Upgrading Shrines for a New Kamigawa

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is the latest set from Wizards of the Coast. While, I personally feel apathetic towards the set due to it’s techno theme, a theme that I feel runs opposite of what MTG is supposed to be. I do recognize it works in a Universes Beyond sort of way. Still, these cards are good for commander. It’s no different than a Stranger Things or Walking Dead Secret Lair, except that there are a lot more cards from the set. Many of the cards are quite usable. I am most certain when the time comes I will hold my nose and insert some of these techno cards into my decks. While it is not my own personal cup of tea, Wizards of the Coast should be commended for brewing a set outside the norm from a creative standpoint. 

From this set we have the return of shrines. The set being a futuristic setting explains why the last batch of shrines were included in Core Set 2021 instead of waiting for Kamigawa Neon Dynasty. More traditional shrines don’t fit into such a setting. It would feel like the old ways that fell behind. Still, Wizards creative team included shrines in the set and tried to give them a new and interesting twist to fit into the set they have created. As such there are new cards that can be included into a new shrine commander deck. With a new influx of shrines we have more selection to build upon to create a shrine deck. Shrines should, by theory, be more powerful than what we were able to brew before. 

What Has Gone Before

Last time we brewed Shrines it was roughly a year ago with the release of Kaldheim and a new five color commander in the Prismatic Bridge. It was a mix of Shrines and good stuff that was an attempt to politically manipulate the table and just let the player build a battlefield of shrines. The Bridge will not come into play and you do not need to deal with the good stuff. Just let the shrines player sit in the corner and play his shrines. The deck was split into two mini decks really and it created some difficulties but provided a reasonable shell for Shrines if not an optimal one. You can read about the deck here

What Our New Commander Dictates

Kamigawa now has provided us with an optimal commander in Go-Shintai of LIfe’s Origin. Like all the shrines of this set it is a creature and can be our commander. The five color ability opens up all the shrines to us while making it easy to cast with only green pips in its mana cost. This is excellent as green is the color of ramp and that most five color decks should be running a lot of green lands  in order to mana fix. This will allow us to cast our commander early to attempt to employ any game plan our deck can idealize. 

This particular Go-Shintai shrine has a WUBRG ability that plays well with not just shrines but all enchantments. We only need to fill our graveyards for maximum efficiency. Most importantly, it provides an answer to the best way to combat a shrine deck, destroying Sanctum of All before it ramps up and creates incredible value. However, while this ability is a great safety net versus removal, we can abuse it, if we can self mill or discard what we want from our hand. There are many self mill cards to choose from. In this particular brew we will look at using wheels in order to discard our hand. This will give us fresh cards to play while allowing us to utilize the Life’s Origin ability to put powerful enchantments into play without being counterable.   

Winning with Shrines

There are several ways you can win with shrines. Often you can use the shrines as a value engine to draw into your five color win conditions. You can run several and whichever one you draw, you use. It’s not a bad strategy and I have found that decks that provide some random or flexibility are quite enjoyable to play. They may be less effective then decks that tutor for your combo and win, but that’s the trade off. However, if you are not a Spike (Read What Type of Player are You?) such linear play can grow a little stale. 

However, despite the additional options of shrines entering the format, the deck has become more linear. Win condition card slots can be saved by using the shrines you are going to play anyway as win conditions. This allows you to invest your precious card slots into other areas of the deck and shore up the inherent difficulties with shrines. While it’s not per se a combo deck, shrines will play much like one as our build has the linear path to winning. Play Sanctum of All. Then pull Sanctum of Calm Waters to draw into a critical mass of shrines and other good enchantments. Finally, play either Sanctum of Stone Fangs or Honden of Infinite Rage to directly damage your opponents for the win. If your opponents have hexproof, then grab Honden of Life’s Web instead to swarm your opponents to death.   

The Problem with Shrine Decks

Shrines can sometimes be like letting grandma drive using the expressway

A Quick Illustration

The biggest difficulty with shrine decks is that they are slow. You can best liken them to rolling a small snowball down a snow covered mountain. It starts slow and small and as it goes down the mountain it picks up speed and becomes bigger and bigger. If the snowball does not run into anything like a tree early on eventually it will become unstoppable. You just need to get the snowball to a critical size that it can take down obstacles in its way.

Just like the snowball you need a critical mass of shrines. Previous shrines are quite good as they are enchantments. As such, few cards target them compared to the other card types in magic. The number of shrines was low as if you wanted to play shrine tribal you were limited to 11 shrines and some of them really were not powerful enough to justify the inclusion in the deck. . Additional shrines from this set helps fuel the critical mass of shrines needed to win, or do they? 

Critically Analyzing the New Shrines

This question is posed as Wizards balanced the shrines by making them creatures. This is a major shake up and should be critically analyzed before we include them in any deck. As creatures they are vulnerable to many more removal cards including board wipes setting the deck back. Such a setback can be critical and prevent the deck from winning. The new shrine’s abilities trigger on end step. That is good for efficiency as they trigger the turn they are played, but it also requires mana to activate them. The WUBRG cost to bring the shrines back is a little prohibitive. It’s also a creature and vulnerable to removal too. You will need to give your commander haste to bring creature shrines back efficiently. In the end, if we are being honest, it’s not worth the mana cost or time to recur Go-Shintai shrines for the abilities given.

The good news is that Life’s Origin can recur them from the graveyard after the board wipe, but depending on how this deck is built there can be juicier targets in the graveyard than an enchantment creature that can be targeted again. It is debatable whether other than our commander whether or not these new shrines should be included in the deck list. For this deck we decided to invest our card slots elsewhere. We wouldn’t tutor for the new shrines so the only benefit would be if we draw them. We can include far more powerful cards that work with this deck. While the Go-Shintai shrines synergize with what we want to do, they don’t synergize enough to force their way into this deck.

Speeding Up Shrines

The deck needs to speed up. We need to get to a critical mass of shrines faster so that our battlefield gets out of hand and the value of the shrines becomes overwhelming and that we become difficult to stop. Our commander helps by creating shrine tokens over two or three turns. This speeds up the clock drastically despite being vulnerable to board wipes. There is a cap to speeding things up due to card space. We need more mana while drawing more cards so that we can play more shrines. Sanctum of All tutors shrines but left to its own devices it is slow in and of itself. We will need to play shrines as well as let Sanctum of All do it’s work too. 

Fiddling with the Numbers

While there are shrines that both draw cards and ramp us, getting them on the battlefield can be a little slow. So, we will need to put additional cards in our deck. While ten card draw and ten ramp spells has been the deckbuilding standard for years, it’s Commander Clinic’s belief you should do one of these things better than your opponents. Normally we would add fifteen cards of one of the card draw/quality, mana ramp/fixing, or removal categories. In this case it would be very tempting to run fifteen cards each of the draw and fixing categories to speed things along for a five color deck. In some decks that would work.

Shrines isn’t one of those decks. Instead, the better combination would be twenty card draw/quality cards and ten ramp or fixing cards. We include 37 lands instead of the standard 36 and allow our deck to draw it’s way into mana ramp. 10 cards is efficient enough as it should allow us to open the game with a ramp card in hand. Keep in mind you may need to mulligan down to six to achieve this. Overflowing card draw gives us more options to play while overflowing our hand with cards. A deck like this wants excessive numbers of cards so that we can fill our graveyard for our commander’s ability.

Tuning up the Engine

Outside of going all in on card draw, there are some additional things we can do to speed up the deck. The first is additional upkeeps. With more upkeeps we have more upkeep triggers. This allows Sanctum of All to fetch more shrines, and our commander to create additional shrine tokens. By itself if we have one additional upkeep from Paradox Haze or Sphinx of the Second Sun, then we will hit six shrines with one cycle around the table. If we can play even just one additional shrine before the additional upkeep then all our shrines are triggering twice an upkeep in that first rotation with Sanctum of All. In the current build this can be accomplished with Sphinx of the Second Sun. While not included in this deck, cards that grant our shrines flash like Leyline of Anticipation would enable Paradox Haze to extra efficiency as well.  

Another way to get additional upkeeps is to take extra turns. A shrine deck could be constructed to optimize extra turn spells and it would be quite strong. It also allows additional untapping of creatures and lands so that you can build your battlefield even more and create a critical mass of value to win the game. This is an exceptional strategy to utilize and multiple extra turn spells or even build in a multiple card combo for infinite turns can win you the game although your opponents may not like sitting through those extra turns. If you can save this strategy for when you play at more competitive commander tables.

Counterspells versus Removal

Most decks run a solid removal package to deal with the board and they should. There are times though where a deck can play a gambit and forgo traditional removal for an advantage elsewhere. A gambit is a chess term where a player gives up material for a better position on the chess board. The idea is that they can turn the position into more material later.

This deck has decided to utilize such a gambit. Honden of Infinite Rage is the only traditional removal in the deck. This build will rely on your opponents dealing with each other’s threats. If you are outgoing, then you can utilize politics by asking “does anybody have an answer for that?” and pointing the attention on threats that concern you. Instead of traditional removal the deck will run more flexible type of removal. Honden of Night’s Reach is discard and is also defacto removal in all but reanimator decks. There is, however; another category of flexible removal. 

Counterspells are removal, but you need to be spot on on your threat assessment as you have to deal with the threat before it enters the battlefield. The window of using such removal is very limited. With the smaller window the deck gains flexibility and protection. While the deck includes Lightning Greaves and Swiftfoot Boots they alone are not enough to protect your commander or your battlefield from an enchantment board wipe that will keep you from winning. The deck runs seven counters to use judiciously. Eight Counterspells to Rule Them All provides an excellent counterspell package to fuel this list. Our deck doesn’t use them all for budgetary reasons. If you have them, then go ahead and run them. They are excellent. 

The Key Three 

As always there are key cards in commander decks that help them run smooth and efficient. Often these are the optimal plays you want to occur in the game. You can see the entire deck on archidekt broken down by card utility or the complete deck list at the end of this article by card type. Highlighted here are some of the cards that fuel your game plan. 

Brago King Eternal

Your commander does a lot of work creating shrine creature tokens whenever they enter the battlefield. One of the ways to speed up the deck is to have more and more shrines enter the battlefield. One of the ways this can be done is by blinking your shrines to make more token shrines. You need just one opponent that doesn’t have evasion and Brago, King Eternal can blink all your nontoken shrines and explode your board. The downside is you need to wait a turn cycle around the table to capitalize on it. Sphinx of the Second Sun synergizes with this card and it will create a second upkeep for you after you blinked your shrines. When in play this card is exceptional value. 

Sanctum of Calm Waters 

This sanctum triggers on your precombat main phase so that when you fetch it first from Sanctum of All you will get the card draw trigger that same turn. Ideally you will draw four or six cards the turn it comes out. It also forces you to discard a card. Between  Sanctum of All and your commander, which can pull cards from your graveyard bypassing counterspells, you have ways to access your graveyard.

You should have an enchantment you will want to pitch to the discard trigger. Also depending on your hand there is a chance you will need to discard down to seven cards causing more opportunities to discard enchantments you can get back from your graveyard. Worst case scenario it lets you sculpt your hand to the best seven available and will help keep you in counterspells. Finally, if your deck is getting too thin Sanctum of Calm Waters is a may ability. This means you can choose to not draw the cards preventing you from decking yourself.  

Sterling Grove

The deck is heavy on enchantments packing in 32 of them. The ability to give them all shroud protect your battlefield and makes them difficult to remove. Even the 1/1 shrine creatures your commander makes are enchantments too.The ability to shut down single target removal against you with Sterling Grove is very strong and an excellent play. Your opponents need to remove this enchantment first before they can target the other ones on the battlefield. Let alone if they do not exile it you can use your commander to bring it back to the battlefield. It also is an enchantment tutor. You will need to choose your time carefully as it only works on your upkeep after all triggers have resolved, but you can sacrifice it for a tutor effect and bring it back with your commander as well.  

Sterling Grove is strong enough on it’s own but it also synergizes well with either Copy Enchantment or Greater Auramancy. Either of these cards create an additional condition of shroud. Then each card protects the other so that the only way you will lose your enchantments are the rare cards that destroy or exile all enchantments. Few of these sorts of cards exist and not all decks run them. Keep in mind Sterling Grove does not give itself shroud so it can be targeted. Even if it didn’t, Copy Enchantment does not target it says “choose an enchantment” so it gets around the targeting ability. 

Pet Cards 

Some cards are just plain powerful and worth placing into most decks. Then there are other cards that are not as strong and often not in consideration for as many commander decks. These cards often synergize well with what the deck wants to do or are often a personal favorite card of someone. These are pet cards. Here are a few pet cards in this build and why they are in the deck.   

Followed Footsteps 

Having extra copies of Sphinx of the Second Sun speeds up your deck a lot. And there may be times that you will want to copy your opponents creatures. But that is not why it’s in this deck. Both can be good uses. And Sphinx with Followed Footsteps on it becomes a must kill card or you will win the game. There is a chance that you do not want that sort of attention. Instead use it to copy a shrine creature token. It looks simple and not that powerful however every turn you are making an additional shrine and that is if you do not have any extra upkeeps to trigger it. If you do, then your shrine triggers get larger even quicker. This card can be bonkers. 

Freed From the Real

When you see Freed From the Real you know that there’s infinite mana mischievousness going on. It ‘s true in this deck as well. Sanctum Weaver can create mana of any color equal to the number of enchantments and with it you can create infinite WUBRG if you can find a way to continue to untap your commander. If nothing else the deck has insane card draw for you to use the mana to have a very explosive turn. Above we talked about Copy Enchantment for Sterling Grove. Here, if you copy Freed From the Real and put it on your commander you can play all your enchantments in your graveyard . 

If you have Phenax out, then an enchanted Sanctum Weaver will also give you infinite mill two cards at a time. Unless your opponent is running cards that shuffle itself or their graveyard back into their deck you can mill out everyone at the table as well. Yeah, this enchantment is kill on sight if you can, and an excellent inclusion in this deck.

Intruder Alarm

One of the ways to capitalize on your commander’s ability is to get multiple activations in one turn. It is not always the easiest thing to do but Intruder Alarm will untap your commander multiple times as long as you can generate the mana and there are Shrines or enchantment creatures you can recur your enchantments and untap all your creatures in the process.

This card synergizes well with Honden of Life’s Web. Each token on your upkeep will untap all creatures for multiple commander activations. It also will generate insane mana with Sanctum Weaver on the battlefield. You will need to use the mana during your upkeep but depending on how many times you can untap your commander you do have a mana sink for some of it. Leyline of Anticipation is a win more card in this deck. It did not make the cut but can be a fun inclusion to spend this upkeep mana. 

If the above uses were good, then Intruder Alarm with Weaver of Harmony is amazing. When your Sanctum of All triggers, use your Weaver of Harmony to copy it’s triggered ability to fetch a shrine. Your commander will make a shrine creature when the copied ability resolves allowing you to untap the Weaver of Harmony to use again to copy the same trigger on the stack. You can repeat this process until you either run out of green mana or have no more shrines to fetch. The end result is the rest of your shrine triggers will be up to X=20. You can then copy one of those triggers as well. 

Lighthouse Chronologist 

As mentioned above, extra turns is a way to create multiple upkeeps. While this deck is not loaded with extra turn cards Lighthouse Chronologist can create multiple turns in one trip around the table and is a must answer card or you will win the game. Often it will be answered, but late game you have the card draw needed to protect it with counterspells. With some of the cards that will give you mana in chunks like Sanctum of Fruitful Harvest or Carpet of Flowers you can generate nine mana in one turn to cast and level up the Chronologist for the extra turns right away. 

Phenax God of Deception 

The deck uses wheels to discard cards and Sanctum of Calm Waters will put value in your graveyard. Phenax, God of Deception is another controlled burn when it comes to self-mill. Your shrine creatures buff up your shrine triggers, but we will never attack with them. They are too valuable to risk. Phenax turns them into tap, mill a card. There’re several ways to build a graveyard and Phenax is the final way and it allows us to do it just enough that we can optimize our commander. The deck draws a lot of cards and if we are not careful we can deck ourselves. Phenax opens up mill for us but not enough that we will be in danger of losing this way. As mentioned above, if paired with Freed From the Real and Sanctum Weaver we can also have an alternate win condition of milling out your opponents. 

Why no Omniscience? 

Omniscience is an amazing enchantment and we have the mana that we would be able to hard cast it or pull it out of our graveyard. It is a great card in big mana decks. It will make explosive turns that Commander Clinic often preaches about. But I don’t think that the deck needs it. The deck has 51 spells of 4 mana or less and an additional 8 cards at 5 mana. you may not be able to chain them together as efficiently without Omniscience, however; the deck relies more on upkeeps to do the dirty work for you to fetch cards from your deck. While the explosive turns are great, you still need the triggers to happen. Omniscience puts a large target on you turning you into the archenemy. I don’t think the payoff of free spells in this specific deck is worth this additional risk. 

What About Token Doubling?

There is a build of this deck that capitalizes on token doubling. Cards like Annointed Procession and Doubling Season would be very strong in this deck, let alone what it can do with Honden of Life’s Web. Cathar’s Crusade would make your tokens so huge you can swing out for the win. This makes your other shrines incidental outside of exploding your board. Again the biggest downside is that your large army would be susceptible to board wipes. Counterspells and cards like Heroic Intervention become very important to protect the army and the deck seems to miss a bit of the flavor of what this commander really wants to do, which is play shrines. This can be a fun alternative build, but I think it is possible it will suffer from trying to do too much. 

Powering Up Shrines as a Deck

Like He-Man you may want to power up this deck

The cost of this deck is approximately $800 at the time of this writing. Most of the money is tied up in staples. The tutors and Mana Drain raise the cost of the deck. Rhystic Study and Smothering Tithe are expensive as well. Roughly $232 or about 25% of the cost of the deck are tied up in these five cards. And can be subbed out if necessary to reduce the cost. Demonic and Enlightened Tutor as well as the other cards mentioned will always be useful in decks, so investing in them now is not a bad thing as their prices should continue to rise.  

Still there are several upgrades that can be made by subbing in more expensive cards if you own them or possibly adding them to your collection over time. Consider these additional upgrades. The deck does lose some infinite combo opportunities for a little better mana fixing and a hard lock protecting your enchantments. The substitutions…

Remove: Intruder Alarm, Muddle the Mixture, Negate, Swan Song, Copy Enchantment, Profane Tutor, and Wheel of Fate

Add: Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, Fierce Guardianship, Force of Negation, Force of WIll, Greater Auramancy, Vampiric Tutor, and Wheel of Fortune

Bringing a Knife to a Gun Fight

This deck is very meta dependent. While it is faster it still does not have top levels of speed because the deck begins to roll when you achieve WUBRG mana. While you are achieving this mana you will often need to cast a tutor and your commander which limits how fast you can mana ramp. If your meta contains fast combo decks, then it will be like bringing a knife to a gunfight. You will be relying on your opponents to have single target removal needed to stop the offending player. In such metas you may find that there are other players at the table that have shunned single target removal limiting your chances to win. In these cases, a slower approach to leave mana up for counterspells is critical. Also, it is in your best interest to kill the combo player first when you have the ability as those decks are more likely to shorten the game. As games go longer shrines ability to win goes up so do what you have to to help and insure it.

Other Considerations

Go-Shintai  decks lists can vary by just a couple of cards or a lot. This one attempts to create a faster more explosive board state than was possible before adding this commander. It also shuns the new shrines as being too vulnerable. It leverages less shrines for more powerful enchantments that you can exploit. In the 441 decks on EDHREC so far the lowest inclusion rate of the new Shrines is 93% with Go-Shintai of Lost Wisdom. Ironically, if I were to include one more of the new shrines to the deck it would be this one for the additional synergy of self mill to optimize my commander. 

Deadeye Navigator and Peregrine Drake provide more infinite mana mischievousness. The Navigator will also blink your commander for infinite etb triggers that you can swing out with or kill with direct damage. Narset, Parter of Veils causes your opponents to have only one card in hand when you wheel. Teferi’s Puzzle Box lets everyone see more cards but will deny your opponents a hand with Narset out. Aura Shards can be insane removal when you make tokens.

Stasis can be plain evil if you have Spinx of the Second Sun out.  Sacrifice it for your first upkeep then after you have your second untap phase use your commander’s ability to fetch it form your graveyard. You have mana but your opponents do not. Finally, new Kamagawa card Brilliant Restoration can be a game winner. Yes it has four white pips in its mana cost, but with the World Tree out four white mana is not a difficult to achieve.  

What cards would you put in your Go-Shintai deck? Place a comment below or shoot us an email at commanderclinicmtg@gmail.com we want to hear from you. 

Go-Shinti Enchantments Deck List 


  • Go-Shintai of Life’s Origin


  • Brago, King Eternal
  • Eidolon of Blossoms
  • Jegantha, the Wellspring
  • Lighthouse Chronologist
  • Nyxbloom ANcient
  • Phenax, God of Deception
  • Purpheros, God of the Forge
  • Sanctum Weaver
  • Sphinx of the Second Sun
  • Sythis, Harvest Hand
  • Weaver of Harmony


  • Carpet of Flowers
  • Copy Enchantment
  • Enchantress’s Presence
  • Followed Footsteps
  • Freed From the Real
  • Honden of Cleansing Fire
  • Honden of Infinite Rage
  • Honden of LIfe’s Web
  • Honden of Night’s Reach
  • Honden of Seeing Wind
  • Intruder Alarm
  • Mana Reflection
  • Mystic Remora
  • Paradox Haze
  • Rhystic Study
  • Rites of Flourishing
  • Sanctum of All
  • Sanctum of Calm Waters
  • Sanctum of Fruitful Harvest
  • Santum of Stone Fangs
  • Smothering Tithe
  • Sphere of Safety
  • Sterling Grove
  • Sylvan Library
  • Zendikar Resurgent


  • Lightning Greaves
  • Sol Ring
  • Swiftfoot Boots


  • Change of Fortune
  • Dark Deal
  • Demonic Tutor
  • Farseek
  • Hour of Promise
  • Idyllic Tutor
  • Profane Tutor
  • Rampant Growth
  • Wheel of Fate
  • Wheel of Misfortune
  • Windfall


  • Ancient Excavation
  • Arcane Denial
  • Counterspell
  • Crop Rotation
  • Disallow
  • Enlightened Tutor
  • Heartwarming Redemption
  • Mana Drain
  • Muddle the Mixture
  • Negate
  • Pact of Negation
  • Swan Song


  • Blood Crypt
  • Breeding Pool
  • Command Tower
  • 4 Forest
  • Godless Shrine
  • Hallowed Fountain
  • 4 Island
  • 3 mountain
  • Overgrown Tomb
  • 2 Plains
  • Sacred Foundry
  • Steam Vents
  • Stomping Ground
  • 3 Swamp
  • Temple Garden
  • Temple of Abandon
  • Temple of Deceit
  • Temple of Enlightenment
  • Temple of Epiphany
  • Temple of Malady
  • Temple of Mystery
  • Temple of Plenty
  • Temple of Silence
  • Temple of Triumph
  • The World Tree
  • Watery Grave

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