Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
How Does Exalted Work in Magic?
A rare set of Magic cards carry the exalted trait, which increases the power/toughness of any creature you control by +1/+1 when they attack alone. This only lasts until the end of the turn, but it stacks; multiple permanents you control with exalted will each boost your solo attacker.
Mostly found in white, the mechanic works well with aura/equipment decks—which effects reign supreme? These are the ten best exalted cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 6
While Nefarox needs a lot of mana, he rewards you with a 5/5 flying demon with exalted. Plus, whenever he attacks alone, the defending player has to sacrifice a creature, similar to the annihilator 1 effect.
So, not only will Nefarox boost his stats when he swings alone, he'll also provide continuous creature removal.
9. Sovereigns of Lost Alara
Alara's 4/5 stats are only decent for its price, but it has exalted and the helpful spirit subtype. More than that, whenever any creature you control attacks alone, you can attach an aura from your deck to that creature.
Unlike Nefarox, both exalted and Alara's effect can trigger with other units, so if you have a stronger troop you'd like to attack with, feel free to swing with them instead. This also lets Alara strengthen your team while waiting for its summoning sickness to fade.
8. Rafiq of the Many
Rafiq needs three colors and his stats are only a decent 3/3, but not only does he have exalted, he grants any solo attacker you control the valuable double strike trait for the turn.
Double strike lets a unit hit with both first strike and regular damage, essentially doubling their power. This works especially well with exalted's +1/+1 effect, sculpting it into a +2/+1 net boost.
7. Knight of Infamy/Knight of Glory
These two creatures mirror each other, entering as 2/1 knights with exalted. Infamy requires black mana and has protection from white, while Glory needs white mana and has protection from black. Either way, you're scoring a cheap creature with two static effects, powerful beatsticks in the game's early stages.
6. Cathedral of War
War has two disadvantages compared to basic lands: it enters tapped and can only provide colorless mana. However, it's the only land with exalted and makes a great drop on a turn where you already have your needed mana.
5. Duty-Bound Dead
One Magic's best skeletons, Duty-Bound's stats are only 0/2, but those are actually pretty decent considering exalted and his low cost. Aditionally, he can regenerate himself (saving him from a single destruction that turn) by spending four mana.
Sure, that's a bit expensive to guard such a cheap creature, but it's nice to have available and means Dead can indefinitely block bigger threats as long as you have mana to spare.
4. Finest Hour
Hour needs a sizable amount of mana and three different colors. However, in addition to exalted, when a creature you control attacks alone for the first time during the turn, Hour untaps it and grants you an additional combat phase! That's pretty cool, especially since extra combat abilities are rarely seen outside red.
To make best use of this, swing with one attacker to trigger exalted and get the extra combat, then either swing alone again for another exalted, or go ahead and attack with your entire team.
3. Sublime Archangel
Archangel already impresses as a 4/3 with flying, exalted, and angel synergy. Better yet, she gives your other creatures exalted, letting everyone empower a solo attacker. A beatstick and support tool in one, she's 's a perfect addition to any angel deck.
2. Noble Hierarch
Even for her low price, Hierarch's 0/1 stats are poor. However, not only does she have exalted, she can tap for white, green, or blue mana! That's an incredible amount of ramping options for such a cheap creature, and the color spread works well with other exalted cards (which usually fall under the Bant color scheme).
1. Qasali Pridemage
Pridemage excels on many fronts. His 2/2 are solid, especially when you factor in exalted. He's got cat and wizard subtypes, each one of the best-supported tribes in the game. And by spending one mana and sacrificing himself, Pridemage can destroy an artifact or enchantment at instant speed.
That's an incredible amount of variety for such a cheap spell, making Pridemage an easy choice in my own Selsenya decks, especially since he costs less than a single dollar!
Supporting Exalted Decks in Magic
Remember, exalted only triggers when your creature attacks alone, so instead of using it in a swarm deck, try it alongside other creature-boosting spells to drastically empower a single attacker. It works particularly well with double strike and trample, putting the bolstered stats to good use.
Or, if you do summon multiple creatures, consider keeping all but one untapped and ready to block, then strike with just one for exalted. But for now, as we await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of exalted spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
Rex H on November 18, 2019:
The first deck my brother ever had was a deck built around the exalted mechanic. I still don’t know where he got it. It looks like the Exalted Darkness deck, but improved. It has cards like Neforax and Aven Squire, but does not have Child of the Night. It also includes great cards like Blood Reckoning and two Xathrid Gorgons. I basically upgraded the upgraded deck, making my all time best deck ever. Basically it removes all flying creatures your opponents control, then strikes with cheap flyers boosted by exalted creatures. You probably don’t even care. Although if you do, let me know. It’s not exactly an Aggro deck, but it’s probably faster than most classic Aggro decks.