Path of Peril is an interesting, however, potential niche, board wipe spell from Magic the Gathering’s Innistrad: Crimson Vow set. Three mana to wipe out all creatures with mana value two or less sounds like the perfect way to fight aggro decks. It does have an alternate casting cost, thanks to Cleave, that will destroy all creatures. But, six mana is pretty steep for a boardwipe in a world where we have Doomskar and Vanquish the Horde. That being said, could Path of Peril be a good side board card, especially for decks who focus on big finishers rather than a horde of small creatures?
Again, the Innistrad: Midnight Hunt set already gave us Vanquish the Horde. While it costs a whopping eight mana to cast, that mana cost is reduced by one generic mana for each creature it destroys. It isn’t much of a stretch to see Vanquish the Horde cost the same as Path of Peril. In older formats, Ritual of Soot from Guilds of Ravnica destroys all creatures with mana value three or less for four mana. But, perhaps two mana being the cut-off could be exactly what some decks need to compete with the scourge of Alrund’s Epiphany tokens plaguing Standard, as tokens have no mana value at all.
Perhaps Orzhov Midrange will take a crack at trying out Path of Peril, perhaps in the sideboard. While most of the Orzhov deck plays one or two mana creatures, many of its key creatures such as Reidane, God of the Worthy, Skyclave Apparition, and Legion Angel are unaffected by Path of Peril’s primary effect. However, Path of Peril annihilates about three-quarters of mono White’s creatures. It also deals with Izzet Dragons’ Smoldering Eggs. Dimir Control could perhaps morph into Esper Control, as its only real creature is the five-mana Lier, Disciple of the Drowned and manlands like Hall of the Storm Giants, anyway. The existing Esper Control decks play Elite Spellbinder, also itself three mana and unaffected by Path of Peril.
There are most certainly homes in Standard for Path of Peril, then. Perhaps even in Modern, having the alternate ability to wipe the whole board, even for six mana, could be worth including in the sideboard. Decks that may have played Ritual of Soot before could choose this instead, as it hits about half of the most popular creatures in Modern anyway. Against Lurrus of the Dream-Den decks, however, especially those that play the Evoke Creature Solitude, neither of those boardwipe options are good. So, Ritual of Soot may remain the better option, as there are plenty of three mana creatures such as Lurrus, Endurance, and Brazen Borrower than can also be blown away by the Ritual.
However, one format remains that could actually take great advantage of Path of Peril, and that is Pioneer. Path of Peril hits half of the top fifty creatures in the Pioneer format, including many key Red and Green creatures. It absolutely pulverizes Spirits, Rakdos Necromancer, and Burn decks, while hitting even key creatures in Arclight Phoenix decks. Heck, it even greatly slows down Zombies. The only issue is that it isn’t clear that there’s a top deck that could actually take advantage of Path of Peril at the time being, so another deck will have to arise, perhaps an Esper Control build, that can do major damage to the late 2021 Pioneer metagame.
Potential one-sided board-wipes can never be overlooked, especially when they have an alternate casting cost. While it’s certainly not exciting, Path of Peril is a potentially sneaky piece of tech that could help some Standard Control decks, while potentially becoming a sleeper in Pioneer Control schemes.
What do you think of Path of Peril?