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October 23, 2018:

Knightly Resurgence



Description

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The win condition of this deck is to defeat the opponent in combat with a Knight army!


This deck wants to attack with its Knights as soon as possible. Any hand that doesn't play to the board before Turn 3 and/or doesn't include two White sources automatically warrants a mulligan. Hands with too much top-end are also suspect.

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This deck adheres to a strict curve. The basic gameplan and branching options are as follows:

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The Curve
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Of course, not everything goes to plan and unlikely opportunities can arise. Adjustments are made based on how each individual game progresses.

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This deck currently doesn't have a Sideboard.

My Knight Tribal Pet Deck. I first created this deck in 2011 during the Zendikar-Scars of Mirrodin Standard Season. I was building my first Standard FNM deck, and Knight Exemplar's ability to give all other Knights indestructible caught my attention.

After Magic 2011 rotated out of Standard and Knight Exemplar along with it, the deck was shelved. Sometime after Modern became a format, I refurbished it with cards it never had access to during its time in Standard.


Card Choices

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Student of Warfare

Dropping it on Turn 1 and following up the next turn with a level up to a 3/3 first striker is this deck's the fastest play. Student's level up also allows it to be a significant threat after the first few turns, acting like a 3-drop and the potential of becoming a 4/4 double striker. Never a disappointment.

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Sigiled Paladin

A Knight that can attack for 3 by itself or boost another lone attacker the turn its played. Handy for sneaking in additional damage or keeping the pressure up when blockers are required.

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Knight of Meadowgrain

A Knight that capitalizes on the various P/T boosts this deck possesses to buffer my life total.

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Knight Exemplar

The original reason this deck exists. Knight Exemplar offers the best thing an aggro deck would ever want from a Lord: absolute combat advantage.

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Benalish Marshal

Glorious Anthem on a 3/3 body.

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Valiant Knight

A 4-drop Knight resistant to most of the commonly played removal and can give my Knights double strike. Up for replacement when a new, desirable Knight comes around.

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Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Gideon offers everything this army desires out of a curve-topper. He's an all-in-one resilient threat, Knight token army, and irremovable Anthem. And this flexible nature allows him to be a 4-of, with multiples never being dead and benefiting from each other. I couldn't ask for a better Planeswalker!

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History of Benalia

A Saga that sets up a power play.

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Path to Exile

Modern's premium White creature removal. Any threat dealt with for a single .

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Declaration in Stone

A supplement to Path to Exile capable of 2-for-1s and token sweeps.

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Mutavault

A Tribal Deck's best friend! Adds creatures to the deck within land slots, gets the boosts from Knight Lords and History, and punishes opponents for leaving themselves open.

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New Benalia

A bit of scry in a deck lacking in card selection.

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Shefet Dunes

Late-game reach on a land that doesn't affect early-game tempo.

Work in Progress

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I have no intention of using the following cards.


Non-Knight Creatures

This is a Tribal Deck. Non-Knights can't be boosted by Knight Lords or History of Benalia and would defeat the entire purpose of building around a single creature type.

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Dauntless Bodyguard

This Knight's ability is so clunky and unintuitive that just thinking about it infuriates me. Cast it too early, it's an Elite Vanguard. Cast it too late, you miss out on damage. And it can only protect the single chosen Knight.

If it simply targeted a creature at will instead of being locked into choosing one when it enters, it would of had a chance.

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Kinsbaile Cavalier

The main strike against Kinsbaile is its frail body. A 2/2 vulnerable to every removal spell in the format isn't what this deck wants to be using as a curve-topper.

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Metallic Mimic

Its inability to boost Knights played before it or Mutavault makes it very awkward to use. Its vanilla 2/1 frame is also subpar.

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Anthems

With, four full sets of cards that provides boosts for my Knights, traditional Anthems, such as Honor of the Pure, are unnecessary.

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Aether Vial

Shoehorning Vial doesn't make a creature deck instantly better. Decks have to be built around using Vial. Otherwise, you have a clunky, dead artifact. Giving Knights 'flash' and dodging countermagic isn't enough.

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Sweepers

Using sweepers in an aggro deck is insanity! Knight Exemplar is in this deck to boost my army, not an excuse for questionable card choices.

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Brave the Elements

It doesn't affect the opponent's board and it's not that great when set back too far. This deck only has so much room for interaction, and what little space is available is better allocated to removal.

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Nonbasic Lands

There's a significant deckbuilding cost when it comes to nonbasic lands. You can't just cram your deck with them and expect it to work perfectly fine. Things to keep in mind:

  • Any more taplands will lead to tempo problems. Sneaking New Benalia here or there isn't so bad, but more will definitely sting.
  • Any more colourless sources will lead to frequent colour-screwed opening hands. All of my Knights have heavy colour requirements.

Notable Lands:

  • Fetchlands - Deckthinning is a myth, and the damage they cause isn't worth grabbing basic Plains. Unless a desirable land with the Plains subtype becomes apparent, this deck won't use Fetches.
  • Cavern of Souls - It's inability to produce White mana normally is a much more relevant aspect of it than keeping countermagic off of my Knights.
  • Emeria, The Sky Ruin - Games should be decided well before it ever becomes active. This deck's numerous nonbasic lands also completely botch its potential.
  • Flagstones of Trokair - This land doesn't accomplish anything relevant for this deck's strategy.
  • Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx - This is not a Devotion deck. I have no need to make excessive amounts of mana, nor do I intent to add cards that require it.

Updates Add

4 Accorder Paladin -> 4 Sigiled Paladin

4 Knight of the White Orchid -> 4 Knight of Meadowgrain

4 Silverblade Paladin -> 4 Benalish Marshal

2 Hero of Bladehold -> 2 Valiant Knight

2 Hero of Bladehold ; 2 Banishing Light -> 4 History of Benalia

2 Dismember -> 2 Declaration in Stone

4 Plains -> 4 New Benalia

4 Plains -> 4 Shefet Dunes



Three Years Later

Growth for this deck is very slow. Since Gideon's inclusion from Battle for Zendikar, there has been very little available for improvement being released in the last few years.

Dominaria ended this long slump with the return of Knight Tribal. This deck's build was getting old and tired, and the influx of new Knights was just what it needed for a major overhaul.


Retired Hero

Eight 4cmc cards is a bit of a glut for an aggro deck, and the new additions from Dominaria has allowed curve to slim down. Out of this deck's two 4-drops, card:Gideon, Ally of Zenikar wins out and remains. He gives everything the deck would ever need or want out of a curve-topper, with his power and flexibility second to none. This only left one other option: Hero of Bladehold .

If there's one thing Hero of Bladehold is terrible at it's Tribal synergy. No immediate board impact, no real team support. Just a threat that wants to do its own thing. I had no issues with this, as having a threat resistant to common removal that quickly closed games is what the deck needed at the time. But card:Gideon, Ally of Zenikar|Gideon is now my go-to 4cmc card, and the new Dominaria cards have better synergy and impact. It was time for the old Hero to pass the torch to the new Knight Tribal cards.


Knights of New Benalia

History of Benalia is the greatest of the new additions from Dominaria. I initially turned down the idea of using History , unfairly comparing to Gideon . That hasty assessment was incorrect. I should of been seeing how it contributes to the deck in its own way instead of judging it based on a Planeswalker's performance.

History's strength is in the power play it sets up. The couple of 2/2 tokens and a +2/+1 boost by itself puts the opponent under a lot of pressure. Multiple tokens stresses 1-for-1 creature removal and the +2/+1 boost can cripple defenses. Add another Knight or two, and opponents without sufficient disruption will be in very rough positions.

Two of Hero of Bladehold's slots were used and both copies of Banishing Light were dropped to make room for History of Benalia . 3cmc removal is really clunky in this deck. It takes away a turn when a Knight could be cast and is often too slow against other aggressive decks. Banishing Light will be better suited in the Sideboard for slower decks with noncreature win-cons.

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I remember first seeing Silverblade Paladin spoiled and feeling excited to include it in this deck. Having a Knight that gave another double strike to one played the turn before was excellent for curving out and increasing damage output. Things have changed since then. There's a lot more Knight tokens nowadays, and Soulbond locked into one creature goes against this new direction.

The best way to boost tokens with Anthems and Lords, and Dominaria didn't disappoint. While functionally more of a Glorious Anthem on legs, Benalish Marshal is the first new Knight Lord printed in 8 years. Being a 3/3 is great as well, as it can do well on its own in combat alongside its fellow Knights.

Marshal's cost is awkward with Mutavault , but this is only a minor hiccup in some games. Nothing completely backbreaking.


A Valiant Placeholder

Knights are a very top-heavy tribe. Most of the best Knights available are at 3cmc or higher. This puts a damper on attempts to lower the curve, as there's not much worthwhile at lower CMCs. The two remaining Hero of Bladehold slots are, for now, being filled by another 4cmc Knight. Going from eight 4cmc cards to six isn't that well of a curve-lowering, but it's a start in a long-term goal.

Valiant Knight from Core Set 2019 has the same late-game potential as Hero of Bladehold , but in a more synergistic way. Instead of being a standalone threat, Valiant Knight can curve out and support its fellow Knights with its Lord boost. Its double strike ability also gives a late-game punch. Even with just a single other Knight, the damage output is relentless.


Two is the loneliest CMC

An ongoing problem with Knight Tribal is that the 2cmc options are severely lacking. Take a look for yourself. That pool is rather shallow, and there have been no improvements since I first built this deck back in 2011.

Fortunately, there is an island of quality in this sea of mediocrity. Both 2cmc Knights had suitable replacements available that better fit the deck's current structure.

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Accorder Paladin was a persistent relic of the original Standard list this deck once was. It remained in the deck for its value as a 3-power creature and its ability to support other Knights. After a fresh look at the existing 2cmc Knights, I settled on Sigiled Paladin , retaining the qualities that Accorder Paladin possesses.

Cards such as Noble Hierarch and Qasali Pridemage are highly valued for the edge exalted provides. It's a great ability for sneaking in damage, boosting a creature to contest with an opposing threat, or to retain damage output while on the defensive. Whether curving out early-game or the last man standing late-game, Sigiled Paladin can utilize its exalted trigger to keep the pressure up.

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With less emphasis on playing 4-drops, Knight of the White Orchid looses its purpose. There little reason to have a ramp effect when there's not much to ramp into. I was also in the market for a Knight that could take advantage of all of the new P/T boosts this deck now has access to.

Knight of Meadowgrain is the best fit for what I'm looking for. Originally, it was a Knight never really cared about. A 'good, but not great' option that was always brushed aside. With so many boosts, Meadowgrain attacking for at least 3 is more commonplace, and the lifegain it provides now more enticing.


To the Pains

Declaration in Stone is another cheap exiling removal spell with the added bonuses of removing multiple threats and clearing away tokens. Like a spell version of Detention Sphere . Opponents get card draw out of the deal, but at least they have to burn mana for it.

Dismember isn't really necessary. It's better in decks that don't have access to solid creature removal, and this deck already has a set of the best creature removal spell in the format . Taxing my life is also a concern, even with Knight of Meadowgrain in the deck. Paying 4 life might not be an option is some situations or may be the defining play that leads to my downfall.


Nonbasic Real Estate

This deck has had a really simplistic manabase since it was created. Plenty of room for improvement, with utility lands both old and new.

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New Benalia provides a scry when it enters, giving this deck some card quality it otherwise doesn't have access to.

4 tapped lands is going to be this deck's hard limit. More than 4 will lead to frequent tempo problems. Not something an aggro deck wants to experience.

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Shefet Dunes has been added to give this deck some late-game reach for when things don't go as planned. The pain caused by producing White mana is a notable concern, but the painless colourless option and Knight of Meadowgrain lessens this worry.


Unfit for Duty

Dauntless Bodyguard has an awful, unintuitive template. Being locked into choosing a single creature that's already on the battlefield makes it easy for opponents to play around and awkward for myself trying to protect an important Knight. Having to chose a creature first also goes against its nature as an aggressive 1-drop, as it can't chose anything when played on Turn 1.

It would of been fine if it simply targeted a creature with its activated ability. As is, it's a clunky mess of a card, and I don't want any part of it.

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