UGW Exalted

Discussion in 'Casual Decks/Variants/Etc' started by Terentius, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. Terentius The Instigator

    I mentioned in another thread that I've been trying to put Cephalid Constable in a deck for ages. Like, 10 years. I think he's finally found his home here, and he's the star of the show.

    Creatures: 16
    4x Noble Hierarch - I opened a Tarmogoyf in MM 2015, and traded for these.
    4x Cephalid Constable - Primary objective
    3x Qasali Pridemage - Exalted/utility
    2x Aven Mimeomancer - Flavor/power boost
    2x Rafiq of the Many - Secondary finisher/Exalted
    1x Stoic Angel - Secondary control

    Pump/evasion/protection spells: 16
    4x Vines of Vastwood - Protect/pump
    4x Wings of Velis Vel - Pump/evasion
    4x Apostle's Blessing - Protect/evasion
    4x Simic Charm - Protect/pump

    Other instants/sorceries: 5
    4x Commune with Nature
    1x Wargate - can get a creature or land

    Lands: 23
    2x Plains
    6x Forest
    7x Island
    1x Windswept Heath
    1x Flood Plain
    2x Bant Panorama
    2x Seaside Citadel
    2x Cathedral of War

    --------------------------------------------------
    Total: 60 cards


    The decklist is somewhat similar to an Infect build, and I added some more Exalted cards. If I don't get Cephalid Constable out, or something happens to him, then the other creatures are decent enough to make a go of it on their own merit. I've only played this deck against other people once, and received a very negative response from my playgroup (well, my opponents) after hitting with Constable for 7 on turn 4. However, it did lose a match to my so-so Goblin deck, as this deck doesn't have much in the way of defense.

    Probably gonna drop Giltspire Avenger to trim. I have Cold-Eyed Selkie as well. More mana fixing couldn't hurt. Any other ideas?
  2. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I'm going to be pretty critical of this deck, so let me get a couple of other things out of the way first. I like that you've built a deck around an obscure rare all these years later. This is the sort of thing I'd like to do, and should probably try. I'm also elated that there's a new deck thread in this forum.

    Oh, I suppose that I should add that I do think the concept is salvageable. The Exalted mechanic with pump spells and some evasion/protection really does seem like a viable way to get value out of Cephalid Constable. Also, congratulations on the playset of Noble Hierarch. Might as well do something with those little buggers. That's the good. Now for the bad...

    Total: 62 cards
    You already know that this should be trimmed. You want strong openings like first-turn Hierarch more often, and diluting the deck with more cards that aren't the ones you need is unnecessary.

    Bant
    You're playing one of the most distinctive and versatile color combinations for a control deck, but you have essentially nothing that disrupts opponents or protects you from other people's decks. Even your defenses against creature-based attacks are poor, which is why you lost to your goblins deck. With the colors you're using, you'd have access to practically any type of defensive measure you might want, but you're not using any of them.

    Too many automatic losses
    While pretty much any deck ever is going to have bad matchups, and what kind of power your deck should bring to the table is dependent on the environment in which you're playing, your current decklist strikes me as losing to just about anything that's not a total scrub deck. Aggro outraces you unless it has a particularly bad start or maybe if you get an ideal start yourself and they can't do anything about it. Control just needs one or two disruptive cards to stop you from executing your plan, then kills you easily. Combo plays solitaire against you. There are even individual cards, some of them pretty mundane, that wreck you sufficiently to make a comeback highly unlikely. Pyroclasm, for instance. It's not that the creatures in this deck are bad because "dies to removal." It's more that, as your decklist currently stands, removal is a rather daunting obstacle.

    Worse than Infect
    It seems like just throwing Cephalid Constable into a regular U/G Infect deck would yield better results than this. I might be exaggerating, but I don't think so. Anyway, have you thought about going with just Simic colors here? Yeah, Exalted decks probably need white, but the pump spells are green and most of your best options for protective cards are blue. There are a lot of options, and if you're dead-set on keeping white in this deck, it could work. Seems like white isn't pulling its weight at the moment, though.

    Midrange limbo
    This deck isn't fast enough to outrace fast decks, but it isn't resilient enough to compete with slow decks if the game runs longer. I know that midrange decks are all the rage now (for very, very bad reasons that are the biggest threat to the health of the game out of anything right now, but I digress), and if you want a midrange deck, that's fine too. Those decks generally succeed through efficiency, throwing down enough speed bumps to survive against aggro and have more power, while threatening to pick control apart before it can get going. It can be difficult to strike the right balance, but if you're going to completely ignore your opponents' strategies, you need a faster deck! For a concept like this one, I'd advise going the other direction, slowing the deck down but giving it tools to disrupt opponents. You don't need to pump Cephalid Constable up to be so huge that you bounce everything in one fell swoop. You just need to be able to get it through, reliably, and protect it, so that opponents can't overcome the tempo loss of having some of their stuff bounced every time the little tentacle-cop smacks them.
  3. Terentius The Instigator

    Thanks. It's been a catharsis of sorts.

    Yup.

    All true. I even got out Stoic Angel versus the Goblins one round, which single-handedly hosed them, but too much damage had been done.

    Agreed.

    On this one, I agree with the assessment, but not the header. I have played against an Infect deck; not very high-end but it did have the standard infect creatures and standard pump/evasion spells like I have here. But the thing about that deck that's different from mine is the combat damage doesn't affect the opponent's resources until the Infect wins out.

    About the white, I think I added it because Apostle's Blessing is a must-have, but this being the first time I've actually used it, I didn't realize until recently that I don't actually need white mana to play it, now do I? If I wanted to streamline the deck, I could do without white and all the other stuff; it's mostly just flavor/junk that I added (I originally wanted to throw in Derevi and Yasova just because).

    Astute as always.

    The only response I have is that even though I sprung for the Noble Hierarchs, this deck was still built with a kitchen table environment in mind: multiplayer, facing all kinds of decks that are less predictable, and not as much speed as a competitive environment. But I totally get what you're saying about more reliability and control being a better route to victory. What kind of additional control cards would you suggest? I could test out different modes of the deck...

    Related question:
    Unless I have solid reasoning not to expect creature removal, should I tap out to cast Cephalid Constable as early as possible, or wait until I have Apostle's Blessing or Vines of Vastwood to protect him and have open mana to cast it?
  4. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Now that I think about it, I've seen a huge range of infect decks and it's a bit weird to just say "Infect" like it's all one archetype. Infect was an archetype in Zendikar-SoM Standard and again in SoM-Innistrad Standard. It's also turned up in Modern and Legacy. I guess that the main thing Infect decks tend to have in common is that they tend to be very fast, to have ways to get an infect creature past blockers, and to be able to win in one (sometimes two) attacks. Exalted decks, on the other hand, tend not to be quite as fast, but build up bigger threats over time and have more control. Infect decks only need to hit for 10, and with the right combination of damage boosts, it's possible to do that all at once, so they sacrifice staying power for immediacy, whereas Exalted decks can keep plugging away, sparing more slots for removal spells and such. Other than a few Exalted cards that are obviously just efficient enough to make sense in some Infect builds, there's no call for hybridizing the two concepts. Infect thrives on cheap, powerful pump spells, but Exalted keeps getting stronger every turn, and doesn't need to throw away its hand. One could make a case for Cephalid Constable fitting into shells for either of those concepts, but not both at the same time!

    Unlike Infect, Cephalid Constable doesn't need to win with a single, big attack. In fact, it doesn't really make sense to try. On the other hand, Cephalid Constable plays very nicely with the pump spells that Infect relies on. I can see how, because of that, you've ended up with a sort of hybridization: some of the pump spells and evasion/protection characteristic of Infect, and some of that powerful Exalted utility. There's logic behind this. But then you run into a problem. With both of those concepts together in the same deck, you don't have enough room for the other aspects that have made them viable separately. Infect wins by having a bit of disruptive utility of its own and being fast enough to dodge most opposing control elements. Exalted wins by being efficient, winning trades, controlling the board to some extent, and having the resiliency of not relying on any one card. At first glance...

    -Cephalid Constable benefits from pump spells and evasion/protection spells, just like Infect.
    -Cephalid Constable provides a very rewarding attacker for Exalted cards, bouncing permanents on top of doing damage, complementing the existing control elements in an Exalted deck.

    So far so good. But then, when you try to build a deck that uses all of that...

    -Cephalid Constable is a three-drop and has no backups, unlike Infect, which can get its deadly attackers out right away and only needs to hit with any infect creature, not one specific creature.
    -Cephalid Constable doesn't actually contribute anything to the Exalted gameplan other than being an attacker, and any attacks other than ones in which Cephalid Constable is hitting the opponent aren't contributing anything other than damage.
    -The Constable/Pump/Evasion/Exalted gameplan is slower than Infect, less resilient than Exalted, and has fewer of its own control elements as tools than either. You're left with a deck that has the worst of both worlds.

    I'm not saying that it's necessarily best to drop all of the stuff that's reminiscent of Infect decks. A well-timed pump spell on your Constable could be devastating. But something about this deck would need to change to accommodate a more robust Constable-oriented approach. I have a few ideas and I want to examine them some more before I try to post anything comprehensive. In the meantime, I suggest looking at other Exalted decks that people have built in the past. Might give some useful insight here. What I'm seeing a lot of are cards like Noble Hierarch and Cathedral of War, and sometimes little else, because the rest of a deck will be dedicated to some other synergies. Thinking about it, this makes sense. It just isn't practical to stack a ton of Exalted triggers. That would take too many card slots and too much time. So people tend more toward using a few efficient cards with their own utility and combining that with something difficult to deal with, like something unblockable or hexproof or really big. Keep in mind that your Constable doesn't need to bounce someone's whole board at once. If you successfully get a Constable through, even with two Exalted triggers and no pump spells, that's still a 3/3 Constable, bouncing three targets. That is a huge swing in power, something many opponents won't be able to recover from. And you get to try it again next turn! You should be looking to protect that kind of power, not inflate its magnitude unnecessarily while you give up on control...

    That'll depend on your deck and your opponent's deck. Against some opponents, you'd need to start bouncing their stuff before they can kill you. Against others, protecting your Constable could be the key to victory.

    I don't even know if it would be the way to go, but the Mythic Conscription combo would go crazy with Cephalid Constable in a U/W control deck. No one is even using Sovereigns of Lost Alara these days, so they should be obtainable. But Eldrazi Conscription is stupidly expensive if you don't have on already...
  5. Terentius The Instigator

    Are a set of Apostle's Blessing and Vines of Vastwood not sufficient protection for Constable? Or are you saying drop the other two pump/evasion spells, Distortion Strike and Wings of Velis Vel?

    -2 Giltspire Avenger
    -2 Plains
    +1 Windswept Heath
    +1 Flood Plain
  6. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    I'm not necessarily saying that an particular one of them should go, if this sort of thing is what's working (although Wings of Veli Vel seems like a card that would go in a different deck). I'm saying that it's a lot of slots dedicated toward the same sort of thing even if that's not what you might need. I'd imagine that this deck does a fine job of pumping Constable enough and getting it past blockers.
  7. Terentius The Instigator

    Well, I checked out other Exalted decks, and all I'm seeing are more, somewhat nondescript creatures with Exalted. Only cards that caught my eye that I hadn't seen before were Ardent Plea, Bant Charm, and Silent Arbiter. I don't really know what I'm looking for, but I've continued to playtest this deck and it has been under-performing.
  8. Terentius The Instigator

    Did you ever get to do this?
  9. Oversoul The Tentacled One

    Sadly, no. I had hopes of building a deck with some similarities to this one and wanted to look at different options, but I kept letting other things get in the way. I need to do something about my approach to deckbuilding. Currently, it's too time-consuming for the amount of time I can devote to it, but I think I'm going about it in a way that is unnecessarily slow.
  10. Terentius The Instigator

    -4 Distortion Strike
    +4 Simic Charm

    Dropped a Pump/Evasion spell with rebound for a Pump/Protect charm spell that can also bounce a creature. After having tested this deck more against decks that can and will take out Constable as a priority, I think you were right about taking it slower and protecting Constable more reliably. Also found that Distortion Strike has relatively low ROI for this deck, unless for some reason flying isn't enough evasion to hit.

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