Commander Spotlight: Sunder Shaman

Welcome back to week twenty-three of Monday Magic: COVID Edition. It has been a tiresome 205 days since my last summoning. And, frankly, I don’t think I need a long-winded soliloquy to expound on how much that stinks. So…I won’t.

I will say that I do believe our play group is inching closer to making some form of in-person attempt in the weeks ahead, as everyone has been taking sensible prescribed precautions and our part of the country has been routinely trending in the right direction, both of which bode well for making an attempt at actual gaming much more viable.

Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to that day for a number of reasons, several of which include dusting off the mental cobwebs of a game that’s I thoroughly enjoy, engaging with individuals I haven’t seen for more than half a year, and satiating my ambivert need to actually be around other people. It’s a day that can’t come soon enough, that’s for sure.

Until we get to that point, however, we remain at a standstill – both figuratively in the gaming sense and literally with respect to the nature of these articles. For until we get back to a place wherein these articles can once again focus more on topical pieces (MTG or otherwise), we’re still relegating the card picks to those that I’ve personally wanted to put into an EDH deck but haven’t for one reason or another.

When it comes to this week’s pick, though, the main reason isn’t a case of years long yearnings to do so, but rather the more practical matter of not having a deck that fits its color scheme. That’s what holds me back. But that should hardly stop you.

Today we have: Sunder Shaman

Name: Sunder Shaman

Edition: Ravnica Allegiance

Rarity: Uncommon

Focus: Artifact Destruction / Enchantment Destruction

Highlights: The third trip to the plane of Ravnica inevitably was completely swallowed up by the whole War of the Spark / Nicol Bolas storyline: a laudable effort years in the making that ultimately fell short from a narrative standpoint. From a gaming perspective, however, it’s a bit of a shame with respect to how overshadowed the two preceding sets ended up feeling in retrospect. Somehow, two sets revolving around the much-adored Ravnican guilds simply didn’t generate the same level of fanfare it normally does. Which is unfortunate, because there were a bevy of useful Commander cards sprinkled throughout the sets, including Sunder Shaman here.

Leave it to Red / Green Gruul cards to keep things short and to the point (all the more reason why I’m doing the same this week). In this case, Sunder Shaman is a solidly built creature that includes both a somewhat useful attack trick and an even more useful combat trigger. All of which is pretty decent given the investment cost.

Indeed, one of the most notable parts about Sunder Shaman is that it’s an above curve 5/5 creature for just four mana, making it a relatively easy creature to get out in all stages of the game. If it sees the battlefield early on, it provides the potential to be mildly aggressive, and if it shows up later, it makes for an affordable blocker with some tactical attack implications. This is compounded in both cases by the fact that it has a rider stating that it can’t be blocked by more than one creature – a trait not particularly useful on smaller creatures but quite effective with larger ones when players may wish to gang up blockers to get rid of it.

Its most appealing aspect though is easily its combat trigger, stating that if it deals combat damage to a player that you can destroy an Artifact or Enchantment of theirs too. Given how often EDH decks are reliant on them to function in lengthy multiplayer setting, losing one to a pot shot attack can actually be more painful to endure than the damage itself. Indeed, Sunder Shaman is a larger, more ground based Trygon Predator (which as anyone on the receiving end of that aerial assault is never fun to deal with). While you’re effectively trading Flying for a larger frame at about the same casting cost, the drop in baked-in evasion is quickly offset by its increased likeliness stick around on the battlefield. And given that you want to have its effect trigger as many times as possible, having a slightly beefier size is all the more ideal.

Sunder Shaman was just one of many Ravnica 3.0 cards worth checking out, but this one particularly caught my eye when it was revealed. And when the day comes that a a Red / Green Commander follows me home, rest assured that this is one card that won’t take a ton of thinking to consider including.

Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.

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