Home Strategy Magic 2014 Hall of Champions deck guide: Keep Calm & Bant On

Ah, exalted, you beautiful devil. Loved by some for creating enormous attackers while still technically leaving tight defenses, scorned by many others for being murdered by a single removal spell. Or, as is often the case in Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014, twenty-five of them.

Well, at least there are worse decks than Hall of Champions. One. Okay, two. It could be pretty great, with some actual fixing and decent stalling… and perhaps also cut all decks containing red or black out of the game while you’re at it.

Great amounts of got have been had

Here’s the great news: Exalted decks don’t really care about removal since any squire may champion her people. The bad news: I’m too pretentious to make that joke. Oh, and most decks in the game will laugh at you while they remove your attacker before Exalted resolves. At least your defenses are still up, right? Well, aside from that there very few Exalted creatures with non-terrible bodies, which means that your opponent will still be swinging freely.

Not only that, but Wizards decided that a deck which needs three specific lands as soon as possible to function (and contains green) is served well enough with just four Terramorphic Expanses. If it contained just a few Rampant Growths or the like, it could be much better. Why does it not, Wizards, why?

Still, if you get your colours and your opponent isn’t spamming removal on everything that you dare try to put out, your chances won’t be too bad. Especially since you’ll be playing against a goldfish.

Hall of Champions deck list (by mana cost)

60 cards, 10 Plains, 5 Forest, Island, 4 Terramorphic Expanse


  • 3 Akrasan Squire


  • 2 Deft Duelist
  • 1 Knotvine Paladin
  • 3 Qasali Pridemage
  • 2 Aven Squire


  • 1 Jenara, Asura of War
  • 1 Giltspire Avenger
  • 4 Rhox War Monk
  • 2 Dauntless Escort
  • 2 Guardians of Akrasa
  • 1 Court Archers
  • 1 Qasali Ambusher
  • 2 Pariah
  • 4 Bant Charm


  • 1 Rafiq of the Many
  • 2 Sublime Archangel


  • 1 Battlegrace Angel
  • 2 Finest Hour
  • 1 Privileged Position

Hall of Champions card-by-card analysis (by mana cost)

Akrasan Squire: 3.5

He doesn’t do much, but he does it well. Not many decks can have a 2/2 swinging on turn 2 and afterwards have him die in an Earthquake still be useful. Paying one mana for one Exalted trigger is definitely fair, especially one that can also chump and give additional bonuses.

Deft Duelist: 3.5

Assuming that she doesn’t die to some random wipe just headed her way, very pretty card. Provides decent defense and very good offense, with most of the usual removal unable to touch her.

Knotvine Paladin: 4.5

Eats removal. That’s about what he does. Assuming that he doesn’t, you can expect glorious results. Who needs tapped creatures, anyway?

Qasali Pridemage: 3.5

Two mana for an Exalted trigger on a not terrible creature with the ability to kill your opponent’s Grave Pact at instant speed. No matter how you turn it, efficient.

Sigil Blessing: 1.5

Barring special circumstances, the +1/+1 is irrelevant, so you’re paying two specific mana which you’ll never have spare for a Giant Growth. Great in Selesnya decks, which are about the opposite of this one.

Martial Coup: 2.0

Pay just seven mana and get a Wrath effect with some free completely useless tokens stapled on top! Yaaay! I’d advise you to run this regardless for its wiping effect, but there’s a line somewhere. I think it’s just a few inches before paying seven mana for a Wrath that comes three turns after you’ve already died to decks which would force you to use it.

Aven Squire: 3.0

Okay, I’ll stop mentioning when something has Exalted. I’ve also been told that blocking becomes a problem when you only have one attacking creature per turn, so this will help you skip past most defenses and strike directly at heart.

Jhessian Infiltrator: 2.5

Doesn’t have Exalted. Also lacks any form of protection whatsoever, so the best it’ll do for you is to eat a removal spell when your opponent decides that living for two phases is long enough.

Qasali Ambusher: 3.5

Debatable. Its effect seems stronger than it is, but on the other hand, I won’t mind getting a flashy 2/3 Reach for free, even if it loses Exalted compared to its counterpart, the Archers.

Jenara, Asura of War: 3.0

If she lives to power up and swing, she’s a monster. Unfortunately, that will rarely happen. Personally, I would’ve paid one or even two mana more for her if she came slightly tougher from the start, but choosers shouldn’t be beggars.

Giltspire Avenger: 4.0

He has a (quite poorly) animated picture. That alone demands that he’s useful. Oh, and he can also more or less kill anything noteworthy if you’re willing to take a punch, while also powering up Exalted. Of course, not that he’d ever live to use that abiltiy. Still, each removal card drawn out of orbit with a magnet of his size is one less aimed at your attacker.

Rhox War Monk: 4.5

Three mana for a creature tough enough to keep you alive both through holding your defensive line and by punching your opponent’s face in. I’ll take five.

Dauntless Escort: 4.0

Fly, you f – The content you are trying to read is unavailable in your country due to a copyright claim from New Line Cinema*. Perhaps it’s enough to tell you that its body is quite alright and instant speed, free Indestructible will force your opponent into tough choices.

Guardians of Akrasa: 3.0

More Exalted for those that can attack. Besides that, this will stall a lot of creatures on the ground. Since Bant’s creatures aren’t much for stats, defense is direly needed, too.

Pariah: 4.0

What will your opponent do to stop it from killing their own creature, not attack for the rest of the game? While she decides the when, you decide the what. Just don’t expect that creature to stay out of the fight if you cast it main phase 1. Also fun to put on indestructible guys your opponent might have.

Behemoth Sledge: 3.0

Provides Trample, provides Lifelink, provides pump. Great card, but it’s horrifically expensive, especially when you’ll be constantly re-equipping it. If nothing else, its animation looks really bad, so leave it out for your own good.

Bant Charm: 4.5

Look! It kills any creatures without shroud, dead! Well, mostly anyhow. While there are odds to redraw it after a shuffle, the reality is that that scenario is highly unlikely. Even so, practically exiling any creature is well worth the mana, even if it gives no other options.**

Wargate: 2.5

Screams to be broken with whispers of hidden potential. Except when you take it apart, there really is none. Horridly expensive even for cheap permanents and useless as a mana fixer (note the word permanent) since you already need all three colours.

Rafiq of the Many: 5.0

When in doubt, hit them again. Considering the many removal magnets that come before him, he might even stay on the board for a turn. He doesn’t even need to, actually, as long as he’s around for the declare attackers step. Of course, he WILL eat instant removal or a counter the second he comes down, but it’s the thought that counts.

Knight of New Alara: 2.0

Could be great, if he wasn’t a 2/2 and if there were a bit fewer monocoloured creatures in the deck. As is, his bonus will mostly whiff thanks to Exalted while at best making your attacker beckon even more for removal.

Leonin Armourguard: 1.5

So it’s a decent defender with Exalted, except that it’s a oneshot effect and it doesn’t have Flash… tell me, why should I bother with this again?

Sublime Archangel: 5.0

Exalted². Well, almost. Double Exalted triggers, even from things that didn’t have it before, end games very, very fast. Yes, multiple instances trigger separately. By itself, even if all you have is one other creature, it will attack as a 6/5. Add in more creatures and Exalted as you please. Then feel cheated by the 3 toughness that allow it to die in a random Earthquake any burn that’s thrown at it.

Restoration Angel: 3.0

Without any ETB abilities whatsoever, it’s hard to find a reason for this. Sure it counters removal, assuming of course that you have four mana sitting around in addition to whatever you paid for the bomb it’s supposed to protect. Besides, angels are somewhat prevalent in a world literally built on white mana, so even if you could use it, you often can’t.

Rhox Charger: 2.5

Trample is great, but if you want evasion, the same price will give you more evasive fliers with better stats. In general, Exalted wants many, many cheap creatures rather than expensive slightly better ones. This is the latter category.

Ivory Mask: 3.0

Sideboard in against Izzet to pretend you had any chance of winning that match. Other than that, almost entirely useless. 4 mana and a deck slot better spent elsewhere.

Faith’s Reward: 3.0

Again, this can seriously piss off removal spammers after a sweep, but it’s not very often that you’ll have four mana lying around while having drawn that exact card out of 60, on the exact moment that your opponent decides to sweep.

Battlegrace Angel: 4.0

Personally, I never seem to draw her. However, if you should be lucky enough, she will go a long way towards keeping you alive, while holding down both defense and offense.

Waveskimmer Aven: 1.5

Look, I know that it’s a common and that not every creature can be a bomb mythic rare. (Though tying quality to rarity is bullshit, anyway.) That doesn’t save it from being crap. It’s an enormously overcosted Exalted trigger on a poor body which could easily be at least one size bigger. Which costs three colours.

Battleflight Eagle: 3.0

Not bad, but expensive and conditional for what it does. If the game doesn’t end on the swing that it provides, mostly useless. Nope.

Finest Hour: 5.0

This, on the other hand, will set your opponent onto a very short clock defined mostly by how many chump blockers she has left. Not only does your attacker get to swing twice, it also gets all Exalted triggers yet again for probably double size. For reference, when attacking into a tapped out board, Rafiq can solo a player from 20 life down with damage to spare in the turn this comes down. As can a Sublime Archangel with a single other creature out.

Gleam of Resistance: 1.0

So I can cast a useless effect for five mana, or I can fetch the land this might as well have been for two. Can I still trade this in for a Rampant Growth?

Privileged Position: 4.0

Rather expensive. Now that its drawbacks are treated, this card stops targeting, for good. If your opponent wants to kill one of your creatures with this out, it has to be in the field of battle. Let all be united under the shroud of glorious combat. And pray that your opponent doesn’t use global effects or just kill you instead.

Skyward Eye Prophets: 2.5

Attacks and blocks while giving you card advantage, except that it will be facing creatures 5/5 bigger than it and flying. If it was a bit smaller and cheaper, perhaps. Hell, it would be great even if it was an ETB effect and 1/1, if its cost could then be reduced by perhaps something like 3W.

Tolsimir Wolfblood: 3.0

If both you and he survive for more than a few seconds after casting him, he’ll be glad to serve as an overcosted lord that barely, if at all, affects your creatures and produces a token that’s at least easily disposable.

Mirror-Sigil Seargant: 2.5

I know that you’re already tired of hearing it, but: Dies to removal. Also, even if you live to play him and keep a blue permanent in play (which doesn’t include Islands) his strategy of spamming himself ignores the rest of your deck. Actually, just realised what’s wrong with this deck: Half of it is trying to be Selesnya! It should be mentioned that the tokens also produce tokens themselves, so if you find yourself stalled out, prepare for exponential rhinos.

Iridescent Angel: 2.5

Doesn’t die to removal. Five stars. Unfortunately, costs seven mana for a rather underwhelming creature. At best, it will force your opponent to pull out one of her thirteen global removal cards. Yay!

Novablast Wurm: 3.0

Why is it that certain decks consist 50% of sweepers and all the others have to be content with things like this? His attack better be worth it for you, because that’ll be it for your Exalted dudes. Of course, all of your opponent’s dudes will bite it as well, assuming that the Wurm doesn’t. Seven mana for an open-to-remove creature that won’t do anything until it attacks, even if it does impressive things? Could imagine better.

Phantom Nishoba: 3.0

Very much indestructible creature that’ll keep you alive for quite long. If only you could cast it without dying beforehand.

Divine Incantation: 1.5

If you have any creatures left with seven mana, you need to swing and end the game already, not produce a lot of bland angels. Just imagine how many Exalted triggers you had to use until that point.

Empyrial Archangel: 2.5

Ugh, okay Wizards, I’ll explain it slowly. Let’s do a bit of math: Zero ramping and/or fixing plus bad creatures divided by zero stalling or playable Wrath effects equals – exactly – no chance of ever playing this thing, even assuming that your opponent can’t deal eight damage to you in one turn. Same goes for the other seven mana removal baiters, by the way.


*I’d like to prevent any claims of my lack of knowledge about a very pretentious fellow author. In other words, I know by whom and how Lord of the Rings was created, don’t bother implying otherwise. However, the dude’s sort of dead, so he won’t sue many people.

**Because 95% of the time, Bant Charm might as well not have any other modes. Look, there it stands: “Put target creature on the bottom of its owner’s library. If you feel like it, you may instead give Izzet decks the finger.”

30 replies to this post
  1. Neat, pretty much spot on, how’s the 10,5,5,4 lands doing for you? Better or still screws you?
    Thanks for reminding me that the DLC decks have animated cards too, not seem them yet.
    I was unlucky enough for someone to top deck Martial Coup twice in a row to kill all my Demons, survive a Damnation and march to their deaths with exalted one by one against No Mercy while I top deck 9 land. I need to add back those Pariah’s for a Giltspire and Bant Charm probably (too much 3 colour). Pariah’ed an Avacyn, Angel of Hope because screw you AG. =)

    • Let me put it this way:
      I could still hardcast Overbeing of Myth every other game. I hate this RNG.
      Yet the moment I change the ratio, I get starved for just one of my Islands or just a Terramorphic while Bant Charm sits there looking pretty and doing nothing else.

    • I believe it’s a reference to “Keep Calm and Carry On”, which originated from some British posters or whatever. Yes it did, says KYM.

      It’s not my pun though, I originally submitted “Chill out bros, I GOT THIS!” For clearly inexplicable reasons, Wing changed it.

      • Oh that makes more sense.
        I thought it was a bad pun on “Keep Calm and Don’t Panic” from Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy but it didn’t quite fit.

  2. Sigh… Gleam of Resistance is such a terrible card but I’m still considering running it because I get manascrewed so much playing this stupid deck. Why oh why are there no effing rampant growths…

    • Perhaps it helps to just treat it as a 1W instant that says to search your library for a basic land and put it into your hand.

      Nope, still terrible. Especially when you’d rather be playing 2 mana removal bait, or at least some fucking Rampant Growth. Hell, some Sanctum Plowbeasts or Pale Recluses would at least have some playable worth for once your opponent has already expended her kill anything removal and has to make do with the “deal 4 damage to everything because fuck creatures” removal.

      With some fixing or two, this deck would have been glorious in an environment like DotP13. Hell, it was, as shown by that Exalted Darkness was capable of winning matches. Why did they let us down now, in a game with decks having more removal than land?

      Oh, by the way, no one has complained about me completely misbuilding the deck yet. I consider that a success; I have created the ultimate, perfectly flawless build and guide.

  3. I feel like a fan boy agreeing with Toraka all the time, but he pretty much summed it up.
    I use Gleam instead of Aven Squire because I’d rather have a better chance of 3 colors/deck shrinking, then a 1/1 bird that’ll be useless later in the game due to removal or whatever.

    • That’s probably the best you can do, short of cutting Pridesmages, which is never a thing that you should do. It’s just priceless to see the looks on your opponents’ faces when you, in response to yet another fucking Doom Blade of course, sac the only noncreature removal in the game worth running to blow up their No Mercy or Heartless Summoning or yet another OP black enchantment. Want to design a cool, unique effect that only slightly breaks the game in half unless the opponent happens to pack removal for the exact purpose of killing it? Make it a black enchantment around 3 mana. Works every time.

      (Yes, Sanguine Bond and Exquisite Blood are both 5 mana. Deal with it, yo.)

  4. Hey Toraka, I keep seeing comments of your hate towards the samurai deck so I’d like to help out if I can. Here’s my deck list so far, and it’s beat Masks of Dimir AND Mind Maze thus far so hopefully it’ll do the same for you.

    3x Terramorphic Expanse
    14x Plains
    7x Mountain
    1x Isamaru, Hound of Konda
    3x Devoted Retainer
    1x Path to Exile
    2x Steelshaper’s Gift
    2x Konda’s Hatamoto
    1x Hand of Honor
    2x Battle-Mad Ronin
    1x Umezawa’s Jitte
    2x No-Dachi
    4x Lightning Helix
    1x Gist of Estates
    1x Masako, the Humorless
    3x Kitsune Blademaster
    1x Sword of Fire and Ice
    1x Sword of War and Peace
    1x Oathkeeper, Takeno’s Daisho
    1x Ronin Warclub (Although this one is debatable to take out to make for an even 60.)
    1x Nagao, Bound by Honor
    1x Fumiko the Lowblood
    2x Glory of Warfare
    1x Balefire Liege
    2x Stonehewer Giant
    1x Iizuka, the Ruthless
    1x Godo, Bamdit Warlord

    So that is it. Tell me what you think, and if it does work out for you then feel free to use it as the official TTT samurai deck guide.

    • Appreciated effort. However:

      Toss at least one No-Dachi and perhaps Gift of the Estates in exchange for Steelshaper’s Gift. This deck literally goes from worse than Dragons to Nicol Bolas UBBR depending on whether you get your Jitte.

      Maybe that thing dispenses justice and free cunnilingus, I wouldn’t know. Sorry, but I’m not ever touching that pile of fried shit again, not when I could also time travel and visit Hiroshima. (On 6th of August 1945, to be exact.)
      Sorry, can’t talk about that deck without insulting it, nervous thing. The point is, I’ve actually made an art trade with Wing. I cover Elves in exchange for not having to play that… deck again. You getting this? I would rather be seen with ELVES than that deck. I mad.

      • Yeah well, to each their own, I guess. I thoroughly enjoy this deck, or at least the build I have it in currently, but I guess it takes a little getting used to on top of the little to no bias of Kamigawa I have considering I wasn’t in the Magic scene way back when. But then if you’re not “deck-teching” this one, who is? If I can ask, of course.

      • As mentioned, yours truly WingspanTT will cover that deck. He simply has more patience to put up with decks which would be beaten up by my brother’s ten year old Mirrodin deck. Literally, it’s sitting behind me, I tried. Samurai loses. Murderous Spoils FTW.
        I’m certain we’re working at high pressure to bring you guides as quickly as possible, for both Elves and Sore of the Samurai.

      • Balefire Liege where he is literally the only multi-coloured creature? :O ehhh nty. He has Steelshaper’s Gift’s in his deck Toraka. I’m not a fan of No-Dachi either. At least Broming has kept in the essential cards, personally I’d keep all 4 Kitsune’s for the first strike.
        I actually want to try make a late game build of this deck as retarded as it sounds because if you don’t get Jitte early then there’s not much else going for it. But I just prefer the way it is now.

      • Oh, I thought you got 4 Gifts. Silly me, thinking that Samurai doesn’t shit itself more than a special Kindergarten on taco day even without an opponent.
        It’s quite a fun pastime to think of insults for that deck. You should try it.

  5. The jhessian infiltrator seems pretty good, I mean, a 2 mana removal eating card can be good in such a deck – if played right it’ll either be a tool to try and take removals off your enemy without wasting the good creatures, while if it doesn’t get taken care of it’ll be eternally picking health off your enemy, creating a good situation for a “decisive strike” with some tough flier. Which might eat removal, but it’ll still leave the infiltrator free to hit some more.

    Of course I’m talking about regular decks, against Izzet it does crap nothing and they’ll just play some burn against it. But this deck won’t ever be able to do anything against izzet so might as well field the infiltrators, imho.

    • I raise the counterpoint of: There are no other decks than fucking Izzet. Look, scroll down the selection. 15 * DaB. (Dicks and Balls.)

      (Sometimes, I’m proud of myself. This is not one of those moments.)

      Good point, actually. I underestimated how much it can do for you even solo. However, keep in mind that it will rarely be played before turn 3, since you require the two side colours for her.

      • Lol yeah. Fukken Izzet. I love it but it’s such a dick deck.
        Anyways yep, it will at best come out at turn 3 so it’s not a life saver, but I like it as a tactical option since this deck is really lacking in that sense – it either magically works and your knotvine paladin oneshots your opponent by turn 6, or you know you’ve lost by turn 3. More or less.

      • I hate Standard Kamigawa deck #134 because it’s 59 cards plus Jitte. Do you manage to make your Jitte hit? If so, yay you win. If not, even EtD will stomp you. Why is Wizards so afraid of the cool colour combinations like U/B and R/W?

        The reason I dislike Izzet is that even a gibbon mashing together random cards out of the deck builder and then playing whatever is shiny can pull off a 90% win rate, meaning that, since all other decks will lose those 90% of the time, there are literally no other decks played. It’s the Jitte playset of DotP14.

    • No idea, actually. I’m not sure if they really belong in the deck, even. On one hand, they are easy to cast and give Exalted (and I could really have used some during my last Sealed tournament to stop my opponent’s 2/1s), but anything in DotP that they can only block thanks to Reach will kill them.

      So it’s another meh card, use if you need to. Like with 50 of the other cards in this deck.

  6. Hey guys, I hear this deck sucks balls more than most other deck due to its constant mana screw making it almost unplayable and one of those decks you hate to see when you hit random, at least I hated seeing it cause I almost always play random. I got it once recently and lost horribly while sitting for that 1 missing colour mana so I got fed up with the deck (again) and changed it around (again).

    Well worry no longer my fellow Magic players.
    I decided to cut blue completely despite losing Rafiq and Finest Hour probably the decks best two cards along with Sublime and I have to say the deck is actually a LOT more playable and fun to use, at least a huge improvement. Anyway, if anybody is interested here’s the build feel free to alter it to your liking:

    14 Plains, 12 Forest
    4 x Akrasan Squire
    1 x Knotvine Paladin
    3 x Qasali Pridemage
    2 x Aven Squire
    3 x Sigil Blessing
    2 x Martial Coup
    2 x Dauntless Escort
    1 x Qasali Ambusher
    2 x Guardians of Akrasa
    3 x Court Archers
    2 x Pariah
    2 x Sublime Archangel
    1 x Restoration Angel
    3 x Rhox Charger
    1 x Faith’s Reward
    1 x Battlegrace Angel
    1 x Privileged Position

    Sometimes you may get a little too much land or spell cards and not enough creatures but I kinda ran out of any decent ones, if you want more I’d probably suggest the Leonin Armorguard but they aren’t really so good either. In the first online game of testing I had my Rhox Charger kill 11 creatures overall with 3 Sigil Blessing’s it was so funny. Good luck.

    • Does it? If so, then that’s a huge disregarding of the rules, especially since Force of Will respects lands being colourless. And a huge buff for the Seargant.

    • Mirror-Sigil Sergeant does not, in fact, trigger with only an Island. Just tried it and it did not work (which is only fair since it shouldn’t.)

      Re: Evil Mee’s no-blue version, that was the approach I’ve been taking. I have also considered putting in a couple islands along with the terramorphics to include just the most high-impact blue cards, specifically Rafiq and Finest Hour. Otherwise, going with mostly (or entirely) white/green is much more reliable, though the deck is still not any great shakes overall.

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