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Much Abrew: Exalted Deeds Combo (Standard)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're getting our first taste of our new Adventures in the Forgotten Realms Standard format with a combo that I've been dying to play ever since it was previewed (and got a chance on Wednesday with a free stocked account from Wizards!): Exalted Deeds Combo! The goal of our deck is simple: find The Book of Exalted Deeds, find Faceless Haven, get to six mana to put The Book of Exalted Deeds' enlightened counter on Faceless Haven (preferably while our opponent is tapped out so they can't interact with Faceless Haven in response), and then trust that having a land version of Platinum Angel means that we'll eventually win the game when our opponent runs out of cards in their library! The deck takes advantage of the fact that Standard simply doesn't get playable land-destruction spells. While Field of Ruin exists for a couple more months, it isn't heavily played. Otherwise, there aren't really any main-deckable land-destruction spells in the format (and not even many great sideboard land-destruction spells), which means if we can get the enlightened counter on Faceless Haven, let it go back into land form, and choose to never turn it into a creature again, we usually have an unkillable Platinum Angel, which is pretty absurd. How good is the combo of The Book of Exalted Deeds and Faceless Haven? Let's find out on this week's Much Abrew About Nothing

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Much Abrew: Exalted Deeds Combo

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Discussion

  • Record-wise, Exalted Deeds Combo was pretty insane: we ended up going 7-1 across eight best-of-one matches. Oh yeah, this was recorded during an early-access recording day on Wednesday (thanks to Wizards for the free account to use!) where best-of-one was the only option. Normally, I shy away from playing best-of-one, but in some ways, Exalted Deeds Combo is uniquely suited for the format. But more on this in a minute...
  • In case it wasn't clear in the video, here's the combo: play The Book of Exalted Deeds, play Faceless Haven, get up to six mana, use three to activate Faceless Haven (typically, we tap Faceless Haven for mana and then activate it because we're not planning to attack with it anyway), and then put The Book of Exalted Deeds' enlightened counter on Faceless Haven. At the end of our turn, Faceless Haven turns back into a land and gives us a Platinum Angel that most decks can't kill because Standard decks are really, really bad at killing lands!
  • Two things are important to making the combo work: finding both combo pieces and finding a window to combo when our opponent is unlikely to be able to kill our Faceless Haven at instant speed (which is the primary way opponents can beat the combo). Finding Faceless Haven and The Book of Exalted Deeds is shockingly easy thanks to Search for Glory, which can snag either combo piece for just three mana, while also gaining us three life (enough to trigger The Book of Exalted Deeds to make a 3/3 Angel, which helps to keep us alive until we get to six mana). We also have a ton of card draw for a mono-white deck, with Mazemind Tome, Cosmos Elixir, Eye of Vecna, and Revitalize
  • Finding a window to combo was also much easier than I expected for a few reasons. One is that once The Book of Exalted Deeds is on the battlefield, the Angels it makes force= the opponent to tap down to kill them, or else they risk losing to janky creature beats. We also have Selfless Savior to protect Faceless Haven from things like Heartless Act and Eliminate. Just as importantly, many of the most popular removal spells in Standard (Bonecrusher Giant and Brazen Borrower, for example) can't actually kill a Faceless Haven
  • The rest of the deck is basically just a pile of removal and sweepers to help make sure we live long enough to pull off the combo. We don't actually have an especially realistic plan for killing our opponent because we're fully trusting that turning Faceless Haven into a Platinum Angel is unbeatable, and based on our experiences today, it almost always is.
  • I mentioned earlier that Exalted Deeds Combo seems especially powerful in best-of-one. This is because in best-of-three, if the combo becomes popular, opponents can play things like Cleansing Wildfire to blow up our Faceless Haven even while it is in land form. In best-of-one, playing janky land-destruction spells isn't a realistic option, which means decks are even less likely to be able to fizzle the combo. Until rotation, Field of Ruin is still legal, and I expect it to see more play if the Exalted Deeds Combo catches on. But after rotation, there just aren't good options to stop the combo (unless Innistrad: Midnight Hunt brings with it some land destruction, which certainly is possible). 
  • I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find that Exalted Deeds Combo ends up a top-tier deck in best-of-one Standard. In best-of-three, I think the combo is still quite strong, although having a backup plan to beat sideboard hate cards (maybe a few big finishers of our own in the sideboard) might be necessary, rather than completely trusting that the combo will win the game.
  • So, should you play Exalted Deeds Combo? I think the answer is a clear yes. We haven't had as strong of a two-card combo in Standard since Copy Cat. While it might look a bit janky on paper, in practice, the combo was super strong and incredibly hard for opponents to stop. Locking opponents out of ever winning the game with The Book of Exalted Deeds and Faceless Haven reminded me a lot of janking people out in Modern with cards like Blood Moon and Ensnaring Bridge. You need very narrow, specific answers to deal with it; otherwise, nothing else you do matters. It's a great feeling. If you like prison strategies and / or jank combos, give Exalted Deeds Combo a shot—it's way better than it looks!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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