Shaman? Do you think I’m over-evaluating this this card, or do you agree it’s highly underrated? What other decks do you think should have this card in their toolbox?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, have a great day!

Elijah is a mildly obsessive EDH player from Georgia. He started playing during Battle for Zendikar with Green/Black Eldrazi Aristocrats and still pays tribute to the plane with his Omnath, Locus of Rage storm brew. He is always excited to innovate and try new things in Magic and Life. Elijah is currently a full time student looking to go into Computer Engineering but also has a bit of an artistic streak.