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How to Not Get Dipped


The first word of this article was almost the word "recently." The sentence was going to read "recently, I decided to try and build a deck around Genju of the Realm and only include Enchantments in the deck," or something to that effect and it would have been a fine opening sentence to the article, all things considered. Searching for that article to include it in that sentence allowed me the opportunity to glance at the date and realize that I wrote the article in 2014 and that it was not, in fact, recent, like at all. On May 29th, 2014 I lived in a different house, had no kids, was in my 20s (I turned 30 the next day but, still) and I probably still had a Zune.

I think we can all agree that enough time has passed and that doing an all-Enchantment deck with a 5-color Commander is not, in fact, a crutch. I did an all-enchantment deck actually recently and that was fun, but playing games with my Estrid deck where I always had to resort to winning with Helix Pinnacle because no one left me any creatures to steal and also not caring because I love playing with a ton of Enchantments that much has left me looking for a new deck to build. Luckily, Wizards (OK, Gavin) got all of my letters (OK, tweets) asking for more Hondens and despite having my wish granted, I haven't really gotten around to building around them. But why? I suppose I thought building a Shrines deck, especially with either Sisay or Golos was pretty uninspired and pretty similar to what everyone else was doing. But after reaffirming that I love to play with Enchantments more than any other card type, I think I'm done feeling like I need to apologize for doing something that's not wholly original. Besides, it may be a little trickier than I thought.

One of my 8 Simple Rules (More suggestion than rule but I was referencing that TV show that I never actually watched) involves building with a restriction to limit your card pool so you don't get caught up limiting the "power" of your cards and instead build with the best cards you can within the restricted pool. It's clear I thought about 75% a bit differently in its infancy than I do now, but I think the advice holds up. "Power level" isn't really anything you can discuss these days because 100 out of 100 people surveyed say their deck is a 7/10 and no one can agree on a definition. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to emphasize that 75% was a qualitative term, not a quantitative one. I still think shrinking your card pool can make the deck more fun and more creative, but I don't always think you're going to build too oppressive a deck if you don't limit your card pool at all. You're not going to pubstomp people playing with precons with your Shrines deck, no matter what you put in it unless it's mostly cEDH cards and at that point, what are you even doing playing a cEDH deck in a game of casual EDH? We're not building with restrictions to keep our Shrines deck from getting out of control, we're doing it to keep from getting bored.

In the spirit of not getting bored, let's construct a deck that literally scoops to Merciless Eviction or Aura Thief, the former being a card that all Black/White decks play and the latter being a card only Sheldon Menery has the audacity to play. It will be exciting to figure out an Enchantment-based way to mitigate how badly those cards wreck us and it will be excited to literally just jam a bunch of Hondens in a deck and watch the pile of enchantments we build get out of control. My plan to mitigate the risk of dying to Merciless Eviction is to win the game before anyone can get to six mana.

Kidding, kidding. Can you imagine? We will, however, be ramping better than a lot of people might expect. With that in mind, let's look at our chosen commander and try to build around the commander a bit if we can.

Sisay, Weatherlight Captain

Sisay is often chosen for the deck because the Hondens and new Shrines are Legendary and Sisay can fish out the one you want next. She's also got access to all five colors, which doesn't make us unable to play some of our favorite Shrines. Look, how much ink do you want me to devote to a boring choice? Sisay is the Shrine deck commander most of the time because of course she is. However, since I'm not playing any non-Enchantments in the deck, I should mention that I made sure to search for Legendary Enchantments since I'm bound to end up playing some cards most Sisay Shrines decks don't have to play. It gave me a few interesting cards.

Athreos, Shroud-Veiled

Athreos is a very 75% card. I plan to run Paradox Haze, so it would be more fun if this card triggered during the upkeep, but I'll take what I can get. I don't see many Sissy Shrines decks running this, but being the only one with creatures after a Wrath seems dandy to me.

In Bolas's Clutches

A Confiscate I can tutor for? I forgot all about this card, but this is the best possible deck for it and I am excited to give this a try.

Profane Procession

If you had told me a week ago that the majority of the creature theft effects I was going to play in a deck were in Orzhov, I might have laughed. How the turn tables.

Vance's Blasting Cannons

If you had told me a week ago that the majority of exciting Enchantments I was going to try for the first time in a new deck were from Ixalan block, I might have laughed. How the turntables.

New goodies to play that I wouldn't have normally is well and (very) good, but I also want to look at a few ways to mitigate the pantsing that comes with someone resolving a Merciless Eviction against me. Luckily with my Estrid deck, I'm not usually the biggest threat and I have dodged an Eviction more than once because of how disproportionately it would affect me versus slowing everyone down by choosing creatures. Your greatest liability is often your greatest strength - Evicting you for Enchantments removes you from the game and doesn't help them beat the other players who are more of a threat. I think with the sheer number of effects you're going to get from a pile of Shrines plus our other raft of potentially threatening Enchantments PLUS our tendency to, you know, steal from our opponents means we may be more of a threat than the Estrid deck is and therefore can't rely on how awkward it is for a person to end the game for one person and leave the other players unscathed when they could just blow up all of the creatures. Even the Estrid deck runs countermagic. I have a few ideas.

Decree of Silence

Decree is as good as an Instant when you need to counter a spell that would end your whole career and otherwise it's a sick combo with Solemnity once in play. I can't see a reason not to include an important spell like this one if you're that worried about Eviction.


Or just don't let them play Eviction. Nevermore can be used to name commanders, which is annoying, or it can be used to name a card that deletes your deck. It seems silly to run an answer to just Eviction, but considering you can name other cards with this and potentially be a hero after someone resolves something like Cyclonic Rift and dreads someone throwing a problem permanent right back out, this deserves a spot in the deck. You don't HAVE to name Eviction, but isn't it swell to know you can? You can't tutor for this, so you still have to be pretty careful.

Finally, it doesn't matter if we get Tranquilitied. That looks wrong as a verb. If they Tranquility us? If they do Tranquility. There it is. Finally, it doesn't matter if they do a Tranquility to us. We can recover from having our board binned. With cards like Starfield of Nyx and Hall of Heliod's Generosity, we can quickly rebuild our board after a non-exile wipe, not that those see much play. Bane of Progress and Fracturing Gust see a non-zero amount of play, so just be aware that I thought about that and don't care.

In all honesty, we can just Sisay a bunch of new stuff out if they get us with an Eviction, but I don't want to permanently lose access to the Shrines because those are the whole reason to play a silly deck. I have spent a lot of time worrying about like one card but as someone who plays a lot of Enchantress, it's something to have a plan for and you don't need me to make a case to you for Utopia Sprawl or Cast Out, do you? You know why I plan to include Smothering Tithe and Mind's Dilation, right? Superb, I knew you would be on board.

What makes this deck 75% is that I plan to restrict myself a bit by only including Enchantments (it's OK if they're other things, too, like Bident of Thassa) and I plan to swipe a bunch of their creatures. One big difference between this deck and my Estrid deck is that I don't have cards like Replenish but I also don't have a lot of ways to win the game that aren't their creatures in Estrid and I think I have a ton here. We have ways to blast them for like 22 damage when we get all of our Shrines out and I plan to skew heavy into Green to ramp and fix mana. We're going to take control of their stuff, make it difficult to attack us and hopefully keep them from playing a board wipe that is less like a wipe and more like that Dip stuff from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. What would this crazy pile look like?

Sisay Shrines | Commander | Jason Alt

We did it! I'll likely end up tinkering with the mana a lot as I play games with this pile, but I want to give the Thriving lands cycle a look. I typically would have run Vivid Lands in this spot and as much as these could end up being bad guildgates in some games, I'll likely name Green or White with almost all of them which means I have lots of ways to get the colors I need early plus another color, and I think that's dandy. I went up to 40 lands which might be excessive but I want to make sure I don't miss any drops early. The thing about not running Farseek and Cultivate is that at first you think "I can just run Khalni Heart Expedition and Gift of Paradise" but the latter doesn't get you out of a bad situation if you're in one the way the former does. If you're missing land drops, KHE (as it likes to be called) sits in play mocking you. The solution for me is to keep the land mixture rich. You could maybe add Exploration, Burgeoning, or some other Enchantment to smooth out the early game but I'd rather run cards like Wild Growth to get me to Smothering Tithe quickly.

The goal is to get Sisay out early, assemble wubrg and put Shrines into play until you make a Shrine Voltron that blasts people for 11 every upkeep and gives you a ton of dorks. Being able to tap any creature for just w is very useful, also, and it's as good a reason as any to run Serra's Sanctum in the deck.

We'll be spitting out quite a few tokens, and if that was a route you wanted to explore more, there are a very small number of tweaks to make this deck fairly optimal for that. You can cut a few Treachery effects, especially the ones you can't tutor for, and add Parallel Lives, Anointed Procession, Divine Visitation, and Outlaw's Merriment to join the Green Honden and Assemble the Legion. You can put together quite a formidable token army without having to rely on their creatures and you can put Cryptolith Rite into the deck to really power up your Sisay. I always build decks exactly like that, though, so I avoided doing it here but I also left it fairly easy to switch into that build if you want. I personally like using lots of tokens with Cryptolith Rite but I don't want that to become a crutch when I build decks for these articles.

If you actually don't like the tokens, you could go the other way and add cards that make it difficult for creatures to attack, cards like Porphyry Nodes that will hurt them but not you as much since you'll only have a few creatures and add something like All That Glitters to make the creatures you do have count for more. Corrupted Conscience can One Punch Man opponents if you steal a decent creature, especially a big one with evasion, so adding a few more ways to give creatures Infect like Glistening Oil can help you KO people rather than swarming the board. Some of these strats are a bit of a nonbo with Assemble the Legion, which you'll cut and Honden of Life's Web, which you won't cut, but that's not that big a deal. You'll be too busy deleting players in one hit to notice that it's awkward that you make a few spirit tokens you don't necessarily want.

There are a ton of cards Enchantress decks always run that we don't have access to here and it freed up a ton of spots to run cards you wouldn't necessarily. Even someone like me who runs a lot of Enchantments in every deck I build managed to find some cards I've never had room to run before and I think that's great. Even if you use this list as a base and pare back a lot of the Enchantments so you can run important cards like Open the Vaults, Academy Rector, and Replenish, you're still being exposed to Profane Procession, Vance's Blasting Cannons, and In Bolas's Clutches, which I think is edifying. Don't build the same Sisay deck as everyone else, and don't build the same deck you always do, either. Restricting my card pool made me get innovative and that's half the fun of Commander, in the end. There's no one right way to build, so go find some new stuff and surprise people.

That does it for me, everyone. Keep tuning in because in 6 more years, I'll be building another all-enchantments deck and you won't want to miss that. Like, share, comment, subscribe, follow, reblog, tweet, whatever the verb is for putting this on Facebook if you're over the age of 35 and still use Facebook, put this on google plus, mostly as a joke and join me next week where I'll be surprising myself and others with the cards we find. Until next time!

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