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Commander Top 10: Shrine Tribal

Rise and Shrine! Bennie Smith takes advantage of the new Shrines to build his latest Commander deck.

Honden of Life’s Web, illustrated by Rob Alexander

I’ve been digging into many of the new legendary creatures from Core Set 2021 for Commander, but there was something else that popped up in the set—a return of the Shrine enchantments!  The original Hondens were printed way back in Champions of Kamigawa:

The original cycle was reprinted in Eternal Masters, but now we’ve got an entirely new cycle of Shrines, one for each color and then a five-color Shrine to rule them all!  How exciting is that?  And there’s a perfect legend to take up commander of our Shrine Commander deck:  Sisay, Weatherlight Captain!

Since each of the Shrines is a legendary enchantment, once we’re able to activate Sisay’s ability, we can start searching up the cheaper Shrines of different colors until Sisay’s power is big enough to search out the powerful five-mana Shrines.

Since Sisay’s ability can search up any legendary ability, we’ll want to stuff our deck with some powerful and useful legends that can help our gameplan, especially ones with good utility.  As a sub-theme, there are a few legendary creatures that care about enchantments, and since we’ll be pushing to assemble our Shrine machine, let’s pepper in some cards that care about enchantments and when possible pick enchantments for our utility slots.

Okay, let’s get brewing!

1. Sanctum of All

The clear number one card for our deck is the brand new “lord” of Shrines, Sanctum of All!  Not only does it let you search up other Shrine cards to put onto the battlefield, and once you control six Shrines it lets you get extra triggers from them, but since it’s a five-color legendary permanent it’ll give your Sisay +5/+5, and seven power is quite formidable!

I’ve included a couple of other cards that squeeze extra value from Shrine triggers:

Paradox Haze gives you an extra upkeep step, which will give you extra triggers for the original Shrine cycle and Sanctum of All since they happen during your upkeep.  Strionic Resonator lets you copy target triggered ability, so it can be used to get an extra trigger from one Shrine.

2. Honden of Life’s Web

Next up are all the other Shrine cards, and the best of the bunch comes in at number two.  To my thinking, it came down to a choice between the green or blue Honden, but I decided to go with Honden of Life’s Web because raw card drawing won’t be all that important when activating our commander’s ability is going to be what we’re most interested in doing with our mana each turn.

Honden of Life’s Web provides a small number of chump blockers early, but with enough Shrines on the battlefield the horde can grow quite formidable, especially after a few spells have swept the battlefield of creatures.

Later in the game, though, fueled by enough card drawing we can start pitching extra lands to Sanctum of Shattered Heights to start doing serious damage to our opponents in addition to the pummeling we can do to life totals with Sanctum of Stone Fangs and Honden of Infinite Rage.  And even Sanctum of Tranquil Light can be helpful in tapping down a big threat or clearing away blockers when Sisay gets big enough to be aggressive.

3. Jegantha, the Wellspring

I’ve chosen a fair number of legendary creatures with abilities we’ll want, and the best of the bunch has got to be Jegantha, the Wellspring

Jegantha’s ability to tap and add one color of each mana will turbo-charge Sisay’s activated ability, and as a 5/5 it can even beat down with the occasion calls for it.

Saffi Eriksdotter can protect Sisay from dying; Shalai, Voice of Plenty can protect Sisay from targeted removal; and Sigarda, Host of Herons can protect Sisay from pesky sacrifice effects like Grave Pact. Searching up Muldrotha, the Gravetide can help you bring back Shrines from the graveyard if they’ve been destroyed along the way.

4. Hammer of Nazahn

There are other legendary permanents than creatures that Sisay can search out, and one of the best to nab is Hammer of Nazahn.  Hammer can attach to Sisay right away, boosting her power so she can search out more expensive legendaries and giving her indestructible.  Also, any other Equipment can be attached to a creature when it enters the battlefield which can make a huge difference when you want to conserve your mana for other things.

If your opponents are feeling froggy with their planeswalkers, we can search up The Immortal Sun to shut that nonsense down!

5. Honor-Worn Shaku

Mana ramp is important in Commander, and with so many legendary permanents in our deck, Honor-Worn Shaku can really generate a bunch of extra mana.  Shrines don’t need to tap to do anything, so why not tap them to untap Honor-Worn Shaku each turn for more mana?

I’m including some other cards that play nicely with legendary permanents:

6. Setessan Champion

Since we’re playing a bunch of enchantments in our Shrine deck, I want to play cards that care about enchantments, and the best of the bunch is Setessan ChampionSetessan Champion’s constellation ability triggers whenever an enchantment enters the battlefield under my control, which synergizes nicely with our goal of fetching out Shrines with Sisay and Sanctum of All.  I like that the Champion can grow to formidable size pretty quickly and is also not vulnerable to mass enchantment removal that might get played.

Helm of the Gods should make just about any of our creatures into a sizable threat, even if it’s just a 1/1 colorless Spirit token from Honden of Life’s Web.

7. Eidolon of Blossoms

To lean into the enchantment synergies, I looked for enchantment creatures with useful abilities, and one of the best is Eidolon of Blossoms, which draws cards like Setessan Champion but won’t get bigger without help. Dryad of the Ilysian Grove is a strong second since it fixes your mana and makes it easy to activate Sisay’s ability.

Agent of Erebos will help keep our opponents’ graveyards clean and tidy, Doomwake Giant will sweep away pesky small creatures, and Nylea’s Colossus can potentially make a small creature frighteningly huge.  How big is Sisay now?

8. Heroic Intervention

Of course, we’ve got to expect that our opponents will have something to say about our plans to assemble a Deadly Shrines of Doom death machine, so we’ll want to have ways of interacting with them.  Heroic Intervention is often used in Commander to save creatures, but it makes all your permanents hexproof and indestructible, so it can save the day from something like Cleansing Nova destroying all artifacts and enchantments.

Lazotep Plating gives the hexproof side of Heroic Intervention but also gives it to yourself, so if someone tries to target you to get rid of your graveyard full of destroyed Shrines with something like Bojuka Bog, since it targets you as the player, giving yourself hexproof can counter that effect.  Plus, you get a 1/1 Zombie Army for your trouble.

9. Aura Shards

Aura Shards hands down is an amazing engine for destroying artifacts and enchantments, and it will even trigger off the tokens you make with Honden of Life’s Web. It will be no surprise that an opponent will target it for removal as soon as they can.  But since we have plenty of ways to bring enchantments back from the graveyard, Aura Shards is even stronger in our deck, and can keep the battlefield clear of nuisance artifacts and enchantments.

I’m including some other great removal spells too, including a few more in enchantment form for recursion and synergies.

10. Farseek

Last but not least, some basic mana ramp spells that you’d expect in a deck with green, and the best of the bunch here is Farseek, specifically since it can fetch up any of the Triomes that form the backbone of this deck’s manabase. 

Okay, so here’s how the deck ended up:



Here’s how the deck looks graphically, thanks to our friends at Archidekt:

You’ll notice the mana production is split fairly evenly among all the colors compared to the distribution of the actual cards, but I’m okay with that since I want to have the best shot of having all five colors available for Sisay activations.

What do you think?  Are there any cards I’ve overlooked?  If you see any new cards from Core Set 2021 that should find a home here, let me know!

Do me a solid and follow me on Twitter!  I run polls and get conversations started about Commander all the time, so get in on the fun!  I’d also love it if you followed my Twitch channel TheCompleteCommander, where I do a deckbuilding stream every Monday evening, and pepper in some other Commander-related streams when I can.  If you can join me live, the videos are available on demand for a few weeks on Twitch, but I also upload them to my YouTube channel.

And lastly, I just want to say: let us love each other and stay healthy and happy. 

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