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, 5 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.
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.**
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.”