Commander Spotlight: Sythis

 This series is focused on designing your Commander cubes to support the highlighted commanders. These are NOT commander guides, but the information is applicable there. These post will feel like a hybrid between the single card and archetype spotlights within the Commander cube environment. Each post will discuss the functions of the commander in the deck, the game play options for the commander, what enablers and payoff should be included dependent on the deck, and win conditions. 

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For my first Commander Spotlight, we'll be focusing on Sythis, Harvest's Hand. She was released in Modern Horizons 2 and has had some mild success being played in the Modern Enchantress decks. She really took off was in commander where she pushed the enchantress playstyle by being a guaranteed enchantress for the deck. With other options for enchantments, why would you play Sythis? She is cheap to play and the only other enchantment focus GW commander. Prior to this, the only other GW enchantment commander was Karametra, God of the Harvest, who is good based on the merit of being ramp in commander. In traditional cube, this card has a hard time making most list because of how narrow this card is. Furthermore be aware that if you do decide to put her in a commander cube, you need to take into consideration your card choices if you really want to make her a viable choice for your players. She does make a good signpost for the enchantment archetype. Her legendary type makes her viable, however had she not been I would have excluded her since Argothian Enchantress is better and she didn't qualify. Fortunately, enchantments are versatile and can accomplish similar feats to their non-enchantment counterparts.


Deck Archetypes: Enchantments Matter, Hatebears/ Stax, Ramp, Tokens

Key Cards: Eidolon of Blossoms, Sanctum Weaver, Sphere of Safety,  Archon of Sun's Grace

Proliferations: Super Ramp, Hatebears/Stax, Pillowfort, +1/+1 Counters, Tokens, Lifegain

Under Commanders: Tuvasa the Sunlit, Karametra, God of Harvest

Special Notes: Does not play well with Spirit of the Labyrinth


Sythis' is a narrow card is completely dependent on other cards to make her amazing. Her ability reads "Whenever you cast an enchantment spell, you gain 1 life and draw a card." When thinking about the game plan, she functions as one of the payoffs for playing enchantment cards. The card advantage is always important in every deck. This is particularly important in multiplayer games as the games are longer. The life gain portion isn't significant, however it does add up and there are a number of enchantments that are played in life gain decks. 

Key Components

As an enchantress deck, you want to be running a density of enchantments. Fortunately, all colors typically have enchantments already being played in them. The commonly played enchantments in Green White include Courser of Kruphix, Oblivion Ring, and Mirari's Wake. The main problem though is that there are not enough enchantments for the drafter wanting to play GW enchantments. As a cube designer, you will want to be swapping commonly played cards for their enchantment counterparts. As an example instead of running Disenchant you would opt for Seal of Cleansing, Seal of Primordium, or Aura of Silence. You may also opt into running more enchantment creatures such as Celestial Archon. These are playable but may be less than optimal depending on where you want the power level to be at. 

Aside from these, there are several cards that are key to making Sythis a respectable deck in Commander cube. These cards are fairly independent and scale with more enchantments, which merits their inclusion into commander cube. This comes as no surprise, but to reiterate, as a designer you do not want too many cards that are narrow in game play because they create an awful player experience.

To begin, the sketchiest card on this list is Eidolon of Blossoms. At first glance, a base line of a 4 mana 2/2 that draws a card is bad and it is. With the intention of supporting the enchantress archetype, I had to include an enchantress card. When comparing this to every other enchantress-esque, this one stood at the top of that list. One of the largest problems, I have with enchantress cards is that they care about when the enchantment is cast. This is problematic when playing with cards like Sun Titan or Flickerwisp since it won't trigger. Thus I disqualified every other cast trigger other than Sythis (because commander). With that, there were only two cards with an ETB card draw trigger: Eidolon of Blossoms and Setessan Champion. Of the 2, Eidolon of Blossoms was able to trigger off itself, which is why it is included. Enchantments are not difficult to come by in any cube deck, if this card can trigger another time, it's earned its value. Outside of that, it does synergize with decks looking to abuse ETB triggers (I.e., Temur Sabertooth and Flickerwisp).

Sanctum Weaver
is one of the best cards in this deck. At its baseline, it generates a mana of any color 2MV. This is a fairly good rate for rainbow colored mana as Paradise Druid and Ornithopter of Paradise can do the same thing at 2MV. Of the 3, this is the worse, but the chance to scale off of the number of enchantments in play is what makes it exceptional. Since it is already playable at its current rate, any other enchantment makes this card start snowballing hard (enchantment lands, cowards).  Outside of the enchantment decks, other decks will want this as a ramp spell. In addition to all this, this card generates infinite mana of any color when played with Freed From The Real.

Sphere of Safety is a powerful option for this deck. This card's main function is to deter people from attacking you. Players have to out more consideration into their mana usage when they plan to attack a player controlling Sphere of Safety. It might be a controversial inclusion when Ghostly Prison exists.  Aside from mana value, there are a couple differences between the cards. Both cards force your opponents to pay mana to attack you with Ghostly Prison being better in a vacuum, however  Sphere of Safety's also protects your planeswalkers from being attacked as well as scaling with the number of enchantments you control. In the enchantment deck, Sphere of Safety can eventually reach a point where it will be near impossible to attack you whereas Ghostly Prison can eventually be paid off as the game goes on. The 5 mana part of the card is a big deal as it will not be available for a number of turns. Fortunately, the multiplayer environment can afford the enchantress player enough time to play this card almost all the time. This is further mitigated by the fact that enchantress has green, meaning there's an abundance of green ramp spells. Outside of enchantments, this card has a home in slower control and pillowfort decks where they want to buy as much time as possible before enacting their game plan.

Archon of Sun's Grace
is a solid creature independent of the enchantment deck. To begin, the main downside of this card is that itself is not an enchantment making it harder to trigger constellation. Fortunately, this card's constellation ability is relatively powerful. Making a flying 2/2 with lifelink as a side bonus to any enchantment is just insane. With just one trigger, this card is already starting to oppress your opponents and this is not taking into account what enchantment was played. Outside of the enchantment deck, this card can fit into any deck due to its power. Being a 3/4 with flying and lifelink makes it desirable in a lot of decks as just a value creature, even without the constellation trigger. Fliers, life gain, and token decks benefit from their inclusion of this card. Each of these decks will play an enchantment(s) of some sort and will be able to trigger the ability at least once.

Build Routes

Enchantment Matters
There are multiple routes you can take when drafting the deck for Sythis. Regardless of what routes you take she is most optimal with a mass of enchantments. Thus all decks will derivatives of a basic enchantment matters deck. The main goal of this deck is to generate a ton of value by playing enchantments. Here are some cards that will facilitate this strategy in addition to the cards mentioned beforehand.

Possibly cube's 2nd favorite dog?


Spirited Companion is a simple designed card that will fit into any white deck. This compares most close to Wall of Omen, which is already being played in cubes. Swapping to Spirited Companion means trading the ability to be a strong defender for the ability to attack. In my EDH cube, Wall was replaced with Companion because of its enchantment type. Being the white equivalent of Elvish Visionary is more than enough to warrant its inclusion since white traditionally struggled with card draw. Combined with being an enchantment and this card has powerful synergies in enchantments matters. 

Grasp of Fate  and other Oblivion Ring style effects are the type of removal you are looking to run. Cubes are already running these types of effects, but the amount varies especially with the existence of Generous Gift. They are great because they're versatile and will hit any type of nonland permanent while synergizing with any enchantment matters cards that you might be running. There are problems with these that should be addressed. Almost all of these cards are 3 mana and play at sorcery speed. For some cubes that might be too slow, for EDH cube, this is about the speed I am looking for. The other problem is that these cards can be undone by removing them. Limiting the amount of enchantment removal is a way to make these cards better. I prefer Grasp of Fate as it takes 3 cards and forces a difficult situation for anyone who wants to remove it. Aside from being good removal, they do have a place in devotion decks as they add to the devotion count.

The other form removal that you will have access to is aura removal. This will be cards like Swift Configuration, Faith's Fetters, Kenrith's Transformation, and Song of the Dryads. These cards are similar to the Oblivion Ring style removals except they do not actually get rid of the creatures. The means the creature that are hit do not leave the battle. Creatures with static abilities like any Thalia or Guttersnipe will still have their effects impact the game. Activated abilities are just in that same boat. The preferred versions of this type of card is the cards that transform the card into another creature with no abilities like Kenrith's Transformation or prevent you from activating them like Faith's Fetters. These type of cards are valuable to green decks as they have limitations to their removal. One other is that you have to pay attention to how these removal work (I.e., I can still beat you down with a card hit by Darksteel Mutation or Kenrith's Transformation) 

Starfield of Nyx is a possible finisher for this deck. At minimum, this is recurring an enchantment every turn starting with your next turn. The more interesting part of this card is that it can turn all of your enchantments into creature for you to start beating down your opponents. This will affect your enchantment creatures as well and in most cases will make your creatures larger. Main downside that the can be relatively slow being 5 mana and having to wait until your next turn for the 1st ability can be brutal in a pinch. Outside of the enchantment deck, this cards main value is to recur enchantment which might not happen often or at all. Sagas can make this card more useful in this instance.


There are a solid number of auras that function similarly to mana dorks in that they are a 1 drop and help your deck generate mana. The deck also has the option to play mana doublers since nearly all of them are enchantments. Combined with green cards that untap lands and you have a monster of a time generating mana. From that point do what you will with your mana to win the game.

Prime examples of aura ramp cards are Wild Growth and Utopia Sprawl. As mentioned earlier, they function similar to Elvish Mystic and Birds of Paradise. They have the benefit of being attached to lands which is harder to deal with than the mana dorks, but they also come with the downside that those lands will always tap for 2 mana. Getting 2 for 1'd is a concern with these cards, however land destruction is uncommon for my edh cube, so these cards won't be bad per say. As of the time this was published, these cards are not present in my cube because I also am trying to facilitate an Elves tribal theme in Golgari. If there is a change, I would cut back on the elves for this theme.

Almost all of the mana doubling permanents are found in green and are enchantments like Heartbeat of Spring and Zendikar Resurgent. As long as Sythis can maintain card advantage, these cards remain superb as they can be used to cast more creatures. In the multiplayer environment, these do 2 things aside from mana generation: give everyone else double mana and painting a huge target on you. The problem with double mana is that more than likely you will not be able to enjoy it first and possibly giving your opponents a huge boost. I have seen so many situations where the following player will use the double mana to the fullest extent and then destroy the mana doubler, so that only they benefited, which is the correct play. Addressing the other issue, you can't use that double mana if you're dead. These cards are fine to run outside of enchantress because of the cross over with super ramp and group hug.

Last of all is mana sinks. All this mana needs to be spent on something otherwise the strategy is just a waste. In white, you have the option like Mobilization and Sacred Mesa to generate tokens based on the amount of mana you have. This should be your win condition as you will eventually be able to generate enough tokens to swing in for lethal. You may also opt for non-enchantment mana sinks like Staff of Domination or Temur Sabertooth. X spells like Genesis Wave or Decree of Justice will also suffice in this category, so make sure to include them. Mana sinks are invaluable in longer games.


Stax/Hatebears is another route this deck can be built. This is possible due to a large number of stax pieces are enchantments. The aim of this deck is to slow down your opponents, while pushing yourself forward. Even just within enchantment stax pieces you have a lot of options in how you want to construct this section. There are cards designed to just slow down your opponent, while other cards designed to just outright stopping your opponents from doing unfair things. This section is deep enough to warrant its own spotlight, but will instead go over some options for a Sythis/ Enchantment matters Stax deck.

You have the option to include cards that force things to come into play are a staple of these decks. Though it might seem negligible at first glance, having permanents enter tap can stunt the impact of their presence. The most common variant of these cards is having creatures entering tapped. The most universal benefit of this card is that it prevents creatures from blocking or attacking (creatures with haste/ Swiftfoot Boots) the turn they enter. This becomes a real concern as the game continues and lifesaving plays are thwarted as they will have a difficult time trying to establish blockers. This will also neuter tap abilities on hasted creatures like Kiki Jiki, the Mirror Breaker. Examples of cards like these are Blind Obedience and Authority of the Consuls.

Having artifacts come into play tapped may not seem as impactful as creatures at first. A common case would be having a player's mana rocks enter tapped slowing down their game plan. Similar to creatures with activated ability artifacts like Mimic Vat and Trading Post will be set a turn behind as well. Even if they have an untap effect, they will be using the abilities one less time if it matters ( You can't beat infinity taps). There are also artifact creatures that will be affected by this, but normally these cards also come with forcing creatures to enter tapped. Examples of these cards are again Blind Obedience and Root Maze.

Lastly, cards making lands entered tapped are available, however they are mostly not enchantments and vary into what type of lands are affected. Of the ones currently available, there are ones that hit all lands, hit only nonbasic, and hit snow lands. Just denying the amount of mana available to your opponent each turn is always powerful, which is enough to include them into Sythis Stax builds. Enchantments that have this ability include Kismet and Root Maze. Creatures for this include Archon of Emeria or Thalia, Heretic Cathar.

Tied into denying mana, making your opponents pay more resources for any action they want to take. These typically affect only your opponents allowing you to play normally to get ahead. Take note, that free spells will have to pay the taxes, so they can't be avoided. These come in the form of all permanent types, but we will be focused on enchantments for this deck. 
For effects slow down creatures from attacking you, you have Sphere of Safety and Ghostly Prison which force your opponents to pay mana to attack you. In game play, these discourage or even players from attacking you. For a fun factor, combine these with cards that force your opponent to attack and your other opponents are getting hit instead. 
For effects that hit artifacts and enchantments, Aura of Silence is the primary choice here. It will delay game ending plays like Exquisite Blood and Omniscience.
For activated abilities, Suppression Fields is your only real option for this. It hits all activated abilities including planeswalker abilities. This will invalidate activated abilities like mana dorks, Kiki-Jiki, or Freed from the Real.

There are also cards available that just outright prevent people from taking certain actions. These are great because they typically make your opponents play more fair, when they might not have constructed their decks to do so. Some of these effects are symmetrical, so be aware. These can control the number of spells your opponents are playing per turn like Rule of Law, stop activated abilities like Stony Silence, stop your opponent from drawing multiple cards per turn like Spirit of the Labyrinth, or remove an aspect of the game like with the graveyard and Rest in Peace. If you can build your deck around these cards try to make sure these effects don't slow you down too much. Please do note that Spirit of the Labyrinth will prevent drawing cards from Sythis on your turn.

Smothering Tithes
 is an example of cards that are not necessarily stax cards but do punish your opponents for playing a certain way. Cards like this ask your opponents to sacrifice a resource if they want to take a specific action, otherwise you benefit from their action. They will either interrupt your opponent's game plan or should accelerate your game plan. Cards like this are typically found in blue, red, and black. Examples of these card are Rhystic Studies, Arasta, the Endless Web, and Mystic Remora. These cards are typically amazing in multiplayer as they scale up with the number of players, whereas they are lackluster in 1v1. Their big downside is that they do not actually prevent actions from happening and thus their punishment can be ignored at times.

The deck is problematic as these cards do not contribute to winning and will still need a win condition. It can be as simple as running Starfield of Nyx to turn all your enchantments into an overrun with all your enchantments becoming creatures. Other combos are fine to use with the intent of the stax pieces to slow down your opponent's game plan while using the draw triggers to further dig to your combo. If push comes to shove, the beat down plan is always available.

Special Notes
This is the section where I will cover other cards that fit into this deck while not being enchantment or win conditions themselves.

Idyllic Tutor
can be seen as one of your "pay off" cards for playing enchantments. The value of this card is heavily dependent on cards are available in cube. All colors play enchantments and this card can play a role in almost any deck that it is included in based on the merit of it being a tutor. This will more than likely tutor any of your powerful enchantment. Because of this, depending on what you tutored you might have just painted a target on your head. Enlightened Tutor is an option as well but they are pricier and harder to come by. Being instant speed at 1 mana with the option of also tutoring an artifact makes it way better than Idyllic. The downside is that the tutored card goes to the top of the deck.

is a powerful card that scales up with our deck as we build up a boardstate. The card has living weapon making it useful in being treated as a creature. This will be able to turn any of your creatures into a threat including Sythis. Since the card also scales with artifacts, this card can easily slot into artifact decks as well. The main downside of this card is that it is an artifact, which doesn't synergize with the rest of the deck. There are enchantments which do something similar like Michiko's Reign of Truth and All That Glitters. Michiko's Reign of Truth is slow, but I haven't tested it in a deck, while All That Glitters is an aura with no safety net and runs the risk of getting you blown out. Overall, being a living weapon and colorless payoff will makes it perfect in a slower cube and a good support card for Sythis.

Alternative Commanders

Below are other commanders you might want to use while maintaining an enchantment matters theme.

If you want to maintain playing GW Enchantment you may opt to swap in or include Karametra, God of Harvests. Karametra sits at 5 MV which means you want mana ramp to roll her out ASAP. Once she lands, she's going to start ramping you like crazy. In tangent with her indestructibility means it's going to be a pain to remove especially if she rarely turns into a creature. As an enchantment focused commander, her role is to just be another enchantment in the deck. This is the main reason that I opted to run Sythis instead. Sythis is a lot more narrow than Karametra, but being another enchantress for the deck made it easy to signal post that an enchantress deck is present. Had I not run enchantments, I would run neither of them.

Moving up a color you may opt for Tuvasa the Sunlit as an Enchantress commander. In this swap, you add access to blue enchantments and scaling stats, but you lose access to drawing more than one card. Having that extra color makes it easier to support enchantment matters since you can spread out the density among 3 colors leaving room for cards in those colors. The scaling ability allows Tuvasa to become a large threat without the need to buff her directly making her a solid choice for a voltron build. This card will not be replacing Sythis because they fit into different color slots, however this card is a valid option for further support towards facilitating an enchantment matters deck in your cube. In time, this card might take a spot in my commander cube. 

Lastly, you will always have the option to run the deck without a proper commander or a value commander like Anafenza, the Foremost. If this happens though make sure there's enough support for the deck otherwise it will feel flat.

Final Thoughts

The enchantment deck has been a deck I've been wanting to include in cube since my inital cube builds and that was back in 2015. The main reason for the inclusion was that I wanted to run an aura deck in cube. The problem I was run into was that these cards took up too much space and they were just not good. 7 years later in a slower environment, I wanted to give it a second shot especially with Sythis being available as a commander to run. With my current list, this is still somewhat of a struggle to run. I am interested in possibly expanding the enchantment theme from mostly GW to Bant or 4 colors(WUBG). I would add Alela, Artful Provocateur and Tatsunari, Toad Rider to facilitate enchantments in the 4 color space. Current things I don't like about this build is that this theme is extremely demanding to build around, whereas artifacts are a lot more incidental. Given a bit more time and I think it will become less demanding. All the Theros sets, Modern Horizon, and NEO have been adding to this. With a few more strong enchantment creatures and I think this archetype can stand on its own. 

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