Last updated on May 10, 2022

Shorikai, Genesis Engine - Illustration by Wisnu Tan

Shorikai, Genesis Engine | Illustration by Wisnu Tan

Shorikai, Genesis Engine is a popular and powerful card that has the unique claim to fame of being the only vehicle you can play as your commander. This made it an instant hit in the Commander community as shown by its popularity on EDHRec. Its popularity exceeds its ally and competitor Kotori, Pilot Prodigy, whose precon Shorikai comes from, a fact I attribute to a few things:

  • Shorikai’s novelty factor as a vehicle commander is 100% unique.
  • Shorikai is an efficient card advantage engine entirely on its own while Kotori decks have to rely on the 99 to keep a steady stream of cards flowing.
  • Shorikai is rarely a creature (crew 8 is no joke!) so it enjoys protection from EDH staples like Vanquish the Horde, Wrath of God, and Swords to Plowshares.
  • Shorikai plays well with vehicles thanks to free Pilots but also performs fine without them.
  • Kotori’s main advantage over Shorikai is that it’s the better commander for quickly pressuring the table with a fleet of massive beaters, but it’s much more narrow.

Today I’ll be going over a Shorikai list I threw together and discuss all kinds of build options and synergies for you to build the perfect Shorikai deck for your EDH nights. Let’s get started!

The Deck

Skysovereign, Consul Flagship - Illustration by Jung Park

Skysovereign, Consul Flagship | Illustration by Jung Park

The Commander

Shorikai, Genesis Engine

Shorikai, Genesis Engine is a versatile commander that provides ready access to cards and Pilot tokens as well as easy graveyard synergy with looting. It’s main weakness is also one of its strengths: it’s seldom a creature thanks to its obscene crew cost and how easily chump blocked it is. Tapping it to attack also means you’re skipping a turn of activating it.

With all this in mind, some themes that make sense to incorporate and build around in your Shorikai deck include:

  • Attrition/interaction (sweepers, counterspells, Disenchant effects, hate cards for graveyard/combo)
  • Far fewer creatures needed thanks to constant stream of free tokens
  • Vehicles
  • Untapping artifacts
  • Artifacts in general
  • Reanimator (niche, but Shorikai is an easy setup for this)

One framework I’ve really liked for building EDH decks (credit to Saffron Olive and his EDH upgrade articles) is:

  • 50 mana. Lands and ramp, usually a 37/13 split.
  • 10 card draw. Cards that net you 2+ cards in hand.
  • 8 targeted removal. Split between creature/artifact/enchantment removal and counterspells.
  • 3 board wipes. Creature-light decks might want one more, creature-heavy decks might want one less.
  • 2 graveyard recursion.
  • 2 flexible tutors. For higher budgets I recommend more tutors.
  • 1 graveyard hate. Since you need to keep graveyard decks honest.
  • 1 finisher. Something that can win games the turn you cast it without too much setup.

Mana Rocks

I want to start this Shorikai, Genesis Engine build with mana rocks. Lots of rocks in fact!

While mana rocks are general Commander staples (especially for decks without access to green), they’re particularly good with Shorikai because of its powerful card draw ability. This dramatically reduces the risk you’ll flood out by playing too many rocks. They also play great with both artifact/untap synergies just like Shorikai!

You should aim is 15 to 20 rocks and mana creatures plus 35 to 40 lands since Shorikai will keep you from flooding out too badly and highly value the consistency that comes with such high numbers.

Most of these are fairly self-explanatory, but if you want to trim the more budget ones I’d suggest the ETB tapped ones first. Ebony Fly seems nifty for giving Shorikai flying so expect to activate the ability more than Guardian Idol even if both are going to be rocks 99% of the time.

None of these are necessary but they’re fantastic if you can afford them or already own them. Talisman of Progress is the most plain one but is really expensive compared to Signets and Diamonds since it hasn’t being reprinted in over a decade. Jeweled Lotus seems fantastic in Shorikai since you can easily discard it if you draw it after casting Shorikai, the card’s main drawback.

Vehicles

While I don’t want to play every vehicle imaginable, having easy access to a lot of Pilot tokens makes good vehicles great. These also offer a simple way to pressure other players or even win games if your opponents don’t blow up your flying vehicles. This is also a great seg from the precon, which includes most of the vehicles you’d want to play in Shorikai (and a few I wouldn’t).

Cultivator’s Caravan is a personal favorite given that it’s a mana rock on wheels, perfect for Shorikai! The rest of the vehicles in this list either fly, animate vehicles, or generate card advantage (Imposter Mech being the lone exception as a unique clone effect).

If you’re modifying your precon to fit this build, this means cutting Colossal Plow, Imperial Recovery Unit, Prodigy’s Prototype, and Raiders’ Karve. Moving away from Kotori, Pilot Prodigy makes vehicle density and very large crew costs less appealing, and big ground beaters frequently get walled off or chumped in EDH.

Sweepers

Shorikai works well with sweepers for several reasons. It’s a vehicle, it gives you lots of card advantage and selection and free chump blockers, it plays well with other vehicles, and it’s in no hurry to accomplish anything. This is a great deck for your Wrath of God and Day of Judgment and similar cards.

This deck plays eightsweepers to really slow down games and get time to activate Shorikai over and over. That’s a lot, but keep in mind that you can also pitch sweepers when they aren’t useful of you don’t mind overdoing it a bit to make sure you always have the option.

I dream of  sweeping the board and then activating Peacewalker Colossus/Mobilizer Mech to immediately crunch for a bunch of damage with Shorikai and the gang.

Counterspells

No attrition deck makes sense without ways to stop your opponents from doing whatever they want. While I wouldn’t go totally crazy with counterspells (you aren’t a Nymris, Oona’s Trickster deck), you want to play a good number of them to stop combos and haymakers at the table and keep people honest. but keep in mind that a lot of the best counterspells are rather pricey, so this deck only includes ones won’t hurt your wallet too much.

There’s a nice mix of counterspells here, but sadly a couple of the better cheap ones are out of the budget. If you want more counters there are endless Cancel variants you could consider. I tend to avoid most “unless you pay X” counterspells in EDH since they can go dead very quickly. But Shorikai mitigates this so this list plays both Mana Leak and Spell Pierce since you can pitch them if they go dead late.

There’s some real power here, particularly Fierce Guardianship which is a genuinely broken EDH card. 0-mana Negate is just completely messed up, but $50 is quite the price to pay for a single card. Mana Drain is an even more comically overpowered case of this since a single copy is over $80!

Spot Removal

Not too much spot removal here since you can lean on sweepers to kill a lot of things at once and counterspells for gigantic spells. But having the option to just get rid of one individually problematic thing is always good so you’re playing a handful of staples plus Dispatch, which works well with your many artifacts.

Dirty Duo/Combo

This is where the fun begins! The simplest combination of cards you can run in Shorikai, Genesis Engine to draw groans from your table is Isochron Scepter plus Dramatic Reversal. I mentioned this earlier but assembling this combo with Shorikai and mana rocks gives you infinite mana, infinite cards, and as many 1/1s as you can make before you deck out.

Laboratory Maniac

Whether or not you include this combo (and the tutors to find it) should depend on your power level, but it’s in this deck since my LGSes are full of similar combos. You could also try Laboratory Maniac if you want to be able to convert this combo into a win on the spot, but it’s a useless card otherwise and I feel like “infinite mana, infinite cards” might get the scoop anyways.

One thing worth mentioning is that having fail cases for Isochron Scepter makes sense from a deckbuilding perspective. Thankfully you have quite a few decent backup options with counterspells and spot removal.

Tutors

The only tutor you’re playing so far is Muddle the Mixture, which is a serviceable counterspell that can find either of your combo pieces. You’ll want more so there’s a couple tutors that can each find one of the pieces. All these tutors have viable backup hits if you already have the corresponding piece or failed to combo out earlier.

Solve the Equation and Merchant Scroll are the tutors you want to get Dramatic Reversal.

If you’re looking to tutor Isochron Scepter then you want Tribute Mage and Fabricate.

Mystical Tutor and Enlightened Tutor are both great if you aren’t on a budget, especially because Shorikai lets you draw whatever card you tutor immediately.

Other Cards

You’ve got a bit more card draw to help supplement Shorikai, Genesis Engine to finish the deck. Thirst for Knowledge and Thoughtcast are good picks for this since both are quite efficient with artifacts.

Release to Memory

There’s also Release to Memory from the preconstructed deck in order to hate on graveyards, and it plays well with your mass of sweepers.

Cyberdrive Awakener and Katsumasa, the Animator are in the deck as potential finishers so that games don’t go forever.

The Mana Base

38 is a healthy number of lands for sure, but this deck is very interested in accumulating quite a bit of mana so you don’t mind a bit of flood. More lands wouldn’t even be bad. You could play up to 41 lands in a deck like this.

If you have the mana base from the precon and feel lazy just add another cheap dual land and you’re good to go.

Mana base is somewhat self-explanatory. This list has all the cheap dual lands you could want (cheap defined as cheaper than Hallowed Fountain, at least). There are 22 basics and some great utility lands.

Mech Hangar works well with all your vehicles, Inventors’ Fair is free lifegain and a tutor on a land, Command Tower is a freeroll staple, and Command Beacon seems useful given how much this deck is built around Shorikai. If your threat level is high enough occasionally it’ll be targeted by Shatter effects and Beacon can be an out to the most egregious cases of this.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but you can add some more expensive duals and utility lands if you want. Nothing essential, but it’s good to be aware of:

The Strategy

You’re basically here to durdle. Make Pilots, crew some vehicles, counter some spells, and sweep the board tons of times while building up your mana towards a big end game. Eventually you can set up Scepter and Reversal or just win with giant vehicles, Cyberdrive Awakener, or Katsumasa, the Animator.

Try not to attract too much attention to yourself early since losing Shorikai, Genesis Engine too many times really slows this deck down.

Power Level

When building an EDH deck your first step should always be to figure out your desired power level. There’s a fantastic chart I like to refer to when building my own EDH decks:

EDH Power Level Chart

Source

If you have a stable playgroup already, aim for your deck’s power level to be as close to theirs as possible. Discussing power levels in advance is a good idea to make sure everyone is on the same page. If you don’t currently have an EDH group then I’d aim for 5 to 7 depending on your budget and how important power is to you. Most decks I played against fell somewhere into this range, and shooting too high on power level can make other players resent you.

With Shorikai, Genesis Engine in particular I’d say this is what each number roughly looks like:

  • 1-2: You’d have to make the precon worse than it is for either of these.
  • 3-4: Depending on how much you like Shorika’s precon it falls into either one of these categories for you. If you’re just jamming with other new/precon players, swap Kotori, Pilot Prodigy into the 99 for Shorikai and battle a couple matches before changing anything.
  • 5-6: This is the general range I touched on with this list with some nods towards 7-8. Increasing the quality of mana rocks and interaction and cutting some inconsistent cards is the path to a generally stronger Shorikai deck.
  • 7-8: Isochron Scepter plus Dramatic Reversal, Shorikai, and three or more mana rocks is infinite draw, infinite mana, and near infinite 1/1 Pilot tokens. A control deck built around assembling this combo and leaning on Shorikai to dig up tutors and answers seems pretty good.
  • 9-10: Similar to 7-8 but you don’t get to have any budget reservations: Mana Crypt, Mana Drain, Fierce Guardianship, Force of Will, and more are all on the docket. Better make sure your rent is covered for the next several months before spending so much on cardboard.

Budget Options

The second thing to figure out when building a deck is what your budget is. EDH decks can cost $50 or several thousand depending on how much you’re willing to put in and pimp out.

Shorikai, Genesis Engine gets you off to a good start by only costing $1 and coming from a precon with a lot of useful cards in it. The end list for this build is fairly budget conscious, but there’s a lot of cards worth shelling out for if you’re willing to pay a pretty penny.

Commanding Conclusion

Render Silent - Illustration by Matt Stewart

Render Silent | Illustration by Matt Stewart

Whew, that was quite the writeup! Hopefully you enjoyed it and now find yourself in possession of a sweet new deck built around a sweet new ride.

What do you think of this list? Do you prefer the budget version, or do you like to go all out with your cardboard? Let me know in the comments down below or over on the Draftsim Twitter.

I wish you the best of luck in driving your opponents to Durdle Town, USA. Until next time, may your draws always be gas!

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