The Book of Exalted Deeds – D&D: ADVENTURES IN THE FORGOTTEN REALMS
Date Reviewed: July 21, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 3.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
In less than a year, we went from having “DAE white bad?!” memes spammed everywhere to having The Book of Exalted Deeds banned in Standard before it’s even released. If this is in any way attributable to Reddit or Facebook or Twitter or whatever other social media Magic advertises on nowadays, we should just indict Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues now.
Without changelings (land or otherwise), The Book of Exalted Deeds is best with either a Soul Sisters-style deck or Angel tribal. In the former, it’s actually one of a couple of similar options, where it has one notable advantage in that it creates separate tokens and doesn’t have to attack itself and thus be at risk. In the latter, it will sometimes just end up making whichever angel it blesses an overwhelmingly urgent target, which has value when it saves another creature by extension. Sometimes you’ll use it on an Akroma or Pristine Angel and have a slower version of the pre-banned Standard combo, and put all the deckbuilding conundrums on your opponent – of course, in casual or Commander settings, we’re usually trained to be more ready for bizarre and possibly janky combos than Standard is!
Already making waves on Arena, The Book of Exalted Deeds is an interesting tool, giving life-gain strategies more of a push to the end and also turning something into a pseudo-Platinum Angel. That second half is what’s made this card a bit of a “problem” in the Bo1 format Arena favors, but more on that in a bit.
The Book of Exalted Deeds is a heavy white investment, but it can supply a steady source of Angels if you have the means to enable it, which is a nice way to grind out a game. But if you don’t need the stream of Angels, or you need it, you can turn an Angel into a means of keeping you from losing the game. It’s sorcery speed, which makes it reasonable to be responded to, though the counter doesn’t intrinsically carry the ability with it, so don’t get any cute ideas with Hex Parasite stopping this.
Anyway, the “problem” part of this card is actually how it interacts with creature lands that are part-Angel…notably, Faceless Haven in Standard, but Mutavault would also work if it were around. As an eligible target in animated form when you pop The Book of Exalted Deeds, you can make it so that, functionally, you can’t lose the game if you never animate your land again, thanks to the dearth of land destruction in Standard and it keeping the ability after it de-animates. It is a six-mana combo that can be interrupted with a timely kill spell…if they have one they can pop at instant speed, but the upside is functionally that you can’t lose unless you want to. So there’s that, and it was annoying enough to merit a ban in Bo1 formats as a result of how you would need to answer this immediately.
In other formats, this trick may still have legs…probably not Modern, since land destruction is less uncommon there, but it might be worth a go in Standard. It’s a charming little curio with some interesting unintended interactions that can make for some chaos, and that’s all you need at times.
Constructed: 3.5 (the main issue is that it’s white-heavy; white is better now than it was, but this is by no means splashable)
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