I’ve been playing around with Legacy lately, mainly playing American Delver against Shardless BUG. I normally play Shardless because I enjoy playing with two of the best planeswalkers in Liliana of the Veil and Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Shardless Agent plus Ancestral Visions is just too fun. But while playing against Delver and watching him give me life with Swords to Plowshares, I had the thought that Path to Exile might actually be better than Swords to Plowshares in many Legacy matches.
The reason Swords is so powerful is because, in many matchups, the life totals don’t matter until they do. By that I mean that, particularly in Legacy, you may get killed by a combo deck that literally doesn’t care what your life total is, or you may find yourself in a game state so inevitable that you don’t have the resources to stop even a slow bleed (I’m looking at you, anti-meta decks which play Blood Moon or Magus of the Moon). In this kind of a format, giving someone some life in exchange for removing their biggest threat from the game is a great trade. However, in many cases Path is actually free removal (minus the pesky W casting cost). My Shardless Bug build has no basic lands at all, and many versions of Delver, Threshhold, Dredge, BUG, and Stoneblade/Esperblade don’t play any basics either. Heck, there’s a version of Dredge which doesn’t even play any lands at all! Against these decks and most others, Path is strictly superior to Swords.
When isn’t it? I can only think of two prominent decks which run more than one or two basics: Goblins (or Burn if you prefer) and UW Miracles. Against burn all you’re doing in giving them another land is slightly thinning their deck. Not great, but not the worst thing that could happen. The worst deck to give more land to is a control deck, and UW Miracles is one deck you don’t really want to give more land to. However, they run so few threats that I could see boarding out the Swords against them entirely.
So it looks like we have a slight disadvantage when playingPath against Burn or Goblins and a game one disadvantage against UW Miracles. You have much better game against Delver, BUG, Threshhold, Dredge, and most other decks which are going to be casting enough creatures to make Path or Swords critical.
What do you say? Willing to give Path to Exile a chance in your next Legacy match?