Financial Divergence - Go-Shintai Yourself!

MD Alvis • April 5, 2022

Honden of Night's Reach | Art by Jim Nelson

The Shiners... Now With Actual Shrines!

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Financial Divergence, where we look at strategic decisions in deckbuilding through the lens of budgetary restrictions. In this series we're looking at popular commanders and seeing how budget can impact strategic divergences when choosing a primary strategy.

Today we are talking about the hottest new precon commander from the set-booster-exclusive Commander cards: Go-Shintai of Life's Origin!

A Tale of Two: Go-Shintai of Life's Origin

I call Go-Shintai a precon commander because it's the all-in-one, on-the-nose Shrines commander that every person who has been playing since OG Kamigawa has always wanted. The fires were stoked in M21 with the release of the Sanctum cycle and people began brewing with Sisay, Weatherlight Captain primarily as a way to tutor up the most important of these enchantments for a given moment. Then our wildest dreams were realized when the Go-Shintai cycle was previewed followed up by the big itself! With 16 noncommander Shrines legal in Commander, there is now a critical mass for the deck to build itself with a combination of Shrines, pillowfort, and enchantress effects.

This isn't the whole story, however. If we turn up the budget knob on the data, we find that there are some degenerate folks less interested in building a pillowfort:

What Do These Two Decks Have in Common?

Because Go-Shintai really is a bit of a precon commander, there's significant overlap. The commander's synergy with Shrines is something that is worth investing in regardless of budgetary constraints because, having played against this commander, even a couple Shrines on the battlefield means things get a little... difficult to track.

The Shrines themselves, outside of the Go-Shintai, are a bit overcosted unless you can snowball the triggers reliably. What I have seen, though, is that Go-Shintai of Life's Origin into a Sanctum of Fruitful Harvest does one heck of a Carpet of Flowers impression, except turned up to 11! Because it creates Shrine tokens that multiply our triggers, Go-Shintai can turn even one of our Shrines into a powerhouse by mitigating the downside of having to draw more than a few Shrines.

Another thing that both the budget-friendly and budgetless builds of this deck have in common are enchantress cards:

If enchantment-matters decks do one thing really well, it's drawing cards and churning through a deck. With enough mana, my old Tuvasa the Sunlit deck could reliably draw 10-15 cards on a single turn, and the same is true of Go-Shintai of Life's Origin decks. Even though at the lower end of the budget your enchantments might not be the most cost-efficient, this set of cards amplifies the power level of the strategy exponentially. Tacking on "draw 2-3 cards" to every enchantment you play does a lot of work!

Where Do the Decks Diverge?

Where do the dollary-doos cause the biggest difference in deck construction? Simply put, it has to do with what part of Go-Shintai of Life's Origin's textbox you focus on.

It seems like lower budget equals heavier focus on the Shrine portion of our commander's text box. These decks emphasize multiplying the triggers and finding as many Shrines as possible in order to maximize the quantity and quality of your triggers. Weaver of Harmony and Song of the Worldsoul represent these kind of cards that care about your Shrines being on the battlefield (Song being a particular spicy one to multiply your Shrine tokens) while Shrine Steward represents a category of cards that exist simply to find your Shrines. The power level of these cards is directly connected to the number of shrines you have in your deck and on the battlefield.

On the other end of the spectrum are decks that care specifically about Go-Shintai of Life's Origin's activated ability. The goal of these decks is to quickly find and bury an expensive and game-warping enchantment, like Omniscience, in the graveyard for Go-Shintai to recur at instant speed. Whether it's something to protect your enchantments where you might be sacrificing efficiency for selection, a-la Greater Auramancy, or something where you save on mana, like Nyxbloom Ancient, this kind of strategy is looking to be flexible and maximize with the old mantra "go big or go home."

As of this writing, there are 111 rare or mythic rare enchantments with a mana value greater than five, meaning that there are 111 possibilities for things to search up with an Intuition or an Entomb. Are all of them bangers? By no means. It might be your thing, but I'm not planning to search up a Aysen Highway. However, cards like Dovescape, Decree of Silence, or even Sandwurm Convergence can change the texture of the game immediately when they're recurred with Go-Shintai's ability.

Strategic Take-Aways

  1. Pay attention to how you pay attention. That's a weird sentence, but in terms of the old adage "reading the card explains the card", this is super important, because how you read a card really can dictate how you play a card. What you pay attention to will ultimately impact the deckbuilding decisions you make.
  2. Enchantments have an incredible range of play patterns. You get a little bit of everything, especially if you get to play around mana restrictions. Countering spells, shutting down creatures, disabling artifacts, and much more are all in the wheelhouse of this flexible card type, and it's ultimately a tough card type to interact with regularly.
  3. Building a trigger-happy deck feels pretty clunky. It might just be from my experience playing Tuvasa the Sunlit or being on the other side of Shrines.deck, but tracking, stacking, and executing triggers (especially a large number of them) is really tough for place of play even if you are a very, very fast player.

Now it's time to set some money on fire!

I will almost always go with a budget version of a deck because, you know, money. But, in this rare instance, if I had the option, I would actually build the budgetless Go-Shintai deck because the play patterns seem a lot more interesting. Here's my list:

Budgetless Go-Shintai

Commander (1)
Enchantments (25)
Lands (34)
Sorceries (5)
Instants (15)
Creatures (20)

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

Budget Gems

While I was doing this research, I came across several inexpensive and overlooked cards that seem worth taking a look at either in this archetype or in other spots as well. Disclaimer: any prices below are as of the writing of this article.

Coming in at roughly 50 cents, Search for Glory interacts with some of the most powerful and/or most popular cards in the game and sits in this interesting spot of being a narrow tutor that isn't all that narrow. WotC doesn't seem to be showing any signs of putting the brakes on printing new Sagas, and the more they print the more playable ones will exist in total. On top of that, legendary permanents are growing to be more and more common and take up more real estate in deckbuilding than ever before. Overall, this isn't nearly as narrow as it reads and will likely be a card we look back on and say "when did that become $3?".

I love variance in Magic, mostly because it stops the game from becoming overly repetitive. That's the reason I generally don't play tutors and why I love Killer Instinct. At a quarter, this card does a mashup of Mayael the Anima and Sneak Attack, and when it's combined with even a little bit of top-of-the-library manipulation it can generate some crazy value. I love the idea of cards like this with a rotating or randomized selection of hits in a deck to generate some crazy stories.

Finally, this card is bug-nutty. Dual Nature feels like Parallel Lives without the price tag, and the tokens don't go anywhere at the end of the turn. Now, if your duplicated creature is removed, you lose the tokens, sure, but with a little Populate and some ETB effects, you should be able to do some nasty things. This even combines well with Panharmonicon! It's not a perfect card by any stretch, but it is super interesting and only $1.70.

Wrapping Up

This was a bit of a wild one; what are your thoughts? If you could cheat any one enchantment into play with Go-Shintai of Life's Origin, what would it be? Also, have you played against or do you play a Go-Shintai of Life's Origin deck? Tell me in the comments and let's see some sweet tech

MD might Force of Will your Cultivate because he's been hurt before. Spike at heart. When he isn't trying to jank out the table with Garruk Relentless and Clever Impersonator, you can find him hanging with his family, playing games with friends, or working as a coach and spiritual director in SW Missouri.