I've been teasing this one for a while, but it's finally here – and I can tell you that Knight Exemplar was definitely worth the wait.

I've been wanting to do Knight Stompy for a while now. I toyed around with Humans decks, which led me to Soldier Stompy a few months ago. I really enjoyed that deck, and Field Marshal was a beast. Which, naturally, led me to wanting to experiment with Knight Exemplar, an extremely underrated lord for an underappreciated tribe. Knights may not be as flashy as some of the other Modern tribal decks, but they sure can take over a board state in a flash.

We are, at heart, an Aether Vial deck. And a fast one at that, though in slightly different ways than other decks. Merfolk, for instance, wants to use Vial to quickly amass a board presence that can sneak through thanks to islandwalk and Spreading Seas, while a deck like Death and Taxes uses it to maximize their Leonin Arbiters and so on.

But this deck uses Vial as more of a combat trick than either of those decks. Between, Dauntless Bodyguard, Knight Exemplar, Valiant Knight and Benalish Marshal, the deck can put out a lot of combat trick-type creatures at instant speed. Bodyguard will always allow your creature to trade up, while the lord effects can do the same – or grant double strike in the case of Valiant Knight. Of course, nothing tops Knight Exemplar, which guarantees your creatures at least won't lose combat (infect creatures notwithstanding).

As you saw in the match against Hollow One – one of the top decks in Modern – some decks are just not well-equipped to handle indestructible creatures. It doesn't matter how big your creatures are or how fast they hit the board (cough, cough Hollow One and Tarmogoyf) if they can't actually take opposing creatures off the board. Knight Exemplar does that, and the entire deck can come together to topple almost any creature-based strategy – heck, even the otherwise-unimpressive Student of Warfare can be a reasonably scary 3/3 first striker on turn two.

The deck aims to spam early creatures and then go wide with History of Benalia, which was the card that really pushed me to record with this deck. Between the saga and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, this deck can make a lot of Knights. Not only does it make all the creature lords better, the final chapter of History of Benalia can be an absolute game-ender.

Of course, the deck has its weaknesses – namely combo or control decks. That's where Blood Moon comes in. While the creature base can take care of most interactive creature decks, they certainly don't match up very well against the combo decks. But when you need to "steal" wins in game one due to bad matchups, almost nothing does that better than Blood Moon. People certainly don't expect it out of the Knight Stompy deck, and it can absolutely crush unprepared opponents in the first game. Then, after sideboard, access to the best sideboard cards in Modern in Leyline of Sanctity, Rest in Peace, Stony Silence and Damping Sphere – plus a few other options to customize as you please – the deck can slam the door on seemingly bad matchups, as you saw against Ad Nauseam in the videos.

Thanks for reading,

Corbin Hosler