Path to Exile – Double Masters
Date Reviewed: July 26, 2022
Commander [EDH]: 4.25
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
It might seem obvious why Path to Exile is good – maybe that’s why we only reviewed it once, but it’s more likely we just got distracted every time. It’s the epitome of the white design concept of taking something away from the opponent and giving them something else in return; it’s also the epitome of how that concept can be less “fair” than it seems. If the creature they lost was especially powerful, or even just rather efficient, a basic land might not be of as much use to them. If it was their last blocker, maybe they just straight up lost the game. If you’re playing Modern or Vintage or Australian Highlander, maybe they don’t even have anything to find!
That last point brings me to an interesting nuance in how Path to Exile plays: when there’s a big spread of mana costs in an opponent’s deck, it poses you the risk of inadvertantly putting their game plan into a higher gear. Conversely, in formats that lean towards very cheap cards, it might put them into a position where they can play multiple, possibly powerful, spells in one turn. Which one is worse depends on the format and the context, but neither one seriously impacts on Path to Exile’s quality.
Commander [EDH]: 4/5
I’ve liked every illustration Path to Exile’s had so far, but my overall favorite is still probably the Tristan and Isolde-inspired FNM promo from 2009. Maybe it also very subtly foreshadowed Throne of Eldraine too?
The last time Path to Exile received a review on Pojo was as part of the Top 10 Cards of 2009 countdown, so it’s been a while. Since then, Modern became a heavily-played format, and Path to Exile quickly found a home as premium removal in that format with occasional forays into Legacy and Vintage pools. To say it’s held up is an understatement!
Path to Exile is a simple trade: their creature goes away, they get a land in exchange, and all of this happens for one white mana. The clear analogy is to Swords to Plowshares, the premier one-mana removal spell in Legacy and Vintage, and it is true that the upside of an opponent getting a land is usually worse for you than giving them a small sum of life. The key is usually, though; some decks tend to be basic land-light, and later-game plays may actually tilt slightly in Path’s favor as life totals dip and libraries thin out.
With all of that said, Path to Exile might still be the best Modern removal spell, and removal packages often will find a way to fit a full playset into the board. While there is always the calculus as to if removing that creature is worth the land, it’s more often than not a trade worth making, and it will likely continue to shape and define Modern for as long as the format is a Thing. It’s not quite as good as Swords to Plowshares is in Legacy, but if you want to mix and match or just run four more copies of a one-mana exile spell, this one has you covered.
Of course, Path to Exile can also help you unstick a land drought if you’re caught in one. While that’s hardly the main attraction, it might be worth it in a game or two on occasion.
Commander [EDH]: 4.5 (one mana to kill? always a good trade)
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