Home Strategy Exalted Darkness deck guide: Here I go again on my own

When Stainless announced that Duels 2013 would feature manual mana tapping, the series’ fanbase was ecstatic.

When it was later revealed that only one deck, Exalted Darkness, would actually use this feature in the core game? People were understandably let down.

But don’t be one of them. What Wizards omitted in quantity of multicolor decks, they made up for in fun factor of the one they left in. The black/white Exalted Darkness, much like real life race mixing, is sexy, fun, and 21% more likely than its peers on average to obtain a post graduate degree.


A different approach to deck guides

Since breaking down each deck card-by-card literally takes four or five hours of my life per guide, I thought I’d start things off with my decklist this time. I know that’s what most of the internet sheep want anyway, but it will also give me the time to add my thoughts on each card later.

I’m glad, of course, to share my overall plan with Exalted Darkness, which was to streamline the deck into three main components: removal, early aggro, and midgame support.

Removal is straightforward and this black/white deck has no shortage of it (that shouldn’t surprise long time B/W Magic players). Doom Blade, Unmake, Vindicate, and other options are among some of the best removal spells ever printed in Magic, so it’s relatively easy to clear out troublesome creatures, artifacts, or enchantments… as long as your spells are used judiciously. Too often new players simply nuke what’s on the board just because they can. Patience and timing will often yield better results and possibly greater card advantage.

For early aggro I wanted to keep in the low mana cost, exalted creatures: Duty-Bound Dead, the Knights, and even those lil’ Squire boys (not to be confused with choir boys). If left uncontested, these early game drops would stack damage very quickly against the opponent. A few utility critters like Child of Night don’t provide exalted bonuses, but do provide something useful to do with all those +1/+1 boons, even if she’s blocked. If the board’s momentum is swinging in my direction instead, these cheap, small creatures can easily trade with goblins, soldiers, or elves to stave off damage until a more permanent solution is found.

Midgame support makes up the list of permanent solutions that will shut down most threats. Silent Arbiter, No Mercy, Royal Assassin, and Worship can all put a big damper on any offense on turn 4. Battlegrace Angel or Divinity of Pride can help you escape a ground stall and undo early beats with lifegain. Deathbringer Liege, Sword of Vengeance, and Sigil of Distinction can add value to existing troops. Finally, Debtor’s Knell will generate card advantage and headaches if your opponent can’t stop you in time. Many of these spells are synergistic, so the more you get in play, the less likely it is your enemy can recover the battlefield from your grasp.

The overall mana curve is very low, with only two high-cost end game bombs. Almost everything can be emptied by turn 4, allowing you to apply constant pressure with early aggro creatures and denting your foe’s life total. Once he or she gets some blockers into play, simply remove them or, if you’d prefer, fly/trample past them. In almost all cases, this strategy is sufficient to overwhelm most defenses, as long as you don’t make more than a scant few mistakes along the way.

It should be noted to all Exalted Darkness players that it is not necessary to always use the exalted mechanic. If, for instance, you know your opponent has an Into the Roil or a Murder in hand, for Serra’s sake, attack with more than one creature! You might not get the same total damage out of the assault, but it will force your enemy to make tougher decisions and suffer a little bit in the process. So many games are lost due to players who single-mindedly use the same attacking strategy every single turn.

With that said, take a few minutes to review my decklist and share your own thoughts in the comments or the T3 forums. And check back later as I populate this article with more information about the value of each card in Exalted Darkness. Enjoy!


Exalted Darkness deck list

  • 3 Evolving Wilds
  • 1 Sigil of Distinction
  • 3 Akrasan Squire
  • 3 Duty-bound Dead
  • 2 Child of Night
  • 1 Demonic Tutor
  • 3 Doom Blade
  • 3 Knight of Glory
  • 2 Knight of Infamy
  • 1 Mortify
  • 1 Royal Assassin
  • 1 Sword of Vengeance
  • 3 Unmake
  • 2 Vindicate
  • 1 No Mercy
  • 2 Silent Arbiter
  • 1 Sublime Archangel
  • 1 Worship
  • 1 Battlegrace Angel
  • 2 Deathbringer Liege
  • 2 Divinity of Pride
  • 1 Angel of Despair
  • 1 Debtor’s Knell
  • 12 Swamp
  • 8 Plains


Exalted Darkness gameplay videos

47 replies to this post
  1. Hey wing, nice decklist. Love your vids.

    Just wanted to get your thoughts on running 60 vs 61 cards in Duels 2013; given that most (all?) decks have the same amount of land for 61 as they do for 60.

    • He puts 61 cards in a deck if he feels the mana ratio needs a slight tweak. For example, if you were running the goblin deck, it might be beneficial to go with 61 cards, since the casting costs are generally lower, and you won’t want to be drawing as much mana. It probably doesn’t make that much difference, but it could allow you to win an extra game or two.

    • For most of the 25-land decks I run 61. For the 24 or under decks, it depends. In reality the difference is under 2% so it’s not a big deal. In some cases I ran 61 just out of superstition that it would give me a tiny edge over Dream Puppets.

      • That’s not always true Wing….
        Over the course of three games, if you take two or three mulligans, you are drawing forty or fifty cards over the course of the match with JUST the starting draws.

        The difference between getting the land you need and stalling on a critical early turn is often game-breaking.

        So I feel that 61 card choice is significantly more than 2% in total effect/

    • Whispersilk cloak and the sword kind of have two different purposes. You probably wouldn’t exchange one for the other.

  2. First off I noticed that you have a mortify in your deck list. Second, I also want to know why you didn’t run whispersilk cloak. Third and finally, since I’ve been coming to this I’ve been getting better at magic and it’s all because of your awesome videos and deck building tips. I feel like dancing every time I win now instead of hanging my head in shame.

    • Mortify is very powerful, both as universal, instant creature removal and instant enchantment removal. Yes, vindicate removes enchants, but if you attack all-out and they don’t block because they have No Mercy or Worship in play, you can LOL them with Mortify.

      Whispersilk Cloak IMO is too slow vs the fast decks, and it telegraphs your intent to the enemy. I guess it could be good in some matchups.

      Finally, you’re more than welcome, glad I could help.

      • I find that I win games just with me attacking through all their creatures but to each his own I guess.

    • It could be more viable in a different build. I wouldn’t put it in wing’s deck. If you want to focus on getting damage through, maybe build a deck with a couple of flyers, the tormented souls, and throw in those cloaks. However like wing said, they are slow. You can’t both equip and play it until at least turn 5. The enemy will be able to kill anything you’re going to put it on. It’s almost impossible to get it onto one of your high value creatures without them being killed first. In fact the more I think about it, the more I wouldn’t recommend it. If you really want to go for speed and getting damage through anything, the tormented souls and and flyers would probably do better.

  3. If you are saying Whispersilk Cloak is too slow for a aggro deck, then why have Sword of Vengeance? If anything, it’s slower and do you really need a boost to your attack in a exalted deck? I feel, if you can get them equiped without being destroyed first, Whispersilk Cloak would be the better of the two. I’m not saying this for arguement sake, I just want to know if there is something I am over looking.

    • The sword isn’t about boosting your attack. In fact, it will more frequently be used to boost your defense, both by providing vigilance and by giving a creature first strike and more power. One thing Exalted Darkness lacks is good blockers, with most creatures having 1 or 2 toughness. The zombies can regen but it is so expensive it’s usually only a lategame solution.

      Additionally, I don’t find making creatures unblockable to be that useful. You have lots of removal to destroy pesky blockers, and your creatures can get big enough that blocking is already a headache for your opponent. Shroud is okay but most of the creatures in the deck aren’t worth protecting, at least how I’m running it.

      The Cloak has value, but not really in this build as much.

    • Have you ever played with the sword? It’s just a lot more versatile than the cloak. Not only does it boost your attack and give you trample, but add in vigilance and first strike…It means you can attack each turn without getting completely overrun on the defensiveness side. The plus 2 attack and trample means if you’re getting chumped block by a 2 toughness creature, you’d do the same amount of damage with same creature if it was unblockable without the sword, and you are also gaining card advantage by getting rid of the enemies cards with no loss of your own. The cloak may be suited for use with cards like darklit gargoyle, but wing does not have that card in his build. He did not build his deck for the cloak to be very useful.

      • Isn’t the regen ring actually better than both fpr these purposes?

        These rings are cheap as hell to cast, and it lets ANY creature regen for TWO mana, letting you block anything, or attack into even board situations early.

        As a bonus, if the creature is black, it gets bigger pretty fast.

        This lets you shore up your defense rapidly. I love leaving a Duty Bound Dead at 1/3 or 2/4 as a blocker to stop most anything, then moving the ring to another creature. The only downside is you are left wanting to put those crappy black fliers in your deck…

  4. Hey Wingspan,

    If you were to take one card out to bring the total to 60, or make any other adjustments for the sixty card version, what would they be?

    • Probably one of the 1-drop squires, they’re easily the most disposable creatures in the deck. Or take out both Doom Blades and add in a Pacifism or Pillory instead.

  5. I have been told otherwise about the 60-61 choice. The whole reasoning behind the 60 vs 61 cards in deck is due to calculation of drawchances of a perticular card. The break even point of the ideal chance value on drawing a perticular card lies between 60 and 61 cards.

    Whichever one has your preference is more a personal choice than one made out of reasoning since you can’t have 60,5 cards in your deck. 62 cards is not recommended since you will be hurting your drawchances quite a bit with only that one extra card.

    A mathmatician will probably be better equipped to show the difference in chance calculation the one extra card causes. I’m unfortunately no mathmatician so I wouldn’t be able to show it to you in mathmatical equations, if those even interest you in the first place.

    • Part of the problem is that you can’t alter your land count in DOTP, so there are fixed intervals you can pick. For instance, it is actually impossible to have 62 cards in your deck in DOTP. If you try to add a 62nd card, DOTP will add a 63rd card for you, a land, in addition.

      • 62 is impossible, as Wing said.
        One thing heavily overlooked here is that you CAN alter your land count in Exalted – by tweaking the number of Cathedrals and Evolving Wilds and taking the deck to 61, you can drastically alter your mana balance in this particular deck.

        This is worth exploring as it’s the only deck that has this customisation.

    • If you want to go for a super fast, super cheap creature build, I’d recommend them. It’s a build i’m attempting now with success. However, I can’t tell you how many times i’ve had no mercy, or one of the angels and not been able to play it when using a build like wings, because I didn’t have one more of the specific color mana. That’s where the cathedrals can really hurt you.

  6. I have a more general query…I have played extensively with this deck, and it can be fun, but have formed the opinion that it’s a tier 3 deck, not really worth my time.

    This is because despite its power, I’m losing maybe 25% or more of my matches due to mana screw. This is compared to under 6% with the mono decks, just due to either:

    a) being unable to accept reasonable draws due to bad colour/land distribution
    b) Being stuck with only one plains and unable to play a bomb card.
    c) Being forced to accept draws with bad colour/land distributions on repeated mulligan
    e) Having a slow opening due to drawing multiple evolving wilds
    f) Getting mana screwed by an opponent’s permanent removal picking off my only white (or sometimes black) mana source.

    *None* of these things happen with the other decks. This introduces so much variance that compared to the other decks, this one just doesn’t seem worth it.

    Now if you just care about fun, that’s fine, but I’m finding I need to win about 90% on average if I want to maintain my ladder rating.

    How do you cope with the mana swings, man??

    • Honestly I rarely get color screwed (as opposed to mana screwed).

      In this build there are very few cards with WW or BB in the cost. As long as I have at least 1 of each it turns out fine.

      Also I don’t play the decks to maintain a ranking, I play them to get a good win rate with each deck, not the best overall win rate.

  7. Fair enough. I can understand that, but I feel frustrated if I lose continually because the deck is letting me down so heavily (dream puppets*cough*).

    I am so amazed you don’t get colour screwed!

    What are your mulligan rules with the multicolour deck?

    • If there are 3-4 lands and at least one of each color (or a fetch land) I take it.

      If there are 3-4 of one color land, and all but one of the spells in hand can be played with those lands, I take it.

      If I have enough to cast one of the prot knights, and I know it will shut them down, I’ll take it.

      • Ok, I think this may be my issue, I’m treating it like a mono deck.

        I’ll be a bit more careful with the mulligans and see if that helps.

        The fact the deck has no sweepers or no ways around shroud or enemy sweepers makes it doubtful it will ever be a top tier deck, but I’d like to get it functioning as a go-to alternative like BoF.

      • While it can’t outright deal with shroud, very few creatures in DOTP have shroud. It also has No Mercy and regenerating blockers that can deal with shroud.

  8. Wingspan,

    When I count the cards it comes out to 60 with 1 Squire taken out… was that your intention or did you not mention the 61st card?

  9. Why 3 Evolving Wilds instead of any number of Cathedrals? Is the Mana Diversity really that much more important? Or is 3 Exalted generic Mana cards really too much of overkill?

  10. So I’m really new to this,

    I have been playing with this deck – Default
    Read your guide and cant seem to find a few of the cards in my list, any help?

  11. Did you input the card codes to unlock the extra 10 cards for each deck? A fully unlocked deck should say 40/40 cards unlocked not 30/30. If it says the latter, do an online search for the codes and input them on your DotP game to unlock the other 10. Each code unlocks 1 card for each deck.

  12. I dunno what the actual magic cards are, but this deck really needs some card draw. If you can get out the angels, the artifact creature that only allows one creature to attack/block, or worship, you pretty much have a win.

    The biggest problem with this deck though is the 2-colour casting cost cards (royal assassin, the mythic angel card, etc.) and it’s inability to get over mana screw. Even if you keep a hand with 3 lands, you have no way to accelerate your deck to find more lands for your 4-casting cost cards and up, which just so happen to be the cards that win you the game.

    In general, the exalted creatures are worse than something like goblins, so the only way this deck is special is the soft and hard locks you can pull off. There’s also a lot of tricks and card advantage that could be had with deathbringer leige.

    But I generally find that this deck runs out of steam. Many games go where I just do 3 damage a turn, and this isn’t going good against a bunch of decks. Even Garruk with a good hand will just smash you.

    This is by far the most underwhelming deck without the unlocks, as there are so many cards in this deck that just suck. Only with the unlocks and foil promos it gets much better.

    Generally though, card acceleration is drastically needed, as it would help you survive situations where you don’t have a lot of time and are on a tight clock… or when you’re just mana screwed. At least the obedient dead has cards to draw more cards, and this deck frankly needed something like that.

    • Agreed on all points. This deck has no real means of draw or card advantage, which means it’s basically impossible to make a comeback and that long games will typically result in a stall unless you draw a perfect topdeck.

      • Yep, I’ve been experiencing that a lot. Jace casts Mind Control while you’ve been mana-screwed for 4 turns in a row even with a Howling Mine in play? Good luck coming back from that ;)

        I’m not so sure Divinity of Pride is such a good card for the deck. Yes, it’s a decent 4/4 flyer for 5 mana, but at least half of the time it will never get to become an 8/8. For the times that it will, it gets removed. The problem is that most of the creatures in this deck are not worth using removal on, the opponent can save their removal for the very few threats this deck can bring out. I think I’ve attacked with Divinity of Pride twice in at least 30 games despite playing it in 30% of my games, and only once did it become an 8/8.

        I find the same thing happens to both of my 4CC angels too.

        The mana screw seems to be a really big problem for this deck. The more I come back to Obedient Dead – a deck I originally thought was really bad – the more I think it’s one of the most powerful decks in the game.

      • I meant to say that only once did the Divinity of Pride become an 8/8 and survive the attack. All of the other times it had the chance to become an 8/8, it died instantly. Half of the time though, it will never become an 8/8 because my life is at 11 or 16, and it’ll get removed way before I can attack with it enough times to get 25 life. It’s really hard to make this an 8/8 on turn 6.

  13. And check back later as I populate this article with more “information about the value of each card in Exalted Darkness.”


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