Last updated on November 30, 2023
Go-Shintai of Life's Origin | Illustration by Alexander Mokhov
I chose to use the pandemic to build a few Commander decks for when I was allowed back out into society, just like I’m sure many other Magic players did. I have a weak immune system which means that I stayed at home for 13 months while everyone else was able to go outside in small numbers. That’s a lot of time to come up with cool ideas.
One build that I really wanted to do was shrines, a card type I’ve loved playing with in Limited. And with Sanctum of All having only recently been printed now seemed like the best time to go for it. Now we have six more shrines, including one that can be played as our commander. The deck needed a revamp, so here we are!
Without any further ado, let’s jump right into the deck!
Sisay, Weatherlight Captain | Illustration by Anna Steinbauer
Go-Shintai of Shared Purpose
Go-Shintai of Lost Wisdom
Go-Shintai of Hidden Cruelty
Go-Shintai of Ancient Wars
Go-Shintai of Boundless Vigor
Recruiter of the Guard
Sisay, Weatherlight Captain
Herald of the Pantheon
Sythis, Harvest's Hand
Weaver of Harmony
Tameshi, Reality Architect
Archon of Sun's Grace
Eidolon of Blossoms
Honden of Cleansing Fire
Honden of Seeing Winds
Honden of Night's Reach
Honden of Infinite Rage
Honden of Life's Web
Sanctum of All
Sanctum of Tranquil Light
Sanctum of Calm Waters
Sanctum of Stone Fangs
Sanctum of Shattered Heights
Sanctum of Fruitful Harvest
Path to the World Tree
Sphere of Safety
Imprisoned in the Moon
Elspeth Conquers Death
The Kami War
Out of Time
Starfield of Nyx
Plaza of Harmony
The World Tree
Hall of Heliod's Generosity
Field of the Dead
The gameplay with this deck is fairly straightforward. You want to dawdle the games as long as possible until you can put together a board with as many shrines as possible, building up to crazy turns where you draw twenty cards, have access to fifty mana, and get to have a go at killing everyone at once.
Of course this deck’s commander has to be Go-Shintai of Life's Origin. Buying back enchantments from the graveyard is a very valuable effect that’s very welcome on the commander itself, but it’s the second ability that truly shines.
You need to get as many shrines into play as possible, so guaranteeing one out of the command zone along with all of the 1/1 Shrine tokens that it makes is really going to help to smooth out your turns. This lets you have devastating turns with only a couple of the real shrines in play, while before you needed to find most of them to get your plan going.
Another very defensible commander would be the one I used in this deck before Neon Dynasty: Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. Sisay isn’t trivial to activate but is very achievable. Getting to search up good shrines sequentially helps the deck’s gameplan come together.
If Sisay is just a 2/2, you usually fetch Sanctum of Stone Fangs first to buff it to a 3/3, followed by Sanctum of Fruitful Harvest to get your mana engine going. It’s also very useful to always grab Sanctums or Go-Shintai over Hondens since you can do that on your upkeep and have them trigger in the same turn.
I think Go-Shintai of Life's Origin is the best option of these two, but whichever one you don’t use should absolutely go into the main deck and is great when you draw it.
Other than your commander, there are 16 shrines in the deck. Some of them are just not good enough to make your deck under normal circumstances. Go-Shintai of Boundless Vigor, Go-Shintai of Ancient Wars, and Go-Shintai of Lost Wisdom all fall very far short of the mark as far as power level is concerned, but even these serve their own purposes.
Every shrine, no matter how bad, is still a shrine itself and contributes to the effects of the shrines you do care about. You may not want a big trample creature, but Boundless Vigor still draws you an extra card when Honden of Seeing Winds is in play so all 16 shrines end up being worth it.
There are a couple shrines that you always want to prioritize getting onto the battlefield first in your average game.
Sanctum of Fruitful Harvest is the most important shrine of the lot to start giving you enough mana to cast whatever you want.
Once this is set up, Sanctum of All is the most powerful of all the shrines and starts to cascade all the other shrines into play. Of course, it might be the first shrine you go for since it can search up the others depending on your mana and card situations.
All good Commander decks have some amount of mana ramp in them, and you really need it in this deck. Not only do you need lots of mana to cast what you want, you need to be fixing all five colors which isn’t a trivial thing to get right.
Fellwar Stone is an excellent signet that’s no different from Arcane Signet in the majority of multiplayer games. Even if it’s not producing all five colors, it should be making at least three of them, so it’s a worthwhile inclusion no matter what.
Path to the World Tree is one of my favorite cards from recent Limited sets and while it may not be on par with the other mana fixing that you have, the option to turn it into a mini Ultimatum effect is pretty nasty in the late game.
Rounding out the normal ramp spells you also have Chromatic Lantern and Prismatic Geoscope. Domain is really easy to fulfill since you run all five Ikoria Triomes as well as seven of the shock lands and at least one of each basic land. Lantern is also just a nice way to cheat so you don’t have to care too much about what lands are in play when casting lots of spells.
I highlighted Sanctum Weaver and Honor-Worn Shaku when I covered the shrines as the best mana engines we have access to, so it’s no wonder they’re both in this deck. They’re capable of generating a lot of mana for very little investment upfront, making them perfect for what you’re trying to do here. A lot of the other cards in this list are interchangeable based on personal preferences, but I believe these two are essential to any version of this deck.
A lot of Commander decks run a number of tutor effects to help search up key combo pieces when they need them. While I wouldn’t say this is a combo deck it is definitely a very synergy-driven deck, making some number of tutor effects worthwhile for you.
To start out I went with a very simple package of Demonic Tutor, Idyllic Tutor, and Plea for Guidance, all of which can fetch all sorts of targets, including every shrine and Sanctum Weaver to get your engines going.
Next up you have an interesting little package that’s only become possible thanks to the Go-Shintai, and that’s Imperial Recruiter and Recruiter of the Guard. Creature tutors look a little more appealing with five of the shrines in your deck being creatures. And Imperial can search for all five of them. Recruiter of the Guard can only get three of them but it can also get Shrine Steward, which can in turn fetch any of them.
This deck also has a number of very influential creatures that can be searched for, including Sanctum Weaver and Sisay, Weatherlight Captain. There are a bunch more creatures later down in the list that can be found at various points in the game, making this package really worth it.
This is a section that might not hit home for some players, but in my opinion it’s the most effective way to keep other players from bothering you too much without resorting to constantly board wiping or countering all of their spells.
Ghostly Prison and Propaganda can be really annoying to have to play around, but you also have access to the much more powerful Collective Restraint and Sphere of Safety thanks to being a 5-color enchantment-heavy deck. I got out a bunch of my shrines and was ticking down my opponents’ life totals in my first game with this deck while they all stared down a board that they couldn’t attack into without paying 20 mana per creature. No, that’s not a typo. Twenty, 20, two-zero mana. Even my brother’s Voltron-style equipment deck had no chance of attacking into me with its single massive creature.
I find these cards to be very powerful but I can understand some players not wanting to use them. That’s obviously fine if you’d rather not, but I’d suggest making sure you have more ways to deal with annoying boards or at least Fog players from time to time.
While you don’t have a lot of room for spot removal spells you do need some, and you have access to a few nice options as an enchantment deck.
Imprisoned in the Moon does a lot for you. It’s a catch-all answer to a lot of annoying permanents, it’s an aura so it’s searchable with Shrine Steward, and it’s also a great answer to opposing commanders without putting them back in the command zone.
Honestly, Imprisoned should just be Song of the Dryads, but I couldn’t find a copy of that when building this so I stuck with what I could find. Either one should work fine for this slot.
Next is a nice pair of sagas: Elspeth Conquers Death and The Kami War. Both do a great job of exiling annoying permanents. Not many decks get access to something as brutal and powerful as The Kami War, so why shouldn’t you make use of it here?
As enchantments they work really well with all of your deck’s synergies, trigger constellation abilities, and you can even reuse them with your commander’s activated ability. They do it all and deal with pretty much anything you need them to.
Board wiping is one of the most important effects that a deck needs and being in all five colors means you have a lot of great options for these slots.
My favorite card here is Out of Time. An enchantment board wipe would already be high on my list of priorities, but this also deals with commanders, equipment, and all sorts of stuff that normal wraths just don’t do since it phases everything out. It’s vulnerable to removal so pay attention to that, but it can end up being just a really brutal wrath in a lot of spots.
Doomwake Giant did a lot of work back in Standard and Theros block constructed constellation decks. The one-two punch of this and Eidolon of Blossoms (which also makes the cut) were one of the scarier combinations you could play against at the time. Doomwake synergizes well with your enchantments here and hates on every opponent’s creatures all at once thanks to some favorable wording, which is a nice little way to kill everything.
Farewell is likely the new industry-standard wrath.
Ruinous Ultimatum is an incredible powerhouse that’s difficult for most decks to cast but should be fairly easy for you.
Every other card in the deck fits into a sort of miscellaneous category, full of good cards and nice enchantment synergies.
Notable highlights include Jukai Naturalist and Herald of the Pantheon to reduce your costs, cool constellation-esque triggers like Sythis, Harvest's Hand and Archon of Sun's Grace, and some plain old great enchantments like Shark Typhoon and Maelstrom Nexus. I chose most of the cards here because I like them more than because they work in the deck. I’ve owned the same foil copy of Maelstrom Nexus for about 10 years and I always try to find a home for it somewhere.
There are a couple of cards here that deserve more attention than the rest. Weaver of Harmony was clearly designed to work with the double-faced sagas of Neon Dynasty, as you can see from its lord-like buffing ability. But it’s also custom-built for shrines since it lets you copy any of your shrine triggers for the cost of just a single green mana. This feels especially dirty when you copy Honden of Seeing Winds. Not to mention this deck is full of all sorts of other triggered abilities to copy, like cascading from Maelstrom Nexus or exiling permanents with The Kami War.
Sterling Grove is the best way to protect all your enchantments from removal. You could use cards like Greater Auramancy or Privileged Position, but they were a little out of my price range when building this deck. I didn’t want to spend too much on cards and I already had most of the deck in my collection. I’m sure I’ll get them eventually and they’ll fit right in.
Starfield of Nyx is another pseudo-win condition for the deck, allowing you to get shrines that have been destroyed back while also turning them into creatures to get one big hit in. But keep in mind that it automatically kills all your shrine tokens which isn’t ideal, but you can hold off playing it until that doesn’t matter too much.
And to round out the deck you have the lands. I went with around 40 to make sure there are enough of them at the right time. I often get asked how on earth it’s possible to make the mana work in a deck like this, and the answer is that sometimes it doesn’t. There aren’t a lot of lands that make all five colors particularly well, but you can make do by playing cycles of dual lands or tri-lands alongside the lands you have to make all five colors.
I started by choosing the Guildgates. These lands suck. I always intended this to be a budget deck and while I own sets of fetch lands and shock lands for Modern, I didn’t want too many of them in this deck, and I also didn’t want to invest in more. So I figured the Guildgates were a nice compromise.
Maze's End is a nice way to get the right ones into play when you need them. And you never know, it might even end up winning the game for you.
You also have access to Plaza of Harmony, which is often at minimum a dual or tri-land that enters untapped. While I liked these at first I’m less and less happy with them the more I play this deck. When the Triome cycle is completed in Streets of New Capenna they’ll go straight in and the Guildgates will probably be the first to go.
Next are the five Triomes and seven of the ten shock lands. These are great for enabling domain for Collective Restraint and Prismatic Geoscope while also just being great fixing by themselves. I originally had all ten shocks but opted to cut Steam Vents, Blood Crypt, and Watery Grave since this new and more streamlined build is very heavily focused on green and white, so I want to keep the number of lands not tapping for those colors to a minimum.
I also added in Savannah as the only original dual land. I had a spare one from previous EDH projects and it’s the perfect fit in this deck. In an ideal world and an unlimited budget you’d probably have all ten original duals in here, but unfortunately we don’t live in that world.
You also have seven total basic lands with double Plains and Forest, but I’ve split them between normal basics and snow-covered so that their names are different for Field of the Dead, a card that really shines when you have all uniquely-named lands in your deck.
Hall of Heliod's Generosity is a great utility land to use in an enchantment-heavy deck. I’m sure that’s clear just from reading the card. Getting your enchantments out of the graveyard is an effect that you need a lot, so having it on a land is perfect.
And finally you have The World Tree. You may note that there are no god cards in this deck, but having this in play as the land version of Chromatic Lantern makes all of your mana costs trivial to pay. Even the very difficult ones like The Kami War and Ruinous Ultimatum.
The deck’s gameplan is a simple one: put as many shrines onto the battlefield as possible and let them do the work. You want to prioritize cards that accelerate your mana production and draw you more cards in the early game to enable this gameplan.
You have plenty of failsafe options in your board wipes to make sure you don’t fall too far behind in doing all of this. But you might want to barter for some help in fending them off until you can get the right permanents into play if you do play against a very aggressive deck. If you end up winning the game it’s usually thanks to Honden of Infinite Rage, Sanctum of Stone Fangs, and Go-Shintai of Ancient Wars doing a lot of direct damage. Honden of Life's Web, Go-Shintai of Shared Purpose, Go-Shintai of Life's Origin, and Archon of Sun's Grace also help to flood the board with an army of tokens that help you win another way.
You’re generally just trying to draw more cards than your opponents while casting more spells with them and hoping that the masses of card advantage that you’ve accrued is enough to win you the game.
Combos and Interactions
This isn’t really a deck that’s awash with combos to play, but there are a lot of synergies to pay attention to.
I’ve already mentioned that Imperial Recruiter and Recruiter of the Guard can search for lots of targets. If the thing you really need to do is kill a commander and you have a ton of mana spare, you could even go Imperial Recruiter into Recruiter of the Guard into Shrine Steward into Imprisoned in the Moon. Hopefully you won’t have to go that far for one removal spell, but having the options weaved into your deck is a handy option to have.
Shark Typhoon is a funny one. It triggers off all of your noncreature enchantments, but you can often get away with not casting it at all. Go-Shintai of Life's Origin, Tameshi, Reality Architect, and Brilliant Restoration can all cheat it into play out of the graveyard if you cycle it early, netting you a little bit more value for your trouble.
If you suspect (or know) that an opponent has counterspells, a really nice way to get around them is with Tameshi, Reality Architect. Tameshi is the cheapest and most efficient way to get enchantments out of the graveyard, and it’s able to cheat any of your countered enchantments into play through most counterspells if you already have it in play or use the other cards in your hand as bait first. You can also search for Tameshi using Imperial Recruiter.
Rule 0 Violations Check
There aren’t any infinite combos as far as I’m aware. I definitely didn’t design the deck to have them, but there might be some I didn’t intend. The deck has a lot of moving parts and a lot of them play well with each other because of all of the synergy.
I know there are some players that don’t like playing against cards like Ghostly Prison and Propaganda, but I don’t think there’s anything else to worry about when it comes to Rule 0. This deck is just trying to do silly things and, if left unchecked, has some really obscene effects. That said it’s fairly easy to disrupt as long as players brought their Disenchants to the table.
I designed this to be a very budget-friendly deck overall. The shrines themselves are all very cheap to buy, though Go-Shintai of Life's Origin is about $20. It’s the only absolutely essential card in the deck that costs that much.
Demonic Tutor is far from necessary since you have the two Recruiters so it can be very easily cut from the list. Collective Restraint can also be pricey, but changing the land base around may end up not supporting it anyway.
The Mana Base
The main thing that often sets you back is the mana base. I’ve chosen a land base that’s medium in power level and monetary value but it’s also based on cards I owned. I didn’t want to have to buy any new cycles of duals for this. If you don’t own any of the big hitters like shock lands, Triomes, fetches, or original duals then there are other options available to you.
The Guildgates aren’t really that bad and I’ve found them to do their jobs well enough. The cycle of uncommon tri-lands out of Shards of Alara and Khans of Tarkir are all very defensible too, as are the cycle of vivid lands from Lorwyn. There’s also quite a few variants of Rupture Spire and Evolving Wilds out there that you can run.
If you want to spend a bit of money to improve the land base, I’d say the most important cards to go after are Reflecting Pool and the Triomes. I also want to point out that if you replace the Triomes and shock lands with other duals that you own this weakens the power of Prismatic Geoscope and Collective Restraint, so take that into consideration.
There are generally a lot of cycles of good dual lands that you can use if you have them, like the recent ones from Crimson Vow and Midnight Hunt, or the ones from Battlebond and Commander Legends. Just remember that even though your deck is five colors it’ll always be weighted towards some colors more than others, and you should always take this into account when building your own land base.
There are so many cards that could potentially go in this deck that it’s hard to figure out where to start. I’m happy with this list that I’ve put together, but there are a lot of cards that I’ve left out.
Another key card from the Enchantress decks of old that could work is Words of War to let you turn a bunch of your drawn cards into Shocks. This could be particularly useful with Honden of Seeing Winds since its ability is mandatory and decking out could be a very real possibility at some point.
I haven’t leaned too hard into the legendary side of the shrines. Instead I focused more on the enchantment synergies. This might be a nice alternate way to build the deck. If you use Mirror Box and Mirror Gallery to turn off the legend rule then you could use that as an opportunity to make copies of the shrines, effectively doubling or tripling their effectiveness. This sounds like a really fun way to build the deck, but it’ll make it a lot harder to play.
A lot of how I built this deck is based on cards in this general sphere of play that I enjoy or have enjoyed playing with in the past, so a lot of it is down to personal preference. If you have cards that you have a personal fondness for, then go for it! This deck is five colors after all so there’s a lot of room for you to play pretty much whatever you want.
But after 40 lands and 16 shrines you only have space for another 43 cards to fill the deck, so pick your favorite ones and go from there. I had a lot less focus on enchantment synergies and a lot of cascade spells like Maelstrom Wanderer and Etherium-Horn Sorcerer in previous versions of this list because I love the mechanic and find it hilarious to play in Commander. If you love a mechanic and you think it would fit well in here, give it a try and let me know how it goes.
The World Tree | Illustration by Anastasia Ovchinnikova
If you want to see me talk more in depth about some Commander decks, let me know in the comments down below. I have a number of other projects in mind that I could document and turn into guides if you want to see them.
Until next time, stay safe and have fun!Follow Draftsim for awesome articles and set updates: